Nights in Dostoyevski, by Tayne Ephraim

Tayne Ephraim studied creative writing at UOW. Originally from Wollongong, he now lives in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. His work has appeared in Voiceworks, The Suburban Review, Scum Mag, Seizure and Stilts.

This flash fiction piece appears in Issue Nine of the journal. Please support our work and buy a copy today.


It started out with subway walls and toilet cubicle doors. Stencils, stickers, a stray line of poem. There was Tosca and there was Luciel and there was someone’s little sister Meredith who filmed it on her phone. The others, they wore hoods, they scampered through shadows and down back alleys and over warehouse rooftops like sinewy rats in a storm, but not Tosca’s crew. There was a pride in their secret art, in the risks, in the anonymity. They moved to inner city brick-lined alleys, pop art on skips and billboards, on naked walls and industrial garage doors. They flitted in the night on pushbikes, wheeling through the tungsten glow of suburban streets, spray cans and stencil sheets stowed away in canvas bags. No hoodies, no baggy pants, just woolly jumpers and pullovers and skinny black jeans because it was near winter and the nights were getting cold, damn cold. And Meredith coming up in the rear in her floral print shirt and black hat, always with the phone, always filming, every off moment, every stray word. There was no recognition of their efforts, only council workers with high-velocity hoses, with metal scrapers and paint rollers to cover over their late-night expressions. A predilection for tropical fruit and the words of Wordsworth, certainly. But also haggard figures, obscure designs of shadow, dark masses of pubic hair, the hunched female figure in abstraction and in fear. And at the aquarium when they stuck stickers of stylised consumer products and tropical fish to the glass of the tanks until they were kicked out by security and told never to come back. And the side of the Tangara where they recited the poems of Leonard Cohen and whole pages out of Dostoyevski in black and blue spray paint across the length of four carriages. And the time they put white-out on the X Factor posters in Central Station and got away with it. Weedy moustaches and rounded spectacles and snaggleteeth and protrusions of the face, speech bubbles with slogans from obscure books of literature, slogans like “the atomic fact” and “the causal nexus”, slogans that were not even slogans. Abstractions, interdictions, factoids. Nothings. Nights spent in Dostoyevski, in train yards and in multi-storey car parks, all captured on Meredith’s phone, recorded, catalogued, validated in secret.

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