Men Against Violence

A Story

by Gabriel Tallent

I tie a Windsor knot in my silk tie and lean over, holding the tie to my chest with one hand, while I spit blood into the sink. In the mirror, I peel back my upper lip to expose a puckered cut where I got hit playing Frisbee. I dry the cut with recycled paper towels and straighten the knot in my tie. Then I step out into the small but elegant lobby of the Hennessey Art Museum.

There are sixteen tables, set with white tablecloths, votive candles, and vases of orchids. At the podium, Brooke Hennessey leans forward to the microphone, speaking to her assembled audience of men in suits, poshly dressed women, and students in business casual. I wind my way through the crowd to my table, and as I go, I pick up a crumpled napkin and press it to my mouth. The napkin soaks up the blood, a little anemone in the dark, candlelit room.

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