Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Story of the Week: One More Tuesday

Out of Time - 2 Strange TalesI felt annoyed after finishing Milo Fowler's "One More Tuesday" from his two-story collection Out of Time - 2 Strange TalesI wasn't annoyed because the story was bad or frustrating. I was annoyed because I hadn't written it. I think that's the highest praise you can get from a fellow writer.

"One More Tuesday" follows Josef through less than an hour of a Tuesday morning, actually more than one Tuesday morning, the same morning multiple times. Like the protagonist from the film Groundhog Day, Josef is stuck reliving a segment of time. He wakes up in his apartment, goes to the street outside, converses with an old man walking his dog, and later witnesses a horrible accident in which a streetcar crashes when it runs over the man and his dog. A few minor details differ from day to day. Sometimes Josef wears shoes. Sometimes Alice—a girl living across the hall whom he wants to ask to dinner—is on the streetcar and other times in her flat, but the old man and the little dog always die.

Josef had tried warning the old man on more than one occasion. Josef had tried stalling the streetcar many times with as many reasons as he could muster, but the driver was a stickler for his schedule. Josef had tried everything he could think of to keep it from happening all over again, but it didn’t matter. Every morning, he awoke after a horrible nightmare only to discover the nightmare had not ended. Far from it. It was always beginning anew.
Josef decides that the only way to break out of the nightmare is to save the old man and his dog, even if that means saving them against their will. Josef succeeds but at what cost to his relationship with Alice? And what about the old man who threatens to go to the police after Josef knocks him out with a punch to the face. How can Josef justify his socially unacceptable behavior without giving the old man and Alice more reason to think him a lunatic? These questions and the endless repetition of Tuesday mornings that precede them leave Josef feeling utterly demoralized. He decides to try again and takes one last drastic step, but will Tuesday morning come again?

Fowler's story has a Kafkaesque feel. Josef lives alone in a dreary apartment building. He works at a mind-numbing job in a tile factory. He is frustrated at his inability to ask Alice to dinner. He feels powerless to make positive changes in the drudgery of his life. Even the doors to the apartment building oppose him.

A spotted bulb in the plastered ceiling sent a dismal glow over the rows of square mailboxes lining the lobby wall, their faded numbers barely legible. At the pair of heavy doors, Josef leaned his weight into one and pushed it open against its will.
Fowler gives his tale a delicious twist with an ironic turn. Josef's heroic acts to save the old man, to reach out and do a service for a stranger, ultimately undermine Josef's humanity, leading to a horrible crime. Kafka would be pleased with that one.

To learn more about Fowler and his writing, check out his blog at


  1. Well, now you've gone and done it: made my day. Thanks for the in-depth review, Jeff!

    1. You're welcome. Always pleased to make someone's day.

  2. Milo's writing is a joy, but I haven't come across this side of it before.

    1. Yes, Milo's stories are usually laced with some humor but there's not much that's funny in this one.