Mild Seven

Mild Seven

I have Telders in a headlock.

Yumi screaming—jumping up and down—arms flapping—cursing in two languages.

Telders stumbles into his desk. Station39 coffee mug backflips into the wall. Acorn-style Tiffany lamp explodes into chunks of glitter.

I take an elbow to the gut. Recoil into the bookcase. AKAI reel to reel machine and a pile of 7-inch tapes hit the floor with an expensive crash. Dvorak’s New World Symphony screeches to a halt.

Mother fucker mother fucker mother fucker is Yumi’s new thing.

I charge the bastard. Head to the gut. He makes a yuurrrrgh kind of noise. Staggers back out of reach.

I’m out of breath. It’s a mistake.

Telders pounces. Goes for my legs. The room nosedives, rolls sideways.

I’m down. Telder’s armpit is in my mouth. Smells like meat. He rubs it around as retch and squirm.

“Christ,” I say, my voice muffled. “You smell like a horse.”

Michael laughs. Instantly I’m laughing with him. It hurts, but I can’t stop. I laugh even harder.

Telders releases me with one last light jab to the gut, then rolls over onto his back.

“All too easy,” he says, breathing hard.

“Ha, whatever. I had you dead to rights.”

“You wanna go again?”

I take a few breaths. “Maybe later,” I say, and brush bits of Tiffany lamp out of my hair.

We both notice Yumi at the same time. She’s in a huff. A steaming, white knuckled, angry little huff.

“Relax, dear, we’re just fuckin’ around,” Telders says.

She shrieks and storms out of the room. A flurry of Japanese echoes in the hall.

Telders shrugs. “Women.” He gets to his knees and crawls over to a pack of cigarettes on the floor. Shakes a couple out.

We sit in the rubble and smoke.