Rigorous
Inaugural Issue
Volume One, Issue 1


The Green Sofa

David Michael Joseph


One late Saturday night, Dubs and I cleared some space in the living room of my place on Twenty Second and Pacific. It was rather large with hardwood floors and walls, which had a flavor of the fifties. The room was frozen in time; from the days of cruising and greasy slicked back haircuts. The people who sat in the living room at that time probably listened to the early tunes from the King as they practiced dance moves like the Mashed Potato for weekend Sock Hops at the high school. An old fashioned window faced a modern street in an ancient seaside city. It was the ideal place for capturing stories from some of the greatest authors ever to pick up ink and quill and attack their demons. Jack, the German, Robert, and John over in Wilmington one time strolled through the harbor city. They strolled the same streets at me and occupied the same thoughts as me; each with their own activity to break the still boredom which hung heavy in the cool Pacific air.

We would push back the ivy green leather couch, with the phone built inside the console. Quite often, I sat in that green couch with phone in hand pretending to be a spy, or a dictator who ruled over a small nation. Quickly, I would snatch up the receiver and order a revolutionary’s death, war, or pizza for the masses. Let them all eat pepperoni! They will forget about their problems!

The legs of the sofa dug into the wooden floor. The sound tormented my teeth and eardrums as the scuffmarks dug deep into the hardwood, leaving small horizontal lines scrawled into the floor. We grabbed the entertainment system and lifted it up. I purchased all the furniture from Roy, my former landlord and later loan shark. I took one side of the cheap fake wood exterior and he took the other. We moved it against the wall, out of the way. There was always hard hitting and wall slamming during our indoor bouts. I knew that I didn’t want to take the chance of slipping and falling into the thin glass window on the front. My screenplays were inside the cabinet. I could not afford a stereo, DVD player, or anything expensive and electrical. No high-end entertainment for me! The only thing I had of value was my scripts - my future. They silently slept inside, unsold. They were funny scripts that made me laugh, and laughter was a rare pleasure that I seldom enjoyed. I might as well keep scratched off lottery tickets. I later sold everything back to my landlord for half the price I had paid for it.

We pushed the large, out of date, big screen TV up against the other wall. A friend gave me the old floor model when they moved out of state. It only worked for two months about half the time, but it did make the room seem less empty. There was nothing worse than inviting people over to hang out in a semi-empty room with hardly any furniture. It screamed out poverty and pain.

Our makeshift rings were commonplace. Our first ring was in the alley behind Dubs garage. Deez and I always put on the sixteen ounces.

The three of us would form a triangle and take turns squaring up. Deez and I wore gloves on both hands. Dubs just wore a glove on his right hand. He would smoke a Newport cigarette while he threw devastating jabs and hooks with his free hand. Deez and I would take turns being pummeled from the pro style punches. Uppercuts, jabs, and hooks came from all angles, in between puffs. His punches were thrown with precise accuracy, landing wherever he desired. He spouted an arrogant giggle as he took slow drags of the cancer stick, blowing the smoke in my direction. They looked like smoke signals telling me I had no chance. I had to learn the sweet science; the hard part was being manhandled.

The thought of this beating stayed lodged in my head. It grew like a quickly sprouting weed, flowering thoughts of revenge. I wrapped my hands in white gauze; first the right and then the left. Afterwards, I slipped on my gloves; the whole time thinking about retribution for the past ass kickings and man maulings I’d received. I leaned against the wall thinking about my game plan for the sparring match that was about to take place.

I put the cheap white timer on the entertainment center; we did three minute rounds. Twelve minutes with this smoking prophet of hurt. After this night, my ribs would ache for weeks.

The buzzer sounded. We touched gloves and circled each other. I threw a quick two-punch combination. The gloves went pop-pop. I wanted to get out of the gate quickly and at least get in a quick strike before the reign of pain began. It was all to no effect; he felt nothing. I threw another punch and almost broke my hand. My hand hit his shoulder and folded over. The sensation shot through my arm. Icy cold numbness took residence in my whole right side.

His eyes lit up as he returned a four-punch flurry to my mid section. I was being punished in my own living room. Speed and brutality became one in the form of a competitive, cock diesel mulatto. Sofa, save me! Chair, save me! Entertainment system, save me! I put my arms up and blocked for my life. His punches were hard and confident. He stopped and strutted, not even looking in my direction.

I returned the blows but it felt as if I was hitting a statue. His muscles were like solid steel. There was no give - only get. I wanted to stop. The pain was external and internal. It was overbearing as he wore me down. I started to grow week. The buzzer sounded. Thank you, Jehovah!

I took a deep breath as I tried my best to suck air. My hand ached, my ribs were tender, and my manhood failed. We were in the middle of a blood match, and I was on the losing end. Neither of us was willing to conceded defeat. We had to recoup. Completion turns men in monsters. The buzzer sounded again. Damn that was quick!

Again, we tapped gloves. He strutted back and forth, sometimes not even looking in my direction. I almost felt as if he was shadow boxing. Arrogant bastard! I measured the space between us in my mind. He took a few more little steps, until he was directly in front of the green sofa. The sofa winked at me. This is your time! This is your chance! It’s now or never meat boy!

I hit him with a hard surprise shot, dead to the center of his chest. His legs buckled. He stumbled like a newborn baby calf. He stared at me helplessly and his eyes glazed. His face became reddened and flushed as he fell back onto the green sofa. I had done it! I knocked down a professional boxer. He fell backwards into the green spy sofa, humbled. So many times I have tasted the bitter defeat from his hands. I have feasted on humiliation many times myself as I drank in defeat, nursing a broken hand injured on his granite torso. I turned the tables and defeated him in my living room. I celebrated silently. I didn’t want to awaken the beast of anger. He was taking the loss well. He packed his things and left silently.

Victorious, I sat on my green throne; lord and master of my bungalow once again. Yet, this testosterone-fueled blood sport would never stop. Dubs would be back again, carrying his gloves and wounded pride.


David Michael Joseph is an indie writer, poet, filmmaker, columnist and former Fiction Editor from New Jersey, now living in Los Angeles. He is the author of the novel Exodus from the River Town published by Shook Up publishing. His other works have been published in: Amulet, The Ultimate Writer, Conceit Magazine, Danse Macabre du Jour, Threshold Revelations Issue 21, The Malaysian Poetic Chronicles, The Other Herald, The Blinking Cursor, Essence of Poetry culture Edition and Off The Rocks, Protest Poems, Mel Brake Press, Stellar Showcase Journal, Black Magnolia, Spirits, Tuck magazine, The Prague Review, Crack the Spine, Eastlit, The Foliate Oak Literary magazine, Burnside Writers Collective, Mad Swirl, Drunk Monkey, Chickenscratch Literary magazine, Story Shack, Calliope, Work Literary magazine, Stepping Stones Literary Magazine: ALMIA. Vagabond City Literary Magazine, Smokebox Issue 59, The 7 Gram Quarterly, ThoughtNotebook, The Purplepiglit, The Crab Fat Literary Review, Ash and Bone and Zouch.




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