"Nah. Just busy, Ma. Training, this fight, these camera guys, you saw them, it's like ... I don't know. I just wa--"
She cut me off. "You're going to kill the jerk, and you don't think you should talk to me first?"
The Jerk. She always called him that; I don't think I ever heard his name out of her mouth except when a reporter would come around. She knew how to turn it on for the sportswriters: How Padraig--the first time, for a second, I didn't even know who she was talking about--had smacked her around, how we were gettin' by without him, how she loved him still. She knew he read the papers; she needed the occasional 50 bucks he'd throw our way. She'd even tell how I'd have to give her her insulin shots because she hated needles so.
"So he told you. Crazy, huh?"
"Told me? He's never been prouder of himself. 'I'm trying to set you up,' he says. 'The boy's gettin' more pub than he could ever dream of, and you'll get 100 grand.'"
I glanced at her, trying to get a read from her eyes, but the bug glasses had me blocked out. Her hands were flat on the table top, inching toward mine. I tried to concentrate, but it wasn't easy.
"I didn't tell you because I thought you'd talk me out of it. I thought...."
She sat back, smiled without showing her teeth. "Tommy," she said. "You can't pull this off without help."
"Ma, I've beaten up a lot of guys, and...."
"Baby, you're soft. You don't have the cojones." She started rustling around in her tiny purse and then placed a syringe on the table. "I got this from a doctor friend."