The New Generation of Classic Short Stories

Vol. 13, No. 1


by Antonio Ungar

Translated by Janet Hendrickson

Four in the morning. My friend Pierre sits at his desk and watches the wet sidewalk shine through his dirty window. A cup of cold coffee sits atop a book. Pierre has stopped drafting an article on film, and he's bored. His room is on the second floor of a house identical to the rest in this damp, dark, miserable neighborhood. Its floor is made of old Formica; its stained walls used to be gray; it has a ramshackle endurance. The bed is undone. A light bulb hangs from a cord above the desk. Through the window, under the city's icy winter, there is a street where the trash builds up and drunks vomit, where the fight dogs shit and everything freezes fast. Through the window, the city is London: a city of miserable men, where it never stops drizzling ice, a city of crazy old ladies who walk endlessly. A city split by a huge, slow, black river.
     Pierre is twenty-five, very skinny, hunchbacked, long-haired. Now he plays with the ashtray; he distracts himself thinking of how he will spend the pounds of the monthly salary he earns writing articles for a mediocre magazine. He imagines the coming winter, the days until spring. Suddenly he hears a man scream. He pricks up his ears like the poor dog he is: more screams, blows. He stands up, goes to the window. It's happening in the house next door: it's a fight between the Barneses, the Barnes brothers, his neighbors.

To read the rest of this story, both in English and in its original Spanish, and others from the Spring 2009 issue, please purchase a copy from our online store.