“Worse Than Alligators” by Steve Berman from Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers (Lethe Press, 2014).
Jameson’s little sister Madeline has invited six friends for a sleepover. His boyfriend Eddie is there, too, keeping him company and helping deal with the chaos. They’re good, responsible boys. In fact, Jameson’s biggest fear is that he’s too responsible and Eddie will eventually get bored with him.
The girls do the classic sleepover stuff: watch movies, read from a volume on the occult, and try to conjure the ghost of a murdered local girl to make her appear to them in the bathroom mirror. Jameson doesn’t fully realize what they’re up to until he and Eddie discover that they’ve snuck out of the house…
This is urban legend gold. I picture a girl reading this and being inspired to invite her friends over to re-create these timeless childhood moments. But this is more than just another creepy story; unlike previous stories, movies, and television shows of this ilk it reflects a world that includes gay kids. The fact that Jameson has a boyfriend isn’t central to the story unless it’s central to your story, and never seeing yourself in pop culture makes you feel less than. For that reason this entire collection is priceless.