CASABLANCA

Follow this link to hear me talk CASABLANCA and Old Hollywood.
http://tinyurl.com/hqvnuua
casablanca-2

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THE SPECTACLE

Today is my second day of reconsidering the internet. My internet. While I have dropped in on Twitter a few times to check your tweets, and thanks for the good ones everyone, I’ve avoided the familiar sites where I used to get my information. DailyKos, Hullabaloo, Huffington Post, Salon, Talking Points Memo, et al. for they are no longer useful to me. I have seen through them and finally figured out something about myself.

I am 47 and my entire life I have believed in progress. No matter what the endeavor, I believed we were getting smarter and our technology was getting better and eventually there would be no obstacle to justice and fairness and equality. Granted there was lots of work required, but I didn’t need to do it because the arc of the moral universe bent toward justice and progress was inevitable. I no longer hold that view.

Over the last few days, I have realized something else that has caused me deep embarrassment. I was in the bubble. I tricked myself into thinking I was being informed, when I was being deluded. I let reading and commenting online take the place of action. I was even dumb enough to think my jokes on Twitter were a good use of time. I was wrong.

Some have said that jokes on Twitter constitute defiance. Others that the jokes made them feel better. I respectfully disagree. When everyone you follow and most of your followers agree with you, there is no defiance. Indeed the comfort one gets from the witty barbs is the opposite of what’s necessary. Discomfort is the only way forward.

all-watched-over-by-machines-of-love-and-grace

That’s why I reconsidered my relationship with technology, specifically information technology and, even more specifically, the internet.

For I am suffering from too much information. I am overwhelmed by stimuli. And I don’t think I’m alone. I think many of us are “lost in the spectacle” These days, there are countless sources of data and an unlimited supply of charlatans manipulating them. As human beings, it is impossible for us to absorb all this stimuli. This is overwhelming and terrifying.

For this reason, we find solace in organizing the things we do understand. A person might not be able to understand the world, but they can know everything that’s going on in THE WALKING DEAD. You might not comprehend how the government works, but you can collect so many different types of Pokemon.

Now I don’t want to criticize anyone’s particular entertainment choices, but I will say that those enthusiasms are a refuge and I encourage you to leave it. Engage with the world. Take action that yields positive results that can be measured. There will be plenty of chances to create moral justice, but it will not come naturally. And never if we wait to read about it online.

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MAR VISTA Chapter 2

LIZARDS AND SNAKES
II

The driver handed me a loaded pipe as soon as I got in the car and I went to town. By the time we got back to the spot, I was pretty loaded. He left me on the curb in front of a tropical style apartment building, then disappeared with the car. I didn’t expect to see him again for awhile. He was older, part of a crew out of Beverly Hills. I had no idea why he had been driving.

The apartments were built in that weird island style that mixed Hawaiian and Polynesian and Tahitian or whatever. There were tropical plants growing unchecked in planters all around. Big old Sagos and clusters of palm trees thin and tall. The rotting smell of banana plants was everywhere and I imagined everyone living here tended big complicated aquariums full of snakes, lizards, and iguanas.

I climbed the stairs to the top floor corner apartment. It was at the end of a long outdoor walkway with a flimsy little railing. The tops of the palm trees were almost close enough to touch. The apartment had only one window facing the walkway and its blinds had a small square cut out so someone sitting inside could keep an eye on the approach.

As soon as I went inside, Rob was there. He was tall and angular and bore a striking resemblance to Ben Stiller. Everyone called him Zoolander. “You got it on you?” He barked. He held a small pillow case in front of me.

“Yeah.” I unloaded the gun and wiped it down and dropped it in the pillowcase.

“You in on this?” I held up the bag I’d taken off the swarthy dead.

“No. I’m in on this.” He held up the pillowcase. “Everyone coming here to sort it?” Rob rolled up the piece and shoved it in his back waistband.

“I doubt it. Myles will eventually because he lives here. Everyone else, I don’t know. Dave might come around after he sees about the plants up at the spot.”

“Looks like I’ll have to track them down then.” Rob huffed a little.

“What’s the hurry?” I asked him, but I knew the answer. He usually took the guns and sold them quick or dumped them in the ocean to make sure we got rid of them. Rumor was he had done time for having a piece around that some friend had lied about ditching. That’s how he acted anyway.

“What’s in the bag?” Rob had been eyeing it since we had finished talking about the guns.

I didn’t answer. I stone-faced him and kept to myself. For fuck’s sake, I had no idea what was in the bag. I sat on the couch and got to work on the complicated bong I found on the table. The Lakers ran up and down the TV. They were losing, but the weed was good and that made the game interesting. My pager started buzzing after a few smoky minutes of NBA action.

“Where’s the phone?” I figured Rob would know. He was always on it, selling weed.

“Next to you.” He sneered.

It was wedged on the couch between the cushions and I picked it up and dialed. I could tell by the code at the end of the page who was calling and I did not like what I saw. Maybe the bag had to go somewhere. Maybe I had to take it. I knew I would do it. The longer I held onto this bag, the better my chances of getting money out of it.

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MAR VISTA

The driver loaded and unloaded the gun at least three times. He claimed he was checking the action. I did not know what that meant. I sat in the passenger seat of the old Corolla, smoking and staring at the metal door that floated in the glass of the side view mirror above the words ‘closer than they appear’. I sat low and had my hat pulled down. I threw my cigarette out the window when I finished it, then I lit another.

I saw the door open a crack and close again, but it didn’t close flush. There was a thin black crack of dark now. I took off my cap and pulled the ski mask over my head. He cocked the gun one last time and handed it to me. As soon as he did, I got out of the car and headed for the door. I kept my cigarette going until I got there. Then I spit it out of my mouth still burning and I went inside.

By now they had hit the front door and I could hear the yelling. A gunshot shook me. Already something that wasn’t supposed to happen was happening. I ducked and got up against the wall in the darkest spot that was close. I readied for trouble, but nothing happened. Even the yelling stopped.

I made it to the hiding spot seconds later. It was just like the kid had described it, wedged between a pillar and a soda machine. Across from me was a door at the bottom of the stairs that led to an office on the second floor and it didn’t take long before they came down running. I hoped for their sake they were empty handed. If they came down with nothing, I could let them go and take it from the office no trouble.

Then the door opened and they were there, swarthy fuckers with gold chains and track suits. I’d seen the taller one around at clubs and parties. I stole his lighter once at the beach. I didn’t like them much, but it was still too bad they had the bags with them. They passed me, fleeing out the way I had come in and I stepped out from behind the pillar and shot them.

I hit the tall one high in the back and he fell hard breaking his chin on the concrete floor. The other guy took a couple of shots to come down and did so less dramatically. He ended up within reach of the back door with his back resting against an empty keg. His brain was on the wall above him.

Now I moved fast, I sprinted out and grabbed the bag as I passed. I hit the door. The air felt real cool outside. The driver had backed the Corolla close to the back door and it only took me a second to get in the car. Then we were gone. The guys in front left seconds later. They didn’t steal anything but booze and wallets.

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FAKE BANK

They couldn’t risk walking down the main street. Mike looked like man half-dead from a beating, Benny looked like a guy with a bullet in his gut and the Doc looked like a hophead about to start up with the shakes. The cops would stop them as soon as they saw them and they would have reason to, as all of those things were true.

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New Show

Here’s the first page of the treatment for my new show in case anyone is curious.

BAD BAIL

Gina Martin is happily married and lives in Newport Beach with two wonderful kids, Caleb and Iris. Her husband, Dan Martin, owns Freedom Bail Bonds and goes by the name Jimmy Free. He keeps long hours, but he’s good at his job and business is booming. Money rolls in.
Gina comes from a working class background and her husband’s lifestyle is new to her. She embraces it. It’s what she always wanted. She revels in spa days at the country club, shopping trips to Europe, and private school for the kids. She enjoys her life and loves her perfect home. Her only complaint is that her husband spends too many late nights on the job.
Early one morning, it all comes crashing down around her. The authorities kick in the front door and raid the house. They take Dan away in handcuffs. Agents round up the family and sit them down in the living room, then search the place thoroughly. The lead FBI agent, Ezekiel Meringue, interrogates Gina while her children look on crying. He pesters her about Dan and his associates. She hasn’t met any of them and doesn’t recognize the names.
Agent Meringue doesn’t believe her. The questioning continues until Dan’s attorney shows up. He’s wearing slippers and a robe. His name is Raoul Bodega and he lives down the street. He asserts Gina’s rights and ends the interview. Within hours, the police are gone. They leave a mess behind.
As Raoul and Gina sift through the trashed house, Gina’s neighbor Rita comes by and offers to take Caleb and Iris over to her house to play with her kids. Gina doesn’t
hesitate to defend Dan to her neighbor. Gina insists it’s all a mistake. Rita comforts and reassures her, but there’s a doubtful look on her face when she leaves with the kids.

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FIXED FIGHT

FIXED_FIGHT_D (1)I have published another book. It is called FIXED FIGHT. You can buy it here.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XOFH2WM

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2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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FIXED FIGHTS

January 15th 1938

Mike Chance stood in the stern of the Bearcat water-taxi and tugged at the collar of his tuxedo that didn’t quite fit. He had stolen the outfit off a drunk the night before, but he had been a little off in sizing up his victim. As the boat tumbled down the far side of a wave, Mike let his knees give a little so he could sway down and look through the hatch into the passenger compartment.

There weren’t many other people on board, only Benny and a couple of sour-faced gunmen sat in the cabin. Benny wore a well-tailored tuxedo. The gunmen sat across from him in over-size coats that bunched up around their necks and made their heads look tiny. They had rendezvoused with Mike and Benny in the parking lot and frisked them without saying a word, then they had walked them down to the boat, ushered them onboard, and frisked them again.

Waves rocked the boat and a gust of wind brought seawater in buckets, so Mike ducked down and slid below deck. He sat down next to Benny, lit a smoke, and stared out the square portholes at the angry white-crested waves. On a calm clear day, the run from the Santa Monica pier took ten minutes. This wasn’t one of those days.

Mike looked over at his partner. Benny’s eyes were shut and his face had turned a milky pale green. Across from them, the gunmen leered at Benny with anticipation. One of them held a fiver. The other had his finger’s crossed. They had wagered on Benny throwing up: the odds were 5 to 1 in favor of sick.

Mike liked those odds. He reached into his pocket and brought out a couple of bucks. He waved them at the gunman who held the fiver in his hands. The thug twisted his face into something a few teeth short of a smile and reached into his jacket. His hand came back with a ten. Mike nodded, then turned his attention to Benny. The little guy had his eyes screwed shut and he was sweating bullets, but he kept his lunch down.

Mike looked out the portholes again. On the horizon, a hulking barge bobbed low in the water. A long wooden building had been built on deck and there was a neon sign on top of it that spelled out CASINO in bright red letters. Right now this sign was not lit.

When the water-taxi hit docked next to the gambling boat, Benny shot up from his seat on the bench, grabbed the fiver from the gunman, and bounded out of the cabin. Mike grabbed the ten and followed him. The gunmen came last. Their bravado dissipated as they got off the boat. Now they were regular Joes on their way to unhappy jobs.

The wind picked up as Mike stepped onto the floating dock. The side of the gambling ship towered over the water-taxi. The small dock was attached loosely to the end of a gangplank that led up to the main deck. The whole contraption bobbed up and down in the swells. Mike noticed a large steel door suspended over the entrance to the gangplank. It was ready to be dropped and delay unwelcome visits.

Benny waited a short distance away. Mike went over and joined him. Several trouble boys and a few sailors came down the gangplank and boarded the Bearcat for the trip back. The gunman who lost the bets came over to Benny and Mike. He started patting them down again. This was the third time and his heart wasn’t in it. When a wave crashed over them and got his shoes wet, he gave up and motioned for them to follow him up to the main deck. Benny and Mike fell in line.

Mike hesitated. He turned back to Benny and tugged at the lapel of his tuxedo again. “You sure I needed this outfit?”

“They have a dress code on board, Mike. Besides, we need to make a good impression.” Benny moved past Mike and took the lead.

“I don’t care about making a good impression.” Mike shouted into the wind.

Benny called over his shoulder. “Don’t get bent out of shape. I’ve talked to Tino. He doesn’t bear any grudges.” Benny moved quickly up the walkway. He knew his way around. He had been on this boat many times before.

“Maybe he just keeps his grudges to himself.” Mike hurried to keep up, but stopped at the top of the walkway to look back toward Santa Monica. He didn’t see it. There was a thick grey fog surrounding them.

Benny kept up his patter. “This is our best option. It’s just bad luck our guy works for these boys.”

“Why this kid? Any fighter could do it.” Mike had lapped up the con as soon as Benny had spilled it, but he wasn’t so sure about the execution.

“For one thing, the kid’s done it before, so I know he’s game and he can sell it good. I’ve heard that from people I know.” Benny stepped onto the deck of the barge. It was the first steady surface since they had left Santa Monica and he paused to catch his breath and wipe the sweat from his brow with a blue silk handkerchief.

“If that’s the one thing, what’s the other?” Mike stepped off the walkway onto the deck.

“Relax, buddy.” Benny answered. “This guy, he’s good, he’s been around the track. I looked all over.” Benny tucked away his handkerchief. He had his smile back on. He was warming up the hustle.

Mike stepped in front of Benny and blocked his path. “You said you wouldn’t have to spread the word. You said you wouldn’t have to look. You said you’d keep me out of it. Damn it, you said you knew somebody.”

Benny’s face had turned pale and his hands were shaky. “I do know somebody. And he knows somebody.”

“How many somebody’s are we talking about.” Mike was losing his temper.

“We need this, Mike. As soon as they came to me with the mark, I knew we had to do it.” Benny shifted on his feet. “Listen, the venue is out of town. I kept that under wraps. Everything will be fine.”

“It won’t be fine. They’ll know about it. This is their play. They own it west of the Mississippi. They’ll come out and they’ll find you. They know I know you. They’ll figure it.”

“It’ll be over too soon. It’ll be over before they get here.” Benny sneered. He was tired of talking about it.

Mike lunged forward and got a grip on Benny’s collar. Benny tried to twist out of Mike’s grasp. Mike didn’t let go. He pulled Benny back and shook him. He could have lifted him off his feet easily, but he resisted the temptation.

Two gunmen stepped out of the shadows of a nearby hatchway and interrupted them. Mike let go of Benny and turned to face them. They looked vaguely similar to the gunmen from the water-taxi, but they were a harder more dangerous version. One of them dangled a shotgun under his arm. The other was small and scrawny. He held his hat in his hand.

“We gotta check ya.” The small guy motioned for them to turn and put their hands on the railing.

Benny and Mike complied. This pat down went smoothly. It was more thorough and professional than the other three, but it still came up empty. The guy with the shotgun looked disappointed. His buddy smiled in relief and tipped his hat to them, then pointed out the way for them to go. Benny clapped the closest tough on the shoulder and gave the other a high wattage smile before he disappeared in the ship.

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Another rough piece from the new Mike Chance. FIXED FIGHT.

As they parked across from the gym, Mike took note of the streetlights. There was only one next to the back entrance of the grocery store. While he was looking, Lombardi came out the back door.
“Head upstairs.” Mike spoke quickly under his breathe.
“Leave him alone Mike.” Benny was too late. Mike was already out of the car.
Benny was right behind him. He jogged across the street to catch him. Lombardi headed for the stair up to the gym. Mike had the Red 9 half out of his pocket when Benny caught up to him.
“What the hell are you doing?” Benny grabbed Mike’s arm and held it down.
Mike could have brushed the little guy off, but he didn’t. He hesitated. He noticed that the street wasn’t completely empty. There were bystanders. Thanks to them, Lombardi made it up the stairs to the gym. He never even saw them.
“Come on, Mike.” Benny had a grip on his arm and kept it tight until make put the gun away. Then they walked the rest of the way across the street and up the stairs to the boxing gym.
When Mike and Benny stepped inside, the first thing they noticed was the strong smell of antiseptic and the faint odor of sweat beneath it. The gym took up the whole top floor of the building. It had a tall ceiling and the walls were all covered in the kind of tilt-and-turn awning windows found in a warehouse. The place was more crowded than Mike had expected.
In the center of the room, Jersey Jimmy Jones bounced around in the practice ring wearing shiny red trunks. He shadowboxed at a leisurely pace while chatting with a paunchy red-nose drunk with a whistle in his mouth.
Benny stood near the edge of the ring talking to Mr. Lombardi. The heavyset grocer wore a wrinkled grey suit and sucked on another big cigar. He had given one to Benny, but the little guy hadn’t lit it. He rolled it around in his fingers. Mike knew by his partners body language that Lombardi had made a nuisance of himself somehow. Mike strolled over to them.
“Your late.” Lombardi sneered it.
Mike knocked him out with a right hand to the side of the head. The whole gym stopped. No one moved until the drunk with the red nose hopped out of the ring and kneeled next to Lombardi. He shook the man back to consciousness.
“What the hell?” Benny shook his head in disgust.
“I’m not in the mood to take guff off some second rate juicer.”
“You dumb bastard.” Lombardi struggled to his feet. The paunchy drunk helped him.
“You want some more.” Mike threatened.
“Nice right hand you got there.” Jersey had come over to the edge of the ring and draped himself over the ropes.
“Thanks. Where can I get my gear on?” Mike showed his pilfered bag to Jersey to illustrate his point.
“Straight back.” Jersey pointed towards a pair of swinging double doors in the far corner of the place.
Mike headed in that direction. Lombardi had to move to get out of Mike’s way and he did so quickly. Benny had Lombardi’s arm. He was reassuring the bookie with soft words that Mike couldn’t hear.
The gym dressing room was surprisingly clean. The tile sparkled and only a few stray towels littered the floor. Steam came from an open shower where two large pugilists soaped themselves up. Mike found an empty locker and undressed in front of it. He took a second to examine a large gash in his thigh that had only partially healed. He hoped it wouldn’t give him trouble.
Mike strolled out of the locker room toward the ring. He wore the robe that said Elliot over white trunks. The red-nose drunk with the whistle saw him and bent down to pick up a set of gloves. Mike climbed in the ring and sat in a stool in the corner. The drunk brought the gloves over to Mike, but it took him a while to get the gloves on. The alcohol made him clumsy.
When the drunk finished, he looked Mike in the eyes and announced. “Three minute rounds.”
Mike got off the stool and bounced around to warm himself up. Jimmy did the same. In the meantime, Benny had sorted out Lombardi and they perched together in Jimmy’s corner smoking cigars.
When Mike felt ready, he looked around for the paunchy drunk with the whistle. The guy stood along the ropes a few feet away. He sipped from a flask a couple of times before he saw Mike looking in his direction. Then he took out his stopwatch and ambled toward the center of the ring. Mike and Jersey joined him there.
The drunk stood between them and took the flask from his mouth long enough to blow the whistle and start the stopwatch. Mike and Jersey each took a step back, then started circling each other in the center of the ring. Mike acted confident. He faked a few punches and stepped in, dipping his shoulder, and jabbed. He kept Jersey away, but didn’t tap him.
The drunk sobered as the fight went on. He found a better drug in the expectation of imminent violence, so he put the flask away and leaned forward with his hands on his knees. From that position, he kept up a constant chatter. “Come on. Let’s get it on. Take it to him, Jimmy. Quit dancing. This lug can’t fight. Show him what you got.”
Jersey got in the first shot. He danced under Mike’s jab and gave him a solid right in the ribs. Mike bent forward. Jersey could hit. He could brake a rib.
“Knock him out. Show him you can do it.” The drunk screamed it.
Mike recovered. He pushed Jersey away from a clinch. Jersey danced backward and wiped his nose with the back of his glove.
The drunk kept it up. “Don’t let the lug breathe. Put him down.” He screeched.
Mike darted forward and punched the drunk in the mouth. The man fell back on his ass with a broken lip. Jimmy stepped up and tried to take advantage of Mike’s awkward position. He was smiling.
Mike kept up his jab and Jersey stepped under it again aiming for the same rib. He didn’t get there this time. Mike stopped him cold with a short tight jab to the nose, then stepped in with a left hook that knocked Jersey off his feet. Jersey fell and landed on his ass next to the drunk.
“Woah! He got you, Jimmy. This guy can fight.” The drunk looked at his watch. “That’s round one.” Then he got up and helped Jimmy to his feet.
Mike moved over to the corner where Benny waited clapping. Benny took a puff from his cigar and patted Mike on the shoulder. Mike motioned to a canteen resting on a table near the ring. The little guy hopped down and got it, then held it so Mike could pluck it from his hand and drink. Mike spit some out, but swallowed most of it.
“How’s it feel? The kid can box?” Benny climbed back up onto the ring.
Mike waved it off with a gloved hand. “Yeah. He can fight. It’ll look good when he goes down too.” Mike smiled. He had boxed in his youth. He missed it.
“Let’s go. That’s time.” Jersey spoke with a little less grinning than a few moments before. He beckoned Mike with his gloves. Mike came right over.
“All right, let’s see if you boys can stay on your feet for a whole round.” With that, the drunk blew his whistle.
Jimmy came forward with a flurry. He got inside the jab and hammered several quick shots fast into Mike’s belly. Mike absorbed the blows, but the effort took something out of him and he went for a clinch. Jimmy pushed him off easily and tossed him against the ropes. The kid worked the inside with a flurry of punches. Mike blocked most of them, but he felt a lot of them. Jersey tired himself out with the flurry and Mike had a chance to gather himself and push Jersey away.
The kid didn’t move back very much and started forward again right away to go back to work on Mike’s stomach, but Mike caught him flat footed with another jab and then followed with a left hook. Jersey Jimmy Jones spun around twice before he fell and hit the canvas hard. This time, he didn’t get up.
The drunk ran over and took knee next to the kid. “You all right. You hear me.” He shook Jimmy by the shoulders. The kid didn’t move. Benny ducked under the ropes and ran over too. He glared at Mike the whole way. Mike shrugged with his gloves. He hadn’t meant to hit that hard.
As Benny kneeled down next to the body, Jimmy rolled over on his own accord. Blood poured from his mouth. The drunk turned ash white and Benny froze. Jimmy started laughing. So did Mike.
“How was that?” Jimmy asked.
“I told you I didn’t hit him that hard.” Mike said.
“Shut up, Mike. Where’d you get that blood?” Benny asked Jimmy who was up on his elbows laughing.
Jimmy had to catch his breath from laughing before he could answer. “From Lombardi. This afternoon.”
Benny, Mike and Jimmy turned to include Lombardi in the conversation, but the fat bookie was gone. He had seen enough.
“That was great. Great.” Benny nodded enthusiastically. “But you’re gonna have to work more on the build up.”
“I’m not worried.” Jimmy got to his feet with Benny’s helping hand. “Your friend is a little too slow to hurt me.” The kid hopped out of the ring. He went to a sink on the wall and started cleaning himself up. Benny and Mike leaned against the ropes and waited.
“How’s it feel?” Benny gave Mike the once over.
Mike leaned against the ropes catching his breath. “I feel good. Kid’s right. He’s fast. Good fighter.”
“How’s the leg? It hurt?” Benny motioned toward the knife wound.
“A little, but it’s fine.” Mike flexed his thigh to prove his point.
“Still, sorry about that.” Benny shrugged.
“Feel sorry for the other guy.” Mike reached into Benny’s jacket, took out his cigarettes, and lit himself one. He kept the pack.
Jimmy came back from the sink all cleaned up and climbed back into the ring. Mike gave Benny the burning cig and joined Jimmy in the middle of the ring. The drunk joined them there. He had the flask out again, but this time he put it away before he blew the whistle.
Benny hopped down from the ring and left them to spar. He had seen enough. Instead he sauntered across the gym to a long table in the corner in front of the showers. A poker game had started up there and several boxers and trainers sat behind little piles of coins and stray bills. Benny asked if he could join them with a simple nod. They nodded back and he sat down.
In the ring, Mike and Jimmy worked hard. They circled and engaged, each time learning something about each other and trying out combinations that looked real. The drunk hovered at the edge of the ring and barked advice. It turned out he had some experience and he let them use it. When the fight went well, he nodded his approval and took sips from his flask. Every few minutes he’d yell. “Round.” And Jersey and Mike would take a short break and chat about their choreography. When the drunk called time again, they would start all over from the beginning.
Benny stood up from the poker table an hour or so later. The other players were glad to see him go. Benny had damaged their bank rolls, but he got bored and stopped before cleaning them all out.
Benny came back to the ring in time to watch another solid exchange that ended with Jimmy face down on the canvas acting stiff. Mike stood over him and gasped for breathe. The kid took a lot out of him. Benny climbed into the ring and gave Mike a towel.
“What time is it?” Benny asked the drunk with the whistle.
The drunk slurred his answer. “Time for me to get some sleep.” He was hitting the flask again and didn’t lower it as he spoke. It hovered in front of his beak.
“We done?” Jimmy asked Mike and Benny from his seat down on the canvas. He started to take his gloves off before they answered.
“Yeah, we’re done. We stick with the jab, hook and then you go down. The rest we play straight. You got it?” Mike held his gloves out and Benny pulled them off.
“What round you guys thinking’?” Jimmy asked.
Mike looked to Benny.
“Six.” Benny climbed between the ropes and hopped off the ring onto the polished concrete floor of the gym.
“You can make it, old man?” Jimmy asked Mike with a smile.
“Yeah, just don’t hit me too hard or I’ll kill you for real.” Mike talked cold.
Jimmy’s smile faded.

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