The Man Behind The Bar by Chris Sarantopoulos

Kindle: $1.21


The past never really stays hidden or forgotten. Ben Stingler left his past for a quiet life, until a young man steps in his bar, and brings with him all the things Ben tried to put behind him five years ago. An overdue debt is back on the table.

Since this is a short story, I will use the material from the book to write my review. So I will write *SPOILER ALERT* before and after the sentence(s) that spoil(s) the book, so you can skip it.

Short stories are overflowing the market today. And you know what they say about quality over quantity. But I will not go into this today, I will save it for next week. A short story is supposed to be a story that delivers with a bang. That means that it has to reach the climax in a matter of pages, and very few, believe it or not, actually manage that. This one does.

We are put in a bar and follow the first-person story of Phil Harrisson, also known as Ben Stingler. When a strange, dangerous man enters the bar, Phil’s story starts to unravel. We learn, that a few years back, he was a professional hitman, who now want to live a normal, happy life and has managed so for the past few years. Apart from the fact that he stole a couple million dollars in some job this is all that we know about our main character. But then again, we do not need to know much more. The point here is that it is written in a way, that you could only guess what else this character has done before, and that leaves us with a taste of mystery that we will never solve.

*SPOILER ALERT. The next passage will spoil the story, so do not read it if you want to read the story first. Before you skip, I have covered a single point about why the book is worth buying. I am telling you this, so you do not ruin it for yourself, but still know that IT IS worth buying* 

The man who entered the bar was sent there to kill him, which our character guessed from the minute the guy walked in. They have a conversation in which our character reveals what he did and how he stole the money and so on and so forth. At this time, we also have an insight inside his head, where he is thinking about how to kill the man sitting at his bar, with the shotgun that is under the bar. He manages to do that, as we would expect, but the description of the kill that the author provides is something I believe I have never read before. He does not say: “I took the gun and boom, he was gone.” like 90% of the stories nowadays do. He… No, I will not go into detail, this description alone is worth of buying the kindle edition, so do it. For comparison, those of you who are familiar with Harry Potter books. Remember the death of Sirius Black? How it was described? Well that right there is similar here, but not the same, of course. 

*SPOILER FREE ZONE. Go ahead, continue your reading.*

I spoke about climax before, but this story actually does not reach the climax until the last page. It reaches it there and leaves us hanging, thinking about what happened next. At the same time only giving us just the right amount of information in which the story could unfold in both ways and that right there is absolutely perfect for a short story.

I think the author should write more short stories like this and compile them into a book and release that.

Since this is the first short story that I reviewed on its own, I will grade it from 1 to 5, as with all the other short stories that I may review in the future. This is because of the fact, that you really do not need that much space to maneuver. A short story is either great, good or bad. There is no philosophy here.

With that said, my short story recommendation is: 5 out of 5, absolutely spot on. This short story is what every short story hopes to be.


6 thoughts on “The Man Behind The Bar by Chris Sarantopoulos

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