Fight for Life

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Sports  |  House: Booksie Classic
I sought to combine a monologue with dialogue in a short story about a boxer and a failed comeback

Submitted: August 15, 2013

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Submitted: August 15, 2013

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Fight for Life

Drip drip drip. The blood splashes heavily at my feet, slowly pooling darkly outwards, forming rivulets, flowing away from me.  I let it, making no attempt to staunch the loss and the pain that accompanies it - I need it right now. Neither does anyone else, there is no one to offer me healing. They’ve moved on, consigning me to the heap of yesterday men.  There’s plenty more fresh meat to press, condition and pulverize.

 

Ringside:

“The ex-champion looks to be in good shape Jim”

“He certainly does Bob but can he roll back the years for one last shot at glory? That’s the question and I don’t honestly think he can.  This is a comeback that doesn’t make sense to me Bob”.

“You think he’s simply being rolled out as a former marquee name to assist a younger man’s path to glory?”

“Yes I do Bob”.

 

They’ll say it was vanity, yet another sorry tale of the former prizefighter, former undisputed champion of the world, unable to move on with his life outside of the ring. And they would be right.  But it’s never that simple.  Yes I missed the training regime, the adrenaline and the adulation. Yes, I struggled to move on, get on with my life, find an easy contentment in retirement. That’s retirement at 35 years old or young depending on your perspective.  I tried.

 

Round 1:

“Both fighters are circling each other, none willing to commit or take the initiative in this first round of twelve in this middleweight bout.  I expect the older man to use all of his years of experience to pace this fight, use his ring craft, guile and the canniness that he is known for.”

“Maybe so Jim but that right cross through the guard hurt the ex-champ, he’s shaking his head calling the younger man in, saying it didn’t hurt, asking for more”.

“I’m not sure he wants to do that Bob”.

 

I tried hard. Dancing didn’t do it for me. The flash of the media light bulb didn’t do it for me.  My wife didn’t do it for me.  That cost me.  Investments didn’t do it for me. That cost me more.  The tax man wanted to do me.Before you know it you’re left without direction, without support, without comfort, without money and then they come for you.  The temptations, in a myriad of guises, tempting, credible, exciting but ultimately senseless and ultimately more damaging than your biggest, scariest and most brutal opponent.

 

Round 2:

“Both men were off their stools and out fast for the start of this second round Jim”.

“The first round was full of precaution from both men, each finding his way, testing his opponent with little more than tentative pot shots Bob”.

“That’s big, that was a heavy uppercut followed by two hard right hooks to the side of the ex-champs head, he needs to get his guard up. No more bravado.  I’m not sure he wants to take many more onslaughts like that at his time of life”.

“I’m not sure he can.  His troubles outside of the ring are well known and can take their toll on a fighter’s body. I’m not sure he still has his legendary punch resistance from the prime of his career when he used to outwardly enjoy soaking up damage, drawing the sting from his opponents before delivering the knockout blow”.

“We’ll have to see if he’s still got it Bob”

“That was the younger man’s round Jim”

 

Of course I thought about suicide. I even tied a noose around my neck in the garage, stood on the stool.  I couldn’t.  All I could see was my daughter’s face. I climbed down. I took refuge in what I knew – The Ring. I got back in it. Knowing what they would say. I trained hard, harder than before, past the point of exhaustion onwards to the edge of unconsciousness, it was where I felt most comfortable, safe even. From there all I could see was my daughters face. It brought me back from beyond the edge of the canvas, way outside of the ropes.

 

Round 3

“Is this the fight back, the dream come back out of retirement from the ex-champ?”

“Yes, he’s come out fighting this round, hard trademark shots to the body, whilst working nicely behind a strong textbook jab.  He was always a very stylish fighter when he controlled his natural disposition towards going toe to toe”.

“Can he do it Jim? Can you pull of the most unlikely victory for the underdog against the hottest up and coming fighter on the planet right now”.

 

I didn’t care about proving the doubters wrong. It was a lot simpler than that. Fighting had got me out of trouble as a kid, offered me a way out, I took it, and I didn’t look back.  I know what they say, that boxing is brutal, legalized thuggery but fighting was my second nature and was good to me.  So fighting was the obvious recourse to get me out of trouble again, adult troubles - financial and emotional trouble.

 

Round 4

“It’s all change, the young fighter has picked up the pace, he’s picked up the power and is peppering the older man with brutal, hurtful shots. Shots to the head, shots to the body Jim”.

“Bob, his corner has to really start thinking about getting their man out of there. He is taking a horrendous beating. I don’t know how he is still standing, defiant in the face of the onslaught”.

“He’s not Jim, he’s down and he’s down hard. Surely he can’t get back up from this”.

“He’s trying Bob. He’s back on his feet but his legs are not his”.

“The Referee shouldn’t let this continue but he is”.

“I don’t like to see this Bob. This is a terrible thing to witness.  He’s taking a concussive mauling”.

“That’s it he’s down. It’s over”.

 

Drip drip drip. The blood splashes heavily at my feet, slowly pooling darkly outwards, forming rivulets, flowing away from me.  Behind bandaged hands I hide my despondency, disappointment and disgust (with myself) from the jostling changing room, busy for someone else’s fight.  I feel like I’ve been hit by rocks and it feels like rock bottom.  How many times can you pick yourself up physically and mentally off the canvas?  I hear what they say, there’s no happy ending in this hardest of professions. 


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