Latest Pulp Modern Flash Stories

The Blood Bubble by Chris L. Robinson

“Best guy I ever knew with a knife was named Heney. Heney got sent to deal with a big mouth once, and just by luck, cut off the guy’s ear. Fucker bled like you wouldn’t believe–head wounds do that–and the guy got the message to keep his mouth shut. So did a lot of other people. After that, the guy kept his hair long and his conversations short. And Heney started specializing in cutting.”

“A guy can learn a lesson without somebody cutting on him.”

“I guess, but by the time a fella gets sent to someone like Heney, he’s beyond help. He’s got to learn the hard way.”

“See, shooting someone can get you respect, but it also gets you attention from the cops. But maim a guy, especially an asshole like the one Heney did–like the ones he usually got–and the cops can barely be bothered to put their donuts down. I mean, it’s not like the guy is going to make a fuss, he’s too busy trying to hold on to the one ear he’s got left.”

“Anyway, it was Heney that told me about the blood bubble. That’s the danger zone all around a guy working with a knife, out to about two arms lengths. I don’t know where it comes from–Army maybe.”

“Sounds like something they would say.”

“Right. Point is, you don’t want to be in that bubble because it’s where you can get cut. Don’t matter whether the guy with the knife is whittling or cutting open a box or of it’s a knife fight to the death. You stay out of it or you take your chances.”

“Especially if this Heney is in the middle of the bubble.”

“Right! ‘Specially then. But other people,too.”

“Anyway, they’d brought Heney some boy from Chicago Heights that they wanted to make an example of. Kid had screwed up some money or something. They delivered him like a pizza to Heney’s dead ma’s place. She had a piece of shit house out on some quiet dead-end road in the burbs. He was supposed to cut off some fingers and maybe a big toe so that the guy could never wear flip flops again. Guy walking around like that is a constant reminder that the wages of sin is death–or maybe having a hand like a flipper. Know what I mean?”

“Jesus. I’d rather be dead.”

“Nah. If you walk away and you still got your ding dong in your pants and you can still hold a beer bottle, I’m guessing you’d rather be alive, huh?”


“No maybe. Anyway, Heney had the guy tied to a Sycamore tree out in the big backyard. He hadn’t really helped the kid make peace with what was going to happen and so this kid was fighting him a good bit. Anyway, Heney was about halfway through the job and trying to get at another finger when his own hand slipped, maybe from all of the blood. Could have happened to anybody, even a pro like Heney. Obviously.”

“He told you that?”

“Nah. The kid told the guys that came out later to collect him and his fingers. Anyway, Heney’s hand slipped and he cut deep into his own thigh, Just one swipe. Nicked one of those big arteries in there. Kid swore you could see the blood pumping out.

“I don’t want to hear any more.”

“I’m not surprised. Ain’t it funny, though? After all of those years of cutting on guys and cutting things off of guys, the last guy Heney put the hurt on inside the blood bubble was himself.”

“When the guys got there to check up on how it was going, they found Heney dead in his car with the engine running, a bath towel wrapped around his leg. Never got past the driveway. He couldn’t exactly call for an ambulance with the kid there, you know? They followed the blood trail out to our guy from Chicago Heights, still tied to the tree, screaming around the sock in his mouth. If they hadn’t shown up, he probably would have died from exposure. Just lucky, I guess.“What’d they do with him?”

“Well, they didn’t know anything about cutting on guys. So they shot him to death.”

“How is that lucky?”

“I’m just saying. Getting eaten by raccoons don’t sound like fun, either.”

“Aw, hell. I’ve changed my mind. You’re right. He would have been better off if Heney had just cut him.”

“See? And Heney would have been better off if he’d just been hired to shoot him. But, what are you gonna do, you know?”

“I guess.”

“Now. To my point. As you can plainly see, you’re in my blood bubble.  So me and you should get started. I’m going to be extra careful because I don’t want to end up like Heney. And you don’t want to end up like that other guy. So do us both a favor and try not to flop around too much, okay? And dammit, I can’t remember: you giving me one finger from each hand or two fingers from one?



Chris L. Robinson is a writer born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. An essayist, he writes about fatherhood and masculinity. He has a beautiful wife and a son that is gradually winning all of their wrestling matches. Send help. He can be found on Twitter as @ChrisLRobinson3.

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