Twenty-six Blows

Flash Fiction by KR Wilde

Tess Vasquez spits out a mouthful of blood, red mixing with the rainy deluge beating against the concrete. She stares at the swirling mess for a moment. That blow came out of nowhere! How am I supposed to keep up with this guy? She shakes her throbbing head in disgust. There’s no way I can punch half as hard as he can. And even if I could, it’d be more like a tickle for him versus anything real significant.

“Yo, Vasquez baby! Let’s get a move on here. I got a hot date waiting for me after I kick your skinny butt,” a cocky, but very boyish sounding voice yells out over the screaming crowd.

Tess grinds her teeth in response. She looks up in time to see her opponent wink, and do a kissy face to some skank standing in the front row. Spike heels and a mini skirt. Great attire for a fight. Not! Wiping wet strands of hair from her face, Tess moves back into the center of the crowd. Her knees tremble slightly as she bends them, testing their strength before the physical onslaught continues.

“Boo!”

“Get back down on the ground!”

“You don’t belong here, bones!”

 Out of nowhere a plastic cup of beer sails through the air, and smacks the side of Tess’ head. Its brown contents drench her face with temporary stickiness before adding to her already soaked tank top. Serious right now? Tess’ ears burn as raucous laughter greets them. Every muscle in her body aches for her to turn around. To beat whoever is responsible, but then… Her eyes notice the cup on the ground.

In one swift movement Tess picks it up, checks to see there’s still beer inside, and gulps it down. A hush falls over the crowd. Even Zander stops his stupid love display, and watches her. It’s as if no one has ever seen a 105-pound girl drink a lukewarm, watered down beer before. Good. Let them watch. They’re here for a show after all, and I’m ready to act.

 Tess finishes the last little bit, and throws the empty cup into the crowd. One lowlife yells an obscenity as it smacks his nose. She merely salutes him sarcastically, a cocky smile situated on her cut lips, and resumes stretching.

“What are you doing?”

Out the corner of her eye, Tess glances at Zander, and says, “Preparing for the next round.” The false note of confidence in her voice sounds painfully loud atop the outmoded car garage.

“Yeah I see that, but that’s not what I meant,” he replies.

Tess shrugs, fully aware of everyone’s stares. Their waterlogged faces suggest she’s someone different, somehow reborn from that one beer. And maybe she is. Let’s say it’s true. Let’s say I’m no longer the sack of bones you all think I am. Besides, you know what they say about alcohol granting liquid courage. Tess pulls out of an arm stretch, and cracks her bleeding knuckles. With a smile, she says, “You ready for me, Zander?”

Before he can say anything, Tess has already kicked off the wet concrete, and is running towards him with fists raised. Zander barely has any time to blink when she slams one into his forehead. Her knuckles rip through his flesh. Several gasps come from the crowd as he stumbles backward into a parked Honda Civic.

Tess merely grins. Nice hit. One point for team bones. She tightens her fists, and prepares to slam another one into Zander’s bent form. However, a couple of “muscle shirt” wannabes break free from the crowd, and run to help him up. What the heck is this? She watches as one of them asks if Zander’s okay while the other uses his shirt as a towel to mop up the endless flow of red.

Tess tightens her jaw, her whole body beginning to tremble. Where was my help when I fell? How dare they fawn over this piece of black trash? She stares in disbelief as more people converge around Zander, each of them acting all concerned for their fallen hero. No! Stay back. It’s his turn to stay down! A surge of uncontrollable rage grips Tess, and without a second thought, she rushes forward to finish what she’d started.

Shouts in protest, hands, and whole bodies try to stop her, but Tess ignores them. Her eyes are locked on target, and nothing is going to get in her way. Let them try, but I’ll show them. I will win! With a fist raised and eyes full of hate, Tess slams into a very surprised Zander’s jaw.

The bone gives way under the pressure.

He screams, and falls facedown on to the Honda’s hood, whimpering like a helpless puppy. And they said he was unstoppable? What a freaking joke! Tess grips Zander’s cool 225-pound ripped body, and spins him forcefully around. The back of his head hits the car’s hood with a resounding thud.

“Stay away from him!”

“You’ve done enough!”

“You win, okay? Cut it out already!”

Tess hears that last plea, and laughs darkly. She presses her lips to Zander’s ear, and whispers between breaths, “I’ll win once you’re in the hospital.” He begins to squirm under her weight, but he’s in too much pain to shove her off. Tess can see it written all over his stupid face.

Don’t worry, I’ll send flowers. The nice kind. And with that, Tess lays into him – right, left, right, left – over and over again. Her knuckles shred his face into an unrecognizable mask of blood and exposed bone.

Suddenly, a hand yanks her away by the ponytail. She cries out, and falls backwards into a puddle. The crowd instantly swells forward, and surrounds Zander’s limp form still resting on the car’s hood.

Did I do it? Did I win? Tess cranes her neck to see, strains her ears to hear.

“I’m not getting a pulse! Someone call 9-1-1 now!”

Her heart skips a beat. She went too far. Twenty-six blows too far.

End of Story

This material is copyrighted by KR Wilde. Any retranscription or reproduction is illegal.

 

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