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    The Other Way Out

    By Michele Karlsberg–

    Michele Karlsberg: This excerpt is from “The Other Way Out” in Stella Maris: And Other Key West Stories by Michael Carroll published by Turtle Point Press:

    I WANTED to be your lover, but you had other things, mainly family. Your sprawling Italians by blood, siblings, nieces, nephews. Now great nieces and nephews, a handsome cohesive family. I was jealous, but I tried not to show it. This was why I asked myself how I kept coming back and back to New York and took the train to Queens. That Yemeni restaurant you took me to and paid, knowing I’d served in the Peace Corps in Yemen, the food nostalgic. Running from family—and you feeling sorry for me. Prescriptive, yet protesting you could no longer take antidepressants as the only sure cure was to be in the bosom of the people pledged to protect you for life.

    Which I respected and I still do.

    How I’d look and look at you.

    Your seemingly congenital sadness forced at bay by your hard, sheer will.

    Large, baleful, dark green eyes, and to me a head like an independent sexual organ, clipped hair, and ears like jug handles to pinch or kiss in the dark or early-early light—so I’ve imagined.

    New York is generally a mystery to a Southerner; a giant, kind, accommodating figment.

    It’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be merciless, outsized and cold, crushing down. I love it, but I decided to come down here for peace of mind, though I miss you. I miss your left-eyebrow-up smirk. Your gravelly hush-voice, your long legs never in shorts. A soft hoot-voice.

    How beautiful you are, a child in middle age, five o’clock shadow against the baby mug.

    New York: Woody Allen movies, all the books and movies about it.

    And your career, and now your fiancé. He is your age and perfect for you. He worships you, which is meet and right as the Bible goes; the first blush of affection that becomes true love.

    Michael Carroll

    THIS WEATHER. I keep thinking of music where the storm is sucked into the burning atmosphere, in order to wash it out, the pull and swell and explosion and spread. The soggy air getting wetter and unbearably thicker. I keep thinking of Steppenwolf’s “Magic Carpet Ride,” where the Hammond B-3 owns the song’s landscape, thunder here and there, distant, becoming a moan that becomes a hoof-hum that gathers in pillow concussions like sections of hot dusty electrical front that move in herd-like, the herd of sound surrounding yet almost comfortingly, the business of the storm going on in apparently thin air, columns of draft, warm earth and surface, cool swirling winds striking heat, friction and moisture, turbulence, all of it apparently unseen until it’s too late although to be fair there are the signs: the rising barometric pressure, the general bodily unease, a feeling of craziness, discomfort, irritability, horniness, morbidity, preoccupation with death, love.

    Michael Carroll’s debut story collection, “Little Reef,” won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was shortlisted for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction and the Publishing Triangle Award. Originally from Jacksonville, Florida, he is married to writer Edmund White and lives in New York City.

    Michele Karlsberg Marketing and Management specializes in publicity for the LGBTQI community. This year, Karlsberg celebrates 31 years of successful book campaigns.