Flash: The Closet

By Barton Paul Levenson

Read by Alasdair Stuart

London, 1847. A tall, thin young man came into a shop and nervously removed his top hat. Snow fell silently in the streets as the sun went down. The cobbled street held no carriages or other pedestrians.

The proprietor stood behind the counter. He was taller and fatter than the young man. He had jowls, and hair that was black on top and white in the sideburns. “And what may I do for you today, sir?”

The young man gulped and fidgeted with his hat for a moment. Then he seemed to grow calm. “I am here to see about a closet,” he said firmly.

March 6th, 2008 11:59 am

Great story, brilliant reading!

March 6th, 2008 8:46 pm

A nice allegory for the choices we make in life – which path to fallow, which bridge to burn behind us, which door to close. Well done.

Mari Mitchell
March 7th, 2008 8:49 pm

I did find this to be all that. It was mostly the ending, which I found to be a let down.

The reading was good. I love his voice.

Most of the writing was interesting, but that ending… I think I wanted something larger?

Steven Gomez
March 7th, 2008 11:19 pm

Nice and quick. Sometimes the idea is better presented by just not being there rather than being spelled out.
A really pleasant 5 1/2 min.

March 8th, 2008 12:53 pm

It was okay. Kind of predictable. I really like how hesitant and pleading the guy was in the end.

March 11th, 2008 5:09 pm

a bit lame since the customer was warned and because of that I felt little sympathy – there was no real horror as the outcome was kinda deserved

March 13th, 2008 10:43 pm

First, Alasdair’s reading is amazing. Although I should have been biased, (I am Barton’s brother) I must admit I had trouble comprehending Barton’s writing for years. He sent “The Closet” to me when I was with the U.S. Army headed for Bosnia. We were all in a barracks in Germany together and we passed this story around and everyone had a different opinon of what it meant. We talked about it for days. On first reading, I was left where Mari was, but after several readings I saw the same thing Kevin did. We make choices, but hate to have to live with the consequences. Now I am am hooked on his writing.

March 14th, 2008 4:12 am

The succession of colored rooms reminded me of the Masque of the Red Death, but I couldn’t quite puzzle out what the author is going for here. At first I thought it was a suicide allegory, then I began to wonder if it wasn’t more about the comfort of solitude and whether, once we cut ourselves off from life, we might not be able to find a way back in.

November 30th, 2008 9:23 pm

Still scares the shit out of me…

June 11th, 2009 11:53 am

Although predictable, the ending still sent a chill down my spine.