Fist Fight at Applebees, fiction by Dan Leach

I missed the begin­ning, but we know how it hap­pens. Either the old man with the lazy eye said the wrong thing to the young man with the neck tat­too, or the oth­er way around. I was there for the mid­dle, and that’s the most impor­tant part because that’s when everyone’s still fight­ing like God’s in their cor­ner. I can nev­er tell whose cor­ner God is in. I know this: the young man keeps drop­ping his hands, and the old man’s left is a ham­mer. There’s blood on both their faces. There’s a grow­ing, hap­py crowd. Some­times it seems like God’s in no one's cor­ner. The losers down here have truth, but they’re hate­ful and incon­sis­tent. The win­ners have sta­tus, but they use it for com­fort, and com­fort has ruined them. No one is hum­ble. And isn’t God hum­ble? Isn’t He gen­tle and open and low­ly enough for any­one hurt­ing? Okay, the fight. Some­one got cracked.  Someone’s head hit the pave­ment. The crowd screamed, and a child wept, but I was too far gone to see who won.

Dan Leach has pub­lished work in The New Orleans Review, Cop­per Nick­el, and The Sun. He has two col­lec­tions of short fic­tion: Floods and Fires (Uni­ver­si­ty of North Geor­gia, 2017) and Dead Medi­ums (Tri­dent Press, 2022). An instruc­tor of Eng­lish at Charleston South­ern Uni­ver­si­ty, he lives in the low­coun­try of South Car­oli­na with his wife and four kids.

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