“A Hero in Hot Pink Boots” by J. Leigh Bailey from Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales by Bold Strokes Books, 2014. Edited by Radclyffe and Stacia Seamen.

The introduction to this story says that it’s based on Alice in Wonderland, while the author’s website states it’s based on Puss in Boots. I don’t see either one in it but I also don’t think we’re missing out. This seems to be its own thing, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Kevin has made a bad decision in agreeing to accompany two preppy guys from his high school to a rave in an industrial section of Chicago. Paul and Todd are not his friends. They’re a pair of privileged jerks who first laugh at him because he’s financially strapped, and then demean him by suggesting he might be willing to toss away his morals in exchange for a chance to remain in their company.

That wasn’t entirely clear, at first. Since the story is told in first person I wasn’t sure of the narrator’s gender, and I didn’t pick up on the inequity of his relationship with the two boys right off the bat, so I was confused when he rejected their admittedly crude advances. After that, though, I found my bearings. By the time flashy, funky Cedric arrived on the scene, I knew what was what.

Cedric’s a riot. I loved watching him mastermind the interactions with Kevin, who stormed off after the meltdown with Paul and Todd, searching for a phone to use to call his brother to rescue him. Kevin’s naïve; Cedric’s experienced. There definitely is a cat-and-mouse feeling to their repartee, and this was a fun story because of it.