Arresting Developments

Alex realized his mistake too late to avoid the blow but he did what he could to reduce the impact.

He shifted his weight to the right and raised his shoulder just enough to partially deflect the glove rushing towards his temple. The result was a glancing blow, landing high on his head, that sent him stumbling sideways. The crowd roared as Kofi moved in for the kill and I hoped that it looked worse than it actually was. Another hard left landed just as the bell rang to end the round and Alex made his way over to me on unsteady legs.

“Should I be asking how many fingers I’m holding up?” I asked, trying to keep the worry from my voice.

“Momma? What are you doing here?” Alex replied with glassy eyes. My heart shuddered to a halt in my chest and my mouth went dry. Then Alex flashed me a smile and added, “I am joking. Do not be so serious.”

“You almost gave me a heart attack you son of a… okay, we’re wasting time. I’ll yell at you later.” I took a deep breath and shook my head.

“Alright, we’ve made it to round four. Somehow. It’s time to give Kofi a surprise – I want you to counterpunch the hell out of him. Dodge what you can, take the lighter blows, just hit him as hard as you can every time he even thinks about throwing a punch. Feint with your left and right but always throw something. No punch goes unanswered, understand?”

Alex nodded and allowed his smile to relax into a determined line. As I went to leave the ring he placed a gloved hand on my shoulder and, after a quick glance at the ref, I turned to face him.

“There is a saying in my country,” he said with a glint in his eye. “Bay kou bliye, pote mak sonje.”

 “And what does that mean?”

“The giver of the blow forgets, the bearer of the scar remembers.”

“Well then,” I said as I stepped through the ropes before the ref pushed me out of the ring, “go make this a fight to forget.”

The bell for round four was rung before my feet hit the floor. The crowd screamed for The Killer to continue his inevitable conquest for the championship that was his in all but name as far as they were concerned. Alex, unfortunately for them, had other ideas on the matter.

They met in the middle of the ring and Alex threw a light jab before beginning to circle to his left, as he had been doing all fight. This time, however, he stopped suddenly and fired a quick combination to the body that caught Kofi completely unprepared. The Killer responded with a wild hook that missed by about a foot and Alex countered with a hard right to the chin before stepping away.

“That’s more like it,” Doc said with a satisfied smile. The crowd noise intensified as a few sections began to voice their support for Alex and the rest of the spectators answered by cheering more loudly for Kofi. An excited tingle travelled down my spine and the hairs on my forearms stood up on their tiptoes.

Kofi launched a furious attack but Alex calmly covered up and weathered the storm until there was a pause. Then he snuck in two quick jabs and a hook to the body before dodging a counterpunch and slipping away. As he moved after Alex I caught sight of Kofi’s expression and began to wonder if his anger would cause him to go supernova before the end of the night.

The rest of the round played out in a similar fashion and I could feel the tide changing in front of us and so could the crowd. Those cheering for the hometown hero were getting anxious and the converts to our side were getting louder and louder. After the round ended I practically leaped into the ring, not bothering to hide my wide smile from Kofi or his corner. I gave Tony a wink and was surprised to have it returned in kind.

“That was beautiful, Alex. Absolutely beautiful,” I said, shoving my unease at Tony’s reaction to the side. “You officially just won your first round as a professional, congratulations!”

“Thank you,” he replied, slightly out of breath for the first time since I’d met him. “I enjoyed that. Can I do that some more?”

“Yes, please.” I let him have some water and Doc applied the ice where it was needed. “We’re going to mess with his head a little more this round. I want you to mix it up – do the circle and jab routine for a while, then do the counterpunch routine, and keep going back and forth as you like. I want that bastard not to have a damn clue what to expect. A few more rounds of this and he’ll be ripe for the taking.”

Doc and I hit the floor in unison but as the action resumed he turned away from the ring with a puzzled expression on his face. I turned to see what he was looking at and got my first surprise of the night. Two uniformed police officers stood a few feet away and one of them held a piece of paper in his left hand. The other hand rested lightly on his baton.

“Nathaniel McDaniel?” he asked after glancing at the form he held at waist level. He looked like he could have played linebacker in college. And most enjoyed the parts where he got to hit people very hard.

“That’s me… can I help you with something?”

“Can I ask what happened to your right hand, sir?” I didn’t like the way he asked that at all.

“Training accident,” I replied without missing a beat.

“Is that so?” He turned to exchange smirks with his partner before turning back to me. His partner was slightly shorter but even more thickly built. “Because what I’ve got here is an assault charge made by one Anthony Boyce. What do you think of that?”

“I think Tony needs to—“

“Nate…” Doc’s soft warning stilled my tongue before I could get myself in any further trouble. “Officers, surely we can discuss this after the fight? He’s not going anywhere and you’re welcome to watch the rest of the match right here with us.”

“I don’t think so, sir,” the shorter cop said, reaching for his handcuffs. “We’re going to need to take Mister McDaniel to the precinct for questioning.”

As sweat began to form on my brow and my heart started to pound irregularly, there was a commotion behind the two officers. I looked over their shoulders and found myself on the receiving end of my second surprise of the night.

The End

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