Think about the twenty-seven bones that make up your hand. The phalanges, the metacarpals, the carpals—not to mention your radius and ulna, which while bones technically making up your forearm, are impacted nonetheless by throwing a punch. And now think about a face. Fourteen bones—nasal bone, zygomatic bone, maxilla, mandible what have you. You know the words because those are the bones that shattered in Keene Sherburne’s face in Iraq in 2006 when your Humvee rolled over a few hundred pounds of explosives packed into a drainage culvert. Remember the feel of Keene’s spongy rippling skin as the ocean of bone moved below. In any other world twenty-seven against fourteen are good odds. Not in the world of bones.
Now, think about your hand and where you want the punch to connect. See your target, then try and see through it to the dartboard or jukebox or whatever else is behind your target and visualize your punch driving through your target and hitting that thing. Your offhanded leg should be forward, your dominant leg back. So when you throw the punch it births itself at your strong heel. The labor should be forceful enough to throw your heel and send a wave of screaming, targeted energy through your body. The punch will shimmy its way on up through your strong leg. A leg that is powerful from running and humping the coastal hills of Camp Pendleton, through shit fields in the Euphrates River Valley, across endless deserts. This is happening like lightning; the delivery pains of the punch last fractions of seconds. It travels through your lower back and up your latissimus dorsi and into your rear deltoids, and then it slams itself from strong side front deltoid to bicep, forcing the muscles to extend, turning your forearm into a whip and maul mechanism.
Your target is not the man; it is not even the thing behind the man. Your target is a feeling—of life of living of fear of control. How do you explain a feeling? You don’t know, except when you find it. And you’ve often found it through punching.
In all likelihood, you have not thought about the above things because you are drunk. So the rules of throwing a punch are out. You have instead thrown, a drunken punch—a punch that should have never been born, a punch that should have been aborted, and it makes its way into the world looking like something that has been. There are no rules for the drunken punch, only for the inevitable that follows.
The punch originated not in your heel, but in your mind. It looked fantastic and heroic and lovely and you imagined the blowjobs and fucking it would garner you. You picture women lined up around the globe in awe of your punching prowess, your compatriots hoisting you above their heads and praising you as their leader. In your mind you saw those things when you should have seen the target. And so this was the result of your punch:
Here we are again with bones. You’ve landed on the largest of his and the smallest of yours. It is a VW Beetle running headlong into a Mack Truck. At the moment of impact your delusions burst into bone shards.
Now, observe the sudden movement of your former target’s heel, the slight telegraphing of his fist, the pullback, which warns you, you’re about to be punched. Know that this is good, the telegraphing, it takes away a few pounds of power behind the punch. Imagine all those women who will spit on you now instead of blow you, and your friends who will leave you bloodied on the floor, and your family whom you’ve disappointed. Notice a slice of yellow incandescent light escaping the open entry cutting a wedge onto the inky pavement in the Southern California darkness. Wish to be out there, beyond the light in a place where bones might not matter. Forget the pain in your hand and try not to think about the inevitable rain of blows to come.
Think about where this all went wrong.