I was lucky enough to have spent a week at the Wesleyan Writers' Conference about ten years ago where I ran into Chris Offutt. He's a short story writer with an interesting background and who grew up in rural Kentucky. His stories tend to center on his experiences in Kentucky, but he has written on a range of topics.
One of the lessons he taught at the conference was when writing a short story you can generally just cut the first third of it. This in some cases may be literally true, but in others what he's saying is don't screw around with the reader, get into the story.
Short stories that start weak and meander are stories written by writers who don't know where they want to go. Readers sense this and will grow bored and put the story down if you don't give them something to hang their hat on.
This means, know your story and get to it. Don't waste their time.