“All The Pretty Boys” by Mike Rowe from Night Shadows: Queer Horror (Bold Strokes Books 2012). Edited by Greg Herren and J.M. Redmann.

I think this piece comes closest to what I was expecting when I started reading this anthology. Dale is a predator out on the prowl. He is not a nice person, and everyone he encounters is in danger because of it, only they don’t know it. They can’t see inside his head the way we can. They don’t realize he’s a monster.

There’s an allure to walking around in his skin, acting like the alpha male, and being unfettered by any rules at all. But it also unsettles, because the reader knows what his intentions are toward the homeless, desperate, possibly drug-addicted young man he meets. This is the car-crash-in-slow-motion phenomena. You can’t look away because, in spite of what you know is coming, you want to see.

I’m glad the story stopped when it did, unlike the novel Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite (for many, many years my favorite author). I’ve discussed that novel here before, the unpleasantness of having someone with the gift for vivid description tell such a gruesome tale. Again, I’m glad this story didn’t go further, but I would recommend it to anyone looking for good, contemporary short horror.