Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sittin' In: "Double or Nothing" by Eirik Gumeny, as based on the song "Waiting For An Alibi" by Thin Lizzy

Double or Nothing

Ramirez went down in the second. A couple times. He’s standing now, on the ropes, uncertain of his footing, of where he is, but he’s standing. The referee calls it anyway. TKO.


The room erupts, four thousand people on their feet at once, spilling drinks and tossing fight cards, shouting and calling for blood.

I grab Maria’s hand and make a break for the exit.

* * *

Outside the casino, I light a cigarette mid-stride and start, quick, toward the St. James stairs. I can hear Maria behind me, the crowd pouring out of the casino behind her.

“Val,” she says. “Slow down, Val. What the hell’s going on?”

I can hear the staccato of her heels against the boardwalk. I’ve got nearly a foot on her; she’s practically jogging to keep up.


I ease up, just enough to let her know I heard, but I’m still moving. Her steps are staggered by vodka and vanity, like Morse code against the salt-stained wood. She’s sending me a message, a broken S.O.S.

I’m halfway to the stairs when she finally catches up. I feel her next to me, her hand warm against mine. I can’t keep myself from slowing.

“Val,” she says.

“Maria . . .” I say.

“Valentino!” says someone else.



I toss what’s left of the cigarette, grab Maria’s arm, and start sprinting.

“God damn it, Val,” she says. She’s furious, stumbling, but she’s running. Right now, that’s good enough.

We fly down the stairs, off the boardwalk and onto St. James. I turn sharp, barrel through the door of some dive bar and collide with a table. I kick it to the side.

“Jesus, Valentino,” says Maria. She’s on one bare foot, removing her shoe from the other.

“The back,” I say, nodding toward the kitchen door.

I can hear the fat man behind the bar shouting.

Maria throws her heels in his face.

* * *

“Valentino,” Maria says, her hand on my back. “Talk to me, God damn it.”

We’re eight blocks from the bar, in the parking deck beneath some boarded up motel. I’m bent at the waist, elbows on the hood of my car, sucking wind and seeing stars. I haven’t had to move like that in years.


“We gotta go, Maria,” I say, my chest heaving. I stand, eyes still swimming. “And then you’re not gonna want to be around me, not for a while.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Things – the fight – didn’t go the way they were supposed to. The way I said they would. And now I gotta get outta here.”

I hit the keychain in my pocket, unlock the doors.

“We gotta get outta here.”

I pull open the passenger side door.

“What did you do, Valentino?” she says, her voice cracking.

It’s not fear, though. And it’s not a question. It’s anger, accusation. She knows me too damn well.

“I fucked up, Maria. Took money from the wrong guys, told them to put it on an even worse fighter.”

There’s footsteps, echoing against the buildings across the street. Voices. They’re not happy.


“Who is that?” she asks.

“No one you want to know,” I answer.

I hit the button for the trunk on the keychain, hear the thunk as it opens. I walk to Maria and take her hands in mine.

“I will never understand why a woman like you is wasting her time with me,” I say.

I kiss her hard. Then I give her the keys.

“You know what kind of shit is about to go down. I don’t want you here for it. I don’t want you to see it, and I don’t want them to see you. You need to run.”

“Val . . .”

“Go. You have to.”

I go to the trunk, lift the door all the way open. I stand, holding it with both hands, and take a deep breath.

“Maria,” I say, “I love you. When you’re around I’m a better person, smarter. I don’t do the kind of shit that gets me into situations like this. All I want is to be with you, a million miles from here, where tonight is nothing but a terrible memory.”

I grab the tire iron from inside the spare and step back.

“But I’ve got to get through this before I can forget it.”

Maria’s standing next to me.

“Maria . . .”

She reaches into the trunk and returns with an aluminum baseball bat.

“I love you, too, Val,” she says, resting the bat on her shoulder, “but I wish like fuck I didn’t.”

Shadows spill down the street, crawling across the opening of the parking deck. We can hear the voices distinctly now. They’re still not happy.

“I wish you didn’t either.”

I can’t keep myself from smiling.



Thin Lizzy is the best band ever.

Eirik Gumeny is a writer from New Jersey. He runs Jersey Devil Press and knows what to do in Denver when you're dead. His book,Exponential Apocalypse, has bad words and pop culture references, which the 15-year-old in me cheers, and great writing, which the English major in me cheers. Place your orders along with the other book JDP released this year: the 2010 Jersey Devil Press Anthology, featuring almost two dozen stories in it, including one by yours truly and one by OBCBYL alumnus yt sumner. Get that one, too. Eirik's favorite pizza topping is victory.

Our Band Could Be Your Lit on Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.

Next week: A story based on "Rock n Roll" by Paleface, as suggested by Mo from Paleface.

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