Author: Lynn Lorenz
Publisher: MLR Press
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Cover Artist: Trace Edward Zaber
Genre: Gay/ Paranormal/ Ghosts/ Hauntings
Length: Short story (13 k words)
Rating: 3.25 out of 5 stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary review: An enjoyable, if somewhat predictable classical ghost story.
The Blurb: At the place known as Cemeteries, strange things happen…
Mike meets Jacob on the bus and they start a hot affair. Both men are falling hard, and Mike wants forever with Jacob. But Jacob is content to leave things the same, so each night, they go their separate ways—Mike to the next bus, and Jacob just disappears.
When Mike tries to find Jacob, he follows the young man into a cemetery, only to lose him among the great stone tombs of one of New Orleans most famous Cities of the Dead.
Jacob has a terrible secret, and only Mike holds the key to Jacob’s future. But will Jacob’s secret destroy them both?
Mike is a waiter in a French quarter gay bar, barely eking out a living from working late shifts. He isn’t short of offers of sex, but he won’t let himself in on meaningless encounters, since he longs for something more, something permanent. Jacob, whom he meets one day on the night bus, seems to be everything Mike ever wished for in a man. They connect on many levels, not to mention the mutual atraction which grows stronger and stronger every time they meet. Soon they go from kissing to touching to everything shy of penetrative sex, always hidden in the back seat of the otherwise empty bus, with the driver thankfully oblivious to their antics. But even though their feelings for each other deepen with every time, they never meet outside the bus. Jacob always diappears through the cemetery gate in the morning, and Mike always takes the next bus to his place.
Until one day Mike finds the night bus empty and, when he asks the driver about Jacob, learns that the man has never seen Jacob and Mike has always been the sole passenger. What Mike finds out when he goes looking for Jacob could mean the end for both of them – or bring them together forever.
The story is told from Mike’s point of view, and so he’s the better-wrought out of the two characters. He is a sweet person, very sympathetic and blessed with almost superhuman patience when it comes to Jacob’s secretiveness. His faith in Jacob is unshakeable, his emotions strong enough to carry him through a life – altering decision like the one he has to face in the end.
It’s not really hard to figure out who and what Jacob is. In fact, I already guessed it from the blurb, and I think most everybody will, so I’m not giving away spoilers here 😉 Still, the author took the much-used plotline and added a distinctive “N’awlins” twist I found endearingly significant for this author’s fondness of New Orleans, even though the actual scene was rather dark. However, what’s a ghost story without a little creep?
Once again, the “real” main character of this story is the city of New Orleans. To me, New Orleans always held a slightly morbid fascination with its wonderful, mysterious old cemeteries and the way people dance their deads to the graves. There’s something special in the way those people celebrate life even in a funeral march. This entire story lived and breathed the spirit of New Orleans as I picture it how it must have been before Katrina: the easy-living in the French Quarter, the food, the air of tolerance, the contrasts between rich and poor, the dampness of the fog, the beautiful old houses and of course, the necropoles and all the secrets buried in them. All those little details, lovingly painted, give such a strong sense of location that the actual story almost takes second place.
My biggest issue with this story was the ending; actually the epilogue which felt gratuituous, as if it had been tacked on for want of another sex scene. I think I get why the epilogue was there [spoiler name=spoiler] most probably to indicate that Mike’s and Jacob’s love was indeed eternal and went on long after New Orleans had gone down in neglect and sadness [/spoiler], but I still could have gone without it.
All in all this is a solidly written, classical ghost story with a very particular setting I’d recommend to fans of the genre, fans of the author and fans of New Orleans.