From the very beginning of the story, the mood is set, as our narrator stops at a local bar for a nightcap after visiting the opera Faust. This alone tells us a bit about the story to come. Goethe’s Faust (the version of the German tale the opera is based on) at its basic elements is a story about a man whose lust, be it for knowledge or earthly pleasure, convinces him to give up all dignity, and in his ignorance and greed, ends up ruining the lives of countless others. In this tragic story by Victor Banis, our narrator is the nameless man who witnesses a man’s confession about his dealings with the devil, or Faust in disguise, and in his witnessing of the forthcoming tale, hears a story of greed, betrayal, and murder.
After bringing the man home from the bar, who tells him that he isn’t gay, our narrator sets him up to sleep on his couch. As the man undresses, our narrator remarks to him “You look like a man who has something on his mind.” To which the man later replies, “I’ve really wanted to tell someone…I killed someone.” The best thing about this story is how the dialogue compliments the mood set early on, before they ever leave the bar. The mood is reminiscent of Hitchcock, which is often alluded to just to sing praise, but in this case, actually accomplishes the same things that made Hitchcock so famous — the setting of a scene as if to make every viewer/reader is a participant, make them feel that this unnatural thing happening can happen to them at any time, for no reason other than happenstance. A man walks into a bar, another man joins him in conversation about the opera, then proceeds to hint that the man invite him home. Once they’re home, as if scripted, the man begins to spin his story. The motivations of the man our narrator brings home aren’t ever quite understood, just as they are supposed to be. He is an enigma, he is representative of the cloaked man who brings doom into our lives. Maybe some readers will not see this at all. To them, the man’s story might not even be real, and therefore the man becomes a master weaver, who for whatever reason is playing a game. That is the best part about this story is that it means so many different things, and Neal, the man telling the story — we know nothing about him except what he wants to show us, which admittedly, isn’t much.For the full review, please visit Reviews by Jessewave.