The Killers (Hemingway)

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The Killers
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: Two hitmen entered a diner, tied up the staff, and waited to kill a former boxer, but he didn't show up. A young man warned the intended victim, who accepted his fate and refused to flee.

Two men entered Henry's lunch-room and sat at the counter. They ordered food from George, the man behind the counter, and engaged in conversation with him and another customer, Nick Adams. The men were dressed similarly and had a threatening demeanor.

Nick Adams — young man; brave, curious, and compassionate.
George — diner employee; practical, cautious, and helpful.

After eating, they revealed that they were there to kill a man named Ole Andreson, a former heavyweight prizefighter who frequented the establishment.

Ole Andreson — former heavyweight prizefighter; resigned, defeated, and accepting of his fate.

We're going to kill a Swede. Do you know a big Swede named Ole Andreson?

They tied up George, Nick, and the cook, Sam, in the kitchen, and waited for Ole to arrive. However, Ole never showed up, and the two men eventually left. George, Nick, and Sam were released, and George suggested that Nick should go warn Ole about the situation. Nick agreed and went to Ole's residence at Hirsch's rooming-house. Ole was lying on his bed, fully clothed, and seemed resigned to his fate.

There isn't anything I can do about it.

He told Nick that he had gotten involved in something in Chicago and that there was nothing he could do to avoid being killed.

Nick returned to the lunch-room and informed George of Ole's decision. Both men were disturbed by the situation and felt helpless. Nick decided that he could no longer stay in the town, as the thought of Ole waiting in his room for his inevitable death was too much for him to bear.

Al — hitman; cold, aggressive, and controlling.
Max — hitman; talkative, sarcastic, and menacing.

George agreed that leaving was a good idea, and the two men tried to put the grim situation out of their minds.