For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form


Thomas McGuane


The door of the truck burst open, and the cowgirl came wheeling toward Jessica's car. Jessica was on the phone calmly telling the secretary at her department the reason for her delay. She rolled the window down slightly and addressed the raging cowgirl. “Let's wait for the police. Do you have insurance?”

The police arrived in a pageantry of flashing lights–a single officer, who got out and chatted familiarly with the cowgirl, as she held her thick braid with both hands. Isn't it nice that they're friends? Jessica thought. There was no denying her malice, no matter how she tried to stand apart from it. Then the officer came over to Jessica's car, hardly need to duck in order to peer into her window. “What'd you do that for?” he barked. Jessica contemplated her steering wheel. “You caused that accident by braking suddenly!”

“She rear-ended me. You know the law.”

“Don't you lecture me, lady,” he shouted.

Jessica gave him time to settle down before raising her eyes to his and asking, “What is this really about, Officer? Is it because you're short?”

We read it in New Yorker: June 24, 2013.