Friday, April 13, 2018

What You Know by Nick Manzolillo

What You Know

Some writer is willing to pay me to beat his face in. Now, I'm not one for wilding out unprovoked. I've never been in a bar fight where I didn't let myself get hit first. Then again, I've managed to get into more bar, concert, diner, and taxi-cab fights than anybody I know. So what if I've got a reputation, doesn't mean I feel good about hurting somebody that wasn't asking for it. Then again, this guy was asking for it, asking for it and offering me three hundred at the same time.

"Just don't use a bat or anything," he told me. I agreed with him, mostly 'cause I don't have a bat, and if I did use one, I'd probably just kill the wiry little fucker.

He told me, this writer of black books and foul shit, he told me to surprise him. He paid me up front, patted the buffalo tattoo on my shoulder like he was into me or something, and said to come at him randomly. "Not tonight, not tomorrow, not next week," he told me, and I laughed into my beer. No doubt he's a crazy motherfucker. He smelled terrible, too, but not like piss like most crazy motherfuckers; he smelled like melted plastic and buffalo sauce, yeah, like freshly cooked wings.

It's week number two after he asked me. He's probably still all amped up, expecting me and this probably isn't what he wants, but I'd for sure forget if I waited any longer. As it is, it took my honey, Gwen, asking me about the job and smacking me upside the head this afternoon while I was finishing up a good night's sleep and a long day's dream.

The writer gave me his schedule, see, he's the obsessive-compulsive sort, sticking to the same old, same old, day in, day out. He teaches books to college kids and all that pretentious shit at the big grand full-of-it university that this whole city bends over backwards for. He goes straight from work to a girl's on-campus apartment, then he goes home to his wife, then he goes to the corner pub and has a drink. I planned on getting him after his drink, but when I walked over to his old haunt of a bar, I realized it was hardly five-thirty.  Fucking Gwen, waking me up too early.

I go by the campus, don't see his prissy little charger, and so I find his little blueberry car outside his girl's apartment. It's a shame, 'cause I wanted him to be drunk enough that he wouldn't feel the hurt. He'll probably be love-drunk and that's not the kind of drunk you want to be when you get jumped-beaten and then jumped on. I feel bad and I wonder if I'm even the man for the job, the manly-man sorta badass, as the writer referred to me.

I park my car across the street and linger in the bushes. He walks out into the umbrella glow of the front door's light, pausing to light a cigarette. He sighs deeply before muttering, "for fuck's sake I see you, you big goon"

I try and crouch lower but it's no use; I leap out and maybe it's because he called me a goon, but I'm on him. He giggles, right before I hit him and drop him. I pause for a moment, because I am here for a job. I let him get to his wobbly feet. Could be he wants drama for that next bestseller of his I'll see at the grocery store, so I settle on giving him a chance.

He moans, and then seeing the laughter in my eyes, he lunges for me. I catch his arm, throw it to his side and give him a first class series of uppercuts that knock him back on his ass. I kick him in his ribs, lower myself and pop him just once, firmly, in the head. He goes down, and I believe myself to be done, till he tilts his head up and fumbles into his pocket.

I panic for a moment, thinking it's a gun, ready to jackhammer both my heels into his throat. It's just a piece of paper and a broken half-a-pencil. "Gotta write this down, bud," he says, spitting blood, and that's the moment he officially rubs me the wrong way. What, does he think I'm a fraud? An actor? Some asshole off the street? I kick that fucking notebook right out of his hands.

"Hey!" He moans and I'm on him, head butting his skull. He goes still but he's breathing, as I scoop his wallet, pluck his keys from the ground where he dropped them and then, blood simmering, next thing I know I'm driving his blueberry charger. I start to feel guilty, 'cause it's not that bad a ride. Not even for a big fellow like me. I like the way it handles, boosting to the speed limit in a near-instant. I'm aware I left my truck at the wordsmith's girl's place, but fuck it. I knew there'd be consequences, Gwen knew there'd be consequences. I bet that fucker would probably have had me arrested and then claim our altercation was a random act of violence, just so he could study the effects of due process and a court room. Hell, I like the sound of that, a random act of violence.

Writer guy like that, no matter how smart he be, he needs a fella like myself. Guy like that only writes what he knows, then it's boring shit and the like. I'm the one who taught him tonight. I've got the knowledge he'd smack himself in the head for. My spelling's off, and he may be the one who writes, but it's my story he's gonna tell, over and over, holding his aching face in one hand and a pen in the other.


Bio Nick Manzolillo's short fiction has appeared in over thirty publications including Wicked Witches: A New England Horror Writers Anthology, Thuglit, Grievous Angel, and The Tales To Terrify podcast. He recently earned an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University. By day he is a content operations specialist, editor, and writer for TopBuzz, a news app.


  1. Feed the authors, show em some love.

  2. A writer asking for it, so he could write it down. Ironic. Good stuff.