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Story by Stace Budzko September 15, 2006

He sits across from her on a stool in an early to open bar directly across the street from an early to open gym where he begins each day at five jumping rope and working the speed bag until his eight o’clock sparring session—his routine since he was sixteen—back when he could hear out his left ear, back when his eyes worked; he, this former nationally ranked middleweight now journeyman fighter is finishing telling her, this young reporter soon to be large market news anchor, how each night he has to stick his hands in ice in order to work his knuckles back into place so that the next day he can let the new blood work him over, belly to brain, “What do you think, what do you think you can use here?” and she will say, “I think we can use all of this”—which she believes, and will argue with her editor to keep—and later, years later in a Chicago television studio, she will put on her glasses to look over the last of her notes, listen for cue just prior to going on for broadcast, and press on the bones of her hand, hard, not knowing exactly why.

About the Author

Stace Budzko holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College where he currently teaches composition and creative writing. In addition, he is the writer-in-residence at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. He was a finalist for the Raymond Carver Short Story Award as well as the 2006 Richard Yates’ Short Story Award and World’s Best Short-Short Story and has work forthcoming in Rose Metal Press’ Brevity and Echo and The Binnacle. At present, he is working on his first novel.

This story appeared in Issue Fourteen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Fourteen

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