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SmokeLong Quarterly

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Hell is a Headline

Story by Emily McPhillips (Read author interview) July 26, 2010

art by Robinson Accola

Darren and Yousef both held the job of handing out the free, regional-daily newspaper to the people partaking in Manchester’s early morning work-commute-dash. There was a perimeter to the area which they could work from (they had their patch, and others theirs—it was a job that established territory, and emotional politics with it, and sometimes employees would become attached to their patch, easily—it often happened, so when things were sometimes mixed up, by the head honcho, the powers at be, and patches switched round—people could often be left pining for the good old days of much sought after patches, like say the patch at Exchange Square for example). Darren and Yousef’s patch was inclusive of the popular stretch of Market Street, where the familiar retail names called out to buyers like good-time buddies, and the guys’ patch ended where the escalator scaled up from the public walkway of Market Street, on in the direction of the Arndale Mall’s food court, where you can pick yourself up a slice of pizza from as early as eight thirty in the morning; and this was just one of the perks that set big gleaming jewels in the crowns of cities across the country, and one of the reasons why Darren and Yousef liked their current patch so much.

‘You wanna paper?’ Yousef would ask the churn of people as they made their way past him. ‘You take the paper!’ Darren would tell people, and in their hand it’d go. They handed out newspapers, all day long, but they didn’t read them; which subsequently meant that the pair of them had no idea what in God’s name was going on in the world. ‘Tell me something about the news?’ A blind woman asked them, and man, she had it all going on (blind aid wise) she had: the dog, the cane, even those thick black visor glasses that surely make a person even blinder?—(the woman was disadvantaged to the bone) ‘It’s hell out there darlin’ Said Darren to the woman, and Yousef agreed, and sure enough, it probably was hell out there; yet she took a paper any way, for want of hell’s proof, or maybe just to line her cat’s litter tray with; and when her nose itched, just as it did now, she scratched it with her long nails and her newspaper print hands, the ones that took this old blind woman as base and camouflaged her in inked up media dirt, as she walked into a crowd of bastards, who barked more fiercely than the sound of her own guide dog, who barked hard for her right of passage, through the swells of bad moods and corporate hairdos, that gave such mornings hellish edge.

About the Author

Emily McPhillips was born in 1985. She lives in Manchester, England.

About the Artist

Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty-Eight of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty-Eight
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