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The Fight Scene
It’s gotta be 11 p.m. by now. I’m standing in the corner of the ring. Leaning forward, I rest my forehead on the top of the post, my bare hands gripping the tumbuckles. This is the moment I love the most, my few but precious silent moments before the fight. My own calm eye of the storm.
“Ring Three in fifty seconds!” shouts the referee through the speakers. “Attention, Ring Three, fifty seconds!”
The heavy scent of alcohol hangs over this place like thick fog. The canvas I’m standing on reeks of old sweat so bad it’s hard to breathe. Not to mention how much mold is probably collected here, seeing how it’s so damp. Slowly I inhale, then exhale. Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale. My skin tickles were small drops of sweat trickle down.
“Ring Three in thirty seconds! Attention, Ring Three, thirty seconds!”
I’m not watching them, but I’m listening. I’m listening to the dense crowd shouting and laughing and griping about every little thing. Most of ‘em are probably drunk; empty beer bottles and cans are lying all over the floor. I raise my head and stare straight ahead; except for a crazy crowd wanting to see some bozo get the crap beaten out of him, there’s not much to see.
Up here on the canvas, my fingers could just barely brush the ceiling. This ain’t a big place. Just a storehouse with three boxing rings (all so old and filthy they couldn’t sell for over forty bucks on Ebay) and a crowd that usually gathers at about 10 p.m. every night to watch them. ‘Them’ being either the Joe Shmoe’s who don’t have anything else to do on the weekend, or the guys with holes in their pockets and a starving family waiting for him in their shithole apartment. I’m one of those types of guys.
“Ring Three in ten seconds! Attention, Ring Three, ten seconds!”
I stand up straight and stick the mouthpiece I’d been holding in my mouth. I can tell it’s used because I can feel the teeth marks on it with my tongue. My bare hands release the tumbuckles and I turn to face the ring. Standing in the other corner is a big musclehead; pale, bald, fiery black eyes, and scarred knuckles. The typical.
Now the buzzer begins the countdown. Some of the crowd is chanting along with it, but most are screaming and clutching the ropes, impatient for the fight to begin.
Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. Five. Four. Three. Two. One.
Here we go.
I dash forward and automatically go into the upright stance. My opponent is already charging towards me with his hands in tight fists. Sweat is trickling down my chest.
Doesn’t look like the brightest bulb in the box, I think to myself as we near inches apart. This’ll be a piece of cake. Just start with a—
Without warning, one his fists swings and catches the side of my left eye. Stunned and dizzy, I stagger backwards. Blood has already begun to trickle from the corner of my eyebrow, and it’s stinging like hell.
Ignoring the pain, I dash forward with my hands protecting my head. Slipping just under his shoulders, my left fist snaps forward and digs into his ribs, then the right.
Suddenly the breath is sucked out of my lungs as he shoves his knee into my chest. A foul play, but like hell the referee’s gonna say so. Gasping, I step back, only to have his brass knuckles cuff my jaw. I taste blood in my mouth, so I know it’s still there.
Exhaling through my nostrils, I go for a jab and just barely smack his cheekbone. He maneuvers to the side and I just miss a devastating blow to the side of my head.
This guy’s tough.
Meanwhile, the crowd roars and stomps their feet on the floor in unison. I’m trying to slip out of all the attacks my opponent throws at me, but a couple are landing here and there. The ring feels like it’s spinning, and I can’t slow it down much less stop it.
By now my opponent is smiling, revealing his rotting yellow teeth, and looks ready to literally beat the crap out of me.
All at once, I shift forward and snap a fist at his jaw. I must’ve hit him harder than I thought I would, because he staggers back and lowers his guard. Blood is dribbling out of his mouth, down his chin, and unto the canvas. I dash forward to finish him off.
Maybe I’ll actually win.
But all I meet is another blow to the jaw, then a smack upside the head. The world is spinning, my sense of gravity distorted. That is, until the side of my face smacks the canvas and the taste of blood becomes stronger.
Everything’s burning. I feel his foot stomping on my ribs again and again until I thought I would hear my ribcage snap. I can’t breathe; the air is so thick and my head is drowning in all the noise. The crowd is chanting something.
“Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!”
I don’t think he won’t.
I lift my eyelids—the left one only opens halfway. I know that I have to do something fast—unless I want to be flattened into the damn canvas.
I realize I’m lying on my side. Quickly I roll over on my back and snap my leg out at my opponent, who’s literally towering over me. My foot lands right in the groin with a smack—he stops pounding my stomach. I kick again, and again, until he finally steps back enough for me to get back on my feet.
I’m only on my knees before a tight fist slams right in my nose. Blood immediately begins gushing out, and I swear it hurts like crazy.
But I can’t give up, and I won’t. I jump to my feet and swing a punch at my opponent’s ribs, then straighten my back and hit him in-between the eyes. He falls back several steps, and I take the opportunity by punching his face again and again. My whole face stings like hell and my ribs burn every time I just slightly move, but I ignore it.
My opponent is now backed up against the ropes, his hands blocking what he can of his face. Mercilessly I snap my knee into his groin while smacking him upside the head. It’s only a matter of time before he’ll fall backwards into the crowd below. It’s all but inevitable.
People were betting extra-high tonight because it’s the weekend. Good, that’ll get me and my family at least a couple meals till next Monday.
I know, I know--the average guy, when he seriously needs money, probably won’t find himself in a ring inside a filthy storehouse that requires walking down a narrow, gang-filled alleyway to get to. But I don’t have much choice. Then again, in this part of the city (by the way, to you people craving urban life, the city ain’t Hollywood glam all the time), just about everyone doesn’t have much choice either. When you’re this desperate for money, you’ll do anything to give your family at least something to eat, even if means winning off bets.
Trust me, you’ll do anything.