The Champ

Some folks will tell you a wife's duties know no bounds.

But when you're married to a pugilist, you've got to draw the line.

The Champ by Dakota Taylor

If I hear the joke one more time, I'll scream. I'll stab the nearest person in the eye with a swizzle stick and throw a stool at the bottles behind the bar. I hate the joke. He's the champ and you're the trophy. I get it. Don't tell me again when I don't respond.

Everybody wants to buy the champ a shot. A shot and a pat on the back. My husband looks strange in his cream colored suit jacket and ironed, white shirt. His attire isn't familiar to me. The cauliflower ear, the mashed Polish nose and the glass of Scotch are familiar.

The man is a hero in a room full of drunks. He wins a title championship for knocking people's brains into jelly and contorting them into pretzels and all of a sudden he's a rock star. His hands are still shaky from the fight. I down another gin and tonic and wish I was somewhere else, somewhere with a glass of wine and a bubble bath. Anywhere but here.

The gin and tonics numb me enough that I can hold back the tears. Streaks of mascara are ugly. So are bruises. It started with phone books, bags of oranges, socks filled with pennies. He didn't want to leave bruises on my trophy body but of course that changed. Never my face, but of course that didn't last long either.

I thought your husband was the fighter. My eyes were blacker than a raccoon's when I forgot to wear make-up and I only got stupid jokes to sooth me. Blood in my urine, hairline fractures in my ribs threatening to turn into faults with every move. When my husband has whiskey for dinner, it means I'm having antihistamines and painkillers for breakfast. I'm no trophy, I'm a punching bag.

I'm greeted by whistles and cat calls when I make my way through the crowd of drunks to the bathroom. Someone squeezes my ass but I don't turn to see who it is. The bathroom is empty and quiet. I'm relieved to get away from people, if only for a few minutes. My stomach swirls and hot geysers of vomit cover the toilet seat and green linoleum.

I don't know where it comes from but for the first time in weeks, tears gush from my eyes. There is a burning in my chest but it feels good. I relish it, try to hold on to the feeling as long as I can. For the first time in weeks, I laugh, I laugh and I laugh hard, and it feels great and I can't stop. Someone bangs on the door.

I tie my hair back and straighten up. A perfectly composed trophy wife. My husband yells for me behind the cheap, wooden door. He's drunk and I'll let him in, let him touch me and shove me into the stall so he can force his tongue down my throat. I touch up my lipstick and stare at the .38 Snub Nose in my purse because I'll let him touch me, I'll let him touch me and it will be the last thing he touches.

Dakota Taylor is a writer, amateur film maker, and freelance journalist. He’s also a co-editor for Revolt Daily. His fiction has appeared online and in print from such journals as Solarcide, Blink Ink, Surreal Grotesque, and Insomnia Press. He co-hosts a literary podcast titled Books and Booze and has received a Pushcart nomination.