First thing in order is an apology from the Zampster to the author, Lou Sylvre, because I had not read this short story sooner. I had my reasons for holding off on this giant gem of a book, but---now that I braved the emotional waters to read it---I only regret I didn't do it long ago.
I'd been blunt when Ms. Sylvre announced the release of this book. The subject matter---cancer---sent ice through me, scared me. Just prior to the release, I'd lost my son-in-law to cancer and I quickly informed Lou I was pretty sure I wouldn't be touching this book, that I could NOT deal with this issue in fiction. To compound my stance, it just so happened I'm an ardent fan of the characters of this series by Ms. Sylvre----the Vasquez and James series---and here the author was, telling me my favorite character was going to have cancer. No can do. Nuh-uh. Next book, please.
Well, since the author has another new Vasquez and James release coming up, I wanted to prime myself for the upcoming story (titled Finding Jackie), and bite the bullet by reading this short story titled simply Yes.
And my initial reaction after finishing this story? A resounding DAMN!
I seriously doubted----remembering the long emotional journey in watching my son-in-law battle cancer---that a story could efficiently address the complex nature of the illness. The moments from diagnosis to treatment to healing or the unthinkable---death. I was so sure I'd come away from the book with all sorts of points that had been missed. The emotions. The details.
I was wrong.
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Somehow, Ms. Sylvre did manage to address this issue so fully, beautifully as I should have expected of her. She's a magnificent author, a gifted wordsmith, a talent I am in awe of. And why I ever doubted her handling of this subject, I don't know.
Luki Vazquez, as his fans have grown to know, is a bad ass. How was he going to handle the big C? How was Sonny, his lover of six years, going to handle it?
For one thing, with an odd sort of Luki-style humor which has become a beloved trademark of Lou Sylvre's writing style.
Remembering the day I sat with my father in the doctor's office when he got his lung cancer diagnosis, I laughed out loud at the truth to this moment with Luki when he is delivered the same news….and made his lung look like an almost egg-shaped hole, and the tumor look like a yoke splatted in the middle of it. Mr. Vasquez, I’m afraid you have a fried egg in your lung. Luki didn’t realize he’d chuckled aloud until Sonny clamped a hand on his shoulder, and he saw a shocked look on the doctor’s face. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “I was thinking about… something….”
True Luki Vasquez. True human. So real. That haze between reality and disbelief.
Chills gripped me. My Luki. But with Sylvre's lovely sense of humor, the scene was put on a realistic, personal level. This fictional character is a real guy, just like you and me.
The most beautiful, poignant, powerful part of this story, though, is Sonny's battling with the illness of the man he loves more than his life.
The confusion, the pain, the hope, the loss of hope, the denial, the helplessness, the protectiveness, the over protectiveness, the craving for sex and intimacy but making do because love is more important than sex, the thought---that awful thought---of maybe losing them forever. The anger because they got sick in the first place.
And---oh, damn---Sylvre even added humor into one of the most base aspects of it. A moment when Sonny worries that Luki has expired in the bathroom...What if Luki died in some laughably compromising position? What if he, the most dignified and contained man Sonny had ever met, was held up for ridicule just for dying wrong?
Luki's illness carries into the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, so very perfectly. I won't say much more, in fear of gushing too much. Although I sure could gush without end.
Luki's Christmas gift to Sonny. A tribute to how very little Sonny really wants from Luki---or should I say how much? Sonny's gift to Luki. Just the ending is reason alone to warrant reading this luscious masterpiece of prose.
And speaking of the ending. Lou Sylvre at it again, weaving this tapestry of words into the perfect ending with the end that ties the whole thing together. And the meaning behind the title, Yes. Ah!
So I apologize, Lou Sylvre. There's a reason you're one of my most beloved authors, why I love your work. You managed to incorporate a full-blown journey, jam-packed with every emotion possible, into this short story.
I should never have doubted you.