Luck Of The Irish

We gathered in Doc’s second floor room for our treatments and inspections, the excitement and anticipation for the fight becoming more and more palpable by the moment. After a lengthy round of painful prodding that he called an examination, Doc rewrapped my hand and turned his attention to Alex.

“Any trouble with your range of motion?” he asked while watching Alex stretch his arms above his head as instructed. He shook his head no but both Doc and I caught the grimace that flickered across his features. “Well at least the only time you should be raising your arms like that tonight will be after you’ve won. Arms straight in front of you, please.”

“It is nothing serious,” Alex said, his hands extended at shoulder level and steady as a statue. “Once I am in the ring any discomfort will disappear.”

“Right up until The Killer lands a solid shot to your ribs,” Doc observed, pushing his glasses higher on his nose. “I suggest you do your best to prevent that from happening.”

“Just be careful getting into and out of clinches,” I added while Doc rubbed a foul-smelling ointment on Alex’s wounded side. Wrinkling my nose, I took a step back before continuing. “When you’re reaching out to tie him up, or pushing off to separate, that’s when your ribs will be most exposed.”
“You worry too much,” Alex told me through gritted teeth, obviously not enjoying the pressure of Doc’s hand. “I am ready, you have made sure of that. Trust in yourself. All will be well, you will see.”
Doc, standing behind Alex, leaned to the side and gave me a doubtful look. But I just smiled and allowed myself to be grateful that the man I was cornering was not suffering from any lack of confidence. It was one less thing to worry about dealing with and my overworked brain was in desperate need of that sort of relief.
“Is Gregor still doing three o’clock weigh-ins?” Doc asked as he pulled off his translucent medical gloves and threw them in the trash.
“Yeah, and he’s still the only promoter I know of that is. A couple of months ago I heard about a guy up north that did the weigh-ins a week before the fights – a week! Can you imagine? There were probably lightweights weighing more than I do by the time the bell rung.”
“Well Gregor gets a gold star from me for not putting up with that weight cutting nonsense,” Doc said as he eased himself into the chair next to his window. Our body heat had caused condensation to collect on the glass and the sunlight filtering through it cast him in a sickly yellow light that was unpleasant to look at. “Young men are killing themselves out there just trying to gain that little extra advantage. If I had my way boxers would step off the scale and into the ring.”
“I agree completely… maybe you and I need to start a promotion that does that?” I said with a quiet chuckle.
“Fat chance,” Doc replied with an undignified snort. “You may want to keep busy in your retirement but I plan on moving to a little wood hut on a quiet beach where the sun never sets the instant I hand in the keys to my office. Or maybe I’ll just send them in the mail from my new home.”
“You’d be bored in less than a week and you know it,” I told him as I glanced at my watch. “We might as well get our things together and head for the arena. There’s no sense in risking being late with nothing keeping us here.”
Alex and I went up to our rooms while Doc cleaned himself up and put his things in order. I took the jacket the boys had given me out of my duffle bag and stuffed it into a plastic grocery bag while butterflies performed aerial combat manoeuvres in my stomach. I paused to savour the feeling. It was the same nervous excitement that I always felt during the last hours before my own fights and I hadn’t been expecting to ever feel it again.
“I guess being in the corner isn’t so different from being in there myself after all,” I murmured before joining Alex in the hallway. When he saw my bag he suggested with a poorly concealed smile that maybe I might want to stick it inside his bag, which now only contained his boxing gear. Apparently he didn’t want to be seen travelling with a hobo.
We took the stairs down to the next floor to collect Doc, who was now dressed in a grey overcoat that hung to his knees and carrying his black medical bag in his right hand. Alex and I tried to convince him to go down first and run interference with Doris but he was having none of our ‘childish shenanigans’ so we went down together. It would not have done any good anyway - when the elevator doors parted in the lobby Doris was there waiting for us.
“Holy… hey Doris, how are you doing?” I had to force myself not to take a step back.
“I’m doing great, Natty, thanks so much for asking,” she replied with a glowing smile which reminded me of a hungry mountain cat that I had seen on a nature documentary not long before. Her eyes wandered to our bags. “Are you boys off to the arena then?”
“We are indeed,” Doc replied as he tried to step around her but she moved to block his way. I imagined the scene, one short woman keeping three large men at bay, two of them boxers, and almost laughed.
“Well I can’t let you go without giving you my dear Willy’s favourite Irish blessing!” she cried with a clap of her hands.
“The King wasn’t Irish,” I pointed out but she shushed me with a furious glare. I considered adding that we had no need of the type of luck her husband had in the ring but wisely kept my mouth shut.
“Now then,” she said with a prim clearing of her throat. She folded her hands at her waist and closed her eyes. Alex elbowed me in the ribs and nodded at the door but Doris opened her eyes and began to speak before we could move. “May your days be many and your troubles be few. May all God's blessings descend upon you. May peace be within you, may your heart be strong. May you find what you're seeking wherever you roam.”
“Thank you Doris,” Alex said into the somewhat stunned silence that followed. She positively beamed in response and finally allowed us passage after a quick good luck hug for each of us. Well, relatively quick.
“That was… an interesting choice of blessing,” I said once we were safely on the sidewalk and heading towards Doc’s car.
“Well,” Doc replied dryly, “at least it wasn’t the one about hoping you’re in heaven an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”
I had to hand it to him: the man knew how to make a point.

The End

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