ID two short stories

The first one should be easy. It is a science fiction story I think set in the fifties. I read it in an anthology awhile back. it concerns a person in an office setting who is listening to another office mate talk about his vacation. There is something odd about the way the vacation is described. The turning point of the story is that the hero looks at the pictures from the vacation. they are pictures of another world or something like it. That is all I remember.

The second one is hard. I recall reading it in an English Literature book from high school, between the grades eight to tenth. The time frame for my reading would be between 1969 to 1971. I think the book was published in the earlier sixties. It had the usual fiction and nonfiction works in it. Then there was a part after each stories about writing small essays for class.

The story from what I remember was about a new kid who comes to a small town or city. I think that this would have been a rare thing to happen in this story. The boy is in high school. The point of view is from another male student.

The new boy is considered strange by the narrator. This is because the boy wears an opera cape at times. He speaks in cryptic sentences that make sense later in the story when they are explained. The new boy comes out of a field at dusk at one point next some buildings in the down town area. I think that the setting for the town is in the Midwest.

That is all that I remember about the story. Every couple of years these small facts come back to haunt me. I would like to be able to read this story again. I would have to say the it was written in the fifties. Maybe for some high school magazine like Scholastic magazine but I do not know for sure.

Thanks in advance for any help.

One Bump.

Just possibly, Heinlein’s obscure short “Columbus Was a Dope” - a guy sits in a bar talking to the bartender about the interplanetary ship that’s being built, and the bartender goes on and on about how the crew of such a ship would have to be crazy to leave the comforts of home, and and safety and so forth. Punch line: the bar turns out to be on the Moon.

Thanks, but that is not it. I have read the Heinlein. I am sure it has vacation photos. Just that I do not remember anything else.

I think you’re thinking of “Two Weeks in August” by Frank Robinson about a guy who resents his officemate’s bragging about his vacation travels, so he counters by telling the bragging guy about his upcoming vacation trip to Mars - but after vacation time is over, the bragging guy has real photos and ticket stubs from his real trip to Mars (and actually better locations than the original made-up story included). Here’s a list of where the story has been collected http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?55232 and here’s a review of the story http://edsfproject.blogspot.com/2006/04/two-weeks-in-august-by-frank-robinson.html and here’s a link to an excerpt https://books.google.com/books?id=OSd6CwAAQBAJ&pg=PA1373&dq=“two+weeks+in+august”+frank++robinson+mars&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwji1Jm5gfTPAhUCNiYKHeX3C2YQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=“two%20weeks%20in%20august”%20frank%20%20robinson%20mars&f=false

Okay that’s it. I can see where I read it. Thanks. I guess the other story will just haunt me.

If you think of any other details, post them.

The problem is that is all I remember about that story. It just come to my mind about every two or three years. I think the only other thing was that there was an illustration of the boy coming through the field with a red cape. But I cannot say for certain.

I looked up the story using the isfdb listing given above, and it seems as if the likely place for TheZenPaperboy to have read it was the Asimov/Conklin-edited collection Fifty Short Science Fiction Tales, which also contains the Heinlein story “Columbus was a Dope” that Amateur Barbarian suggested, and which TZP said he read. If TZP read it in this collection, it’s not surprising.
What is surprising is that Asimov and Conklin selected two stories that, arguably, have such similarities that one could be mistaken for the other, in a single anthology.

Most Asimov et al. anthologies contain a number of similar stories, especially the mystery/crime ones.

“Two Weeks in August” and “Columbus Was a Dope” aren’t really that similar. There’s nothing about a vacation in “Columbus” for example, which was key in the OP’s description, and “Columbus” takes place in a bar, not an office.

Back to the other story the OP is looking for - it’s hard to find lists of fiction used in textbooks; if you remembered some other story in the book that might help. My experience has been that SF in textbooks is either by Asimov or Bradbury or by someone very obscure indeed. The opera cape story doesn’t sound like any Asimov or Bradbury I’ve heard of, but that might be a place to start.

It sounds like you’re hinting that the boy is (or thinks he is) a vampire. Is that so, or am I misreading between the lines? Or is that one of the things you don’t remember?

No. this story is set in the fifties way before the vampire craze. He is just a new boy in town seen through the eyes of another boy, a fellow classmate. As near as I can think the boy was just trying to act mysterious. Anything that the narrator thought was strange or unusual was explained in the end. It all sounds vague because I am just going on memory from almost forty five years ago.
I sure I read the story a few times but I read a lot back then. If it had not been in a school text book I am sure I would have been able to find it later when I started to have the flashbacks. I am not sure that I paid attention to the title or name of the author back then. I would see the book on the table, pick it up to read, flip through the pages.

Maybe they aren’t that similar, but my point that a description of one could be mistaken for the other has been demonstrated.

True.

Back to the other story the OP is looking for - it’s hard to find lists of fiction used in textbooks; if you remembered some other story in the book that might help. My experience has been that SF in textbooks is either by Asimov or Bradbury or by someone very obscure indeed. The opera cape story doesn’t sound like any Asimov or Bradbury I’ve heard of, but that might be a place to start.
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I just saw this second part. The story is not science fiction. it would just be general fiction. That is why I thought that it might be something from Scholastic magazine. There is one thing that I remember but just because it was in a school textbook like the one I am talking about. I believe it was a non fiction piece called death of a western gladiator. there was an illustration of a rattlesnake with the start of the story. I did not read all of it, just that little bit of the first page. It did not interest me.

Ok. I googled “Death of a Western Gladiator” and found a few books that use that phrase https://www.google.com/search?q=“death+of+a+western+gladiator”&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=“death+of+a+western+gladiator”&tbm=bks (including some textbooks).

If you happen to remember a few exact words from the opera cape story, using Google to search books could be helpful for you.

Well that was a helpful clue. I did look it up with the full title. And the life and death of a western gladiator is science fiction. But they only list two publications that it is in. I went to google books. There are over two thousand books that come up. I will just have to spend some time looking through that.
I have no recollection of the title or author of the other story.

Complete text of “Two Weeks in August” http://www.gutenberg.org/files/51008/51008-h/51008-h.htm

The Life and Death of a Western Gladiator isn’t really science fiction. It’s the story of a rattlesnake from birth to death, told from the snake’s PoV.
I read it last year in the Charles G. Finney collection The Ghosts of Manacle. There’s a list of the other stories in the book in the link.