My father knew two things in life. How to drink whiskey and how to beat up women. I did everything I could to turn his violent tendencies to me, but he would only beat me until I was out cold and then go back to his other business.
That’s why I left when I did. That’s why I never looked back. That’s why I still lived underground, as far from anything that was normal as possible. Because when you’ve seen hell and have gotten licked by its flames, you don’t just walk away from it.
I brought my right fist back and connected with another punch.
That was three.
I had two more to go to win a little side bet with Seth. He was my best friend. My goddamn brother, even if we didn’t share the same blood. We always found a way to survive together and we always made money.
The crowd cheered for me but I ignored them. Fuck them. They were all crooks anyway. Some asshole on his cell, whispering sweet words to his daughter, saying he couldn’t go to her soccer game because he had a meeting. Just so he could throw a grand down on a fight, drink cheap scotch, and get a blow job from some whore wandering around, looking to cover her own cost of addiction.
The truest dream, right?
I told Seth I could knock one of the guy’s front teeth out in five punches.
This guy - Chet - was supposed to be the biggest and toughest fighter, straight from some shit town in Texas. He came all the way west to fight me and I had him all but gone.
It was a good fight though. My left eye felt like I had a golf ball attached to it. My jaw felt like it was dangling by a few threads of muscle. There were bruises on my sides, my chest, arms, legs. I took a fucking beating on this one. But the paycheck was spectacular.
There was a big risk with what I was doing. My hand locked tight around Chet’s shirt, keeping him from fully hitting the ground. If he did and shut his eyes, the fight would be called. By keeping him up, it kept the fight going. That meant all Chet needed was one lucky punch to knock my ass out.
I made a tighter fist and got ready. I gritted my teeth.
“Finish him, K!” some guy yelled.
That’s who I was?
Too lazy to call me Noah.
I wanted to find out who said that and go fuck his wife six ways from Sunday. Make her scream my name so loud it’d be bouncing off the walls for weeks. Then the asshole would always remember my full name.
My middle knuckle was thick. I made sure to line up the fourth punch. I came down and rocked Chet’s mouth. I felt the tooth move and through all the yelling I heard the sick pop sound as it tore from his gums. It also felt like my hand had exploded.
All I saw was blood.
The skin on my knuckle had been ripped away.
I let Chet go and he hit the ground. He started to cough, gurgling on blood, and then he was out.
Everyone cheered louder for me. I had made some people some serious money. I also had lost some people some money.
I didn’t care about any of that.
I needed the tooth.
“Fuck,” I yelled.
I searched the ground and then looked at Chet’s mouth.
The son of a bitch had swallowed it.
He swallowed his own damn tooth.
I stood up and someone ran into the circle and lifted my right arm.
I spit at Chet, knowing Seth was going to give me shit for not having the tooth.
Sometimes the little things in life were just always meant to go wrong.
* * *
“You owe me,” I said, looking in the mirror as Seth stood in the doorway, arms crossed.
“Show me the tooth.”
“Fuck you, Seth. He swallowed it.”
“He’s still here. You can go get it.”
“Make him throw up.”
I laughed. “You’re sick.”
He pushed from the doorway. “If you were smart, you’d wait until tomorrow and then get to him after he takes a shit. That’s when it’ll come out.”
“Five hundred bucks is not worth digging through some guy’s shit.”
“Good point. It used to be though, right?” Seth slipped his hands into his pockets. He always got sentimental after fights. Remember the dark days. “We’d kill for five bucks.”
“That was a long time ago,” I said. “I don’t live in the past. I live in the now.”
“We have to meet with Marcos,” Seth said. “Collect our earnings.”
“I love how you’re in a nice outfit there and I’m covered in blood. Yet we get earnings?”
“Sorry, brother,” Seth said. “That’s the way it goes. You want to do what I do for a living? Wage the war on the street for the benefit of the man watching over us?”
“That sounds religious.”
“A-fucking-men,” Seth said.
“Um, excuse me?” a voice asked.
I looked in the mirror and saw sex standing next to Seth.
I turned around and stared.
She was short, wearing jeans and a tight black shirt, staring straight at me. I could see the green color of her eyes at our distance, her dirty blonde hair tucked back behind her ears. There were whores all over the building, dressed and designed to fuck and suck, but this woman was different. Something about normal and naturally beautiful struck me like an arrow to my heart.
Remember what I said about my old man and whiskey? Yeah, well women were my whiskey. And I didn’t have one brand I preferred. I was simple: I wanted them all.
And I wanted this woman.
My dick pressed against my jeans. My adrenaline was still riding high because of the fight. It was probably one of the best times to fuck because of the wild animal raging throughout my body.
“Can I help you?” Seth asked.
“I’m here to see him,” the woman said.
“Well then,” Seth said. “I’ll catch up with you in a bit, Noah. Stay safe.”
Seth grinned and winked at me.
He left the room and I turned to face the sink again.
“Do you know why I’m here?” she asked.
Please, honey. I get punched to the head a lot but I’m not losing my mind.
I could smell the heat pouring from her. She was like a volcano ready to go.
I stared at her through the reflection in the mirror. “Yeah. I get fans from time to time. Tell you what, there’s some empty offices just down the hall. Let me wash up and I’ll meet you there.”
The woman shut the door and twisted the lock. She touched the top of her jeans and unbuttoned them, walking toward me.
Her green eyes became fire. “No. I want you right fucking now.”