J. Marshall

April 2020

“I’m going to put this dude into the ground,” a high school senior named Oliver said, storming toward the back of the school with seven to ten students close behind him. His best friend Grady walked with him. This guy he was supposed to fight behind the school had called his sister a bitch when she hadn’t agreed to give him her number. Oliver wasn’t about to put up with that kind of shit from anybody.

“Yeah!” his best friend Grady shouted joyfully. “Let’s do this!”

It was a warm day out. A great day for smashing some dude’s teeth down his throat with his fists. That was something that Oliver had always been good at, smashing a person’s teeth down their throat with his fists.

Oliver, Grady, and the group of other students following close behind turned the corner, the excited, anticipatory energy building in Oliver’s young body. But when he lay his eyes on the guy standing in the center of the rear, sparse parking lot, he stopped cold.

“What the fuck?” Oliver gasped. “He…”

“What,” Grady said.

“He looks like Mike Tyson.”

Grady chuckled, looking ten feet out at the student standing alone in the center of the parking lot. He had no backpack, was unsmiling, and was staring, right — in — Oliver’s — direction!

“Yes he does,” Oliver said, recalling countless clips of Mike Tyson in his prime from YouTube. It was like he was looking at Mike Tyson’s son. Or more realistically — at least to him — an eighteen or nineteen-year old Mike Tyson that had been teleported from the nineteen eighties to April 2020.

“Stop being a punk,” Grady said, sounding far more irritated than supportive of his friend. “Get your bitch ass out there and fight that dude.” Grady began to chant and soon everyone around Oliver joined in.

“Fight! Fight! Fight!”

Oliver looked at everyone in his little group, then back at the Mike Tyson doppelganger he was supposed to be fighting, standing there as still as ever, solo. His dark eyes never left Oliver.

“He seriously looks like Mike Tyson,” Oliver repeated. “Just look at him!”

Everyone in his group began to laugh.

Oh come on,” Grady cried. “You’re going to let him get away with disrespecting your sister like he did! That’s the last thing you want to remember doing before graduation!”

Oliver remained motionless, his mouth dry. His dark skin was slick with sweat.

“Do you want your sister to remember that you didn’t stand up for her, that you let some dude talk to her any which way? Is that what you want! Huh? Is that what you want for yourself! For your family!”

Oliver shook his head slowly, his heart thumping hard in his chest.

“Yeah, my sister,” he said shakily. “Yeah, for my sister.”

He started gradually forward and everyone followed. Then as the distance of ten feet closed to seven, six, five, then four, Oliver’s eyes looked up from the ground where his gaze had strayed, and once again met the cold, patient eyes of the Mike Tyson double. His bladder let go, hot urine splashed down the inside of his denims, and he turned and dashed away at top speed, screeching at the top of his lungs, his hands in the air.

In some other place and time…

“How long has he been here again?”

“Over twenty-three years,” Ms. Nomi answered.

“Interesting indeed.”

“So, Dr. Williams, what do you think is going on?”

The elderly Dr. Williams peeked back into the small square of glass, setting his eyes back on the forty-something Black man bound in a straitjacket inside the white padded room. This man’s eyes were wide, the coils of dark, curly hair on his head and face prematurely graying.

“Well,” Dr. Williams said. “Based on what you described — and this might be controversial, so we’ll just consider it a theory for now — I think the man we’re looking at fought a prime Mike Tyson in a previous life and got beat up really badly. Died — probably not from the fight itself — then had a type of subconscious flashback. In other words, Tyson hit him so hard in his past life that he’s feeling it in his present one. And apparently, this near fight he had all those years ago in high school triggered something and he’s reliving that day in his mind, over and over again. I feel he has no idea how deep his fear of this kid that looked like Mike Tyson really goes. In fact, I daresay in his dream — maybe even during the original incident, itself — he never saw the actual kid. Only Mike Tyson…in his prime.

The nurse chuckled. “Yeah, with talk like that you’re going to end up in one of these padded rooms too if you’re not careful.”

“Ms. Nomi,” Dr. Williams replied in a stern voice, his blue eyes grim as he turned his gaze back to her. “Mike Tyson, or Iron Mike as he’s often referred, was no one to fuck with. Especially in his prime.”

The nurse, a bit more solemn now, looked back into the white, enclosed, padded space.

“Looks like Mike,” the patient gibbered from within the closed, padded space, his brown eyes wide and aimless, fresh spittle bubbling out over older, caked spittle that had formed a thin, white coat over his lips. “Looks like Mike Tyson…like Tyson. He looks just like Mike…Tyson. Tyson…”



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Jon on the River

Jon on the River

Home of my open journal. I will speak about growth and take you through the heaven and hell that makes up this process