Burl is horny as hell and he’s just gotta have it! His boyfriend AJ is dead-to-the-world, resonantly snoring and absolutely no help at all. So Burl sets out to find someone who will assist him with his predicament. His unyielding quest for the three Rs: rutting, rimming, and ramming takes Burl from Pennsylvania across New York State, where, along the way he meets up with a series of interesting although progressively unpredictable and even dangerous characters – bears, trannies, and seriously disturbed psychos that have Burl more than clicking his heels and heading for the safety of home.
In No Place Like Home author Rick R. Reed takes us on a surreal ride with Burl as he desperately seeks release. According to the author, this short story is a gay romance twist on The Wizard of Oz and it is a perfect analogy for this tale. The story is dreamlike in its quality with dark comedic texture woven throughout. The feel of this story is very much of a REM-induced dream that starts off with excitement and titillation and gradually grows into the bizarre and then progressively darker and more nightmarishly scarier with each of Burl’s encounters.
In terms of characterization, the entire story is essentially owned by Burl who is quite charming and has a biting wit and tongue, and who, at times, is both narcissistic and self-deprecating in particular when he hears AJ’s grounding voice.
“Burl sucked in his breath and took an involuntary step backward as he gazed at his reflection in the mirror, stunned yet again by his own striking and devastatingly masculine features. He gently touched his own reflection in the mirror and whispered, ‘Desired by many, won by few.’
In the back of Burl’s mind, AJ chided, ‘Shouldn’t that be the other way around, hon?’ Burl shook his head; his lover was always reeling him back to earth.”
The men that Burl encounters in his quest for sex all serve as the secondary characters, and while they are all very well written, the manner in which Burl plays off these characters is what dominates in this story. Burl was a delight to read, his facetious disposition and sarcasm made me laugh out loud quite a few times while reading this story.
Rick Reed has written quite a clever and distinctive story by blending a number of literary motifs – romance/erotica, fantasy, comedy, horror and a touch of the literary absurd – into the mix. While analogies can be drawn between this story and “The Wizard of Oz” there is also very much a sense of Alice down the rabbit hole in No Place Like Home as Burl’s actions and experiences alternate between the sensical and nonsensical. Let’s just say that cinnamon sticks will likely take on an entirely new meaning after reading this story.
Rick R. Reed is at his best in this fantastical tale as he demonstrates once again his talent, uniqueness and versatility as a writer. No Place Like Home reminds us that there’s no need to conjure up monsters hiding under the bed to achieve the effects of scary. Straying a little too far from our own backyards to encounter life’s characters can sometimes be the scariest of all. No Place Like Home is a refreshingly imaginative story that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.
No Place Like Home by Rick R. Reed is available at Amber Quill Press (Amber Allure).
NOTE: This review was originally published online by Rainbow Reviews.