Corey Zeller

Fight Between Friends


A guy I got in a fight with in high school died last week. He is the second person I got in a fight with who died of drug overdose which I find very strange. The other guy who died I sent to the hospital after our fight. This next guy who died was my friend.

It was high school. I was walking out of homeroom and he sucker punched me. It was over a girl. I turned, surprised, and he got a good shot to my jaw. I then overpowered him onto the floor and slammed his head against the ground. He grabbed my hands and wouldn’t let go and a Spanish dude pulled me off of him and we were split-up. I then saw I was bleeding in the blank screen of the classroom TV so I went across the room and tried to punch him again but a teacher I liked got in the way. I would say, all in all, he won the fight.

Anyway, this friend I got in a fight with died recently. He was lying in his apartment for two weeks before anyone found him. He was blue.

I remember this friend of mine later went to the same college I did. We saw each other in the hallway and he told me his dad had died. I told him I was sorry and asked him if he wanted to have a drink. We went and had a drink at an Italian restaurant by the railroad tracks. We laughed and were friends again.

When we were kids, this friend I got in a fight with had a laser tag party. He had long hair then.

He dealt drugs for years. He was good at it. He made a fortune and lived in a nice house in a nice neighborhood. He lost it all. He went to rehab.

At his funeral, I saw his mom and told her I was sorry her son died. She didn’t remember me. I remember the last time I saw them together he was thinking of buying a hat she didn’t like.

My friend I got in a fight with lost his best friend to an overdose a long, long time ago. My friend’s friend was huge, like almost 7 feet tall. One time, my friend I got in a fight with told me a story about how he and this large guy were tripping on acid dealing with these really bad dudes. He told me something went wrong with a deal they were making and when he and his friend ran out to his car these bad dudes started shooting at them.

When he was kid, my friend I got in a fight with lived above a jewelry store. It isn’t there anymore. It got torn down and there’s a parking lot for a gym there and some sort of pool and spa installation store.

I remember helping my friend write a poem for the girl we got in a fight over. He so earnestly loved her. I wish I was able to love something as earnestly as he loved her.

He was a really good guy, my friend. He gave me the nickname Cowey da Poet. You know, as a joke.

People called me that for years.

Corey Zeller is the author of Man vs. Sky (YesYes Books, 2013). His work has appeared in Puerto del Sol, Mid-American Review, Indiana Review, The Colorado Review, Diagram, The Kenyon Review, Salt Hill, West Branch, Third Coast, The Literary Review, The Paris-American, New York Tyrant, New Orleans Review, Green Mountains Review, The AWL, The Rumpus, PEN America, Chorus (MTV Books), among others.