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Short Stories 365/282 | N.S. Beranek

“Be Mine Tonight” by Roberto Carlos Ortiz from Educe Literary Journal Issue Four, Spring 2013. Edited by Carrie Seymour.

I remembered much of this story as soon as I re-read the opening line. What I didn’t recall was its experimental nature. It freezes the climax of the story—an angry woman screaming in Spanish at two guys as they try to cross the street—and explodes it (as with an exploded diagram), in order to examine it.

Nick and his boyfriend Omar are getting ready to leave a gay dance club after a night of drinking and dancing. In Nick’s case it’s been too much drinking. If they don’t leave he’s going to be sick. Omar has just deposited him on a couch by the front entrance while he makes a pit stop in the bathroom.

By his own admission, Nick’s a flirt. He especially likes to flirt with straight women, and there are a few there, having a good time with gay friends. Earlier, out on the dance floor, Nick was giving the eye to one woman in particular. Naturally, the minute Omar leaves his side she swoops in. Things escalate quickly. It turns out Nick’s not only dating Omar, he’s also got a girlfriend. Partially that’s because he’s trying to appease his family, but it’s also that he seems to like attention, no matter who provides it.

Three people’s lives have converged in such a way that there’s potential for a lot of hurt feelings and drama. The genius of this piece is that it’s told three times, first from Nick’s point of view, then from Omar’s, and finally from the woman’s. My only criticism would be that, unless I’m mistaken, we never learn her name. Even in her point of view she’s never identified. Then again, she’s portrayed as someone who regards the individuals all around her in the club as a single entity: “Gays love to hang out with me,” she tells us. “They think I’m lots of fun.”  In that case it’s fair.