I'm strapping the black gloves onto my hands and clenching my fist around the small piece of padding that makes up the center. There is sweat pouring from my face, but after the heavy bad it's time to do targe mits. I love doing them.
"See, that's why I stopped calling that broad back."
He gives me confused look as he picks up the mitts, slides his fingers through the grooves in the back.
"The new one."
"Oh, you're not going out with her anymore?"
"Nah, I was never going out with her. Just seein' her. But we were approaching zero barrier, and I had to cut it off before it got worse."
"The fuck is zero barrier?"
"The three month mark."
Another quizzical look from him.
I think for a second. "Alright, you ever see Armageddon?"
"You know that there's that certain point very close to the planet where if they don't blow the asteroid in two by then, both chunks will hit the Earth and end all life, making the whole fuckin mission null and void?"
"Well, they called that, "zero barrier". The three month mark, that's the "Zero Barrier." Once you hit that fucking thing, you'd better be able to make a choice as to whether you're going on further or not. That's why I don't blame my buddy for dropping the "L-Bomb". He'd been going out with that broad for four months, and she said, "I love you." Now he's faced with the zero barrier- he either has to go on and say it back, or he's got to end it right there, because you know if you don't say it back after that long, some shit is gonna go down. I was at about the one month mark, and I figured I'd cut it before the tide got any heavier. She was too fucking hyper."
"Yea, I hear you."
I think of the real reason I ended it with her, and cringe inwardly a bit. Sucker. She has you yet again... a siren who lures you too close to the reef.... I'm beginning to do my beginner's version of shadow boxing, which probably looks like a kid with down syndrome having a seizure in front of a mirror.
"See, I said it to J probably three months in or so, but I meant it, so I was cool with it. Al, now she said it really early, scared the fuck out of me, and it was nearly a month before I could say it back. I knew that I did, it was just one of those things where I had to be sure, because those are some heavy words to throw around. Whenever it's happened to me, I haven't been wrong, but then I've been around women enough. Him, he worries me cause it's his first girlfriend. Gotta be careful with them."
"Now see I thought about this a little today, and I figured out what you call it when you drop the "L-Bomb" and go past zero barrier, and then you figure out you made a mistake."
He smiles. "And what's that?"
"Ever see We Were Soldiers? That Mel Gibson movie?"
"Well, it gets to a point in that movie where the American lines are being overrun, they're outgunned, people are dying, and the Viet Cong is pouring out of that mountain like hornets out of a fucking nest. Mel Gibson stands up, looks around, walks around a bit, and then, with a somber look, grabs the radio guy and calls out, "BROKEN ARROW!" The radio guy's eyes widen and begins hollering into the phone, "BROKEN ARROW! I REPEAT, BROKEN ARROW!"
"Yea, so if you make it to months 4-7, have dropped the L-BOMB, and have gone past zero barrier, but figure out you fucked up, then you've gotta call a BROKEN ARROW.
"And what's that mean?"
"It means you call in all available air support, stack planes up at every thousand feet, and start dropping napalm all over the fucking place. It's a desperation move."
"No, I mean with women."
I'm quiet for a second. I hadn't considered this.
"You know, I don't know for sure. But my guess is it involves calling her a cunt."