A boxing glove
Photo courtesy of Prateek Katyal/unsplash.com

A Novel by Street Sense Vendor August Mallory 

It is late afternoon in Baltimore, and workers around the city step to and fro and wait on Maryland Transit Administration buses to go here and there. On Saratoga Street downtown, homeless men mope and drag along as though they are carrying sacks of potatoes on their backs. Some are mentally deranged. Some are so hung over that they have no idea which direction to go. Most are severe alcoholics and drug addicts. 

On Baltimore Street, just outside the door of Crazy John’s restaurant homeless men, mostly African-American, hold cups to beg for change. Amidst the action, the strip clubs and tattoo parlors, and the triple XXX video stores, homeless men and women linger about, panhandling for money. Across the street from a nightclub called Norma Jean’s, man is viciously shaking a cup for change. 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the city, a drunken Louis Henley is waking up behind a building that is the fiscal residence of the Manna House soup kitchen. As Henley awakens from his drunken stupor, he struggles to reach into his pockets for money to buy more alcohol. Suddenly, Walter Lacey’s ID card falls out of his pocket. 

Henley just sits and looks at it, and then disappears deeply into a memory. He has flashbacks from his days as a prizefighter in New York City. As Henley thinks back on his winning days as a hard puncher, he also remembers the many knockout punches he administered to earn him the championship belts around his waist. He recalls the many victorious bouts that brought him to the top, and he also remembers that painful day that brought him down hard. It was to be his final fight, and the stakes were high. 

Although Henley was a well-trained prizefighter and knew the ring inside and out, he was not prepared for what lay ahead of him. As the ring announcer introduced the two fighters, Henley found himself standing toe-to-toe with a 6-foot-8-inch, 290-pound African giant. The fight began, and Henley squared off pretty well in the first four rounds, but the African man was not fazed at all. As Henley wailed away at his opponent with everything he’d had, his punches did not seem to affect the African boxer. 

Suddenly, without warning, the opponent landed a hard-right jab to Henley’s jaw, and Henley hit the floor of the ring like a boulder. The referee started the count, but Henley struggled to his feet. 

Henley then made it through rounds five and six, but round seven ended everything. He was looking pretty good in the middle of the round, but the other fighter saw an opening and went for his chance to floor Henley permanently. While Henley was ducking, weaving, and bobbing, he raised his head a little too soon. It was at that moment that his opponent nailed him for good. 

As Henley comes back to the present, he still remembers that painful day that ended his boxing career. He lost it all- the money, the fame, everything. He lost his home, cars, and credit privileges. He was broke. Henley was a washed-up prizefighter whose time had come to hang up the gloves, but he took a gamble on one last fight and lost. 

As he continues to play back this memory, he begins to cry to himself. He lost to a younger and stronger fighter. 

Meanwhile, American Airlines flight 770 has touched down at BWI Airport in Baltimore. Anna Jackson and Marvin Hammerman make their way through BWI, unaware that they are about to discover some very interesting facts about this new case they’re taking on. 

Part 4: Hammerman contacts various agencies about Walter Lacey. Where will this take Hammerman? And what about finding Louis Henley?