In a damp cellar the mould mixed with the scent of urine coming from his rags. A drop of sweat still dangled at the tip of his black hair from an excruciatingly painful hour as the hatchway closed. He was strong, the strongest, but he had never endured that level of pain. Moss and mice were signs of hope, or at least hope of life in the dark.
Conspirator. Traitor. Your house shall burn and your name will be dragged in the mud.
And they dragged his face in mud. Along the wooden planks and the stone. From one side of the long wall to the next. Two hard punches to the back of his head threw him into the stone. He lost teeth. A man stamped him in the lumbar region, which was the reason he couldn’t stand up.
He won’t do anything else. All he ever does is sit downstairs and stroke his violin. No one recognizes the notes he plays. Most of the time he makes no effort to play pretty sounds. Maybe pretty noises break his heart because he thinks he’s ugly inside and out.
You’ll have to choose.
“Who said that?”
“No I didn’t. Who is taking the piss?”
…Mirror, mirror on the wall…We all know the rest. You said that. Do you deny it?
“No. I was only mucking about. For fuck sake I was only having a shave.”
You should never muck about with your soul. You are in trouble now! You’ll have to choose. One of three. If you hurry you will be able to stay but if you don’t…Well…
I had been in hell a week by this point. It looked a lot like Belfast. I knew it was hell because I couldn’t find any of my favourite bars and it was the 12th of July every day. The streets were awash with track-suited skinheads and chippie wrappers, and smelt of dark orange piss. I died the same age as Bukowski, seventy-three years-old. He had wanted to go at eighty making it with an eighteen year-old, I was just happy making it beyond fifty. It was a rare landmark for the men in my family.
We hope that you have all enjoyed this week’s mixed bag from Literally Stories as much as we have enjoyed presenting them to you.
There is always a buzz of excitement when we receive a new submission, this is tempered by nervousness and crossed fingers. We absolutely love accepting your short fiction pieces, we are thrilled to send an acceptance email and the following notification of publication date. All the stories, including our own are read by all the editors and to be approved they have to receive at least three strong YES votes. Sometimes a story will be borderline and then there is great discussion amongst the editors and on occasion one of us will champion a piece successfully and bring about a change of mind and a piece will gain approval. I mention this because we do want contributing authors to know that we always take your work very seriously and we do know how disappointing it is if we have to send that horrible “other” email.
“Mr. Peta. A broad’s waitin’ for ya.”
“The red dress with blonde hair? Yea? Did you offer her somethin’ to drink? I got a feeling she’s gonna need it.”
I acted surprised when I saw her. The news coverage pretty much summed up what the meeting would be about. Socialite inherited fortune after bloody breakfast accident.
“Hello Mr. Peta.”
“It’s Mr. Peter.”
“She can’t speak. What can I do you for?”
I sat down and shoved old newspapers with half-finished crossword puzzles to the side. I didn’t want her to know I couldn’t finish what I had started. I offered her a glass of bourbon smokier than a factory working ballet dancer.
Jean walked over to the carry-cot.
“Ugly wee bastard, isn’t it?”
Graham began to laugh, “That’s whit you get when you shouldn’t have weans.”
She stared into the cot, the kid was sleeping.
“Do you mean about Kylie being a lesbo?”
“Aye. Why did she get herself pregnant, I take it wis fur the money?”
Jean pulled the shawl over the kid.
“Naw! Did she no tell ye?”