The Hook and the Haymaker
Shop N Save polo. Chances were he didn’t even know who Buster was. Soon as he got the autograph he shoved the slip into his pocket and walked off to find something to drink. He’d had no idea how great Buster was, how he’d gone round the world knocking some of the biggest and the strongest on their asses. It was awful.
Next, said the man directing traffic.
I walked up and said, Hey, Buster.
Buster wasn’t paying attention. He’d signed his name for the people before
me with his head down, like he was ashamed of what he’d become or that he’d had to be there in the first place. I imagine he was probably thinking back to his days of being led out to the ring, crowds of people cheering and the music pumping out of the speakers. I imagine he was wishing he was anywhere but this sad-ass city that’d birthed him.
Buster, Anne said to him. I’m from the paper. You remember this fella? You
remember sparring back in the day?
Like he was waking from a nap, Buster lazily raised his head. He looked like
someone who might have been Buster Mathis in a previous life. Like someone who missed being Buster Mathis. Then those eyes of his, the same I’d seen after I landed that cross, the tired and worn-out ones, they came to me. I think he recognized me right off.
I’d like to do a story, Anne said to him. A sort of a where-are-they-now piece.
I don’t think she was done speaking at that point but she quit talking. Buster,
after all, was pulling himself out of his seat. He was raising that mountain of a body of his up and shedding the suit coat that barely fit him. Those eyes came alive too. They caught fire like someone had switched on an engine.
Buster, I said.
Short fiction by Jared Yates Sexton, Amanda Miska, Paul Hamilton and Robert James Russell.