G. Arthur Brown is a Maryland-based writer of irreal and absurd Bizarro fiction. His first book, Kitten, is available from Eraserhead Press as part of their New Bizarro Author Series. His stories appear in the anthologies Bizarro Bizarro from Bizarro Pulp Press, Axes of Evil from Diabolus in Musica, and the forthcoming Vertigo Schisms from Surreal Grotesque. “The Trouble with the Bleeding Hearts” was workshopped by Stephen Graham Jones, who is the greatest guy you’d ever wanna meet.
“The Trouble with the Bleeding Hearts”
By G. Arthur Brown
The social problems caused by the Bleeding Hearts were not, at first, obvious. After my relationship with Lexi ended, they couldn’t have been more apparent.
The group took their inspiration from Daniel Mannely, born with his heart outside his body. He wasn’t expected to live more than a few weeks but wound up surviving well into his forties. He died pulling children from a burning orphanage. The physical exertion was so great that his heart literally burst and blood came pumping out of his chest. In the last few moments of consciousness he mumbled, “This do in remembrance of me.” That’s where these fuckers got the idea.
It should be pointed out that having his heart outside his body was not Daniel’s only ailment. He was moderately developmentally challenged, with multiple learning disabilities that resulted in his dropping out of school in 8th grade. His head was misshapen, almost Charlie Brown style, if Charlie Brown had frog eyes. Despite all that he was able to enjoy his life, it seems, and even played basketball on occasion, though I don’t think this was too fair on his opponents, who had to be especially careful not to crush his freakish heart.
The first fucker to follow in his footsteps was a political activist. He decided that it wasn’t a good enough statement to simply “take to the street” and “fight the good fight.” The world needed to see how deeply he was invested in these issues. After finding a doctor that would remove portions of his ribcage, he underwent one of the most controversial surgeries in the early 21st century. It was an instant hit. He would deliver heartfelt speeches, proving just how his heart felt by baring his chest at the point in the performance where emotion reaches a fever pitch. The uncanny beating right there under his skin put folks like me off, but others saw it as the purest form of commitment.
When it first caught on, there was some media interest, especially because female Bleeding Hearts would typically appear topless, rhythmic bulging and contracting between their naked breasts. I guess somebody found a way to beat off to that. I mean, there’s a fucking pun in there, so someone had to have done it, if only to make the joke later. And I have to admit, that eventually the revulsion wore off for me, and I found myself able to reconcile the beauty of the female breast with the pulsating of an unprotected heart.
It wasn’t until some shitbird had the brilliant notion to pierce his own fucking heart, deliberately bleeding all the fuck over the place, that interest began to wane. These people were freaks and lunatics, and that type has no place in politics.
The lucky or smart ones were able to survive the heart puncturing. If the hole was just small enough to leak a little blood, it made a good show, and they could be saved by the medical teams that invariably followed the hordes of gross-chested activists. Most bleeders died instantly, of course. And even those who pulled it off once and survived found that they had seriously damaged their already vulnerable hearts, permanently weakening themselves. A second stab would certainly spell their deaths. So the “old timers” faded out of politics. Leaving only the young, naïve up-and-comers to run the show.
Lexi was one of those. Beautiful face, shapely breasts. Disconcerting thumps squiggling right below her alabaster skin. At first, I found it kind of charming. Then she began using the fact that my heart was on the inside of my chest against me. “How can I tell what you are feeling? You can see my passion in the beats of my heart, and your heart is kept locked up in a ribcage!”
I’ve never been very emotionally demonstrative. She had a point. But she started to pressure me to have my heart exposed. And my insurance doesn’t cover that shit. She wanted me to go tens of thousands in debt, just so she could feel closer to me. I would put her hand on my chest so that she could feel my heartbeat. Place her fingers on my throat for my pulse. She acted like that was a pale shadow of reality. She started to call me a robot, and to hell with me if I expressed any opinion on politics. She would simply thrust her chest out, tits wagging, heart thumping. Large breasted cardiac reality.
Fuck that shit.
I heard there were some Bleeding Hearts, a small offshoot sect, who got really into the caressing of their lovers’ hearts during sex. They would press on the heart right before the moment of climax, resulting in the greatest rush anyone has ever known, or in death.
Double fuck that shit.
I left Lexi, of course. I had to be the grownup and realize that our fucked up shit wasn’t going to work out. From time to time, I missed her and her unbridled enthusiasm, her utter conviction. I adopted a baby ape that was born with most of its organs outside its body. I keep it in a bubble with wheels at the bottom and roll it around with me. It’s very susceptible to diseases and injuries of all kinds, but I can make it safe inside this special plastic reality-shield. Maybe I’m sick, but I get a good feeling from keeping this thing alive. A thing which nature selected as damned. I’ve redeemed it. Not with my heart, but with my brain.
Incidentally, my fontanel never sealed properly, leaving my brain mostly exposed, but you don’t see me going around bragging about it.