One of the discussions I’ve had multiple times with editors and authors of anthologies and collections is how they choose the order of the tales in the completed work. The first story has to carry so much weight. It’s not just its own story, it also serves as an introduction to the collection or anthology itself, carrying tone and theme and—hopefully—draws the reader to keep going. “Lockwood” felt like a master class in this, and opens Lot, Bryan Washington’s collection, with such an impact.
“Lockwood” gives us the lens of a young man to look through, and his blunt but not cruel declarative views of his neighbours—who don’t have papers—and his relationship with the neighbour’s son, Roberto. We watch him as he sees his father angry that his mother is passing food, and we’re with him when he and Roberto talk, and cross lines, and move from talking to touching. They steal moments together, often hurried, often out and about in Houston, and the fragility of it brims to the surface throughout the story. And then, Roberto’s family is just gone, and we have only the briefest moment of time with the narrator to settle how he feels about it, and some haunting words from earlier in the story about Roberto’s thoughts on home.
Ultimately, “Lockwood” had me ready to dive into the next story immediately. I nabbed this collection because it was shortlisted for the gay fiction Lammy (which it won!), and I am so glad I grabbed it. If you’re looking for more queer short fiction—and especially queer short fiction by and about queer people of colour—I heartily suggest you pick up a copy for yourself.