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Stolpestad by William Lychack

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Get up, go to work, go home, go to bed, rinse and repeat. Many people are familiar with this situation, this loop. The concept of stagnation is not a new feeling amongst most people. Stagnation is the feeling of one's life running on repeat, be it family, work or something different. When it's the same stuff day in, day out, hating it until you finally lie dead and buried in the ground. This 'all too much known' road through your life is almost impossible to escape. "Stolpestad" is a short story written by William Lychack, and it deals with the concept of stagnation. The story is named after the main character, a policeman named Stolpestad. Stolpestad is called in to finish off an injured dog for a little boy and his mother. Later in the evening the boy's father and the boy himself shows up at his doorstep, informing him that the dog isn't dead, and that they had to call in a vet to get it done.

Police stations, gas stations, fire station, coffee shops and liquor stores sets the setting for the story and are introduced as the only thing there is in Stolpestad's boring life. The entirety of his existence is one flat line of a tale like that of lazy summer afternoon, where he needs to define his existence through a place rather than as a person with a unique identity. Stolpestad never directly says that he's dissatisfied with his existence but what he does says it all. He doesn't return home after work to be with his wife and kids but instead seeks truth at the bottom of a pint glass at the local pub. It's becoming so much of a routine that his wife, Sheila, knows exactly where to call to get hold of him, which is how Stolpestad becomes aware of the fact that the boy and his father is at his doorstop. All of Stolpestad's actions draw a crystal clear picture of his character, a sad, bitter man who spends his life in a dead, apathetic state, lacking the will to break free of his vicious circle. When he is faced with the opportunity to end this pitiful circular state of existence, he fails. This is when he's called in to kill the dog. The entire situation is borderline absurd, the most logical thing would be to call a vet to kill the dog painlessly, but the boy's mother refuses to do so. Thus Stolpestad is forced to but down the animal, which would release him from dead existence, which he himself desires as well. In the beginning he's reluctant, hoping that the boy will change his mind and stop him, but that doesn't happen. Stolpestad shoot the dog in the end, but not how you're supposed to do it, which is a shot above the dog's ear, instead he shoots the dog in the neck, trying to hide the wound behind the collar. It was supposed to be a noble gesture on his behalf; no boy wants to see his dog dead, covered in blood. However, it's because of this decision the dog survives and this ultimately shows that Stolpestad is not able to break the cycle.

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