In the story "Dusk," Gortsby is sitting on a park bench. Gortsby has a theory. He believes people who live defeated lives wander about at dusk. Dusk is the time of day when it is almost dark. It is more difficult to recognize people at this time of day.
At dusk, people who live defeated lives are seen wandering about the park. These defeated people feel safe from speculation at dusk. No one will notice them.
On this particular day, Gortsby is sitting on a park bench. He is feeling a bit defeated himself. While he sits, an older gentleman sits down. Gortsby imagines that he gets no respect at home. Soon, the older gentleman leaves and a younger man sits down. He is complaining that he cannot find his way back to his hotel. He only went out to buy a bar of soap and now he cannot find his way back.
Gortsby considers himself a good judge of character. At first, he does not believe the young man's sad story because he does not have a bar of soap to corroborate his story.
The young man who appears to be a scam artist feels defeat once again and rises to leave. After he leaves, Gortsby just happens to see a bar of soap under the park bench. Feeling that he should do a good deed and run after the young man, Gortsby chases the young man down. He gives the young man his bar of soap. Gortsby also loans the young man money to help him out of his situation.
Feeling that he has done a good deed, Gortsby walks past the park bench and sees the old man looking for something:
As Gortsby walks back, he passes the bench where he had been sitting. He notices the old man who had also been sitting there earlier. The old man is now searching for something. When Gortsby asks if the old man has lost anything, the man replies, “Yes, sir, a cake of soap.”
Now, Gortsby is feeling he has been duped by the young man. At the end of the story, he realizes he will never see the money he loaned the young man. The young man has Gortsby's money. He lives off gullible people. Ironically, Gortsby knew better than to believe the young man's story but a bar of soap changed everything. Gortsby will never see his money again.