The Eternal Return of Little Mac

by Ben Dolnick

Not like I wasn’t training good before, but now I’m doing something different. Now when me and Doc see the Statue of Liberty, it’s like, “Yep, fourth time I passed you today, see you in a hour, I’ll be the dude in the pink sweatsuit.” Because Bald Bull? He’s fierce. Straight-up fierce. I mean, when I was eighteen, nineteen years old I didn’t have to count when he did that spinny shit, it was just like his eyes start rolling, boom. First round. Then I’d be up all night at the hotel, different girls in the club, in my room, and still be up the next day with Doc six, seven in the morning, still drunk sometimes, didn’t matter.

Can’t do that no more. Body won’t let me. I’ve had my eye closed up, had my whole body turn gray on me. I’m like one of those…what’s that car? With like the little dude up top? See, that’s another thing — can’t remember shit either. But these, man? These? They can still fucking wreck you. I’m playing, I’m not gonna hit you. If I did, though? Man, you’d think it was a star punch. You’d still swear I was twenty-one years old. Probably even worse, actually, because I know how to do it now, know how to put my body behind it. Not just brawling no more.

It’s gonna be me and Bull, man, and he comes at me? He comes at me like the way he do, ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk? Just, bam. One little uppercut, like bam. And that’s it. Harder they come, know what I’m sayin’?

I got dropped, man. Second round, he starts doing that conga line shit with his hands, you know? Like this? And one of ’em catches me in the eye, right up here. Nah, it’s good now, they stitched me up and shit, but it just messed with the count I was doing. I was about to just pull back and fuckin’… Back to work though, you know? This is almost like my favorite part, ’cause he knows now. Knows I can get him. Next time he won’t catch me in the eye. Next time he’ll be on his back.

Most people you talk to don’t take this dude serious. It’s like, Glass? That’s his fuckin’ name? But you know what? You get smart as a fighter, you learn something, you learn something from everybody. Glass Joe? Dude taught me how to fall. You don’t see me do the whole ziggy zaggy shit, but watch when I hit the ground. The way my shoulder goes first, like that? Straight Glass.

King Bullshit. It’s like get pants that fit, you know? How many years we been doing this, and he’s still… I just got no patience for people like that. People say shit like, “Oh, he’s slow, he’s retarded, whatever.” But you know what? I get in the ring with you, I’m not trying to see your nuts. I’m just not.

Yeah, I dropped him, though. Second round he goes all kind of…see-through and shit, you know? So I just pull back and pow. Feel that. Yeah, alright? I see Soda Pop last night out running and I’m like, “Pops, Pops, I’m gunning for you,” and he’s just like, “Ha ha ha, OK, Mac, we’ll see,” because he don’t know — he don’t know ’bout all the new shit me and Doc are doing.

Me and Glass again, man. People say all kinds of shit, but he’s a warrior, you know? Twenty-nine fights he’s lost. Dude’s parents have money, dude’s dad keeps being like “Joe, get out the ring, come do my shit with me,” and he’s just like, “I’m a fighter. That’s what I am.” And dude’s right, I don’t care if it’s twenty-nine fights or fifty-nine fights or a hundred-nine fights, that’s just how a fighter’s got to do. When they carry me out, when you see all the blue and red lights and shit? Then OK, you done your time. But ’til then? Shit, I don’t know. I’m not counting. Used to be like I’d get home, fill out my little card and shit, this many rounds, this many minutes, all that. Probably got like whole boxes of ’em. Now it’s just like, how many fights you been in? This one. Just this one I got to do today. You hear me?

Truth is, I don’t feel too good. Just these past couple of days, been wobbly. I’m not a teenager no more. Used to be, I’d be up all night at the hotel, different girls… Sorry, can’t remember shit. ‘Specially when I’m tired, Doc can be like, “Yo Mac, how many rounds you drop Sandman in that time?” And I just go, I got no fuckin’ clue. It’s all just kind of…wavy, you know? I’ll be better, though, I’ll be better.

Was talking to Piston last night — you met him? Smart dude, like fuckin’ smartest dude I know. Everybody thinks he’s Japanese ’cause he plays Japanese but dude’s from like Iraq or India or some shit. Speaks English better than me. And usually I don’t get too caught up in his trippy shit but right now, ’cause I been sick or whatever? He was makin’ sense. What? Oh it’s just like… like talkin’ ‘bout think what happens after you get laid out real bad. Like real real bad, the way when Piston just nails you with that like duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh, or Bull gets all up on you. What happens after that? Where do you go between that and waking up in the ring with Glass? That kinda shit.

Nah, I’m better, man, all better. Feelin’ good. Got Bald Bull II this afternoon. You met him? Nah, I think he’s just like his cousin or some shit. Bad dude. I used to see him up in the club with all these like girls all up on his lap and shit, powder all on the table. But I’m just gonna go in, fight my fight, you know? His thing, man, he gets you with the little bunny hop and shit? I’m just tuning it out. That’s what me and Doc do like every day now, just tune it out and go to work.

See that’s the thing with Glass, because no one takes him serious. People see his name, see like the little rooster shit with his hair. Dude’s smart, though, dude’s a soldier. Dude’s dad is always asking him come work for him and shit and he just won’t do it, ’cause fighting’s what he do, that’s who he is. I’ll lay him out this afternoon, no doubt, but that’s ’cause I’m a soldier too. Just going to work.

This thing Piston was telling me last night — you know that dude? He ain’t even Japanese. Fuckin’ smartest motherfucker I know. I’ll tell you then I gotta fucking go home and go to sleep ’cause I got Flamenco in the morning. He said, you think all there is is getting laid out, then fighting Glass and me and Bull, over and over and over? He said it ain’t like that. He said, you lay out Mike, you get out of the whole thing. Just like balloons dropping and shit and then you’re out. And I’m like, out how? And he just says, “Out.” But I’m like, how am I suppose to lay out Mike? And he’s just like watch his blinking, watch his blinking. So I been trying to, been watching people’s eyes, you probably thought I was trying to kiss you or some shit. But it makes me a little nervous too, you know? Like out where? Out of what? I left Piston a message but he didn’t get me back. I’m a soldier, I go to work every day, but still, something about how he said it, I almost couldn’t sleep last night. You know what I’m sayin’?

Ben Dolnick’s latest book, At the Bottom of Everything, is now in paperback. He remembers less about entire years of his childhood than about certain Nintendo games.