Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sweet Chili Philly


A 1-2 punch by ~ Absolutely*Kate and Harry B. Sanderford

At 52, Sweet Chili Philly’s punchier days were behind him. But on a Saturday night, for a twenty dollar bill or a careless remark, he’d still dot your eye. Came one Saturday night, in rained a cold October bluster and just that kind of careless remark reconnoitered Philly’s muster.  Yes, it was autumn in New York for Philly when this uptown dandy in a brown plaid wool sport coat with a Norfolk style back, three patch pockets in the front -- one showing a hand clenching more than just plaid pocket lint -- barged into Sweet Chili Philly’s streetcorner. I saw the whole thing. That particular streetcorner held no desire.
“Hey Sport, got the time?” Otis Floyd was working wallets and watches when he spotted a beaut cutting off circulation to the ham dangling from the big lug’s sleeve. Probably a ten dollar Times Square Rolex but what really caught his shifty eye was the diamond studded doorknob glinting from this manatee of a man’s mammoth middle finger.  The stranger’s size did not intimidate Otis. A small man himself, he was armed and dangerous. He took a little too much pride in his appearance and still greater pleasure in besting a bigger man. He had no idea how poorly he’d chosen his mark or his words this time.
At 32, Sweet Chili Philly was riding the world higher than most ever gain a vantage point.  Punchy successes followed round after round, match after match, in each contested bout on his way to the top. There was never any doubt that what Chili sought was what Philly got. The shining gem on his middle finger bore testimony to his ability to pulverize palookas with his sweet left hook.  He earned his sparkly prize along with the WBF heavyweight title in lucky Round 13, if you know what I mean, against a mean crowd from Queens hooting and hollering for their very own local hunk of meat, two-time world champ Rodney Rocky-Jaw Brawlter.  Rocky Jaw presumably collected his moniker through his ability to take a punch, but after Sweet Chili’s methodical disassembly and ultimate knock-out blow, there was consensus among wagerers that it was his feet and not his chin made of granite.
Hard to know you’ve peaked until you’ve begun your descent.  Sweet Chili Philly was on top of the world for approximately 72 hours before he started seeing phantoms.  After another 72 hours of neurological examinations a team of specialists disagreed on diagnosis and treatment but were unanimous in their decision that the symptoms were the result of one too many blows to the head. With that Sweet Chili Philly’s career as a professional boxer was over.
Phantoms may not accurately describe what Sweet Chili saw. What he saw wasn’t so unusual really. It was always a boy, the same boy.  Sometimes he was riding his bike, other times maybe he’d be casting a fishing line.  When he saw these phantoms they were as real and vivid as the crimson puddles he’d left on the canvas of the squared circle. What was a little unusual was he always saw them through the eyes of the boy’s faithful companion, Sport.
"Here Sport! Heeeeey Sport!" What dog day afternoons were Sweet Chili's run-run-runarounds in the sweet spot his brain refrained with this boy, a place akin to a Mayberry state of mind. The boy he saw as true, regularly let loose with a piercing yet jaunty whistle to come home to, a playful sound that conjured the first rambunctious peace to which his pugilistic life had ever let down his guard. A ferocious loyalty to protect something more than a right cross or uppercut jabbed at his own glistening flesh in the ring, was resonating into all his realities recently.
I swallowed these truths to be self-evident as easy as the Chianti sloshed into my chipped goblet at Louie De Palma's Mangiamo in the Bowery, the night Sweet Chili held my hand across a checkered tablecloth. He held his breath too, wanting me to know and believe all the sides a tough guy was offering so sweetly to let him honestly into my life. Takes a strong man to offer himself up. I sipped. I listened. I considered. The waiter served another slice of pepperoni and mushrooms with extra cheese. Sweet Chili served more slices of life, straight up. That's the night I fell and fell hard for the big tough lug. When he clumsily leaned over the tortellini con farcia di vitello for our first smack at a smooch. I knew I was down for the count. I agreed to meet him on the weekend for a tentative trip to Atlantic City. The gamble was how his Ma would take to another woman in his life. I remember - he joked, said I'd have a fighting chance.
Sweet Chili Philly read the suggestion poking from the little squirt’s plaid pocket but did not look at his watch, “It’s time you move along partner, I’m meeting someone.” He saw the boy again and this time the boy was not alone. Otis Floyd decided showing the gun might improve its impact, “Listen Sport, just gimmee the ring.” The boy led the beautiful woman by the hand, they walked the path now familiar to Sweet Chili Philly. He realized he loved the boy and more, that he loved the woman. Otis pointed the gun and cocked the trigger, “The ring Damn it!”.
His fighting days behind him, his loving days before him, one more fight, the fight of his life, for his life, flashed before his eyes as the boy’s whistle, the woman’s scream, careened in a single blazing moment of crimson rage rising again. His right leg came forward when the first two knuckles struck the side of Otis Floyd’s runty head. It appeared Sweet Chili dazed and weakened both the propensity for the little man’s clean shot as well as his desire for heavy flashy jewelry, but it didn’t stop there.
I was screaming, screaming from the streetcorner, pointing the young traffic policeman towards the scene of the crime in progress. In slow motion, I saw a fast flash of the full momentum of the man I now was sure I loved, pivot back, rotating anger and focus on his now blubbering target. His arm swung out like a fishing pole in a wide arc, the sheer speed of his turn and this turn of events drove his fist into this sap’s head. Temple, jaw, nose and ear were not in the same configurations when the cop made the scene. His piercing but jaunty whistle emitted complete admiration, “Saaaay, wasn’t that the Spinning Backfist? Ain’t you Sweet Chili Philly? Man oh man, my old man took me to Queens the night you K-O’d Rocky Jaw Brawlter. This guy here was armed and dangerous, I’m hauling him in. Uh, can I have your autograph, sir?”


When Absolutely*Kate is not proffering her prime-time pigskin prophecies her buttered fingers can be found in many pies. Not the least of which, her role as the prime minister of popcorn At The Bijou, where she'll be looking for your Flash submissions for the second annual Fab Feb FilmFest:
 http://at-the-bijou.blogspot.com/


22 comments:

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

Talk about your one-two punch, that story just knocked me out! Standing ovation! Loved absolutely everything about it - from the crazy names (Otis Floyd and Rocky Jaw Brawlter?!!!! awesome) - to the poetic, almost sing-song noir stylings. Harry and Kate, you guys sure rocked Sweet Chili Philly's corner! Woo HOO!

afullnessinbrevity said...

Strong imagery and some great turns of phrase.
Adam B @revhappiness

julito77 said...

Sweet Chili Philly is a fun name. The beginning hooked me and there was some nice movement in the fighting descriptions.

John Wiswell said...

Definitely has Kate's wanton sprawling, while some of Harry's pointedness. Good mesh, folks. Harry, are you co-writing a bunch of blog posts these days?

estrella05azul said...

Some fight :) loved this, your combined efforts made this flash all the better! Great job :)

Paul D. Brazill said...

Smashing Runyonesque tale.

~Tim said...

How great a name is Rocky Jaw Brawlter? Nice job on this.

G.P. Ching said...

The sing-song prose, creative names, and almost stream of consciousness style of writing was brilliant. Super interesting and original read.

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Damn, Har! You getta load of Wiswell up there? He called my scribing "wanton sprawl". Oh I like that, I like that mighty fine. And the lovely Ms GP Ching picked up on stream of consciousness and wow -- Brazill threw a "Runyonesque" into our ring. Hot damn Har - makes me wanta whistle ... kinda like goin' fishin' at the ol' waterhole where life was but a dream. But wait!

I hear the bell ring.
Nice round with you Mr Sanderford, always is, always will be. You're the fella who made me learn those thrust and flinch moves -- Saaaaay, wasn't that the Spinning Backfist.

Thanks Har for how splendid it is to stir and spur off the writing reach you hand out. Honoured, delighted . . . and knowing we have more of this story to tell. I heard a little somethin' whispered in our restaurant scene.

~ Absolutely*Kate,
trusting that all the great #FridayFlashers have some movie sense of a writing sensation to showcase under our spotlights and kliegs AT THE BIJOU during FAB*FEB*FILM*FEST. Oh it's gonna be something ... you hear that? a whistle? think it came from the 3rd row . . .

L'Aussie said...

Harry, great yarn too! Love the character description and settings. Very unique. Be proud.

Laurita said...

That line about dotting your eye is killer. Great story you two.

Steve Green said...

Great descriptions here, fun to read, and at the same time with an underlying gritty hardness. Great story.

Stephen said...

Otis misjudged who he was dealing with, didn't he? And I love the cop's assessment of the scene, just before he asks for the autograph. It made me smie. That was fantastic stuff, Harry.

Stephen said...

Uh, I meant to write SMILE, not SMIE. But who knows? We writers create new words everyday, don't we?

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

Writers always create new words in their spiffier worlds Stephen. That's how swirlcomestances spin.

Oh - yeah, "THANKS a mighty big heap" from me for my part on spar/sparkin' words with Har. Intri'kately, it's well-positioning pleasures. We shake down our sentences better than most cops on their beat do to con men.

**************** Psssst: Har - I got the sequel or the prequel started ... not sure yet which it's gonna be. You wanna see? You think them thar nice folks up there will like it too? Our characters just got a whole lotta livin' to do. ~ Absolutely*Kate ... popcorn and punchlines AT THE BIJOU inclusive

Mike Handley said...

Love it, guy and gal. Y'all mesh rather nicely.

Sugar said...

Sweet's spinning back fist just punched this flash beaut into my heart. Kate and Har, you do it so swell.

Eric J. Krause said...

This was a rich, descriptive story. Loved the colorful names throughout, and it was a perfect ending.

Harry said...

Wow, Thanks everyone! A*K and I have collaborated on a number of stories now and we always have a blast doing it. Go to her site "At The Bijou" linked above, and watch for her details about submissions for next month's FAB FEB FILM FEST. Thanks again!

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

Hey cowboy - drop by my blog for a moment and say howdy. I got something with your name on it.

theothersideofdeanna said...

Oh I hate how long it took me to get here Kate and Harry - what a smashing success this story is, just fantastic! I love the way y'all set it up, interspersing just the right bits of his life in just the right places, and what fabulous phrases throughout, just love it!

ABSOLUTELY*KATE said...

I got grin after Deanna's dance - Did you, Har?