“Yeah, nine-year-olds. How many?” Mike tapped his index finger on the bar, as if that would hasten my answer. He sat perched on the stool, hunched like a gargoyle, craning his ear so none of my response would be lost in the growing din of a Saturday night.
“I don’t know. Seven?”
“Seven? No way. You’re selling yourself short, brother. Seven? You could take at least twelve. At least. You’ve got a streak.”
Before I could inquire about my so-called streak, Jenny appeared between us, peeling a dark green scarf off her neck disgustedly. “Fuckin’ N train. Sometimes I really hate this city.”
Mike turned to her. “How many nine-year-olds could you take in a fight?”
“What, like a street brawl?”
“No, in a ring, Royal Rumble style. An infinite number of nine-year-olds swarm you. How many can you bring down they take you out?”
Jenny’s pupils rolled around her sockets. She slowly took off her black coat and draped it over the stool in front of her. She always had a cute way of sticking the tip of her tongue out the side of her mouth when she contemplated something. “Uhhhh… probably about thirteen.”
Mike slapped his hand down, causing the glasses on the bar to jump and clink. “Now we’re talkin’. Tommy here said seven.”
“Seven?” She raised an eyebrow at me accusingly.
I put my hands up, showing my palms. “I’m just saying, nine-year-olds can be pretty tenacious, and I got a bad knee.”
Mike shook his head forcefully, his tight shaggy curls knocking against each other. He pointed at one of his bushy black eyebrows. “You gotta think. They all come after you, but you take that first one out, bam, punch to the nose. When he drops, the rest of them are gonna pause. They take a step back. Then you take down two or three more before they even think to regroup, and it’s off to the races.”
Jenny sipped at the Jack and Coke the bartender had put in front of her. At this point, she didn’t even need to order it. “You could use the body of the first one as a club,” she mused. “Or maybe a shield.”
“See? Somebody’s thinkin’.”
(continued in part two)