‘The Absence Of Emily’ by Jack Ritchie

The Absence Of Emily by Jack Ritchie, 1981

The magic trick:

Immediately establishing the narrator as suspicious, making the reader wonder what the mystery here is at all

Why is Albert acting so guilty? Is he an unreliable narrator? Or is he really just that cocksure? It’s hard to know. Keep reading. And that’s quite a trick on Ritchie’s part.

The selection:

Eberly studied me. “Are you ill or something, Albert? Your hands seem to be shaking.”

“Touch of the flu,” I said quickly. “Brings out the jitters in me. What brings you here anyway, Amos?”

“Nothing in particular, Albert. I just happened to be in the neighborhood and thought I’d drop in and see Emily.”

“Damn it, I told you she isn’t here.”

“All right, Albert,” he said soothingly. “Why should I doubt you? If you say she isn’t here, she isn’t here.”

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