Jared Yates Sexton
When it came to the technical aspects of the sport, the poetics she called it, I
hardly knew anything. As a fighter I was clumsy, a cloud of mistimed punches and artless blocks, and the fact that I’d ever won a decision or knocked a man out was a miracle in and of itself, but I wanted to impress her so I made shit up. Look there, I’d say to her, pretending to know what I was talking about. Look how he drops that guard. Look at that window.
I see it, she’d say and huddle in close.
She was as sweet of a thing as I’d ever come across. In the morning she’d
head into the office to report on a car crash or an assault and of the evening she’d come and make me supper. Never asked me to find work. Never bothered me about my drinking. Never asked me to do anything besides explain the fights on the television.
Well, she asked one thing.
After Buster Mathis retired he came back to the city. Opened a drive-in that
lasted two seasons and shut down in good order. Bankrolled a diner that burned up under suspicious circumstances. I’d see him every now and then walking in and out of places. You could tell he was enjoying retirement. A layer of fat coated his muscles and his face and cheeks filled out. But just watching him you could tell he was still graceful, one of the most naturally gifted sons of bitches to ever lace up the gloves.
And he was as famous as they came round here. Every time somebody
opened a store or restaurant they’d ask Buster to come and cut the ribbon or declare business begun. He seemed bored by the whole thing. Like he was halfasleep when he got out there. He’d put up those cinderblock fists of his like he was about to fight but the spirit was gone.
One of those openings was for the new Shop N Save on Bondehoo. There
Short fiction by Jared Yates Sexton, Amanda Miska, Paul Hamilton and Robert James Russell.