Parcher, take a drink.

He’s in the ring, and the bull of a man across from him has been whipping his ass all over the room. They call the bull across from him Ganado. He’s a fat, meaty man. Ganado is being given water right now.

Parcher, take the drink. Open your mouth. There.

Parcher’s ring-man is giving him something to drink and Parcher is just barely opening his mouth to take it in. The drink is alcohol, and here they call it mezcal. Parcher accepts the fluid. His tongue is a dried agave leaf.

He’s gonna hack you if you don’t drink. You’re spewing.

The ring-man is talking to him about bleeding. Parcher sits on his side of the ring and is thinking no. He resents that his own ring-man thinks he can’t tell he’s bleeding. He can tell. Though his eyes are swollen bad.

Have some more, Parcher.

He can barely open his swollen eyes but what he can see is Ganado’s feral hands looking like a landscape, bare-knuckle hilltops and the torrid earth of his palms. The man has snuff pressed up in his nose, and he snorts in, hard.

Parcher. Drink.

Parcher is feeling his tongue getting spikier and bluer and blue like an agave and numb. His ring-man is pouring more mezcal into his mouth. He’s looking around the room and at the ring of shouting earthy faces and remembers the names on the bills pasted outside. He didn’t know what they stood for, but they read like animals. Ganado was a bull.


Parcher was wondering why he was drinking so much alcohol, and how a good ring-man had been so easy to get when he’d only been in Juarez one more day than a week. His ring-man was doing him good by giving him a drink. Parcher tasted his tongue; spike.


He could feel the heart of the plant gone down his throat and into the pit of him. The heart boiled in his stomach. His ring-man violently shook the remnant drops of mezcal from his smoky plastic jug. 


One of the faces of the ring banged a dinner spoon on a dirty black pan. Tin sound. Now was the moment to raise hands. Ganado snorted a pinch of snuff and got up from his dumpy balsa chair. Parcher got up shaky from the heart and the alcohol. A great feeling came up into him from his pit. He looked around him and the ring shouted. He looked at his ring-man. His ring-man showed his teeth and they were like shoeshine. Parcher was thinking. This was how the animals danced. He came to the middle of the ring and fat Ganado stood in front of him. They touched their knuckles together. 

He was full of drink. Now he wanted meat. He scraped his spike along the ceiling of his mouth.


Evan Nicholls is a high school student and musician from Fauquier County, Virginia, and has work appearing in The Hoot Review. He will be attending James Madison University in the fall.