A Typical Afternoon
by Tyhi Conley
A family consisting of three brothers arrived in town. Their mother gave them catholic names: Deacon, the youngest; Bishop, the middle child; and God, the oldest. It’s hard to believe the brothers were religious, but apparently their mother was. I say “was” because she died shortly before they came.
The brothers and I would hang out often since they only moved one neighborhood over. We were on the bus ride home when Bishop told me he’d like to show me something. After school, most of our parents were still at work, leaving us a couple of hours to roam the streets. I agreed to check it out and got off at his stop. As we approached their home, I could see God talking on the phone in the parking lot. I greeted him. Deacon was in the dining room eating cereal. I greeted him too.
“It’s in my pop’s room,” Bishop announced once we got inside. Deacon and I followed him up the stairs. In the room, a girl, who looked no older than God, laid asleep on the mattress on the floor.
“Who’s she?” I asked.
“My pop’s new girlfriend,” Bishop said. “Her name is Diamond.”
On the dresser — the only furniture in the room — I noticed a picture of their mom, who looked exactly like Bishop. Next to the picture were a bunch of open pill bottles.
“My dad sells,” Bishop said as he caught me staring. “Deacon,” he continued, “go and get the gloves.”
Deacon left briefly and returned with a pair of cherry red boxing gloves. Bishop broke in the left. Deacon the right.
“Watch this,” Bishop said to me.
Bishop cautiously crept onto the mattress, cocked his arm back, and then punched Diamond in the jaw.
“What are you doing!” I screamed. “Are you crazy?”
“Look,” Bishop said, pointing, like a scientist who’d made a discovery. “She doesn’t feel a thing.”
I looked. He was right. Diamond didn’t budge.
“My turn,” Deacon said.
He pulled back even further, and punched her even harder.
“Stoooppp,” Diamond drawled. She opened her eyes slowly, never lifting her head from the pillow. “Y’all play too much.”
The brothers chuckled. Afterwards, Deacon offered me his glove.
“I’m good,” I said. “My mom would kill me.”
Had she been alive, I’m sure their mother would do the same, even if that woman was their dad’s new girlfriend. Still, getting involved in other people’s business, around here, especially a family’s, was something people didn’t do. I decided if things went too far, I’d just leave. Besides, it wasn’t the worst thing I’d ever seen.
“It’s cool,” Deacon insisted. “The pills numb her down. We do it all the time.”
“No, really,” I said, “I’m good.”
Bishop shrugged his shoulders, as if to say, “your loss.” Then he hit her with a quick jab.
That one did it. That one woke her up. Diamond rose from her pallet like a zombie out of a grave. Her forehead furrowed. Her hair frizzed. Upright, she was taller than all three of us.
“Why are y’all beating on me?” she said. She wiped the drool off her cheek. “I’m trying to sleep.”
Bishop, again, approached her with caution. He got within arm’s reach and hit her with another jab. This time though, Diamond swung back. Bishop ducked, however, and escaped to the stairs and out of the front door. Diamond chased after him, with Deacon and I running behind.
“Get your brothers!” Diamond yelled at God, who was now smoking a Black & Mild in his car. “They keep on punching me!”
“You’re being too loud,” God said. “Calm down. What are you talking about?”
“They’re punching me while I’m asleep,” she said. “Make ‘em quit.”
“I can’t make ‘em do anything,” God said. “I’m not their father.”
“So that’s what y’all do, huh?” Diamond said, now tapping her foot in irritation. “Y’all just go around beating on women?” She started talking with her hands.
“You could always fight back,” God said, stepping out of the car. “Bishop, why don’t you give Diamond a fair fight?”
Bishop removed the boxing glove at his command, while Diamond tied her hair into a ponytail.
“No grabbing,” God explained, “or hitting in the nuts.” He tossed his Black & Mild in the grass. “Now dap up.”
Bishop and Diamond shook hands. When God said fight, they fought. Bishop had more power, but Diamond had the speed, and speed kills. Bishop, who was clearly overmatched, grabbed Diamond and slammed her on the concrete.
“I said no grabbing,” God said. “Take your loss if you can’t hold your own.”
“I’m not taking a loss,” Bishop said, still on top of her, struggling.
“Then get up,” God demanded. “She gets a free hit.”
In the middle of the fight, Bishop stood defenseless with his hands on his side. God lied earlier, when he said he couldn’t make his brothers do anything. That was obvious now.
Diamond dusted herself off. Despite all those hits, her face had yet to swell. There was blood, though.
“Hurry up,” Bishop said. “Get it over with.”
Diamond took her time sizing him up, lifted her very long leg, then kicked Bishop right in the nuts.
He collapsed instantly.
“That’s against the rules!” Bishop screamed, rolling around.
“That’s what you get,” Diamond said. “Now please, let me sleep.”
Diamond made it back to the room before Bishop’s could stand. He made his way to the passenger seat of God’s car and sat slumped over in defeat. His brothers and I laughed uncontrollably.
“I’ll have to see y’all tomorrow,” I said, finally. “It’s time for me to go.”
I dapped everyone up. They sent my family their regards. On the way home, I realized my stomach was empty. I hoped my mom would cook me something to eat.
A Kennesaw State University journalism graduate, Tyhi Conley has written for news outlets and literary magazines like Atlanta Magazine, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Hobart Pulp, Writer’s Resist, Halfway Down the Stairs and more. He’s currently based in Atlanta, where he works as a legal assistant. Feel free to contact him at email@example.com.
Image original: Arisa Chattasa/Unsplash