For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form

“Likely Lake”

Mary Robison


Now she waved a twenty as Buddy opened the door.

“That isn't necessary, Connie,” he said.

She thanked him with a nod for remembering her name. She said, “Don't give me any argument.” She came close and tucked the bill into his shirt pocket. “You see here?” she said. “This is already done.”

“Well, I thank you,” Buddy said. He stroked the pocket, smoothing the folded money flat. It was a blue cotton shirt he'd put on an hour earlier when he got home from having his hair cut.

She was still close and wearing wonderful perfume, but he didn't think he should remark on that. He kept his eyes level and waited as if she were a customer and he a clerk. He said, “So, are you still in the neighborhood? I rarely see you.”

“They haven't needed me.” She pretended a pout. “Nobody's needed me.” She stepped back. It was the first week of September, still mild. She wore a fitted navy dress with a white collar and had a red cardigan sweater over her arms. Her large shapely legs were in sheer stockings.