The Villain

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sports  |  House: Booksie Classic


The loudmouth Vinnie 'The Villain' Vannata finally gets his chance at the title. However, his mind is on another battle closer to the heart.

Submitted: February 27, 2018

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Submitted: February 27, 2018

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The Villain


“…I’m gonna need you to cheer for me, cheer for ‘The Villain.’ Okay?”

Vinnie ‘The Villain’ Vannata paced with an excitable energy in the dim hallway. His dark hair slicked back. A long solitary strand hung in his face, dripped. He situated his 3 oz. MMA gloves, popped his knuckles underneath the padding.

“This is what we’ve worked for, Vinnie,” his balding coach said from behind. “This is the culmination of years in the gym. Long hours! The burn! The sweat! The tears! It all comes down to this. Everything… comes down to this. This is for her! This is for your daughter!”

Vinnie bounced in place, rolled his neck. He shadowboxed, envisioning the match unfold before his baggy eyes. He threw two quick jabs, an uppercut. He stayed light on his toes, dancing a circle in the slender hall.

The entrance music, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ by DMX, played from the stadium but sounded muffled in the hallway. The heavy bass shook the walls.

“Alright, let’s go.” The seasoned coach patted his warrior on the back.

Vinnie scowled, punched his palm. He stormed out from behind the curtain. The music blared. Spectators came alive. With tunnel vision on the octagon, he marched down the aisle.

People swarmed the barricades on each side. They booed the challenger, shouted obscenities. A few even shoved a thumbs-down in his face.

Vinnie swatted their hands away.

***

I know why they root against you...”

Vinnie chuckled. “…because I make it easy for them?”

“You stand as a huge underdog, Vinnie…” A reporter stood in the front row of a sold out pre-fight press conference. “…a few fighters have spoken openly about you not deserving this title fight. What do you say to those who think this is unfair to the other contenders?”

Vinnie sat at a banquet table, manager and trainer surrounded him. He leaned forward over the desktop microphone, started to speak, but stopped himself. He glanced down to the far end of the table, to his golden-haired opponent. Then, he looked up to his promoter, who stood at the podium in-between the two camps. Vinnie chuckled to himself, turned back to the crowd with a half-cocked grin. “Blow me.’ That’s what I’d say.”

Audience responded with a mixed reaction of jeers and laughs.

“Fair? Life isn’t fair. It’s a cold, unforgiving bitch. You don’t deserve shit. And, you definitely shouldn’t expect it. That’s why you keep your head down, grit your teeth, and somehow find joy in releasing that anger onto something, whether its art, music, or fighting.” Vinnie’s tone held a restrained frustration. “This is a world built on greed, self-pride. ‘What can you do for me?’ Well, I make this company more money than anyone on the entire roster. That’s what I do. That’s why I’m here.”

The crowd became agitated, grumbled with disapproval.

“How ironic…” The supermodel champion scoffed. He patted down the crowd noise. “The greediest person in the room is talking about others greed—”

“Product of my environment,” Vinnie said. The snappy retort garnered chuckles. He looked down the champion’s way. “You see a mink coat on me? You see diamonds on my fingers? Nada. I have a means to make money but that doesn’t mean money makes me. You sit down there, and you shut the fuck up.”

The champion’s face flushed. He flexed his jaw but remained quiet.

“Good boy.” Vinnie swung his sight to the attendees. “Terry ‘Timeless’ is gonna need a timeout after this fight. The truth is he hasn’t fought the killers I have. You say my mouth got me here? His superhero looks, his marketability, provided a cakewalk to the title, and a cakewalk of a first defense. If anybody is lucky to be in the spot they're in, it’s him—”

“I’m lucky? I’m undefeated.” Terry shot to the edge of his seat, glared at Vinnie. “You’re 1-3 in your last four. The only reason you got this chance was because I got injured and you stepped—”

“That’s right! While you were coddling a bruised toe, I stepped up as a last minute replacement and dusted the number one contender.” Vinnie smirked toward the fans in the packed arena. “I got a call on the beach, week of. I was on a date with tequila… in Havanna Ooo-na-na! And finished that boy in under two minutes. Mark my words, in six months time, I’ll sleep this fool too!”

***

I saw you at the presser.”

They let you watch that here?” Vinnie asked.

Yeah… Havanna? You’ve been here with me. Why do you lie? Why do you have to stir them up? They hate—”

“…hate me but they pay me. Their hatred has bought us the best doctors money can buy.”

They call you a bully.”

Bully? The way I see it, there are three kinds of people in the world: bullies, victims, and fighters. A bully is insecure, a weakling, who disguises it by bullying the weakest… the victims. Victims aren’t fighters. They lack the mentality to be a fighter. They need others to defend them. Fighters fight, whether right or wrong. And even if they lose, they go out on their shields. There are no victims in that octagon, and I’m no bully.”

I’m a victim. I’m a victim to this—”

No, no. Don’t you say that. You’re a fighter. Just like I’m going to beat this undefeated playboy, you’re going to beat this disease, hear me? Say it, say, ‘I’m going to beat this because I’m a fighter.”

“Fighting out of Denver, Colorado…” The ring announcer took center cage in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden. “…by way of Shreveport, Louisiana, the challenger… Vinnie ‘The Villain’ Vannata!”

Vinnie puffed his chest and lifted his chin, exuding confidence—a primal fear tactic. His arms swung with a boastful strut to the middle of the octagon. He stared down his opponent with an encaged fury. His eyes followed the champ as Terry paced in his corner.

Boobirds hurled jeers and insults at Vinnie, booing him out of the building.

“Out of the red corner…” The announcer’s honey-voice boomed over the speakers. “…fighting out of Las Vegas, Nevada, the reigning, defending, middleweight champion of the world… Terry ‘Timeless’ Renaldo!”

The crowd shouted their praises to the crowned king.

The referee called the two fighters to the center of the octagon. They stood nose to nose. Neither blinked as the man-in-charge went over the rules.

The arena simmered with a feverish excitement. Chants of Terry echoed through the coliseum.

“Now touch gloves,” the referee said, “and let’s have a clean fight.”

Vinnie extended his arm to bump fists with the champion, a show of respect. Terry hesitated, which brought a smile to Vinnie’s face, his teeth protected by a blue mouthpiece. “Touch ‘em up,” Vinnie said. “The fight is sold.”

***

They say you have no respect. They say… well, things I’d rather not say.”

I told you about reading those comments. As you know, better than most, life is not easy for a lot of us. And on the internet, especially, you see that pain in everyone. That anger, injustice, spills over to hatred and behind a nameless, faceless, profile they can release that on anyone or anything. So, don’t take it to heart. They’re bullies. And bullies don’t hold power over you. You know why?”

Because I’m a fighter.”

That’s right. Don’t let them control your mood with their angst. I don’t care about them. The only person I care about is in this room. And, I’ll do just about anything to see she’s taken care of. Understand?”

They also say you’re crazy.”

Well… what do you say?”

It’s confidence. It’s psychological warfare. It’s as much of the game as throwing a punch but…”

Yeah. I know. I’m a little crazy, aren’t I?”

Vinnie stood on the scale in nothing but his briefs. The weight cut drained him. His face appeared sunken, torso shredded. Skin stretched tightly around every little muscle. He looked down at the commission representative calculating his weight.

A sea of people filled the rows up to the balcony of Madison Square Garden.

“One-eighty-five!” The rep jotted on his notepad.

“Vinnie ‘The Villain’ hits the spot!” the silver-headed announcer said over the loud speakers. Ring girls applauded at his side with bright smiles.

Vinnie raised his feral glare to the crowd. He sneered, flexed his biceps, which only antagonized them more. They showered him with contempt. He spread his arms out, laid his head back, and basked in the downpour. He inhaled a deep breath of the atmosphere before strutting off the scale. The moment excited him causing the bulge in his briefs to expand. He pointed to the people in the front row, avid fans of Terry. “You think your boy has it? Your boy ain’t got shit!”

“And next to the scale…” The announcer read from his cue card.

Boos turned into overwhelming cheers.

“The middleweight champion of the world…” The announcer leaned back, gathered his voice, before belching, “Terry ‘Timeless’ Renaldo!”

The poster-boy champion walked out in swim trunks. He waved to the crowd, blew them kisses.

Vinnie’s animalistic nature took over. He marched around the stage in wide circles, making the platform his own, marking his territory.

Terry shot the challenger a glance, brushed him away. He stepped onto the scale, interlocked his fingers behind his neck, and made an abdominal pose seen in muscle magazines. His physique appeared healthy, fit, and not as gaunt as Vinnie.

Vinnie stepped right next to the champ’s side, not giving Terry any space or comfort. “This ain’t no fuckin' photo shoot, pretty boy! I’ll slap you right off stage!”

Terry ignored the challenger while the rep read his weight.

“Hang on,” the rep said to Terry. “Put your arms down.”

As Terry dropped his arms, Vinnie went into an all out verbal assault. “You’re shaking. For fuck’s sake, they can’t even figure your weight. You’re trembling, son. Be still. I’m not gonna hurt you yet.”

“One-eighty-five!” the rep said.

“One-eighty-five for the champion!” the announcer’s golden voice sounded like a song.

The stadium erupted.

When Terry stepped off the scale, Vinnie charged him, not giving the champion an inch. His body swayed with an anxious energy. Through clenched teeth, he said, “You’re dead. Tomorrow, you’re dead!”

Terry just smirked, feigning calmness.

The act didn’t fool Vinnie. The nervous blinks, bead of sweat trickling down the champion’s cheek, were all dead giveaways. Terry was feeling the pressure. Vinnie laughed in the champ’s face which appeared more like a battle cry.

Terry lost his cool. He shoved Vinnie.

Vinnie’s erection hardened further, stretching out the slack in his briefs. He rushed the champion, but people jumped in-between, separating the fighters.

***

How do you see it playing out?”

I don’t know, Jenny-Jen. What do ya think?”

Well, he’s a pitter patter puncher with nice footwork. He probably knows you stand heavy on that lead leg. He’s gonna be gunning for it with low kicks right off the bat s—”

Vinnie chuckled.

What?”

I love you…” Vinnie said with pain in his voice. “You mean more to me than anything in this crazy world.”

Dad…”

You give me strength… I just want to give it back.”

The bell sounded.

Vinnie trotted to the center of the octagon with his hands high.

Terry threw a jumping low-kick, but Vinnie dodged back. Terry skirted around the outside of the cage while Vinnie stalked after him. Terry kicked low again which Vinnie checked with his shin.

“Hey, pussycat, you plan on fighting?” Vinnie put his hands out, inviting a punch from Terry.

Terry circled the octagon. He swung another outside low-kick. This time Vinnie caught it. He lifted the champ’s heel in the air causing Terry to hop on one foot. Vinnie forced him back. Terry tripped, rolled, and popped up against the cage. Vinnie converged, feinted, trying to make Terry overreact. The champ hummed an overhand-right. Vinnie slipped the attack. The punch whiffed by. With an opening, Vinnie countered with a practiced combination. He popped Terry with a left-hook to the temple, followed it up with a straight-right to the chin. Terry stumbled back into the cage, covered up.

Hysteria swept the arena.

Vinnie remained patient, composed, carefully selecting his shots. A right-uppercut was partially blocked by Terry’s forearms. The champ guarded his head, but left his ribs vulnerable. Vinnie landed a body shot to Terry’s side, which crumpled the champ to his knees. The champion winced from the punch but kept his arms over his head. Vinnie crouched down over him. He crashed two elbows into Terry’s forearms, trying to break through. Vinnie then kneed Terry’s exposed ribs.

The uproar from the crowd was deafening.

Terry jumped up, backed against the cage. He tried to return fire, but his punches had nothing on them. He threw a right-hook.

Vinnie side-stepped, switched to southpaw, and cracked Terry in the chin again with a left-cross. The strike scrambled the champion’s brain, eyes rolled back and limbs locked up. His body stiffened as he fell to the mat. Vinnie started to add a follow up punch, but upon seeing the champ unconscious, he relented.

The stadium exploded into cheers for ‘The Villian.’ The surprising knockout, at least for the moment, overshadowed any hate for the challenger. Fans danced in the aisles. Beer rained.

The weight of the moment brought Vinnie to his knees. His heart beat rapidly. He looked to the mat in a surreal state before raising his gaze to the front row. Behind fans and reporters alike, cluttering the base of the cage, he noticed an empty chair, a special seat reserved for his Jenny-Jen. The joy ran out of his face. He furrowed his brows, but as he stood, arms wrapped around his neck in a loving embrace.

“You did it,” the sweet voice said.

Vinnie relaxed and kissed her hands. “We did it.”

***

“Mr. Vannata,” the doctor said from the hospital door, “we have to get started.”

Vinnie knelt at the bedside, near the monitor. His eyes never strayed from his teenage daughter as she laid there with wires running from her nose, arms. He combed her dark bangs aside, and while gazing upon his baby girl, he said to the doc, “Just one more minute.”

“Dad… go.” The light shimmered in Jenny-Jen’s wet eyes. “I’ll be fine. I’m a fighter.”

“That’s right. You are.” Vinnie nodded, swallowed the sadness. He kissed her on the forehead. “Six months till the big fight. Tomorrow you start your recovery and I start my training. I believe with all my heart you’ll regain your strength and be front row come fight night. Because… well, I’m gonna need you there. I’m gonna need you to cheer for me, cheer for ‘The Villain.’ Okay?”

“No… I’m not cheering for a villain.” Jenny-Jen shook her head. She held her father’s hand, brushed her thumb over his knuckles. She sniffled, lip quivered as she said, “I’m cheering for my hero…”

 

 

 

 


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