In the short story, “Lorelei” Jerome Charyn‘s writing feels closer to the stories of Roald Dahl than most of what is written today. The story is told in the the third person and follows, Howell, an aging grifter who preys on middle-aged wealthy widows.
The premise for this story is that something has changed in Howell. Has he tired of scamming women? Is he looking for something more in life? Whichever the case may be, Howell finds himself back in the Bronx where he grew up as a Super’s son. He returns to the building, which used to be grand and still has some of its magnificence despite the changing landscape of the Bronx. Renting an apartment in the building, which is called the Lorelei, Howell is surprised to discover that the building owner and his beautiful daughter still reside in the penthouse.
Confronted with his past, and the reasons for running away from home as a teenager, Howell learns who the true con artist is.