"That was bad," Tina said. "That was real bad."
"It’s over," I said.
"’Till the next time, you mean."
"Isn’t gonna be a next time."
"Sure," she said.
"I mean it."
"Sure," she said.
"Let it go. I’m not in the mood."
"I wasn’t in the mood to see you play human heavy bag, either."
"You didn’t have to come."
"You looked like a fucking puppy dog when I said I wasn’t."
"I did not."
"I did not."
"Stop talking. You keep splitting your lip open. Put the ice back on."
"Ice won’t help. Give me another Advil."
"You’ve had four already. And two Vicodan. You need to stop."
"Give me another."
"Get it yourself."
"Tina, for Christ’s sake."
"All right. Here. But you’re not supposed to mix those with alcohol and you know it."
"I don’t care."
"Stop saying my damn name like that. My father used to do that. Are you my father?"
"You’re acting like my mother, so why not?"
"If I was your mother I never would have let you get in that damn ring. You nearly got killed in there."
"I had a bad night. That’s all."
"You had no business being in with him. I couldn’t even watch that last round. It was awful."
"It wasn’t that bad. He couldn’t knock me out."
"You must be very proud."
"Why don’t you lay off?"
"Because you’re crazy. What were you trying to prove?"
"Are you trying to get yourself killed because you ran into that old girl of yours."
"Don’t be stupid."
"You’re one to talk. You’re not a real fighter anymore, Mick. You got no trainer. You’re not in shape. Christ, that kid looked like he stepped out of a Bally’s commercial."
"Beautiful bodies don’t win fights."
"Neither do love handles."
"I would have killed him a few years ago."
"I got a newsflash for you: It’s not a few years ago. It’s now. You may be a big tough guy on the street, Mick, but in the ring, you’re just a victim."
"I almost had him in the first round."
"It was the other nine that were the problem."
"You really enjoy kicking a guy when he’s down, don’t you?"
"It’s just that everybody told you not to do it. Kraut told you. I told you. Alton practically begged you not to. There’s a reason he wouldn’t work your corner, you know."
"The money was good. I made good money."
"Good enough to get your head beat in?"
"Yeah, well – sometimes my money has blood on it. This time it just happened to be mine. Either way you like to spend it, so what’s the difference?"
"You think I’m with you for your money? That’s a joke right there. I had a guy come onto me last week who owned his own jet. He practically got down on his knees and begged me to come away with him for the weekend. But no, I spent it in a shitty ballroom in Yonkers, watching you get your ass kicked."
"Don’t let me cramp your style."
"I’m just saying that if you’ve got money problems, this ain’t the way out of them. How much did they pay you tonight? Twenty-five hundred? How long are you gonna be laid up after this? Ten days? Two weeks? You didn’t make money tonight, Mick. You treaded water."
"I have to do what I have to do. Business is way off and they’re upping my rent again. Every time I score Gino has his hand out. He’s getting worse all the time. I swear to Christ he can hear a dollar bill in your pocket. This kind of money, clean money, is the only he kind he doesn’t want a cut of."
"Mick, I can make what you made tonight in a week if I hustle my ass, and I don’t bleed all over the pillowcase, afterwards."
"You want I should try out for Chippendale’s?"
"I think I’d rather loan you the money than watch you go through that again."
"I don’t want your money. I’ll figure something out."
"Don’t take my head off. I’m trying to help you."
"Well, I don’t need your help. I’m not a pimp. I don’t need a woman to support me."
"I’m not offering to, Superfly."
"Okay, okay. I’m sorry. That was a stupid thing to say. My head hurts and I’m not thinking right. It was nice of you to offer. But I’ll figure something else out on my own."
"Not fighting. I’m finished with that."
"Because I’m not your girlfriend or your damn nurse. I’m not going to watch that again and I’m not going to sit here and feed you through a straw afterwards."
"Okay. But go get a milkshake, will you?"
"I mean it, Mick. What you do is dangerous enough without looking for more trouble on the side."
"All right.""I don’t know why I put up with you as it is."
"I’m serious. I could be in Bimini now."
"I’m glad you’re not."
"Of course you are. You can barely move. Now lie back. Put the ice on. God, he made a mess of you. Why didn’t you just go down?"
"I did go down."
"I mean why didn’t you stay there?"
"You mean dog it?"
"Why not? You couldn’t win. Why stay in there and take a beating?"
"I have my reasons."
"They might have withheld my purse."
"Finally," Tina said. "You say something that makes sense."
Excerpt from Knuckle Down, a novel-in-progress
WRT310 Creative Writing, Fall 2005
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