For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“A Strange Murderer”

Maxim Gorky


“He spoke jerkily, as though in a delirium, for some time harping on the helplessness of me, and all the time a sullen fear shone in his eyes. His dry, ascetic face darkened as he said, hissing through his teeth:

“‘Just you think, sir; here at this very minute, I can strike you down dead! Just think of that! Who can forbid me to do it? What's to stop me? Nothing at all–nothing....’

“He was punished for the murder of that girl by three years of prison–the mildness of the punishment being due, he explained, to the skill of his advocate–whome he did not hesitate to vilify: ‘A young one, with dishevelled hair, a bawler. He kept on saying to the jury: “Who could possibly say a bad word against this man? Not one of the witnesses has been able to. Moreover it is admitted that the dead woman was half-witted and debauched.” Oh, those lawyers! It's all tomfoolery, waste of time. I'll be defended from myself before the crime if you like, but once I've committeed it I don't want anyone to help me. You can hold me while I stand still, but once I have started running you can't catch me! If I run I will go on running until I fall down with exhaustion. But prison!–tomfoolery, an idle man's job, too.