Matt Nelson

Fight Between Friends


By Matt Nelson

Last night, I punched a girl. Audrey Hepburn to be exact. A mixed-media collage of Audrey to be scalpel-exact. I didn’t even break her face. She came off the frame, sure, but her face is intact. I have holes in my left forearm. My hand bled. Sweat on the floor. The expunged. Afterwards, I was proud that the blood mostly came from my knuckles. Meant I was punching right.

I want it to be known that I wasn’t punching Audrey specifically. I wasn’t even punching the canvas to destroy art or make some dramatic gesture. I just wanted to hit. I wanted to feel my bones comes through my skin. Sometimes, you have to cross borders and yourself. Test your body and get rid of the boil inside.

One Halloween, without costumes, my friends and I went to a party in the university district of our town. We went downstairs. We started playing a game with a ping pong table. We won the game. Those on the other side said we cheated. We laughed. Their boyfriends came down, and we laughed some more and then my friend flipped the ping pong table. To hear cheap pine and metal bounce in a room full of drunk stink is a beautiful sound. Before the space between the pointed fingers could collapse, guess who mindfully sauntered down but a couple of good old boys in blue. “Anybody want to tell us what happened to the table?” one of them said, and I’ll never forget what the other one said next. “Looks like there was about to be a wrestling match,” but he said it like “wrassle.” “If anyone wants to wrestle,” again said with a twang, “I could go for a couple of rounds.” My friend and teammate was a wrestler by blood and schooling, and I could tell he was drunk enough to smile that pre-match smile of his. I took his shoulder and sucked out the threat and the cops, nodding at our sad costumes, said something like “I thought so,” and left.

Our blood was screaming to escape, but with the threat of legal injury, we decided to follow the shameful wake of the authorities. We took to the steps, my friend in front and me behind when from behind, one of the larger mouthed boyfriends wrapped his hand around my throat. I gurgled a trite choke, prompting my friend to turn around. Without thinking, I felt his fist pass by my nose seconded by the man’s hand gently unwrapping. Again without thinking, I turned around, grabbed the back-falling man and brought his head to mine. The need was so immediate it was actualized. If you’ve ever taken a chemistry class, you’ll remember the word permeate in relation to two, usually liquid, bodies. Our two bodies used each other to create a sound. His brain and mine were not in communication except as beat machines. Everyone forgets that objects break, wear down, get smaller and then permeate nothing. Got to do something while we can. There’s this great line from some author about straightening a curve, like the curve of a skull. My need at that mili-moment wasn’t exactly to straighten his head, but to crack it, let it breath, fuck my own also objective and therefore vulnerable head. He fell back like a physics book and looked up with the eyes of a forgetmenot. The stairway was a throbbing visual tunnel aimed right at his face and he was everything. One of his shoes had come untied. I turned and walked up to cries from below about never coming back and watch out and happy halloween.

Matt Nelson runs Mellow Pages Library in Brooklyn with Jacob Perkins. His works has been on Shabby Doll House, Non Cannon Press, and A Big Wind. He has fought people for money.