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Jason Hunt
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brass.jpg
Art by Jeff Karnick 2010

BRASS KNUCKLES

 

Jason Hunt

 

 

I stood at my desk, trying to choose between my nine millimeter and my dad’s old blued-steel thirty-eight from his days as a cop. I loved both guns, but neither one seemed just right for what I had to do.

 

I opened the top drawer and put the guns back.

 

I pulled open the next drawer down and looked at the knives. I had a bunch of fancy butterfly knives, a switchblade, and my dad’s old K-Bar from his days in the Corps. The butterfly knives struck me as kind of corny, like something out of a bad kung fu movie. All this fancy stuff just to open and close the damned things. I liked the switchblade, but it was too West Side Story. I picked up the K-Bar with its grooved, unfinished handle. Now this was a real knife. I brushed my thumb across the edge of the blade. It was sharp enough to shave with. Still, it wasn’t doing it for me.

 

I put it back and closed the drawer.

 

I didn’t even look in the bottom drawer. Nunchakus, throwing stars, black jacks. Kid stuff.

 

I locked up the office and walked out past the bar. I liked the way the barroom looked during the day with no one there. If only I could make money without having to serve people.

 

I locked up and walked down the street to the Chinese grocery and buffet. Maybe some General Tsao chicken and lo mein would help me figure this out.

 

As soon as I walked in, a flash of gold caught my eye and my problem was solved. In one of the long display cases, beside all the chopsticks, hash pipes and little jade Buddhas, there was a pair of shiny, honest-to-goodness brass knuckles. Not the stainless steel ones—I had stainless steel knuckles in the bottom drawer of my desk. These were the real deal. Solid brass. I asked to look at them. They felt cold and heavy as a death sentence.

I reached into my right front pocket, pulled out a wad of cash, and peeled off two twenties.

 

Brass knuckles it was.

 

After lunch, I stopped by the old gym near the house. I left the brass knuckles under the front seat and got my gym bag out of the trunk. I changed into some sweats and then laid into the heavy bag for about an hour. It felt good. By the end, I was pounding the shit out of the thing, just like old times. That’s the one thing a puncher doesn’t lose as he gets older. Power. A dancer might lose his legs, a boxer might lose his speed and reflexes, but a puncher almost always hangs onto his power.

 

I opened the bar at the usual time and waited. And waited.

 

And waited.

 

It was almost midnight before Wall Street came into the bar dragging Rachel behind him. She looked awful. Whatever he’d gotten her strung out on was sure as hell taking its toll. She looked like she hadn’t eaten in weeks and she kept her head down like a scared dog. Wall Street, on the other hand, had his usual shit-eating grin on that Tom Selleck face of his.

 

I poured a couple of Killian Reds from the tap, opened the drawer of my register, and took the brass knuckles out of the twenties slot. I slipped one into each of my front pockets.

 

I knew Wall Street owned a black Beemer and I knew he parked it out behind the building so nobody could mess with it.

 

“Hey,” I yelled from behind the bar, “anybody in here drive a black Beemer?”

 

Wall Street sprang up. He was already drunk and a little unsteady, but he got up fast. He was pissed off.

 

“I got a black BMW. What the fuck’s the problem?”

 

“Sorry,” I said, “Somebody just backed into the side of it. It’s pretty fucked up.”

 

“Son of a bitch!”

 

“You go around front. I’ll go through the kitchen and meet you out back so we can take a look at it. Hey Jake, come out here and watch the bar for a second.”

 

When I got out, Wall Street was there, leaning against the car, looking at the unharmed side of his Beemer.

 

“Is this some kind of fucking joke, or are you some kind of fucking idiot?” he asked, swaggering toward me all red-faced and puffed up. “Nobody backed into this car. . . .”

 

My left hand came out of my pocket wrapped in brass and clipped him good right under the eye. I felt the cheekbone crack and he went down on one knee. He looked like he was praying. Which wouldn’t have been a bad idea.

 

“What the fuck?”

 

A shiny, golden right cross sent his head into the door of the Beamer, leaving a dent.

 

I thought of the one time Rachel and I had been together. It was years ago. She was so out of my league back then, perfect, like a model out of a Victoria’s Secret catalog. And sweet. Easy to talk to.

 

A solid metal jab tore his left cheek and a cross ripped his right eyebrow wide open. Blood poured down his face and over the front of his expensive shirt.

 

“You think it’s okay what you did to Rachel? Well, I’ll show you just how not okay. . . .”

 

I sensed someone behind me.

 

I spun around. Rachel had come out and was standing at the corner of the building. She just stood there. Our eyes met and, I could be wrong, but I swear saw just the hint of a nod.

 

I turned back around to face the sniveling bastard hunched against the car door, sobbing.  I pulled back my right hand with its cold and heavy brass knuckles.

 

“I’ve got a message from Rachel,” I said.

 

I punched Wall Street in the neck with everything I had. He went down for the count.

 

For good.

 

I looked back at Rachel. She just stood there for maybe five, ten seconds. In a moment she would turn around and disappear into the night.

 

Our eyes met and, I could be wrong, but I swear I saw just the hint of a smile.

 

 

 

Jason Hunt is always writing something, be it hardboiled fiction, country music, or bad checks. (Okay, he writes boring corporate stuff to minimize the bad checks.) He bought his first pair of cowboy boots from Garth Brooks, and he has an autographed copy of the one and only novel by Johnny Cash. (Yes, the man in black wrote a novel. Go figure.) Jason is working on his third novel, Didn’t Hear Nobody Die, and has published short fiction in Hardboiled, Pulp Pusher, Plots with Guns, Beat to a Pulp, A Twist of Noir, and now Yellow Mama. He's gotten honorably mentioned in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and been frequently rejected by Ellery Queen. He's an Elvis fan, a good shot and a halfway decent harmonica player.

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