The Exquisite Redemption of Miss Colleen Burton (Part 13)


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 local humorist Mike Haverty.


Devon stared down at the body. “Did I kill him?” he asked no one.

He’s sure he didn’t. The intruder seems to be breathing fine, splayed out on the floor of Colleen’s empty living room.

“Just come by and check up on her. Just see how she’s doing. Just take a peak in and see if she was actually robbed.” So she had been robbed, maybe. There definitely wasn’t anything interesting going on in this room. Her roommate wasn’t even around. The most conversational piece of décor had to be the the man in black that Devon dragged from the back entrance through the door frame.

Soaking in the sparseness of the room, Devon considered how cold he’s been. How unavailable, how he’s taken to mumbling about mortality about the last few weeks rather than actually being present. These stripped down walls, eerie blankness, no distraction. It was the living room. “Rough room” to no one. So maybe breaking in was a bad idea for Devon anyhow. Is it breaking in if you have the key? It’s a wellness check, and Devon knew that Chicago is a busy city and there’s no need to drag the cops into this and now that she hasn’t been calling and have completely fallen off of social networks, this was the right thing to do. This made sense.

The bags of Colleens possessions were another thing entirely. He had found them all, carried them into the kitchen, and ran some scenarios.

Colleen hired someone to steal her stuff. No, no one would do that.
The robber felt bad. Could be.
The crime was not worth it, the robber felt over his head. He’s not very good.
The possessions were just in this alley, while Colleen collected pity. They wouldn’t last there.

In the lack of knowing, Devon opened up the first bag, and began the search for his hoodie.

Chris’ eyes opened to a slowly spinning ceiling fan.
“Don’t move.”
Fuck me.
“Who are you?”

Chris picked up his head to see the thinnish man in full detail. Not a criminal. Criminals don’t wear sweaters like that. He’s not sure if this makes him feel better.

“If you move I swear I will call the cops.”
“You didn’t call the cops?”
“So you wanted to see where knocking a man unconscious goes?”
“I figured at the very least, you reeked of weed. So the cops would have something to go off of.”
“What are you laughing at?”
“You sound like a mom.”

The thinnish man paces. His appearance bounces against the white walls. “How do you know Colleen?”
Colleen. “I don’t.”
“You don’t. You just have a lot of her stuff.”
“Please, just tell me what you know.”
“I don’t know anything about Colleen. Why, is she missing?”
“I don’t know! She hasn’t been around…”
“Well, us criminals,” Chris plays up to the civilian, “we all know each other, and maybe something happened to her, and maybe I could see if anyone knows anything? I’ve got connections!”
“Right, that’d work if Colleen became a criminal.”

“Do you know who she’s been hanging out with?”


Next up: Friday’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 Thursday morning!