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Short Stories 365/65 | N.S. Beranek

“Touch Me In The Morning” by Greg Herren from Foolish Hearts: New Gay Fiction (Cleis Press, 2014)

The narrator of this story awakens to, as they say, a bad case of the icks. He’s alone after having brought a man home from a bar, again; he’s hung over; he reeks of smoke; and his tongue feels fuzzy. More than how he feels physically, though, it’s the worry he feels over whether or not he has damaged his relationship with his friend Dennis which has him reeling. You see, the man he brought home with him the previous night wasn’t just anyone, it was his good friend, his best friend. He’s so concerned about what it means that Dennis wasn’t there when he woke that he entertains the notion of playing a modified version of “Man, was I drunk last night”, not because Dennis is in denial about his sexuality, but because he lives his life by a golden rule: Never sleep with your friends (only stated in somewhat saltier language).  

You’re probably thinking it all sounds depressing, and also that there’s a good chance this author is not going to turn things around for his character. But there you would be wrong. This story actually ends on—dare I say it?—an up note, for which I was glad.