“Only Lost Boys are Found” by Steve Berman from Red Caps: New Fairy Tales for Out of the Ordinary Readers (Lethe Press, 2014).
This is the perfect finale for this collection because it encompasses all that precedes it. It’s sweet, a little scary, very trippy, and hopeful. It’s surprisingly funny, too, strewn with land mines of teenage sarcasm.
The world of the story unfolds as a series of closets as the out protagonist searches for his not-so-out neighbor/boyfriend. Sometimes the closet analogy works better than others, but overall it’s an interesting device. And like I said, this story gets trippy. Just as with the one that opened the collection, all the reader can do is hang on and see where it goes, safe in the knowledge that it will be somewhere interesting.
The kinship between this story and the It Gets Better Project is obvious. Not surprisingly, this piece was originally included in Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up (Bold Strokes Books, 2011), edited by the author. It’s written in second-person, which breaks the “fourth wall” (to steal a theatre reference) and blatantly pulls the reader into the narrative. It’s a fantastic choice. I love the idea of the author all but stepping off the page, pointing right at the queer kid reading the story (the intended audience for both books) and saying, “In case you somehow didn’t get it before now, I wrote this for you.”
I especially liked the exposition and dialogue right at the end. Very nice.