NYU Black Renaissance Noire Spring 2015 - Page 102

VI “Almost.” He put out his cigarette and glanced again at the fraternity crowd. I was right, he was staring back at me. Must take it easy. Damn, this room feels made for midgets. Could I be getting slightly paranoid? “Christ, it’s hot.” “It is. If another person showed, they’d have to put him on the fire-escape.” “Excuse me. I need to set the bladder straight. Beer does it every time. It’s why I’m changing my taste to wine. But promise you won’t run off, Shona. You strike me as a woman I’d be lucky to know. I’d like to get better acquainted. What do you say?” “I’ll be here with certain reservations.” Making his way through the crowd, he looks quickly at the heckler. The guy isn’t looking back. That’s fine with Zock. “Could it be me?” he wondered? “Could it? I would feel better if it was.” No, he could’ve sworn the guy stared at him as he came through the door. Damn. The frat has him hanging by his thumbs. What should he do? Pretend he doesn’t exist? He searches his mind for what to say. How to convince him he doesn’t want trouble? Count to ten, then if that doesn’t work, count to ten backwards? Upon leaving the bathroom, he hears laughter from the corner where the jackal stands talking with a couple of his cronies. Cal and Laura never showed. Maybe Laura does hate parties. He freezes as his name echoes through the air. “Zock, the greasy, timber wonder — that’s him.” Zock looks into his mocking face; their eyes lock like magnets. His stomach fills with something heavier than drink. The man’s laughter rises and falls across the room like a wind of locusts. “Listen up. The guy’s fiction, if you care to call it that — I don’t — is about as interesting as a want-ad in the yellow pages. Can you beat that?” The man’s buddies nod in unison. Zock moves closer as the heckler keeps on. 100 “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the man who launched a thousand words — all signed in shit. Ha!” BRN-SPRING-2015.indb 100 As Zock steps in front of the guy, he says “Your problem is you can’t stop being a rubber mouth. Not only are you worthless as a writer — you can’t cut either. Your verbal knife couldn’t cut your worst cliché, that obese tongue of yours. You’re a head and a half shorter than your mouth.” Zock aims his fist at the man’s lower jaw but misses, catching him in the eye instead. He followed with another, this time connecting at the jaw as the guy’s head snaps forward. In the confusion, he feels someone grab him and sees two others grab the heckler. He couldn’t remember later, if it was after the two held the man, or whether it was when they grabbed him and his arm was already in motion, that Zock struck again. It didn’t matter, because the man that had a hold of him spun him around and growled like a walrus. “You shouldn’t a hit him, when he couldn’t defend himself, fella.” The walrus proceeded to lift Zock by his coat and slam him to the floor. The guy sat down on his stomach. Since the wind was knocked out of him, he made no move as the Walrus’ fists cut his nose, eyes, and ears at various angles. When the guy decided he had avenged Zock’s regrettable alcoholic reflex, he stood up and eagerly challenged the rest of the room. No one stepped forward. The guy made two triumphant grunts and went out the door. “Whew!” Zock muttered, “my head feels like an exploded tom tom. What happened?” Someone said, “It looks to me like you walked in on the wrong party. What was that all about? Don’t you know fighting’s for fools? Here, let me take a look at that pulverized face.” “Thanks. Ouch! A little crow told me I should’ve stayed around the corner and across several streets. I didn’t listen.” Zock stood still as the good Samaritan wiped the blood off his face, ears, and nose. “Bye the way, who’re you, doctor?” 3/29/15 11:42 AM