EL LUCHADOR by Nico M.

EL LUCHADOR by Nico M.

Oh, you’re going to beat that bichote’s ass bad, chacho.

Don’t nobody fuck con tu jeva.

No claws, no fangs, just this scaly-ass fist right here. Shotput that shit right up into Miguel’s moisturized face.

You ain’t never punched nobody before.

But you know how it’s done. You’ve seen enough movies.

Shit, your abuelita knew how it’s done. Happened in every single one of her telenovelas.

That big macho chin of Miguel’s will snap up and to the side. Maybe a tooth or some spit or blood will fly out of his mouth. Slow-mo. Freeze frame while that tooth is still in the air.

Carlita wants to get the fuck out of here and get home. She’s crying and tugging the sleeve of your black Dolce & Gabbana tee, back toward the revolving door. It’s making your neural spines rip through the back of it.

Yank your arm away from her. Does she fucking know how much this camiseta cost you? Jesus.

Please, she says. She says she’ll fuck you so good when you get back to her place, any way you want. Miguel ain’t no threat. You don’t got nothing to prove, okay? You don’t got to be some stereotypical machismo cariduro—

Stereotypical? Is that what you are?

Fuck no.

What you are is a chupacabra that never fucking hurt nobody.

Not even a fucking goat. Not even once.

You special order ethically sourced local cabrito. That shit ain’t cheap neither.

Does that sound stereotypical to her?

And you’re a Boricua who got off the island and moved to—no, not New York—Lawrence motherfucking Kansas. Does that sound stereotypical to her?

And, as previously established: you ain’t never punched nobody before.

But you know how it sounds.

Un sonido muy rico, like crunching an empanadilla with one hand, catching a 95mph fastball with the other. ¡Pao! Como las telenovelas de tu abuelita.

Abuelita wasn’t your real abuelita. She was just an old recluse, a Jíbara who lived a couple hours outside the city.

Some neighbor guy, way back when, had shot your real mom dead while she’d been hunting his livestock. You don’t have any emotions about this, you were too small to remember. Abuelita had found your mom’s orphaned litter out en la selva, all still too small to open those big red eyes. You had four brothers and sisters, she told you, but they were already dead when she’d discovered you. She took you home and fed you sheep blood from a plastic oral syringe, every two hours, even through the night, for weeks.

You don’t really have any emotions or memory about this either.

What you do remember is growing up indoors, with a fat old bore who watched three hours of shit TV between lunch and dinner and made the same arroz con gandules recipe for both meals.

Here’s something stereotypical for you: she died of a heart attack.

You’d somehow dragged her 250-lb 4’11” ass out into her piece of shit pickup truck and drove her all the fucking way to San Juan Regional with your tail crammed between the bucket seat and the door. It was the first time you’d ever driven anything before. Shit, it was practically the first time you’d even been outdoors. But you’ve seen people drive on TV. And you were able to get to the hospital without crashing or even getting a ticket.

Maybe the doctors could have saved her if they weren’t so fucking worked up that a chupacabra had been the one to deliver her.

Yeah, you’ve got some emotions and memories about that shit.

But none of this is the point.

The point is that Miguel—who you fucking thought was your broki—made moves on your girl. And you’re not just going to let that shit slide. A real bad cangri don’t just let that kind of thing go.

And look: he just texted you back. “OMW down – erything cool man?”

Should be any second now.

Carlita is fucking hysterical while you’re waiting for Miguel to come down that elevator, back into the lobby.

Please, she’s saying. Please don’t turn this into a thing.

It’s already a thing. She turned it into a thing.

Ding, there it is. Here you fucking go.

Doors are opening and you’re stepping.

Miguel smells like weed and aguardiente.

Carlita is being loud as fuck with her crying so he looks at her first.

Feel that adrenaline. Feel it in your jaw. Feel it in your tail. Feel it en tu pecho. Channel that shit into your fist. Get ready to swing it hard.

Jump cut: it’s five seconds later.

You don’t fucking know what a punch is like, chacho.

Miguel flinched when you swung, took it glancing off his mouth.

It didn’t sound like baseballs and empanadillas. It sounded like setting a half empty bag of rice on the counter.

His head didn’t snap to the side neither. Not really.

No teeth or blood or even spit came out.

Your hand got a cut un poquito by his teeth. You’re probably more hurt than he is. Shake it off. Suck the blood off your scaly knuckles. It tastes like metal.

You think you at least busted his lip a little though.

He looks more confused than anything. Seems like he’s even drunker than Carlita (who’s still fucking crying like La Llorona.)

Now it looks like what’s hurt is just Miguel’s fucking feelings.

He don’t even swing back. He just wants to know what the fuck that was for. What the fuck, güey? Is this what you wanted him to come down here for? 


Nico M. lives in Minneapolis with his two children. He is a second generation Colombian-American with an MBA from Northwestern University. By day he works as a management consultant. This is his first fiction publication.

Art by Crow Jonah Norlander in honor of Bob Schofield

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