Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Short Story Wednesday: "Something is Out There" Richard Bausch

Back in 2005, I sent a story to a submission call for a new publication called MURDALAND. It was probably the darkest story I ever wrote and I was surprised when Eddie Vega, the submissions editor, took it and encouraged me to make it even darker. This would be the first issue (there were only ) two and the magazine was the lovechild of two guys named Cortright McMeel and Mike Langnas.  A lot of the stories were from real stars in the field:( Ken Bruen, Mary Gaitskill, Daniel Woodrell) But my favorite was from Richard Bausch, who eventually made this story the title story in a collection.

A family returns home from the hospital where the father is spending some time after falling off the roof after being shot. They are having a rare snowstorm, and the boys begin to shovel the driveway and walk. The women try to piece together what has happened. The man who shot the father has been captured and was a former business partner. They are also waiting for the return of another family member away at college. They are worried about him out on the icy roads.

The dread in this story is palpable: the storm, the fate of the college student, knocks on the door, is the father involved in some crime? And then the power goes out. 

Bausch takes his time to make you feel what they are feeling. In fact, when a knock came at my own door (something very rare nowadays) I almost fell out of the chair. (It was the mailman). 

Bausch understands that the threat of violence can be more frightening than actual violence. He gives you enough information to understand, sort of, what might be going on. The story ends with the woman, standing at an upstairs window, with a loaded gun. The kids wait downstairs baseball bats and knives at the ready. The other woman waits too.

 Superb. There are probably pdf's online if you care to read it. A new copy of that issue MURDALAND lists for almost $800. 

 Kevin Tipple


Jerry House 

Todd Mason


Margot Kinberg said...

Oh, this does sound really chilling, Patti. And sometimes a short story is the best vehicle for exploring that sort of suspense. Thanks for sharing.

Jeff Meyerson said...

OK, you convinced me. Bausch is an author whose books I've looked at in the library before. I reserved this one. Can't have too many books, right?

I finally finished the huge BIG BOOK OF ESPIONAGE. The surprise for me in the last group I read was how much I enjoyed the tales by people who would not make my favorite authors list but who knew how to move a story along quickly: E. Phillips Oppenheim with his "The Donvers Case" (the first story in his collection THE ADVENTURES OF MR. JOSEPH P. CRAY) and Edgar Wallace for "Alexander and the Lady" (from THE ADVENTURES OF HEINE). Oppenheim's Cray is a rich American just back from World War I (to London) with the money and ability to help out people, more or less on a whim. Wallace's "hero" is actually a German spy, for whom things don't go exactly as planned in this story.

Also reading JEWISH NOIR. Not all the authors are Jewish. I enjoyed Gary Phillips's "Errands" and Eddie Muller's "Doc's Oscar."

TracyK said...

Richard Bausch is another new author for me to try. Both his short story books and some of his novels sound like good reading

Todd Mason said...

Also check out his (alas, late) twin brother, Robert Bausch, also a fine writer. Though they both taught at DC-area campuses I attended, I didn't get around to meeting either, as I recall. (And we all were English grads at George Mason U.)

I suspect I will have something up and at 'em at a typically late hour.

Todd Mason said...

As 10p ET...
Short Story Wednesday: stories from ROD SERLING'S NIGHT GALLERY READER edited by Carol Serling, Martin H. Greenberg & Charles G. Waugh (Dembner, 1987)

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, read a book by Robert as well as several from Richard.

Todd Mason said...

And since I was just editing/reading comments on the Serling-related post, I was thinking Rod and Robert for a second! (They weren't twins.)

Todd Mason said...

Murdaland [#1, 2007] ed. Michael Lagnas (Mug Shot Press, $12.00, 267pp, tp, cover by Tyler Moore & Terry Gratuity)
Details supplied by Todd Mason.
7 · My War · Paolo Madrigal; translated by Caleb Jacobsen-Sive · ss
16 · The Echo of Neighborly Bones · Daniel Woodrell · ss
20 · Lovers Throughout All Eternity and Forevermore · Anthony Neil Smith · ss
36 · Eclipse · Rolo Diez; translated by Caryn Connelly · ss
47 · Scouts · Tristan Davies · ss
63 · Felon · Les Edgerton · ss
83 · And Ivy Leaves the Door Unlocked · Tim L. Williams · nv
105 · Frank Hamm · Mary Gaitskill · ex; from a work in progress.
125 · Nasty Jay · Cortright McMeel · ss
142 · Evavangeline [from Smonk] · Tom Franklin · ex Morrow 2006
150 · Maria’s Misfortune · Kaili Van Waveren · ss
155 · Spadework · J. D. Rhoades · ss
160 · Boars · Stephen Gibson · ss
168 · The Undertaker’s Story · J. F. Connolly · ss
176 · Scarecrow · Patricia Abbott · ss
190 · House of Tears · Gary Phillips · ss Never Safe, ed. Anon., Seven Sisters Publishing, Inc. 2006
206 · Something Is Out There · Richard Bausch · ss
223 · Words Are Cheap · Ken Bruen · ss
233 · Professional Man · David Goodis · nv Manhunt Oct 1953
262 · Notes on Contributors · Anon. · bg