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Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

Part 1 is here.

Part 2 is here.

Now, I’ve heard it said that success if the best revenge, and I won’t argue that that may be true for some. But for me, personally, kicking the shit out of someone has always been far more gratifying.

I sipped my beer, contemplated the television, and thought about how to proceed. I couldn’t just call him outside. Only low-lives go around picking fights. If you want to do it right, you have to get the other guy to pick it. It’s a delicate art.

I never did anything but smile.

As soon as the fight started, I had the bartender bring Edgar a beer. He looked at me kind of funny, nodded his head awkwardly, and turned back to the fight.

At the end of every round I bought him another beer, gave him another smile. After every smile, I took another bite of steak.

Evans was winning, just like I said he would. He got beat badly in the first, did a little better in the second, and then started taking over. The longer the fight went, the angrier Edgar got, and the more beers I sent him. By the end of the seventh, Edgar had five beers in front of him, plus the one in his hand.

At the start of the eight, I bought one more. This time I raised my own beer in a toast and winked.

Edgar was out of his seat and halfway around the bar before he realized it was a bad idea. He read my body language, my eyes, and knew he’d been set up. He saw I wasn’t afraid. More importantly, he saw I wasn’t afraid because I had good reason to not be afraid.

A man can sense the difference between real and fake confidence in a situation like that, just like silverback gorillas fighting for dominance. Somehow, when the adrenaline starts to flow, we just know.

Edgar slowed his stride a bit, but it was too late for him to turn around. His friends were watching, and if he turned back he’d look like a coward. Guys like that have nothing but their barroom reputation to stand on. They’ll risk death to maintain it.

He said some stupid, threatening thing. I got up and walked outside.

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I’m not in the Matrix. I AM the Matrix.

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