Trying to get the upper hand in a low-key coke deal.
(from Wild Violet)
This is sort of a passive, bizarro version of “The Gift of the Magi” where the surprise ending is that your can’t trust a dealer and you can’t trust a user. That’s not news, the surprise is the manner in which the con unfolds. If you can even call it a con. It’s not a complicated story, but it is effective in achieving its goals. I’m always intrigued by stories about “the woman” and “the man” and the decision to leave names off the characters. It could end up being a joke or an allergory, but it’s almost always a short, simple read. Which is what you want sometimes.
You can read the story here. It’s from the online literary magazine Wild Violet. I should really check out the web publications more often.