Bloody Knuckles by Shannon Barber

Bloody Knuckles by Shannon Barber

I don’t understand what's going on here. There is a guy sitting at my feet holding his bloody face; my knuckles are bloody and I feel like I want to kill something. I could punch a koala for being a smug sleepy bastard.

I’ve never hit anyone in my life and I sure as hell have never wanted to punch something cute.

“Uh guy; are you all right?”

The guy looks up at me and his eyes are huge, showing white all round like a scared dog it makes me want to hit him again.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry let me help you-“

Before I can finish he runs.

I should get home.

I walk slowly, trying to collect myself as the adrenaline works through my system. I can hear myself making a low noise in my throat, a vibrato growl that makes me feel like some kind of feral animal. I’m not moving very fast, I want to run. I want to run until I can find something to destroy.

By the time I’m bathed in the familiar orange light of my street I feel better, the incendiary rage from a few minutes ago has settled into a dull burn in the pit of my stomach.

I can see my stoop; it’s so close I finally feel like I can take a breath. Someone is burning one of those huge party size sticks of incense and the sweet stink takes over everything, things start to feel right again.

I even manage to smile at some guy who’s standing on the corner, I'm not myself but it's a start. My pale, brittle peace is broken by his hissed words.

“Nigger bitch.”

The red haze descends.

“What did you just say to me?”

My voice is calm. I see the words, Kill This Mother Fucker hanging in front of my eyes.

The man leers at me while rubbing his crotch. He says something else but it’s lost to me. I’m seeing things moving in the shadows. I know what those quiet fleeting things are, they are boys.

The boys are a loose group of dirty punk boys who live down the street from my girlfriend and I. I love them.

They will watch until they are needed.

I come back to the conversation.

“-pay attention to what I’m saying you dirty Black bitch.”

I put down my things. My knuckles are already bloody and they are still hungry. Maybe I’ve heard “Black bitch” one too many times to still possess any restraint. It does not matter, I am going to destroy this man.

My first punch lands in his small soft gut, once I feel the crush of my bruised knuckles in flesh all bets are off. My muscles remember every move the boys have shown me. I stomp, I bite, and I kick.

I go berserk. I taste blood; I feel my knuckles split against teeth.

The man fights back, the boys come out of the shadows, loping like dirty denim clad night beasts. One strong arm wraps around my waist and pulls me away. I’m still trying to punch and my feet are bicycling in the air uselessly. He tells the others what to do.

“Get that piece of shit out of our neighborhood.”

I start to cry. It’s all just too much, I feel unsatisfied. Everything inside me is screaming for blood.

I bury my face against his sweaty chest, sobbing.

When we get to my stoop he fishes my keys out of my bag so we can go inside. I want to ask him if I’m a bad person, if I’ve snapped but he lifts my sore bleeding right hand and kisses my knuckles with a tenderness that is beyond his years.

“You got a hell of a right Mama.”

Everything will be all right.

Shannon Barber is a Seattle native. Her most recent work has been seen in This- A literary webzine, Every Night Erotica and Gutter Eloquence.


David Barber said...

I really enjoyed this piece. A sensitive and topical matter that was well executed with fine writing. The bloke got exactly what he deserved!

Well done, Shannon!

Paul D Brazill said...

Oh, very, very good. Strong writing.I felt it.

R.S. Bohn said...

That was some strong writing, with a wicked undercurrent. Very, very powerful. Well done.

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Very visual piece. Fast paced and filled with great, descriptive, action pact writing. This line really stuck out.

"My knuckles are already bloody and they are still hungry."

Chris Alliniotte said...

This was so fierce. The essential, feverish humanity of the narrator makes this hard to keep reading in places. We feel the punch of the words as heavily as the bastard feels the sting of her knuckles.

Very well done.

Alan Griffiths said...

So harsh I could feel the pain. A tough subject done really well with tough, stylish writing. Well done, Shannon.

Bill Baber said...

very nicely done...first rate stuff.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone I really appreciate it.

kurtnewton said...

Violently written, Shannon. Great job.

Glenn Gray said...

Brutal and raw. Nice job.

Author said...

Powerful stuff, beautifully written.