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Prize Fight
by Harris Tobias

I went a couple of rounds with old Block today. He had me on the ropes until I managed to poke a haiku in his eye. “Take that you old scoundrel.” How he hollered when I slapped him a good one with a song lyric right across the mouth. Man that felt good. But it takes more than a bit of doggerel to get that gorilla to behave, so I gave him the old one two with a flowery metaphor followed by a sparkling simile. The bell rang and we went to our respective corners. We were both bloodied but still in the fight.

Round two was much the same. I hit him with a string of adjectives which he batted aside like so much fluff. He hit me hard with a bad critique and a negative posting on FaceBook. I could feel the black curtain of despair descending. In desperation I tossed him a hail Mary, I gave him a dynamite book title and a pretty good opening sentence. But I couldn’t follow up. Block shook it off and moved in for the knockout. I was saved from total humiliation by the bell signaling the end of round two.

“Come on kid, you can do it. All you need is one good story idea. There’s gotta be something. C’mon kid, think!” That was the coach in my head. He was always on my side. I reached deep down in my imagination for an idea. It felt like groping in an empty barrel. I gave an anguished cry and could hear the echo from that dark emptiness that was my soul.

The Block came on like a freight train. I hurled a shitty screen play idea at him. He flicked it aside and smote me with a triple whammy—lack of confidence, self doubt and low self esteem. I ducked under his haymaker of ridicule and, miraculously, came up with a solid short story idea. And that did it, Block was down for the count. Take that you bully. I might have won that match but I knew it wouldn’t be long before we fought again.