Contender by William Kent Krueger

by Barb Goffman

16/366 from the anthology Once Upon A Crime edited by Gary R. Bush and Chris Everheart (Nodin Press 2009)

Krueger has such a way with language that this story was a delight to read. It’s the tale of an abused boy who becomes a man who trains boxers, including a kid being abused. Here’s just a couple of the gems from this story:

“Far back as I can remember, he was laying into me with  his bare knuckles. Me and my ma. Beat us like dirty rugs.”

“In a gym a woman’s about as common as a tattoo on a nun.”

And even though the clues are there, Krueger placed them so deftly that when the story twists you’re still surprised. At least I was. Hats off to the author.