“I Can Hear You Now” by John Morgan Wilson from Best Gay Stories 2009 by Lethe Press. Edited by Steve Berman. Originally published in Nine Hundred & Sixty-Nine: West Hollywood Stories.

I loved this story. If not for the fact that “Henry and Jim” is re-printed in this collection, I would say it’s my favorite story here. And since I already read and reviewed that story as part of Best Gay Romance 2013 (though it originally appeared in Best Gay Romance 2008), I do think of this as my favorite of this volume.

There’s a twist near the end of this tale that makes it difficult to discuss what actually happens during the course of it. Let me just say that the main character is in West Hollywood’s Boys Town, cell phone in hand, trying to work up the nerve to make a potentially life-altering telephone call to his much younger boyfriend. As he ruminates on his situation and debates whether or not to push the call button, he takes note of the people surrounding him, and the conclusions he reaches about them tell us volumes about him. We learn that the difference in age between he and his lover strikes terror in his heart, and that underneath his fear is a deep current of loneliness. It’s the thing keeping him from making the difficult call.

John Morgan Wilson is also the author of the Benjamin Justice crime series, which I haven’t read, but sounds amazing. Justice is described as the penultimate anti-hero, tortured, self-medicating, thrashing around in Hollywood’s dark underbelly.

If I can find it for download without resorting to patronizing Amazon, I’ll make the first one this week’s #FridayReads.