by Kenneth Radu
Novelist, short story writer, poet — Kenneth Radu has the unique ability to uncover the extraordinary within the everyday, to peel back the fabric of the superficial to expose hidden depths of meaning. In “Mercy” Urban Graffiti is pleased to present Radu’s story of how a dark, unspoken family secret tears apart a family’s very foundation. ~Editor
Tattoo Nude 1. Photo © 2006 by Devin McCawley
Her head had cracked against the cement floor and she believed her life had come to an end. Her mind plummeted in a tailspin down a black well. In the descent she heard a voice demanding cunt and Adrian offering “be my guest” as if inviting him to use something he owned. She had never forgotten those words as the friend clutched her hair in a fist, repeating “holy fuck.” She would die with the stench of engine oil and whiskey swirling around her brain in the depths of the dark. Dizzy from alcohol, her brother smoked and laughed while his friend, also rank with booze, grabbed under her skirt and clawed off her panties. His nails razored her delicate flesh, he fingered her private parts, and she jolted upwards. His weight pressed hard against her breasts, she struggled to breathe, she couldn’t push him off, and she appealed to her brother: help me, Adrian, please, god, help me. A hand clamped over her mouth and she tried to bite it and scratch the guy’s face, but her jaws wouldn’t move. Both Adrian and the second friend held her arms apart by the wrists while the first friend drilled deep into her body and screams cut through the soft tissue of her brain.
by Tim Beckett
She appeared on an old style woman’s bike with the heavy iron frame and the wide handlebars, her backpack so heavy she almost fell over as she came to a stop. I was drinking beer on Bill’s porch with Bill and a dozen other people and I watched her as she came up the stairs. She was striking, with high Indian cheekbones and olive skin and long brown hair she’d tied back in a ponytail with an Indian braid, and an athletic dancer’s figure which she’d wrapped in a ankle-length leather greatcoat. As she said hello in turn to everyone on the porch, I noticed that, unusually amongst Bill’s friends, she was French.
She’d noticed me as well, because she stopped right in front of me, taking me in with amazing diamond eyes. Up close, she looked familiar though that didn’t mean much: in the month I’d been back in Montreal, every street, face or overheard conversation – whether in French or English – contained some association with a set of vaguely remembered persons or memories. For this and other reasons, I didn’t like to go out much, but that afternoon was special: Bill and his wife Sarah were having a baby shower for their daughter Gisele, who had just turned one.
Sarah, just two years off heroin.
by Philip Quinn
I’d beg for a cup of coffee, a stale bun. The
merchants chased me from their doorsteps. I made
note of their thick accents.
I thought after the last war, I would make my way
as a painter. But my art fed me nothing.
Now I listen for the guns. Each day their thunder
comes closer. A dog when it is fed cyanide
straightens its legs out. Marriage — the last
desperate hope. I owed her that at least.
I always said my prayers like a good boy. Did the
honourable duty towards those that expected it.
Some had to die before me of course. Even the young
Do you know what it is like to hear your name
shouted out and to feel the love of thousands?
Occasionally I lifted my hand and smiled.UG
Philip Quinn lives in Toronto and online at www.philipquinn.ca.
Dis Location, Stories After the Flood (Gutter Press 2000)
The Double, a novel. (Gutter Press 2003)
The SubWay (BookThug 2008)
The Skeleton Dance, a novel (Anvil Press 2009)
That Was All That Happened
by Celia Farber
Judging from her feet, she was no princess. Size 9, with toes that were long, one shaped like a tennis racket, bunions, bones adrift. They hurt, in all shoes except sneakers. She walked fast and hard, up and down the streets of Manhattan. She could clip 20 blocks in 15 minutes, easily. Thinking, thinking, thinking. People remarked on her gait, often, friends who saw her barreling around, from a distance. “Like a boxer,” said one. “Like a bloody gorilla,” said a British boyfriend, years ago. A kind of lunging. Her shoes always got the same quarter-sized hole drilled straight through the middle of the sole, first left, then right. Her mother, sister, father, all had the same big bony troubled feet.
by Kenneth Radu
After initially appearing online in Urban Graffiti with his short story “Oxygen” — subsequently published in his most recent collection of short fiction, Earthbound (DC Books, 2012) — I am quite pleased to publish Kenneth Radu’s transgressive short story “Latrine Duty”, excerpted from his series of linked short stories, that follows the main character, Billy, into his own personal heart of darkness upon his return from his tour of Afghanistan. Enjoy. ~Editor
A scorpion flicking its stinger inside his anus, his face bloated and red, Billy grunted on the bowl. His wife Maggie shrieked in the cell, demanding he fork a hundred bucks for the girls. Where the hell was he going to get a hundred bucks? After paying rent for this dinky hellhole of an apartment and buying hamburger and beans, he had only a few dollars left for smokes and beer. His job paid shit which he’d give a cool hundred to do at this very moment. Just let it break free of the dam and splat out. Everything blocked, bowels constricted, nothing moved except for that frigging scorpion. He had left the door ajar, giving him a good view of Isaac grunting and banging the woman on the bed.