Title: Through the Closet Door
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: JMS Books
Length: 36 Pages
At a Glance: I dare you to read this short story and not be affected by Gregory’s pain, his truth, his reality and his hope for a better tomorrow.
Reviewed By: Carrie
Blurb: Gregory seems to have it all: youth, good looks, a beautiful wife, a job he loves as an elementary school teacher, a quiet house on the beach …
So why is Gregory so miserable? Why is he unable to control his lingering gaze on his neighbor, Jake, the handsome truck driver who lives just down the way? Why does Gregory spend his private time keeping a secret journal that details fantasies and memories of him locked in embraces with other men?
It’s summer, and the peaceful lake belies the turmoil in Gregory’s heart. His wife wants to start a family, while Gregory wants to start something with Jake, but doesn’t dare.
Climbing out of the closet is never easy, but it’s even more difficult when doing so might shatter the lives of those around you …
Review: Through the Closet Door is a gripping short story, a snapshot into the mind of a gay man trapped by the choices he has made and his inner, authentic self. The emotional turmoil is unrelenting. The imagery Reed paints and the feelings he invokes from such a short story are vast and heartwrenching.
I will admit to being a visitor in the LGBTQ world, I cannot REALLY know what it is like to live as a gay man, but this short story gave me a glimpse like nothing has before. Rick Reed has used his words here to paint a picture of a man looking at life through the closet door. Gregory’s mired in the darkness, and he longs for the light he sees just out of reach. It is the ordinariness of Reed’s characters here, the everyday quality of their lives juxtaposed with what is going on inside the mind and soul of our main character, Gregory, that gives you this feeling similar to Alice falling down the hole into Wonderland, chasing the ever elusive white rabbit of happiness.
We feel Greg’s pain in a visceral way, we feel Rosemary’s pain as she cannot be what her husband needs, and we feel Jake’s pain as he watches Greg and the loneliness of his life without someone. There are only three characters in this short story, and Reed does a credible job giving weight and substance to each character. There are no throwaway characters in this story, none put in just for fluff. This is a snapshot in time for these characters, a moment of crisis for the MC and the effect he has on these two other people in his life. A moment when it all becomes so overwhelming he ceases to fight, and, if exposure is the consequence, he will deal with it. We get a little insight into what Greg’s life was like growing up, what has brought him to this point in his life. Gregory’s journal entries about his fantasies are gritty and pornographic and alternately full of yearning and self-hate.
The paroxysmal pain for Gregory is finally too much to bear, and this is a story about those intense moments of reflection leading up to the final overwhelming decision—one which Gregory doesn’t even consciously make. His mind makes for him, to leave his personal journal where Rosemary can find it and discover the truth. Gregory’s midnight search for Jake, after leaving the journal behind, and the validation and confirmation he finds in the man’s arms is poignant.
As he runs from the house, he hears Jake call, “Please, Greg, come back. We don’t have to do anything.” Yes. Yes we do, Gregory thinks. We have to do everything, but not yet. Not yet. He runs through the damp night, panting and slipping on the wet grass. His own house is filled with warm yellow light, and the moment has come. Gregory stops suddenly, listening and half hoping and half dreading Jake will come after him. It would delay the inevitable. It would give him what he wants, but what he wants is not an illicit affair or a quick sexual encounter. What he wants, more than sex, more than love, is honesty.
I will say that I actually prefer the first cover…. The models on this edition don’t give you a hint as to the darkness and the inner turmoil inside this book, whereas the earlier edition with the naked man emerging from the lake (especially since the lake is used as a metaphor), as another man watches, I think hit it head on in terms of matching the imagery and the content of the story. But that’s my only criticism.
I dare you to read this short story and not be affected by Gregory’s pain, his truth, his reality and his hope for a better tomorrow.
You can buy Through the Closet Door here: