“Your phone’s ringing.” Morry slides the mobile across the mat until it hits my feet.
“So?” I hate talking on the phone. There’s a reason we have text messaging, and more people need to get behind that.
“It’s that Audley guy. The one who did us a favor when the gym was hacked and held hostage. Remember?”
“Yeah,” I grumble. As non-boxers go, Zeke Audley’s not a bad guy. He takes care of himself even though he’s not an athlete like his brother. That’s respectable. I bite through the last of the stubborn tape on my hands before bending down to swipe the device off the floor just as it stops ringing. I toss the small thing between my bruised hands and debate whether I should call him back. He’s going to ask me to do something and I know I’m not going to like it.
“Not returning the call is a bad idea,” Morry tells me.
“Bad karma. If you don’t call him, you’ll probably trip jumping down from the ring and then you won’t be able to make the Saturday match.”
“The Saturday match is a crock. I could have one broken leg and still beat that guy. You need to get me better matches.”
“I’m working on it, but boxing is hard these days. Too many yahoos are getting into mixed martial arts.” Morry makes a face.
With a sigh, I get to my feet and signal for Morry to hold down the bottom rope of the ring. She’s right. “That won’t be me.” I step through the ropes and hop to the ground. There are fewer boxers and fewer purses, but I don’t like MMA. It’s for skinny kids who can’t take a punch, not for guys like me who are six foot six inches and weigh two eighty. Besides, even if it wasn’t for my size, I wouldn’t do MMA. Boxing saved me and I’m not turning my back on it.
“Just return the call. It’s good manners,” Morry calls after me.
I give a wave of my hand as I walk toward the locker. Morry was the one who taught me to box when I was a pissant of a ten-year-old getting in fights every day at school. When my foster mom first brought me to Morry’s gym, I was convinced that the woman couldn’t teach me anything. What does a woman know about boxing and fighting?
More than I’d ever imagined.
I guess when I say that boxing saved me, I should be more specific. Morry, the trainer, introduced me to boxing and that’s what kept me out of prison. If she told me I should murder the next guy who walked in the gym door, I would do it without asking questions. Talking to someone on the phone isn’t as bad as killing someone so I should easily be able to do this. I press the redial button and hold the device up to my ear.
“Tank, hey, thanks for returning my call.”
“What can I do for you?”
“What makes you think I want something from you?”
“Last time I talked to you was like six months ago and you said, don’t be dumbasses about your tech security and you won’t get hacked.”
“Well, was I wrong?”
“Great. And I’m not wrong about this. My girlfriend’s roommate needs someone to walk her home.”
I squeeze the bridge of my nose so tight, I nearly burst the capillaries in my eyes. “You need someone taken out? I’m your man. You want someone’s kneecaps busted? I can do that in seconds. I’ll even burn down a house if you need it, but be some random’s escort? No. Ask me to do something else.”
“It’s just one walk.”
Audley sighs. “Look, I know you have problems with women, but I promise this one is not a psycho. She is not going to climb into your apartment and try to steal your sperm like the last one.”
I take the phone away from my ear and stare at the screen for a moment before replacing it. “I’m afraid to ask how you know that shit.”
“She posted about her plans on her Insta story. But, like I said, this girl is shyer than a rabbit and probably as easily frightened as one. She’s not going to come on to you at all. Anyway, thanks for agreeing,” Audley says in a tone so cheerful I want to reach through the cellphone and smack the smile off his smug face. “I’ll text you the location. It should only take you about ten minutes. We are at a frat house which isn’t too far from the gym.”
He hangs up before I can think of some excuse or find a replacement. I stare at the phone screen in frustration. Of all the shit things he wants me to do, it has to involve a girl. It’s not that I hate women. I don’t. It’s just…they always want shit. They take one look at me and think I can do stuff for them and I don’t want to. I just want to box, make enough money to feed my cat, and make sure Morry has a good retirement. I don’t want to take them out on dates, buy them food, go shopping with them, give them babies. Fuck, the last one is so freaking wrong. That girl was not right in her head. I thought moving to a condo on the second floor would prevent that kind of shit from happening.