Short Story #359: The Burglar by Lebert Bethune

Title:  The Burglar 

Author:  Lebert Bethune


Book cover to The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers - Langston Hughes.
Mary steps into her car and begins to sob.  Her friend, Carol comforts her and says that it will only be a short while that her husband will be away.  Mary is consoled enough to drive.  However, it is explained later that Mary was crying with relief, not with sadness.  Since their moving to Dar es Salaam, she found it hard to love her husband except when he was absent.  While driving, they almost hit a hyena that is crossing the street.  They get to Carol's house and Carol has insists that Mary call her as soon as Mary gets home.  She contemplates her marriage as she drives home.  She arrives home and realizes that her windows had been left open and parts of the house got wet because it is pouring rain.  She changes clothes when she gets to her bedroom.  She takes note of her body as she changes clothes.  She begins to contemplate what she would look like if she were African.  This also leads her to think about the strange differences in the local culture and her own experiences with locals.  The phone rings and it is Carol checking in.  She lays down to dream and awakes partly through to an intense silence.  She sees a man near the window.  He is a tall naked African and she is thrilled by his presence.  However, in her excitement, she releases a moan and with that, he disappears out the window.  Mary is left clutching her breasts and weeping.


There's much going on here with Mary and her sexuality.  When she is poising naked and wondering what she would look like as an African, there are some specific lines (particularly to lips) that are clearly double entendres.  The ending is a bit perplexing though it seems in some ways that this is indeed her dream.  She never initially awakes but rather this is her dream.
Short Story #359 out of 365
Rating: 3 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  12/1/2014
Source:  The Best Short Stories by Negro Writers, ed. by Langston Hughes.  Little, Brown, and Company, 1967. 

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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