Kid Stuff

Tom Walmsley

Moth fought his last fight in the basement of a church forty miles out of town. The crowd was polite and applauded after every round, but made hardly a sound while the punches were being thrown. None of the overhead lights were extinguished and there was a constant buzz of fluorescence. He lost a decision to a good-looking guy his own age from the YMHA, and punch by punch it was his most painful fight.

Everybody says you don’t feel the punches, but you do, he told Jake. They don’t hurt as much, but it isn’t like a fly lands on your face. You look at a picture of guys boxing—does it look like they’re not feeling the punches?

They sat across from one another at an empty table in the school cafeteria. These tables, near the windows, were always vacant because of the noonday sun and Moth and Jake squinted at each other. They were hot and Moth’s shirt had begun to stick to his chest.

I know what a punch feels like, Jake said.

But this was different, said Moth. It was like getting punched by surprise. Every fucking punch. I know this guy couldn’t hit like Travis, but it felt harder.


I don’t know why, said Moth. But I know that he wasn’t feeling my punches the way I was feeling his. That’s a nightmare, a fight like that.

Maybe you should quit the wrestling team, said Jake.

I fought this guy wrong, that’s all, Moth said.

They hadn’t spoken much since the robbery, but Jake was no longer terrified. He’d been given a suspended sentence and now he didn’t care who saw them talking. Moth was waiting for a pre-sentence report before trial. He had become a strong but very limited wrestler and he won more matches than he lost. He thought it had made him a better infighter.

What the hell does it have to do with wrest


Tom Walmsley

Tom Walmsley is the author of Doctor Tin (winner of the first Three-Day Novel contest in 1979) and the sequel, Shades; the poetry collections Lexington Hero and Rabies; the plays The Jones Boy, Blood and Something Red; the screenplay for the film Paris, France; and a new novel, Kid Stuff (Arsenal Pulp Press), from which this excerpt is taken. He lives in Toronto.



Young Earle Birney in Banff: September 1913¹

what a day!at the Basin2 dove from the tufa overhanginto the water, playing my trick ofseeming to drown, not coming up until I finish wrigglingthrough that underwater chimneyand burst into air. always startles the tourists.


Zamboni Driver’s Lament

i know hate, its line-mates. believe me. you kids have, i’m sure, wasted—all early morning anxious and weak-ankled—their first impatient shuffle-kicks and curses on me.


Xcuse Me

i sd lovinglee can yu  not yell at me  n call me