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Short Stories 365/127 | N.S. Beranek

“Eleusis” by Robert Hyers from Saints and Sinners 2014: New Fiction from the Festival (Bold Strokes Books).

Full disclosure: I have a story in this anthology.

Once again, I am left feeling that this must be an excerpt from a novel. Main character Adam is preparing to go to a rave with his boyfriend Justin, who is a DJ for the event, spinning a genre called “uplifting trance”. At the start of the story they are in a Wal-Mart, picking out last-minute essentials before heading to the field where the rave is being held. When they run into another gay couple, Thomas and Vinnie, heated words are exchanged.

I love that this is not Manhattan and they are not urbane, wealthy, and completely put together. These four guys are lower middle class, stranded in the heartland of America. Adam and Vinnie came up together in government subsidized housing, and Adam’s mother is a bonafide alcoholic. Her drinking drove him away a year ago, and he’s been living with Justin ever since. Adam has a lot of issues because of his history, and we are told that he has been trying to get his head together. At the event he does Ecstasy and drops acid. Not surprisingly, especially given the title of the piece, the rave is used as an allegory. Adam isn’t sure what is actually happening and what is a hallucination, and the story ends without resolution. If it is a fragment of a novel I would be interested in reading the complete work.