Short Story #96: Harold Vessey at the Gates of Hell by Robert Graves

Title:  Harold Vessey at the Gates of Hell

Author:  Robert Graves


Robert Graves - The Shout and Other Stories
The story blends past and present as the narrator recalls being a child and being told that the bar across the street were considered the "gates of Hell" by his nurse for the impact it had on her life.  She also mentions Harold Vessey, the partner of another worker at the house, who had entered into their and never been the same again.  So the child finds the bar a place of question and curiosity.  It is not until he is an adult that he travels into the bar and talks with the bartender.  The two talk around subjects as the bartender traces his way into the past of the bar while the narrator works from his childhood forward to see where there is overlap.  After a while, the bartender does remember Harold Vessey but that he did not leave the woman in the narrator's house because he had descended into sin but because he had inherited land away from the area. 


The story seemed to be a bit of contrast between the myths of childhood and the realities of adulthood.  That Harold seemed to have entered Hell to never be seen again but rather was living fairly nicely elsewhere would be a strange blow to one's life, especially if the concept behind what Harold represented, held any weight with the narrator.  

Short Story #96 out of 365
Rating: 2 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  4/5/2014
Source:  The Shout and Other Stories by Robert Graves. Penguin Books, 1978.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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