“The Briefcase” by Rebecca Makkai #4
December 15, 2010Posted by on
This story takes place at an unknown time, in an unknown place, with an unnamed protagonist who simply has the will to survive. At one time he was a chef, but because of talking politics, he became a political prisoner to an unknown country. He becomes one of 200 criminals sent to an unknown location, but thanks to his starvation along the journey he is able to free himself of his bonds. Sadly, when his guards see that he is missing, they take a nearby physics professor and command him to join the group of captives. The professor leaves behind his briefcase, which the protagonist uses to take the identity of the guards’ new victim. With the briefcase in tow, the nameless chef takes on the persona of the professor. Over time he sees parts of his his life through the lens of the professor which I thought was quite entertaining. Even to the point of mulling over an assignment found in the professor’s briefcase which instructed his students to construct a proof that the Sun revolves around the Earth. If you want to read it, you can find it in The Best American Short Stories 2009.
Links of Interest: