Series: 7&7 Anthology
Publisher: DSP Publications (May 2016)
Bonus: Free on publisher’s site
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
DSP Publication’s anthology covers 7 virtues and 7 vices, and the theme of Jamie Fressenden’s short story is the virtue of charity.
An American spy and assassin boards a long train ride in the Soviet Union to find the Russian sailor he must kill to complete his mission. The problem is, the more time he spends with his intended victim, the more attracted he is to the endearing man. While it was plenty LGBT-friendly, this story perhaps has more in common with a James Bond story than I would have thought.
Although longer than most of the other stories in the anthology, the prose moved swiftly with a well-written depiction of Russian comraderie (Tovarishch!) and the right touch of a group of sailors giving each other guff on a train. The diminutives and expressions shared among the men reminded me of my time in the Soviet Union, and even the English prose sounded like Russian phrasing, mannerisms, and patterns of thinking. The quick story feels authentic in its setting as well as in a little emotional turmoil in the protagonist’s thoughts. I also found it evocative of the “song and dance” gay men needed to feel each other out in the days of a deep closet.
The pull of “Little Yura’s” sweetness was hard to resist, although a well-trained spy should be able to complete the mission. However, if you add in considerations of the taboo, sexual attraction dance between two strangers in an extremely homophobic world, I would think that connection would push strongly either one way (can’t leave a witness to homosexual activity behind) or the other (it’s hard to kill someone who shares such a deep, central, personal and hidden characteristic). But my overall take? It’s pretty difficult to kill a man after your mouth made sweet love to his luscious puckered hole.