This book contains a selection of fifteen short stories and four one-act plays. The stories and the plays variously represent different themes, structures, milieus and sensibilities. In the first section of the book. Short Stories, for instance, many of them are the 19th century stories representing the sociocultural and historical aspects of that age. They are written in a simple artistic structure wherein a story moves from a beginning toward a middle and an end, just like a grandma fireplace story. Nevertheless, they reveal such a powerful theme in maturation that they make us wonder how an essentially small event or a simple wish can possibly lead to such disastrous or enormous consequences.
A few of them are organized in a structure wherein the thematic complexity is managed in a special artistic manner and the characters are provided a special psychological locale. The events proceed many ways making it obligatory on the reader to keep good track of them. In fact they represent the 20th century of the two great wars which had left such a gigantic confusion for humanity at large that it has become difficult to secure cognizance of the fellow human beings or identify the problems in cultural, psychological, or spiritual xrontext. The portrayal of absurdity of the 20th century is more plausible in incongruous terms. Hence the structure of short story is rather complex. Therefore, I have taken special care of not selecting such stories as may become cumbersome for B.A. students. A complex structure of a piece of art is meant for the students of literature and not for those of ordinary language. This selection of the stories and one-act plays is meant to teach the students the English language, train them for certain eventualities of life, and inculcate a moral
sense in their minds.
The stories and the plays are not arranged in chronological order. Their appearance in this book is from easy in language and comprehension to possibly the nol-so-easy ones. Also there is not a s,r">,~ story or play in this selection which does not have a "body"
or a stated theme. A modernist story or pity in which a certain technique is used to make it "absurd", psychologically complex, or spiritually morbid, is not included here.
The short stories and the plays are written mostly by American and British writers. However, four names — saadat Hasan Mannto, Guy De Maupassant, Honore De Balzac and Anton Checkuv — are distinctly prominent whose works have been recognized as spelling out the intricacies of human situations. Their works in their original languages — Urdu, French, and Russian — must have fuller impact on the human mind, as originally they were envisaged to create, yet I have included possibly the best translations hoping not to lose much in translation.
Wherever there is a human situation, women are integral part of it. These selections aestheticise the conditions of women within certain socio-cultural references, yet as a special effort, I have included a story and a play — "Take Pity" and "Smoke Screens" — to let the young readers know the immense potentialities of women for further understanding.
A one-act plays different from a full-length play. When acted on the stageit docs noUcrcate as much powerful an impact on the audience as is expected of a full-length play. May be it is not written for the stage. But in its reading, a good one-act play impresses upon the reader its unique character and forceful appeal- and its artistry helps make it create a forceful impression.
In a one-act play as in a short story economy is essential. There is no time for the development of the characters; their depth and elaboration possibly is affected due to shortage of time and space; nevertheless, they maintain their tragic or comic characteristics. This selection is made to' gather tragedy and comedy both displaying diversity within the genre'.
Dr. Nasim Riaz Bu
Grateful acknowledgements 'heir trustees and publishers act playS are included in this are due to all those writers, whose short stories and one- Anthology.
* THE KILLERS
The door of Henry's lunch-room opened and two men came in. They sat down at the counter.
'What's yours?' George asked them.
'I don't know/ one of the men said. 'What do you want to eat, Al?'
'I don't know/ said Al. 'I don't know what I want to eat.'
Outside it was getting dark. The street-light came on outside the window. The two men at the counter read the menu. From the other end of the counter Nick Adams watched them. He had been talking to George when they came in.
'I'll have a roast pork tenderloin with apple sauce and mashed potatoes/ the first man said.
'It isn't ready yet.'
'What the hell do you put it on the card for?'
That's the dinner/ George explained. 'You can get that at six o'clock.'
George looked at the clock on the wall behind the counter.
'It's five o'clock.'
The clock says twenty minutes past five/ the second man said. \
'It's twenty minutes fast.' .
'Oh, to hell with the clock/ the first man said. 'What have you got to eat?'
'I can give you any kind of sandwiches/ George said. 'You can have ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, liver and bacon, or a steak.'
Give me chicken croquettes with green peas and cream ^uce and mashed potatoes.'
That's the dinner.'
'Everything we want's the dinner, eh? That's the way you *orkit'.
'I can give you ham and eggs, bacon and eggs, liver-' Tll take ham and eggs,' the man called A1 said. He wore a derby hat and a black overcoat buttoned across the chest Hi face was small and white and he had tight lips. He wore a silk muffler and gloves.
'Give me bacon and eggs/ said the other man. He was about the same size as Al. Their faces were different, but th were dressed like twins. Both wore overcoats too tight for them. They sat leaning forward, their elbows on the counter, i 'Got anything to drink?' Al asked. 'Silver beer, bevo, ginger-ale/ George said. 'I mean you got anything to drink ?'
'Just thqse I said.'
This is a hot town/ said the other. 'What do they call it?' I 'Summit.'
'Ever hear of it?' Al ?sked his friend. 'No/ said the friend. 'What do you do here nights?' Al asked. They eat the dinner/ his friend said. They all come here and eat the big dinner.' _ i
That's right/ George said. 'So you think that's right?' Al asked George. 'Sare.'
'You're a pretty bright boy, aren't you?' 'Sure/ said George. - JH
'Well, you're not/ said the other little man. 'Is he, Al?' | 'He's dumb/ said Al. He turned to Nick. 'What's your name?' 'Adams.'
'Another bright boy/ Al said. 'Ain't he a bright boy, Max?' | The town's full of bright boys/ Max said. George put the two platters, one of ham and eggs, the other of bacon and eggs, on the counter. He set down two sid dishes of fried potatoes and closed the wicket into the kitchen- 'Which is yours?' he asked Al. 'Don't you remember?' 'Ham and eggs.'
'Just a bright boy/ Max said. He leaned forward and took the ham and eggs. Both men ate wMh their gloves on. CJeorge watched them eat.
'What are you looking at?' Max looked at George. 'Nothing.'
'You don't have to laugh/ Max said to him. 'You don't have to laugh at all, see?' 'All right/ said George.
'So he thinks it's all right.' Max turned to At. 'He thinks it's all right. That's a good one.'
'Oh, he's a thinker/ Al said. They went on eating. 'What's the bright boy's name down the counter?' Al asked
'Hey, bright boy/ Max said to Nick. 'You go around on the other side of the counter with your boy friend.'
'What's the idea?' Nick asked. There isn't any idea.'
'You better go around, bright boy/ Al said. Nick went around behind the counter.
'What's the idea?' George asked,
'None of your damn business,' Al said. 'Who's out in the
kitchen?' The nigger'
'What do you mean the nigger?' The nigger that cooks.' Tell him to tome in.' . 'What's the idea?' Tell hirh to come in.' 'Where do you think you are?'
We know damn well where we are/ the man called Max said. T)o we look silly?'
You talk silly/ Al said to him. 'What the hell do you argue with this kid for? Listen,' he saul to George, 'tell the nigger to c°me out here.'
Whal are you going to do to him?'
12 A Selection of Short Stories and One-Act Plays
Tslothing. Use your head, bright boy. What would we do to a nigger?'
George opened the slit that opened back into the kitchen. 'Sam,' he called. 'Come in here a minute.'
The door to the kitchen opened and the nigger came in. 'What was it?' he asked. The two men at the counter took a look at him.
'All right, nigger. You stand right there,' Al said.
Sam, the nigger, standing in his apron, looked at the two men sitting at the counter. 'Yes, sir,' he said. Al got down from his stool.
'I'm going back to the kitchen with the nigger and bright boy,' he said. 'Go on back to the kitchen, nigger. You go with him, bright boy.' The little man walked after Nick and Sam, the cook, back into the kitchen. The door shut after them. The man called Max sat at the counter opposite George. He didn't look at George but looked in the mirror that ran along back of the counter. Henry's had been made over from a saloon into a lunch-counter.
'Well, bright boy,' Max said, looking into the mirror, 'why don't you say something?'
'What's it all about?'
'Hey, Al,' Max called, 'bright boy wants to know what it's all about.'
'Why don't you tell him?' Al's voice came from the kitchen.
'What do you think it's all about?'
'I don't know.'
'What do you thinkr
Max looked into the mirror all the time he was talking.
'I wouldn't say.'
'Hey, Al, bright boy says he wouldn't say what he thinks it's all about.'
'I can hear you, all right,' Al said from the kitchen. He had propped open the slit that dishes passed through into the kitchen with a catsup bottle. 'Listen, bright boy/ he said from the kitchen to George. 'Stand a little farther along the bar. You move a little to the left, Max.' He was like a photographer arranging for a group picture.
Talk to me, bright boy/ Max said. 'What do you think's
going to happen?'
George did not say anything.
Til tell you/ Max said. 'We're going to kill a Swede. Do you know a big Swede named Ole Andreson?' 'Yes.'
'He comes here to eat every night, don't he?' 'Sometimes he comes here.' 'He comes here at six o'clock, don't he?' 'If he comes.'
'We know all that, bright boy/ Max said. Talk about something else. Ever go to the movies?' 'Once in a while.'
'You ought to go to the movies more. The movies are fine for a bright boy like you.'
'What are you going to kill Ole Andreson for? What did he ever do to you?'
'He never had a chance to do anything to us. He never even seen us.'
'And he's only going to see us once/ Al said from the kitchen.
'Shut up/ said Al from the, kitchen. 'You talk too goddam
'Well, I got to keep bright boy amused. Don't I, bright boy?' 'You talk too damn much/ Al said. The nigger and my bright boy are amused by themselves. I got them tied up like a couple of girl friends in the convent.' 'I suppose you were in a convent?' 'You never know.'
'You were in a kosher convent. That's where you were.' George looked up at the clock.
'If anybody comes in you tell them the cook is off, and if *hey keep after it, you tell them you'll go back and cook yourself. Do you get that, bright boy?
'All right/ George said. 'What you going to do with us afterwards?'
That'll depend/ Max said. That's one of those things you never know at the time.'
George looked up at the clock. It was a quarter past six. The door from the street opened. A street-car motorman came in.
'Hello, George/ he said. 'Can I get supper?'
'Sam's gone out/ George said. 'He'll be back in about half an hour.'
'I'd better go uo the street/ the motorman said. George looked at the clock. It was twenty minutes past six.
That was nice, bright boy/ Max said. 'You're a regular little
'He knew I'd blew his head off/ A1 said from the kitchen.
'No/ said Max. 'It ain't that. Bright boy is nice. He's nice boy. I like him.'
At six-fifty-five George said, He's not coming.'
Two other people had been in the lunch-room. Once George had gone out to the kitchen and made a ham-and-egg sandwich 'to go' that a man wanted to take with him. Inside the kitchen he saw Al, his derby hat tipped back, sitting on a stool beside the wicket with the muzzle of a sawed-off shotgun resting on the ledge. Nick and the cook were back to back in the corner, a towel tied in each of their mouths. George had cooked the sandwich, wrapped it up in oiled paper, put it in a bag, brought it in, c d the man had paid for it and gone out.
'Bright boy <~?n do everything/ Max said. 'He can cook everything. You a r take some girl a nice wife, bright boy.
'Yes?' George sa«d. 'Your friend, Ole Andreson, isn't goinjr to come.'
'We'll give him t ;n minutes,' Max said. v
Max watched th3 mirror and the clock. The hands of tht clock marked seven o'clock, and then five minutes past seven.
'Come on, Al/ said Max. 'We better go. He's not coming.'
'Better give him > ive minutes/ Al said from the kitchen.
In the five minuses a man came in, and George explained that the cook was sick.
'Why the hell don't you get another cook?' the man asked. 'Aren't you running a lunch-counter?' He went out.
'Come on, Al/ Max said.
'What about the two bright boys and the nigger?'
They're all right.'
'You think so?'
'Sure. We're through with it.'
'I don't like it/ said Al. 'It's sloppy. You talk too much.'
'Oh, what the hell,' said Max We got to keep amused, haven't we?'
'You talk too much, all the same/ Al said. He came out from the kitchen. The cut-off barrels of the shotgun made a slight bulge under the waist of his too tight-fitting overcoat. He straightened his coat with his gloved hands.
'So long, bright boy/ he said to George. 'You got a lot of luck.'
That's the truth/ Max said. 'You ought to play the races, bright boy.' ■ M J , • »
The two of them went out the door. George watched them, through the window, pass under the arc-light and cross the street. In their tightoovercoats and derby hats they looked like a vaudeville team. George went back through the swinging- door into the kitchen and untied Nick and the cook.
'I don't want any more of that/ said Sam, the cook. 'I don't want any more of that.
Nick stood up. He had never had a towel in his mouth before.
'Say/ he said. 'What the hell?' He was trying to swagger it off.
They were going to kill Ole Andreson/ George said. They were going to shoot him when he came in to eat.'
The cook felt the comers of his muuth with his thumbs.
They all gone?' he asked.
'Yeah,' said George. They're gone now.'
1 don't like it/ said the cook. 'I don't like any of at all.'
'Listen/ George said to Nick. 'You better go see Ole Andreson.'
Tou better not have anything to do with it at all/ Sam, the cook, said. 'You better stay way cut of it.'
'Don't go if you don't want to/ George said.
'Mixing up in this ain't going to get you anywhere/ the co^k said.
'You stay out of it.'
'I'll go see him/ Nick said to George. Where does he live?'
The cook turned away.
Tittle boys always know what they want to do/ he said.
'He lives up at Hirsch's rooming-house/ George said to Nick.
'I'll go up there.'
Outside the arc-light shone through the bare branches of a tree. Nick walked up the street beside the car-tracks and turned at the next arc-light down a side-street. Three houses up the street was Hirsch's rooming-house. Nick walked up the two steps and pushed the bell. A woman came to the door.
'Is Ole Andreson here?'
'Do you want to see him?'
'Yes, if he's in.'
Nick followed the woman up a flight of stairs and back to the end of a corridor. She knocked on the door.
Who is it?'
'It's somebody to see you, Mr. Andreson/ the woman said. -
Nick opened the door and went into the room. Ole Andreson was lying on the bed with all his clothes on. He had been a heavyweight prize-fighter and he was too long for the bed. He lay with his head on two pillows. He did not look at Nick.
'What was it?' he asked.
T was up at Henry's/ Nick said, 'and two fellows came in and tied up me and the <;ook, and they said they were going to kill you.'
It sounded silly when he said it. Ole Andreson said nothing.
They put us out in the kitchen/ Nick went on. They were going to shoot you when you came in lo supper.'
Ole Andreson looked at the wall and did not say anything.
'George thought I better come and tell you about it.'
There isn't anything I can do about it/ Ole Andreson said.
'I'll tell you what they were like.'
'I don't want to know what they were like/ Ole Andreson said. He looked at the wall. 'Thanks for coming to tell me about it.'
That's all right.'
Nick looked at the big man lying on the bed.
'Don't you want me to go and see the police?'
'No/ Ole Andreson said. That wouldn't do any good.'
'Isn't there something I could do?'
'No. There ain't anything to do.'
'Maybe it was just a bluff.'
'No. It ain't just a bluff.'
Ole Andreson rolled over towards the wall. *
The only thing is/ he said, talking towards the wall, 'I just can't make up my mind to go out. I been in here all day.'
'Couldn't you get out of town?'
'No/ Ole Andreson said. 'I'm through with all that running around.'
He looked at the wall.
There ain't anything to do now.'
'Couldn't you fix it up some way?'
'No. I got in wrong.' He talked in the same flat voice. There ain't anything to do. After a while I'll make up my mind to go out.'
'I better go back and see George/ Nick said.
'So long/ said Ole Andreson. He did not look towards Nick. Thanks for coming around.'
Nii.k went out. As he shut the door he saw Ole Andreson with all his clothes on, lying on the bed looking at the wall.
'He's been in his room all day/ the landlady said downstairs. 'I guess he don't feel well. I said to him: "Mr.
Andreson, you ought to go out and take a walk on a nice fall day like this," but he didn't feel like it.' 'He doesn't want to go out.'
'I'm sorry he don't feel well,' the woman said. 'He's an awfully nice man. He was in the ring, you know.' 'I know it/
'You'd never know it except from the way his face is,' the woman said. They stood talking just inside the street door. 'He's just as gentle.'
'Well, good night, Mrs. Hirsch,' Nick said. 'I'm not Mrs Hirsch,' the woman said. 'She owns the place. I just look after it for her. I'm Mrs Bell.' 'Well, good night, Mrs. Bell,' Nick said. 'Good night,' the woman said.
Nick walked up the dark street to the corner under the arc- light, and then along the car-tracks to Henry's eating-house. George was inside, back of the counter. 'Did you see Ole?'
'Yes/ said Nick. 'He's in his room and he won't go out.' The cook opened the door from the kitchen when he heard Nick's voice.
'I don't even listen to it/ he said and shut the door.
'Did you tell him about it?' George asked.
'Sure. I told him but he knows what it's all about.'