The Hook and the Haymaker
Of course, Buster was just taking off. Got on a real roll of it and was
taking fellas out left and right. I used to go up to the bar and drink and watch. Sometimes people would come up and ask if I was the guy who’d stood Buster Mathis with a left hook. They’d want autographs and pictures like I was some kind of big shot. It was embarrassing, but I’d grin a big gap-toothed smile and bear it.
The paper even called later and did a story in the run-up to his fight with
Harper Lawrence. This pretty little reporter came and asked what it was like to take a punch from Buster Mathis and live. I laughed and pointed to where my tooth had been. Like falling, I said.
Her name was Anne and she was sweet enough to laugh at my piss-poor
joke. In fact, she laughed at all my piss-poor jokes. She was fifteen years younger but I could tell she’d spent most of her life in the company of her elders. I asked if she wanted to grab a bite to eat and the two of us went over to the Mexican joint down the street. We closed the place down, drinking cervezas and going over all my old, worthless fights. When the article finally ran in the paper it was crammed way in the back.
It wasn’t two weeks later Anne moved in. When we’d met she’d been in a
bad situation and looking for a way out. I guess I gave her that. And maybe it was out of appreciation, or even kindness, but we spent most of our nights getting drunk on the couch and watching fights on the tube. In those days you could count on somebody airing a bout, be it cruisers or feathers or the occasional heavy, and we’d be right there when the opening bell rang, the both of us draining beers between her asking questions and me doing my best to explain.
Short fiction by Jared Yates Sexton, Amanda Miska, Paul Hamilton and Robert James Russell.