Three On A Match
-- : Third on a match. Meaning: bad luck.

The Past Is A Funny Thing
Short Story 

7 am
Malcolm Armstrong's Loft
July 2017
Malik Cartwright Offline
Arcanist Human
In a loft in London…

Malcolm Armstrong, age 19, Sophomore year…

It was another morning like all the ones before. It started with coffee: Hazelnut blends with Irish Cream and Mint Creamer; Bacon jelly and sausage spinach wrap, and a spliff. A very frustrated spliff as the guy laying in his bed returned home again covered in bandages. Malcolm was understandably frustrated. You would be two if the guy you were dating always seemed to be worst off when you took your eyes off of him for one second. Frustrated. Concerned. Anxious. Those were words to describe how he was doing. And yet, he never expressed them. Of course not. He didn’t know where to begin.

Morning, do you want to tell me how you end up with two broken ribs and tiger scratches? Not angry enough.

The fuck were you doing last night? Angry and straight to the point, but too confrontational.

Fucking is great and all but we gotta talk about last night… The sex is good but stay focused.

None of those options came to mind as the naked man strolled into the kitchen.

“ Hey, ”
“ Sup,”

That was all Malcolm could muster. He was still recovering himself. It was a miracle that he wasn’t hungover from last night’s party. Or able to function after finding his…boyfriend [citation needed] on the receiving end of a slasher movie. Malcolm had patience. Too much patience in fact, as he should have ended things the first time. The first lie, about why bullets were in the car door. Or the lie about the broken arm. Or why he had swords in the trunk of the car. Or about the weird guy he hung out with. The army? Marine? Navy? The military guy who was always dropping by.

“-how was Andy’s? ” David asked. Malcolm let out a sigh. Is that really the first question he wants to ask?, he thought. Malcolm took a sip of his coffee and stared out the window. All of London was starting to wake up.

“ It was aight, ” he began “, had some drinks, some laughs…blood on my good shirt.”

“ Listen, Malcolm, I’-”

“ Yes, sorry about the shirt…sorry about the car…sorry about missing Chris’s funeral…” he interrupted. Malcolm took a heavy bite of his wrap. He wanted to shut himself up before it got real nasty. Before he said something he didn’t mean. No, did mean but didn’t want to say. Another bite, washed down with coffee always seemed to save him. Save him from having to wash his mouth out with soap.

“ You said you were over that, ” David said. He downed the coffee Malcolm had made. He always downed it. He never, got up to make Malcolm any or fix any sort of breakfast…but he always finished the coffee. And breakfast. At this moment, Malcolm had a good look at David. Like a real good look at him:

Handsome, funny, light scars from…whatever government job he did, looked great naked, he was always naked…, and yet always seemed guarded. His eyes were always looking at the door or watching the windows. He never looked Malcolm in the eye when talking about his work, life, or that military friend…whatever his name was. He could never sit still or focus on the conversation at hand. Sometimes, it felt like he did it on purpose. Didn’t help that Malcolm was always hyper-focused on something that prevented him from confronting the issue.

The issue is David.

“ I’m over a lot of things, ” Malcolm swallowed. He finished the rest of his wrap and coffee, grabbed his spliff, and kicked off from the table in one single push. Like a whirlwind, he blew past David’s reach. He could hear David getting up to say something but was cut off by a knock at the door. Malcolm sighed again.

he’s always afraid to go to the door, Malcolm thought. He opened the door. He always opens the door.

“ Hey, ” a voice crooned. Malcolm smiled as Benny “the bull” darkened his door. Benedetto complicated things, in a good way. Always needing his car fixed. Always looking for his next big break. Always at the gym. And always seemed to show up when Malcolm needed a distraction.

“ Yo, ” Malcolm smiled “, what’s good with you?”

“ In the neighborhood wanted to invite you to the first big match, ” he said holding up a poster.

“ Get the fuck outta here, ” Malcolm said getting a better look. He was genuinely happy that Benny was finally getting out of the fight clubs and into an actual ring. That and he was coming over to tell him the good news.

“ And you’ll be sitting front row, ”

“ No way dude.”
“ Got to have my number one fan there.”

“ Number one? What about ya mom’s?”

“Not a fan of fighting, catholic beliefs, or something.”

“ Right, yeah I’m fucking coming when is it? ”

“ Saturday at the Royal, 8:30 pm. ”

“ Ok, I’ll be there no problem. ”

Before he could say anything else, Benny hugged him and handed him a ticket. Malcolm watched as the young fighter said his goodbyes and skipped off. Two first for him. And for a moment a smile stayed on his face. Just one moment.

“ Who was that, ” David asked.

“ My friend, Benny…” Malcolm's smile instantly turned into a frown as he closed the door “...told you about him.”

“ Oh the boxing guy, ”

“ MMA Fighter. ”

“ Right, yeah, what did he want?”

“ I got invited to his first match Saturday, ” Malcolm said “, front row seats. ” He looked around to see David reading something on his laptop. Half listening to him as usual. Right.

“ Whatever, I’m going to work so make sure you lock up when you leave, ” Malcolm said grabbing his bookbag. He didn’t wait for a response and continued out the door. As he walked down the four flights he realized he forgot to ask David about last night. Just like the other nights. He resolved to ask about it later. When he came home.
Malik Cartwright Offline
Arcanist Human
It was Saturday. And he still hadn’t brought up the issue. Wasn’t his fault though. Not entirely. Malcolm was busy with work, a study abroad program, and fixing his motorbike. Those trumped over talking about feelings, setting boundaries, and asking for answers. You know, just emotionally assuring things. He couldn’t do much about it. After all, David seemed to disappear before he could ask him anything. Mostly, he’d just leave a text:

Working on an assignment, won’t be back till late.

“ No, Love you I guess, ” Malcolm sighed to himself. Something in him ached. He couldn’t put his finger on why it ached or what it was, but it ached. It came and went though. Like a passing strain on the muscles or a headache that disappeared as fast as it appeared. He found himself, whenever there wasn’t anything to do wistfully staring off into space. Just thinking.

Can’t wait to see you there bro.

Benny, he thought to himself. Malcolm smiled. The aching feeling disappeared. Malcolm looked at the time and realized it was already 4 o’clock. He started to rush but a pounding at his door interrupted him. Malcolm rushed to the door wondering who could it be. He peaked through the viewfinder to see three people standing and waving. He opened it.

“ Okay, so for your date, I was thinking we go slutty but you can still bring this man home to mom and dad… A young woman said carrying a bookbag and a box with her. Two men carried racks of clothes and a duffle bag with them.

“ Keke,” Malcolm said still processing everything “, what are you doing here I was about to-”

“ Yes, you were about to where those yeye ass clothes I see, ” Keke said walking through the loft and setting her stuff down in the living room. The men followed her placing everything down for her to work with. Malcolm, confused, closed the door behind them.

“ Okay, wait date…huh, I’m just going to see Benny’s first match, ” He said.

Yes, first match at the Royal in first of influencers, money rollers, cameras, in the front row no less...” she continued as she took out hair clippers, make-up, and other supplies from her bags “...and don’t ask how I know because Johnny told Mica, who told Ashton, who told Bill who told Amber who told Christie, who told Linda, who told Shin told me. ”

Keke put down her tools in frustration. Keke Alizé Anderson wasn’t just a friend. Not just a best friend. She was a life coach. Trusted Advisor. PR personal. Oliva Pope when she needed to be. And the best damn gossip from the Atlantic. But she was also known as a Miracle Worker. And he knew exactly why Keke was here.

“ no, NOOO, it’s not a date, ” he said as he moved past the large gentleman “, I’m just supporting a friend and I don’t plan on being in the cameras. ” Keke snapped her fingers and the taller of the two men grabbed Malcolm and sat him in the makeup chair. A black robe was draped around him followed by a paper collar.

“ Amature, have I taught you nothing, ” Keke began “, Every young influencer is going to be there because Benny is fighting Terry Bogard. ” Malcolm tried to think of the name, but was immediately shaken out of thought when the buzz of the clippers began.

“ Times up, Terry Bogard, YouTuber, Fighter, 20 endorsement deals and never lost a fight, ” she said cutting Malcolm’s hair.

Fuck, ” Malcom said trying to hold still. Keke made the speedy working of his lineup and shaped up his haircut.
“ Okay, I can see how that’s important but what does that have to do with me? ”

“Think about it, You , a nobody, will be in front of all those people as a guest to an upcoming fighter,” she said continuing to work [/q], and he is going to introduce you as a friend of his…a friend who I would like to remind needs some clout for once…[/q]


“ Yes my little engineer, clout, so he can stop having to work so hard and breeze through life ”

“ Okay, but how does this amount to a date…”

“ Did he ask you out?”

“ Well he asked me to come?”

“Are you going with a group?”

“ Ummm…no?”

“ Is his mom coming?”

“ He said she didn’t support him fighti-”

“Stupid, what mother doesn’t come to her son’s first fight” Keke said bopping Malcolm in the head with her palm “, it’s a ruse…besides his mother has a seat in the same section, don’t ask I already did my homework. ” Malcolm’s mouth was agape for a second, only for Keke to close it for him.

“ Anyways, moving on, what are we doing about the interloper, ” Keke said.

“ David’s at work, ” he said. Even after a year, Keke refused to acknowledge David. To Keke, David was a pest. A tagalong. A lost puppy that turned out to be a rat. A federal agent who needed to go back home and bother someone else. Trash. Not good enough for her friend. And she made this known. Vehemently.

“ No, I meant when are you taking the trash out, ” Keke said taking a step out to look over her work “, I would have thought it would have been Monday after that last incident. ”

“ I was going to ask him about it…”

“ No ask, , tell him to pack his bags…”

“ The bags being trash bags, ” one assistant said.

“ I know that’s right,” the other one responded. They shuffled back and forth sorting out the different outfits Keke had in mind. Malcolm tried to sink further in the chair but was held in place by Keke. She turned his face from side to side, sucked her teeth, and grabbed the makeup kit.

“ At least you’re getting some sleep, would hate to see you with bags over a motherfucka with a Batman complex. ” she said putting on the makeup. He didn’t respond. Or have the energy to retort. He was already seeing the signs. Keke continued her work, before stepping away to grab some accessories from the bag. Her assistants hung up the multiple options with pictures and designer names on them.

“ Listen, it is not a DATE, I’m just going to see Benny ” he said exasperated “, I’m going to talk to David, I’m going to have fun, and just…I don’t know fucking have fun, fuck I already said that. ” The four of them laughed. It was like a weight lifted off of him, as he tried on different outfits and accessories. They took pictures. Drank. Had Music Blasting. It was just him preparing for an amazing night out.

Keke, in all her fussiness, settled on an outfit .

“ Okay, I pulled back on the slutty, but I’m not taking back the grillz ” she said putting her foot down “ Those are real rose gold fangs you got on, and I just know the guys are going to be asking you to bite them when they see it. ” Malcolm turned around looking at himself in the mirror.. He pressed the sunglasses up to his face and took a step back. Keke did great work. He felt like money. Like, a million bucks. He looked expensive, smelled expensive, and the clothes probably were expensive knowing Keke.

A knock came at the door. “ Don’t worry I'll get it, ” Keke said gliding to the door “, Hel- oh, it’s you…never mind y’all it’s just HIM. ” Malcolm walked out of the bedroom into the living room to see David in his suit and tie.

“ Always great to see you Keke, ” David said stepping past her.

“ I would say the same, but I’d be lying, ” Keke hummed. A tension formed in the room as if fun never existed. Keke exaggeratedly cut off David’s path and spun Malcolm around.

“ Baby boy, you look good… doesn’t he look good? ” She said admiring her work. The assistants nodded.

“ You look, great babe, what’s the occasion? ” David said grabbing a beer from the fridge. Keke gave David a side eye and looked over at Malcolm.

“ I told you, Benny’s fight is tonight…” Malcolm said tiredly “ earlier this week. ”

“ Yeah yeah…forgot about that, listen how long are going to be ou-”

“ He’ll be home late, there’s the fight, interviews with Benny, and the after party…”

“ I’ll text you when I get in, ” Malcolm said as Keke began to usher him out the door.

“ Alright, I guess I’ll see you later?”


After a quick trip down the stairs and out of the house, Malcolm found himself outside taking pictures with Keke. The two of them posed in front of her green convertible, the phone booth that was out of service, the brick wall with graffiti and vines growing out of it, and the bodega with the hardest working cat in London. It was fun.

“ Alright, the car is picking you up and you will go through the VIP entrance, ” Keke said looking at her phone. “, make sure to say hello to as many people as possible, give Benito a kiss for me, and have fun Bestie. ” She ushered a young Malcolm Armstrong into the back of a Black SUV and waved him off. It would be the last time he sees her.

And it would be all David’s fault…

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