The shower’s turned right up, hot jets of water almost tearing into my skin, washing off the last 24 hours as the flickering memories try their best to turn my gut.
All it takes is one night, in the thick of it down there and shit, an old slugger like me might buy the farm. These kids have got all the latest implants, their synapses dialed up to 11, ready to explode at any point and all while zipped up on all sorts of nootropics that would make a Hindu Cow nervous. This isn’t any right way to live, but what else I got?
“Cutty!” She’s yelling to me from the kitchen. “How’d you like your eggs today?” Damn it, what a broad. I got her, and these old knuckles and wiring that dates back 23 years. My reactions might be slow but I can punch through a 2 feet thick concrete wall with these things.
But what does it matter? She's what matters and I shake my head and know I don’t deserve her as I pull out a loose tooth and spit the blood onto my feet, the red quickly mixing away and down the drain, just like my fucking life.
“Alright, alright! Just whatever’s easiest, doll,” I say back to her, turning off the shower, stepping onto the soft carpet, grabbing a big fluffy towel, quickly drying myself down.
“Ready in five!” She shouts with that enthusiasm I don’t deserve as I wipe away a large smear of steam from the mirror and flash my gummy mouth.
Fuck, they’ve patched you up so many times over the years man, how’d you do it, how do you keep going? Print me a new tooth here, a new collarbone there, pull me open, staple me shut, new parts, always cheapest they've got, but the fists keep going and when these kids start throwing their weight around main-lining K.I.T and looking for a fight, it's these fists that count.
“Will you get your big, ugly butt in here!” I can hear her dancing around the kitchen to some new song on the radio, the slight clatter of pans and plates as she sets up breakfast. This tiny little thing, this tiny little gesture, that’s all she’s got but that’s all I need. She’s a goddamn heart breaker and for some reason she chose me and she’s in there making me breakfast and what do I give her in return? A life of heartache, a face that looks like it’s done ten rounds with the re-animated Joe Frazier they dug up and get to smash out round after round. Yeah, I got a couple of dollars here and there so she can buy herself something nice, keep this old place in check with a new radio or some nice goddamn towels, shit, it ain't nothing, she could do so much better.
“Rough night, huh?” She brings her arms around me and plants a soft one on my bruised cheek as I sit down at the plastic table and take to shoveling the eggs and bacon into my aching mouth the way only an ex-con knows how.
“You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” she says as she comes around and sits opposite me, the big blonde hair bouncing around her shoulders, the wide smile creeping into my heart.
“Why do you stick around here?” I say a little too hard and with a furrowed brow. “Why you stay here with me, I’m no good, Betty. I’m no good.”
She sighs, the way she always does. “Cutty, you got something in you. There’s good in you, in there,” she points to my chest.
“And there’s something good up here too,” she taps her head. “What’s left of it anyway.”
“You’re some woman, you know that?” I say as she gets up again and comes over to collect my empty plate.
“Yeah, I know, Cutty. And don’t you forget it.”
I shake my head, and I reckon the bruises have already started to hurt a little less. There’s a touch of sun coming through the window and I look down at my hands, turning them over and around, the bruised and swollen knuckles, testing the servos and hearing those 23 year old titanium joints just about creaking back into motion. A good man who gave me these, gave me some sort of a life at least anyway, I ain't got much but I got her and as long as she sticks around, I'll get patched up and these fists, they’ll go another night, if it means she’ll stay, they’ll go another night.