"The Uninnocent" is the title story of Bradford Morrow's most recent short story collection (Pegasus Books, 2011). This is the second story this month that I've read on my kindle and not in print form--I'm still trying to determine what exactly this does to the reading experience, something smarter people than I have thought about.
An instance. Down by the lake. Blind old dear Bob Coconut, the dog, stiffened in the legs, lying in the long grass. The air blue. Autumn. The water was cold, and red and brown leaves clotted the surface of the lake near the shore, like an oil slick. Angela and I had a sign that day. We'd found a dead ovenbird that'd flown into the kitchen window, and we knew what that meant. Out in the boat, we got our friend Butter calmed down enough so that he would let us tie him up like we always liked to do, and tickled him, and warned him if he laughed we would throw him overboard. The blue air was turning toward purple as the sun moved down into the trees and evening wason us. We'd been so hard at our game we hadn't noticed how quickly the hours passed.
I love this passage--the use of colors, the combination of short, choppy sentences with longer, winding sentences. The oil slick simile. And especially that last sentence, which captures an aspect I remember from childhood as well as any I've read.
One aspect of the short story, from a collection (if it's not the last one) via an eReader is that not knowing you're coming to the end of it. Which is what I was wondering as I got to the end of this one and was hit with a complete surprise. Was it due to the fact that I was unaware I was approaching the end of the story? Having thought about it for the last few hours though, I think it's really more due to Morrow's writing--there was certainly some foreshadowing to my surprise, and it was nice and subtle as it should be (in my opinion). It has me looking forward to the rest of the collection.