Release Day Review ~ You Are the One by Scott D. Pomfret ~ (Review + Excerpt)
Book: You Are The One
Author: Scott D. Pomfret
Release Date: April 4, 2016
Length: 160 Pages
Gay lovers find temporary respite from adversity in this collection of stories by Scott D. Pomfret. Ranging from a cocaine-fueled rampage to the blind eye of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell to the submission of a dick-dock orgy, these stories depict the bonds gay men forge when political unrest, drugs, HIV/AIDS, the Church or a demanding T-ball schedule put their commitments to the test.
Scott D. Pomfret © 2016
All rights reserved
Your head was full of sacred places like land mines, IEDs on the roadside of our conversation. Every once in a blue moon, you lapsed into a moment of particular silence (as opposed to your garden variety clamped-mouthedness) while some procession in your head passed that only you saw or heard. You woke me up at midnight with a knife at my throat and demanded in Arabic to see my pass.
You talked about the first tour exactly once. Your tone was so reverential that we were instantly in a chapel full of incense and sweat and raw knees and desperation. You said that Iraqi hospitals were filthy and overrun by the limbless. You said how strange it was to hear the ka-chunk of chambered rounds in this place where civilization began. You mentioned the twenty-year-old soldier under your command who took some shrapnel and begged you to just not let him die. You held his hand and pretended that a grown man had not pissed himself. You helped him die.
I knew it was wrong, but some puny, twisted, black part of my soul was jealous of the dying soldier. Jealous of every man and woman you met on that first tour, because they are in some inviolate place in your head I must not go—a mausoleum.
Though I knew I shouldn’t, and I knew it drove you crazy, I could not help myself. I asked over and over, “Do you really want to go back to that?”
You kept saying, “This is what soldiers do.”
I seized you. I shook you. At first, you let me have my way. Then you grew bored, pried me loose, threw me to the bed, and took a position by the window. You scanned the perimeter. You seemed to need an imaginary sniper out there on West Twelfth Street that you could take out. Nothing else would calm your nerves.
“Do you really want to go back to that?” I asked again.
“Do you really want—”
You jumped across the room, pushed me to the wall, and drew back your fist. Now, you grew up in a home where your daddy hit you and your mother. You fought back from time to time, and you lost and got bloodied, and yet made your daddy proud that he had a son who was full of spunk and going to grow up into a real man one day. You swore you would never be such a man yourself. But we often swear to go in one direction and the next moment chart a course toward another end entirely. So you bulked up on protein, lifted your weights, joined the service, and learned martial arts. You filled yourself with flint and fire, piss and vinegar, stoking a hair-trigger temper with too many days of mortar fire and too many nights on patrol.
“Ever consider taking yoga?” I asked. “That might make it simpler to avoid becoming your dad.”
Good and evil warred in your face. I was on the front lines. You struck the wall next to my head. You released me on the brink of being the kind of man you did not want to be.
“I love you,” I said.
“More dangerous than Ali Baba set loose in the souk with a bomb strapped to his chest.”
“I love you.”
“You’re saying that to make me stay.”
“No. I really love you.”
“Yes. Just to make me stay.”
“OK. Yes,” I snapped. “Will you stay?”
You looked away. You muttered, “My country needs me.”
When you and I first met those fifteen months ago outside the chow hall, I prepared myself for a short life on the down low. I figured secrecy was another one of these inevitable humiliations of homosexuality, the price one pays for finding a good man. Someday no doubt, I’d stalk away in disgust, crushed and proud, full of dignity, and lonely as hell.
But the down low was not your MO. From that very first day when you dared to speak to me in front of your men, you never shied away from me. You introduced me only by name. You did not explain me. You did not label me. You did not encourage questions. Your quiet was ominous. Your medals were a dare. Ditto your stars and bars, your aviator glasses. They all mutely challenged each soldier in the platoon to utter a goddamn word of objection.
Conversations dried up. Tongues went still. Words failed. You were as ramrod straight as you ever were. You nodded, saluted, and asked, “Isn’t this a fine day, gentlemen?”
Their faces became blank and unreadable. Their eyes searched beyond me. They were looking at a tomorrow without me, a day when your betrayal could be forgotten and your sins forgiven. They were like a squad of soldiers who agreed to pretend a pitched battle in the fog of war, that leaves blood on your hands and men you loved splitting open a child’s head with a gun stock or shooting a mother point-blank, never happened. They were looking toward a simpler and more moral time, when men could be expected to act according to the laws that God had made.
Not that the men ever looked down on you. They still jumped when you barked, which gave me a thrill, a delight in your power and a laugh at their expense. But you took it deadly serious. You expected nothing less. Your men owed you this obedience, just as you owed them the obligation of leadership.
Maybe I should have been proud of your stubborn refusal to pretend I did not exist. But this middle ground, somewhere between coming and going, between sunshine and shade, between closet and freedom, ultimately proved intolerable. My delight was always short-lived. Every road leads to war.
*copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review*
"The lover of a tough soldier that is built for war."
"A casualty assistance officer who hasn't found the right guy to fall in love with yet. He spends his days delivering the heartbreaking news of a soldiers death to their families."
"A married couple addicted to cocaine."
"An American visiting Cairo when chaos break out."
"The lover of a soldier that comes back from war damaged physically and mentally."
"One man's struggle to gain the courage to take an HIV test."
"One man's struggle to deal with his lover dying of AIDS." (This was the best of all of them)
"Soldiers at war who connect, but what happens when the war is over"
"A gay father coaching his daughters little league team to the dismay of the other straight fathers"
"A older artist and a younger drifter"
"A strict Catholic, who fears his impure thoughts" "An older man vacationing away from his younger boyfriend at the Cape with friends"
This was an interesting and different read. It's not what I normally read, but I'd definitely recommend it if you're in the market for something different.
About The Author:
Scott D. Pomfret is author of the forthcoming novels The Second Half (Lethe Press May 2016), Only Say the Word (Ninestar Press May 2016), The Hunger Man (Ninestar PressJune 2016), and the forthcoming collection of short storiesYou Are the One (Ninestar Press April 2016). Past published works include Since My Last Confession: A Gay Catholic Memoir (Arcade 2008), the Romentics-brand gay romance novels (LooseID Press), the Q Guide to Wine and Cocktails, and dozens of short stories published in, among other venues, Post Road, New Orleans Review, Fiction International, and Fourteen Hills. Scott is lucky to be able to write from his tiny Boston apartment and even tinier Provincetown beach shack, which he shares with his partner of fifteen years, Scott Whittier.