Shadowboxer

Shadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan Read Free Book Online

Book: Shadowboxer by Tricia Sullivan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tricia Sullivan
Tags: Urban Fantasy
will be so happy in the house of your body.’
    His chilly fingers were the color of old paper.

 
    Escalating Fuckup Series
     
     
    A T M ANDINO’S THAT night I told Chrissie I had to quit without notice. I offered to work one last shift. She chewed me out some and then she ended up getting all teary. She said that if it didn’t work out for me in Thailand she’d always have a job for me. I guess she’s OK. I mean, I work hard and I don’t steal, and I never hit anybody at that job, so I guess I’m a good dishwasher. I think she thinks I’m cute. If only she knew.
    I was just closing up the kitchen for the night when Cake showed up, all fresh-faced and smiling.
    ‘Now don’t take this the wrong way, Jade.’
    That’s his opening. I hate it when people do that. I’m already taking it the wrong way.
    ‘Let me guess, you’ve come to laugh at my pronunciation,’ I quipped, hefting the bag of pig swill out of its container. ‘All the times you’ve tried teaching me to speak Thai and I suck, right?’
    I dropped the bag on the floor and started dragging it towards the back door. Cake sidestepped neatly. He looked all spiffed-up, freshly showered after training, clothes ironed, not a hair out of place. I looked like a rat under a hair net. I was finishing up my shift, which means leaving the kitchen clean. Everybody else had already gone home, except Manuel who was running the vacuum in the foyer.
    ‘I want to talk to you about your temper,’ he said, following me out back. He has a soft, singsong voice—kind of high-pitched, too—and he’s only about five foot seven in shoes. If you know how to look, you can tell he’s strong, but a lot of people don’t know how to look. People think ‘Cake’ stands for ‘Cupcake’ or something.
    It don’t.
    ‘What temper?’ I heaved the bag into position for pickup and started stacking cardboard boxes to make room for the rest of the garbage. It was a warm night and I could hear Eminem’s ‘Go to Sleep’ coming from the open windows of a car stopped at lights.
    ‘It’s OK,’ Cake said. ‘I am not passing judgement, I only want to share something with you.’
    Sometimes it takes my brain a little while to catch up with my mouth. The truth is, in the time I’ve known Cake, he’s never given me any kind of advice, he’s never criticised me, and he’s about as low-key as anybody I’ve ever met. He studies engineering at Stevens Institute and lives in Mr B’s basement. He sends money home to Thailand. He’s never been anything but humble, even though we all know that in a standup fight he could take anybody in the gym except maybe Khari, who outweighs him by about 80 pounds.
    I sighed, wiped my forehead with the back of my filthy hand, and let myself flop against the stucco wall. It smelled bad out here but at least it was dark.
    ‘OK, pana , what about my temper?’
    Now all of a sudden his face screws up and he can’t look at me straight. He’s embarrassed.
    ‘You see, in Thailand it’s not like New York. People aren’t...’
    ‘What?’ I said, laughing. ‘Loud? Rude?’
    ‘Sort of. Yeah. They won’t respect you if you always show impatience, act pushy. You won’t make no friends. You need friends, Jade. When I came here, I didn’t know anybody except my uncle. Everybody was so angry here, so rushing all the time, nobody talks to you. If you ask them questions they are rude. Where I come from, people are good people. If you try not be so... aggressive, then you will be OK there.’
    ‘I’m not aggressive,’ I said.
    ‘If somebody upsets you,’ Cake said, ‘You got to just relax. Don’t worry about it. Flow with the go.’
    ‘Cake, I’m a fighter.’
    ‘Me, too. Remember?’
    We both laughed and I said, ‘OK, OK, true.’
    ‘In the ring is fighting but after we smile and hug. We are kind to each other. You understand?’
    I sighed again.
    ‘Jade. It’s too much. You would fight your own shadow. You only end up hurting

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