My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This short story is really just a few scenes put together that gives a glimpse into the relationship between two complete opposites. The context to their relationship and background on both the men is missing which makes this both a fun short story and an incomplete look. Due to the feeling of being dropped into the middle of the book, it is almost as if this is more of a day in the life of Max than a fully realized story, but that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the characters and their interaction. Even within a few short pages the characters come alive with energy and vitality with a concise prose without embellishment or errors.
The scenes involve Skyler visiting Max, his gruff cop lover at the police station that inevitably leads to an altercation when one of the “asshole” cops decides to make a comment about Skyler’s appearance. From there Max’s bad day spirals even further down when he get into another fight while trying to drown his sorrows at a nearby bar. Unfortunately Max finds no port in his storm as even Skyler has a go at Max for his actions both in the fights and towards Skyler. While Max can’t seem to catch a break on this bad day, it’s not all bad as he confronts problems and issues he has been adept at hiding.
Max strikes me as a typical cop with the preference to avoid all problems and bury any conflict than actually address any sticky personal problems. Although it’s not said explicitly, the implication is that Skyler is Max’s first foray into dating other men and Skyler’s propensity for cross-dressing gives him almost a feminine appearance that could allow Max to pretend Skyler is a woman. Additionally Skyler wants Max to admit if there is more than just sex to their relationship, an area the taciturn Max would rather not delve into but doesn’t put up too much of a fight. Max finally owns up to both his feelings and the fact that he’s in a relationship with another man, no matter how pretty Skyler may be.
Skyler for his part is a peacock with his feminine appearance and flouncing off with slammed doors. He’s charming, thoughtful, caring, and a surprisingly calm influence on Max’s riled emotions. He offers incredibly sensitive and insightful commentary when talking about the words that started the initial fight:
“It may have sounded cruel, what your sergeant said but it wasn’t entirely inaccurate.”
Skyler slid the needle through Max’s skin. “It could be argued that I am skinny, that I am little, and though I loathe the word and its connotations, I am a faggot.”
“I didn’t say I liked it, Maxwell. I’m simply saying that if you’re going to be upset with someone to the point of harming them for something like that, your bitching would have more credibility if you didn’t turn around and do the exact same thing.”
The title is clever in that while comments said are “only words” some are more important than others and need to be said. Max and Skyler’s interactions are sexy, fun, and delightful showing that life with either of them will never be dull. I hope any forthcoming stories are able to delve more deeply into their dynamic and the history and future of their relationship. The concise and tight writing with fully developed characters within the constraints of a short story create a wonderfully unique tale that I easily recommend.