Sam Hawken


“Bully” (A Camaro Espinoza Story)

It was the Miami autumn when Camaro Espinoza felt well enough to work out again. She’d done what she could during a long stretch of recovery, but she felt slow and she felt weaker and these were things she couldn’t live with. On the morning she met Felix she dressed in sweatpants and a t-shirt and went barefoot out onto the back patio of her rented house and did stretches with her forehead against her knees.

She followed up with every muscle group, unkinking the knots that had formed over time, and when she was done she felt vaguely sweaty though the temperature hovered around seventy. Sitting on a weight bench, she wrapped her hands, and then she turned her attention to the heavy bag that hung suspended from the patio roof.

Camaro started easily, with light punches that snapped against the battered leather of the bag. When she felt the rhythm, she began to follow up with sharp elbows, digging in deep, striking with power. She grappled with the bag and drove her knees against it. She backed off and kicked, jangling the heavy bag around on its chain. Breath came in steady puffs, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Real perspiration broke out on her skin.

She attacked the bag for over an hour, until her disciplined breathing broke down and she panted. Her body was ablaze, sore spots springing up everywhere. It had been too long.

A warm-down took fifteen minutes, and finally she sat on the weight bench again. She rubbed her arms and legs to keep them from tightening up.