"The Extinction of Fairytales" by Jacob M. Appel
This story comes from the collection "Scouting for the Reaper" written by Jacob M. Appel.
Zooom... We're heading back to 1967. A professional fairytale folklorist, Edie Cosgrove, gets an insurance payout from her parents death. With the money she decides to buy a house in the suburbs. Upon the first few days, on a Tuesday, that she is moving into the house a black man comes knocking on her door. When she answers the door the man introduces himself as Sammy. He is there to cut her grass.
She assumes that he has been cutting the grass for the previous owner of the house and decides to keep Sammy on as the landscaper. They come to an agreement on price for his work and he sets about cutting her grass. Every Tuesday for 37 years Sammy came to her house, without fail, to take care of her landscaping needs. She comes to rely on Sammy for certain things around her house and eventually in her life. Then one Tuesday Sammy doesn't show up. She has no idea what to do and realizes that in 37 years she knows practically nothing about him more than his first name. What to do, what to do?
This story was a fun read. Edie Cosgrove researched fairytales for a living. She traveled around the world to find fairytales from all over and then went about documenting them. That in itself was an interesting point of the story. That is an interesting character to come up with and an interesting profession to have for the story. The profession and personality goes hand in hand with the theme of this story.
I like how he wrote the characters of this story. They were three dimensional and had complexities. They didn't seem flat even for a short story. Edie was a crack up; a typical feisty old woman. She had fun at her neighbor's expense.
The conflict was just right for a story like this. There was tension about where Sammy could have gone and tension with her neighbors. Also due to Sammy not being around. You could feel the chaos in Edie's life as she went around her day to day in a fog not sure what to do about Sammy.