Heart Beats
By Chase Whale

My knife has a lot of secrets, and I’m going to tell you one.

First I need to tell you about my Grandaddy. He served in Vietnam when he was only 18-years-old — was sent home shortly after it begun. During a fight, he caught a grenade from a Viet Cong and hastily threw it opposite from his platoon. His reflex wasn’t swift enough — it blew up a few feet in front of him, taking his pinky, index, and pointer finger, and the shrapnel did a number on his face real good. Imagine that; he forever had to give the finger to the world. The war made it so.

When he got back, he made good on his promise and married my Memaw, Laverne. They sure did build a life together, those two. This very house we are in, my Grandpa created with seven fingers and six of his comrades. It took them a little under a year of non-stop work to finish. Rain, snow, heat — my Grandpa was building his palace regardless.

He finished in 1971. They lived here happy, content, and blissfully in love, until three months ago, on December 10, 2016, when you killed them.

You were good at murder. I bet you thought you’d never get caught, especially by the grandson, who also kills for sport, just like you. You must have had it well-planned out. No scent of you found, and the cops are still scratching their heads. But you and I are the same, and someone who kills for sport will always be in the crowd when the police, media, and the neighborhood show up, just for the thrill. To be there, hiding in plain sight. Hello, motherfuckers, it’s me, the one who killed the people you suckers are hoping to get a peek at. 

Hubris is our biggest flaw.

It was fun fucking with you in the beginning — showing up at your apartment while you were sound asleep, blindfolding you then slicing your tendons with this blade. You were clueless and so angry at the person responsible for dismembering your vessel. My favorite was choking you with a rope from behind inside your car until you passed out. How many times did I do that? Three?

You are a sluggish prey. It got boring. And here we are. I’m ready to end our relationship now.

As I push the knife—hush now, nobody can hear you scream with that used sock duck taped inside your mouth; you know how this works—as I push the knife into your heart, I want you to think of my Grandaddy and Memaw and the life you could have kept. You ready?

It’s OK; you’ll bleed out and die, and I’ll be on my way. Oh, don’t worry, I’ll make it seem like the guilt chewed and chewed at your heart for murdering two innocent elderlies when your target was perhaps supposed to be someone else. You snuck back in and hung yourself as you pushed a knife deep into your heart, right above their bed, the exact spot where you murdered them. Cops will think it was some weird sacrifice ritual. Doesn’t matter — you and I will know how you died: painfully, while someone watched. Me. That gives me chills just thinking about it. 

Good-bye, sweetie. It’s been fun. 

This story was first published on Out of the Gutter.


by Patrick Cooper

“Robbie” Robertson stood in line at Ace Hardware with his pesticides when he spotted the “Assorted Fish Sticker Pack” on the impulse display. What sold him was the sticker of a great white shark, looking too vicious.

“Oh man, that’s going on the truck,” he assured himself.

He carefully placed the shark sticker on the tailgate, right beneath the Dodge Ram logo. The rest of the stickers were shoved in the glove box and forgotten.

On Wednesday, his supervisor at the mulch yard caught sight of the great white and said, “Well shit, nice, Robbie.”

“You like that shit?” Robbie said.

Three weeks later, Robbie lurched out of the Parrot Inn – five Jack and Cokes deep and feeling like the breeze. He reached in the glove box for his mints and pulled out the rest of the sticker pack.

A rainbow trout. A catfish. A bass. Several more characters from the underwater kingdom. A smile formed on Robbie’s rosy face.

He hiccupped and said, “Heh, why not.”

The next morning, Robbie threw his toolbox in the truck and saw the giant collage of fish stickers sloppily placed across the tail of his Dodge.

“Goddammit,” he concluded.

Patrick Cooper's writing has appeared in ThugLit, Spinetingler, Out of the Gutter, Shotgun Honey, Dark Corners, and other venues, as well as in the anthologies "Fast Women & Neon Lights" and "Shadows in Salem." He lives in eastern PA with his wife and dog. Check him out at: https://patrickgcooper.com/