The Exquisite Redemption of Miss Colleen Burton (Part 14)


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 Carly Heiser.


Somebody once said “You’re not gonna fucking die because you’re finger got chopped off.” That somebody was Sammy, after he taped Colleen’s mouth shut because she wouldn’t stop screaming. He’d never cut off a suburban white chick’s finger before, and he could understand why she would be so upset. Things like this didn’t really happen to suburban white girls. But she wanted to move to the city, so.


Colleen sat stiffly in her chair and hung her head. They had to tie her to the chair just before they cauterized her ring stump with a straightening iron. She went to the hospital once before for a broken arm, but severed fingers seemed more serious. Straightening irons would never look the same again. She thought that because Sammy hadn’t put her finger into a freezer – like they do when they plan to give it back so you can have it sewn on – she was probably going to be a lake corpse soon. She tried to imagine herself bloated and pale, with her skin sloughing off into an coroner’s hand as the cop who found her swore to his partner he was going to find out who did this. But it was never her bloated face, just some nameless actress from her imagination. The cop kind of looked like Devon. Devon. He was probably dead, too. Was she even alive before this? And to think she had been worrying about all of her meaningless stolen shit for the past few days.

“Sammy,” said Javier, the big one. “She don know chit, look at her.” Sammy was pacing wildly through the basement. Colleen had become inert in her little metal chair.


“Where is it!?” Sammy yelled. He flipped yet another chair and Eduardo, the smaller one, picked it up quietly after Sammy stormed away from it.


“Bro,” said Javier, “Diego should be back by now if got the finger back to Carlo’s. Something is up, man.” Sammy looked at Javier up through his eyebrows.


“Who cares about Diego?” said Sammy. Eduardo raised his hand. Sammy walked over to him and punched him in the stomach.


“Look,” said Javier. “She don’t know nothing. Let’s just take her home or wherever and start picking up some of Carlo’s friends.” Javier walked over to Sammy and patted his shoulder. “I know you thought you struck gold, man. It’s okay. We all make mistakes.” Sammy attempted to shove Javier but only succeeded in pushing himself violently away from him.


“We do all make mistakes,” said Colleen.


“What did you say?” asked Sammy. He walked over to her slowly.


“I just mean, this was all a mistake,” said Colleen. “I don’t even care about Carlo. He just likes me a lot and always buys me drinks. I love Devon but I just like it when people like me. It’s so confusing sometimes.” She sniffed. The men looked at each other, unsure of how they felt about how Colleen was speaking. “This is really, you know, a really good way to deter people from cheating.”


“You cheated on Carlo?” asked Sammy?


“No,” said Colleen. “I cheated on Devon with Carlo.”


“We did you a favor, then,” said Eduardo who had yet to speak until now. “A girl I loved when I was younger cheated on me. I’ll tell you one thing, I only wish it hurt like getting your finger cut off.”


Next up: Tomorrow’s installment, written by Justin Gainer.