‘Judas’ by Frank O’Connor

Judas by Frank O’Connor, 1948

The magic trick:

A narrator just unreliable enough to skew the normally realistic world of Frank O’Connor fiction

“Judas” is not your typical slice of Frank O’Connor realism.

The story’s world moves along in a reasonable and realistic way. It’s our narrator who seems a little off. His paranoia clouds the story. He’s not a completely unreliable narrator. But his handle on reality is skewed enough to add an unexpected wrinkle to the standard universe of Frank O’Connor’s Ireland.

And that’s quite a trick on O’Connor’s part.

The selection:

That night in particular I was nearly distracted. It was three weeks since I’d seen Kitty. I was sure that, at the very least, she was dying and asking for me, and that no one knew my address. A week before, I had felt I simply couldn’t bear it any longer, so I had made an excuse and gone down to the post office. I rang up the hospital and asked for Kitty. I fully expected them to say in gloomy tones that Kitty had died half an hour before, and got the shock of my life when the girl at the other end asked my name. I lost my head. “I’m afraid I’m a stranger to Miss Doherty,” I said with an embarrassed laugh, “but I have a message for her from a friend.”

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