The Manchester Review
James Robison
Radio Talkers
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            I have no idea why he boxed in the amateur matches, but he did. He always lost. Maybe this made him hate blacks; they beat him up. He worked with a trainer called Panama Smith.
            This was when he still wanted to go to law school. To prosecute everybody and get them off the streets, he might say and I would laugh thinking he was joking.
            In a bar on the TV we see LBJ talking in a press conference and Ray says, “Then he gives us that smile like he was just out in the woods blowing bears.”
            He managed always to scramble up some woman for sex. He soon had one in St. Louis: Marcia, some guy’s pregnant wife. Ray had her for sex. He didn’t like rock and roll or anything. He hated the French. I drank too much. I was so used to solitude that being around anyone made me uneasy and I drank too many beers from dark brown bottles.
            I go to glove factory sweating and hungover. That big hammering stitcher nearly catches my hand. Ray’s out with Marcia for sex.
            I say later, How was that?
            He says, Not good, really, she says to meet her at the library and I do and she’s studying but suddenly she looks crazy, [he popped his eyes] and I guess her water broke. She smelled funny. So, you know, I took her to the emergency room. That’s it for her.
            But what will you do now?
            There’s always someone else… all-though, it’s too bad because I could go almost a whole side of a record without coming with her. My goal is two sides.
            I ask, What record?
            He doesn’t know.
            He would tell you anything. He didn’t care. He made a living chopping and selling firewood for a while. He charged extra per cord because he said the wood was “dry-cured”.
            What does that mean?