‘Left Hook’ Wright
By Mike Stevens
“Eight, nine, ten, you’re out !” the referee cried.
‘Left Hook’ Wright didn’t know where he was; who he was; or what day it was. Why was he lying down? He tried to stand, but his legs wobbled and he went down again. Damn, something was wrong with his legs! It was like they had a mind of their own. He thought to himself, I’ll just rest down here for a while. Suddenly, above him was an older man puffing on, on, now what was the word? Oh yeah, a cigar, leering down at him, saying something that he couldn’t quite make out.
“Kid, you’re through. I’m going back to Bruiser’s Gym to find a younger guy with a brighter future.”
What did he mean by ‘a younger guy’? Was he looking for sex? Well, he didn’t swing that way. As sure as his name was… now, what the hell was his name? Then he remembered. Sedahoy Wright. That was his name. Only, he went by the nickname ‘Left Hook’ because he hated his real name, and he was a boxer. Sure, he remembered now. And that older guy towering over him, was Dirk Wailer, his manager.
“Did I lose again, Dirk?”
“Did you lose again? Yeah, you could say that. You could also say you got you’re a** handed to you! It’s time to find a less-violent way to make your living. Your brain can’t take being knocked out every fight any more.”
“It’s all I’m good at,” replied Sedahoy.
Wailer guffawed and said, “I got news for you, kid, you ‘aint very good at it, anymore. Do yourself a favor: give something else a try.”
Sedahoy replied, “But, what, Dirk?”
“I don’t know, but your future in the fight game is bleak,” responded Wailer, who added, “You know I care about you, but I’ve got to look out for myself now.”
Sedahoy answered, “Fine! You’re going to c**p on me after you sucked every ounce of talent from me.”
Wailer replied, “Yeah, every bit of your talent. It sure didn’t take very long. Well, I tried. See ya, kid, and good luck.”
Sedahoy replied, “Yeah, thanks for nothing!”
Wailer didn’t answer or turn around, which only made him angrier.
“Fine, I don’t need you; I don’t need anybody!”
His anguished mutterings echoed down the hall to the exit door, and bounced back from the now-empty hallway back to him. He had to face the fact that he lost every time now; he was 42 years old, which was ancient in the fight racket; he had nothing to show for his life but a cauliflower ear and a face that looked like a deformed pile of raw meat, and he didn’t know how to do anything else.
Sedahoy Wright crawled back into the gutter, which ran putrid with all kinds of slime he couldn’t, and didn’t want to identify. Since giving up boxing, he’d been floundering. He’d tried several menial jobs, but had been fired from each and every one. This lousy job wouldn’t be any different. He didn’t give a damn, this job sucked, just like all the others he had tried. He had to face it; he sucked at everything but boxing, and now he sucked at that too. He was s*****d. He damned his broken-down body; then he began punching himself in the stomach as hard as he could, over and over.
He was just about at the end of his rope. His future seemed bleak. He’d been fired again. He couldn’t find a single thing besides boxing he was good at. He had just about recovered from the lacerated kidney he had inflicted upon himself by hitting himself in the gut, and it was time to find work. The very though of job searching made his head hurt, and made him even-more depressed. He had to go looking, but what was the point?
Jerry Rigg had been told about the perfect stooge for his scheme. The boxer’s name was ‘Left Hook’ Wright, and he would be perfect. Here was a washed-up, low-skill, aging dude who would jump at the chance to earn a little money by taking a dive and letting the other guy win the fight. All he had to do was bet heavily against ‘Left Hook’ and he’d clean up.
‘Left Hook’ Wright couldn’t believe his good fortune. He had given up, and was resigned to the fact his life would suck forever more when out of the blue came a man promising him $20,000 dollars to fight again. Jerry Rigg had told him he was a fight promoter who needed someone to make it look good, but ultimately take a dive. Sedahoy figured that since he lost every fight now, he wouldn’t have to take that dive. He would fight it honest and lose anyway. There was no need to tell Jerry Rigg that little bit of information, anyhow. And so he’d agreed.
Any time now he’d surely start losing. But ‘Left Hook’ was fighting like a winner. What had gotten into him? It was already the seventh round, and he was starting to think that maybe he’d have to take a dive, after all. He stepped back from a punch thrown by the other fighter and lazily threw one of his own. He needed to make this look good. He had decided to take a dive, when much to his surprise his punch connected on the other fighter’s glass jaw, and he went down. ‘Left Hook’ stood there incredulously while the referee kept counting. Surely the other fighter had to get up soon. But then the ref reached 10, he said,
“You’re out!” and the fight was over. Unbelievably, he’d won.
Jerry Rigg was livid. He was bitching out Sedayoy in the boxing gym he owned. He’d bet a fortune against ‘Left Hook’ and the stiff had actually won.
“You dumb son of a b***h nobody, you were supposed to lose, but no. You haven’t won a fight in 10 years, but somehow, miraculously, you won this one. You can’t even lose right. Get out of my sight, hack, and don’t come back!”
“But what do I do now, this is all I know?” replied Sedahoy.
“Why the hell should I care? You failed me, failure,” answered Jerry Rigg.
And so a disappointed and angry Sedahoy left, with no money, and no future. He cursed; of all the times for his fighting talent to return.
As Sedahoy walked dejectedly away from the gym, a man wearing a fur-lined mink coat came up to him and said,
“Kid, it’s your lucky day, I represent the champion and I’d like to offer you a one-in-a-million chance to box the champ for the title.”
Sedahoy looked angrily at the man and yelled, “Don’t mess with me right now; I’m in no mood for a practical joke. Who put you up to this?”
The dude in fur looked at Sedahoy and replied, “This is no joke, believe me. Just like in that famous movie, we’d like to give an unknown underdog a chance at the title. From what I saw of the fight, you do have plenty of skills and you look hungry, so I think we both could benefit from the publicity; us from giving a relative unknown a shot; and you for taking it. And there’ll be a hefty pay day in it for you. So, what do you say, are you interested?”
Sedahoy looked hard at the man’s face for any sign of mirth, and didn’t see any sign this was a practical joke. He asked the guy, “Hey, pal, if we’re going to do business, I’d like to know your name.”
“So, you are interested. The name’s Bob Jones.”
Sedahoy grasped Mr. Jones’s outstretched hand and asked him, “You mentioned a pay day. How much are we talking?”
He was having a hard time believing that he, Sedahoy ‘Left Hook’ Wright, was going to fight for the championship. He had better start training. Since Dirk Wailer had quit he would have to think of ways to train on his own. First, he’d need to make sure his legs were in good shape, but how? Then he came up with a good way to leg-train: lift as much weight as the weight machine had. He hadn’t lifted weights at all, but didn’t want to wait and slowly increase the weight. That would take much too long, so he set the weight to 300 pounds. Then, setting his cigarette down carefully, he sat in the chair attached to the machine and pushed as hard as he could on the pedals that allowed him to lift the weights. Nothing happened, the damn weights didn’t budge. He reached down deep inside himself and pushed with all his might. Suddenly he felt a shooting pain up and down his leg. He had pulled at least one muscle. He somehow got up off of the seat, and picking up his cigarette, limped over to the gym’s refrigerator. What he needed was ice. Then he noticed the malt liquor someone else had brought. Oh, this was an emergency, surely whoever had brought it would mind if he borrowed it. Closing the door, he gimped his way to a recliner in the corner. He flopped down, guzzled the entire beer, and put the empty bottle against his sore leg. He thought, So much for the training crap.
Sedahoy Wright was so sore. He didn’t feel like boxing, but there wasn’t much he could do about it. He limped to center ring; listened to the referee give his spiel, touched gloves with the champion, and limped back to his corner to wait for the bell that would signal the beginning of the first round. He thought over his strategy. He had decided he’d get the champ in a clench to tie him up; then dance away from him. He didn’t want to give him a chance to punch him. He was beginning to think he actually might have a chance. What a great story. Unlike the movie, this was real. He sure wished Dirk Wailer was here to manage him. He needed his advice, but there was no sense in wishful thinking. Then the bell sounded to begin Round 1. Here goes nothing, he thought, and danced out to begin the fight. He danced, bobbed and weaved his way towards the champ. He faked with his right, and swung his lef—
Sedahoy swam through the dark fog, towards the light. Where was he? What had happened? Slowly the outline of a man bending over him; staring into his eyes, took shape.
“Yeah, he’s coming around now. What day is it?”
He struggled to think.
“How many fingers am I holding up?”
He tried to see them. It looked to him like three. “Three?”
Oh, now he saw it was two. “Two?”
“He’ll be alright. Do you know where you are?”
“Of course I know; what a stupid question! I’m in my living room.”
“Oh, just give him a moment.”
Sedahoy Wright just didn’t get it; hadn’t he fought well in the fight previous to this one? Yet he’d been knocked out in what very well might be record time in this one. It didn’t make sense. He strode down the aisle of the grocery store, looking for the cereal. It had to be around here somewhere. As he was looking; down the aisle the other way came his old manager, Dirk Wailer.
“Hey Dirk, how have you been?
Wailer answered, “Not too good, thanks to you!”
“Me? What did I do?”
“You were supposed to take a dive against the fighter Jerry and I were betting on, but you didn’t, and because our fighter was so wasted, he passed out, and you won. Now, Jerry and I are both broke,” Wailer wailed.
Sedahoy was shocked and said, “So, I didn’t fight any better in that bout; your fighter just fell down because he’d passed out?” He was hurt that Dirk had hooked up with Jerry Rigg, and had bet against him.
“That’s right, you lummox, you fought about as well as you normally do,” replied Wailer.
And to think, he’d thought he had fought better in that bout, when actually the other fighter had passed out! That would explain why he’d lost today’s fight.
Sedahoy Wright lit a cigarette, poured himself two-fingers worth of 180-proof whiskey, and tried to roll out of bed, but it was too hard. He was depressed, the kind of knuckle-dragging depression that makes you feel like someone has pulled a black curtain over your eyes, and if it was possible, over your brain. He had put dark blankets over his windows, to keep the sunlight from reaching into his bedroom. He could hear rain hitting the roof. Perfect! The gloomy, sullen weather matched his mood. He guzzled the rest of the whiskey, took a deep drag on the cigarette, stubbed it out in the ashtray he kept by his bed, and tried again to get out of bed. It was again tough but he managed to rise.
He was being interviewed for a stock-room assistant, and he knew if he acted the way he felt, he had no shot, so he was all smiles as he answered the guy’s questions.
Apparently, he had pulled it off, for he was hired. He was told to be back at the crack of dawn to begin. The crack of dawn? The very though depressed him even more.
Somehow, and thanks to several cups of coffee, he had made it. Damn, it was early! He was following the owner who had hired him into an office, where he would meet his supervisor. Once inside he was introduced to Happy Jensen, who said,
“Nice to meet you Wright; if you do what I ask, we shouldn’t have any trouble.”
“I’ll try,” answered Sedahoy. He sure wasn’t looking forward to this, but at least Jensen looked like a nice fellow.
He was stocking auto parts, which were bought by auto repair places, who then sold them to the general public. It was boring, crappy work, and Sedahoy found his mind drifting back to his championship bout; only this time, instead of quickly being beaten unconscious and losing, he fantasized he was the winner, and the new champion of the world. He was so into the fantasy he failed to hear Jensen calling his name.
He snapped out of it when he'd finally heard Jensen, and sheepishly said, “Yeah, Mr. Jensen?”
“What, are you deaf? Your mind should be on working, not day-dreaming!”
Sedahoy felt the red-hot flame of anger, but knew he had to stay cool. “I’m sorry Mr. Jensen, it won’t happen again.”
“It had better not, or you’ll quickly find yourself looking for another job,” Jensen snapped back.
Sedahoy muttered, “Like this place would be such a loss,” under his breath, to which Jenson quickly replied,
“What was that, did you just whisper something derogatory, mister?”
Sedahoy could control himself no longer. “I just said this job blows, and from the look of you, so do you!”
Jensen at first looked shocked, then said, “Why you weak little p**s-ant!” He then came at Sedahoy with a menacing, threatening look on his face.
Sedahoy quickly warned, “Ah, I would try punching me; I used to be a box—”
He groaned, and wobbled up to a sitting position. He wondered, what the hell? He was lying next to his car. How did he get here? Then, his face began to ache and it all came back to him. He had been cold-cocked by Happy Jensen. He groggily got to his feet and stormed back towards the office. He wasn’t going to put up----wait a minute, that Jensen was one tough b*****d. If he stormed up to him angrily and threw a punch, he might wind up either out here again, or the hospital. He wisely decided prudence was the better part of valor. He stopped dead in his tracks, turned around, got in his car, and drove away.
Sedahoy Wright was hacked! He hadn’t collected his wages, and now he was hurting financially. He needed money. He had broken down and swallowed his pride. He had come here, the Unemployment Office, in order to get at least some money.
At last, after standing in a line that never seemed to move, he was waved over to a lady and sat down.
She looked over his paperwork and said,
“Well, it says here you were fired from your job; what was the circumstance behind your being terminated?”
Sedahoy didn’t like the tone of her voice and didn’t care for her attitude. “I was let go because I didn’t get along with my supervisor.”
She said woodenly, “So, you might have brought it on yourself?”
Sedahoy saw red and snapped, “I didn’t bring it on myself,” which wasn’t exactly true, “and I don’t care for your insinuation!”
“Please calm down, sir; I’m only doing my job.”
“Well, is it your job to be so damn b****y?”
With those words, she angrily stomped from behind her desk, and came at him.
Sedahoy smirked and said, “Oh, no, I’m not going to fight a woma—”