The white snow, spotted with blood, moved. It trembled under Kenny Howard’s boots as he stomped toward me
“Get up, boy,” he said to me through his coarse moustache. “Stand up, and fight me like a man.”
I spit from where I knelt beneath the old oak tree on the edge of the field nearest the bar. I had shown up at the bar an hour ago with the prettiest girl in town on my arm. It was my first social outing since I moved to the tiny Kansas town from Atlanta. This night would be unforgettable.
As I pushed my thin body from the ground and to my feet I thought, this night really is unforgettable. I wiped at my bulging, bloodied lip and glanced at Marcia. She was standing a few yards away from the brawl, her fur coat buttoned up to her chin. Faint light from a distant street lamp illuminated her pretty blue eyes. It highlighted the life in her cheeks and her nice red lips. I expected her to be knee deep in worry for me, wanting us to cut the fighting out and get back inside to the warmth of the bar where she would choose the most gentlemanly out of the two of us to dance with for the rest of the evening. Instead Marcia was all smiles, eyes wide with excitement. Two men fighting over her. Is this what she really desired? For her love to be won from a skin to skin argument?
Kenny bounced in position—knees bent, fists up, smirking like he’d already claimed a victory.
I gathered my fat lip and the peacoat I laid down beneath the tree and started across the field toward the bar. I heard Kenny chuckle deep in his throat.
“You ain’t gonna fight for me?” Marcia hollered across the snowy field in her thick Kansas accent.
I barely turned back toward her as I kept walking.
“No,” I said. “I’m not.”