FIRST, SECOND, AND THIRD - LEE HUGHES
An Entry In Eric Beetner's FIST Contest
We were both roughly the same size and build, but that meant fuck all. Declan told me with a dip of his shoulder what he was about. He missed by a country mile.
He had a Roman nose.
I threw my first.
From Roman nose, to broken nose. His head snapped to one side. I didn’t hesitate.
Threw my second.
Blood trickled from his left ear. I’d probably burst the drum.
There was no third. I didn’t need it. Declan was on his knees and wondering which way was up.
The laughter and the cheering started.
I could see Declan’s Da looking all disappointed. My Da, on the other hand, was fuming mad, even though I’d fuckin' won again. He was holding his hat and shouting, “The third, for fuck sake!” pointing at Declan, who still looked half asleep and was busy making funny faces at me.
Da has this rule; he lives by it. No matter what, you always make sure you get the first, second, and the third punch in.
There was no fight left in Declan. Besides, us fifteen year-olds, we were just half-time entertainment in between the dogs and the big men fuckin’ each other up.
The dogs and the big men, that’s where the money was. Us kids, we fought for our Da’s pride and bragging rights. Me? I couldn’t give a fuck if my Da was proud, the man’s a cunt.
Declan looked at me, eyes still glazed. I think he was half expecting me to chin him and put him into the black proper.
A year ago, I would have. People change.
I headed over to Da, but only because he had me jumper.
I got me jumper and a crack to the back of the head.
It took everything to stop myself from flattening the prick.
“You get the first, second, and the third in, always. What the fuck were you thinking? I thought I’d brought you up proper.” He gave me another cuff.
“Brought me up? More like fuckin’ dragged me up.” I’d had a fuckin’nuff of him.
“What did’ya just say? Ya fuckin’ little shite ya.” He spun me around.
I saw him make fists. His knuckles were all fucked and lumpy from scrapping. I saw a man that demanded respect but deserved fuck all. It had been comin’ for a long time. I reckoned I was big enough. I was fuckin’ hoping so anyway.
“You wantin’ a fuckin’ go, are ya?” Da demanded. Shock and anger in equal measure like a pox about his face.
“Yeah, but for money.” I figured if I was to end up spitting teeth and having my ribs clattering like wind-chimes when I breathed then I might as well make a few quid while I was at it.
He hoped to stare me out. He gave up and went to get it sorted. It was something that was always welcome at meets, an extra unexpected bout to bet on. No wonder outsiders called us Pikeys.
Uncle Brendan was none too happy. “You’re not going to fight young Aidan now!”
“It’s him, the little cunt that’s wantin’ to fight. Gonna teach the little prick some manners.” My Da worked himself out of his tee-shirt. You could see the stains where muscle had been. Like a party balloon a day or two after the party.
Uncle Brendan could see something in my eyes so he decided to shut the fuck up.
Plenty of people got shoulder to shoulder to watch this. Not many people liked my Da. I, for one, could understand why as he danced about from foot to foot and snapped off heavy punches in thin air. A bigger bollox never put his arm through a coat.
I’d seen my Da fight too many times to count. Never saw him lose. Some were easy fights, like against Ma when he’d be full to the gills on the black stuff.
I felt like one of the scrap-dogs we’d put up against Diamond, our best pit-bull. It’d be a dog we’d not much care for, well, one that Da didn’t much care for, and he’d set it against Diamond to get its confidence up for a proper fight.
Fat-fuck beckoned me, egging me on.
I knew what the fucker was up to. He wanted to get the first, second and the third digs in to prove his point good and proper.
I had a point to make, too. You didn’t have to get the third in if it wasn’t needed.
He kept sending fake tells. He’d taught me them. I don’t think he realised he wasn't as fast as he used to be. He tried to catch me out by throwing what he expected me to take as a red-herring.
I knew it was a real one.
I ducked and delivered my first. It was a decent uppercut that struck twelve o’clock on his chin. I could tell by the way that he staggered back that it had rattled something.
I sidestepped a haymaker and flung out my second. It was an eye-shutter. Problem with those is that it takes a minute for the eye to swell closed. They were both solid punches. They didn’t really do much damage to him. I’d have to land the third after all.
I threw it, and missed.
He threw and landed his first proper one. I felt a stomach’s worth of air fly out of me. And Christ Almighty if me legs didn’t go and buckle. Da was fuckin’ deadly with the body shots.
He threw his second before I was on me knees. I felt my jaw go loose, couple of teeth ended up under my tongue. I blew a couple of blood bubbles and stared at him.
He’d won. I knew it. He knew it. The crowd knew it.
He just had to stick to his fuckin’ rule.
I don’t remember the third.
BIO: Lee Hughes's short fiction has appeared on Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, Powder Burn Flash, Blink-Ink, MicroHorror, The Daily Tourniquet, FlashShot, Everyday Fiction, The New Flesh Magazine and, of course, A Twist of Noir. And in print in Cern Zoo: Nemonymous 9. Find out more at www. LeeHughes.net.