After Twenty Years (Henry)

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After Twenty Years
Summary of the Short Story
from the Collection «The Four Million»
Microsummary: Two childhood friends agreed to meet after 20 years. One became successful in the West, while the other became a patrolman. At their reunion, the patrolman arrested his friend for a crime.

One night, a policeman patrolled a quiet street in New York City, checking doors and keeping an eye on the area. As he walked, he encountered a man named Bob leaning in the doorway of a darkened hardware store.

Bob — man who made his fortune in the West; childhood friend of Jimmy Wells; pale, square-jawed face with keen eyes, white scar near right eyebrow, large diamond scarfpin; confident, nostalgic.

Bob explained that he was waiting for a friend, Jimmy Wells, whom he had made an appointment with twenty years ago.

"It's all right, officer," he said, reassuringly. "I'm just waiting for a friend. It's an appointment made twenty years ago."

They had agreed to meet at the same spot, which used to be a restaurant called "Big Joe" Brady's, to catch up on their lives.

Bob shared that he and Jimmy were like brothers growing up in New York, but he left for the West to make his fortune while Jimmy stayed behind. They initially kept in touch, but eventually lost contact. Despite this, Bob was confident that Jimmy would keep their appointment, as he had always been a loyal and true friend. Bob had traveled a thousand miles to be there that night, hoping to reunite with his old friend.

As Bob waited, the weather turned cold and drizzly. After about twenty minutes, a tall man in a long overcoat approached him, and they greeted each other as if they were the long-lost friends.

Jimmy Wells — patrolman in New York City; childhood friend of Bob; tall, long overcoat with collar turned up; loyal, dutiful, conflicted.

They began to walk and talk about old times, with Bob sharing his success in the West. However, when they stepped into the bright light of a drug store, Bob realized that the man was not Jimmy Wells, as his facial features were different.

"You're not Jimmy Wells," he snapped. "Twenty years is a long time, but not long enough to change a man's nose from a Roman to a pug."

The tall man revealed that he was a police officer and that Bob was under arrest for a crime committed in Chicago. He handed Bob a note from the real Jimmy Wells, who was now a patrolman in New York City. In the note, Jimmy explained that he had been at the appointed place on time and recognized Bob as the wanted man when he lit his cigar. Unable to arrest his old friend himself, Jimmy had asked another officer to do the job.

In the end, Bob's reunion with his childhood friend took an unexpected turn, as the passage of time and their divergent paths had led them to a place where loyalty and duty collided.