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)
by Paulette Powell
Charlie couldn’t stop talking about the crows, “The crows, I’ve never seen anything like it before! I tell you, hundreds, weighing down the tree limbs… when it was over, all of a sudden, the whole flock flew away.”
He’d taken several snapshots of the family. On second inspection, I could see Charlie’s signature style, “photo victims” standing in obedience, as though his pic would be featured in the Telegraph magazine. It was always about presentation, even if it weren’t the truth. He was good at directing and folks would comply.
A family portrait. There was Uncle Peter, the poet, and sweet Aunt Elizabeth. Cousins, David and Emma, who once visited us in NYC, right after David’s great bump on the head that proved a miracle awakening. Brother Benedict, looking like a Hell’s Angel, his aura of defiance fighting his English attire. Alongside conservative sister in law, Liz, whose gray hair and glasses were neatly packaged in school teacher manner, revealed Benedict wasn’t really the black sheep to marry a practical spouse. The Parents, were located in the center. “Mum”, a tormented matriarch, who did her best to bare a heavy cross of a sick girl. Her face still revealed a handsome woman, a diplomat’s wife. And “Dad”, who seemed always distant, unattainable for family but faithful to Kate. His eyes revealed a deep sadness beneath a hard exterior, betrayed the knighted war hero. He wasn’t made of stone, but marble layers of duty kept him locked away, sentencing him to a numb existence.
Walk All Over Me
© 2012 Meredith Fleischer
The First Thing After Church
Following the rules really is so easy, military style; yes drill sergeant, no drill sergeant, all the while thinking: fuck you, drill sergeant. Once you learn how to effectively internalize your response, put on the required face, you have essentially won. I learn this the hard way, in the service, but more importantly is how I unlearn it.
Upon my return from basic training, I am emboldened, straight and taut from 300 sit-ups a day for eight weeks. I have a thoroughly unappealing arrogance about me, an arrogance I mistake for confidence. I am thrilled to see my father again — thrilled but cautious. I did not wear my dress greens or even my BDU’s, but a vintage Chanel dress bought at a Salvation Army in Columbia, South Carolina while on leave. I left my father for the first time in jeans and a Sex Pistols t-shirt, and now I am home, all grown up in an authentic little black dress, fishnets and heels. Read more