The second story in Uncertainties III is by S.P. Miskowksi. Warner is a retiree whose wife, Marianne, keeps him on his toes with her eccentric, incessant demands.
The story begins with Warner leaving his house to try and buy his missus a 'bumpy wooden-handled thing' that might be a back-scratcher from a failing general store. They live in a desert town, and the description of the blazing heat has a Ballardian feel. The story's realism and humour carry the reader along as poor Warner tries to accomplish his task. We know he won't.
Along the way we learn about his life, the way in which an old man eventually gives up on modernity, becomes exhausted by the futility of keeping up with change. Warner had 'retired to avoid being one of those maligned old men, mocked behind their backs, creaking around the office trying to pick up the slang of managers half their age'.
Miskowski excels in clear, thoughtful insights into supposedly ordinary lives. Warner is one of the most believable, sympathetic characters I have encountered lately. His return home, empty-handed. And then the story ends, in a way. It is only marginally a horror tale, perhaps more of a ghost story, but undoubtedly offers us uncertainty.
More from this anthology very soon.