How to break a haymaker by Jane-Rebecca Cannarella | Flash Fiction | #thesideshow

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September 19, 2017

How to break a haymaker

During a mid-week self-defense class, concerned citizens were taught how to best remove one’s self from the grip – both literally and figuratively – of danger. The man who taught the class was burly in the way that aging men in excellent shape were. Clad in black spandex shorts, muscles like softballs floated through his ocean arms while he shouted moves at the class. One by one he asked the crowd to repeat the name of the person they love the most and then say: “[person’s name], I’m coming home to you!” One girl said the name of her cat, but it sounded like this when shouted aloud: “Easy Mac, I’m coming home to you!” This led the class to believe that the girl’s main purpose for returning home safely was easy-to-make macaroni and cheese.

The instructor wanted the group to learn how to break a haymaker – usually called a sucker punch. “Haymaker” can actually mean a lot of things: drinks, blows, farm equipment. And “suckers” are lots of things too: punches, people, candies, leeches.

The instructor said the best way to fight a haymaker was by pretending you’re a robot. But how can a person tell what they’re truly fighting – a fist, a leech, or sucker?

Maybe the way to tell the difference between sucker punches and sucker candies is by the flinches. The way a person spontaneously protects either their face or their teeth from scythe-inspired swats or boredom bites – maybe that’s how you know.

According to the instructor, old time-y pugilism can be combated by becoming a robot like on Transformers and changing your arms into locomotive spikes. You know you’re facing a sucker punch if your body changes into a machine wearing boxing trunks – using a Vulcan arm against swings named for hay swathers.

Supposedly, it’s easy to figure out when a coward punch is coming; according to the instructor, it’s simple to break a haymaker.  But what is TRULY hard is trouncing a lollipop, though the instructor doesn’t mention that difficulty during the class. It’s the candy suckers that take you when you’re vulnerable – you never know when one of those will hit.

Perhaps Blow-Pop based ennui is a product of the Charms Corporation, and fighting a corporation is hard – even if you’re a robot. The hammer-fist shaped sucker sweetness can tuck in between your teeth, lolling against your tongue while voices like gnats vibrate the air into distraction during slow moments at work. It’s not uncommon for a bored lollipop to become an unsettled loxop – it’s a bird – one of those little honey creeping finches. Lollipops grow alive from dullness, and the candy finch flits against your teeth – startling you and stealing your breath.

The only way to fight an errant bird in your mouth is to trap it in a jail of teeth. But sugar beaks are strong and candy bones aren’t brittle. A sudden chomp on the sweetmeat of a hard candy body can result in enamel erupting into splinters. Boredom birds born of corporation candy suckers win even in defeat.

Sometimes arms are like balers and birds are like bullets. Sickle sweep fists and treacle sweet treats are the mowing weapons that destroy calcium, and certainty, and – on occasion – robot limbs. But it’s simpler to bust a boxer than it is to burst a bird.


The self-defense class had to let out early. During the haymaker-practice-punches one of the students got a hard candy lodged in their throat. The instructor batted the student’s back while they sputtered: the bird wings of a boredom lollipop cradled in their neck.

About the Author

Jane-Rebecca Cannarella is the editor of HOOT Review, a genre editor at Lunch Ticket, a cat lady, a contributing writer at SSG music, and a candy enthusiast. She received her BA and M.Ed from Arcadia University, her MFA from Antioch University, and attended Goldsmiths: University of London and Sarah Lawrence College. When not poorly playing the piano, she chronicles the many ways that she embarrasses herself at the website She occasionally drinks wine out of a mug that has a smug poodle on it, and she’s not wonderful at writing in the third person.