The Exquisite Redemption of Miss Colleen Burton (Part 12)


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 features editor Dominick Suzanne-Mayer


On a purely selfish level, Chris resented Carlo for messing with his art project.

To be fair, his bigger point of concern was upsetting Carlo, a man who in the parlance of youth might be considered “unfukwitable.” This was a guy who had hands in everything, who somehow always knew where Chris was, and scarier still, where he would be. There were rumblings of all kinds of things: executions, trafficking of bodies in addition to coke on occasion. Carlo was even suspected in having assisted in the razing of Meigs Field once upon a time. These things were all urban legend, specific to a very small portion of the urban landscape at that, but they were the kinds of things you hear about somebody when they live in such a way where some of it has to be true. And you didn’t ask. Above all, fuck knows, you did not ask.

But shit, man, Chris groused inwardly. This isn’t the week. Chris had spent much of his week attempting to negotiate the city and go about both his day and his standard tasks while dealing with the nasty little matter of a crude rendition of his face being posted all over the city. It wasn’t cold enough out to justify one of those Mortal Kombat-style face masks yet, and walking around with a bandana would’ve put an even bigger sign on his chest, outlining Hey, I’m probably doing some shit I shouldn’t be in distinct, magenta-toned neon.

But for now, Chris had a house to set right. And he really bought this shit on himself. He didn’t have to transition from selling pot to selling Schedule 1 narcotics, but the money was good and a lot of teenagers wanted to dance with/on Molly, so Chris supplied and they demanded. But here’s the fun thing about befriending the variety of person who’s capable of offering you pills and powders in Costco quantities: they’re unfukwitable. And favors become demands, and demands become life-threatening obligations, and the latter get you into some shit you shouldn’t be into.

Chris’ six months in jail had only served to corroborate this. It was a slap on the wrist, Carlo having talked to the right people to drive him down to a single home invasion charge. It was lucky all around, really. Lou damn near killed a guy, and they were both picked up on the spot. The fact Chris was out on his bike, ducking in and out of traffic, instead of having old business acquaintances of Carlo follow him around a maze of metal hallways was something of a miracle. Carlo might be a bastard, through and through, but he was every bit as much a wizard when it came to getting things accomplished.

And now, Chris had to break back into the same house that put his face all over town in the first place.

So now, then. When Chris was a kid, he saw the movie Magnolia well before he should have. This was a phrase that stuck with him, for some reason. He couldn’t make heads or tales of why it did, granted, but it did. It was what he said when there was a lull in conversation that he was expected to break, when sighing with resignation to himself and having no more to say, when he was in a car full of stolen goods en route to their source.

He pulled up to the dark apartment from the alley, hoping to make this as quick a process as godly possible. Passing through the gangway, he could see that the entire place had gone dark. After carefully examining the outside and windows for any signs of activity, Chris took this stillness as his go-ahead. He sparked a joint, bringing the first trash bags to Colleen’s (that was her name, right?) back door. For some reason, Chris went to open the door, assuming this land was his and not something he had to enter with effort. In the 1.5 or so seconds between his opening of the door and the relieving of his vision, a few things happened in rapid succession:

1) Chris realized that this door probably should not be unlocked.

2) He wondered about the pretty, distant girl in the picture, and how Carlo and her had come into contact.

3) From the other side of the door, a thin-ish man swung his head into the bridge of Chris’ nose so hard that the world immediately concluded itself.

Before Chris hit the ground, he heard the man hollering obscenities. This was not the week.


Next up: Tuesday’s installment, where Carly 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!