Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Fighting Chance teaser

The blurb of AFC is below this post, but if you're too lazy, here's the three sentence synopsis: Jesse Chance is a former underground fighter who moved on from the life when his mom died. He's been at college far from his home in Glory, Texas, but his dad shows up, begging for his help. And what he ends up having to do forces him back into the ring.
 And this is the unedited teaser:
I’m standing in front of Murphy’s Bar, unable to decide if the unbearable heat or the heavy ball of emotion in my stomach is worse. I take in the evening scenery, and it’s like I’ve unearthed Glory from a time capsule, because not a single store, house or car has changed in four years.
“Well, well…the bastard son returns,” Jeremy Huck says. He’s still fucking leaning on the wall outside of Murphy’s like he’s holding it up. “Heard you went off to some Yankee college. What? They put you out?”
“Is my dad in there?” He’s not answering my calls, and this is the best place to find him after dark.
“You have one of those?” I don’t even bother giving him the finger or a response, and I edge past him and step inside. It’s full of the usual crowd, another thing that hasn’t changed, and the jukebox still plays too low to hear it. “Henry left about ten minutes ago,” he continues, trailing me. “His barstool’s still warm, though. Go sit. He left his drink, too. You can have it. Like father, like son of a whore.” My elbow connects with his face right in the middle of his laughter. There's a cracking sound—some might call the noise sickening, I call it earned—and he drops to his knees. Blood is already gushing from his nostrils, seeping through the spaces between his fingers, by the time I turn around, and he’s howling in pain. Dammit, I was hoping for teeth.
“Motherfucker, you’re still a piece of shit! You’re trash! You came into the world a piece of shit, and no fancy car or fancy college is going to change that, Chance.” His twin brother, Isaac, runs toward me but has a change of heart and tends to Jeremy instead.
            Everyone in the bar is watching us. Some of them crane their necks to get a better look and I see the recognition in their eyes, followed by agreement with the Hucks. I tsk. These are the people who marched into Sacred Hearts Baptist to pray for the soul of my mother the sinner on Sundays, and angrily urged me to slam another boy’s bloody face into stretched canvas on Thursdays.
Home sweet home. I walk outside, keeping my back to Murphy’s to let the Hucks know neither actually poses any threat to me, but I’m ready to go back to my hotel, a tiny inn a few towns over. I want to go back to Hamilton, actually. I want to hide. The old feelings come rushing in, and for a moment I hear a never quite forgotten voice in my head reminding me, too, of what I am here. Worthless. Unloved.  I haven’t heard that voice in a while, even though it belongs to me.
It’s only after I release a breath that I realize I’m clenching everything from jaw to fists. Shaking, too. I wish I could say Jeremy's words don’t matter anymore, but they do. They fester; the psyche collects them like a bag that never fills. It just expands and reshapes itself, finding new ways to pack all the hurt, humiliation and pain into its spaces, and then makes room for more. What’s interesting is that if you internalize enough negativity, other people’s insults just end up complementing the damage you do on your own. Glory carved quite a wound in me. And some wounds just don’t heal. But I spent a lot of time re-cutting it myself.