Lake Cottage

We know the Larsons. They come to Slocum Lake each summer. We would like them to stop, but they do not stop.

So opens “Last Cottage” by Christopher Merkner, a chilling short story that takes place at a mid-Western lake. The Larsons are out-of-towners who arrive every summer. They are also the owners of the last privately owned land on the lake. The locals hate them, believe that they are standing int he way of the towns’ economic development. They go to extreme measures to get the Larsons to leave.

The first thing that grabbed my attention is that it’s told in the first person plural. It’s creepy and at the same time forces us to see things from the townspeople’s viewpoint. And they do see everything, hiding in the bushes to watch the Larsons, see the reactions. And they justify everything they do. They really see it as reasonable, which is the disturbing part. “We” are crazy, but make it sound sensible.

Of course, the Larsons are nuts too, if in a different way. They don’t realize they’re despised. They take everything thrown at them and make the most out of it, but I’m sorry, having sex on a bed of dead fish is not sane. Even they don’t deserve what happens in the end though.

It’s a disturbing little story, showing how far “we” are willing to go, especially when we’re part of a group who approves.

“Last Cottage” was first published in The Cincinnati Review (vol. 7, no. 1), but I read it in The Best American Mystery Stories 2011, which can be ordered from Amazon or  an Indie bookstore.

4 out of 5 stars

Category: Crime- Short Story

Book source: For review

Short Story Monday is hosted by John at The Book Mine Set.

RIP VI is hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings.