“The Incident at the Highlands Inn” by Jameson Currier from The Haunted Heart and Other Tales, Chelsea Station Editions 2014. Originally published by Lethe Press, 2009.

In his “About the Stories” section at the end of the volume the author says the style employed in the telling of this story—a snapshot of the last moments of an abusive relationship—was influenced by Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”. Not having that as a frame of reference, my mind immediately went to cinema.

In the story, a young waiter, Joey, is fleeing the restaurant where he works, having just been tipped off by a co-worker that his ex-boyfriend is headed his way. The ex-boyfriend, Steve, has a gun, but Joey doesn’t know that. He only knows that Steve is a controlling sonofabitch who refuses to take no for an answer and has been stalking him and making increasingly serious threats in an attempt to force him to return to the apartment they shared for months.

The author freezes the action right after the situation is explained and begins switching perspectives between Joey and Steve, getting both sides of the story. It reminded me of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon or a number of video games where the action can be frozen and the camera lens swung 360 degrees.  I can’t recall having read anything before that took such liberties, and I found it fascinating. For awhile I was concerned because it didn’t seem to be a ghost story, but it became one, which was also really interesting. Lastly, I liked that the story dealt with an abusive relationship between two men. It’s an actual problem and one that’s almost never mentioned.