A Guest Review by Cole
Review Summary: This paranormal short about a man at the height of jealousy and his downward spiral to the grave is haunting and beautiful.
Jealousy can be such an ugly emotion, but can it drive one to kill?
Jake is in love with Cayce, an older, best-selling author who thinks of him only as a friend. Cayce is enthralled—as is everyone else—with Garland, a gorgeous waif of a boy, famous for his eccentric clothes and an unparalleled desire to be at the center of attention. Constantly.
Jake’s discovery of something as mundane as a few over-the-counter sleeping pills pulls Speed Demon into a story of thwarted love, of a twisted triangle, and just maybe, a tale of crime and revenge from beyond the grave…
This story is told by Cayce, a famous author who has become somewhat of a literary socialite, as Cayce assumes the voice of Jake to tell Jake’s downward spiral of jealousy and ultimately death after inadvertantly being the cause of death of the man he was jealous of, Garland. Garland had fallen in love with Cayce (I assume, though we can never be sure), just as everyone had, including Jake, but Garland had something that Jake never did, Cayce’s infatuation. Infatuation was pretty much as far as Cayce would go in his love for others, his main love being himself. Garland was beautiful, androgynous, with a style and affectation all his own. He entranced others, including Cayce. But, after a while, Cayce’s infatuation turned sour and Garland hated this change. In front of everyone, Garland himself started to change, becoming desperate for Cayce’s affections in public and becoming a bit of a liability at Cayce’s infamous parties.
At one such party, Jake watches from the edge of the crowd as Garland and Cayce battle their wills in front of everyone, Garland sadly desperate to regain Cayce’s affections and Cayce acts disgusted at Garland’s public display. Yet, it is all a game they play, which Jake finds out. He sees that the time is right for him to do something, and during a trip to the bathroom, he finds some simple sleeping pills in the medicine cabinet. This one act of jealousy to remove Garland from the party marks the moment Jake’s life turns toward it’s end. When Jake realizes that his action is what ultimately caused Garland’s death, his life is ruined. Facing the guilt of what he has done, his life quickly spirals out of control.
I really loved this story. Like all of Rick Reed’s works there always seems to be a haunting hum in the background of the storytelling. And that is exactly what this was — storytelling. With the rolling gait of the words and the story’s moral of the downfall of jealousy, this story came across like those in the oral tradition. It is a cautionary tale about what one man will do to secure the affections of the man he thinks he loves. And it is only one little mistake, which without other factors outside his control would have made little difference in the outcome. It is a petty act that makes Jake feel better, to one-up Garland in what he believes is their battle for Cayce — but which not for this one petty act by Jake, Garland would still be alive. He may not have meant for this outcome, but he caused it, and that knowledge begins his own downfall, aided by what could either be the ghost of Garland himself, or the ghosts in Jake’s memory of him, coming back to haunt him in revenge. That’s a pretty horrific thought, isn’t it? These are the types of stories that Rick Reed writes best.
On the downside (and I only say that because of the nature of the readers that frequent this site), is that there is no romantic element to this story, and even very little sexual element. So if that is what you are looking for or like to read, then this isn’t the story for you. But, I would encourage those of you who might not read a novel with this subject to try it, simply because this is a short story. It packs a punch, that is for sure. And just like one little detail is the hinge on which these three characters’ lives change, the story here is in the details — the way he describes their faces betraying emotion and the little affectations of Cayce and Garland which tell more about who they are than their own contrived public persona. I can’t say that I enjoyed this story, because it isn’t a light tale, but I certainly admired it, as I admire each new story that I read that has been written by Rick Reed.