“Well, he somehow magically got in here and did this,” Mom said.
“Yeah,” Tasha said.
Nanny and Tasha stared at each other. Then Nanny took me and Lisi to our rooms and told us to stay in there with the doors closed.
She took Mom, Dad, and Tasha downstairs, and after that I didn’t hear anything because I did what I was told and stayed in my room.
But when I saw episode two when it aired, they’d cut the whole thing out. The whole day—the chicken Parmesan, the side salad, the garlic bread, the hour of Clue, Nanny’s fancy blue dress and hot date, and even the mystery turd.
They cut it all out as if the day had never happened.
DURING THE LAST half hour of SPED, I sat there thinking about what had happened in the bathroom and how much I had wanted to punch myself in the face. I wished I could just split into two and have the other me beat me to death and then that half of me could go to prison. Homicidal Half Boy: tonight at eight.
I text Joe Jr. once I get in my car in the school parking lot. Fuck this shit. I erase it. Do you ever hate yourself? I erase that, too. Why do we take it? I erase that and roll my eyes for being so dramatic. I finally type: Still can’t figure out why the clown dentist is so fckn funny.
I drive to the boxing gym. When I get there, it’s pretty empty, and I go straight to the big bag and grab a pair of gloves and I start working it. It’s amazing how out of shape my hands feel after a weeklong break. And after punching the dumb bathroom stall today, my right hurts when I hit the bag. I try to superimpose faces on the bag. Have a nice day, loser. Tasha. Mom. Tasha. Mom. Tasha. But then it’s just me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me. Me.
After a little while, Bob the trainer walks over and watches me.
“Your left is weak,” he says. “Here.” He shows me how my left isn’t punching straight, and moves his left the way he wants me to move my left. Then he says, “Keep that blocking hand up.”
I pull my right close to my chin and hit the bag with my left a few times. He nods in approval and stands behind the bag to steady it. My hands still hurt, but I keep going until I sweat through my shirt. Then I move to the speed bag.
“Did you work out your shit with the Jamaican?” he asks.
“He’s not Jamaican.”
He nods. “You know who I mean, though, right?”
“He’s a great little boxer,” he says. “I think he could go all the way.”
I stop and look at him. “He couldn’t take me last week. Too slow.”
“He’s lazy,” Bob the trainer says.
I’ve been coming to this gym for over three years now, and if Bob thinks Jacko the fake Jamaican could go all the way, then I assume he knows if I could, too.
“Could I go all the way?” I ask.
“If you were allowed in the ring, I think you probably could,” he says.
Then I start on the speed bag and Bob the trainer goes back to his office and I’m left wondering if I even like boxing anymore.
Now that there’s an all the way and I can’t get there, boxing seems stupid. It’s like learning how to be a clown but never getting to perform your stupid dentist act in the ring. It’s like learning how to drive while you’re spending life in prison.
I stop hitting the bag and stand there. I stare at it as it swings back and forth and eventually comes to a stop.
The bag is me. I can’t explain why the bag is me, but the bag is me. I have been swinging and I have come to a complete stop. I have no idea why. I have no idea why anything. Like, why I’m here. Or why I stopped. Or why I was swinging. I have no idea why my tribal music didn’t work this morning. No idea why I don’t feel like the chief. No idea why I felt like the chief in the first place. No idea why I ever started boxing. Or nonboxing. No idea why I wrap myself in plastic wrap and no idea how not to or what it really means. I just can’t breathe. I feel like I’m going to spontaneously combust, so I pick up my keys and my sweatshirt and I leave.
I sit in the parking lot with the heater blasting until I get warm enough in my sweat-soaked shirt. Then I punch the dashboard. It leaves my knuckles stinging, like what happens when I punch the drywall.
A car parks in the lot, and it’s Jacko the fake Jamaican. He gets out and walks into the gym. As I watch him, I am a snowball of rage that’s reached the bottom of a very steep hill. I turn off the car and follow him in.
I grab a fresh mouth guard from the cabinet and put on headgear. He sees me and smiles and I nod at him in that way that can only mean I’m ready, and he finds headgear and puts his mouth guard in, too.
We find a random guy to lace us up and I fly into the ring.
No one rings a bell or referees us. We just start going at it. I go for his face, mostly. He goes for my ribs. There is blood inside of a minute—no idea whose blood, but who cares? That’s the point. Blood is the point.
B-L-O-O-D I-S T-H-E P-O-I-N-T.
If I could bleed out the Crapper into the ring, I’d do it.
If I could bleed out everything that’s wrong with my life, I’d bleed until I was empty.
I hit him in the face over and over again and his nose is pouring. He is a fountain of blood, and yet he won’t keep his hand up to block, and I keep hitting the open target. He is me. Me. Me. Me. He is too dumb to block his face, so I will punch it.
Have a nice day, loser.
Minutes go by—it’s impossible to tell how many. I try to maintain a rhythm, but he’s clumsy and slow and he won’t dance with me like he did last week. When I dodge his head shots, he slams me in the guts again. When he does that, I take the opportunity to pound his nose further into oblivion.
At first he said stuff. I don’t know what. Stuff to egg me on, all garbled in the fight. Now he says nothing. He’s breathing through his mouth. He’s wishing for the bell, I think. But there is no bell and I keep punching the fountain of blood.
My ribs are cracking. I can feel the snap. It feels good. Ribs are like prison bars for my insides. Jacko is snapping all the bars. All the bars. Jacko is setting me free, rib by rib.
This thought distracts me. This thought makes me see that I am failing.
Roger will be so disappointed.
Just as I start to wonder if Hannah will visit me in jail, the fake Jamaican catches me on the side of my head—on my cheek, I think—and makes my neck twist. I nearly lose my footing, but I pull up my left to block and dance backward a little and take a short breather. It feels like we’ve been doing this for an hour.