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The Short Form

“The Guest”

Stanley Elkin

Excerpt

Preminger looked toward the apartment house. “I've got to go up for another suitcase, Bertie.”

“Sure,” Bertie said.

He went up the stairs behind Preminger. About halfway up he stopped to catch his breath. Preminger watched him curiously. He pounded his chest with his tiny fist and grinned weakly. “Mea culpa,” he said. “Mea booze, Mea sluts. Mea pot. Me–o–mea.”

“Come on,” Preminger said.

They went inside and Bertie heard a toilet flushing. Through a hall, through an open door, he saw Norma, Preminger's wife, staring absently into the bowl. “If she moves them now you won't have to stop at God knows what kind of place along the road,” Bertie said brightly.

We read it in Criers & Kibitzers, Kibitzers & Criers.

Originally published in The Paris Review No. 34.