Work Header

solitary men

Work Text:







maybe losing's a blood disease.

something he passed on, like if
shannon had drank while pregnant


something he can't help, he was
doomed before he was born

(and she stole a sip or two, he knows)


(not all mistakes are accidents, you know?)

it's just,
he thought the anger would go away
if he wasn't around.


it's like,
some people have families
and he has excuses.

article in the newspaper day after the fight.
it said:
eleven injured in what is being called
a karate riot; one student in critical condition.
one arrested.


note on the bottom of the intake form at juvie.
it said:
mother – rehab
father – unemployed; estranged?
no other living relatives.

such a matter-of-fact way
 to describe a broken heart.


it struck him as a funny way
to summarize a life.




did you teach your son to fight? asks
the social worker.


but where were you living last year? asks
the social worker.

my son's always fought.
no, not like how you think.
it was rough.
but he was always a good kid, at least
he loved his mom?
isn't that the same thing
tell me that's the same thing.


in my boss's pool house.
but wait, you don't understand.
it was the best.
the floors were made of this soft material
tatami, maybe?
when i walked on it
my footsteps
didn't make a sound.




couple weeks


second day

johnny's in a bar fight. he doesn't start it and he doesn't really finish it either, if he's being honest. this guy was running his mouth and johnny was tired. he gets so tired sometimes. don't other people ever get tired of all the bullshit? johnny says something and the guy and his buddies take a cheap shot—


three guys try jumping him; they think he's an easy mark. robby knows the drill: something-something-he-kinda-looks-like-a-girl and the stupid snickers that come along with it. robby could tell them he knows a girl who could have them all lying on the floor in under thirty seconds, but never mind—

and then he's on the floor.
he let's it happen.


it's easier if he just shows them.
he makes it happen.

if larusso could see him now
he'd probably
think, yeah
that's where you belong.


the fight came to me, mr larusso
and i'm starting
to think
it's not gonna go away.




sometimes he thinks about miguel
(miguel, always falling)




getting beat


shoving sam

first time he managed a fly kick
and checked if johnny saw it


going for his weak shoulder
while his dad watched

miguel in the diner
solemn, listening


miguel at the door
wary, apologetic

(miguel, always falling)




he tries not to think about daniel larusso.

and how he let robby down.
not in the teaching, but in the dumping.


and how robby let him down.
all that training couldn't beat nature.

dropping him like a new puppy
on boxing day, after
one mistake.
but forget larusso; even he couldn't match
a lifetime of johnny failing


he must've sensed
it in robby:
the fuck-up.
it's what made his dad not even try,
and finally wore out his mom – you know,




he thinks
(lying on his back at night
staring at the ceiling
choking on the truth)

even if he could rewind his life,
he knows it'd just play out the same.


why can't life have a back button?
he'd hold it down and not let up.

the special thing about screwing up
is afterwards?
it feels like it was inevitable.


maybe it was all in johnny's
head, becoming a better man.
the appearance of new people,
good people
an illusion of movement, and he was


where was his balance
now? did robby ever
have it or was it all only a moment
a breath
suspended in time,

standing still.