The Kings of Sweat and PainNovember 20, 2014
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.by