Sample of what we’re about

Lots of you have been emailing us either to say that they’re still not sure what kind of thing we’re looking for or just something we’re not looking for. This is why I’ve posted this. It’s a short story bu Raif Mansell that featured in issue 2 of Hand Job. I really like this piece, it’s brutal yet sincere.

Anyway, have a read and if you think that we’ll like your work send it on over! It doesn’t have to be as harsh as this one is, this is just an example of the top quality writing that we’re looking for.

Photograph – By Sophie Pitchford

True Love Steals Something. – By Raif Mansell

They passed a bottle of port between them and pulled at the long grass. Paul lit a cigarette and looked around. He knew as long as he had cigarettes, there was something to be done. A day could be made with cigarettes. As he smoked, he watched the concrete bridge that lay above him; he liked the constant passing of cars – steady, steady as he drummed out the rhythm of them with his hands and never let anything enter his head – just peacefully drummed the constant rhythm of the cars with his hands -sometimes with his eyes closed – occasionally kicking the heads of flowers from their stems.
Paul took a swig of the port and watched his older brother Davo. Davo nodded at him without saying a word and Davo took a few pulls of the port, took Paul’s cigarette and had a few long drags.
“So are we doing this then?” Davo said.
“Can’t see why not?” Paul shrugged, “can’t see why not.”
“You best not leave me standing there like a fucking idiot”
“How do I know you’re not going to leave me standing there”
“But really when we get there, don’t leave me fucking hanging.”
“You could leave me fucking standing there for all I know.”
“The adrenaline will be pumping so get ready”
“You best be ready, I’m fucking ready for it, you’re the one that’s probably going to be standing there with your dick in your hands.”
“Don’t be daft.”
They both took a few more swigs of the port.
“I need to go to me birds” Paul said.
“I know but just be fucking ready”
Paul nodded and stood up.

Paul knocked on the door and straightened out his jacket. Gemma answered the door and put her finger against his lips.
“The neighbours can’t know you’re here, you know how my mum gets” Gemma said.
Paul nodded and walked inside.
“They’re not here but they’ll be back soon.”
“You got anything to drink?” Paul asked.
Gemma nodded.
“Got some wine and beer” she said.
They walked to her room and she pulled out a bottle of wine and two bottles of beer out of a bag. She handed him a beer. He put it down and grabbed the bottle of wine, uncorked it and took a big swig. He passed it to Gemma and she took a swig too.
“Have some more” said Paul.
She took another swig, coughed and then laughed. Paul laughed too. She pulled him into her parent’s room. Pictures of her as a child spiralled around him, the large eyes watching.
“Little brothers asleep in my room” Gemma said.
She kissed him hard on the lips, their mouths open wide. As she did so, she felt for him through his pants. He pushed her back on the bed and started grabbing her hips, her behind. He put his hands all over then, while keeping their lips locked, he pulled off his jacket. She started pulling down his trousers and she could feel it, pointing upwards. She pulled down his boxers and started pulling it softly then harder. She put it in her mouth and started sucking; she actually wanted to do it. She could hear Paul exhaling, closing his eyes. She kept going and going. Paul felt like he was going to explode. She looked at the clock.
“We’re going to have to go, my mum will be home soon” Gemma said.
Paul stood there with his mouth open. He pulled his hand down his face and grabbed her hand.
“Come on, let’s go” he said.

They walked out the door with Paul pulling her by the hand. He led her down the metal stairs. He could see a graveyard down below where his Nan was buried, that’s where he was planning. He pulled her down a few more flights of steps. He remembered that there was an alcove round the back of the stairs with a few mops and a rusty bucket in it. He pulled her into it and started kissing her again.
“We can’t” she said.
He tore off his jacket again and kissed her until she slumped against the wall. She was biting his lip. She fell to the floor and pulled his trousers and boxers down. She started sucking again. He exhaled and closed his eyes.She kept going and then he pushed against her on the floor. He felt inside her trousers, felt around the back and touched the strap of her underwear. He pulled her trousers down slowly and pushed his fingers in. It felt warm and she started to breathe heavily. He went for a while then pulled his trousers down further. He pushed it in and he heard her moan all the way in. She whispered things into the air. He felt her fingernails on his stomach and back. He powered away over and over, her breathing hard and touching her face. He flipped her over onto her knees and went in again. He wanted to see what it looked like from this angle. He pummelled it in over and over. She spread her hands across the wall. Her body was moving out of control. He went over and over until he exploded. She breathed three large breathes and they sat against the wall. She put her hand against his face, still exhaling. She smiled and nestled her head into his arm.
“I think I love you, you know” Gemma said.
“I think I feel the same” said Paul.
They sat for a while in silence
“I need to go and do something with Davo” Paul said.
“Okay” Gemma said.
She kissed him again, open mouth and tongue.
He stood up and walked away.

He walked down to the field where Davo told him to meet. Davo was stood there smoking a cigarette, staring at his phone, not touching it. They nodded at each other
“Let’s go” Davo said.
They walked around the back of the field and shimmied along the fences. Behind the fences were the backs of people’s houses.
“Should be good, he’s an actor so he’ll have loads. Proper queer apparently” Davo said.
They walked to the end of the fences. At the end the fence was low. They stared at the back of the house then jumped the fence. They walked towards the back door and stopped.
“You ready?” Davo said
“Yeah” said Paul, pushing his fingers into his palms.
Davo stood back then walked towards the door. He walked backwards again and then ran forwards and kicked the door below the handle. The door buckled – something cracked inside it. He kicked it again. It smashed open and they walked inside. The kitchen was just a small corridor sized room with yellow flowers on the window and pictures on the fridge – graduation, holidays – that Davo examined slowly then dismissed with a low noise. They walked through the kitchen and into the living room. There were paintings of ships and dogs on the wall and an electronic fireplace with a screen against it. Davo spat against the screen and watched closely as the heat bubbled it slowly, slowly into steam. Somebody came through the living room door. He had blonde hair, treated and pushed to the right while his t-shirt narrowed down to his chest. His skin was smooth, unblemished and Paul thought he actually looked a lot like a female pornstar that Davo had made him watch when he was thirteen.
He was wearing a striped t-shirt that pointed down towards his chest and his chest was hairless.
“Who are you?” he said.
Davo walked over and grabbed him by his blonde hair. He pulled him onto his knees with one hand and pulled out an iron bar with the other. Paul stood back with his hands by his side and watched him. Davo smashed him in the leg with the pipe and he screamed.
“Justin, we know who you are you little queer. What money have you got? What money have you got in your house?”
“Nothing, I don’t have anything” Justin said.
“Fuck off, we know you’re an actor in a soap, where’s your safe? What money do you have in your safe?” Davo said.
“I don’t have a safe, I’m only an extra in Hollyoaks, I’m only an extra.”
Davo smashed the bar into Justin’s arm and he screamed again.
“Bullshit, where’s your safe?”
“I don’t have one, I’m only an extra”
Davo gripped the bar around Justin’s throat.
“Bullshit, what the fucks an extra?”
“I stand in the background, I just stand in the background of Hollyoaks.”
“What are you doing in the background? Fucking acting? You’re a fucking actor”
He pulled the bar tighter.
“You best give us this money actor boy, you little queer, you best get this safe.”
“I don’t have anything, honestly”
“You don’t want to give us anything, actor boy? I’ll give you something.”
Davo pulled down his trousers and boxers.
“You’re going to suck my dick, you little queer, go on.”
Paul stood and watched. Justin looked up at Paul.
“Fucking suck!” Davo said.
Davo put the tip of his penis onto Justin’s lips and pushed it in. Justin started bobbing his head, sucking him while crying. Davo smacked him across the face with the back of a hand.
“Try harder you queer.”
He bobbed his head faster, still crying. When he was about to come, he pushed it down Justin’s mouth and came down his throat. He held it there while Justin gagged.
“Good, good, now my brother” said Davo.
“No, no, fuck that, I don’t think so” Paul said.
“What the fuck? Why not?”
“Forget it” Paul said.
“Don’t give me that, fucking do it” said Davo
Davo was holding Justin by the chin, tightening his grip. He stared at Paul with the bar in his hand.
“Okay, fuck it” said Paul.
Paul walked over and dropped his trousers. Justin tongued at it for a while. Paul hoped he wouldn’t get hard but something inevitable was happening and he was trying to search for a reason why – through the organs moving – the layers of power and pity and disgust for an answer that he already knew, like a man who has visited a rent boy an hour earlier, searching the pavements and scratching at a bare wrist, looking for a watch he knows won’t be there. Justin was looking up; his face was puffed up and red. After some time, Paul came and it dribbled out over his chin.
“Wasn’t that nice? Now tell us where this fucking safe is. I know he must be rich” said Davo.
Davo walked into the kitchen and looked in the fridge.
“Houmous? White wine? Cucumber? Of course he’s rich, fucking faggot food” Davo said. He uncorked a bottle of wine and drank it straight while walking back into the living room. Paul took it off him and had a large drink himself.
“This is your last chance, tell us where some money is” Davo said to Justin.
“I’ve already told you, I don’t know what else to say” Justin said.
Davo wrapped the bar around his throat and pulled back. Justin started spluttering. His mouth looked like it was coughing but nothing was coming out. His lips were like a fishes washed up on the sand, expanding until they were full, like balloons and gasping for what they needed. He pulled even harder and Justins face swelled from a fair white smooth into a purple translucent shell, his veins barely concealed beneath his skin.
“Stop, Davo” Paul said
“I fucking told him, I told him, he didn’t listen, it’s what happens. He’s seen our faces as well” Davo said.
Justin eyes were drooping and his body was slumping against the pipe.
“Fucking stop right now, I never agreed to this.
Davo kept the bar tight around his neck.
“I’m not going to be part of something I never agreed to” Paul said.
“I fucking told him” Davo said.
“Listen, I’m not going to be quiet about something I never fucking agreed to” Paul said.
“What does that mean?” Davo said.
“It means, I never fucking agreed to this” Paul said.
Davo released the pipe from around Justin’s neck.
“What do you mean” Davo said.
“I told you what I fucking mean, now drop the fucking bar right fucking now. Fucking drop it. The kid doesn’t know who we fucking are so grab that fucking bar, grab the kids fucking wallet, grab his fucking ipod and his speaker, grab whatever the fuck you want to fucking grab and lets fucking bounce out of here right  now” Paul said.
Davo grabbed a laptop, a phone, an ipod and an ipod speaker and walked out towards the back door.
“Where’s your wallet?” Paul asked Justin.
“Upstairs, on the bed” Justin said.
Paul walked upstairs, saw a wallet on the bed, grabbed it and walked downstairs. He walked towards the backdoor.
“Thank you, thank you so much” Justin said.
Paul turned around and looked at Justin. The tears had stopped. A deep shaking relief was over him. His hands were above his head as though reaching out for something. Paul nodded at him.
Paul and Davo walked out the back door and over the fence.

Paul sat on the field and rubbed his arms, his legs, his heart – his whole body. Before he felt he was relatively solid the whole way through but now strong bits of him felt weak and parts that should have been fleshy and soft felt hard and tight – everything within him felt blurred but caged deeply inside his chest and head. It was darker now and the ‘fuf fuf’ sound of wind overpowered the noises of the bridge where it seemed to bear down on him like a fist- he tried to look at his phone but it all seemed to smudge together – he tried to beat out the rhythm of the bridge but he couldn’t steady it – riff after riff he whistled to himself – melting into one another but they hardened into a slow pounding march, the drum beating ‘fuf fuf’ with its windy fists.
He rang up Gemma.
“Hello, are you okay?” Paul said.
“Are you okay? You sound awful” said Gemma
“I’m fine. Listen, when you said what you said before, I never said it back. I do love you” said Paul.
What even was love? Paul thought.
He’d never been able to pin it down.

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