August 06

Don Flamenco’s Finest Round
by Seth Harwood
p. 2 of 2

They all started walking back toward my house and I followed. They said how they thought it would be worse, that I didn’t do so bad, that Drew fought like a pussy.

“It was OK,” I said, and Dub clapped his hand around the back of my neck.

“That’s right,” he said. “Now you in there.” He faked like he was going to hit me in the stomach, then laughed when I flinched.

We got inside and went straight to the kitchen. Dub opened the refrigerator door and handed out Cokes. I saw my mom had a wine cooler on the top shelf and reached for it. “Fuck it,” I said, twisting the cap.

“Ooh, he big now,” Dub said.

“Yo, what’s that?” Jerrod asked.

“Wine cooler.”

Dub said, “You the man now, I guess.”

I took a long drink from the bottle. The liquid was cold and sweet but also sour, like when you leave cider for a long time. But I liked it. I liked drinking in the day like this. I’d had wine coolers before, with Dub when we’d convinced a guy in Harvard Square to buy us a two-liter, and once with my cousin after my bar mitzvah. I’d tasted wine, but this was better. It tasted good, like I had earned it.

Dub held out his hand. I gave him the bottle, and he took a pull. “Nasty,” he said. I wiped the top off with my shirt when he handed it back, then drank again. “What was that?” he said.


“You see that?” he said to Jerrod.

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Jerrod said.


“See what?” I said.

“That’s bullshit.”

They went upstairs and I followed. I sat down as they turned on the TV and the Nintendo and Mike Tyson started up. My heart was still racing from everything that had happened, and my left hand was shaking. I felt good though, and it was hot. I was sweating. I took a good, long pull from the bottle.

On the TV, Dub and Jerrod took turns fighting the first few boxers, Glass Joe and Von Kaiser. Then Dub did his best to fend off Piston Honda, a fighter it’d only taken me a few tries to beat, and in the third round he managed a TKO when Piston Honda was tired. He passed the controller to Jerrod.

“Yo, I’m coming for you, Soda Popinski,” Jerrod said, throwing a few jabs.

I drank my wine cooler and sank into a chair in the back of the room, waiting my turn. I could play a lot longer than the others and get all the way to Mike Tyson, but I would use the cheat code now and just go right there.
Jerrod slapped palms with Dub, then snapped his fingers as Don Flamenco was announced on the card.

“You next, pizza man,” he said.

The Don Flamenco fight started like it always did: he came out dancing with a rose in his mouth, throwing big punches and looking funny. Then the rose disappeared and he danced in front of Jerrod at the bell. Jerrod threw a few jabs that the Don blocked. Then he threw a headshot that Don Flamenco dodged. Then the Don threw a jab that caught Jerrod right under the chin, and when Jerrod was about to punch, he followed it with another jab that connected. Then the outline of the Don’s body turned yellow and he started throwing body shots. He hit Jerrod with a right, then a left, both to the ribs, then three successive left jabs connected to Jerrod’s face and his boxer dropped his gloves. Don Flamenco went to work on Jerrod’s head then, with combinations that kept going until Jerrod was almost out. Don Flamenco followed with two long uppercuts, stretching for the sky, first with his left hand, and then one final blow with the right that dropped Jerrod to the canvas.

Don Flamenco stayed extended, his long, thin right arm held high in the air on his follow-through, his feet barely touching the ground, and his bicep so close to his face that he looked like he was kissing it.

Dub knocked the controller out of Jerrod’s hand as the referee started counting. “You got fucked up, kid.”
Jerrod tried to hit Dub in the arm at the same time as he picked up the controller.

He started pushing the buttons, trying to get Little Mac off the canvas.

“You best punch those buttons!”

Jerrod tapped the buttons, but the referee was already at eight. We could only see the top of Little Mac’s head at ten, and then he fell back down. “Knock out! Knock out,” the referee said.

Dub laughed. “Yo, you got fucked up!” He pushed Jerrod’s head to the side.

I sat up straight, laughing.

“Fucked up,” Dub said. “You didn’t land a punch.” He hit Jerrod on the back.

“I’ve never seen a beating like that,” I said. “You didn’t even hit him!” I was laughing hard and easy with Dub at the dismantling. I’d never seen Don Flamenco fight that well. Jerrod even had to smile as the Don started into his dance again with the rose in his mouth, throwing big uppercuts and bringing his arms up so he could kiss his biceps. He danced a few steps to the right, then sidled back the other way.

“Fuck you, Don Flamenco,” Jerrod said, holding up his middle finger.

“That’s right,” I said. “Get mad now.”

“Served son.”

I held out my hand toward Dub, palm open, and he looked at it. He looked at me and I could tell he was thinking about who I was and what and whether I had any worth in his world. He looked at it for just a second, probably, but in that time I imagined a lot of questions I couldn’t answer. I watched him.

But then he slapped my palm, just one hit, not too hard, and that was something.

“OK,” I said. “OK.”

Dub took the controller to start the game up again.



Image: Sheryl Light, Red Rolling

Seth Harwood lives in Berkeley, California with his wife Joelle and their dog. He studied writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and currently teaches writing and literature in the Bay Area. To read more of his stories and to hear podcasts from his current noir novel, visit

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