Metropolitan Lines Summer 2008

postgraduate fiction

postgraduate fiction
                                         you!’ boomed the policeman. He               Bob Dylan attem...
postgraduate fiction
When questioned about its legitimacy he just shrugs
and asks what harm it can do.                    ...
postgraduate fiction
clattering whirr of wings startled me and I grabbed cold as the stones I was offering her. She turned...
postgraduate fiction
Charles so the sooner my children          I’d pored over their every detail. I      when I’m well en...
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Metropolitan Lines 2008 Sample


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Cover and sample interior pages from Metropolitan Lines. Layout designed to function on-screed as a pdf or as printed A4 pages. Layout and all photos © Samuel Taradash. All text copyrights held by the respective authors.

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Metropolitan Lines 2008 Sample

  1. 1. Metropolitan Lines Summer 2008 1
  2. 2. postgraduate fiction Contents Metropolitan Lines Summer 2008 Summer 2008 FICTION Editors: POSTGRADUATES Editorial Staff David Fulton World Gone Wrong 3 Ben Hart Robert Stamper Parting Gift 8 Carolyn Skelton Hodge 10 Jo Hurst Subediting, Layout and Formatting: Magilligan 12 Johanna Yacoub Samuel Taradash Canal 21 Kate Simants Chicken Jack 24 Perry Bhandal Metropolitan Lines is the literary Paradise, Etc. 35 Ali Sheikholeslami magazine of Brunel University’s School of Arts. It exists to showcase the FACULTY creative writing, prose and poetry of 38 Emotional Spaceman William Leahy students, faculty and staff connected to December 1945... John West 42 the School of Arts at Brunel University. Questions, comments or submissions UNDERGRADUATES are welcome, and should be sent to A Lesson Learned 43 Laura Brown Piano 53 Maria Papacosta Any submissions should be sent as POETRY attachments to e-mail in the form of UNDERGRADUATES .doc or rtf files. Please, check your Pantoum - The Prophet 11 Marc Spencer spelling and grammar before sending. Decadence in the Bathroom 13 Kerry Williams The copyrights of all works within are held by their Been There, Done That 13 respective authors. All photographs by Samuel Pure Research 8 Emanuele Libertini Taradash, except for page 42, which was was first published anonymously in the Soviet Journal The Snail 27 Mark Woollard Ogonyok, and is currently in the public domain. Thirteen Ways of Looking 29 Jean-David Beyers at Scissors Filth 32 Weeping Woman 39 Maria Ridley CC’s 45 Paranoia 48 Kerry Williams Scarf Me Up 15 Shane Jinadu Johnny 15 Haiku 11 Marc Spencer Visit us on-line: Metropolitan Lines Brunel University The Department of English at Brunel University, School of Arts 2 Metropolitan Lines Summer 2008
  3. 3. postgraduate fiction you!’ boomed the policeman. He Bob Dylan attempting to cure World Gone Wrong grabbed the hobo roughly by the America’s ills by calling forth the Ben Hart shoulder and shoved him in the spirit of a long-dead blues singer. direction of the church gates. That fails to inspire me much either, 1. Trying to get to Heaven ‘I have as much right to be here so I turn off the player and lie in as anyone!’ protested the hobo, silence, counting down the seconds T he rain slid cautiously down gazing up pleadingly at the concrete until I have to rouse myself and head the angel’s faces, dripping off angels that towered above him. off to work. their noses and falling to the floor. ‘Sleeping rough on church Below them a lone hobo sought property is against the law. I’m I’m the assistant manager of a shelter within the church that they obliged to move you on.’ video shop. Correction: a back-alley guarded, his knocking echoing out ‘Was Jesus himself not an video shop. Our closed sign’s dully through the empty building. outlaw?’ scrawled on a piece of Weetabix box and our selection’s limited. Often I Bemoaning the lack of response *** try to broaden our customers’ from within the church, the hobo horizons, suggesting they try brushed his soaking hair away from something a little artier than the his face and staggered out into the norm, but rarely are they having any 2. My Name Is Nobody churchyard. Pulling his battered of it. Tonight it’s particularly quiet. M coat around himself as tightly as it There’s a new multi-national store y mind’s a mess. Congested. would go, he lay down on a sodden due to open up the road in a couple Like a town centre in bench and did his best to sleep. of weeks and I reckon most of our desperate need of a bypass. I stare clientele are saving themselves for out the window, notepad in hand, The night was a bitter one and that. It’s a sobering thought. I really and chew at the skin around my sleep did not come easily to the don’t see how we can stay in well-bitten nails. It’s a fine old day hobo, but he was exhausted from business after it hits. outside: sunshine mingling sociably the hardships of the day and with a sweeping wind and deft eventually it took him, wrenching I decide to amuse myself by flakes of snow. It’s the kind of him away from the world and into a staring at the wall and asking weather that would usually sound wholly better one of his own rhetorical questions. Who am I? poetic however you described it, but devising. For the next three hours What am I doing here? Basic today my brain just isn’t up to the he drifted in and out of existential stuff. A couple of girls challenge. It blanks me, cutting my consciousness, hearing the tongues come in while I’m doing this and prose off before I’ve even written of angels and men singing in unison leave hurriedly, giggling. It doesn’t anything. Sighing, I clamber up to a tune that his mind couldn’t really bother me. I get paid the same from my seat and make coffee – place. whether they rent anything out or black, no sugar. The caffeine does not. Later, about ten, just as I’m its best to stimulate but my body’s Gradually the music began to tail preparing to head home, the shop having none of it. I drain my cup off. Then it stopped altogether. The fills up and I find myself bombarded and return to the window, its hobo’s eyes snapped open and he with videos from all angles. A Hugh grubby pane now flecked with saw the face of a policeman peering Grant flick here, a Halle Berry snow. down into his own. there. One kid, obviously underage, ‘Come on you, on your bike!’ tries to get out a Van Damme – one I’m starting to think that the The hobo rolled off the bench of his later straight-to-video jobbies. world’s turned its back on me. The and rubbed his bleary eyes. I ID him and he presents me with a girl I picked up last night left before ‘I need to speak with the laminated piece of cardboard that it was light and didn’t leave a Reverend,’ he said. ‘Then I’ll be on he’s obviously scanned off his number. Nobody else is answering my way’. computer ten minutes beforehand. my calls. No one’s calling either. I lie ‘I’m sure the Reverend has better on my bed, put a CD on and spend things to do than tend to the likes of the next six minutes listening to 3 Metropolitan Lines Summer 2008
  4. 4. postgraduate fiction When questioned about its legitimacy he just shrugs and asks what harm it can do. The barman nodded and handed me a beer. I thanked him and surveyed my surroundings, mapping Before cashing up I check the inbox on my phone. It out the day. Drank my beer down and gazed out the makes unpleasant reading: no new messages. I turn off window. Traffic flashed past, a girl in an orange dress. World Gone Wrong the main lights and complete my chores by the flickering The bar was filling up now; people were on their lunch, of the popcorn machine and the second-hand rays of the eating, drinking. Smoke hung low in the air and I had to streetlights outside. 2ps, 5ps, 10ps, 20ps…I arrange rest my chin on the bar to escape it. Time passed and I them all in order, in rows, just how the boss likes them. went with it: some kids being refused admission, the whirring of a fruit machine, the monotony of the The door flies open and a man comes barging in, barman’s chatter. Life became a haze, a smoke-filled collar pulled up high, his head masked by a balaclava. I oblivion. My eyes strained against it, working harder draw his attention to the closed sign on the door but he than anticipated. There was a girl alone at a table – Ben Hart doesn’t want to listen. He wants the money in the till, brunette, nice smile. the money I’ve just spent the last twenty minutes arranging, the I introduced myself. Talk She was stuck in a world flowed freely. I lied about my day; money that was providing me with an excuse not to head home. she did likewise. There was a where she didn’t belong; if copy of the local rag on the table We struggle and the money goes she left him then she left and we skimmed on the loose. flying everywhere. This angers through it. me. I hate to see my handiwork Seems there’s a killer undone, and I go for him, biting everything. Gutsy little thing The press have dubbed him ‘The and scratching, trying to wrench Silver-Tongued Devil’. He went ahead and did it. the wool from his face. He’s far charms his way into people’s too strong for me though, and I houses, wins their trust and then Credit to her. find myself flung against the wall, slays them. Uses whatever’s at a knife pressed up close to my hand. Sometime last month he throat. caved an old lady’s skull in with a brick. It made one hell ‘Make another sound,’ he hisses, ‘make another of a mess on the carpet. I pointed this out to the girl and sound and I promise that I’ll fucking kill you!’ warned her against being out late at night; she did ‘Kill me?’ I chuckle. ‘I’m already dead.’ likewise. We laughed, inhaled smoke, watched it follow its tail, round and round. She was alone for the night, *** had walked out on her bloke. The barman came over and brushed aside the glasses, winking at me. We continued talking, had lots in common. Poor little thing had got involved with the wrong guy and hadn’t realised 3. The Silver-Tongued Devil until it was too late. It was a nasty situation: she was T he beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had stuck in a world where she didn’t belong; if she left him another for desert. Pellets of rain clattered into the then she left everything. Gutsy little thing went ahead windows, launched from the swirling wisps of cloud and did it. Credit to her. that circled above. The clock hit eleven with a The drinks kept flowing and our jaws kept jacking, begrudging ‘thunk.’ I gathered up my overcoat, slung it hours melting into hours as we exchanged stories about on and headed for the door. a world gone wrong. Then the bell rung, last orders were called and we were out in the street, arm in arm, Outside a kid swore at a can that he was kicking; the tires of a U-Haul truck squealed; a man with a badge heading for her place. The rain still came but it was skipped on by; the smell of frying chicken aroused my almost apologetic now, its rage quelled. We bantered nostrils. I passed it all by and blundered into the nearest on the doorstep, standing in defiance of the cold. The bar, rubbing my malnourished eyes as the artificial door was opened and we staggered inside. Laughter, jostling, the smell of wet denim. lights hit them. 4 Metropolitan Lines Summer 2008
  5. 5. postgraduate fiction clattering whirr of wings startled me and I grabbed cold as the stones I was offering her. She turned to Henri’s trouser leg in alarm. He laughed and, putting Jeanne and said, his hand to his lips in a shushing sign, pointed out the ‘Take the boy in. I wish to speak to Magilligan.’ white scut of a deer as it leapt silently over tangled As Jeanne moved towards me, I shrank back to undergrowth at the side of the path. Henri, my spurned stones clutched to my chest as tears ‘Henri,’ I asked. ‘Can we catch something?’ pricked the back of my eyes. It had been the most ‘I don’t think so,’ he laughed, ‘but we can fill our wonderful afternoon of my life. In my distress, I didn’t pockets with cones and acorns for the fire. And maybe hear the squeak of wheels as the chair approached. we’ll find some pretty pebbles in the stream.’ ‘Let me see them,’ said the voice. ‘Are they like the Magilligan I’ve no idea how far we walked. It seemed miles, but stones in my study? I found mine in the same stream.’ I was young and this was my first expedition to the Without thinking, I went to the chair and laid them outside world. We followed the path and crossed the in my father’s lap. His scarred hands picked them up stream on the stepping stones. I was too scared to jump, and held them high against the light. Their metallic Johanna Yacoub so Henri piggy-backed me over, then found some stones layers glistened like jewels in the late afternoon sun. with beautiful striations. I use them as paper-weights to ‘They’re lovely,’ he said. this day. My pockets were full to bursting. I was I was still too shy to look him in the face but my staggering like an overloaded pack donkey in an oriental horror of the wheelchair had been conquered. I was bazaar. touching it. ‘I think you’ve about had it,’ ‘Jeanne,’ he asked, ‘didn’t you said Henri as he crouched down He laughed and, putting his make an apple tart this afternoon? in front of me. Without hesitation, I think we’ll have some. Charles hand to his lips in a I climbed on his bent back, would love that, wouldn’t you? hugged my arms round his throat And I can show him my stones.’ shushing sign, pointed out and let him carry me home. I looked at him and nodded. Whether it was exhaustion or his Close to, he wasn’t frightening, the white scut of a deer as despite the patch over his lost left strange side-to-side roll, I fell asleep and didn’t wake until we it leapt silently over tangled eye. The otherme with kindness. eye, as blue as were crunching up the gravel of mine, regarded undergrowth at the side of Magilligan grasped the the main drive to the chateau. There was a welcome party, or wheelchair and propelled my the path. rather, an unwelcoming party, as father back into the house. I my over-protective mother, followed. My mother and the Jeanne, Denise and other members of the house-staff other women were left standing on the cobbles, and not were pacing the cobblestones of the courtyard. They quite sure what to do. Papa turned his head and yelled were all frantic with worry. at my mother, ‘Where have you been?’ shouted Jeanne as Henri set ‘Come on, Alexia... don’t you want cake? And bring me down. the girls down. We’ll all have it together.’ Before he could answer, I rushed to my mother to My mother jumped as if an electric current had been show her my stones and exclaimed, ‘Look what I’ve got.’ passed through her and hurried after us into the house. In my hurry to extract the treasures from my pocket, I Henri positioned Papa in front of the fire in the library dropped one of the stones into a puddle. The water and tactfully withdrew, leaving us together. A rattle of splashed against my mother’s leg, but in my eagerness, footsteps and the chatter of high, girlish voices I didn’t notice. announced the arrival of my sisters. ‘And I found pine cones and saw a deer.’ ‘André,’ my mother began, ‘don’t you think it’s better I stopped babbling and looked at Maman’s face, as for the children to take their cake in the nursery? They’ll she wiped the splashes from her stockings. I shrank only make a mess here and I don’t want them to get used back, biting my lip. She was angry. Foraging in the to coming into these rooms. I’ll call Jeanne and...’ forests with the likes of Henri was not her idea of ‘No you won’t,’ interrupted my father. ‘This is their suitable amusement for her only son. Her face became house until they grow up and marry someone who has a house for them to go to. One day it will all come to 19 Metropolitan Lines Summer 2008
  6. 6. postgraduate fiction Charles so the sooner my children I’d pored over their every detail. I when I’m well enough, I’ll do it with get used to the rooms the better. was too young to know what a fossil you.’ Anyway, I want to show them my was. I hadn’t even started school, Magilligan was surprised and stones.’ but their colours and textures looked at my mother, who looked at Maman became silent. Papa fascinated me from the first time I the floor. wheeled himself to his bureau, a saw them. ‘Very well, Sir. Will that be all for great, roll-topped oak monstrosity There was a soft tap at the door. the moment?’ with glass fronted bookshelves Magilligan entered with my father’s ‘I’ll ring when I need you.’ towering above it, and pulled open a reading glasses and, before leaving, As he left, I observed my Magilligan drawer. I couldn’t contain my turned to my mother. mother’s tense face and made a curiosity and followed him, all fear ‘Madame la Marquise,’ he began child’s vow always to look after or revulsion I’d once felt for his nervously. ‘If I had the boy out too Henri Magilligan. He had broken disfigurement now forgotten in the long, I apologise. I won’t do it down the barrier between my father Johanna Yacoub joy of discovery. It was full of stones; again.’ and myself. Papa was right on geodes, fossils, rocks and splinters Before my mother had a chance another issue. I’d spent too much of quartz which flashed diamond- to respond, my father cut in with, time with women who spoiled and bright in the flicker of the oil lamp. I ‘Rubbish, Henri. You’ve nothing cosseted me. It was time to be a boy. gazed at this magic trove of geology to apologise about. It’s what the boy Otherwise, I’d never be a man. and began to take them out one by needs, so you will do it again and one, passing them to my sisters once 20 Metropolitan Lines Summer 2008