X. C. Atkins
I shoved the door open, hard. It smacked violently against the wall, but at that moment, it might as well have made no sound. The music inside blared unbelievably loud. It always seemed like more can go wrong when there’s loud music.
Where the fuck is he, I said.
Gigi was sitting on a stool holding a rag up to her face. The rag was bloody. Maria stood next to her.
He went out the back, she said.
I didn’t ask you to come here, Gigi said.
No, you didn’t. Maria did. You got your head too far up your ass to know what’s good for you.
I was about to pass the kitchen on my way to the back but an idea jumped in my head. I went into the kitchen and grabbed a roller I saw on the counter, then continued on out the back. The screen door still hung open. The patio light buzzed, bugs crackling against it like tiny bolts of lightning. Jimmy stood in the yard, smoking a cigarette. When he saw me he flicked the cigarette away.
Listen, asshole, she had it coming.
So do you, I said.
I cracked him good on the top of the head with the roller and he said ow and he punched me straight in the gut. My wind came out and I took a knee but I knew better, so I punched him in the ball sack. He took a seat against the fence behind him. I started looking for the roller. I’d lost it. I didn’t remember losing it but I wasn’t holding it anymore.
You think you’re some kind of superhero, huh?
We started rolling around in the dirt. I was punching his ribs like I was trying to punch a hole in the sky. He bit my ear and pulled up and a piece of my ear went with him. I could feel all the blood going down my neck. A fist went right in between my eyes and I went blind. More fists rained down but I couldn’t move my arms anymore to do anything about it. Finally it stopped and so did time. It was just me and the ground and the air bulging in my belly like a jellyfish.
Small hands picked me up.
Jesus, we gotta take him to the hospital.
I hated the hospital, but I still couldn’t see, so I let those hands hold me up.
Nobody asked you to go after him like that, I heard Gigi say.
Nah, I said through my split lips. You don’t ever ask for shit. You just sit around complaining all the time how the world does you wrong.
X.C. Atkins has short stories in Paper Darts, Makeout Creek, Poydras Review, Whole Beast Rag, Akashic Books Richmond Noir, and other places. He is also an avid zine maker. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University. He lives, works, writes, and drinks in Los Angeles. See more at http://xcatkins.squarespace.com.