Okay, I admit, it's been a while since I've been in a fist fight. I've been in fights, sure, but most people around here use weapons. This was plain, bare-fisted mayhem. Been a few years since someone picked a fight with me. So you can imagine my surprise at being knocked to my knees with the first hit, a quick jab thrown mid-conversation. I don't see myself as a glass jaw fighter but this guy's sucker punch sure as hell made me feel like one. I used to be able to hold my own in a fight. I'm not used to losing arguments. But there I was, kneeling on the wooden planks of the dock, watching the blood from my busted lip pool beneath me.
"C'mon!" said a voice from above me. "I'm not through with you yet."
Ah condescension, that I'm used to. Nobody considers I might be a better fighter than I appear to be. Like this guy, Jeb, at least twice my size and obviously trying to prove he's a tough guy. He stepped forward, moving a little too close. I inhaled, letting saltwater air fill my lungs, invigorating me. I tensed, and in one smooth motion I rose to my feet and drove my fist into his chin. I heard something crack, who knows what - his jaw, my fist, his teeth. Probably all three, considering the throbbing pain in my clenched fist.
One of his drunken friends laughed. "You asked fer that Jeb. Hoo-rah whatta hit!"
Jeb stumbled back and shook his head. "Motherf..." he slurred, then fiddled with his jaw. "Frak."
I edged closer, forcing him to stumble back another step. And there it was, the sun shining in his eyes from above the cliffs behind me. He squinted and I took advantage of the opening. I spun around, building momentum, and drove my foot into his chest with an authoritative thud. Sound of wood shuddering from the impact of his backside ceased his friends' laughter.
Even the ocean seemed to pause for a moment, crystalline waves poised like serpents ready to strike at the sand.
Jeb clutched his chest like he was trying to reorganize his lungs. His friends stared, mouths agape. Every beat of my heart pounded in my chest, sending needles of pain to my lip.
Then the sharp tinny sound of a bell rang out from the ship coming in. I needed the dock cleared.
"So," I said. "You gonna move that boat now?"
Jeb grumbled something incoherent, so what was I supposed to do?
I kicked his head, knocking him out, and turned to his friends. "Move that boat, then get this jerk out of here."
They glanced at each other, then nodded in unison. "Yes ma'am."