“The High Cost for Tamarind” by Steve Berman from Second Thoughts: More Queer and Weird Stories (Lethe Press, 2008).

I liked this story quite a bit. I was less enamored of the sections that dealt with an alternate history of U.S. and Mexican relations in the days of the Great War than I was with those that focused on main characters Ivan and Sandro, but all of it was interesting.

Ivan’s father is employed by a petrochemical company based in Berlin. The family relocated to the port city of Tampico because the company plays a large role in Mexico’s petrochemical industry. Pollution from the chemical plants has poisoned the Gulf of Mexico and caused disease in the citizenry, possibly including the bone cancer that afflicts one of Sandro’s legs. He needs medical care, and despite a re-writing of history that favors Mexico, leaving Ivan and going to an American hospital affords him the best chance for survival.

It’s not surprising that this tale of Man vs. Industry reminded me of “The Grief of Seagulls” by Joel Lane (The Touch of the Sea, Lethe Press, 2012) and “Ordinary Mayhem” by Victoria A. Brownsworth (Night Shadows: Queer Horror, Bold Strokes Books 2012). What I most appreciated about it was that, unlike in either of those stories, the reader is allowed to witness the deep affection the characters feel for one another, rather than simply being told it exists.