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Bekaa Valley, Lebanon 1991

The Gutter pays tribute to a fallen writer this week. 

The old school grit of Brian Murphy, featuring his old school bio and all. 

Rest in Peace, Brian.

Bekaa Valley Lebanon 1991 by Brian Murphy

Flies everywhere.

I was surprised I could even stop the trembling and the nausea, the feelings that my stomach had turned itself inside out and would show me its acrobatic mischief any minute.

I was surprised I could hear myself wonder – about the flies, about my stomach, when my ears still rang like I was hearing the last four minutes again, and again - surprised there was still time to tell myself that I would be hearing those staccato machine gun bursts in dreams and against my pillow when my head throbbed enough to ensure another sleepless night - when the film behind tight, shut eyes, replayed this moment.

And it would. Because I’d lived. And there is always a price. For such good fortune.

Because we had been quicker, even desperate, we lived. But there was little joy for me just then. Hassan Didi was slumped against his car.

The girls were crying. And the flies had appeared from nowhere, exactly as the Syrian patrol had done.

Now that patrol lay twisted in grotesque supplication for the flies to ponder - for me to fight back a sickness that I knew would return the rest of my life. To pay. Always a price. 

There was nothing for the girls to fight back. Their stomachs had emptied and, between fits

of dry retching, they moaned in Dutch. Their tears though, were universal. So too like death, I thought as I still puzzled over the flies – thousands of them, “Death is universal, there ain’t no one it don’t like.”

I dropped the hot machine pistol. At first it had been glued by sweat and purpose, into my palms. My shoulder ached and I was sure I had broken a rib from the gun’s recoil.

I was not a soldier. I was not trained to kill. But in four minutes I had learned. And I had killed soldiers. My breath came out from dust-caked nostrils and dry lips in ragged gasps - each second now, the pressure against my lungs, making me wince, then shudder, reminded me I had survived this madness… And the flies…..

Brian Murphy hates bios. Find him at Out Of The Gutter where he runs the only advise column in publication that has hurt more people than it's helped. He's at Thuglit and Pulp Pusher and Allen Guthrie's Noir Originals maybe more than is good for him. He hasn't been in prison since 1990, so, uh, er, he's got that going for him. Check out Brian Murphy at for original music and writing.