Published Monthly

Running in Circles
by Brett Pransky

There's a syrupy smell about the place. It's sweaty-hot, the humidity a result of animal instinct drawing too many people to the music. Cirrus clouds of smoke muffle conversations that will surely lead to sex and regret. 2am.

I don't know why I'm there. Been trying to figure it out for about ten beers. No luck.

I don't even turn around when the fight breaks out. I've seen so many I could do the play-by-play blindfolded.

You wanna go?

That's what they say. That's what they always say. Count to five Mississippi and someone throws a drunken haymaker.

They're so damned unoriginal. So predictable. Not a Bronson or Eastwood or John Wayne among them. All that testosterone and not an ounce of wit. It's like watching a guy on stage read from the phone book. There's nothing worse than grabbing people's attention ... and then just handing it back to them unchanged. It reeks of missed opportunity.

I want to write that down. Maybe a little half-buzzed stream of consciousness work will do me good. The fight is over as fast as it began, and the bartender is giving me a look that tells me I'm taking up the bar space she's planning on wiping down next. Most of the crowd has left. Only the most drunk, most sex-starved remain. I realize I can be counted among their number. Time to go.

Didn't even notice I bumped into someone on my way to the door. More like a nudge. Certainly not enough for someone to get bothered about. But, it's 2am, and anyone still searching for sex through the haze has got to be a little pissed by now. I feel a jolt on my shoulder, and stumble two steps forward. People notice. Now I'm on stage.

"You wanna go?" he says. The repetition hurts my head.

I turn. I have to. It's a stupid guy thing, I know, but The Duke would've faced him, so I have to. I don't speak, choosing instead to stand firm like Bronson and glare like Eastwood. I study the guy in front of me, wanting to know what drives him to such stupidity.

I was expecting something more impressive ... more evil. Instead I see a sloppy drunk kid in a frat t-shirt, wreathed in red neon and struggling to stand straight. I've won this fight twenty times through the years, once in the exact spot where he's standing. He's me, only younger.

"What's the matter, punk?" he slurs. "You scared?"

This is the most exciting, most exhilarating moment I can remember since I decided to become a writer.

"Yeah. I'm scared."

Brett Pransky is a loving husband and a writer-in-training, with the emphasis on the former. His work has appeared in AntiMuse and The Morpo Review, and will soon be included in the pages of The Gator Springs Gazette and Remark. He also publishes the occasional article in Business First Magazine. Brett is currently an undergraduate student at Ohio University, where he is pursuing a degree in English.


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