Small Separations by AJ Hayes

I didn’t give the guy much for it. Couple of bucks trade-in on a cheap Bowie copy.

It looked like the kind of box they keep machinist’s straight edges in.

Grain worn walnut with leather hinges. Inside, red padded silk surrounded a six-inch wedge of heavy, polished steel, narrow and razored along the bottom. It looked like a fat straight razor without the handle. There was an odor also. Like the smell of ice or the aroma of snow — or the acrid nerve jangle scent of chloroform.

There was a number engraved along the top of the wedged blade: Stucky Model 1006A .

One day, when business was slow and we got bored enough, Gabe and I looked Stucky up online. Wasn’t much there except an 800 number. A gal with a sandy voice answered the phone.

When we asked about Model 1006A she warmed right up.

“One of our best sellers,” she said. “Best small separation steel on the market.”

“Small separation? What’s that?”

“Oh you know, she said “It’s not heavy enough for the big jobs like wrists or feet, but surgeons and EMTs prefer it for the small stuff. Like fingers and toes, little bones, you know?”

We told her thank you and hung up.

“Well,” Gabe said, “imagine that.”

“Yeah, that’s really . . . yeah.” I said.

A shaft of sunlight splintered red along the steel as I closed the box.

We started that night. Cats at first. Then big dogs. Then . . ..

When we finally found her, her screams weren’t sandy at all. There were a lot of them, the screams. A lot of blood. It took a while.

All those small separations take time.

25 thoughts on “Small Separations by AJ Hayes”

  1. Blimey, AJ. Loved the way you maintained control of the pace on this one, then unleashed the ending like a steel bar to the face. Muchly enjoyed, mate.

  2. Absolutely terrific. I loved the way you built the sense of menace throughout the story then hit hard with that brutal ending. Gave me a real honest-to-goodness chill, that one!

  3. What a deliciously chilling read. They made sure that little item was used for the purpose for which it was intended!

  4. Slipped all the way into horror, that one did.

    I especially liked the line about ‘nerve-jangling’ chloroform.

  5. Slips all the way into horror, that one.

    I especially liked the line about nerve-jangling chloroform.

  6. AJ takes a sclapel to the vein and opens it slowly. Each word each line a puncture mark like a slow tide of ruination, great piece of writing.

  7. great the way you lower the temperature to a chill. reading your work is sometimes like being trapped in a meat-locker – for a while, you think you can take it, then you realise there just isn’t going to be a way out. i’m going to give you a commercial here, gratis – Small Separations; because parting is such sweet sorrow.

    1. Sweet sorrow . . . AARRGGHHH . . . excuse me I must go and beat my head against the floor for a while now. Good’un, mate.

  8. Thanks everyone. Now I gotta go get a new door so’s my head will fit though it. Privilege to be on Shotgun Honey, Such a class place.

  9. Love how the pace of the story matches the subject. And first-rate writing. Though what else would I expect from Mr Hayes!

  10. Well done! Surprising amount of material in a very small space. For a ‘less is more’ tale, that was extremely good.

  11. I’m in complete agreement with the rest of those that have commented here. AJ, you know how to take something and, in a few words, just kick the shit out your reader’s mind. And, yeah, in a good way. This is what noir and crime all should be. Short and brutal and where all the pieces fit.

  12. There’s a difference between a gritty & sandy scream, eh, AJ? Sick Puppy. The words separation and splintered is what did for me in this story. Lovely, sick build up.

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