Yes I do, Joe.
That means a lot of running in sweat suits in eighty degree weather, hot box heaven, and sweaty balls until my fight.
I dodge people on the side walk, but keep my gaze straight ahead. Cars whiz past me on the streets, but I can’t hear the sound of the engines.
Disturbed blasts through my earbuds and bleeds through my pores before infiltrating my bloodstream.
The loud music distracts me.
Puts me in the right frame of mind.
It takes over my whole body making me feel like I’m a machine programmed to knock my opponent the fuck out.
I always listen to music before a fight.
It’s weird really because right before they call my name I get this vision of myself. Arms in the air. Fierce victory cry leaving my throat. And my opponent out cold on the ring floor.
It’s an exhilarating feeling.
The song switches and Invincible by MGK bounces off my ear drums.
Hometown proud, baby.
Picking up speed, I turn a corner and pass a café where a group of artsy folks are sitting outside on metal chairs, sipping iced teas that are placed on metal tables. One dude extends his fist to me and I give him a fist bump as I jog by. That’s what I love about Cleveland. And Ohio. They appreciate their own.
The small, square tan brick gym with a black and white sign hanging overhead that reads: Joe’s Boxing Gym fills my gaze and I pump my legs harder to reach it faster. That is until I notice the black Ford Crown Victoria sitting on the side of the road a few blocks ahead of it. And the moment I roll my eyes to their corners to get a look at the driver, nausea coats the lining of my stomach.
But I don’t stop running.
I can’t act like I’m nervous.
Or fidget like anything is far from the norm.
The driver doesn’t even look in my direction, but I don’t need him to.
I know what he is.
I know why he’s sitting there.
Once I’m in the confined entry of the gym, complete with metal coat racks, I start to panic. I pace back and forth, hold my head in my hands and think about shoving a fist through the plaster wall.
He’s a fed.
The driver of the ford is a fucking fed!
I know how to pick those fuckers out. With their aviator sunglasses. White button downs. Tailored black pants. I’ve been involved in illegal activity long enough to have their looks memorized. And their cars. And their trying to be conspicuous ways. The thing is, they usually aren’t conspicuous, parking out in broad daylight for the whole world to see. Any member of the brotherhood that passes that black Crown Victoria would know the asshole sitting inside it was a fed.
I feel like my whole world has just gone up in flames.
Blown up like a bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
The last time the feds were on to the brotherhood I was the one who got arrested. I spent six months in the pen and trust me when I say this; being locked up is worse than torture. Number one, I got shanked by some Puerto Rican prick who had a personal vendetta against Connie. Connie framed one of his brothers for trafficking Oxycontin, and the bastard thought if he and his ese’s jumped me it might send a message.