If I think back to it, I can still feel that moment when I really thought you were going to burst my skull. Your whole weight pushing my head into the ground, your mouth right next to my ear, hissing at me that I couldn’t tell anyone. Like somehow if I did, people would mistake her illness for your weakness. Even after the first three times I’d promised I wouldn’t, you didn’t let go, and when you did, you left your knee buried in my chest. I carried that weight, your weight, every day until she died, all those years later. But I never told anyone, not even my parents. I even lied to them when it happened, and I pretended to share their shock and grief at the news.
So, Hugh now joins the teeny tiny group – well I say group – there’s only one other, of writers with 100 posts on the site. CONGRATULATIONS. It is fair to say that it has probably been harder for Hugh. As editors I think we are tougher on ourselves than we are on other authors. We are so keen not to be seen to be showing any sort of positive bias that we are brutal with each other. However, Hugh always accepts rejections and edit suggestions with good humour, humility and professionalism.
He is the backbone of Literally Stories, he has kept on going through his own personal traumas, never letting what is happening in his life get in the way of his work on the site. He has been an incredible rock when the rest of us have had our own dramas, kind, sympathetic and stoic (hahahahaha – his hate word – ha) and he makes the work, which at times can feel overwhelming, worthwhile and rewarding. As well as the reading and emails, Hugh comments on the stories and together with other of us give feedback to authors who have requested such or who we feel deserve an explanation as to our decisions or a suggested edit. He writes almost all the Saturday roundup posts and let’s be honest they are hilarious and a brilliant end to the week, even though the times when he says ‘That’s it there, Diane. Sorry’ I do quake in my boots.
I have never actually met Hugh, or Nik in person, or Adam or Tobias for that matter, but I count them among dear friends, but Hugh, and Nik are the blokes I want to have a drink with, the blokes I can count on to unload to when life throws cabbages at me and I just want to say thanks and, Hugh, my life is richer for knowing you. You are a fearless, uncompromising writer and I admire that more than I can say and many, many Congratulations on reaching this outstanding milestone.
Never Being Confused
It was a typical day in the life of Jim and Debbie, the parents of SeptemberThe28th.
They were on The High Street championing their offspring’s cause as usual. They wore their ‘Asexual Is Not Fluid UCUNT!’ Tshirts, The back of which said ‘LGBTQI+Forever!!‘ And underneath that was ‘I am not a label!’
Red lacquer on her toenail, in the exact colour of the Duesy parked outside. One good thing about putting up with Fritz, was the cabbage.
“Money, money” she mouthed mutely; placing the cupid-bow stencil on her lips. Painting them to match the car and the nails.
Another good thing was that a man was never going to replace her in this business; no matter how wonderful the Maybelline; no one will ever want to see scantily clad men in the movies.
Just pronounced ex-Navy and having breakfast in a small diner in Idaho, road dust claiming him as much as it did his old Ford convertible gracing the parking lot like an abused antique, he met Maybelle Hustings slinging homemade hash, the air full of morning’s riches. She was tall, neat in her apron for a hash house waitress, wore her hair pinned back severely yet evoking promise in its loosing. Corded movements in her neck, supple and graceful but fully pronounced as a woman’s, brought him early hungers, caught him leaning in the booth. Their eyes locked, gave out announcements, were decoded, and then, so as not to embarrass the other, were allowed to wander. Initial signals had been made, and illustrated; acceptance, of some order, duly noted.
Fergie left early again. He was fed up with the self-acclaimed King Of The Pub. He was a cunt. He was a pumped up insignificant prick who walked about as if he’d shit himself. And the clothes, fuck the boy thought he was a gangster rapper, he was nothing more than a nipple-end with some ‘roid rage.
The motel was distasteful. The wallpaper peeled off in strips, and water leaked from the ceiling into a near overflowing bucket. Everything had a yellow tint as the sun slowly set.
Out on the back patio, sat two men.
June 1st 1990
Sharon walked into the office. She saw her workmate Jim staring into a half empty coffee cup. He looked up. His face was flush, his eyes tired and she could have sworn that there was another line on his forehead.
“Do you know what I caught that kid doing?”
She began to chuckle. Jim had been trying to keep his cool since wee David and his mother had moved in.
“We know that it is the spawn of Satan, but go on…Surprise me.”
I left a woman in bed recently. Suddenly. Left her lying, hips scooping toward something I couldn’t give her.
I’d been mouthing the rungs of her ribcage, climbing higher, an ardent mountaineer, when she shifted and with her, the light. The blue glow of the stereo conspired with the beams of a passing car and her arching spine to reveal the vase, winking in the corner. Her exposed neck bloomed white as the skin on the back of mine chilled.
I could just make out the glint of quick-blinking eyes as she took in the sight of me, hopping away and into a pant leg, then feeling for the doorknob in the dark.
So I only noticed that the door to my tattoo shop had been kicked in after I put the key in the lock. I slid the key into the cylinder and twisted it, but the door didn’t move. Through the tunnel of a receding hangover, I saw that the frame had been cracked near the lock, but the door hadn’t quite been kicked open. I pulled away in surprise, the blood receding to the back of my head, and looked around. A shard of the door frame lay on the ground, cleanly broken away. The glass next to the lock was undamaged. It was too early for this shit.
Rata and Jack made their way down the slimy wooden gangplank set haphazardly into the shittier sections of the road, sections where feet and scooter tires would sink into sludge.