‘Whoever Was Using This Bed’ by Raymond Carver

In the introduction to Best British Short Stories 2022, Nicholas Royle says of The Stories of Raymond Carver, “Wherever I open the Carver and read an opening line, I want to read on”. ‘Whoever Was Using This Bed’ starts, “The call comes in the middle of the night, three in the morning, and it nearly scares us to death.” Disturbed by a strange phone call, Jack and his wife Iris stay up smoking and talking, “the kind of talk that could only take place at five in the morning.” They reveal their health concerns and discuss “a life-and-death thing” with a sense of intimacy and understanding and trust, which is brilliantly undercut by the chilling punchline.

First published in The New Yorker, April 1986, and available online for subscribers here. Collected in Where I’m Calling From, Harvill Press, 1995

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