Category Archives: David Jaggers

The Tattoo

Today should be the best day of my life. Here I stand, in the sunshine after two hard years in a Mexican prison, breathing the air of freedom. Only it’s not the best day, not even close.
+++++“Hey gringo, you coming or not? I got room for one more. This train leaves for Juarez in five.”
+++++I don’t want to get into the back of the dusty Toyota idling at the curb. I know what will happen if I do. I should just turn and walk away, make my way back to the border and hope they’ll let me through. The problem is I’ve never been one to hope. Life has been one swift kick to the nuts after another, and guys like me don’t get the luxury of hope. Every fiber of my being screams no as I throw my duffle into the rusted out truck bed and hop in. We pull out and I watch the shacks of corrugated tin and the mangy dogs, all ribs and teeth, fade into a cloud of dust.

***

“So Raul, this bolillo is your man? What did you do, drag him behind the truck? He looks beat to shit.”
+++++“No, no hefe, he’s the real deal. His face just looks like that. He was a boxer I think.”
+++++The boss turns to me. “What do you say gringo? You up for some work?”
+++++I’m standing in a warehouse that’s hot enough to bake bread and sweat is running down the back of my legs. The fat man behind the desk is some kind of mid-level shit kicker and judging by the way the others avoid his stare, he got Cartel weight behind him. I look him in the eyeand don’t blink.
+++++“I just need some cash to get back across the border. If the pay is good, I’m your man.”
+++++The fat man scratches his hairy jowls and takes a minute to think. I see the wheels turning, they’re small wheels, rusty with broken teeth. He’s wondering if I can be trusted, if I can do the work. Raul is sweating bullets, his balls are on the chopping block for vouching for me. Poor kid thinks he owes me for saving his ass in the prison yard, but I didn’t bust those guys up to save him, I did it to get some time in the hole. I needed space to think. Time to plan without the worry of a shank in my kidney.
+++++“Alright, bolillo, it’s your lucky day. Hector will fill you in on the details, you just make sure you do what you’re told and you’ll get paid.”
+++++“How much?” I say.
+++++The fat man squints at me, intrigued by my lack of fear. “Enough to get you home. Comprende?”

***

The job is simple enough, we’re supposed to hit a convoy of panel vans moving up through Juarez from the south. I have no idea what’s inside and nobody bothers to tell me. There are five of us, and Hector is running point. He’s a short, barrel chested man, ex-military with a temper. Raul and two other kids barely out of their short pants are crouched in the ditch on the other side of the road. I’ve got a pair of bolt cutters and my job is to open up the truck after the others flash some guns and pull the driver over. My gut tells me this is a poorly constructed plan, but when I try to say something to Hector about it, he spits on my boots and tells me to shut the fuck up. A clear message in any language.
+++++I hear a rumble coming from down the sun baked highway and spot the convoy in the distance. Hector gives the signal to get ready and after the first three trucks pass through, he and the others step out into the road with some antique AK-47s pointed in the air. The last truck slides to a stop and Hector yanks the driver out by the neck and puts a bullet in his head right there on the cracked pavement. Raul and the boys watch the road in case the other trucks decide to turn around and I run to the back and cut the padlock off the roll door.
+++++I nearly fall over myself backing up when the door opens. It’s full of bodies. They’re stacked like firewood and wrapped in plastic. The stench is so overwhelming that I gag and wretch until a breeze kicks up and I get a reprieve of fresh air. Hector comes around the back with a blue bandana wrapped around his face. He doesn’t seem surprised by the cargo.
+++++“Alright gringo, time to earn your pesos. We are looking for a man with this tattoo.” He holds up a Polaroid picture. It shows a crown of thorns etched in black ink on a muscled forearm.
+++++“What, you want me to unwrap all these rotten bodies?”
+++++Hector tosses me a folding knife. “Just slit the bags and look at the arms.”
+++++“You got to be fucking kidding right?”
+++++Hector points the Soviet era rifle at my chest. “Fucking do it gringo.”
+++++I flip open the knife and jump up onto the bumper of the panel van. The hot stench of rotting flesh is thick as soup and sticks to my clothes and claws at my eyes. I cut open the first bag and vomit down the front of my shirt. I find the arms and give them a quick look over. No tattoos. I move on down the line trying to hold my breath as best as I can.
+++++“Hurry up motherfucker. Time is almost up,” Hector says looking down the highway toward the horizon.
+++++I’ve worked through the first two stacks but come up nil. Half way through the third pile of bodies I spot what I’m looking for. The ink stands out a tangle of black in stark contrast to the bluish white skin around it. I yell for Hector and he gets Raul to climb up and help me pull the bag down to the ground. Hector inspects the body while one of the other kids pulls up in the station wagon that serves as our ride.
+++++Raul and I lift the bag into the back and Hector puts a blanket over it. He makes the sign of the cross and mutters something under his breath.
+++++“Alright, everybody over to the ditch, we have one last thing to take care of,” Hector says looking at his watch. The driver gets out and joins the rest of us in the red dirt by the side of the highway. My gut’s screaming that something’s not right. I see Hector’s finger on the trigger of the AK as he walks over and it dawns on me what’s about to happen. I quietly pull the folding knife from my pocket and take several steps away from Raul and the others who are high fiving and oblivious to the cleanup that’s about to take place.
+++++The first shot splits Raul’s head wide open, spraying the others in a mist of blood and bone. They fall to their knees with their hands in the air and Hector opens up on them, mowing them down. I move in quick, leaping from the ditch and manage to get the knife into Hector’s neck before he can swing the barrel around on me. The gun goes off next to my head and I feel my right ear drum rupture. Hector’s a strong bastard and he struggles and fights until he bleeds out, nearly pulling my hand off the handle of the knife in his throat. When he’s dead I lay there in the blazing sun, exhausted, covered in blood and surrounded by dead bodies, new and old.

***

I should’ve just made my way to the border, let the guards work me over and try to explain why I didn’t have a passport. Sure it might mean some more prison time on the other side, but at least I’d be out of this shit stain of a city. I should’ve, but I didn’t, and now I have to let this thing play out. I swear, if I’m still breathing at the end of this, maybe I’ll buy a lottery ticket, my luck will have surely turned.
+++++“Where the fuck is Hector?” I hear Hefe say in Spanish to sweaty man in a police uniform. “He’s late and if we don’t have the package, it’s our heads on a stick come morning.”
+++++The sun is starting to go down behind the hills of dirt and rock and the warehouse has taken on a burnt orange glow. I’m crouched behind a pallet of fertilizer with Hector’s AK waiting for the darkness to settle in.
+++++“He’ll be here Miguel, Hector’s our best man.”
+++++The fat man takes a puff from a cigarillo and leans back in his chair. “It doesn’t feel right. He should have called by now.”
+++++The two men hear a commotion outside and turn to the large roll door. It looks like the guards have found my little gift. The man in the police uniform tells the boss to stay put and goes out to see what’s going on. The sun has slipped below the horizon now and I move from one shadow to another, closing the distance between us.
+++++The policeman comes back in carrying a plastic garbage bag in one hand. His face is pale and his jaw slack. He places the bag on the boss’s desk and opens it up. The fat man flinches when he sees Hector’s head, the eyes rolled back and the tongue out and swollen purple.
+++++I step out of the darkness and put a single round in the cop’s head, sending him crashing to the concrete floor. The boss goes for something in the bottom desk drawer but thinks better of it when I close in. The shot echoes off the sheet metal walls alerting the two guards outside who rush in and pull their weapons on me.
+++++“Tell them to back away or I’ll pop your skull right now.”
+++++The boss takes another puff from his cigarillo and flashes a toothy, yellow grin. “Now bolillo, why would I do that?”
+++++I pull another plastic bag from over my shoulder and toss it on the desk. It falls open and the arm with the tattoo rolls out onto a stack of papers. “If you want the rest of this bastard, you’ll do as I say.”

***

Guys like me don’t have the luxury of hope. We go through life looking over our shoulders, waiting for the bullet or the blade that will finally send us to hell to face the awful things we’ve done. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised when the border agent took a quick glance at my new passport and waved me through. He didn’t even give my duffle bag a second look. It wouldn’t have been hard to find the eighty grand stuffed in the lining.
+++++As the barbed wire and concrete fade into the dust behind me, for the first time in years I look ahead to what might be. For an instant I push out the doubt and let the empty space in my head fill with the strange and unfamiliar thought that today just might be the best day of my life.

Kicking The Habit

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Cessanol is an FDA approved medication to help adults 18 and over quit smoking. Side effects may include anxiety, panic, depression and unusual or strange dreams. Jesus you gotta be kidding me, it might just be better to die from cancer,” Wade said reading the pill bottle in his hand.
+++++He popped two of the little blue ovals into his mouth and washed them down with the remainder of his soda. He really needed a smoke, but Sarah had been on him to quit, and he promised to do that for her. He picked up his tray and walked it over to the garbage can near the exit. There was nothing more bleak and depressing than a hospital cafeteria at three in the morning.
+++++Wade was tired, but he didn’t want to go back to Sarah’s room until the nurses were done changing her bedding. The ICU was small and he always felt like he was in the way. He checked the clock on the wall and walked over to an empty waiting area tucked in next to the reception desk. He sat down on the faded burgundy couch and wondered how many poor souls had huddled right there, worrying about someone they loved, feeling helpless just like him. Soon he felt the warm froth of sleep start to wash over him and he closed his eyes.
+++++A sound like scraping metal woke Wade from his slumber. He opened his eyes and found that he had fallen over and was curled up in the fetal position on the couch. The metallic howl ripped through the empty foyer again and Wade jumped up. He walked out into the wide lobby and found the source of the sound. The automatic doors that led out to the parking lot were wedged open and a dark fog was rolling in like a river across the polished tile floor. As the doors tried to close, the electric motor hidden within the walls, screeched and protested in vain.
+++++Above the mist floated long, smoky tendrils that curled and snaked up the walls and over the desks. Without thinking, Wade found himself following the fog toward the stairs. He passed the empty admittance desk and wondered where the hell everyone had gone. The haze spiraled up the stairwell like the trunk of a dark, twisted tree. In a trance, Wade shuffled up the stairs with the vapor swirling around his ankles.
+++++At the landing for the ICU on the fifth floor, the fog pushed through the open doors and spilled out into the ward. Wade followed it, his feet moving on without his control. The ICU was abandoned with no sign of the staff. A pit formed in his stomach when he saw that the stream of fog ended at Sarah’s room. It swirled in dark eddies as it poured under her closed door.
+++++Wade’s body felt distant and fuzzy, like he was somehow outside himself, a silent, powerless witness to the events unfolding in front of him. He saw his hand reach out and turn the knob to Sarah’s room. As he entered, the lights in the corner began to dim and flicker. The thick gray fog was pooled around the base of Sarah’s bed, slowly rotating. It began to billow upward, and Wade watched in horror as a large, inky tentacle emerged from it, crawling across the sheets and clamping down on Sarah’s face. He tried to scream but no sound left his throat. A wave of panic flooded Wade’s body causing the trance to break. He leapt onto the bed, and grabbed the slimy appendage with both hands. It was cold and wet, and began to writhe and twist in his grip. He could see thick muscles ripple under its black, spotted skin as it pumped something from Sarah’s unconscious body. Wade strained and pulled until the skin on his hands began to peel away. Suddenly the tentacle released with a jerk and an unearthly scream echoed from down the hall. The appendage slithered back into the fog, sending Wade crashing into the wall. The impact knocked the air out of his lungs, and he fell to the floor gasping. As he lay there trying to catch his breath, he watched the vapor recede back out into the ICU. He pulled himself to his feet and looked down at his bloody, blistered palms. His head felt dizzy and his legs began to buckle. Wade collapsed into the recliner next to Sarah’s bed just before everything went black.
+++++“Mr. Lockhart? Mr. Lockhart, you need to wake up sir.”
+++++Wade opened his eyes to find a nurse standing over him. He was in the chair in Sarah’s room. He looked over at the empty bed.
+++++“Where is she? What happened?”
+++++“Relax Mr. Lockhart. Your wife came out of her coma a few minutes ago, she’s downstairs having an MRI right now. This is great news sir.”
+++++Wade rubbed his eyes and tried to get his bearings. How did he get back upstairs from the cafeteria? He couldn’t remember anything but that horrible dream. The nurse gave him a warm blanket and told him that Sarah would return to her room shortly. After the girl left, Wade stood up and stretched his legs. His nerves were an absolute wreck and he could’ve killed somebody for a smoke. He remembered his promise to Sarah and pulled the bottle of pills from his pocket. As he popped off the cap he noticed the bloody scrapes on both of his palms.

Ghost Pains

The world was graying around the edges and Frank Griffin knew he was dying from blood loss. The gunshot to his gut was singing soprano, but it was mild compared to the raging pain in his leg. The leg they cut off two months ago.
+++++The doctors called it ghost pain, a symptom of permanent nerve damage. Every waking moment it felt like his knee was being crushed by a burning weight, the weight of the pearl blue Cadillac that killed Sarah and left him a partial man.
+++++Frank punched himself in the face, trying not to black out. Mr. Valencio, the drunk driver and owner of the Cadillac, was on the floor in front of him, propped up against his ornate desk. The revolver he used to shoot Frank in the stomach sat next to him but it was useless now; he was too weak to lift it.
+++++Frank sat slumped over his good leg, his stump stretched out to one side. His trousers were soaked in blood, and he could see a crimson circle growing beneath him, spreading on the carpet.
+++++“It won’t be long now Sarah.” He whispered.
+++++Somewhere in the office a phone beeped reminding Frank of his first memory after the accident. It was the beeping of the life support, steady and rhythmic. Like the flash of a lighthouse beam, it guided him back from the darkness. He had opened his eyes and found himself woven into a tangle of tubes and wires, a nurse scribbling something on a clipboard at the foot of the bed. He remembered the agony and how he had screamed until he ruptured his vocal chords.
+++++The doctors told Frank it would take six weeks of therapy before he could leave the hospital, but he did it in three. He was determined. He not only finished his physical therapy, he excelled at it. His therapist said it was a miracle, but Frank knew better. He had a goal that carried him through the long, painful hours. He was going to kill Roger Valencio.
+++++The sound of wheezing pulled Frank from his thoughts. Valencio was trying to raise himself. He gasped, sucked air like a fresh caught fish, and fell back against the desk, a trickle of blood leaking from his chin. He was dying; they both were. All Frank had to do was hang on a little longer. He needed the bastard to go first, for Sarah.
+++++Frank laughed, sending a fresh spurt of blood pouring from the bullet wound. The phrase ghost pain kept running through his mind. ‘How fucking appropriate.’ He thought. After all, he did feel haunted, but it wasn’t the leg. Somewhere deep inside a raw wound throbbed and he knew it would never heal. A wound ripped open when Sarah was taken from him and like his leg, Frank knew he would feel it forever.
+++++A profound weakness began to spread over Frank and his hands grew cold. Valencio was still breathing and time was running out. Frank pulled himself up on his knee and reached out, grabbing the end of the prosthetic leg sticking from Roger Valencio’s chest. With all of his remaining strength, Frank pushed it deeper.
+++++Valencio groaned as his last breath rattled up from his throat. He clutched at the steel rod piercing his lung until his eyes went glassy. Frank leaned in on the prosthetic and stared into the dead man’s face.
+++++It was finally done.
+++++All the anger and blinding focus suddenly drain from Frank and he collapsed on the floor. As the darkness trickled in around his head like cool water, he thought of the days leading up to this moment. He thought about cutting off the plastic foot and using the grinder to give the leg a point. He thought about the red hot vengeance that sustained him and inspired him to make a weapon out of the very thing that symbolized his loss.
+++++Death finally came for Frank Griffin and he embraced it. The pain in his leg faded and for an instant he felt whole again. He could hear Sarah in the back of his mind, whispering to him.
+++++“It’s time Frank.”

 

Git Up and Git Even

The light was going out of Teddy’s eyes. His breathing slowed and his heartbeat began to fade. The water stain on the ceiling right above him, the one that looked a lot like a young Elvis Presley complete with microphone stand, started to blur as his vision failed. The bullet had torn a huge hole in Teddy’s stomach, leaving a pool of white hot pain in its wake.
+++++In the quiet of his mind, as his body closed up shop, one department at a time, Teddy heard his momma’s voice. It was a whisper, raspy from a steady stream of whiskey and Camels.
+++++“Come on Teddy. You ain’t gonna let that son of a bitch git away with this are you? He killed me and now he done put you down like an old dog. You can’t let him walk, you’re all we got Teddy, our only chance. Come on boy git up! Git up and git even!”
+++++Teddy opened his eyes. Water stain Elvis clutched the microphone, thrusting his hips sharply to one side. The chorus to “Mystery Train” echoed through Teddy’s head until the paramedics showed up. As they carried him away on the stretcher, he swore he saw water stain Elvis wink at him through the hazy plastic of the oxygen mask.

***

It was a solid month before Teddy could take a shit without screaming, a month, and that was with the painkillers. The doctors said they had to remove fifteen inches of damaged intestines, and that there would be some discomfort. Teddy didn’t know exactly what that meant, but he knew it felt like passing hot razor blades for the first few weeks. Now with the morphine, he could manage. When it was time to go home, they wheeled him out to the curb and a fat blonde nurse with a smoker’s cough stayed with him until his cousin Sandra showed up in her old Ford pickup.
+++++They rode the entire trip back from Atlanta to Wheeler County in silence. Sandra tried to make conversation, but Teddy just stared out the window humming under his breath. When they got back to Glenwood, Sandra dropped him off on a dusty stretch of road just outside an old kudzu covered trailer. “It ain’t right Teddy.” She said leaning over the steering wheel. “You shouldn’t go back in there so soon.  The place’s been taped off, and the police done a number on it cause of the shootin.”
+++++Teddy eased out of the truck holding his stomach. “Appreciate the ride cuz, but I’ll be fine.” He waved her off, and stood in the driveway until the Ford’s taillights faded behind a cloud of dust. The truth was, he didn’t mind coming back home. Teddy’s momma owned the place outright along with the five surrounding acres and now it was his. It was all he had in the world. He broke the police tape on the front door and limped across the rotted threshold. He opened a window to let out some of the stagnate air, grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat down on the dusty old couch. Teddy looked up at water stain Elvis. He was still there, mid-thrust, hanging on the microphone stand like it was all that kept him from falling over. Teddy popped two morphine tablets and washed them down with the Pabst. That beer and a pack of smokes were the last things his momma bought before she died. Images from that night flashed through his head like somebody changing channels on a TV set. He remembered momma being drunk and screaming. He remembered Harold pulling the pistol, and the gun shots.
+++++After a while, the morphine kicked in, coating Teddy in its golden glow. He got up and pushed the coffee table into the corner and carefully lay down on the blood stained carpet. He tucked his arm behind his head, and sipped his beer while staring up at the ceiling.
+++++The outline of water stain Elvis’s pompadour started to wiggle, and Teddy smiled. The king rotated and snapped his pelvis in his signature move. Teddy could hear “Jail House Rock” floating through the trailer’s musty air.
+++++“I know, I’ll probably go to prison, but I have to kill him. Momma asked me to.” Teddy said out loud.
+++++Elvis swung the mic stand over to the other hand and rocked back on his heels. Teddy heard the music change, and “It’s Now or Never” began to bounce off the cheap paneling.
+++++“You’re right. This is my only chance to git him. But how?”
+++++Water stain Elvis ran his hand over his pompadour and extended his arm, pointing a finger. The music changed again, this time “We’re Comin in Loaded” filled the little trailer. Teddy followed the pointing finger to the old rusty refrigerator humming in the kitchen. Teddy pulled himself up and hobbled over to it. He yanked the fridge out onto the peeling linoleum and reached around to the back. His hand found a revolver taped to the coils. It must have been his father’s. One of the only things he left behind when the police came for him all those years ago. Teddy flipped the cylinder open, it was loaded. The lyrics to “A Little Less Conversation” entered Teddy’s ears and he grinned. Water stain Elvis was right; a little more action was just what he needed.

***

Teddy jammed the old pickup into gear and tore out of Sandra’s place in a spray of gravel. She had stopped by the trailer to check on him and invite him over for dinner. He had agreed, but before they could eat, he grabbed the keys and slipped out.
+++++It wasn’t hard to find Harold. He was sitting in his patrol car off route twelve. Everybody knew he parked out there to catch a nap when things were slow. Teddy stashed the rusty Ford in the tree line down the hill and cut through the hip deep grass, coming in on Harold’s blind side. He crept up and hit the sheriff with the butt of the revolver, knocking him out before the old man could even flinch. Teddy pulled the Ford alongside the patrol car and lifted the old cop up into the bed of the truck. He could feel his stitches breaking free inside, and before he could climb into the cab, he had to drop to his knees and vomit blood.

***

Harold opened his eyes and saw Teddy sitting on the couch in front of him. Teddy looked bad, dark circles ringed his eyes and he had dried blood at the corners of his mouth. He was looking up at a dark stain on the ceiling and talking to himself.
+++++“Teddy, now listen son. You need to untie me right now and we can talk about this.”
+++++Teddy jumped to his feet revealing a dark crimson patch growing on the bottom of his white tee shirt. “No time left for talkin sheriff. You killed momma, you tried to kill me. Now it’s your turn.”
+++++Large beads of sweat rolled down the sheriff’s face as he struggled with the duct tape around his wrists. “Listen boy, I don’t know if you been snortin some of that shit your mother was cookin in the back room, but you know I didn’t kill her. We went through all this at the hospital. You were right there when she pulled that pistol and shot you and then herself.  She was completely out of her head. I had to shut her down Teddy. She was poisonin half the county with that shit she was makin.”
+++++Teddy waved the revolver in the sheriff’s face and paced back and forth. “Don’t you bullshit me Harold! You had it in for momma since day one. She told me you’d come around someday and try to take her away.”
+++++Teddy reached over behind the couch and lifted up a five gallon container of gasoline. He shot a wink to the stain on the ceiling as he poured the gas on the carpet around both of their feet.
+++++“Teddy, you’ve been through a lot boy, livin here in this filth, breathin in all those chemicals every day. Let me go and we can get you some help. You don’t want to do this Teddy. Listen to me boy!”
+++++Teddy dropped the gas can and pulled a match from his pocket. He lit it and watched the flame crawl up the wood toward his fingers. Teddy looked up at the ceiling as he let the match fall. He laughed as water stain Elvis pivoted around the microphone stand and the lyrics to “Burning Love” drifted up over the rising flames.

The Kings of Sweat and Pain

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These hands of mine can’t be trusted, they will betray me if given a chance. These hands, hardened and calloused, have splintered bones and bruised the flesh of my fellow man. It was these hands that put me in this prison sixteen years ago. These hands that wrapped around her cheating throat and squeezed out the last breath of life.
+++++Sometimes they’re quiet and it almost feels like I have control. They lay low as I work in the laundry or lift weights in the yard. Sometimes I think the gauze I wrap them in smothers their desire, and dampens their anger. I try to keep them occupied, busy drilling the heavy bag and gripping the jump rope, but at night, while I lay in my cell depleted from the day’s workout, I worry that they will turn on me once again.
+++++Nights are the worst, that’s when the demon seeps out from the bone. My fingers ache and throb with the need to inflict pain. Sometimes the urge is so strong I can’t fight it. That’s why they don’t let me have a cellmate any more. I spent a month in the hole the last time these goddamned hands couldn’t resist. They caught me in a moment of weakness and got themselves around Cesar’s scrawny neck. No more of that. I gotta stay vigilant, be strong and keep them under control. Get through to the next fight and make the warden proud.
+++++It’s funny to think that these hands are my ticket out of this place. The warden says that if I make a good showing at the next fight, I might get some time knocked off my sentence. All I have to do is stay out of trouble, and keep these meat hooks in line. The warden makes a lot of money off the prison fights, and he likes my style, says I have talent.
+++++I have a big fight coming up with a Jamaican from C block. He’s tough like a braid of rope, but he can’t hit. His hands are soft, they don’t crave the blood like mine. He’s tall and has a reach advantage on me, but if I can get inside, the hands will do the work.
+++++The warden came by my cell last night and had a talk with me. He says that the big money’s on me going down in the third round. He says he knows I want to win, but he’ll do right by me if I’ll lay down just this once. I hate to see the Jamaican win, but I like the warden, and I want to do whatever it takes to get out of this place.
+++++I bind my hands tight with tape, forcing the demon down deep into the marrow.  I gotta keep them locked down, snuff out the anger that glows like embers in the bones. I shadowbox in the corner, loosening my shoulders, and I can feel the hands throb and pulse. They sense the coming blood and it ignites their lust. With each hook and jab, they awaken just a little more. I know deep down that I’m helpless to stop them.

*

The bell rings and the Jamaican comes out hard and fast. I try and keep the hands low, tucked into my ribs so my chin can do the work, but the bastards are in their element, they are kings in this world of sweat and pain. They come alive with fury and rage and soon bone shatters and flesh tears. The Jamaican ceases to breathe, and my hands betray me once again.