Erdrich Story

“Gleason,” a new short story by Louise Erdrich, appears in this week’s New Yorker:

John Stregg opened his front door wide and there was Gleason, his girlfriend Jade’s little brother. The boy stood, frail and skinny, in the snow with a sad look on his face and a gun in his hand. As the president of the New Otto Bank, of New Otto, North Dakota, Stregg had trained his employees to stay relaxed in situations like this. Small-town banks were vulnerable, and Stregg had actually been held up twice. One of the robbers had even been a methamphetamine addict. He did not flinch now.

“What can I do for you?” he said to Gleason. His voice was loud and calm. His wife, Carmen, was reading in the living room.

“You can come with me, Mr. Stregg,” Gleason said, leading slightly to the left with the barrel of the gun. Behind him, at the curb, a low-slung Oldsmobile idled. Stregg could see no one else in it. Gleason was just nineteen years old, and Stregg now wished that he’d joined the Army as Jade had said he was threatening to do. Except that, if he had, he might be carrying something better than an old, jammed-looking .22-calibre pistol. From the living room Carmen called, “Who is it?,” and Gleason whispered, “Say ‘Kids selling candy.’ “

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