(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The unnamed narrator resolutely refuses to abide by any and all of the bureaucratic and legal rules that apply on the death of a relative, in this instance the death of his wife. After his wife dies, he kisses her hands and leaves the hospital room. A nurse runs after him as he walks down the hall. When she asks what he wants done with his wife’s body, the widower suggests that they burn it or give it to science. The horrified nurse states that he will draw up the proper legal papers, but that this will take some time. The narrator says he does not have time and rushes out of the hospital and onto a bus. Laslo, a hospital security guard (the only character in the four-page story who has a name), is ordered to follow the bereaved husband onto the bus, even though he does not clearly understand what is transpiring. All the parties involved are hyperconsciously aware of what is and is not part of their jobs—that is, the legal obligations of their employment. The bureaucrats back at the hospital are only concerned with not being sued by the beleaguered husband and with disposing of the body.

As the doctors shift their duties to Laslo, Laslo tries to make the bus driver responsible for handing the narrator over to his authority. The bus driver clearly understands the heart of the legal dilemma: “In or out friend, but unless you can come up with some official authority to stop this bus, I got to finish my run.” A conversation ensues between Laslo and...

(The entire section is 591 words.)