(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“Moon Deluxe” is a brief story in which nothing of significance happens. Edward, the protagonist, is referred to throughout as “you,” starting from the story’s opening sentence: “You’re stuck in traffic on the way home from work, counting blue cars, and when a blue-metallic Jetta pulls alongside, you count it—twenty-eight.” The driver of the Jetta is a young woman whom Edward has seen before. A little later he stops at a drugstore, not to buy anything in particular but because he is restless and at loose ends. He looks at “red jumper cables, a jigsaw puzzle of some TV actor’s face, the tooled-leather cowboy belts,” and some other items, and finally buys “Curad bandages, because the package is green.” On the way out of the parking lot, he “drive[s] too fast and nearly hit[s] a teen-ager.”

When he gets home to The Creekside, the apartment complex where he lives, he is invited by Eileen, a neighbor and casual friend, to come by later. At the end of the first of the story’s four sections, Edward rinses and sugars some lettuce leaves, “the way your mother did when you were a child, then eat[s], looking at the local news.” He observes that his teeth need brushing, strips and runs water for a bath, and looks at his skin in the mirror.

Phil, Eileen’s boyfriend, opens the door to her apartment, and refers to her as “Ivy”—Edward does not know why, nor does the story ever explain. Also present is Lily, dressed in “green slacks, a red belt, a shiny violet undershirt, a white jacket,” who, Eileen says, moved into Carmen’s apartment. She tells Lily that Edward “and Carmen had a thing. . . . Only a small thing, but definitely a thing.” Lily flirts with Edward, but he does not respond. Meanwhile it begins to rain....

(The entire section is 727 words.)