Pedro Ávila

“It looks like he went for the throat,” Trevor said as they dragged me to the sidewalk. I was clutching my left cheekbone, which seemed to be loose. I remember the punch that did it, too.

A mighty adversary he was if he had indeed been aiming for the sub-mandibular region housing the vocal chords and sub-lingual tonsils. Those are gonna swell up big and they’ll probably want to remove them.

“I don’t know — me? I would’ve done the same,” he continued, “Gut punching is for frat boys. Real men go for the throat and…”

“Trevor — ” I stopped him.


“Shut up. Save it for your blog.”


Tired and weary from the brawl in the last pub we found open that night, I check the swollen neck under my head. A relic I took home with me from the fight we found ourselves in that night. I had plenty of their blood on my fists too, but that’s another story. It will probably leave no permanent scar, which is a shame. Still, totally worth it to have seen those shit heads sprawled between the bar and the floor and still have to pick up our bar tabs.

There’s no need to go into the details of the fight except to say that it was a good and old-fashioned fair fight. We just happened to kick the shit out of them, though not before one of them got a clear shot at my throat. Also, there’s no cause to delve into the reason for the thing.

How we got to the hospital is sort of a mystery to me though my cohorts have told me a few details. How they determined it was necessary was not part of those details but I did hear that it involved an epic arm-wrestling match between Nate and Shak followed by the running of countless red lights.

After the lengthy and arduous check-in process at the emergency room, I was finally seen by a nurse in training who had less field experience than most Foster Farms chickens. Nate navigated their bureaucracy like an expert and eventually they let me talk to someone who had actually been to a medical school.

“I can’t advise you enough to take immediate action,” the doctor said.

I didn’t trust him. “Has he looked at me at all?”, I asked Shak.

“What do you recommend, doctor?” Shak asked in his most respectful tone.

But Trevor interjected. “What kind of doctor are you? Have you seen this kind of swelling before? It was a very rare kind of kick,” he insisted.

The doctor looked hard at Trevor. “Tell me about this kick,” he said.

Trevor launched into a second by second replay of the fight while I struggled to breath but the doctor’s attention was totally ensnared.

“So, do you think you can fix him,” Mo asked.

“It was a very rare kind of kick,” the doctor repeated, “but I think I have the right tools for the job here.”

“Good,” Shak said. “How soon can we start?”

“Shak, no,” I interrupted him, “we really should go to my real doctor…”

Trevor cut me off. “You fool. Didn’t you just hear this man? Action must be immediate. You can call your insurance company later.”

“Don’t worry, mate,” Mo said. “This is a good man. He’ll keep you together, right doc?”

“Why not?” he said. “But it was a very rare kind of kick, so we’ll just have to do our best.”

They all seemed resolved to start immediately and I was getting weak, unable to keep my focus so I agreed to the thing and the doctor disappeared into his office for a few minutes.

As I lay in the cold, empty white hallway, waiting for the surgeon I leafed through the 3-inch binder they had left on my stretcher. I was hoping to get a glimpse of something I wasn’t supposed to see, but every piece of paper in the binder had my name on it, and it went back to something like 1994. I didn’t even remember having come to Kaiser that many times but there it was, my entire medical file, sitting on my lap.

They stuck my IV with something tingly and I didn’t last long.

Let me tell you now — it comes down to this: general anesthesia is the best sleep there is. That’s all there is to it. It’s replete with cool dreams, no chance of waking and a firm grasp on your subconscious. I highly recommend it.

As I realized I could open my eyes I wondered if it would be such a hot idea. It felt like days had passed since they’d been open, and when I saw my surroundings, my brain felt what I can only describe as cautious surprise.

“How do you feel?” somebody asked. I thought it sounded like kind of a dumb question at the time, but I said, “meh,” which I immediately thought was kind of dumb reply. Still deeply drugged and severely malnourished, I lay in that hospital bed, limp as sod. Someone took out a camera and snapped pictures of me in this absurd state.

Why would you do this?

I was to spend the next two weeks cauterizing the wounds the doctore had left in the back of my throat for all of the swelling to subside. They’ve removed my tonsils and I would have to survive for the time on liquids and gels.

Fantastic, I thought. I could use more gels in my diet.

I don’t know what happened to the dudes whose asses we’d handed to them on that late night. The doctor who’d put me up to all of this had seemed to go missing and no staff person had any record of him. I hadn’t seen or heard from the guys since I passed out on that gurney, but I knew they would be back. They always come back.

Pedro Ávila Pedro Ávila

For a reasonably sane & productive member of society (arguable, but let’s not complicate things), I’m far too mobile and unrooted. I travel quite a bit for a job that is simultaneously my greatest privilege and my worst burden.

So I write. And I write. Travel pieces, political journalism (a stretch from ranting but, still), short stories, poetry and other such riff-raff. I contribute to a handful of publications and will probably just keep going until something gives out, or someone gives in.


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