On the Button

the blow connected

He smelled roses, then turpentine, then old wood and the burnt umber of sawdust. He was a little boy again, stacking towers out of the plank ends his father’s table saw was producing overhead. Plok, another would drop to the curling linoleum floor of the workshop. The saw would roar, an end would drop in a shower of sand-colored particles.

opening a tiny fracture across the cartilage of his nose

He was a teenager in the back of his father’s car, a slippery vinyl bench that was impossible to get comfortable on. A girl was fumbling at his belt while slathering his face with desperate kisses. He couldn’t find space under her blouse for his hands, so he gripped her breasts from outside her top, fingers blindly searching for nipples only to be defeated by the thick padding of her brassiere beneath. He could see the moon outside, diffused into a soft-edged orb by the steamy condensation of their ardor.

a fracture that then split, sending radiating waves of needle-sharp pain across his face

He was standing in front of a drill sergeant who was doing his ready best to convince him of his worthlessness. He couldn’t run worth a damn, he couldn’t climb worth a damn, he couldn’t shoot worth a damn. Clearly that all meant that he wasn’t worth a damn, and he needed to get that through his thick skull. Maybe more pushups would help, but only if they were followed by miles worth of laps around the parade ground in the pouring rain, his boots sucking mud and his eyes so full of water he didn’t know if he was still crying.

buckling his legs and snapping his head back, arcing his body to the canvas mat

And somewhere a man was yelling numbers, and many other men were yelling at him to get up, get up and fight, and then those sounds were washed away by the roar of the blood in his ears and he was washed away with them, carried out into the sea of unconsciousness by his opponent’s vicious right hook.

2014.09.11 – 2023.05.07

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