The Exquisite Redemption of Miss Colleen Burton (Part 11)


The following is a HEAVEmedia experiment in writing 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. Heave will be 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 installment is written by James Medley, to kick the year off right.


There is a single, faint light source hanging from the center of the room, which is made even more faint by the piece of black fabric completely engulfing Colleen’s head.

She can make out the voices of two men but, having failed Spanish 101 several times throughout the course of her high school career, cannot discern the actual content of their conversation.

Colleen notices that the back of her head is throbbing with excruciating pain, which causes her to see spots of white and grey floating around against the blackness of the fabric. She decides, like the rest of her generation, to blame this headache on the alcohol. A muffled groan slips out of her throat as she struggles to remember how she ended up here.

“What do you mean put it back?”

“I mean put it back. Put it all back.”

Carlo stands in the midst of Chris’ apartment, still littered with the haul from several days ago.

“Carlo, buddy. I can—“

“I’m not your buddy, Chris. You work for me and I’m not asking you to put it back. I needed you to clean an apartment to send a message and it just so happens that you sent that message to the wrong person.”

“Man, I went to the address you gave me.”

“That’s all well and good, but I’m here to tell you that you went to the wrong one and, as it ended up, it seems that I have texted you the address of a particularly fine piece of ass instead of the address of Ramiro the Rat. Now, Chris,” Carlo takes a seat on the faux leather couch and sparks a cigarette.

“Have you ever heard the phrase ‘don’t kill the messenger’?”


After a moment of silence and a few shared glances between the two men, Chris begins to realize that Carlo may have referenced that adage to imply that the phrase did not apply to someone like him, which, in Carlo’s case, was someone like the boss of a small crime syndicate that dealt mostly with drugs, but also dabbled in big city politics.

“It doesn’t have to be like that.”

“No. It doesn’t.”

“You really expect—“

“Just put it back and all will be forgiven.”

“You’re the one that made the mistake!”

“That may be, but let’s just say…it’s good to be the boss.”

Carlo puts out his cigarette in the arm of the couch, and begins to head towards the door when a photo album catches his eye. He picks it up and begins flipping through the pictures. He sighs at the sight of a particularly flattering photograph of Miss Colleen Burton.

“What a petite piece of pie. Know what I’m saying Chris?” Carlo smiles like a thirteen year old boy grabbing a handful of chest meat for the first time. “You have twelve hours.”

It starts coming back to her.

She remembers the dance floor and an abundance of flashing lights and sweat. The taste of tequila sizzling in the back of her throat.

She remembers a phone call and shouting. The cab ride, she remembers being fuzzy. She remembers more sweat, and the feel of satin against her bare back.

She remembers waking up in Carlo’s bed and spending a little over ten minutes trying to figure out where her panties had ended up.

She remembers looking at him lying there, stark naked in his silk sheets, and feeling a twinge of disgust course through her spine. Not because of the sight of Carlo’s relatively gargantuan penis, but because she was disgusted with herself.

She remembers putting on her leather jacket, lacing up her boots, opening Carlo’s apartment door and then…


The fabric over Colleen’s face is quickly stripped from her head.

There are now three men standing before her. The man in the middle of the three is wearing a salmon colored suit with a black and pink striped tie tied in a double windsor knot. She recognizes this knot only because Devon had never learned how to tie his own ties and always preferred the look of the double windsor as opposed to the single.

“Where does King Carlo hide his stash?” the salmon suited man abruptly asks. His face is relaxed.

“Stash? What stash? What are you talking about? Who are you people?”

The salmon suited man reaches for something in his left breast pocket.

Colleen winces.

“Do not be scared, miss. There’s nothing to be afraid of.”

He produces a thick cigar and begins to examine it. “There’s an old saying I very much enjoy; you’ve probably heard it before. ‘Behind every great man there stands a woman.’ Please cease lying to us now. We have seen you with King Carlo before. You have no reason to be alarmed now, princess, but if you don’t begin to cooperate…”

“I really really really don’t know what you’re talking about. Me and Carlo have nothing. I don’t know anything about him being a king. I don’t know anything about any stash.”

Colleen begins to shed a few tears and slowly registers the bitterness on her lips.

“Javier, the cigar cutter.” The man to his right hands him the device.

The salmon suited man walks closer towards Colleen and crouches down to bring them face to face. He looks into her eyes and casually picks up her left hand.

“Such beautiful skin.” he remarks as he begins to hold tightly to her left ring finger. Slowly, he places the cigar cutter around it. “I will ask you again. Where does King Carlo keep his stash?”

“Fuck. Please. I don’t know anything. I-I’ve fucked Carlo like…three times and I-I really don’t know anything. I didn’t know he was royalty, shit…I don’t even like him!”



Next up: Tuesday’s installment, where Dominick has to follow YOUR obstruction ideas for the next chapter! Send your best ones to the Twitter account mentioned above, or to the project’s Facebook page. Get them in by Sunday night!