Small Separations


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.

~ fin ~

AJ Hayes was a talented, nurturing writer who flourished in the short story medium. Known for hard tack stories that were lean and without an ounce of waste. He flourished writing short stories, and as much as he enjoyed writing the brutal tale, he was more than ready to lend a supporting word. AJ Hayes lived in a small town near San Diego, California where there is no mafia . . . now.