“What are you going to do next?” Dali asks.
“Play Inter-Milan,” the Kid says.
Dali is surprised by the Kid’s frankness and his gravelly voice inflection. Besides this, he hasn’t shared anything. Dali eyes the stippled silver band of his watch the oval face glommed tight onto his wrist. He’s sure the second hand is moving backwards.
“Are you going to follow me there?
Dali is irked by this sarcastic tone, has never hit anybody, but in a playful manner and wants very much to clock this punk in the jaw. Dali’s neck swells, feels too tight like he’s being choked and his blood temperature kicks up a couple of notches. He sizes up this Kid, who isn’t a kid, but a twenty-four-year-old man lying about his age to wreck havoc for the boys’ league. Dali is itching to knock sense into him. He balls his fist, squeezing until his pencil-lead veins bump to the surface.
The Kid doesn’t have a chance to taunt Dali or flinch. He takes a good hard punch off the temple. His head lobs back and Dali lunges forward and takes another swing with his southpaw this time laying the Kid out.
A wide, mouth-open grin fills Dali’s face. He’s elated and mortified. He’s ashamed to have this mixed bag of emotions. As the moment wears on, Dali helps the kid back onto his feet. The Kid licks his bloody lip. Dali touches him behind his ear and the kid shakes as if he’s a wet dog.
“Get lost,” the Kid says.
“I can’t,” Dali says.
“You don’t have the balls.”
Dali smirks. This comment would’ve infuriated him, stuck in his craw. He flexes his knuckles and the Kid wipes his bloodied mouth. Dali doesn’t see himself as a bully or a meddler any longer he feels more committed to this kid. And on top of all that he finally feels, in some odd way, he’s both paying back and honoring Benga.