Sunday, June 24, 2007

"Change of Life" by Lawrence Block

Available in: Enough Rope. William Morrow, 2002.

Royce Arnsletter believes he'll live to 76. On the eve of his thirty-eigth birthday, his frustration boils over at having done "not a damned thing" in half his life. The next day he plans to hold up the local bank with a shotgun, but the bank manager believes he's going hunting. When Royce asks for "every damned cent," the manager thinks he wants to withdraw all his own money. Royce backs off his plans, not even withdrawing all his own money.

The following day, even more frustrated, he decides to give himself no recourse but to rob the bank. So single-minded, he shoots his wife and shoots a bank teller to prove he is serious. Not having the foresight to bring extra shells, however, he is arrested and sentenced to 33 years in prison. What will he do with the five years after he gets out?

This story's noir undertones are somewhat lightened by Block's first-person parenthetical comments.

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