The Blood Is Where

The Blood is Where

by Glenn A. Bruce


Blood was everywhere.

“Nellie!” her mother screamed. “Where are you? Nellie!”

Though she’d had four drinks, there was no mistaking the red puddles. “Oh my god, what have I done.”

What she had done was stop for a drink with Colleen and Maggie after work. They giggled like high school over the “the absolutely dreamy” new guy in sales, Don Kohler—so devastatingly handsome and obviously Italian that they had started calling him Don Corleone.


The red puddles were everywhere, starting on the coffee table where SpongeBob Squarepants was still blasting from the television set.

Red drips ran across the carpet in a chaotic zig-zagging pattern into the dining area then the kitchen where the knife lay in the middle of the floor covered in red droplets, deep red puddling around the long, sterling blade.

“Nellie!” her mother called, lost for a moment, having no idea where or how to continue; how to face what she knew she was going to find. “Oh my god…”

She was going to be sick and she was.

Karoline threw up in the sink—nachos and guacamole, pink and thick with salsa and sour cream. She didn’t think she’d lost any of her margaritas, thankfully. She would need them to face this.

Nellie’s room was neat and clean. Nellie was absent.

“Oh my god, they’ve taken her. They’ve killed my little girl and taken her little body away from me.” What Karoline thought was going to be more vomit turned out to be heaving grief. “Oh my god,” she kept saying. “How could I be so stupid?”

The neighborhood was bad. So bad that Karoline couldn’t get a sitter to stay after 5:30 if she paid double, which she couldn’t afford. She hadn’t even wanted children. But Burly Burt the biker from Bakersfield—his funniest joke in a repertoire of sinkers—didn’t believe in abortion.

He did believe in abandonment. Before Nellie was two weeks old, Burt was back in San Bernardino; he didn’t even make to Bakersfield. A month after that he was back in prison. Karoline hasn’t heard a word from or about him in the five years since.

She needs a cigarette. Now. Her legs are week, her knees are shaking, she’s leaning against the white trim of the pink door, the cartoon princesses swirling at her from the walls.

We know what you did.
Karoline walks back through the kitchen, careful not to look at the floor this time. She’d rather lap up her own pink vomit from the sink than see all that red by the knife.

That red, everywhere. Everywhere. Everywhere she looks, everywhere she thinks.

Closing her eyes, she feels her way to the back slider, finds the latch and flips it. It’s already up. “Shit. They came in the back. I left it open. How could I do that?”

She will kill herself with grief, if not the gun Burt left under the bed.

It’s still there, isn’t it?

She hopes it is.

Karoline slings the heavy glass door to one side so violently that it almost comes off its tracks, and she steps outside, already pulling a smoke from her pack of Basic Lites.


Covered in red and glowing with joy. “Pomma-gant, Mommy! I spilled, so I came out.”

Karoline’s first choking thoughts are to kill her daughter; her second thought is to kill the produce man for talking her into buying pomegranates. Her third thought is:

“Baby.” Weeping freely now, Karoline forgets her cigarette and sweeps Nellie up into her arms.

“Don’t be mad, please. I’ll clean it up, Mommy. I made a mess!”

Red is everywhere. Her shirt and pants are ruined. Now, so are Karoline’s. “Don’t ever do that again, honey.” Karoline doesn’t think she could make it through another of these.

“But I love pomma-gants. You taught me.”

“I know. But…wait for me to get home next time, okay. You’re not supposed to touch the knives.”

“I know.” Nellie looks down, ashamed. Caught. The pomma-gant doesn’t even taste good anymore. “Where were you?”

Nellie’s face is puffy now from her forced pout, to let Mom know she was happier when she was happy, a few moments ago.

“I had to meet some people from work, honey.”

“You smell like grown-up juice.”

“Yeah,” Karoline says, her tears abated. “And I’m ready for another.”

Is she ever.

“Can I have one?”

“No, silly. They’re for adults.”

“Choklit milk?”

“After supper.”

“I’m hungry.”

Karoline makes her drink then makes dinner then makes chocolate milk and they fall asleep together on the couch, Nellie saying, “I love pomma-gants, Mommy. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, baby.”

The next day after work, Colleen tells Karoline that “Don Corleone will be joining us for apertifs, my dear.”

The blood is everywhere.


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