NINJA • by Jefferson Navicky

I encountered the ninja on the corner of Exchange and Congress. It was snowing, no, actually it was more of a wintry mix of snow and sleet and ice, just as the weather forecasters predicted. Perhaps the foul weather affected the ninja’s disposition. I wanted to give her a hug, which seemed like a reasonable idea at the time. As the ninja was about to enter my personal sphere, I called out, “Hello, ninja, I would like to hug you! Is this all right?!”

Actually, the last half of my exclamation never left my mouth. The ninja struck me with one of her lightning quick karate chops to my neck. This initial blow was more of a stunner, a jab to set me up for the upcoming barrage. However, even for just a jab, it hurt. A lot. I doubled over and was about to cry when her knee came crashing up into my nose. Hearing that tell-tale crunch, I knew immediately my nose was broken. I straightened up and staggered for a moment on my wobbly legs before my ninja’s final karate kick plowed directly into my chest with such force I barely remember my body landing in the soft, pillowy snow.

As I lay in a broken heap along the edge of the sidewalk, I vaguely made out the ninja’s rapid, muted footfall as she disappeared from the scene. I called out in a hoarse voice, “Ninja, you are so good at what you do!” I doubt she heard me. A warm, swelling tide of euphoria began to wash over me, spreading out from my heart, heating even my fingertips. Ah yes, I thought to myself. I laughed, slightly, coughing up only a little blood.

Jefferson Navicky lives in Portland, Maine. He has worked as an literary archivist, gym teacher, bar tender & grocery cashier.

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