Two men, Al and Max, dressed in trench coats and derby hats enter Henry’s Diner and sit at the counter. They banter back and forth in vaudeville style with the owner, George, as the young Nick Adams wipes the counter. The two gangsters talk down to George, Nick, and the black cook, Sam, and eventually tie Sam and Nick up in the back. Max reveals that they are there to kill Ole Anderson, a Swedish ex-boxer. They wait, and Ole never shows, so Al and Max leave. George unties Nick and Sam. Nick runs to Ole’s room at the boarding house to warn him. He finds Ole in bed, fully dressed, staring at the. Nick tells him about the gangsters, and Ole has little reaction. He has accepted his fate and tells Nick he just can’t bring himself to go outside. Nick returns to the diner and says he is going to leave town. He can’t stand the thought of someone just sitting there waiting to die.
One of my favorite short stories of all-time. Masterfully told in Hemingway’s simplistic, dialogue-heavy style. Flawless infusion of funny and suspense-filled conversation. Fantastic character arc with a no-nonsense ending. Love it.