Fighting for Life

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
Two people, Two stories, both fighting life.

Submitted: September 18, 2016

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Submitted: September 18, 2016

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CHAPTER ONE

Jay

The muffled sounds of the TV, filtered into my ears as I stepped through the door. The only light came from some show about cops. The stench of booze started to linger in the air as I made my way deeper into the room. There were beer bottles littered all over the room, on the table, sofa, and floor, anywhere there was room. A beer was still clasped in the hand of my father, should I even call him that. He stopped being my father a long time ago when he turned to alcohol.  The once warm family room now had a permanent stench of beer and the carpet stained with any alcohol that he could get his hands on.

Disgusted I turned off the TV and headed for my room, I knew better than to try to pry that beer out of his hands. The first time I tried the bruises on my stomach were there for weeks. It was easier to just ignore him, to ignore the people that he brought over, to ignore the insults and blame he yelled at me. I only have one more year and then I can leave this place. I dragged myself to my room, the only booze free place in this house except for my mother's old study. I pulled my thick covers around me trying to warm up. The gas had stopped working last week and it was now the middle of winter, but my father didn’t care. All he wanted was more money for his booze. I was surprised that we still had electricity at this point. Just 12 more months and then I can leave, I held onto that thought that little bit of hope before I drifted off into a restless sleep.

?

"Jay!" I woke to be screamed at. Shit, I looked at my clock next to the bed, it was eight o'clock. He shouldn't be up yet, why the hell was he up. I scrambled out of bed racing to get my shoes on and grabbed my backpack. I was almost to the door when he stepped out and blocked the doorway. "Come here right now," I took a step back, this was bad really bad. It would have been easier if he was drunk but now he is hungover. My eyes darted around the room, trying to remember a way out of here. "Where is my beer Jay, I need my beer. Did you take it? You know what happened when you do that." He started to come towards me, he was fast and livid with anger. I froze like a scared boy confronted with a monster. This time, though the monster was real and standing right in front of me. It all happened in a blur, he grabbed me by the straps of my bag and shoved me up against the wall. He rotten teeth showing from his manic grin, his foul breath making my eyes water. "I won't ask again Jay. Where is my beer?"

“I don’t know, I swear, maybe you drunk it all," I said my voice trembling, as soon as it was I knew it was the wrong thing to say. He eyes turned black, I braced myself for the oncoming assault. He pulled me back from the wall and slammed me against it. My vision went blurry and then came a thundering punch to my ribs, crack. I screamed out in pain but he covered my mouth. 

"Don't be smart with me boy. Now where is my god damn beer!" he yelled in my face. I had to get out of here. My breaths came shallow and shaky and my vision started to go black, but if I stayed here I don't know if I would make it out. I brought my leg up as hard as I could and hit him as hard as I could between his legs. He doubled over in pain. I dropped like a sack of potatoes but quickly got up. I started running, stumbling over my feet as I ran. I could hear him yelling as I raced out the door, but I kept going. 

I don't know how long I kept running, I could barely stand and my head felt like it was getting hit by a hammer. I finally stopped and heaved up the contents of my stomach onto the fresh snow that must have fallen last night. I looked up and I saw people coming towards me, I started backing up confused. My eyes searched for a way out but I landed on a sign. It was my high school, the people started getting closer and through my blurred vision, I saw one of my teachers.  I started to move forward, maybe they could help me but my legs gave out and hit the snow. As the coldness seeped into my bones, I saw a crowd of confused faces hovering over me. One of their mouths moves as to talk, but I couldn't hear anything. Then everything went black.

 

Isaac

I drew in a ragged breath as I danced around the metal cage. Sweat poured down the face of my opponent, my fists glanced off his face. His lip was split, a river of blood coursing down his chin until it dropped to the mats below us. He was slow but strong, I had to use my speed. Dodge, punch, dodge, punch, and keep those hands up. It repeated on cycle through my head. We danced a dangerous dance, him and I. His fist landed a punch to my stomach, the air rushed out of me. His other fist was headed to my face. I dropped and rolled to the side, landed a punch on his back on the way up. He turned his fist completely down. He was pissed, he was letting his anger get the best of him. Sucks to be him, I grinned the adrenalin completely taking over as I land one then two punches on his face. He stood there like he was suspended with wires, then his wires were cut and he dropped with a thud on the mat. The bell rung, as the pounding sound of blood rushing, quieted down I could hear the cheers from the crowd around me. I grinned before I walked out of the cage.

As I walked through the throngs of people, I felt a pat on the back, I turned and grabbed the hand. It was a man. His beer gut poking out from underneath his singlet, his fingers felt grimy underneath my hands. My grin was quickly erased, replaced was a cold stare.

"Don't touch me if you want to use your fingers again" my voice steely and low. He backed up, his eyes wide with fear, the crowd parting for him as he ran from me. The rest of the arena was dead quiet, the other fighters tense ready for a fight. I just turned back to the gambling booth and started walking. The next fight walked into the cage and the cheering and roar of the crowd was back. I loved the cage but these people disgusted me, they would take the clothes off my back, stab me and leave me to die. These people were thugs and if I wasn't careful I would get caught up in all of their crap.  As I got to the booth the bookie gave me a grim smile. He hated me since I bet his best fighter and lost a lot of money on him, but I bring him money in from bets now so he hasn't tried anything yet.

"Two hundred dollars is your winnings tonight Isaac. Maybe next fight you could…" Joe started his voice slimy as his morals.

“Don’t even start joe I come in for the fights. I win them or I lose them but I don’t throw them. I thought we figured that out last time when you suggested it and I almost broke your arm. So would you like to start that conversation again” I said cold and calculated. I knew just how much pressure it would take to break his arm and I wouldn’t hesitate, I wasn’t getting into that life. Joe ran a hand through his greasy hair, his throat constricting.

"No that's alright, here's your money," he said shakily handing over the money.

"Be seeing you," I said and with that I walked out.  Again the crowd parted to let me through as I got close. The sky was black and with the wind biting with frost as I stepped out of the building. They only light was from the orange glow of a street light. My motorcycle was under that street lamp, always has been since I started it was the first bet I made. I wasn’t parking my bike in the dark where I could get stabbed, so I fought the guy in the ring for it and won.

I got on my bike, feeling the cold metal underneath my legs and drove off back to my dorm rooms. It was pretty late now, and I had an eight o’clock lecture in the morning that I was going to die in but I didn’t care. Fighting whether it be illegal or not was the only thing that made me feel alive anymore.

 

CHAPTER TWO

Jay

Once I woke up, I found out that I was in the hospital and that my dad had given me a pretty bad concussion and broken a few ribs. After that, it was a whirlwind of doctors, policemen, social workers, lawyer, and phycologist. They all wanted to know who did this, why I didn't tell anyone, had this been happening for a long time and by the end of it I just shut down. After two days of reliving that most horrible time in my life over and over again I couldn't do it, I refused to talk to anyone except the doctor about my health, but they got enough out of me. They said that they arrested him, they said that he was going to go to trial, they said that I would have to testify. I yelled at them, I told them to get out of my life, I told them that I never wanted any of this. The shrink tried to say that she understood that it would take time but it would be for the best. The thing was she didn't understand, I told her to stop the psychoanalysing bullshit and to leave me alone.

That was over a week ago, now it was only the doctors bugging me but they were ok. They didn’t probe about what happened just wanted to know if I was ok or if I was any pain. They said that I could get discharged today, but where would I go. I had nowhere to go, I was alone.

"How's my favourite patient doing, you're getting discharged in an hour." Dr. Grey said looking down at my chart through his black glasses, his right hand rubbing his chin.

"Well, I can breathe without pain doc, so I reckon I am as good as new," I said light-heartedly, he nodded his head looking straight at me like I was hiding something from him and I was. "Doc, what is going to happen to me, where am I going after this" I mumbled. He sighed running his hand through his salt and pepper hair, he always did that when he told me bad news. He put my chart at the end of my bed and sat down at my feet.

“Jay I know you haven’t really been talking to anyone so the social worker did ask me to tell you what’s going to happen since the last time she tried to talk you just pointed to the door not saying a word.” He cast his eyes down taking a deep breath before looking at me again. “You are going to be going to a group home,” tears started to well up in my eyes. This is why I never told anyone, I hear about group homes they were horrible and cruel. “The social worker is going to take you back home to grab your things and then take you to the group home. I’m sorry Jay but this is how it has to be” he said sincerely, I knew he didn’t like it but what could he do. I nodded my head not trusting my voice to be steady. Standing up he put his hand on my knee trying to give me some reassurance but what he didn’t see when he turned to walk away was the tears that silently fell down my face. I just wanted this nightmare to end I thought as I pressed my knees to my chest curling into a ball.

By the time that the social worker came to pick me up the tears had dried and my emotions had seeped out of me. I had felt everything that I had locked up for years and then threw it away. Now, now I felt nothing and it was the best I felt in a long time.

?

It had all happened like Dr Grey had said, the social worker, Karen was her name took me back to the place that had been my prison for years and gave me an hour to get my stuff and say goodbye. What was there to say goodbye to, though, all the good memories went away the moment dad picked up a bottle. Still, I got my things, mostly clothes, shoes, the essentials but I did take one photo. It was mom, dad and me, our last trip before mom passed away. The last time we were a family and happy.

Then it was off to the group home. As we drove, the road slowly got worse, cracks and pot hole no uncommon. The house itself was weather bleach, the brickwork with fractures going down the wall, the garden unkempt and overgrown. The house was like the occupants, broken, fractured, and not worth much, like me now. The house was dead quiet, none of the other boys were home, the thud of my bag echoed through the hollow halls. Karen showed me to my room and told me that there were five other boys living in the house and that I would be bunking with one of them. She said that he was around my age a little bit older.

I thought it would be better than before, I was wrong.

 

Isaac

"You're late Isaac!" Casey hollered from the ring, I winced my head still a little sore from last weeks match. Casey wasn't that happy when I walked into the gym the next afternoon with bruises all over me. I got a lecture and an ice pack, really it was better than what she had done before. Usually, she put me with the little kids and made me do the two one-hour sessions with them but I think she took pity on me.

“I know Casey, the lecturer just kept droning on and I couldn’t escape” I yelled back, “hate that professor” I muttered under my breath as I walked to the locker room to get changed.

The gym was old, worn and hadn't had a proper clean in forever but it was home. The lockers were still the same ugly green although faded and peeled that they were when I first saw them. The odour of sweet still hung in the air and the sound of glove hitting bag still echoed through the air. I quickly grabbed my stuff from my locker that used to have me on my tippy toes and is now on my chest. I laced my shoes and wrapped my hand before heading out. I didn't have to worry about locking my locker. If Casey ever heard about someone stealing she would kick their asses.

I stood around the ring watching Casey teach a bunch of teenagers how to throw a proper punch, her whole body getting behind it. She radiate energy always had, it was the extra bounce in her step, the way that her smile never left her face. Her blue eyes radiating with laughter, the lines etched in her face always relaxed and carefree. Her brown hair up bouncing along with her. She had owned this gym for a long time, worked at it for longer. Took me under her wing when I was a teenager, helping me set my life straight. She was the one that pushed me to get into college.

“Alright boys partner up and practice," she said before she ducked under the ropes and hopped down. "Good of you to show up without any bruises, this time, Isaac." I groaned she would never let it go.

“Are you ever going to let it go” I pleaded as I fell in step behind her as she walked around the gym looking at the other groups.

"Not until you realise how stupid and dangerous underground fighting is, not to mention illegal" she stated, "but let's not get into that. I'm down a trainer so you are going to take the Sunday night group, you won't start tonight but next Sunday you're on." I knew exactly what group she was talking about they were the roughest group we had. They were all kids from the street or poor families. Most trainers refused straight up to train the group. I didn't mind it because I once was in that group myself but still every week. Also, the time fell when fight club was one.

"Please tell me it's only once every other week and don't think I don't know you are doing this so I can't fight," I said

“I have no idea what you are talking about Isaac. See you next week, you have tonight off.” Casey said walking off. I didn't really want to fight tonight so I headed up to the roof.

I found this spot when I first started coming. It was pretty high up but had the most amazing view of the city across the river. Even though I had lived near the city my whole life I had only been there a few times more content with the suburb and neighbouring mall to occupy my time. Still, at night the city really did glow and look magical from up here.

?

The rest of the week before Sunday was pretty hectic, I had to fill in for one of my friends down the gym and had three essays that needed to be started and finished by the end of the week. I don't think professors realise that we have lives outside of college or they hate us. Might be both, I thought chuckling to myself as I got ready for my group class with the teens. These kids were all good kids, they just grew up on the wrong side of the track. If Casey said these kids were cool then I didn't question because she had the best judgment I have ever known.

I walked out to see them already warming up, joking, friendly shoves talking loudly. They might come from the worst backgrounds but right now they just looked like happy ordinary kids and that's why we ran the program because it did help.  As I got closer the noise quieted down and I saw them eyeing me up, I met their stares as I walked keeping my face neutral. I got about a yard away from them when I broke out into a grin.

"How you boys doing tonight, you ready to get started," I said.

"Hell yeah Isaac let's do this," one of the boys said.  I used to from some of their neighbourhoods and never lost my ties to them, proud that I bet the system from where I came from. They knew this and respected and me because I this. They trusted me and didn't give me as much hell as some of the other instructors still it could be trying at times. It usually only got really bad if there was a big dispute between neighbourhoods. As much as they tried it was hard to escape from the politics of it sometimes it did cause fights that could get out of control. Thankfully though it only happened a handful of times.

"Alright let's start with ten laps around the gym, let's go." With that, they were off. Sure they were a bunch of misfits but they were my misfits now.

 

CHAPTER THREE

Jay

The cool breeze of fall swiped across the roof playing with my hair, goose bumps rising on my skin. The sky was black with thunderclouds, the water hanging in the air making it thick. A flash of lighting struck across the river in the city, the only light coming from the retreating sun. I stepped up onto the ledge staring down at the cars lazily moving down the streets. The people looking like ants instead of the monsters that I knew them to be. I took an unsteady breath, a sob caught in my throat. I brought my shaking hands to my face to wipe away the tears that fell. I was sick of the tears of the injustice of life, of living.

?

I thought that getting away from my father would be good, oh how I wished I knew what would really happen instead of the fantasy of safety that I had conjured up in my head. My father seemed like a saint compared to the boys in the group home. Although they behaved when the foster mother was around, she barely was always working to provide for us. The boys had been beaten before so they knew where to hit where it would leave the least bruise but hurt the most.

The first day was nice, they all came home from school and welcomed me home. They were nice, lulling me into a sense of security over the weekend until Sunday night came. Then everything turned pear shaped. The boy who shared my room, ben gagged me with a rope as I slept and as I came to the other boys made it to my room. Most of them were my age but there was one younger boy 11 or 12. His eyes held no malice but fear, fear of what they would do to him if he didn't comply with what they said. They taunted me as they hauled me out of the house to an alleyway nearby. The foster mother didn't hear my struggle because of the sleeping pill she took.

They kept on saying that it was my fault that my mom was dead, they said I deserved the beating that I got from my father. The worst thing though wasn't the pipe that they took to my ribs, the freezing water that they held my head down in. No, the worst bit was when they made the little kid, James inflicts the torture on me. It scared me because eventually, he wouldn't need their prompting, soon he too would be programmed with violence like the other boys. Too soon would he forget what love was and only have hate and pain as companions. I knew too well what it was like to have only them on your shoulders whispering in your ear. But they got chased away, no by me but by my father's hand. I learned to control it because I never wanted to be him.

The next day at school the stares and whispers drove me crazy, people wouldn't meet my eye and my friends had abandoned me. The teachers all looked at me with pity in their eyes treating me as if I was to break. I couldn't stand it when I lived at home the only thing that kept me sane was that I was treated normally. Now, I was treated like some caged animal to be looked at, whispered at, pitied because of their life, but never treated normally. Then I came home and it started all over again.

With each day, I felt number and number, but also I felt more and more despair. That’s how I ended up on the roof of the building. It was a gym of some sort and pretty high at that. As I had started up at it I wondered if would be high enough to jump off. In the back of my mind, a part I didn't listen to anymore it said that it was a bad idea, but I didn't care because the boys at home were right. I was worthless and I just made everything worse.

?

Most of the cars had taken rest as I stood up on the ledge. I don’t know how long I had been standing for but I didn’t care. It had been a week since the boys had started and I was ready to end this. As my toes shuffled over the edge of the ledge I took a deep breath in admiring the city I had never been in but loved. I swept my hands over my cheeks and eyes as I whipped away the tears that wetted my face and blurred my vision. Yes, I thought I was ready for the pain to end. I was about to step off when I heard the squeak of a door open.

 

Isaac

I stood frozen as the door opened to the roof. There was someone of the ledge, he was just a kid. He was shaking like a leaf, his eyes wide with shock. He turned away from me, clenched his fists and about to jump.

"Kid, stop" I yelled, my heart was in my throat I couldn't let this happen, I moved closer to him trying to move as calmly as I could. "You don't need to do this ok, why don't you step down from the ledge," I said steadying my voice to stop the trembling.

“I don’t need to do this?” he said his face turned to me, his words filled with venom, but his eyes filled with sorrow. “How could you possibly know what I need? What I need is to end this, before even more pain comes into my life. That is all I am good at, getting hurt” his voice was raw and shaky but undeniably angry.

"You're right kid, I don't know what you need but what I do know is that you should not do this," I said etching closer to the ledge. A hollow laugh escaped the boy's mouth, tears sliding down his face. Thunder sounded over our heads making me flinch.

"Why not, it would make it easier for everyone else wouldn't it. No more poor kid to stare at in school. My father wouldn't beat me if I was dead. The boys at the group home wouldn't beat me if I was dead. It would be better for everyone, but mostly for me. I wouldn't have to deal with the shit that gets handed to me on daily basis" by now his words were broken and hollow with despair filling them. I needed to get this kid off the ledge, but at the same time, I couldn't help wonder how he was still standing. His entire body shook with an unheard sob, as tears mixed with rain that just started to fall. The water slowly started to seep into my clothes, the cold going deep into my bones. The soft patter of the drops hit the concert, as thunder boomed overhead. It was a symphony of sounds, which accompanied the tragic moment.

“You didn’t deserve those beating, ok, no one has the right," I said trying not to be defeated by this horrible situation. The boy looked away, casting his gaze to the glow of the city.

His voice was low, I almost couldn't hear it with the rain around us. "They were right, it's is my fault." A quiet sob escaped his mouth, "I am responsible for all of this happening." His green eyes now glazed over with tears as he looked right at me. "I was in the car when my mom died. If she didn't turn to tell me to put my seatbelt on maybe she would have seen the car earlier." He ran his hand through the air, trying to compose himself. "The car ran right into her side. I sat there stuck in my seat unable to help as she bled out. It was at night and no one else was around for a long time. By the time the ambulance came it was too late." He started swaying, his feet unsteady, his body caving in on itself. I finished the last step to him and grabbed his arm and pulled him from the ledge. He came with no resistance, he was defeated.

He finally broke down, crumpling in my arms. I held him up as he clutched to my soaked shirt, salty tears mixing with the rain. I slowly guided him to the door and as I opened it I vowed that I would not let this kid disappear like other kids. So we walked down the dully lit stairway to the gym bellow.

"What your name kid," I asked as we walked.

“Jay.” he mumbled into my shirt.

"It's nice to meet you, Jay, I'm Isaac." I gently said to him.

 

 


© Copyright 2017 Jacob Ian Allen. All rights reserved.

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