A student I work with was solicited to write a story for a local college newspaper. The student has a reputation for his dark writing style, but has been recognized as an outstanding author and actor. The paper did not print the following story, as they said it was too graphic. Thoughts or comments?:
Lake Shore Driving: Headless on the North Shore
by Frank Black
Jamie’s got his head in his hands, having just hacked it off with the cordless reciprocal saw Annie ordered for him off the internet the night she overdosed and stopped breathing—and blood came out her ears. This made Jamie very sad, so he cut off his head—and now it’s in his hands—and he’s watching and pondering curiously at how his scabby, haggard heart continues to pump random arcing spurts of thick blood out the ragged, chunky stump of what’s left of his neck—and thinks he should’ve thought this through a bit more, which is an odd thought to think when your decapitated head is resting in your hands.
Jamie’s head is in his hands—severed from his torso—and he’s staring at the ceiling, wondering how to get blood out of stucco. If Annie were here she’d know. Annie knew all about things like that—domestic things—Martha Stuart things: tracking the perfect vein, turning water into wine—getting thick blood stains off a stucco ceiling. Annie liked to play house and she was good at it—and Jamie misses her. He misses everything about her—all the little things—the way she’d smile crookedly when he’d come to out of a seizure—the way she liked to cut herself in the bathtub.
Jamie’s jogging his sawed off head like a basketball and he’d really like to stop, but with the separation of mind and body making it impossible for any electrical impulse in the form of thought or want to travel any further than his hanging esophagus before falling flat on the floor—he just keeps tossing his head back and forth from right hand to left hand to right and back again. He’s yelling at himself to stop—a futile exercise considering there’s no wind to vibrate his vocal folds, assuming he has any folds left after hacking at his throat with a hand-held circular saw—circular saw—more like a glorified pizza cutter with teeth—and even if he could generate any significant level of noise, it’s not like the headless other part of him would hear it…He really wishes he would stop throwing his head around.
If Annie were here she’d take care of it. She’d know what to do. She’d know how to fix this, how to fix him. She was always fixing him. She was good at fixing him—good at making things right—and he’d give anything—any-goddamn-thing to have her here right now to sew his dumbass back together—to pick him up and put him back together.
Jamie took to dying the morning he found Annie in the bathtub. The water was black with blood from cuts on her legs, cuts on her arms, cuts on the bottoms of her feet and her pale blue skin almost reflecting the pool like bone china. It was impossible to know how long she’d been in the water; Jamie had blacked out early the evening before, seven drinks deep into his third drunk that day, but when he grabbed her, when he picked her up and pulled her to him to hold her to him she was cold. Jamie groaned.
Jamie’s head is on the front lawn having been tossed through the dining room bay window.
The rest of him—confused and headless, is feeling his way through the broken glass, climbing out, trying to escape—shredding and tearing the flesh of his arms on jagged shards of window protruding from the frame—leaving clumps and lumps of blood and meat behind as he falls to the ground.
Jamie helplessly watches his headless-self scramble to his feet, stumble in to the street, and get rundown by a school bus full of theology students and all he can do is think about Annie.
Jamie closes his eyes.