(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Joseph Calloway, a rich Englishman indicted on investment fraud charges in his own country, has led authorities on a chase through several Latin American countries. He is now taking refuge in Mexico, hoping that its disordered government will make it easier for him to dodge officials. The narrator, an aimless drifter who is passing through a small border town where Calloway is hiding, sympathizes with the tedious boredom that Calloway feels, with nothing to do but sit in the dismal town’s square all day.

Each day, Calloway strolls to the bridge that joins the Mexican town with a U.S. town and wistfully looks across the river. On one occasion, he expresses the idea that life begins on the other side; however, the narrator mocks Calloway’s view that the other town has more life and excitement than the Mexican town. He knows that it is the same thing over again. The American town even has the same layout; it differs only in having paved streets and taller hotels and in being a little cleaner and much more expensive. On his way back from his walks to the bridge, Calloway routinely kicks the dog that has accompanied him from England as if he is venting some private frustration. Everyone in the town sees everything that Calloway does and knows his entire story, but he is unaware of this.

When two foreign detectives come to the town searching for Calloway, everyone but Calloway knows who they are. People anxiously gather at the town square,...

(The entire section is 573 words.)