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In the short story "After Twenty Years," a man is waiting in the dark for his friend to arrive. A police officer approaches him, and they converse. The man is asked by the police officer why he is standing in the doorway. The man begins to tell a story. The story is about how twenty years ago, he and his friend had decided to meet twenty years later at the same spot. It was the last time that the two friends had seen each other. The man goes on to say that he had headed west to seek his future. The other man had stayed back.
He talks about the other man being a little slow. The man in the doorway informs the police officer that he is sure that his friend will show up because he was loyal. He also expresses to the police officer that his friend would not have changed despite the years that have passed.
The police officer leaves and another man appears. The man in the doorway is excited at first to see his old friend. However, it is not his friend, which he soon realizes. The man who had walked up to the man in the doorway is an underclothes police officer. He arrests the man because the man is a crook wanted by the police.
The irony in the story is that the man told the police officer that he would recognize his friend when he saw him because he would not have changed. However, the police officer is the old friend that the man had come to see. They had spent time conversing, and the man had not recognized his friend. His friend has changed. His friend is now on the side of the law and has had to make the decision to make a difficult ethical decision and have the man arrested. He sends the man a note revealing who he is at the end of the story.
Another suggested title might be, "People Do Change."
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