“His Paper Doll” from Trysts: A Triskaidecollection of Queer and Weird Stories by Steve Berman (Lethe Press 2001).
It’s Tuesday night and Richie and his best friend Han are bored. They’re too young to drive, which means they’re also too young to go to clubs, or to drink, or to do much of anything fun. So they walk to the strip mall near Richie’s house.
A bit of a horndog, Han plans to chat up the counter jerk at the copy center. Richie envies his best friend’s boldness but does not pine for him the way some of their friends suspect he does. His sights are set higher, on true love, but for the time being all he can do to try to make his desires manifest is cut out images of boys he fancies from magazines. While Han makes time, Richie kills it, fiddling with the advanced settings on the copy machines, enlarging and enhancing his contemporary voodoo doll.
At least, that is, until the door of the shop opens and a hunky – and oddly familiar — stranger appears.
I was impressed by the authenticity of the teenaged protagonist’s voice. It was because of reading this story that I knew I would enjoy the author’s novel, Vintage, which is aimed at a young adult readership.