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Short Stories 365/209 | N.S. Beranek

“Welcome to Anteaterland” by Nathaniel Fuller from Queer Fish: An Eclectic Anthology of Gay Fiction (Volume One), Pink Narcissus Press (2011). Edited by Margarita Bezdomnya and Rose Mambert.

This story got off to a great start. The narrator‘s twelve year old son Samuel has just arrived home after a summer spent living with his mother, the narrator’s ex-wife. All should be right with the world, only the narrator and his partner Brian, who has been on the scene for nine years, had a fight a few days earlier. Brian stormed out and hasn’t returned. We’re told they do this sort of thing at least once every summer, but they’ve always managed to keep it from Samuel. It’s not like Brian to stay mad, especially when it impacts Samuel. And naturally, Samuel is upset and wants to find him. So father and son go looking in the one place they suspect Brian went: a theme park down the road called Anteaterland.

I like the concept of a theme park where you can be morphed into an animal and experience life as another species, but this species? Not so much. The area where the three reside is depicted as being chock full of oddly-themed parks. The first of the immersion style was called Jungleland. In it, guests get to live as a tiger. I realize it would be more cliche and not as funky, but I wish this story was about that park. I also wish it went somewhere, and the characters were changed by the experience, instead of the reader just being introduced to an interesting premise.

If there is a deeper meaning here I’m not too proud to admit it went over my head.