The numbers never lie...

by James Lloyd Davis

     Four days after his fifth fight in Jersey, Jimmy went to a bar on Sixth Street, noting the perfect linear order in sequential cross streets along the way.  Four, Five, Six… might have been an omen if he'd put that kid down in the sixth round, but they went the distance.  His left wrist hurt and there were still green stains around his left eye, reminders of an earlier purple wash.  His ribs were sore because that little Puerto Rican kid could not land a punch on Jimmy's face without getting two in return, so he'd backed away, danced around and worked the ribs, landed a couple of trick twist shots to the kidney.  Jimmy would have really appreciated executing a knockout on that kid, but took the decision with a smile.
     Told the kid, “We'll meet again… some sunny day.”
     He stopped at the corner, shadow boxed a lamp post.  
     “Great hands, Roscoe, but your feet are planted in cement.”
     In the bar, some juke box queen was on a roll, playing a Canadian chick song about rodeos... over and over and on.  Her date was getting her drunk, hoping to score, and she was reminiscing about some schmuck who'd dropped her cold.
     “Too easy to read, these people.”  
     Jimmy figured that this was his greatest gift, reading people.  You can box the hell out of a guy with your hands, but if you're in his head?  He's already down.
     Breaking training like a monk on sabbatical in Vegas, he'd sucked down a draft, thought about lighting up. Unwrapped the pack in his pocket he'd bought at the Seven-Eleven on the way over… bummed a pack of matches from a bowl on the bar.  Watched Canadian Rodeo Girl walk over to the juke box, play the damn song one more time.  Watched her waltz back to her table, where The Date grinned and swayed in place to the whiny rhythms of that sad, silly song, just like he was in her groove, an empathetic, I-can-feel-your-pain kind of guy who will dress her down and leave her flat.  
     “Just like the last one…” Jimmy said half out loud.
Tired of the Rodeo, Jimmy got up, reached in his pocket.
Seven quarters.  He'd hit the jackpot.  Four, Five, Six, Seven.
     Punched in G-42 seven times.
     Went back to the bar, sat down and watched Canadian Rodeo Girl sway to the rhythms of the Hotel California.
     “Such a lovely place.  Such a lovely face.”
     First two times, The Date just grinned, suffered through her theatrics.  But the third time Hotel California came on, Canadian Rodeo girl snarled and shouted like a drunken girl in the grip of a sudden epiphany, “Shit.”
     The mood was gone, the groove was covered in concrete and The Date got up, walked over to Jimmy, tapped him on the shoulder.
     “Why'd you do that?”  Breath smelled of cheeseburgers and onions and pickles and Budweiser with a side of fries.
     Jimmy turned around on the stool, grinned and said, “I needed to restore order to the fuckin' universe.  Besides, I cannot stand these whiny Canadian girl singers, of which there are far too many these days.  Admit it, bitch.  You don't like ‘em either.  You just listen ‘cause you wanna lay that girl down.”
      The Date just stood there, upper lip raising upward and out, nose screwing its nostrils together with a wrinkle and a flare to accommodate.  He was going to take a swing at Jimmy, but he was gathering himself just a little too slow.
     Jimmy laughed, said, “What?  What you gonna do… what?”
     You could read the painful progress of the thought before it fell into his nerves, the ones that trigger the fingers into a fist.  The ones that bring up the right hand.
It was halfway up to shoulder height when Jimmy cut loose and rolled a three punch combo so fast The Date never saw the knuckles coming before they split his lip, broke his nose... and when his head bobbed back a third time, his lower incisors properly loosened, he just kept falling.
     Jimmy looked down at The Date in a heap, winked at the bartender, said, “Too easy.”
     He picked up his smokes, his change, the matches, started for the door.  He looked back to see Canadian Rodeo girl who had not noticed The Date was no longer sitting across the table.  She was in full swing mode.  Hands above her head, body shifting… left-right, left-right, left…
     “Some dance to remember.  Some dance to for-get.”
     The night was young, but the omen was a gift that required continuity.  Jimmy left the bar, walked over to Eighth Street, stood on the corner.
     Listened to the Universe.  
     You could hear it sing…