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I'll Burn the Pain Out of You Baby

short story

By Steve B HowardPublished 4 years ago 3 min read

Every disgusting stain on those six tatami I can trace back to his giant fat ex-Sumo ass drinking himself unconscious. Blood stains, sweat stains, even sex stains, wanted and unwanted. Every cigarette burn too. I have to take the burning butts out of his fingers when he passes out so he doesn’t set our little shit apartment on fire. I’ve seen him sleep through earthquakes when he’s drunk.

He gets paid a little cash for a job he does every three months, intimidation stuff, and on those nights he buys a bottle Everclear and Bacardi 151. “American Power!” he always screams right before he guzzles one of them. The only upside is he passes out faster. He can never finish both bottles though. After chugging one he attempts the second one and ends up crashing to the floor on our moldy futon in front of the tv with the cracked screen.

He was still a sumo wrestler when I first I met him, Ozeki, in fact. All of Japan thought he would be Yokozuna someday, the first Japanese Yokozuna in almost twenty years was the hope, even though he’s a quarter Brazilian. But his knees blew out and now he’s just a 200 kg slab of stinking meat. Abusive meat too when he’s drinking.

He came into the hostess club one night and I got his table. “Ai-chan, you’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen,” were the first words out of his mouth. It was a line, of course, one he used all the time, but it sounded so innocent coming from that flabby Sumo wrestler’s baby face of his. While he had money I became his regular. Wild and happy times mostly. I felt special being with a respected mountain like him. After the knees went and they cut his topknot I took him in like a sad puppy dog.

He was angry at the world then. He would often fuck me hard while wearing his mawashi. I’d always say, “No, don’t do it Tori-chan, Sumo says no women. This is very bad. You’ll anger the Gods.” And he would growl, “I’m not in Sumo anymore. Fuck the Gods.”

He’d do his best to keep his full weight off of me though, another example of his strange mix of sweetness and brutality. But the deep puddle of his sweat was always a part of our lovemaking even though he finished fast every time.

There wasn’t much for a guy like him to do, obese, could barely walk, his size was his only asset. Bringing fear and the threat of violence was something he could do though. When he was offered full membership they sent him in to get his back tattoo, but he couldn’t take the pain. I never understood how he made it so far in Sumo being such a baby when it came to pain. Maybe the desire to be a member of the gang just wasn’t as strong for him. He got one shoulder done and settled for life as an associate.

It was a heavy blow to his self-esteem and he’s taken it out on me ever since. The last time he backhanded me across the mouth my lips were cut and swollen for over a week.

I couldn’t work and we were down to eating Cup O Noodles for a month. He swore off the booze and apologized profusely, but after his next job a month later he was passed out on the tatami again soaked and bleeding from the bottle he broke over his own head in his drunken rage. He kept screaming, “I don’t hurt old ladies, I don’t do that! I’m Sumo!” At least his violence was directed at himself that time. I stubbed out his cigarette as usual but left him in his shit. Told myself, “He can clean up his own mess from now on.” We slept in broken glass for three days before I finally cleaned the futon.

Tonight I wasn’t so lucky and his fist and feet found me again. He’s out though now, half soaked in Everclear. The tip of his cigarette is glowing red and I can already see the small blue flames moving along the tatami towards his bulk. His snoring face is sweet and innocent again in its unconsciousness, but not sweet enough to make me care.

I’m in the elevator lugging my overstuffed gym bag. On the first floor, I wait for a cab so I can go have my ribs mended at the hospital. As the taxi pulls away from the curb I hear the fire alarm wailing.


About the Creator

Steve B Howard

Steve Howard's self-published collection of short stories Satori in the Slip Stream, Something Gaijin This Way Comes, and others were released in 2018. His poetry collection Diet of a Piss Poor Poet was released in 2019.

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