…my big news. Which is that my story, “Fool’s Mate,” has been accepted for Best Gay Romance 2011. This is my third appearance in the Best Gay Romance series, and I love Richard Labonte’s anthologies, so I’m super, super excited! I don’t have the full TOC yet, but he always chooses amazing stories (not to mention the covers always have hot boy-on-boy images!).
Here’s the opening bit of “Fools Mate,” a story of chess, fathers and sons, unrequited lust and a startling discovery:
For three whole weeks, I didn’t know. I came out of my dad’s cabin on the morning of each of those days, and the man was already there, sitting at the picnic table in the shared yard space between the cabins, chess board open and half-played in front of him. He was Kilway, my father’s work friend, or friendly neighbor, or hated enemy, depending on the state of my father when he mentioned him.
Big shouldered, sporting a crew cut tinged with gray, Kilway raised his hand off the ebony queen and forced his fingers through the air as I came down the porch stairs. When I waved back, he nodded and lowered his hand back to the queen’s crown. Each movement so deliberate, on-purpose.
That summer, my father called me Puppy or, when he was in a good mood, Pup, because I couldn’t hold still, couldn’t seem to get from one place to the next without losing my feet. He told me my equilibrium was out of balance, ‘cause I’d moved from one side of the country to the other, ‘cause I’d switched from living with a mom to living with a dad. Also, because I was supposed to have gone to college, but that got switched up on me too, on account of the divorce and nobody having any money.
On the phone, my mom said that it was just teenage pains and that I would grow out of it, but by that point, she only told the truth when she wasn’t drinking, and she said “painsh,” so I didn’t dare believe her. It was Kilway, with his careful muscles and his bones slow through the air, that gave me some kind of hope for the future.
“You play, son?” he’d asked on the first day. A father who never called me anything but nicknames, most of them animals — Pup, Dodo, Pussy — and this man I’d never seen before calling me son. If my equilibrium was messed up already, it was more so now. Kilway was older than me, but not as old as my dad, and around him I wanted to be my best self, my most grown-up being.
Kiss kiss bang bang, s.
PS — Chess image (I wrote “Chest Image” the first time) by this artist.