The bell rings, one boxer lowers his arms and begins to walk to his corner, but the other continues to attack.
“Hey!” says the boxer. The crowd gasps. The refs jump in and pulls the guy away. He throws his arms up. The ref pushes him toward his corner. The crowd boos for a moment.
A skinny guy with an oversized tee-shirt that reads, “That’s my cousin in there!” is waiting at the corner with his hands on his hips. The boxer sits.
“The bell means stop, Bryce!” says the man. He squirts water all in his face, mostly missing his mouth. “You understand?”
“I understand, Jimmy. I was punching, and I was fighting, and I was going to hammer him to death and I should’ve heard the ring, but I was in a mode.”
“You got a way with words, Bryce,” Jimmy says, mock punching at him. “You’re gonna hammer him to death, that’s vivid.”
“Yeah, boss, you better believe it. I was punching him as hard as my little fists would fly, and I was hoping that I would end his life and widow his wife. That’s what I was repeating in my head: ‘End his life, widow his wife. End his life, widow his wife.’ Just like that, boss.”
“Woah, Bryce,” Jimmy says, still air boxing in front of Bryce, as if by nervous habit. “We don’t want to kill the guy, huh? We just want to win.”
“Yeah, boss. Just want to win,” he says, eyes glazed. “Just want to win so good that he can never win again. At anything.”
“No, Bryce, no,” Jimmy says, a loose punch still coming as he looks to the clock. “That’s entirely too far. We ain’t got much time left on this time-out and I think I need to pull you out because you seem… homicidal.”
“No! Boss, no. You’ve totally misunderstood me. I’m not homicidal!”
“Good!” Jimmy says. His air-boxing comes back to life.
“I just have furious fists that want to end the organic process in another man’s body. That’s all.” He looks at his gloved fist. “Can you imagine the power? Just, a fist that can remove another man’s soul? Boss, that’s fucking insane!”
Jimmy puts his hands on his knees and gets at eye level with Bryce. “Look at me. I need to know what to do here! If I pull you out of the match, my mother and her sister are going to kill me. Your mother especially, Bryce, is insane.” He points to a spot in the crowd where an angry woman with huge hair sits. “I see where you get it from. But this is the only job I’ve ever had, Bryce. I need you to look at me and say that you don’t want to kill anyone…”
“Don’t be so serious, man! I don’t mean any of this literally.”
Jimmy takes a big breath and punches the air. “Ok!”
“I was just being poetic.”
“I just want-”
“Here we go…”
“I just want him to not be able to eat… ever. I want to break his jaw so bad that he can never eat again.”
Jimmy folds over. “What do you think happens when you can never eat!”
Bryce stands. “I’m not a chemist! I’m not a fortune-teller! I just want to make it so he can never draw another breath, and whatever happens from there… is up to God himself…”
Jimmy runs to the ref and talks in his ear. The ref shrugs, walks to the other boxer, lifts his hand, and the crowd claps mildly.
“What happened out there!” Bryce’s mother shouts at Jimmy a little later, right outside the ring.
“Bryce was out of it, Ms. Tomb! He was talking about killing the other guy! I had no choice. We need to get his head into an MRI.”
“You cost my son his perfect win-record! I will kill you!” Ms. Tomb says. Jimmy jumps back.
“Don’t you dare touch my son!” says Ms. Tomb’s sister.
“I don’t really want to kill him!” she says, ostensibly calming herself. “I just want to make it so that he can never make a mistake like this again. Ever…”
Bryce is nodding his head deeply.
Originally published at https://www.tumblr.com on January 14, 2020.