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Last updateTue, 06 Aug 2013 2am

Back You are here: Home Stories Words for the People Short Stories Short Cuts
Monday, 12 August 2013 22:34

Short Cuts Featured

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Short Cuts Source: Wikipedia

This is the stupidest thing to talk about.  But, fuck it.  One time, when the blood just wasn't enough, I pulled out a tooth.  I don't even want to tell this, but then I think, “Why not?”

            I think, “What's it going to hurt?”

            A razor blade is only sharp for one cut per edge.  Flesh dulls a razor quick.  I don't know why.  But the first cut, what I'd do is lay the razor flat.  No matter what I was feeling in my head, putting the razor flat against my skin would make me sick to my stomach, like I could almost puke if somebody just made that gagging sound.

            Once, I made a guy puke just by talking to him.  I described a woman who came into the grocery store and told how her whole body smelled of rotten flesh and sweat and sour, dirty pussy.  He ran away and threw up.  I was very proud.

            The first thing I do, I take off all my clothes and put them in the hamper.  It's almost midnight and a great time for a shower.  Taking a shower in the middle of the night right before going to bed makes me clean.  This isn't about a shower though.  This isn't about being dirty.  I can't stop thinking is all.

            The faded and sticky linoleum grid peels up where the edges meet.  The walls are still yellowed from years of smoking while shitting.  The second bathroom in a doublewide is almost always cramped and quick to grow ugly.  Past the mirror on the wall and the body length mirror that faces the toilet, I pull back the cartoon fish covered shower curtain and step into the bathtub.  Off-white plastic, cracked at the corners and along an edge where I put my hand for years to climb in and out of the bathtub.  Behind every crack and hole, black crystally sand either grows or was put there to stop water condensation from destroying the underside of the trailer.  I think.

            I'm not sure if the black crystal sand is an effect of the cracks or a prevention measure.

            Lines of thin white calcium deposits flow down the showertile walls.  I can scrape off the white crust with a thumbnail.  I don't now.  I just stand naked with a razor in my hand.

            If I take a razor and just put a corner to my skin and slice, it doesn't do anything except cut.  It's just like a knife tip.  It doesn't make me feel bad.  If I put the whole length of the razor's edge against my flesh, my stomach goes all light and gooey.  If I don't stand still, I'll empty everything I've ever eaten onto the floor in a wet mess.

            “The only way to be happy,” I tell my cat as she watches me standing naked in the bathtub, “Is to find someone to tell you what to do and take care of you.  But you have to be careful to pick the right person to tell you what to do.  There's much risk in picking the wrong person.”

            My cat weighs twenty pounds.  She is not a muscly cat.  Fat and quick.  She sits on the bathmat, waiting for me to feed her.  I take the bottle of rubbing alcohol and splash it on my leg, rubbing it in from my groin to hip to ass cheek.  The caustic smell makes me a little dizzy.

            With the little disposable razor held flat vertically on my upper thigh, I slide the razor in a slow downward path.  The thing that grosses me out is how the cut forms at the first part of the razor and then the middle of the razor slides into that grove and deepens it and then the end of the razor slices through whatever is left.  If I cut myself with just an edge, then it's just one quick wound opening up.  If I run the razor flat across the skin, it's like I'm cutting and slicing and digging.  One inch, two inches, three inches.  Three times the length of the razor.  My flesh peels open and for a moment I can see the layers of  skin and fat.  Tiny round holes beneath the skin that suddenly fill with pinpricks of red before the blood really starts gushing.  Then the flesh trench fills in like a ditch in a thunderstorm.  Just a flood of blood that overflows and slides down my legs.

            All it takes is a few seconds for the clots to start forming against my leg hairs. 

            My cat is so detached from this sight.  She sits like a fat man watching football.  She not interested in the game.

            Whatever I was thinking about earlier in the day, whatever led me to strip and step into a bathtub with a single sided metal razor and drag it up my thigh, whatever thoughts or feelings or actions that brought me here are gone now.  It's just blood.

            I think, “OH.”

            It's too much blood.  It's so much blood and I know, I just know I went too far.  The pitter-patter of blood splattering in the plastic bathtub is too much.  I'm cold and hot and scared and a lump of nervous energy has formed in my diaphragm.  My stomach muscles knot up.  My head swims.  The blood flows and flows.  My leg aches in a different room.

            Right here, there's only a river that forms from an underground spring and overflows the banks and runs out in ribbons down my thigh and twists around my knobby knee, separating into different rivers that run down my shin, along the back of my calf and break apart again and again into smaller streams and creeks and rivulets and drip drip drip off of any high point or run down between my toes and get all sticky and thick and muddy red.

            “This is so stupid,” I say to the cat.

            “Mao?” the cat asks.

            I trained my cat to talk to me.  She answers when I talk.  I'll ramble and blabber and the cat will follow me through the house as I run my mouth about ideas and jokes and she'll sit on her fat cat asshole and answer me when I pause. 

            Right now, though, I'm bleeding so much.  But that's not the end of it.  That's just the start.  It's so much blood, but it clots too fast even though I took four aspirin. 

            So I take my long thumbnail and dig the trench out.  The clot comes out like one long, red slug.  It sticks to my hand and my heartbeat pushes out another surge of blood to take the slug's place.  Split split split goes the drips and drops. 

            My shoulders go numb.  My eyes focus.  I have on single thought in my head.  Only one thought.  Thank God, it's just one thought.

            “Oh,” I think.  That's it.  Just, “Oh.”

            The next time the blood stops, after I pull the bloody slug out, it doesn't fill up fast enough, so I pull the cut apart with one hand and then run the corner of the razor down the middle.  The flesh falls to the side so quickly, like a little mouth opening up for food.  It's like a baby bird's beak filling with blood.

            It fills and drains and clots.  I grab the rubbing alcohol and dump it down my leg.  It floods out the clots and runs them down my leg and toward the drain.  The burn feels like a match has been lit inside my leg, like the shaft of my femur is glowing red hot.  It radiates out from nerves that aren't where the actual pain is.

            It causes my elbows to tickle.  The nerves are that wrongly wired.

            The blood, I know it's not really a lot.  My body contains six quarts of blood, give or take a bit.  One and a half gallons.  I can lose half a gallon and still live.  I'm nowhere near a half gallon.  I'm nowhere near a quart even.  Maybe a third of a quart is enough to paint my leg and the bathtub pure red.  It spreads so well.  It's a lot of blood, but it's really not that much.

            The pain is so little.  Now I'm only thinking, “oh,” as I rub the alcohol into the gash, as I finger it open further, as I spread it and pick the edges raw with my nails.  I'm weightless and unsteady, and I push my finger into the cut further to feel the gelatin fatty bumps.  I wash my leg with more alcohol.

            My foot sticks to the drying blood and slips in the wet blood.  I wiggle my toes and the skin clings to the bathtub and my heel slides around.  Seventy percent of household accidents happen in the bathroom.  Safety is not first in this case.

            As blood slowly drips down my leg, I clench my jaw and find an ache in a left premolar.  That tooth just behind the tooth just behind the canine.  I tongue it and feel how loose it is.  I can pull it inward by just sucking at it.  I wiggle it with a finger.  It actually barely moves. 

            I grab it with two fingers and yank down as hard as I can.  My eyes go black, my knees buckle, and I hit my head on the wall as I slide down into the slippery tub.  In my hand is a tooth, shiny red with fresh blood on yellow enamel.  The roots are long and bright white where blood has slid off.  One root is broken at its base.

            “OH GOD,” I think.  Kneel over on all fours, spit out a mouthful of blood.  My lip is already swollen.  I push my tongue into that new hole and hit a sharp tooth fragment.  Blood pours down my lips.  Tears drip from my eyes.  On all fours, I'm weeping and bleeding.

            Then I start laughing.  Smiling like I just came out of the dentist's office, half my face not responding to the pull.  Every spasm from my diaphragm shoots blood and spit out of my mouth.  I roll over in the bathtub, my body sliding across the tub and blood filling the back of my mouth.  I spit it up and blood and snot roll down my cheek. 

            Reaching into my mouth, I grab the next tooth down the line and I push it sideways against my tongue and then pull it out.  It cracks in my hand, leaving another jagged splinter of tooth hanging.  I roll over and cough blood to clear my throat.  My eyes too wet to see, my body shaking and curling up, a pain pulsing through me.  And blood. 

            It's not really that much blood, but every single thing that I've thought about all day is gone.  Rent, girls, cars, the price of milk.  All of it gone.  There's only one thought because I've just ripped a hole in my world and looked through the thin fabric of my reality and I can see the other side. 

            “Ohhhh...” I pass out.


No matter what problems you are struggling with, hurting yourself isn't the answer. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a counselor at a Lifeline crisis center near you. SuicidePreventionLifeline.org 


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Last modified on Monday, 12 August 2013 22:44
Bryan Howie

Bryan Howie always wanted to be either Batman or a writer.  Since he doesn't have the legs for tights, he started writing.  He now lives in the American Inland Northwest, where he has been searching for a muse to amuse in the trees and rivers. He loves photography and motorcycle riding, but has a hard time doing both simultaneously.

His short story "Your Mother's Smile" was featured in Volume 6 of The Best of Carve Magazine.  More of his work can be found at Solarcide.com and Redfez.net. 

Website: bryanhowie.com

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