Monday, February 13, 2012

My Bloody, HEARTfelt Valentine: "Numb."

In 2005, I went through a relationship break-up, wallowing in the misery, the whole damn deal.  Life made no sense.  After a few months of simply existing, and barely at that, I started writing again.  A bunch of short stories came out of that, writing leading me out of my internal darkness.  Yeah, yeah, I know, I love the darkness, I love going there and spending time with the dark characters and more, the monsters and madness, but this was a different, less appealing kind of darkness.  After a dozen or so short stories, I remember on September 6, 2005, sitting down in front of my computer and saying out loud, "I am going to write a novel."  And I did, my first, more details on that at another point, because the focus here is on one of those stories.  Story number two.


This one has been published twice: in From The Asylum, an online zine--actually, it was also in the yearly print anthology they did, too; and in The Hive Mind, another online zine that has a few other pieces by me.  Both times it has been published it has been for Valentine's Day. 

How friggin' devious.

You see, it's not a cheerful affair at all.  It was a miserable time and this cold, sharp little excursion into self-mutilation was the result of that time.  But since it deals with love, though love lost, in a visceral, fantastical, yet still very emotional, though more so emotionally dead way, um...the editors and yours truly have always felt it had the appropriate jolt for the Valentine's Day blues.

An interesting aside before I post it: this is one of those stories that people who are perhaps in a similar mindset, lives in turmoil, love out of whack, they really latch onto it. I have found it in online searches a couple times or more.  Once, a young woman/girl on myspace, who's picture made me think perhaps she DID understand it.  And once by a young man who I believe was stationed overseas, a part of the troops over there--this was a few years ago, according to the date of the blog--and it was one of the last blog posts he posted.  I may be a bit off in this but, either way, I always find that a bit disconcerting. I wonder...

But, for your reading pleasure, here's a taste of what it's really like when one's heart is...well, more than broken.

*evil, very evil grin*
[oh, my, what an evil person you are, John Claude, to smile like that while knowing what's next...]


John Claude Smith

He feels nothing: numb, empty    

He resorts to cutting himself as an exercise in sensation, in trying to feel something at a time when he feels nothing. 

But even that does not break through.

He still feels nothing.

Acquiring a scalpel was easy, Tammy works at the clinic.  She brought one to him without questions.  He took it from her two days ago and closed the door before she had the opportunity to invite herself in or intrude in any other way. 

He did not care about how rude it came off.

He does not care about much of anything.

But her.  Alicia.  The woman he loves.

The woman who left him.  

(How could she leave me?  How could she give up on us?  The thoughts roll by in his head like a never ending freight train, its self-destructive cargo branded in torturous repetition.)

He places the scalpel against his naked chest, pressing hard.  The blade digs deep, blood streaming over his abdomen.


He grunts from the effort as he pulls the blade down.  The incision is deep, opening his insides to the world.  Well, not quite…  It opens him, but will require the effort of his bare hands to continue the process.

Still, he is numb.

He sets the scalpel down and thrusts his fingers into the fresh wound.  Pulling with supreme effort, he pries his chest wide open.  Muscles and bones are wrenched from their usual homes, tearing and breaking.

He stops, sucks in a weary breath, and gazes into the moist red cavity.

He jostles things, moves them about, rearranging the internal in ways that give him access to his goal.

The thick muscle’s rhythm is consistent, even though this more extreme exercise would normally render one dead.

He feels dead inside already, so…

He reaches in with both hands, scalpel severing arteries, clean cuts that lack precision yet serve their purpose.  Within minutes, he holds the beating heart in his hands.

And still feels nothing.

Well, what is the point of it all, then?

(He remembers how she used to put her hand on his chest, palm down, feeling the love, their bond, sensing the rightness of it all, staring intensely into each other’s eyes—enraptured--we are one…and her cherishing it, him as well, so close, so close… “Let me drown in you,” she would say, and he would plead, “Let’s drown in us, please”…and both of them meaning it, unconditionally, without fear because this is what people live for in the first place!)

(And drowning now…drowning…flailing…sinking…)

He walks calmly to the car and starts it up, pulling out of the parking lot.  The night is deep and uncaring.  Nobody notices because at least other people can sleep. 

He hasn’t slept in weeks.

He drives to where she lives.  Sitting in the car, he stares at the apartment where she rents a room. 

He scribbles a note on a piece of paper and exits the car.

He places the still beating heart at the foot of the door with the note. 

No reason to knock or ring the doorbell; let her sleep.  Let them all sleep. 

Maybe someday he will sleep again as well…

He rereads the note: Since you own my heart, you might as well have it.

Unhappy and exhausted, he leaves, his head still reeling as the freight train rolls by.  

Perhaps this gesture will help her to understand. 

Perhaps she will just scream.

Numb, he drives alone into the deep and uncaring night….


Always odd for me to read some of those stories and the novel, though I can do it quite easily now without it all dredging up memories that hurt.  I am still here.  And the path of my life has finally led me to the woman I was always meant to be with, my Beautiful Alessandra.  She helps this strange ride make sense.  I have taken it all in and continue to live, learn, love, crash and burn--more than once, of course--and love again. 

And write about it.  

Yes, that is a Heart in a box of chocolates!  What? Oh, yeah, quite icky! Now, if the heart was dipped in chocolate, that might make for a special Love treat.  Hmmm...



  1. Wow, very powerful writing! I could feel his pain, both emotional and physical. Well done!

  2. T.K.,

    Thank you! Yeah, his pain was mine. That's exactly where I was then...and i don't flinch when it comes to writing about pretty much anything. Much appreciated that you read and enjoyed it.

  3. Alessandra, haha, I know! The first story you read by me, what could you have been thinking, hehe.

    But no more hurt heart now...

    Ever again!


  4. Oh, that's fantastic. I love how he's still walking around because I think we've all felt like that, we've all been him in one sense or another.

    As an aside, I was in a From the Asylum anthology called Loving the Undead...

  5. We all have been him in one sense or another, for sure, Saranna.

    Oh, very cool about the FTA appearance. I had two stories in one of their yearly anthologies, "Numb" being one of them, as noted above. One as John Claude Smith, and one as my former pen nam, John Kiel Alexander. ;-)

  6. I went through a break up in 2011 last year and it hit me really hard and thankfully have come right around and pretty happy now. We do have a daughter and have daily contact with the little one and the mother but coping so much better. And, I decided to write about an event that happen to me and it has given me so much. The journey, the trip of writing, the believe and its great. Oh I am a first time writer and if you wish to follow me, which I have for you, please feel free at

    Great to connect and good luck....

  7. Hello Dave,

    The blog looks to be interesting, I am following now. ;-) And it is a rough time, but for me, writing helped me get through it all. Over time, hopefully it all makes sense for you. This life is one crazy ride.

    Great to meet you too!

    John Claude