May is "Short Story Month."
I don't think there's a gay man alive who hasn't had the urge at some point in life to just pick up and take off. I can remember my arrival in Ottawa having a keen sense of relief: finally, here I was, somewhere nobody knew me. At one point, I bumped into someone who I'd shared a class with in one of my high schools, and it felt like an intrusion. I wanted a place I'd never been, and the magic that could come from that.
In John Howard's "Out to Sea" this sense is brought to a head. This tale from THE TOUCH OF THE SEA has a wonderful feeling of danger and escape all rolled into one - the narrator's voice as he decides whether or not to pay a rower to take him to one of the islands across from the tourist beach is laden with a kind of sad desire to just be and see something new. That he may be risking everything is an undertone throughout the story, and creates a friction that leaves you waiting for the crash to come. Or maybe it will all work out...
But how could you resist trying? Like Howard's narrator, I was pulled in for the journey.