"I'm proud a' you."

       That's what he says afterward, in the dressing room, before concentrating again.

       Later, he worries me.

       HefI don't know.

       I notice a deliberate change in my brother. He's harder. He has a switch, and once a fight comes near, he flicks it and he is no longer my brother Rube. He's a machine. He's a Steve, but different. More violent. Steve's a winner because he's always been a winner. Rube's a winner because he wants to beat the loser out of himself. Steve knows he's a winner, but I think Rube's still trying to prove it to himself. He's fiercer, more fiery, ready to beat all loss from his vision.

He's Fighting Ruben Wolfe.

Or is he actually fighting Ruben Wolfe?

Inside him.

Proving himself.

To himself.

I don't know.

It's in each eye.

The question.

Each breath.

Who's fighting who?

Each hope.

In the ring tonight, he leaves his opponent in pieces. The other guy is barely there, from the very beginning. Rube has something over all of them. His desire is so severe, and his fists are fast. Every time the guy goes down, Rube stands over him tonight, and he tells him.

"Get up."


"Get up."

By the third one, he can't.

This time, Rube screams at him.

"Get up, boy!"

He lays into the padding in the corner and kicks it before climbing back out.

In the dressing room Rube doesn't look at me. He speaks words that are not directed at anyone. He says, "Another one, ay. Two rounds and he's on the deck."

More women like him.

I see them watching him.

They're young and trashy and good-looking. They like tough fellas, even though guys like that are likely to treat them poorly. I guess women are only human too. They're as stupid as us sometimes. They seem to like the bad ones a bit.

But is Rube bad? I ask myself.

It's a good question.

He's my brother.

Maybe that's all I know.