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Chris Milam: Butcher Knives Don't Float

Art by Lonni Lees © 2023

Butcher Knives Don’t Float


Chris Milam

"Would you kill for me?" That was how it started. Or maybe ended. I'm not sure.

She stared at me with those blue diamond eyes. The kind of eyes that made my heart feel like vanilla pudding.


"Who else would it be?" Her smirk hit bone.

"You want me to murder Frank? That's a big ask, babe."

Jennifer blew a smoke ring through a smoke ring. God, she's so cool. "Do you love me?"

"You know I do." I've never loved someone the way I loved her. It's more than love. I'm not a smart man, so I don't know the right word, but love is too simple.

She ran a finger from her lips to her chest to her stomach to her sweet home, Alabama. "Do this one thing and we can be together forever. Don't you want that?"

"I do. And I'll do it. I'll kill Frank for you. I'll kill his entire family for you."

Her razor smile sliced through my insides. "Just Frank will do, Andrew."



We met at a bar called House of Brews in a nowhere town in Southwest Ohio. I was standing by the jukebox, listening to Paradise City, drinking a Corona.

"Hey, you kinda look like Axl Rose."

I turned around and saw the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. The kind of beautiful that would make good men do bad things. I looked nothing like Axl Rose, but I played along. "I've heard that before. Thanks. I'm Andrew."

She reached out a small, translucent hand. "Jennifer. You come here often?"

I'm a lonely bar rat. I come here every night. "First time. You?"

"Same. You gonna buy me a drink or what?

"What's your poison?"

"Anything hard." Her eyes drifted to my crotch.

I got her a whiskey and Coke and we talked for hours. She told me about Frank, her ex-boyfriend. He was rich, kept all his cash in a safe in his bedroom closet. Maybe this is where it all started.




That was four weeks ago. After a lot of prodding from her, here I was, standing on the porch of Frank’s house. I knocked.

“Can I help you? He stood there in his silk robe, hair perfect, smelled good, looked good.

“Sorry, man. My car broke down around the block, and my phone is dead. Could I borrow yours to call a friend?”

“Sure. Let me grab it for you.”

As soon as he turned his back to me, I took the butcher knife out of my cargo pants and stabbed him in the back. Blood spurted out like a sprinkler, spraying my face, my clothes, the expensive looking art on the walls. He screamed and begged for his life, but I kept stabbing him until I killed him at least three times. As a final gesture, I slit the bastard's throat. I felt like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho.  The rush of killing Frank was almost the same as fucking Jennifer. Almost.

 I went to the safe. Jennifer had given me the combination. It was stuffed with cash and jewelry, just like she said it would be. It took two gym bags to haul it out to my car. We had made a deal. She gets the cash and I get the jewelry. This was fine by me going by all the diamonds and gold and Rolex watches I snagged.

I drove straight to her house, bringing the cash with me. She opened the door wearing only black panties. She looked at the bags, then at me. “You did it?”

I nodded. “Frank is gone.” She jumped into my arms, wrapped her arms and legs around me. “I love you so much.”

“I love you more.”

“What about the jewelry?”

“In the trunk under the spare tire.”

“Good. Leave it there for a few days. Just in case. What about the knife?”

“Tossed it in the creek. I followed your directions to a T.”

She grabbed my hand, led me to the bedroom. “I have a gift for you.”

“The jewelry is plenty. I don’t need anything else.”

She didn’t say a word, just slipped off her panties and got on all fours. “Come and get your gift.”

“I’m confused.”

Jennifer shook her head. “You can fuck me in the ass. I know you’ve been wanting to.”

Dear Lord. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Andrew, your dick wont be the first one that's been in there. Give it a whirl.”

We fucked all night.



The next day, she texted me. Said she would be at my house at 7:00. She had another surprise.

A knock on the door.

“Mr. Oller, Andrew Oller?”

“Yes, why? Who are you?”

“Detective Grant. Do you know Jennifer Jones and Frank Stanton?"

"I know Jennifer, but not some Frank guy. Why do you ask?"

"Because she called us. Said you beat her up. A black eye, busted lip, two broken ribs. And she said you told her you killed Frank Stanton out of jealousy."

The surprise she had for me was Detective Grant slapping handcuffs on me.

I refused to talk. They said they found fingerprints on the safe. Fuck. She had told me not to wear gloves because it would look suspicious in summer. They found the jewelry in my trunk. They found my semen in her anal cavity. Rape,  they said. And they found the knife in the creek. Murder, they said. Mother fucker. Apparently, butcher knives don’t float. I figured it would’ve ended up in the Ohio river or something. I don’t know shit about water.


She came to see me three years later. She wore sunglasses. Her lips were painted a proper shade of blood. I tried asking why she would do this to me. She evaded every question. She wasn’t stupid like me.

After a few minutes, she got up to leave.

“Where are you going?”

“Tahiti, Hawaii, Costa Rica, who knows? I’ll send you a postcard. Don’t worry, I know where you’ll be for the next forty years to life.” She laughed as she walked away.

 All I could do was stare at her ass. And then I  realized maybe it was that perfect ass of hers that started it all. Or ended it. I’m not really sure.

Chris Milam lives in Middletown, Ohio. His stories have appeared in Jellyfish Review, Molotov Cocktail, Lumiere Review, Lost Balloon, Reckon Review, and elsewhere. He's been nominated for Best of the Net, Best Small Fictions, and The Pushcart Prize. You can find him on Twitter @Blukris.

Lonni Lees is a multi-award-winning writer in both fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  Her stories appear in Hardboiled magazine, Yellow Mama, A Shot of Ink, Shotgun Honey, Black Petals, Einstein’s Pocket Watch, All Due Respect, and in the anthologies Deadly Dames and More Whodunits. Among her numerous writing awards over the years, she has award-winning stories in Felons, Flames, and Ambulance Rides, Battling Boxing Stories, and her published short story collection, Crawlspace. Broken won first place and is her 4th published novel. Her first novel Deranged won the PSWA First Place award for best published novel. Her next novel, The Mosaic Murder, was followed with a sequel, The Corpse in the Cactus, which won First Place and was published in the U.S. and UK. She won several other writing awards for her short stories, including Grand Prize.


 She received both art and a nonfiction Creative Writing Awards from NLAPW, California South branch, an organization of women writers, artists, and composers, and she served as President from 1982–1984. She is a current member of Sisters in Crime, PSWA, and Arizona Mystery Writers, where she was the first writer to win two consecutive awards in their annual short story contest.


 Twice Lonni was selected as Writer-in-Residence at Hedgebrook, a writer’s retreat on Whidbey Island. After living in four states and visiting many countries, she’s settled in Tucson, AZ. She fills her spare time showing her art at WomanKraft Gallery, reminiscing on all her travel adventures, illustrating stories for online magazines, and dreaming up new tales to tell.

In Association with Black Petals & Fossil Publications © 2023