The Buck Stops Here Summary

Summary (Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Lieutenant Pevsner of Army Intelligence rushes overnight from Washington, D.C., to the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, because word has been received that Carl Gades plans to kill former president Harry Truman the next day. Truman had refused to pardon the man’s only brother, Arthur, who recently died in prison after serving ten years for trying to blow up a plane.

Pevsner is assigned to this case because he is considered a “hawk,” one whose photographic memory allows him to see and then recall every detail of a scene. While on another army assignment, Pevsner saw Gades three years earlier and he remembers many details about the man—including the unusual shape of his left ear, his blue eyes, and even the freckles on his wrist. Nevertheless, Pevsner doubts if he can recognize Gades, who is known as a master of disguise. No one in the Secret Service, however, has ever seen Gades.

Pevsner is exhausted when he arrives in Missouri, but he has no time to spare because it is expected that the attempt on Truman’s life will occur at 3:00 p.m. that same day—one month, to the minute, after Gades’s brother died. Pevsner studies the layout of the library and the people who are working there. It is being used by Truman, though the final stages of construction are still taking place. Characteristically, Pevsner notes small details about each of the clerical staff, painters, and people who make...

(The entire section is 545 words.)