Love Hurts – Excerpt from new Bubba story

There’s a new Bubba story coming! Finished the draft, just gotta knock out the typos, tighten it up a little, and give it a cover. Oughta have it ready for y’all later this week. Here’s the opener – 


Love Hurts

A Bubba the Monster Hunter Short Story

By John G. Hartness


The last thing I saw was the handle of my Grandpappy’s sword sticking out of my belly, covered in blood that was supposed to still be inside me. The last thing I heard was my brother’s voice, speaking to me for the first time in about fifteen years, mocking me as he twisted the blade. The last thing I thought was how much family reunions suck.

The next thing I knew I was laying in a hospital bed with more tubes and wires stuck to me than Wolverine in that crappy X-Men prequel. I stared up at the ceiling for a minute, wiggling fingers and toes and other parts that would wiggle before I turned my head to the side. Agent Amy was asleep in the chair by my bed, a strand of blonde hair creeping loose from her ponytail to brush across one cheek. I reached out to brush it back into place, but was really surprised to find that somebody had tied hundred-pound weights to my hands. Or at least that’s what it felt like, because I couldn’t move either mitt.

Amy must have heard or sensed something, because her eyes snapped open and she reached for the call button on my bed.

“Can I help you?” Came the tinny voice from the little speaker thingy that doubled as a speaker for the TV and a walkie-talkie to the nurses’ station.

“He’s awake. You should probably come untie him now.” Amy replied. I heard what she was saying, but didn’t quite get what she was saying until Amy looked back to me.

“Good morning, sleepyhead. The nurses kept the keys to your restraints, and I didn’t think it was worth fighting over while you were still asleep.”

“Where am I?” I don’t really have a problem with cliches, as long as they’re valid. And this one was. I had no friggin’ clue where I was.

“Atlanta. I had you flown here after Jason skewered you.”

“Like a damn shishkabob. Little bastard ran me through like poop through a goose.”

“That’s attractive, Bubba.” A new voice came from the door, and I looked up to see my best friend, wingman and technological guru Skeeter standing in the doorway, striking a pose. He woulda looked more heroic standing there all backlit and shit if he was bigger, or maybe armed. As it was, his skinny ass was the best-looking thing I’d seen in weeks. Except for Agent Amy, but she’s a chick, which gives her a default boost in the good-looking department. Anyway, Skeeter stepped into the room and flipped on the lights as a cute Asian nurse pushed past him.

“Mr. . . .”

“Bubba.” I cut her off with a wave of my hand. “Just Bubba will do fine, sweet-cheeks. Now, you wanna let me loose from all these cuffs and tubes and wires and shit? I gotta go rip my brother’s head off and crap down his neck.”

I didn’t know Asian people could get that pale, but she turned white as a sheet. I think she was afraid I was gonna kill Jason right there in the hospital. Which I reckon I woulda if I’da thought for a second that he was in the hospital.

She glanced over at Agent Amy, who gave her a nod. I reckon it was supposed to reassure the little thing that I didn’t want to kill her. It must have worked, since she set to unfastening me from the bed. “Mr. Bubba, you can’t rip anyone’s head off for a while. As a matter of fact, I don’t think you’re going to be in much shape to be ripping open a bag of Doritos anytime soon. You suffered serious internal injuries, and if it were not for the work of a lot of very fine surgeons and your friends here rushing you here in a —“

“Black government helicopter that none of us knows anything about.” Skeeter said with a grin. He was sitting in a straight chair by the window, grinning like a possum that had just crossed the freeway. He’d been full of conspiracy theories since we were in middle school, so finding out that the government really did have black helicopters was the best Christmas present he could have ever imagined.

“Yes, that.” Nurse Whatsherface finished. “My name is Lucy, and I’m your daytime nurse. Ethel is the charge nurse and your technician is Alex. Dr. Watson will be by later to talk with you about your injuries and how long you can expect to stay here.”

“Are you serious?” I asked.

“Serious about what?” Lucy had that look on her face that said she knew exactly what I was asking about but didn’t want to give me the satisfaction of just answering the question.

“My doctor is named Watson?”

“Yes, sir. Dr. Watson is one of our most competent surgeons, with experience in a wide range of internal injuries. And your injuries were apparently quite extensive.”

“Yeah, that’s what happens when your kid brother shoves a sword through your guts. Extensive injuries.”

She looked back down at her charts, doing a good job of not asking any of the obvious questions. “Yes, well, my sibling rivalries were slightly less violent. Now Agent Hall, Mr. Jones, would you please step out of the room for a few minutes while I check the dressing on his wounds?”

They left, and Nurse Lucy did a thoroughly professional job of checking my wounds, redressing the hole in my back and my front, and making sure that nothing got kinked up in my catheter line. And if you ever need to feel like the least sexually interesting human being in the world, let a nurse slap a huge bandage across your naked belly while you’re pissing into a catheter bag.

“How long?” I asked, more to take my mind off what she wasn’t doing than anything else.

“How long what?” She replied, not bothering to look up from the task at hand.

“How long was I out?”

“You were in surgery for about eleven hours, then there were some issues with getting you stabilized, so it says here that they went back in to patch up a couple of other small bleeders and then you were out for about three days.”

“So it’s been four days since that little son of a bitch gutted me?”

“Yes. If you don’t mind my asking, why haven’t the authorities been involved? You came in here on a government helicopter and you’ve said repeatedly that you know who stabbed you. So why aren’t there any police around?”

I looked up at her and tried to remember the days before I knew that the things that go bump in the night are real and that the monster under your bed was usually a boggart, not a figment. Those days were way too long ago, I couldn’t drag up that innocence anymore. I gave her my best lopsided grin. “Nurse Lucy, I’d love to tell you, but it was a government training exercise, and I can’t say anything more.”

“But you said —“

“I’m pretty sure you misheard me. Didn’t you?” I smiled a little, which is usually enough to scare normal people. It worked. The little woman turned pale again, and went back to work without any other questions.

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