I was on suicide watch at the detention center but I would never hang myself with shoelaces!—that’s got to be a joke. I would never hang myself in any way, it’s an ugly death. I’ve been close to strangled and I know.
HE HATED SUSPENSE. He hated not-knowing. He hated not-being-the-One-who-has-written-the-script. He hated the suspense of such impotence and so he would make himself the master of suspense.
By Joyce Carol Oates Originally published in The Idaho Reveiw; reprinted in DIS MEM BER and Other Stories of Mystery and Suspense. Ladies and gentlemen WELCOME to our friendly skies! […]
For at the center of what happened on that Sunday many years ago is blackness.
Spooning stuffing rich with spices into the bird’s scooped-out body, sewing the hole shut, basting with melted fat, roasting. As dead-clammy meat turns to edible meat. As revulsion turns to appetite.
Quickly Mr. Clovis said, in his most tender voice, “I don’t think that’s a wise idea, Rita Mae. You’ll just get your dear friend in trouble if you put her up to such a thing. Violet’s mother loves her, just as I love you and your brothers and sisters. You can’t just steal away a girl from her own mother.”
“Mr. Frost—is it possible that your audiences have been deceived, and that you aren’t a ‘homespun New England bard’ but something very different? An emissary from ‘dark places’…?
You begin your journey on so high an elevation that your destination is already in sight—a city that you have visited many times and that, moreover, is indicated on a traveler’s map you have carefully folded up to take along with you. You are a lover of maps, and you have already committed this map to memory, but you bring it with you just the same.
It was early afternoon when Swan reached the brink of the hill that sloped down to town. He gazed at it, at the flat, watery image he had been seeing for so long in his mind’s eye, and it was with an almost careless, brutal gesture that he drew his arm across his forehead.
THE FIRST? That’s easy. My mom’s Bauer semiautomatic snubbie, a .25-caliber “defense weapon” good for six rounds. It was made of stainless steel with a pretty ivory grip and a barrel so short—two inches!—it looked like a toy. When we moved to Connecticut after Dad left us, she carried it in her purse sometimes when she went out after dark, but we weren’t supposed to know about this.
First published in Epoch, Fall 1966. Included in Prize Stories: O Henry Award Winners (1968), and The Best American Short Stories (1967). Introduction to “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” Why is “Where Are You […]