Short Story #147: The Jam by Henry Slesar

Title:  The Jam

Author:  Henry Slesar


Masters of Horror and Supernatural Great TalesStukey takes Mitch out for a ride to go find a dealer in New Jersey.  Mitch is in rough shape, coming down from a high and curled up in the seat.  Aiming to make good time, Stukey drives crazily through the streets of New York.  He nicks and dings cars around him and Mitch goads him on.  He angers other drivers or is enraged by them swearing and cursing away.  They make their way into a tunnel which seems to go on forever and Stukey takes more risks.  As they exit the tunnel, they encounter a traffic jam that is going virtually nowhere.  Stukey and Mitch both become angry and Stukey continues to get out of the car to see what the problem is but it seems like the back up is for miles.  When a cop comes by Stukey all but demands that something be done because he needs to be somewhere.  The cop laughs and goes onto explain that Stukey and Mitch died in the tunnel back there, having caused a collision.  This traffic jam is their afterlife and the afterlife of everyone else who caused accidents in the tunnel.    


The classic comeuppance at the of the story reminds of the E.C. horror comics.  I didn't realize that was going to be the end--that the jam was going to be their living hell.  I figured that Mitch and Stukey would die in some capacity of a car crash but Slesar doesn't allow you to see it, which was a nice sleight of hand.  

Short Story #147 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  5/26/2014
Source:  Masters of Horror and the Supernatural: The Great Tales, compiled by Bill Pronzini, Barry N. Malzberg, & Martin H. Greenberg.  Bristol Park Books, 1981.   The story can also be found at this site.

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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