Laura’s Cleaver by John Hayes

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laura-cleaverIn my dream I am naked and fleeing from Laura, my girl friend. She swings a cleaver and wants to chop off my penis because she caught me in bed with her friend Marge. I told her it didn’t mean anything that Marge and I were both drunk.

“I love you, not her,” I had said.

I took her in my arms and she said the incident was forgotten. Why then is she chasing me with a cleaver? I turn abruptly and run diagonally to the left. Laura pursues me but stumbles and falls, the cleaver buries itself in her chest. She is cut badly but there is no blood. This does not surprise me because her period is not due for two weeks. I look at my hand. It is bleeding.

Marge enters my dream. She walks slowly and carries her weeping head on a platter. Her unexpected appearance in my dream wakes me. I inspect my penis. There is blood but no abrasions. The blood is from my hand. I cut it digging my fingernails into my palm while I was asleep. My dream does not surprise me. Laura is impulsive and inclined to bizarre activities in my dreams and in life.

The phone by my bed rings. I answer, “What?”
“Were you asleep?” Laura asks.

My wall clock strikes three. “Yes, I was asleep, dreaming of you.”
“Come over please I need to see you. It’s important.”
“Can’t it wait till morning?”
“It is morning,” she says.
“I meant daylight.”
“I’ve told you before. Say what you mean. Come over now, please.”
“It’s snowing out. Do you believe every snow flake is different?”
“I wouldn’t know.”
“It seems unlikely. With so many snowflakes over all the years at least two of them must have been identical.”
“Check out a few as you walk over and tell me what you find. But please come over now. I need to see you.”
“Now?” I ask.
“Yes, now.”
“Do you have a cleaver?” I ask.
“Just a small one. Did you cut yourself again while you were ‘nightmare-ing’?”
“Yes. My hand is still bleeding.”
“You don’t bleed like normal people,” she says. “You really should see a doctor.”
“I will. I promise.”
“Well, get over here. Let me bandage your hand and stop your nightmares.”
“You’ve tried before to stop my nightmares and couldn’t. What makes you think you can now?”
“I know I can. Trust me. I know how to now. ”

I dress in jeans and a heavy blue flannel shirt. Pull galoshes over my shoes; add a green parka and black watch cap Wind bites my lungs as I step outside. I shiver and start my two block walk to her apartment in the biting night air. Light from a full moon and a billion sparkling stars cast shadows in the snow that crunches beneath my steps. Flakes melt as I catch them on my tongue.

Laura waits in the doorway of her apartment when I arrive. Her full lips are crimson. Dense purple surrounds her eyes. She is naked except for a black lace garter belt and crescent earrings. I kiss the nipple near her heart. Stimulated, the nipple rouses. My excited fingers circle the vibration of her heart. She pushes my hand away and touches one of her earrings, “Do you like these earrings on me?’
“Yes, they enhance your natural beauty.”
“They belonged to Marge. She let me have them when I forgave her.”
“Have you forgiven me too?”
“I will, soon.”

She pulls away and walks to the kitchen.
“Get undressed,” she calls. “I’m fixing two of our Bright Brigand Specials.”
“Remember when we first created those? It was on our third date and I had never tried absinthe before.”
“I remember. Made you really weird.”
“That was the night you insisted we cut the tips from our nipples.”
“It was right after we saw that film about the headless vampires.”
“That was a real dinger.”
“Have you ever seen a headless person?”
“Back in the age of the guillotine there were a lot of headless people.”
“I meant headless people walking around.”
“Not tonight. Just snowflakes.”
“Well, did you see any two snowflakes that were alike as you walked over here?”
“Hard to tell in the moonlight. I’ll check again when it’s lighter.”

She hands me a Bright Brigand Special in a frosted mug. “Drink slow,” she says.
“Remember; they make you a little crazy.”

I savor the rum and absinthe drink, then pull her onto my lap. Warmth from her body and the drink stir me. Blood from my hand blotches on her torso as I fondle her. Her tongue begins a stroke along the life line of my palm but abruptly stops.
“Why did you stop?” I ask. “Does my life line end?”
“Not yet.”
“Did you forget you were to bandage my hand?” I ask.
“Do I ever forget?”

I finish my drink and emboldened ask, “So you’ve forgiven both Marge and me?”
“I’ve worked things out with her. Would you like to see her again?”
“It was a mistake. One I won’t make again. I’m sorry. We were both drunk.”
“Stay sober, except with me, and you won’t make that mistake again.”
“Laura, I love you. No one else. You know that.”
“Wait,” she says and kisses my eye. “I’ll get something for both your hands.” She walks to the kitchen. She returns with fresh drinks and bandages. Eyes half closed, I sip my drink while she tends my hand.
“Better?” she asks.
“Much. You’re the perfect woman for me.”
“I know and I have a perfect surprise for you.”
“Marge is in the kitchen waiting for you.” She pulls me up and pushes me forward.

Marge’s head is on a large platter in the center of the table. A cleaver rests on a sideboard.
“That’s a perfect replica of Marge’s head. Where did you get it?”
“It wasn’t too hard to find. Touch it. See how life like it is.”

I walk to the head and lift it in my hands. I drop it immediately and look at Laura.

She is mixing drinks.
“Laura, this head is real. You’ve never done anything this weird before.” I retrieve the head and place it back on the platter. “Are you going to shrink it?”

Laura hands me a drink. “Drink that and then I’ll explain.” She sips her Bright Brigand.

I take a long swig, “Explain, please.”
“Kiss her,” Laura says. “Bring her back for one last time. The rest of her is in the bedroom.”
“I thought you forgave her.” I finish my drink and kiss the eyes on Marge’s head.”
“I did. I forgive you, too.” I hear the cleaver swing toward me.


Bio: John is a sculptor who also acts and directs in community theater. Seven of his one-act plays have been produced. He was once a corpse on Homicide. Now he gives poetry readings. Wily Writers, The Meadow, Literary Hatchet, Whitefish Review, Liquid Imagination, Welter, Premonitions, Big Pulp are some of the magazines that published his work.