Jared Yates Sexton
swiped with his right, that goddamn cannon, and it barely got my cheek. It hurt though, cracked a molar, and that snapped me awake. I got the hell away and ducked the jab he was loading up. Out of desperation I hurled that hook, the one that’d got his manager’s attention, and it smacked him spot on the ear.
Now, I never did much as a fighter. I won my share and lost just as many.
But I’ll be honest - that hook had to be one of the best in the business. It had to be. I knew from early on I didn’t have much to offer. Feet were slow. Knuckles broke too easy. I couldn’t manage a long bout to save my life. But that hook? It was my saving grace, the one tool I had in my bag that worked worth a damn.
Well. Buster found out about it. When it hit he backed off, stumbled even,
and had to take a second to get his head in order. I could tell it shook him up, that it made him reconsider the situation.
Buster, his manager said. You good, son?
He was looking at me out of worn-out eyes. He nodded and charged again.
This time I could feel the heat coming off him like exhaust. I didn’t see much except that haymaker charging up in his lump of a right shoulder. When I woke up it was a good half hour later and I’d swallowed four of my front teeth.
They slipped me some extra for the surgery. I pocketed a couple hundred
and told the dentist to only replace three of those teeth. I wanted a memento. Now, when I smile, people get a good look at the souvenir I got from Buster Mathis.
Things changed after that. Word spread that I’d stood the man up. I got
more fights, even got a shot at the City Champion. Fought Hector Ramos at the Roosevelt Gym and got knocked out in the seventh. There was word that Ramos was dirty and put pig-iron in his gloves, but I didn’t protest. I was done fighting at that point, done waking up with bloody sheets and bruised hands. I’d done
Short fiction by Jared Yates Sexton, Amanda Miska, Paul Hamilton and Robert James Russell.