The Exquisite Redemption of Miss Colleen Burton (Part 6)


The following is a HEAVEmedia experiment in honoring NaNoWriMo, as well as an attempt to write a novella in public. Read on, join us, and so forth.

If you missed our first post, here’s a quick primer on what it is that we’re doing here. Go back and read that, though, because this isn’t going to make a ton of sense otherwise.

Five writers from Chicago, each with their own unique perspectives, will attempt to write a cohesive novella twice a week over the next several months with no knowledge of where the story is going until each consecutive piece is posted here on Heave. Each new part will be posted every Tuesday and Friday, with the writing duties being carried out in a standard batting order fashion (once the end of the batting order is reached, it starts from the top). At the end of each installment, the writer of said installment will introduce a caveat, or an obstruction, that must be adhered to by the following writer in the next written installment.

Now, the writers wanted to take this project a step further and involve the readers in the writing process. Starting today, Heave will begin asking the readers of the story to tweet @HEAVEmedia with their own ideas for obstructions. How the writers decide upon which obstructions to use is up to them.

Today’s part is written by musician James Medley.



“Tell me this.”

“Tell you what?”

“Why in the fuck would you steal a photo album?”

“It’s for an art project.”

“Since when are you an artist?”

“I’ve been experimenting for a while.”

Lou takes a moment and gathers his thoughts. “Okay. So let me get this right. You have all the foresight in the world to remember your “art”, but you forget to grab the fucking phone charger out of the wall after I explicitly said to you: Hey Chris, grab that phone charger right there because I just lost mine yesterday?”

“I said I was sorry.”

After the two thieves spent the better part of an entire day splitting their haul into the typical “pawnable” and “just garbage” distinctions, Chris is now alone in his studio apartment. Lackadaisically, he begins to flip through the pages and pages of photographs in his newly acquired photo album, stopping when one picture in particular catches his eye.

The picture shows a young, plain (by Chris’ standards) woman. She is dressed as a classic witch. Her long, golden brown hair is spilling out from underneath a pointy black hat and her small, round nose has a prosthetic wart attached to it.

A young man stands grimacing to her left holding a fake torch.


“How about one more where you two try to look…I don’t know. Happy?” Janet squeezes one eye shut and holds it up to the camera’s viewfinder.


“Ugh, fine Devon. Don’t listen to me. Maybe you should have been the witch.”

Janet giggles to herself as she places her camera into a diamond encrusted purse. The doorbell rings, she fluffs her breasts once, then meanders back towards the living room to welcome her new guests and to (undoubtedly) receive even more acclaim for her ‘Sexy Dead Hepburn’ costume.

Colleen’s phone begins to ring.

“I hope you’re having fun, Dev.”

“Are you going to answer that?”

She looks at the caller ID. Shit.

It’s fucking Carlo. Of course it is.

He would call right now, the bastard.

“Yeah. It’s my Mom,” she feigns a smile,

“Sorry honey. I’ll be right back. Go mingle.”

Colleen enters her kitchen, answers the phone, loudly greets her “mother” and then immediately (and in a very hushed tone) launches into the speech she had been preparing for six days previous to this call.

[Her speech contained sentiments pertaining to Carlo’s startling inability to get through his thick fucking skull that what had happened between him and Colleen had meant absolutely nothing to her as well as an affirmation that, no, he could, in fact, not come to her Halloween party no matter how much time he had spent working on his costume. This was followed by Colleen’s regrettable (and unrehearsed) admission that yes, okay, fine, the sex that they had was utterly amazing, which then led to her immediate admonishment of him provoking this admission by saying the following: “Good or bad, just because we fucked does not mean that I love you Carlo and I never ever will so please, for the sake of God, please don’t ever call me again for the rest of our lives.” She then completely denied him any sort of reasoning behind previously referring to him as her mother. Finally, she gave him an uncharacteristically pleasant ‘thank you’ followed instantly by a completely in character ‘goodbye for-fucking-ever.’]

Colleen hangs up the phone, takes a nice deep breath and slowly makes her way towards her (half empty) bottle of strawberry-flavored vodka.

“Lemme snap one of you getting wasteyfaced!” Janet yells, thrusting herself into the kitchen. “I fucking love Halloween!”


Chris carefully removes the picture from the album and binder clips it to a fresh blank canvas. He has decided to make it the first in a series of portraits of found photographs. He thinks he will title it “Lovers In Disguise.” Realizing he has forgotten to pick up paints for the third day in a row he: quickly puts on his dark brown peacoat, inserts his earbuds, grabs a shorted cigarette from his ashtray, makes sure his apartment door is locked and closes it behind him.

As he walks through this particularly brisk November afternoon towards the train station, he ponders the current status of the couple from the picture.

“Are they happy now?”

“Were they ever?”

Frank Black is shouting directly into his brain about how much he believes in Mr. Grieves while the falling leaves he sees outside of the train car window somehow instill in him the answers to his questions.

Missing his intended stop, Chris exits the Irving Park station and walks a few blocks to a Starbucks Coffee that is located reasonably close to the art supply store. After removing his earbuds he: orders a grande coffee (black), accidentally spills that grande coffee all over the floor, sheepishly orders a replacement grande coffee (still black) and finally, he takes a seat near to the windows.

While giving a customary cursory glance around the establishment (and narrowly avoiding eye contact with the barista mopping up his forlorn grande coffee), Chris notices a frazzled young woman who is quite plain (by his standards) struggling in vain to plug her phone charger into one of the outlets located near the seat next to his.

He politely offers to help her.

Tuesday’s obstruction: Carly has to do whatever y’all suggest. Remember, tweet your suggestions at @HEAVEmedia, and we’ll pick the best one! Deadline is Sunday.