The Punch

The crowd exploded as the punch landed, the force of their expelled breaths buffeting me like angry waves. But there was something odd about the energy I felt in that roar; it did not have the smell of satisfaction that I was expecting.

No, the overwhelming sensation I felt was that of surprise.

My eyes snapped open. Only a few seconds had passed since they had closed but the world had been turned upside down in that time.

Kofi was falling to the canvas, so slowly that it seemed like the air around him had turned to honey. Alex had risen from his crouch and now stood watching his opponent’s collapse, his right fist still in the air above him from the follow-through of the uppercut he had just thrown.

For some reason the thought came to me that he looked like a masculine version of the Statue of Liberty. It is an image I will never forget.

And then Kofi’s body finally met the canvas and the reality of the situation hit home and I began whooping and hollering like a little boy.

“One!” the referee shouted as Alex came toward our corner, looking more than a little stunned. “Two!”

“That was incredible!” Doc shouted. Alex blinked and smiled back. “You almost lifted him into the air with that punch! Way to go, kid!”

“Four!” I pumped my fist at Alex while silently cursing myself for missing the punch. I knew that I’d get to see it on video later, and that with all the camera flashes going off there would be a few poster-worthy shots to be found, but nothing would make up for seeing it live and in person. “Five!”

Kofi began to stir and he rolled onto his right side. He planted his left glove on the mat and tried to push himself up.

“Come on,” I whispered, “just stay down.”


The Killer had risen to one knee and was shaking his head from side to side as he attempted to clear out the cobwebs that had suddenly materialized on his brain. I held my breath as his legs propelled him upward.


He teetered on his feet like a drunken sailor and the ref paused momentarily in his count. Then Kofi crumpled to the canvas once more and it was all over.

At last, it was all over.

“You did it!” I shouted at Alex as two small hands grabbed my shoulders and spun me around. Her lips were on mine before my eyes could refocus and they began to close to savour the moment, my body responding of its own accord. I felt surprise at Dawn’s behaviour but it was a vague, far away feeling.

But then, just before my eyelids joined as one, I realized the woman in my arms was not Dawn.

“Samantha!” I said, pulling my head back sharply. Her arms were still firmly on my shoulders and her face took up all of my vision. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Giving you a little preview of later tonight,” she purred before patting me on the cheek and pulling away. She tucked her card into the front pocket of my jeans and added with a predatory smile, “Call me.”

Stunned, my eyes followed her as she moved around the ring to take close-up pictures of Kofi on the mat as he trainers gathered around him. Snapping out of it, I swung my head back only to find Dawn staring at me with shock and disgust and hurt pulling her face this way and that.

“Dawn…” I began but words failed me as her expression darkened to rage. I wanted to try again but Doc, who could not have seen what had just happened, was pulling me into the ring to celebrate Alex’s victory.

I meekly let him drag me between the ropes as Dawn turned away and disappeared into the crowd. I wanted to run after her but my legs felt rooted to the spot. Then Alex enveloped me in a bone crushing hug as I straightened and I tried my best to be happy for him.

“Thank you,” he told me, his mouth inches from my ear. “I owe you so much. Thank you.”

I don’t suppose I can cash in that favour and have you go get Dawn back for me?

“Hey, you did all the hard work,” I replied as I patted him on the back. “I just stood around and supervised.” I laughed weakly and then held him at arm’s length. “You did great Alex, I’m so proud of you. You did brilliantly.”

He beamed back at me before being pulled to the middle of the ring by the referee. Doc put his arm around my shoulder as we watched the ring announcer make the official announcement. Kofi’s people had managed to get him on the stool in his corner but he still didn’t seem to know where he was or what was going on.

I could relate to that.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the tuxedoed man boomed into the microphone, “referee Dale Richardson has called an end to this bout at one minute and twenty-five seconds of the sixth round. Your winner, by way of knockout… Alexandre Denis!”

Alex had his arm raised as hundreds of cameras seemed to capture the moment. The referee turned him to face all four sides of the ring before stepping away to allow Alex to enjoy the spotlight on his own. After pumping his arms to the suddenly appreciative crowd he waved Doc and I over to join him.

We each grabbed one of his gloves and raised them to more cheers, turning in another slow circle. The adulation of the crowd, combined with the joy radiating from Alex, almost succeeded in cheering me up. But then as we completed the turn my eyes fell on Gregor and the cops and my mind returned to Dawn.

Alex may have won his fight but my battles were about to begin.

The End

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