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Title: Boy: A Journey
Author: James Stryker
Publisher: NineStar Press
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Genre: Gay Fiction, Trans*
Release Date: 12/19/2016
Luke may never have been close to his father, but he feels like he knew him. Jay was a frustrating parent – always urging Luke to go to mortuary school, disapproving of his Broadway aspirations, and favoring his other children. He even had the audacity to die mid-argument, forcing additional guilt on Luke for never meeting his expectations.
However, Luke’s assumptions about Jay are thrown into turmoil at the funeral when an enigmatic stranger, Tom, expresses gratitude that Jay finally shared his past with his children. When Luke can’t hide his confusion, Tom realizes his mistake and bolts. Riddled with questions, Luke confronts his family. He is shocked to discover that everyone guards the truth that Jay was a transgender man who’d been raised as a female. Practiced at keeping his father’s secrets, they’re unwilling to reveal anything further at Luke’s demand. Devastated by Jay’s lack of trust in him, Luke feels forced to abandon the family who deceived him although leaving them behind won’t answer his questions.
To discover the reason his father hid his gender identity, Luke seeks the only other person with answers, Tom. In Luke’s eyes, he is owed an explanation, even if it’s a difficult one. However, Tom harbors a deep protective devotion to Jay, a loyalty he feels the truth would betray. Additionally, as a man suffering with terminal cancer, he has no desire to drudge up painful memories by playing Luke’s Virgil. Luke must earn his trust before the secret past of both men dies with Tom.
Boy: A Journey Exclusive Excerpt
James Stryker © 2016
All Rights Reserved
But I have to leave now. I won’t give them the satisfaction of staying or admitting I may have said things I didn’t mean. Maybe I’ll go to New York, or I’ll find Tom somehow. But fuck all of them. Fuck—
“Mom wants you out in ten minutes, or she’ll call the police.”
Luke turned to see Jake in the doorway. What kept him from charging at his brother-in-law in rage, especially for referring to Jackie as “Mom,” was that he could see Jake wasn’t happy.
I thought you’d be fucking ecstatic.
Jake had that look people gave when they weren’t thinking of themselves or how to screw someone over. It made Luke hesitate, before remembering he was still evil.
“Ten minutes? You’ve been wanting me out for more than ten years.” Luke resumed packing. “Since the first time you saw me.”
“That’s not true. I’ve only ever wanted to be your friend, Luke.”
“Lies atop more lies. Keep them coming.”
“I didn’t ask Dad to tell me and not you. I hate to say it, but if you’re going to be angry at anyone, you should be angry with Dad. This was his game.”
“It’s not a fucking game. It’s my life.” Luke crammed several pages of sheet music into his bag’s front pocket.
“I know. That’s why he should’ve told you.”
When Luke briefly regarded Jake again, the expected cynicism was absent.
“He should’ve told you,” Jake repeated. “You shouldn’t have had to hear it this way. You’re right; it’s not fair. And Beau shouldn’t have hit you, but—”
Yeah, I knew you weren’t on my side.
“You also shouldn’t have been cruel. You can’t have meant those things.”
Keep telling me what I can and cannot mean. What I can and cannot do. Like you’re in charge of me. Like you know me. No one knows me. I’m completely alone.
“And if I did mean them?” Luke slung the bag over his shoulder.
“I don’t believe you did.”
“I don’t believe a fucking thing you say either. Get out of my way.”
Luke didn’t need to ask him to move. Jake stood against the doorframe, and there was plenty of space to step around. But Luke didn’t so much as want to brush past him.
“Where will you go?” Jake positioned himself in the middle of the doorway, blocking Luke’s escape.
“None of your damn business.”
“Do you know how to find him?”
“I said it’s none of your damn business.”
Luke regretted the clipped response as soon as it left his mouth. If he’d answered “no”, or said nothing, he’d have left the door open for any aid Jake might be able to provide. He’d fucked himself again.
Why can’t you have a dress rehearsal in real life? Fuck.
Jake studied the floor, and when he raised his head, the tightness of indecision appeared in his eyes.
“You think I’ve never wanted to be your friend, and that’s not true. It wasn’t my intention to take anything from you, and I’m sorry if you feel I have. I only wanted to share your family. But you did have something taken from you.” He scraped a hand through his hair. “I told Tom DuBelle when I called him that I didn’t agree with Dad’s actions or the secrecy, but I’d honor the request he made of me. I stand by that.” Jake reached into his pocket and retrieved his wallet. “But Dad didn’t ask me not to give you this.”
He offered a business card, and Luke took it. On the front was the name and address of an attorney in Utah, but written on the back was Tom DuBelle’s name and phone number.
Luke met Jake’s eyes.
“Tom isn’t your father, but he can tell you about him. I believe you can handle it. And I’m sure if he’d had the opportunity, eventually Dad would’ve told you. But he was taken from you,” Jake’s voice frayed. “He was taken from us. Not by me. By God.”
Luke tucked the business card into his wallet and took a step closer to his brother-in-law.
“He had twenty-six years of opportunities to tell me, and he chose not to. And Beau had fourteen years of opportunities to share what she knew, and she chose not to. I find it difficult to give any of you the benefit of the doubt that you’d have told me of your own choice. However, thank you for being respectable enough to realize that you’re all a bunch of assholes.”
“Should I say ‘you’re welcome’?”
“No. You should get out of my way.”
Jake moved aside to let him pass, and Luke pulled out his cell phone to call a cab. He felt himself watched from the landing as he descended the stairs. And it occurred to him, as he shut the door of his childhood home, that this was the second instance where he was leaving in a fiery tempest. Only this time, he had no plan of returning in triumph. He had no plan to return at all.
About the Author
|James Stryker is a central-Pennslvannia author who enjoys writing speculative and literary fiction. Themes in his work focus toward diversity in the LGBTQ spectrum and the voice of underrepresented or misunderstood viewpoints. His debut novel, Assimilation, was released in 2016.
James shares a residence with a pack of pugs, who continue to disagree about the ratio of treats to writing. Despite his day job and writing projects, James is never too busy to connect with readers or other writers. He welcomes you to check out his website, follow him on social media, or drop a line to his email.
12/19 Love Bytes Reviews
12/20 Divine Magazine
12/21 My Fiction Nook
12/22 Prism Book Alliance
12/23 Bayou Book Junkie
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