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Short Stories 365/63 | N.S. Beranek

“A Royal Mess” by Taylor McGrath from Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction (Cleis Press, 2014)

This story doesn’t feel like a short story at all. It feels like a novel that’s somehow just fifteen pages long. We’re introduced to Graham, a journalist whose online search for his ex-boyfriend has, at long last, yielded a result. Farrin Zafrani is back in town.

Graham makes a half-hearted attempt to keep from jumping up and dashing out the door by running the idea of seeing Farrin again past a mutual friend, but it’s never really a question of whether or not he’ll go. There’s unfinished business between them, the result of Graham’s inability to stop turning over stones, searching for juicy stories.

There’s a lot of conflict packed into these few pages. We learn that Farrin brought loads of baggage into his relationship with Graham, thanks on two separate counts to his family. First, there’s the fact that he is afflicted with ADD. Then there’s his domineering father, who never misses a chance to make him feel worthless as well as anxious and depressed.     

Despite that, since Farrin took off unexpectedly three years ago Graham has never stopped wanting him to return, and he’s never stopped trying to find him. He turns up at Farrin’s new place of employment with no idea just what he may find…

I hope this is the germ of an idea that will become a novel. I would love to know more about these characters and see a greater focus placed on the story conflicts. And maybe it’s all the weddings in this collection, including one in this story, but most of all I’d like to know if Graham and Farrin will live happily ever after.