footworka short story by Steven Ramirez

BUT LET SLIP to Coach B. that you or someone you know ever actually paid for a big time fight, and he’ll look at you like ain’t you the biggest asshole this or that side of the Río.

Because TeleAzteca, he says, jabbing a thumb at the sky. Right next door, gentlemen. Airs that shit for free. Yup. All you need is a decent set of ears, a touch of la Reynolds, y ya—showtime!

Swears he seen’m all too—Leonard/Haggard, Chavez/Taylor, Corrales/Castillo, Pacquiao/Marquez, Camacho/Rosario, Barrera/Morales, Etc./Etc.—though he don’t fuck with the heavyweights, nope, says if he wanted to watch a couple of pinche gorillas hug all day he’d make a trip to the zoo, where at least you know the popcorn’s fresh out the thing.

Nah, gimme the lightweights, he says. The featherweights. The fly and mosquito weights. Gimme the ones still know how to move across that canvas like a heavy rain, like pa-papa-pa-papa-pa, goes Coach B. Pa-papa-pa-papa-pa-papa-pa!

But who’s he tellin’? Everyone here knows all about TeleAzteca, and what it looks like to be wrapped up in tin foil, to bend your ears south of the Río where, yeah, that lone tower may look close enough to prick your finger, but everyone knows that signal still coming in blurry as shit. No matter what you do. Tonight’s main event drowned beneath a rush of white noise.  

Still. Here come Coach B., Monday morning, talking ’bout this and that fight as if there he was, ringside, and did anyone notice homeboy’s heels? His toes? How when backed into a corner some fighters got the skills to both pivot and square at the same time? It’s called footwork, gentlemen. Did anyone pull their heads out their asses long enough to notice the footwork?   

And hey yo sorry ’bout that, Coach B, but the truth is ain’t nobody spending $69.99 to watch some dude’s stinky ass feet!

Pendejos, he says, moving his head side to side like he the one in the corner and here come the cut man. I ever tell you the one about the vato who left the desert to go buy sand? See that’s your problem, gentlemen. Go your whole lives sticking your dicks into cable boxes, riding satellites to the moon, when it’s right here in front of you, free as a morning fart!

Which he then chainsaw rips, right on cue—a real juicy one to fill up the gym, the locker room, the insides of one sorry ass bus with the stench of what everybody’s been missing.

And by then it’s no use. Trying to explain things like analog systems, frequency, amplitude, the persistence of electromagnetic interference on multipath transmissions. How something as open as a television signal can be so easily disrupted—no, make that blown to bits—by everything from a thermostat dial to shag carpeting to the filtering system in your neighbor’s goddamn fish tank. Which, no use explaining, is to say nothing of the Río itself—that thing separating us from them, the free from the Pay-Per-View—and the thousands of years’ worth of encryption technology, a.k.a. crapola, littered across its soggy black bottom, blurring lines, scrambling channels, basically chopping the balls off that mighty tower so by the time that first bell rings, shiiit, you’re better off staring into a toaster.

No. No use. None of it. Because check it out: Coach B. already done made up his crazy ass mind, and it’s suicides today, gentlemen. It’s wall squats and burpees. Hot coals, Antarctic slides, paddle boats, mountain climbers, coyote sprints, and three-legged goats. You name it, gentlemen. Today, there it is. Gonna work you and work you until your shoulders cave, your necks go slack, and you got no choice but to look down, notice for once in your culo little lives the footwork, gentlemen. The footwork. See, everyone’s got it. But only the special few ever know where to look.


Steven Ramirez earned his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His fiction has been published in Gulf Coast, Huizache, PANK, Blue Mesa Review, Indiana Review, North American Review, LUMINA, and Puerto del Sol, among others. Steven currently teaches creative writing in Chicago. His first novel, Chingasos!, will be published sometime between now and his death. You can find him on Twitter @StevenLRamirez.