Short Story #331: Mr. Swiddler's Flip-Flap by Ambrose Bierce

Title: Mr. Swiddler's Flip-Flap

Author: Ambrose Bierce


Book cover: Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

The narrator reports that his friend, Jerome is to be executed soon and that he has tried everything in his power to get him pardoned.  At a late hour, he finally secures a pardon but must get to the town where Jerome is being executed.  Unfortunately, every attempt to secure transportation and communication is interfered with.  The townsfolk know what he is up to but would rather see Jerome killed.  Thus, the telegraph office is closed, there are no more trains to the town, and no horses available.  Finally, he sets to walk to the town in hopes of getting there in time.  As he sets off, That Jim Peasely begins to follow.  Around the half-way point, Jim asks the narrator about his background in the circus and bets the narrator cannot do somersaults like he used to.  The narrator answers his challenge and as he does, That Jim knocks into him as he's somersaulting and then continues on to get ahead of the narrator.  The narrator answers the challenge by catching up and passing him.  After hours of traveling, the narrator arrives back in the town that he left and only then realizing that That Jim had turned him around.  As people return from the execution, they all get a laugh from hearing about the narrator.


This was an enjoyable tale in the sense that I hadn't realized that That Jim had turned him around and was as surprised as the narrator. 

Short Story #331 out of 365
Rating:  (out of 5 stars)
Date Read: 11/01/2014
Source:  The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce, compiled by Ernest Jerome Hopkins.  Bison Books, 1984.  The full works of Ambrose Bierce, including this story can be found here on

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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