|image caption||Signet Edition|
The protagonist of the story is unnamed and unreliable. We follow him on his journey to see his girl Norma, but this journey has an unexpected end.
The woman the protagonist encounters at the end of the story does not seem to be Norma after all. She meets an untimely end.
The year is 1963, and a young man makes his way down New York City’s Third Avenue. The young man is happy, and the weather is wonderful. His hand is in his pocket as he travels down the street.
Everyone he meets seems to be happy and enjoying the night. It seems the young man is in love – an old lady makes the comment as she passes by him.
The young man continues on his way, stopping at a flower stand. As he is at the flower vendor, he hears a radio broadcast. Among its other items it mentions a woman’s body being pulled from the East River. To the young man, none of it seems real. Nothing seems to matter on a night such as this.
He continues on is way, checking that the thing in his pocket is still where it should be. His face becomes briefly troubled, but then he regains his happiness and continues walking.
The young man decides to return to the flower stand. He’ll buy his girl some flowers. He knows what Norma likes. He has a joking conversation with the flower vendor, makes his purchase and then leaves.
He continues on, seemingly so lost in thought about the one he loves that he fails to notice anything else. His journey takes him into a narrow lane. It’s night time. He sees Norma coming towards him – always a surprise to see her.
He catches up to her and for a moment hesitates. Is this really Norma? Of course. He gives her the flowers but strangely she hands them back. She tells him he’s mistaken. Before she can tell him her real name, he interrupts. Her name is Norma. These flowers are for her. Everything he does is for her.
The woman backs away and there is the sudden realization that she isn’t Norma because Norma is dead, and has been for ten years. The man takes the hammer that has been in his pocket the whole time and hits the woman on the head over and over until he kills her.
He leaves, continuing on his journey. There is a spring in his step. He’ll find Norma eventually.