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Pastime

Saints_Sergius_and_Bacchus
I sit in a dim-lit corner of Lavery Library recessing into a shallow-cushioned
window seat with a book — a familiar pastime, at least for me — the heft of the
Catholic Encyclopedia rests ponderously on my knees. John Fisher looks
down on me, portentous and woodenly austere. I am here to study, I suppose,
though I am not studying right now. I was looking — looking up something,
what, now, I do not remember. But I found them. Sergius and Bacchus. Two men,
joined in veneration. Scandalous. And I read. I read their story, one and one half
pages of martyrdom and friendship. Did you know that, after he was beaten to death,
Bacchus appeared to his friend, to ask, beg, plead with him, to join him, to join
him in death? Seems an odd thing to request of a friend.

Seems a lot to ask.

I close my eyes and imagine the two saints, their bodies as wracked and crazed
as the icon that represents them here, on page three hundred and sixty-eight. I
imagine them, joined forever by the aggression and rage of those who hate, and
I am jealous. It’s an odd sentiment, to be sure, to feel envious of martyrs
dead hundreds of years. But I am. I try to imagine their deaths. Instead, I see
only their life, singular, two soldiers, masculine and dedicated to the other,
campaigning by day, and stealing off for secret-prayers-by-night. I imagine
their fidelity. I imagine their friendship. I imagine their scent. I imagine the
sweaty suggestion of their sinew and limbs and the tight coils of underarm hair
that Roman artists could capture so effortlessly on vases and jars that always kind
of turned me on.

And,
as St. John Fisher looks down on me, and the Catholic
Encyclopedia hides my growing embarrassment beneath its heavy weight,
I imagine what it would be like to feel beloved.

 

 

Michael CorneliusMICHAEL G. CORNELIUS is the author of five books of fiction, including the Lambda Literary Award-finalist Creating Man (Vineyard Press, 2002) and The Ascension (Variance, 2007). His latest is a collection of queer speculative fiction entitled Tricks and Treats (MLR Press, 2012). His novels have been nominated for an American Library Association Award and an Independent Press Award, and he has published dozens of stories and poems in journals and magazines.

 

Creating Man. Reviewers are saying:  “This book was an incredible read. The story is brilliantly told, encompassing the reader almost immediately. From the beginning, it stirs emotions within the reader because the author seems keenly intuitive of how gay men emote when challenged by their greatest enemy and/or lover. The story’s unusual ending exemplifies the author’s talent. I anxiously await another novel by Mr. Cornelius.”

“The writing is poetic and the themes are universal. I picked up the book and did not put it down until I finished it that evening. The stories were short montages and finally came together at the end of the novel.”

 

 

The AscensionA Catholic bishop. A Quaker prayer leader. A Methodist minister. A Mormon ward leader. An entire congregation of Seventh Day Adventists. What do they have in common? They all minister to people’s spiritual needs. And someone–or something–is ripping them to shreds for it. Police detective Caldwell “Cal” Evans, still three weeks shy of completing rehab, is called in on the case. His only clue is a chilling message written in blood at the first murder scene: “Leave the Christ alone. He does not belong to you.”  With bodies piling up, Cal and his partner, Velvet Rabinowitz, chase leads involving snake-handling cults, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and an ancient ceremony left unfinished for two thousand years. With the help of a graduate student and an enigmatic Roman Catholic priest, the two detectives do more than fight for their lives … they fight for us all.

 

Most men are beasts, but in Tricks and Treats: Twenty Tales of Gay Terror and Romance, beasts are the last thing to worry about. Imagine a world where giant squid fly through the air, where unnatural forces dwell in a bathroom stall, where zombies close in on your too-cute salon, and where a guy may only be interested in your heart because it tastes delicious. First dates are frightening and relationships can be disturbing. But Tricks and Treats shows there is nothing scarier than falling in love…

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