One week before the fight. And he is just punching, punching. You know, but in his head there are things that are never going to be knocked out by straight left, right hand, left hook. Although he gives it a go; in the kitchen, the smell of something dead – was it in the air, snaking off the cupboards (old grease, ghosts of smoke, dead insects; the whole shebang). One week before the fight. And he’s punching at the skylight, at the heavens, at the nothing above, buzzing with jets. He thinks about the fight and the flight. The left over food cast to one side by fat, cackling brutes with chattering teeth and cigars stuffed in mouths. Eyes peering into the ring; into the ring, where two fighters hit and try not to get hit. Science. Sweet, sweet science. They are already saved. The burning floodlights not the only brilliance beating down on those yet to fall. Girlfriends pray at ringside.
He lives alone with a pig-skin punchbag filled with the hair of dead horses. His beer pops off his lips and he throws a hook. It explodes upon the bag like a rifle shot. At least, that’s the way he likes to hear it. He considers the lad he’s fighting; tough, made of mirror – hardest fight to date, he could see the double hook sending both fighters’ flesh and guts into a wide arc across the crowd. And the punters would laugh and crunch the fat of the fighters and pass it around to the lipsticked mouths; clotted with illusion.
He picked off a few more bugs and unscrewed the cap off a half bottle of Grouse. What else did he want? Opening his kit-bag, he did the check list: boots, shorts, protector cup, gloves, gum-sheild; but his head still rang from the booze. Clear as a bell. Clouded like ouzo and water. Liquorice sick.
His mother rang. He held the phone to his ear and listened to the soothing, smoothing, the nurturing; so to speak, before the storm. A fast fighter. Determined. Doesn’t give up.
He felt like laying down. Deep into the laminate flooring. Just above the powdered remains of the forgotten animals, plants and people. Not fossils. Pulverized remains. Top soil.
He drank down the fire water and knew that the last thing he would see would be a candy apple red glove zipping for his chin with enough force to stop a mule.