SEASON 1, Episode 4:

SOMNUS, continued:

Natalie and Marlene tried to check up on me. Marlene especially. She came a bunch of times, even banging on the door, screaming my name and arguing with people outside to be let in. But I didn’t want to see her, or anyone. Eddy Josh and the team tried to force me to leave in the limo with them, but I couldn’t will myself to move. I just sat there on the couch in the dressing room. It must have been 3, 4 in the morning. If I’d had a shell, I would’ve retreated into it. I even took a nap in a feeble attempt to satiate “it”.

It must’ve been around 5 when I finally forced myself to my feet. I threw on my sweats and trudged to the door. I didn’t shower. My hands were still taped. I stared at them as I sat in the cab I hailed outside the stadium. They were trembling.

“Take me to the Holiday Inn, near Rice,” I told the driver.

“You got it, friend,” he replied. I guess it was his first drive of the morning, because he was in the mood to talk. “Seen you comin’ outta Reliant. Did ya catch the fight?”


“Sad about that kid,” he said, clicking his tongue. Doubt he could’ve recognized me with my hood up. “You gotta give him some honor, though. I heard about that narcolepsy thing, it’s a tough business. But that kid is still tryin’ ta make somethin’ of himself, ya hear? Not many people can do what he do.”

I was tired of listening to him. We were nearing the hotel and all I could think about was Marlene, and the hope that she was awake, waiting for me. I didn’t want to talk, but feeling her skin on my skin was better than trading words that probably wouldn’t help at all.

“That’ll be $9.75, boss.”

I gave the driver the money and entered the hotel. The woman at the front desk bowed her head when she saw me. Guess she had seen the fight.

When I got to the door of my room, I thought about knocking but figured she’d be asleep so I checked my person for the key-card. I swiped it and opened the door silently, and the world ended.

“I…,” I began, as if I had been ready with something to say, but my voice ran away.

Her panties were on the carpeted floor, along with the sheets and the bedside lamp. The bed was so big that they actually looked small on it. Their bodies were fixed together like a magnet to metal. She hadn’t even taken her dress off. I didn’t know the guy. I’m sure they had stopped the moment I walked in, but looking back it felt like they kept going for a few seconds, with me standing there like the Village Idiot, just watching. I wondered if she knew him well, if they had planned it. If that wasn’t the first time.

Marlene grasped the guy’s arms, beckoning him to stop as she stared wide-eyed at me. She let out a gasp. Maybe because she saw me. Or maybe she had just finished coming.

The guy jumped off of her, and the terror on his face showed that he knew exactly whose girlfriend he was fucking. But my eyes were on Marlene, Marlene with her sweaty brown skin and her tousled hair and her heaving chest, one shoe still on her foot. Marlene with another man in bed. Our bed.

I shattered, my legs giving out from under me, and all was black.


They were gone by the time my eyes opened again, and there was no text waiting for me from Marlene.

My mind and my body began to work robotically then as I quickly began to fill up my luggage with the little I had brought. My cell was ringing and buzzing incessantly, but I didn’t check to see who it was. There were no tears, either. Soon, I was hailing another cab, this time heading to William P. Hobby Airport. I don’t even remember how much I paid for the ticket back to Clearwater. I felt almost like I was being chased, like if I didn’t get back home immediately, what was left of my life would be lost.

SEASON 1, Episode 3

SOMNUS, continued:

Training camp came and went, so well in fact that we only worked for two and a half months instead of the full 90 days. It was a smorgasbord of running, sweating, punching, waking before the sun, sleeping before the moon, and nasty food, but camps had become second-nature to me. Even in the sweltering Texas heat I was unfazed. My narcolepsy had quieted down too, just as it had always done during training camps. I’d be so tired after a day of training that the moment I had a chance to sleep, I’d be out instantly, deeply. No need for any surprise attacks, I guess. Plus, on average, I’d be taking three naps a day. “It” didn’t stand a chance against my preparation.

Natalie and Marlene both made the trip out to Houston with my team. The fight was to be held in a makeshift arena in Reliant Stadium, and I had gotten both of them tickets. I hardly saw Marlene, as I was always training and Eddy Josh kept a tight leash on me. She was to only stay for a week, and was leaving back home the morning after the fight. Natalie came for the entire camp and trained alongside me.

And then it was time.

“And now, the challenger! Standing in the blue corner, weighing in at 167 and ¾ lbs, he holds a professional record of 37 victories, 3 defeats, with 19 victories coming by way of knockout! Fighting out of Clearwater Beach, Florida by way of Queens, New York City, New York…Charlie…ZOOOOOOOMBOOOOO!!!”

The roar of the crowd was so incredible that it had begun to numb my body; I couldn’t even feel Eddy Josh rubbing my shoulders anymore. Deafening noise surrounded me. Cameras flashed throughout the massive stadium, packed to the hinges with people.

I had no idea I had so many fans.

I looked to my right, to the front section, and saw Natalie and Marlene. Marlene was standing on her feet, looking like a glimmering trophy, cheering and yelling things I couldn’t make out even if I tried. Natalie was sitting right next to her looking, surprisingly, like she could hold her own at a fashion show. I kissed my gloved hands and pointed toward them.

“Look at this piece of work,” I heard Eddy Josh yell in my ear. I turned back to look across the ring and Amir, the champion, had put his hands together on the side of his face, mimicking a child sleeping. He laughed at me, his blood-red mouth-guard gleaming. Amir was about two inches shorter than I was and so hairy that grizzly bears probably bowed down in shame at his very presence. His eyebrows were so close together that his face looked permanently fixed in confusion. I turned to Eddy Josh and rolled my eyes.

But it wasn’t long before I became enthralled by the crowd again.

I had been in big fights before, but never in a championship fight. Never in such a big venue. Never with so many people present to see me do what I did best. Even as I was led to the center of the ring to hear the referee’s rules, to touch gloves with Amir, and to prepare myself for the first chime of the ringside bell, I was still in awe. My heartbeat began to accelerate, and sweat soon followed, but I quickly turned my attention toward my opponent, calming and readying myself for the task at hand.

“Finish this scrub, Charlie. Show these people, show every single person here. Let the world know who you are,” Eddy Josh yelled.

Who you are. I nodded frantically, and he kissed me on the forehead before taking his place in my corner behind the ropes.

This was it. “Narcoleptic Fighter” or Charlie Zombo. There was no turning back now.

The bell rang, the crowd exploded, and I lifted my fists high.

Some apprehension was to be expected. I knew how random narcolepsy could be. How, no matter the amount of anticipation, it could strike out of nowhere. But after the first round, I figured that the only way Amir was going to beat me was if I had a spontaneous attack.

“Jesus, Charlie, let him breathe a little. Give the crowd a little show!” Eddy Josh yelled in my ear during my 1-minute rest period. The crowd had quieted down a bit, as the action in the first round had been rather one-sided. Amir hardly threw a punch, and when he did, it was so inaccurate that I had more than enough time to pick what angle I wanted to dodge from. I, on the other hand, was perfectly content with peppering his bum-ass with jabs the whole round. But Eddy Josh was right.

It was time to ramp it up.

More of the same for Round Two, except now Amir’s lip had started to bleed and I was dancing around the ring, having the time of my life. Maybe it was the crowd, or the fact that I was cruising, or that I was even there at all, but I felt healed. Normal. Like I could achieve my dreams without worrying about unwillingly standing in the way of them anymore.

I ended the round with a 1-2 combination that made Amir’s legs wobble. I smirked at him as I walked to my corner when the ringside bell rang. I motioned to Eddy Josh that I didn’t need a stool. I wanted to stand.

“That’s my boy!”

Amir came out swinging in Round Three, but I used his aggression against him. Every time he’d throw one of his haymakers I’d come back with three counter-punches. I knocked him down 45 seconds into the round and again with 20 seconds left. The crowd erupted so loudly that, at first, I didn’t believe they were cheering for me.

“I gotta give it to this guy,” I told Eddy Josh after the round ended. “He’s resilient.” I was staring over at Amir in his corner. His face was rapidly starting to swell.

“Yeah, that he is, but you gotta put an end to that. It’s time to finish him Charlie, these people have had their fun. It’s time to make a statement. Charlie Zombo doesn’t let champions get past the 6th Round, you hear me? Knock his ass out, finish him!” Eddy Josh shouted, and I thought I could feel heat resonating from his body. I nodded and tapped him on the chest with my glove. The moment the bell rang, I raised my arms to the crowd.

Round 4 would be the last round. I’d make sure of it.

This time, I was the one who came out swinging. I was sure Amir would throw one of his desperation punches soon, and when he did, I’d finish him off with my left hook. I continued to pummel him, shaking off his futile efforts to wrap me up and catch his breath. Every time he tried, I’d make him eat an uppercut or two for his trouble. As I fought I could make out Eddy Josh jumping up and down in my corner, willing me on.

And that’s when the chanting began.

“Zombo, Zombo, ZOMBO, ZOMBO, ZOMBO!!!”

I couldn’t contain my smile, even as I continued onward. The crowd was practically getting high off my performance, off of me. Do you have any idea what that feels like? I felt the thousands of voices screaming my name as if they were the very blood coursing through my veins. My heart soared. The euphoria I felt was almost dizzying, and it only made me attack harder, faster.

Then I felt my neck tighten.

An intense heat raced down my back, but I refused to believe it was happening. Maybe I had thrown a punch awkwardly. Maybe Amir had caught me with a counter and it had happened so fast I hadn’t noticed.


I lunged forward, forcing my body to respond, but it was crashing. I threw my left hook, but it fell short. My arm fell limp halfway through the motion, leaving me wide open. I was failing. In a matter of seconds, my body was failing again. And Natalie, and Marlene, and Eddy Josh, and the crowd, and the entire world were watching me fail again.

The last thing I saw was Amir launching an overhand-right that could have toppled a God.


When I awoke, the referee had already counted me out, and the crowd was dead silent. Maybe they thought I was dead. Eddy Josh and the rest of my team thankfully dragged me out of the ring, away from the nosy press and the disappointed, betrayed fans. It was disrespectful not to stay in the ring and congratulate the victor, but I didn’t care. No point in interviews. I knew the questions they were going to ask me, anyway.

“What happened in there, Charlie? Was it an attack?”

“Have you not been taking your medication?”

“Mr. Zombo, what do you have to say to your fans about this?”

“Are you now, at last, going to consider retirement?”

We went back to my dressing room and stood there in complete silence. Eddy Josh went to grab some ice for my shoulders and ribs, but I brushed him away.

“It’s okay,” I muttered. “Just…I need to be alone for a bit.”

Eddy Josh looked like he was going to protest, but he and the rest of the team eventually obliged me. I locked the door behind him, and immediately crumpled to the floor. My legs felt like they were carrying a dead, heavy weight. I was almost surprised at how fast the tears came, how vigorously I sobbed. How? How could it have happened again? Everything was going so perfectly. The crowd…the crowd loved me. Glory…glory was right there. And “it” just wouldn’t let me take it. And as I cried, I wondered whether it was truly the end for me. Maybe it had all been a dream caused by “it”. Even as I sat there, to be honest, the finality of it all hadn’t settled in yet. That “it” had cost me another fight, another chance. Or maybe I didn’t want it to settle in. The tears dried up and soon I didn’t know what to do, what to feel.

It was like looking for an address to greatness, and getting lost every time.

SEASON 1 (Episode 2)

SOMNUS, Continued:

“Did you get a good night’s sleep?”

“As good as expected,” I replied. “You look nice tonight.”

“It’s nothing,” Marlene said, waving a hand and rearranging the napkin on her lap. She did look nice. She was wearing that purple top that made her chest look like Heaven, and just the right amount of eye-liner that caused her honey-colored irises to reach hypnotic levels. Marlene always made it a habit of looking better than the occasion required. We were in Red Lobster, and whereas I was wearing Jordans, she looked like THE Red Lobster himself would be joining us for dinner.

“No, you look amazing, Miss Vega,” I repeated, lightly grazing her hand with my fingertips.

“What d’you want to drink? You should have a glass of Cabernet, I heard red wine is good for fitness.”

I pulled my hand back and reached for a menu.

“I just want you to be on point,” she murmured, eyeing hers.

It was a Tuesday evening and there weren’t many people at the restaurant. I wondered if the humidity from outside was seeping into the room and zeroing in on our table. I wiped my face with a napkin before reaching for one of the so-called “Cheddar-Bay” biscuits. Delicious sons of bitches.

I hadn’t noticed that the waiter was asking me for my order.

“Oh, uh…um…I’ll have the NY Strip Steak, medium-rare, and-”

“Don’t you think you should have something else, like the salmon?” asked the voice across from me. I looked at her for a second. She was still scanning her menu.

“Uh…yeah, I’ll take the salmon I guess. With broccoli.”

“Excellent,” said the waiter, looking back and forth at us like we were holding him hostage. “And for the lady?”

“I’ll have the shrimp scampi and linguini,” Marlene replied, handing him both our menus. He nodded and hurried off. She focused on me again and smiled warmly.

“So, salmon, huh?”

“You and I both know a bloody steak isn’t gonna do you any good, Charlie,” she replied, sipping her water. I always figured she had some sort of special power that made her dark lipstick impervious to removal, glass-related or otherwise. Like no outside force could penetrate her preparation.

“Next time, I’m taking you to McDonald’s,” I said, stuffing the rest of the biscuit in my mouth.

“Good. I’ll get a Big Mac and you’ll get a salad.”

She was already giggling before the words had finished leaving her mouth. She was always terrible at jokes. I smirked.

“So, I wanted to talk to you about something. It’s why I wanted to have dinner, really.”

“What’s that?”

I told her about the fight. Training camp was going to start in less than a week.

“Babe…another big fight?”

They really needed to turn on the air conditioners.

“Yeah. I think I have a real shot at taking this one, too. This guy, he doesn’t have any true talent. All he does is hit hard. Eddy Josh says it won’t go past the 4th round. He’s already telling reporters that,” I said, looking at my hands.

“I’m not doubting your talent, sweetie, I know you’re spectacular. But with…with your thing, it’s not about beating up one guy or another. I’m just scared…thousands of people…and you’ve been through it three times before…I can’t believe you didn’t talk to me first…”

I didn’t know whether she was looking for the right words or if she was slowly realizing there were none. I looked up at her, noticing how big her hair was and how small it made her head look.

“That’s not gonna happen this time. Not again,” I said, a bit more sternly than I had intended. Her big eyes widened for a split-second before she turned to her water again. “And, hey, just look at this way: fourth time’s the charm, right?”

“I’m being serious, Charlie, just…just promise me that if you feel weird…you’ll drop the fight.”

I grabbed her hand in both of mine. “I feel amazing…but I promise you, baby. I promise.”

The waiter was coming toward us again and I don’t remember if there was a torn part of the rug near our table, but he tripped and before letting out a wail, he spilled the drinks on the tray he was carrying on top of me. The surprise sent me into an attack so quickly that when I woke up again, he was still apologizing and lightly brushing my shoulder with a tablecloth. Marlene was staring at something outside the window.


Marlene had to work the next day so instead of sleeping over my place I took her home. It was still early, only 10:30, the time of night which I call “Happy Time”. For some reason, ever since this shit started, I’ve never gotten an attack after 10pm. The few times we’d had relatively successful sex was late at night, Marlene and I. Guess it’s because since you’re supposed to be sleeping at night anyway. Maybe the narcolepsy takes its lunch-break or something. But it probably only lasts 12 or so hours because in the morning, I’ll be right back to my good old cataplexic self. So, I didn’t want to go home and decided to drive around for awhile. I must’ve gotten in-and-out of Highway 19 six times before I felt my phone vibrate. It was Natalie, asking me if I was down for a late-night sparring session. She was closing that night. I rushed home to change before heading to the gym. I had to call her to open the entrance doors.

“Sorry, the big beefy guy left around 8 and no one else came in so I just locked up,” she said, holding the door for me.

“Really, 8? Did he break another bag that quick?” I asked, taking my gloves out of my bag. Natalie rolled her eyes and led the way to one of the smaller rings in the far corner of the gym. It was very funny to me how Natalie always seemed to be wearing the same shit. I wondered if she ever did laundry. She had on a white sports bra, baggy gym shorts, high baseball socks, and Asics. I would sometimes catch myself staring at her. She was so slim up top, but her lower body was a happy marriage between shredded muscle and just the right amount of fat. She claimed that if she could have sex with the inventor of squats, she would.

“Are you staring at my butt again?”

I laughed. “You call that monstrous beast a butt?”

She scoffed and began to tape her own hands up, nodding toward mine. “I’ll do you after.” I smirked.

We sparred for about 15 minutes, three rounds. I always felt like I had to control myself when sparring with Natalie. Eddy Josh had once told me that if I tried hard enough, my left hook could take a man’s head off, and her head was too small to test. But then she’d go and bash me square in the nose and I would become a more eager participant. We sat on the edge of the ring after the buzzer sounded, our legs dangling.

“So, how’re things? You didn’t text me last night,” she said as she began to unfasten her headgear. A thick line of saliva stretched out from her mouth when she removed her mouth-guard.

“Yeah I know, sorry dude. Had a bit of an awkward night.”

“How so?” she asked, peeling her gloves off with her teeth. I told her about me and Marlene’s failed sexual escapade. Natalie gave me a pained look in response.

A “Yeah,” was all I could muster.

We stood in silence for a moment, each trying to figure out what would sound substantial enough. I didn’t really want to talk about my feelings or anything. Talking about them wouldn’t cure me.

“So how do you feel about training camp? Excited?” Natalie asked, practically reading my mind.

“Absolutely. I’m gonna destroy that kid,” I replied almost immediately. “Just wait. I’m leaving Houston a champion.”

“You better, Charlie. You’re a thousand times the fighter he is, even when you’re asleep!”

We both cracked up, and for a moment there, I believed what I had said.

Season ONE.

So, in an effort to FORCE myself to be more active on this blog, I’ve decided to put more of my original fiction (with some of my usual depressing posts thrown in) up. I will be taking an episodical approach, splitting my stories into pieces. Some stories will be longer than other, so if you read something you like or don’t like, feel free to let me know about it! (Oh, and, forgive the formatting, I’ll try to figure out how to make these things cleaner going forward)

With that being said, here is Episode 1 of “Season 1”, starting with my original novelette, “SOMNUS“:


“It” started when I was 14 years old.

I’d say “it’s” been going around twelve years strong now. But before I go any further, let me make this clear: I’m not writing this to you as some self-absorbed attempt at pity or sympathy. I’m writing this because this is the most important day of my life and I want to tell someone, anyone, how I came to be here, in this moment, where nothing else matters.

I just want someone to know.

My name is Charlie Zombo, and I have Narcolepsy.


“Oh God…please…p-please…don’t stop.”

I’m 27 years old, and this was the 7th time in my life that I was trying to have sex. Marlene was truly into it, as any good (good? I mean great) partner should be, and all I could do was struggle to keep her happy for as long as I could before “it” struck. The last time we tried, nearly four months ago, I had an attack the second she got on top of me. I was out for eight minutes. EIGHT. MINUTES. How do you expect your girlfriend to stay wet when you keep falling asleep on her?

“Cha-Charlie…oh, Charlie.”

She had always been on birth-control pills but we decided to switch back to condoms in the attempt to make it feel less…less good, I guess. It worked to a degree. It took me longer to come and longer to have an attack. And that’s the whole thing with narcolepsy. Its cataplexic attacks are triggered by any heightened or increased emotional exertion. Imagine fucking the girl of your dreams, and the second you start letting the animal in you take over, your entire body suddenly locks up like a shitty transmission. Next thing you know, you’re dreaming of the entire cast of “Alice in Wonderland” crawling around your bedroom walls.

“Yes, God, Charlie, don’t stop!”

I promise I’ll try not to, I thought to myself.

It was the most I’d lasted without a cataplexic episode in a long time, and I was aiming to finish both of us off, but as long as she got hers, I’d be satisfied. I’d prepared for it too. Took my pills, had a half-hour nap before she came over. I thought I was good.

Then I felt my neck tighten.

No…no no no. Not again.

I tried going faster, letting my head droop onto her clavicle. I didn’t need my stupid head. Strands of her black hair got stuck on my sweaty forehead as I urged my failing body forward. I grabbed the corners of my mattress for support and the second I moved my arms, they stiffened up and became limp. I let out a grunt and I felt Marlene’s soft brown body shift. She probably knew what was happening.


All of that happened within the span of two seconds. My feet are always the last to go.


I awoke later on. Alone.

I sat up feeling tired as ever and looked around my dark room. It still smelled like her, so I knew I couldn’t have been out for more than twenty minutes, but she was gone. My room, just my giant bed and the small desk near it, seemed emptier than usual. Then I noticed I was wearing clothes. She must have dressed me while I was asleep. She had turned on the air conditioner, too. I grabbed my phone and saw the text she had written me before she left:

When you decide to wake up- I went to my mom’s house.

Call you later.

I didn’t blame her. We’d been together for almost three years, and for the first two-and-a-half, things were practically perfect. She knew that a relationship with someone like me wasn’t going to be easy, but she was down for the ride. We had first met in Barnes & Noble, when I let her buy the last copy of a sequel I had been waiting over four years to be released. I told her that she had to text me to let me know if it was good or not, and we just hit it off from there.

But she had become distant over the past year, which is funny considering I was supposed to be the distant one. I’d trained myself not to react so strongly to things, to remain hollow and to keep my emotions in-check in order to keep “it” at bay. Sometimes talking to me was like talking to a wall. But I listened. I’d learned to listen real good. Yeah, I didn’t blame her. Three years putting up with someone like me was long enough for anyone, let alone a 24-year old aspiring fashion designer who was, by trade, supposed to be the liveliest, most outgoing person possible. She signed up to be my girlfriend; a lover, a friend. Not my nurse.

I checked my watch. 9:30pm. Shit, late again. I got up off my bed and grabbed the bottle of pills that was on my desk and swallowed one while I put my shoes on and grabbed by gym bag. Eddy Josh is gonna kill me, I thought. I ran downstairs and started up the car, hoping I hadn’t forgotten my handwraps again.


“You forgot your freaking handwraps again?! I’m running out of fresh ones, you idiot!”

I shrugged as Eddy Josh scowled. “What can I say? You know I have a condition.”

“Oh, don’t give me that shit, go jump some rope you useless bastard,” he said before going to check the lockers. I smirked and grabbed the nearest jump rope, making sure the right song was playing on my iPod before I started. The huge gym was almost empty; the rainy night outside must have scared away all but the most hardcore of us: the high-school kid who didn’t really know how to throw a punch yet, the hulk in the corner mauling the heavy bag like it had cheated on him, and me.

I had been boxing since I was 13 years old. Before my pop died he stuck me in training because he thought something was wrong with me. 13 years old and still had baby fat, “We gotta get you rock-solid, boy!” I hated it at first, but once my narcolepsy kicked in, boxing was one of the only things I could count on to make me feel normal. The doctors had suggested frequent, daily exercising, so it all worked out.

I met Eddy Josh when I was 17, when I had lost all that baby fat and looked like I could realistically fuck someone up. His real name is actually Herbert Edmund Josilowsky, but don’t tell anyone I said that. He hates his name and back then didn’t know whether he wanted to change it to Edward or Joshua, so he just goes by Eddy Josh.

“Dude, aren’t you a little old to be worrying about changing your name?” I had asked him a few years ago.

“You just focus on your business and leave me to mine, Charles ‘I Sleep During Porn’ Zombo,” he had replied.

But, at 46 years old, as much as I mess with him, he was my father for the second half of my life. He was the one who realized I was actually good (good? I mean great) at boxing, and who convinced me to go pro. “You’ll be amazing, and what a story!” he would say. “‘First Narcoleptic Boxer!’ You’ll sell out! And with your skills, you could be the next ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson!”

I was hesitant at first. Boxing for exercise was one thing, but going pro? An actual professional boxer with Narcolepsy? But Eddy Josh saw in me what I guess I was too young to see in myself. He did his research, and just kept egging me on, “It’s possible, you pussy, I’m tellin’ you, it’s possible!” It’s just so hard to diagnose narcolepsy, not unless you yourself go to a doctor and explain your symptoms in detail. And because we kept it a secret, Eddy Josh was able to get my boxing license because otherwise, c’mon, no self-respecting physician would ever clear a narcoleptic to fight for a living. But we were able to stay under the radar for a really long time.

I knew I was good enough though. My 73-0 amateur record said that much, but maybe not as good as an all-time great like “Sugar”. Maybe if there had been a “Sleepy” Ray Robinson somewhere. That sounds more like me.

“Alright, stop that hopping around, c’mon, I found a pair you surprisingly haven’t used,” Eddy Josh said, stepping on my rope and nearly causing me to trip over myself. I gave him a shove before sitting on a bench and holding my hands out. I noticed how crooked my fingers were as he proceeded to wrap them up. They were twitching slightly too. I always wondered why. “You might have the girliest hands ever owned by a top contender in the history of boxing.”

“And you might be the first coach who was mysteriously murdered before a training session,” I said, grinning. Eddy Josh glared and smirked at the same time, as only he could.

“So, how’re things? How’s the sweetie?”

“Ehh. Same old. I think she’s getting sick of me.”

“Why’s that?”

“You know why.” We stood silent for awhile, and all I could hear was the round-buzzer in the gym, signaling a period of rest.

“Gettin’ a lot of attacks lately?”

“Nah, just the usual. But the more it happens when I’m with her, the more it takes a toll, I guess,” I replied, wondering if I was just trying to make myself feel better.

“Well…well don’t spaz out on me now, but I’ve got some big news,” he said, slapping my knuckles with his palm, making sure the wraps were on correctly. He always did that, warn me before telling me something surprising or potentially sleep-attack-inducing. He was the only one who did that.

I smiled and eyed him suspiciously. “What is it?”

“I got you a fight.”

Those words always seemed to haunt me. I remember Google-ing myself when I was 21, hearing all the hype that surrounded ME, the undefeated star from Queens, New York who was rising up the ranks of the Super-Middleweight class like a shooting star, and feeling like I was the greatest thing since cheesecake. And then, I had lost my first big fight. And my second one. And my third one. A 37-3 professional record is nothing to sneer at, but the articles began to change, especially after that second loss, when I had crashed like submerged cement in the middle of the ring. It had been the start of the 9th round and a single punch hadn’t been thrown yet. That’s when the buzz started. Former boxers talking about my unbridled potential turned to neurologists discussing why “it” would never let me be a champion, that I was chasing a pipe dream. That I could handle small fights but would never measure up for the big ones. Eddy Josh had always wanted to sue them for saying that I’d never make it to the big-time, but that was one argument I could never back up, because they were completely right.

All three of those losses were mega-fights, name-making fights, and somewhere in all three of them, I’d had a cataplexic episode. I soon became known as the kid from Queens who had a spark when he started but just couldn’t quite “pass over the hump” because of a “tragic condition”. The Association tried to get me to quit, but Eddy Josh pulled all the strings he could, and after signing countless waivers, clearing a bunch of faceless rich men from having to worry about my life, I was free to do what I wanted. Free to pursue a glory that normally shouldn’t be available to someone like me.

“A big fight?” I asked him, knowing the answer. He held my unwrapped hand for a moment.

“Yeah Charlie. You know you’re still rated number 5 in the country. Somehow, and don’t ask me why, but the promotion wants you to fight the number 1. Guy named Amir Vholosiv from the Ukraine. He’s the WBA champ.”

I’d heard about Vholosiv. Didn’t have any true technical skill, but he loved making the 168lb-weight limit only to arrive weighing, like, 190 the day of the fight. And I knew Eddy Josh was lying about not knowing how the fight came to be. Everyone wanted to watch the Narcoleptic Fighter. It’s my opponents who never wanted to fight me, and why would they? If they beat me, their wins would always have an asterisk next to them. If they lost, their reps would be forever tarnished by taking a loss to the sleepiest boxer in the world.

“So if I win…I win the title?” I couldn’t stop staring at my hands.

“Well, not the undisputed title, but one of the alphabet belts. It’d be your first belt, son. $300,000 to the winner. Loser gets $87,000 and 2% of the Pay-Per-View earnings.”

I thought about it for a second. I didn’t care about the money. That 37-3 record had gotten me a nice little pad near Clearwater Beach and I was living comfortably, so that was the least of my worries. But I’d be lying to you if I said I wasn’t reluctant to take it. Embarrassing myself in front of the world, letting “it” beat me instead of my opponent again.

But I wanted to be great. I wanted people to know. Wouldn’t you?

“Take the fight,” I said to Eddy Josh, squeezing my hands to check the tightness of the wraps. “I’m ready.”

“Uh, no you’re not,” he growled, and I knew he was happy to hear my answer just from his sudden change back into angry-trainer-man. “We’re gonna have a tough, 3-month training camp, and we’re gonna make sure that this time you leave that ring the winner! Now, 15 minutes, combo intervals, on my whistle.” I bowed to him, smirking, and turned towards the giant, wall-sized mirror that everyone used to shadowbox. Eddy Josh blew his whistle and I started, glaring at my reflection. When I was younger I used to love shadowboxing because that was when I could still enjoy my own vanity. I wondered why my hair couldn’t decide whether it was blonde or brown, or why, no matter how much I shaved, I always seemed to have some facial hair. How my ape-like arms and torso were in total contrast with my stubby lower body, and yet I still stood nearly six feet tall.

But that stopped after awhile.

Every time Eddy Josh blew his whistle I was supposed to switch to a different punch combination, a different stance, and I complied almost by instinct. I stared at my reflection like an old nemesis, because I didn’t see what Eddy Josh saw.

I saw myself sprawled out on the ground, my limbs in awkward positions, eyes fluttering, completely asleep.

“Lookin’ good, Z!”

Natalie’s reflection appeared in the mirror. She was standing behind me with her arms crossed, looking amused.

“I know, I know, from behind I must look so luscious,” I said. She giggled and came over, giving me a pound and rubbing Eddy Josh’s bald head. Her thick reddish hair was tied up in a failed attempt at a ponytail, and there was a thin gleam of sweat right in the center of her clavicle.

“How’re you doing, oldness?” she asked him.

“Fine, but you need to get that fat ass of yours away from here while I train my fighter AND WHO TOLD YOU COULD STOP?!” he yelled in my direction before blowing the whistle like his life depended on it. I chuckled and kept on going with my shadowboxing.

“Oh shut up,” she said. “You wish your wife had an ass like mine.” She turned on her heel flamboyantly before winking in my direction, mouthing the words “text me” and walking away.

“She’s goddamn right about that, bless her soul,” Eddy Josh muttered, taking off his glasses and staring at the backs of her pale, muscular legs as she pranced away. I laughed and turned to say something but he blew his whistle at me again.

I’d known Natalie since I first moved to Florida. She was one of my only friends when I was making the transition from big, bustling city to swampland. We had hit it off immediately; her parents lived in New York and she was the first female boxer I had ever met who somehow managed to still have feminine-looking hands, and I was fascinated by it.

I had to hit her up and tell her what happened with Marlene. Perhaps, like she usually did, she would have some words of wisdom that would leave Socrates himself scratching his head.

Pick ‘Em.

I think my problem (one of many) is that I haven’t been able to pick a niche. Like, one for my writing.

Is it bad to like too many things? To be confident in your ability to apply your writing voice to a plethora of subjects?

I don’t know if there’s ever been a writer who was able to be successful by writing for multiple different avenues.

(Yes, I’m trying to make myself sound unique. So sue me.)

Some of the things I’m working on right now:

-A Young Adult Novel (pretty much my first novel)

-Another sports-relating article

-Adapting a manuscript into a comic book script

-Trying to get a job writing about sneaker-and-urbanfashion

-Trying to get an internship writing about TV & Film

*Gulp* I don’t know, I guess I’m digging myself into a hole with not picking something and sticking to it. I just feel so passionate about these subjects thats I WANT to write about them.


Never Too Late.

I think the one thing a lot of people don’t seem to understand about fitness is that its for life.

As long as you’re still able to eat, sleep, breathe, and move, you can lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

I started training a client last week who had trained with me before, but for whatever reasons just stopped. When he contacted me again, I didn’t judge him, nor did I ask why he quit in the first place only to come back nearly a year later.

It doesn’t matter. Unless you’re a fitness model or preparing for a physique/bodybuilding show, the majority of us just want to feel comfortable in our own skin.

Its the one thing time has no control over.