"hey baby, tuck's fight is on in a couple minutes."
cal remembers the easy way his brother used to be: long before boxing matches, before coming home spitting up blood and pushing bones back into place, before he'd crawl into bed an ancient man, bruised and bloodwarm, befor(more)e he'd call in long, desperate favors that made missy cry when she shouldn't have, scared their mother witless, used cal as a punching bag-- before he'd lift his shirt, split lip dripping down the side of his face, and say, "ma ain't proud of the bruises, but that's what gets you in that ring.'
now he's here. now he's a little blip on a tv screen. they even have to buy the extra packages on dish just to watch him fight.
"who's he fighting?" cal asks. their little tv set barely grasps the grainy images of his brother-- high definition squared down to a static box --and he sees tuck shaking the nerves out of himself from his corner of the ring.
"don't know." missy rolls over onto her stomach on the carpet. "he'll get the shit beat out of him, for sure."
"don't say that. he hates when we jinx him."
"tuck can kiss my ass."
"if he ever comes home long enough to do it." the ref's an old man, paunchy belly and gray hair, and he looks starkly garish in comparison to the girls with the round cards. tuck's opponent is a lean latino kid that keeps shaking his head, letting his coach clout him around the ears. tuck sits alone in his corner. watches the kid's feet dancing around from underneath a towel.
"tuck ain't scared of anybody." cal says. "don't worry about him."
tuck throws the towel away, spits at his feet. cal sees blood in him.(less)