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Feed Your Head: Richard Milward

Read some of our favourite short stories inspired by lyrics from our Literary Issue this month

In the new issue of Dazed & Confused, we presented 11 short-stories from young authors deemed by Dazed to be among the hottest out there, as a collection of acutely concise, specially commissioned works for 2012. Created as an anthology in the style of a mixtape, our only stipulations were brevity and that each of our contributors used a favourite song lyric as their inspiration. Hear the Literary Mixtape including all the songs that inspired the stories, here.

Love is like jazz / You make it up as you go along - Richard Milward:

When A found one of E’s luxurious blond hairs in his bed, the morning after their first bout of erotic pelvis-bashing, he worshipped it like the golden tailfeather of an exotic bird of paradise. He preserved it between two pieces of Sellotape and tucked it in his wallet for safe-keeping. Six months later, when he found twelve of her hairs in his bathtub, he fucking blew his top and flushed them straight down the toilet. Then the hostility commenced.

    B needed a moll who would mollycoddle. He found talking stressful – in fact, his major gripe with being in a relationship was the constant pressure to come up with interesting topics for him and D to discuss. By the time they were too well-acquainted to worry about impressing each other and/or embarrassing themselves, he began talking to her like a baby. He filled necessary silences with unnecessary, nonsensical noises that might be frowned upon even in a crèche. It was his way of pleading for love without having to spell it out in plain English. Much as even the coldest-hearted person might have trouble abandoning a pet bunny, B figured the more vulnerable and lovable he appeared, the less likely D would throw him out. D was nonplussed. She always wanted children, but she was not willing to look after two babies on her own. Either he improved his vocabulary, or she walked out. She wanted to smash him over the head with a dictionary. He ruined a perfectly good argument with his puerile, passive-aggressive “ooh”-ing and “noo”-ing. She left him the next day, for effect, but he still would not grow up. In fact, he cried like a baby, his brain now fit to bursting with all sorts of conversations he could’ve, or should’ve, shared. But he didn’t know what to say when she phoned him from her mother’s house, demanding her belongings – and the last two years of her life – back.

    C attacked his enemies with friendliness. Most of his relationships succeeded initially because he was capable of keeping his jealousy well-hidden, but inevitably these relationships crumbled once his girlfriends began testing and taunting the green-eyed skeletons in his closet. Luckily for C, he didn’t wholeheartedly respect any of his past girlfriends – but F was different. While her good heart made her sterling wife-material, her good looks made C’s life hell. She accepted compliments and come-hither conversation from men like a dopey dog accepts sweet treats from strangers: without any concept of wrongdoing. She could see only good in other men, while C could see only a row of smug, chiselled faces he wanted to exact revenge on with an electric sander. Nevertheless, he knew he must remain blasé or else be banished from F’s fancy-free clutches forever. So, he attacked his enemies with friendliness. Like a magician, he turned his hard-earned pound notes into bright liquids which would disappear down these men’s throats. He bombarded them with sincere-seeming small talk, driving them to distraction with pleasantries and painstaking attention to their every need. He would offer them shots, sartorial advice, sporting tips – anything to keep them away from his beloved F. However, his scheme ultimately backfired:

    “You’ve been fucking ignoring me all night!” F squealed later that night, barely coherent, with black eyes and green nostrils. “Why don’t you just go and – I don’t know – sleep with those bloody blokes then, why don’t you! You little shit! Christ!”
One weekday night, one month later, A and E, B and D, and C and F are drinking in a chain pub, strangers to each other. Another stranger, G, enters, broken-hearted, looking to end his love affair with life with a flourish. The publicans are barely aware as G removes a Ruger double-action revolver from his coat pocket and fires six indiscriminate shots into the packed bar, emptying the cylinder. A, B, C, D, E and F, now united by bleeding bulletholes, flail and fall about the pub like drunken notes on a jazz piano. The pub suddenly erupts with a freeform, ear-splitting cacophony: glasses crash like cymbals, and scared hearts beat snares as the publicans await the police cars’ piercing brass section. The lugubrious lovesong ends with a sustained G, restrained by the police and screaming “Gggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg!” with his face pressed to the carpet, fuocoso, fortississimo, ostinato... con dolore... for he had forgotten to save a bullet for himself.

To enter our short story competition 'Feed Your Head' click HERE.