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Short Stories 365/64* | N.S. Beranek

“Struck” by ‘Nathan Burgoine from Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction (Cleis Press, 2014)

First of all, congratulations are in order for the author, as it was announced yesterday that his debut novel Light is a Lambda Literary Award finalist in the LGBT Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror category.

Chris is a beleaguered mall bookstore employee, an Everyman just trying to make his way in the world and hopefully find true love while he’s at it. His immediate problem is that his boss is on maternity leave and her replacement has it in for him, to put it mildly. His only escape comes during his breaks, when he chats with a handsome security guard named Liam. The only reason Chris feels confidant enough to talk to Liam is because the guy has said things that have led Chris to believe he’s straight, and so off limits. No pressure.

Then “Lightning Todd” walks into the store. He’s a hyper young guy, and gay, who claims to be psychic and whose name conjures up images of a stripper. He lays a couple of predictions on Chris which quickly come true, before he returns and sets the stage for the rest of the story. It’s great fun to watch for various clues as the remaining scenes unfold, and try to figure out how they will all add up.

Interesting factoid: for slightly longer than a nanosecond about a million years ago I worked with someone who claimed to be psychic, was gay, and actually was a- Well, no, not a stripper. An adult film entertainer.

Anywho, if you like this story’s paranormal elements, contemporary setting and deadpan humor mixed with outright snarkiness, you will also like Light. [And if in your heart of hearts you want to see an Everyman similar to the main character of this story be the one with paranormal powers and get to kick some ass in a truly unique way, you will love it.]

*P.S. Happy belated birthday, ‘Nathan.