“Path of Corruption” from Trysts: A Triskaidecollection of Queer and Weird Stories by Steve Berman, (Lethe Press, 2001).
The main character of this disarming tale is a graduate student in New Orleans who sees an intriguing figure on the street and, on a whim, follows him. He stops only when the stranger crosses the Line, an imaginary divide between the tourist and locals sections of the French Quarter. When he sees the stranger a second time he finds the courage to break away from his friends and follow the figure again, this time all the way.
I was completely engaged by the opening of this story, which details the conflict the character feels because of his desire for other men. It’s told in such a timeless and realistic manner that I became confused as to why this story was included in a volume of weird tales. Rest assured, there’s a twist at the end that not only is fantastical but caused me to re-consider the story as allegory.