(Original version published in Sou’Wester)

One day a crippled guy shows up on Charles Street wanting to fight Jamie Halsey.

Jamie has been working the same street corner downtown for almost two years, but he’s never seen this guy before. Usually his customers are business geeks looking to blow off some steam after work. They pay him five bucks for three minutes of his time. He puts their money in a cigar box while they strap on a pair of old sixteen-ounce boxing gloves. He sets an alarm clock and when he says ‘go’ they try to punch him in the face. They chase him around flailing like crazy. He ducks, he bobs and weaves. They turn purple and take off their jackets. They punch like girls. He doesn’t punch back.

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Slant Streets

(Originally published in the Beloit Fiction Journal.)

Janikowski stayed at the bar until close and then walked home through two feet of snow and found a six-point buck standing in his kitchen. From the alley, he saw his back door open in the cold, so he came into the house with a three-foot piece of broken-off drain pipe cocked behind his head like a baseball bat. There was no burglar, just the buck standing unsteadily on the slick linoleum, eating Granny Smith apples from a bowl on the table. When Janikowski saw the deer he slipped and whacked the back of his head on the doorframe. He dropped the drainpipe and it clattered on the floor. The deer turned to look and one of its antlers scraped a rack of pint glasses off a shelf. Janikowski covered his eyes against the flying glass and when he uncovered them the deer was staring at him. It chewed, and chunks of apple fell from its mouth. Janikowski dragged himself up and used the kitchen phone to call Georgie, a woman he wanted to sleep with.

“Can you bring your gun over?” he said. He listened and said: “Yes, right now.”

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New Dress

(Originally published the Sycamore Review.)

When Chester Purdy was twenty-seven he drove up to Charlo in his beat-down Chevy and robbed the Northfork Truck Stop with nothing but his hands. He had a gun with him, a little .22 pistol in the glove box, but left it in the car when he went inside. Chess only used the gun to shoot gophers and magpies, he didn’t have the meaness in him to turn it on a person. At first the buck-toothed cashier in the truck stop smiled at him and blinked like the whole thing was a joke. Chess hit the guy with a straight right, bloodied his nose, and told him to put the register money in a plastic sack. He drove east, and the Highway Patrol pulled him over before he even made Ovando. At his trial, the county attorney argued that because of boxing Chess’ hands should be considered deadly weapons. The judge wouldn’t allow it and Chess was charged with aggravated burglary instead of armed robbery. He was grateful, but the boxer in him didn’t take it as a compliment. He got five years at the state prison in Deer Lodge, served eighteen months.

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Reach for the Sky

(Originally published in UFC Magazine.)

Stefan Struve is ready to hit the pool.

It’s almost five o’clock on a sweltering July afternoon and the UFC’s annual fighter summit has just ended at the Red Rocks Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. As far as the company’s two hundred-plus employees are concerned, school’s out for summer. All day Struve has been cooped up in a stuffy hotel conference room listening to strangers lecture him about the virtues and perils of being a professional fighter. Before that, he spent roughly half of the previous 24 hours in the air, all six-foot-11 ½ inches of him folded into an airplane seat like a piece of human origami for the marathon trip from Amsterdam to LAX to Vegas.

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Pool Shark

(Originally published in the Missoulian newspaper.)

The mustache took forever to fill in, Mark Spitz says.

He’d never grown one before and so it was slow going at first. Originally, Spitz says the plan was to shave it before the U.S. Olympic trials in Chicago, but once he saw how much of a distraction it was for his competitors and the attention it grabbed from the media, he decided it was a keeper.

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A Leg to Stand On

(Originally published in Montanan Magazine.)

There was a time in early 2006 when Megan Fisher gave up on walking.

It was January, midway through her senior year at the University of Montana and while hiking in the hills outside of Missoula she suddenly found herself in so much pain that she decided she needed a few days off her feet. She says she went home and lay down on the couch to rest, waiting for the agony to subside. When it didn’t, she barely got up again for almost three months.

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