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An short excerpt from "the hollowed heart"

Submitted:Apr 27, 2014    Reads: 25    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   

Sweat permeated his world. Thrust, one-two one-two. His arms lashed out, muscles burning and failing. He snuck a look to his left and right, other people drumming, striking, thumping, pushing leather, sucking in deep breathes, pinnacles of focus, and deadliness. He envied and hated the others in equal measure. Perfect and imperfect bodies heaved and dashed, sauntered and suffered, all around him. He was in dead last ; slouchiness had taken its toll on a body once suitable for sitting, and walking, with flabby arms and a shaking stomach. Sweat dripped off him completely, as he raised gloved fists to wipe it away, then continued a pathetic attempt to swing his arms at the dead weight in front of him. To his left, a paragon of pugilistic perfection struck, swung, ducked, hammered, and moved like a fighter. He hated him. He hated the friendly way the smiled at him, the way he asked his name, the general good natured aspect of this fighter. Part of him knew, it was a mixture of envy and longing to surpass; the other, deeper part knew it was because in the bottom of his heavily battered heart, buried in his psyche, was a chained monstrosity. The other man was what could have been, in an other lifetime.
The harsh bell rang out, and he again collapsed against the bag. The man came over, offer water. He refused, and shook him off, and away. After the training ended, the other man rapidly follows him out of the ancient gym. Since when was a boxing gym new and flashy? None that ever housed fighters, real amateurs. " Hey, just Jeff!" The younger man crowed, a happily stuck misnomer from a misunderstood text. " where are you going so fast? You hungry?" Jeff looked at him warily, wondering if he was baiting him. "Don't you have a family to hurry to," he baited. Kenny just smiled, and persisted. You don't, so what is the rush?" Kenny shifted from foot to foot, uneasy. " hey man, my wife and I, we go to this church-" Jeff just walked away, spitting out " I have to go,Kenny, " abruptly, and headed home. The other man waited, looking quizzically at the rushing, fumbling figure, retreating from him.
It went like this for two months. He ran, trained, quit the drink, watch the scale. The pounds slowly melted; his mind sharpened. He began to notice his form tightened, the rounds went longer. One night, when the electronic blare of three minute alarm went off, he felt a rap on his shoulder. Quickly pivoting around, the other man had his gloves up, and moved in swiftly. His hands snapped out, catching the new comer off guard. He struggled to keep up, but Kenny, Ken, Kenneth, what ever the hell his name was, was relentless. Corded arms snapped and flew into his face. The Alarm blared, and everyone turned back to their bags, swinging, shifting, moving, like the incident didn't happened.
This went on for several rounds. The others stared, silent, wordless, as the two men tried and tested each other. Mouth pieces shuffled and squeaked in tired jaws, while gloves made contact with the bag. Later, on the way out, Kenny caught up with him before he could escape. " hey man, what are you doing tomorrow?" He shrugged, painfully. "Great! Meet me here at three thirty, we can do some glove work together, got a fight coming up, and I want to stay sharp." Great Jeff thought, as he fell into the drivers seat. I get to be a Puerto Rican punching bag for some asshole, all bright eyed and bushy tailed. The time went on, and he noticed that he started to read the other man. He started to read everyone. A shoulder roll, prelude to a jab. Right foot edging, a straight. He began to read the telegraphing, and started to string it together.the runs grew longer, faster. Something was changing, in him, all the anger, empty rage, it was channeling into his arms, coursing through his system. Then it was February.
The alarm blared. He swiftly pivoted, and attacked. The others watched with the same dead eyes, no emotion bleeding into them. The air had changed. He snapped, crashed, waded into the amused younger man. Then the ferocity took over. A eye twitched. Desperation trickled into Kenny's attacks, until he actually brought his gloves around his temples. The bell rung, and everyone went back to work. This happened several times that evening, with both men even. The next contender, a new guy, completely ripped and bulging muscles, decided to move in on the slim, older man. He fell back, surprised,then threw himself at him again, his strength clearly superior. He batted the air, and felt a wrecking ball graze his head, his left side, his head again. Fury and hatred poured off a formerly inept, weak, target. After several seconds, he backed away, barely uttering ," okay, okay, whoa whoa, take it easy, it's my first night."
Afterward Jeff felt burned, drained. He never told anyone the two fights that happened simultaneously. One was outside,physical, draining, the other, a battle of internal wills. He wanted to tear, mangle, batter, with rage and anger born of a life of emptiness and broken hearts. The fragmented remainder of his mind however, barely reined in the madness that made him move like a fast twitching muscle, an inhuman staccato of movement. He wanted a honorable, pure fight. Later that night, he saw Kenny outside. He walked over, and threw himself into the car seat, and lit a cigarette. "I like Thai. If you want to go eat." Kenny laughed, turned the key, and they drove out into the cold night.


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