Fist Fight

Fist Fight

I saw my barber at the post office and we got into a fist fight.

I saw my dentist at the grocery store and we got into a fist fight.

I saw my plumber at the mall and we got into a fist fight.

I don’t want this to keep happening but it keeps happening.

The pattern keeps repeating. I don’t know how to make it stop. I think if I don’t fuck up these encounters everything will turn out right. But nothing ever turns out right.

It starts when I see a guy I sort of know. I see a guy I sort of know and where I see them is some place where I don’t expect to see them.

My car mechanic at the airport.

My old gym teacher at the zoo.

My librarian at the pumpkin patch.

And we get into a fist fight.

What happens first is I see them and I stare. I can’t help it. I see a guy I sort of know in some place I don’t expect to see them and I stare. I stare and then they see me staring and then they stare back.

Usually they give a little head nod and say hey. Usually it’s ok at first. Usually they’re not immediately uncomfortable.

They’re not immediately uncomfortable until I keep staring and I say to them, you’re mine.

I say to them, you’re mine you’re mine you’re mine you’re mine. And then they try to get away.

But I love them too much to let them get away.

Too much to let them get away without a fight.

I say, you’re mine you’re mine YOU’RE MINE YOU’RE MINE.

I’m overcome with the overwhelming fear they will die unless I save them.

So I try to save them.

But to save them, I have to capture them.

I have to make them mine.

Sadly there’s never any time to explain this in the moment. But I try explaining anyway.

I call what happens next a fist fight. It’s not exactly a fist fight. I don’t know what else to call it. But it always starts with them hitting me with their fists.

They hit me with their fists and I take a step back. I wipe the sweat from my face with the back of my hand. My hand comes away smeared with blood.

Then they hit me with their fists some more.

I try to explain myself. I try to block the punches. I put my hands out. To save them. To capture them. To make them mine.

This is when things go wrong.

Because when I put my hands out this is what happens: what happens is, my fingers push through their clothes and through their skin and all the way through into the insides of their bodies.

It’s like this one time I remember reaching under a huge watermelon in the garden. I wanted to roll the watermelon out of the mud. It was rotten but I didn’t know it was rotten. I reached under the watermelon and the green rind split and suddenly my hands and forearms were inside the rind, all covered in juicy crumbling worm-hollowed pink pulp. I remember there were these dumbly pulsing pupae where the little black teardrop seeds should have been. I remember thinking, well that’s weird.

My hands inside the bodies of these guys is like that watermelon but warmer. And wetter. And weightier.

Their skin splits like that green rind. Before I know what’s happening my fingers and hands and arms are in their insides.

This is when I feel their breath on my face. And I feel their innards slide against my arms. And I feel my fingers graze their knobby spines.

Then I pull my arms out. I shout, “I’m sorry!” I lock eyes with them. I watch the look on their faces as their pulpy guts pour out of the ridiculous hole my arms made in their torsos. Clumps slap against our shoes. Noodle-soft bones pop loose.

The look on their faces is always the same.

Always the same look on a different face. Always our eyes locked. Always their heads collapsing like deflating beach balls between their shoulders, always their overripe skulls rolling out through their torso holes, always their mouths still trying to say something as their heads sink down into the tubes of their sleeve-like necks, the sinking reminding me of Mario disappearing down a pixellated pipe.

And the thing is, I never know what they’re trying to say.

And another thing is, I don’t know what I’m trying to say either.


About the Author

Rick Claypool (he/him) is the author of SKULL SLIME TENTACLE WITCH WAR (Anxiety Press, 2024), TENTACLE HEAD (Bear Creek Press, 2022), THE MOLD FARMER (Six Gallery Press, 2020), LEECH GIRL LIVES (Spaceboy Books, 2017), and short stories that appear here and there online and elsewhere. He grew up in the industrial outskirts of Pittsburgh and currently lives in Rhode Island. 


Image by Victoria from Pixabay