Duck And Dodge

“Have you heard anything more from home?” I asked Alex as we made our way to the empty ring closest to the entrance. My hand was beginning to ache again but there was something about being in the Palace that made me want to let it do its worst without resorting to the pills again. It probably had to do with the machismo that had soaked into the walls and floors over the years.

“I spoke to Simone yesterday,” he said quietly. “Mother is still in hospital but she is more of a fighter than me, she will be okay. Simone is staying with her, probably sharing her bed. But this cannot go without a reply or they will descend again, like starving vultures.”

“We will have an answer for those responsible,” I said, easing myself under the bottom rope while Alex climbed the steps. “And our opening statement will be tomorrow night. How are your ribs doing?”

“It is just more motivation,” he replied with a slight shrug. “Should I ask about your hand?”


We spent the next hour discussing strategy in every position, from the middle of the ring to pinned up against the ropes. Attempts were made at choosing how we wanted him to start the fight, whether he should charge across to The Killer or lay in wait, but ended up deciding that it would be Alex’s choice in the heat of the moment.

“If he comes charging out of the gates like an angry bull, I want you to give him a shot to the body and dance away. Make him chase you.” I tossed a light left hook towards Alex’s belly and slipped away to the right. “He’ll think you’re scared and keep coming after you and before he realizes it he’ll be sucking wind and you’ll be fresh as a daisy.

“If I have complete, unequivocal faith in one thing, it’s your conditioning. This guy might hit like a hammer but if you take away his legs you can pick him apart. In the early rounds hit the body whenever you can, make him chase you as much as possible.”

“And if he begins more slowly?”

“That’s less likely – I think he’ll want to try to intimidate you early. But if he does take his time then you’ll still want to work the body before you go head hunting. And always be on the lookout for him setting up that knockout punch.”

By the time Bomber wrapped up his sparring session and passed us on his way to the showers, Alex and I were resting against the ropes and back to discussing our families. Without getting into any details I had told him that Cara was doing okay and he just smiled and said things would sort themselves out soon enough.

“I’ll be back down in ten,” Jason called as he jogged by. “Get your things together and I’ll meet you at the door, alright?”

“Sounds good, Bomber.” Then I added with a shout as he disappeared into the stairwell, “Lunch is on me!”

“Whatever,” came his echoing response and I could only smile.

We were waiting by the door, our bags over our shoulders, when he came bouncing back down the stairs. The three of us gave Tommy a mixture of waves and salutes before we exited the building.

“Alright, let’s get your gear in my car and then we’ll get some grub. I’m parked this way,” Jason said with a nod of his head to our right. We found his old battered grey Nissan Sentra squeezed between two hulking SUVs, looking like it wanted to be anywhere else but there. “She may not look like much, but she gets the job done. Just like old Nate here.”

“Thanks,” I said with a shake of my head, dropping my bag in his opened trunk and Alex did the same. I told myself I wasn’t tempted to grab my pills. “And no matter what, you’ve got a nicer ride than I do.”

“Yeah, they just don’t make transit buses like they used to,” he said with a smile as he slammed it shut. My eyes lingered on the dented surface for only a moment. “Burgers at Red’s?”


Eating your final meal in Vancouver at Red’s Grill before leaving for an out of town fight was a tradition so old that none of the boys could remember who started it. Regardless of its origin, that place provided the three things a boxer wanted on the eve of fight night: great tasting, quality food that wouldn’t make you ill, it was a short walk from the Palace, and the waitresses were both easy on the eyes and the ears - Old Red wasn’t one to hire airheads and he paid a fair wage to attract quality staff.

Since we arrived before the lunch hour rush we were seated by the big bay window that looked out to the calm waters of Burrard Inlet. The waitress, a leggy redhead working to pay her university bills, took our orders of burgers and salads and promised to return with our drinks before we could blink.

The waiting staff made that an easy promise to keep for the boys but I found myself distracted by thoughts of Dawn while I massaged the back of my injured hand.

“So when and where is your next fight?” I asked Jason, choosing not to remind them that they both had girlfriends who would not look kindly on their wandering eyes.

“It’s actually next weekend,” he replied, turning to look out the window. “There’s a card in Calgary with decent money behind it and my opponent should be a good challenge.”

“Oh, so soon? It’s a shame you didn’t get on Gregor’s show, we could have all gone over together.”

“Yeah,” he said, studying his fingernails. I glanced at Alex and saw my confusion mirrored in his face.

“What’s going on, Jason?”

“What? Nothing, what do you mean?”

“Bomber... spit it out. Lying doesn’t suit you.” My heart rate was steadily picking up speed and my head was starting to swim again. I couldn’t decide if it was because of the pain or what I suspected I was about to hear.

“Alright, listen guys,” he began, his hands up to ward us off. “I didn’t want to tell you this; I didn’t want it to be a distraction for you. It’s just that... I got a call from Gregor a few days before Alex showed up at the gym.”

“And?” I snapped into the brief silence that lapsed at our table.

“And... he was already concerned that The Killer’s opponent wasn’t going to be healthy enough to make the fight.” I closed my eyes and let my head fall into my hands. “So... he offered me the fight. And I turned him down.”

The End

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