White Knuckles (2:09)

Cover of Empty Days & Sleepless Nights

From Empty Days & Sleepless Nights

The bookie his dad dealt with when he’d go to the tracks always gave him the eye when they would see each other there. He wanted to knock his jaw right off his face, tell him his father’s debt ain’t got nothing to do with him, and “if you’d like we could settle it with our fists.” That bookie never did a damned thing about it. But that night was different, that bookie was there and he gave him what for. Told him, “You ain’t never to look at my wife like that again.” He landed one good punch, but that man’s lackeys took him to the ground faster than he could hit, and he was out.

He woke up in the street and walked home, trying to put together the pieces of the night before. The shame he felt for all the drinking he had been doing and the way he walked out ran so deep. He knew no husband should act the way he did. He made it to the doorstep much quicker than he thought he would, the door was already open and that’s when he saw her. The love of his life, passed in his own home because he wasn’t there to protect her. Because he was out drinking all night. Because that goddamned bookie took her life as a settlement. He put his fist through every wall of that house. Every light smashed and chair overturned. He sat there next to her for hours and couldn’t cry, just held her hand and pulled her ring out of the blood.

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