Backroom Deals

“So you deny hitting Mister Boyce then.” The cop’s voice was flat and cold, like the bare concrete of the room we were crammed into.

“I do. And I have four witnesses to support my claim.”

We were in a room at the back of the building that Gregor had led us to after I had exited the ring. Alex and Doc had gone back to the dressing room to get changed and collect our things and by then they were probably waiting in the hallway outside.

I sat in a plain, unfinished wooden chair while the two cops leaned against the wall in front of me. Gregor stood to the side, his hands deep in his pant pockets, and watched silently.

“And you want us to believe that you injured your hand while training your fighter… Mister Denis?”

“You saw how hard he hits,” I said with a thin smile that only served to deepen the lines around the former linebacker’s eyes. It was like the guy had something personal against me. I wondered if he was a friend of Kofi’s.

“Can we wrap this up, guys?” Gregor asked with an easy smile. “All of the witnesses will side with Nate, so it’s Tony’s word against all of them. And, no offense to the guy, but he doesn’t have the best track record in the world, you know?”

“I’m sorry,” the shorter cop drawled as he jotted in his notebook, “are we holding up your precious press conference?”

“Oh, I’m sure you’re not,” I said with fake cheer. “Gregor doesn’t have to be here and can leave at any time, right? And the little media show and tell can definitely start without little old me. So don’t worry about inconveniencing us!”

“Good to know,” the cop with the attitude problem said dryly. I gave Gregor an encouraging smile but he just shook his head in bemused disgust. “Me and my partner are just going to step out to discuss some things. Just sit tight for a minute or... however long it takes.”

“While you’re at it, you might want to ask Tony why he felt the need to come train at our gym in the first place,” I said, the officers pausing in the doorway. “After all, Victoria has more than enough facilities for him to make use of. Why come to Vancouver, and our gym specifically, to get some work in? Just seems odd, don’t you think?”

A firmly shut door was the only response I received but I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms across my chest, satisfied that I had made my point.

“What was that about?” Gregor asked, his expression perfectly neutral.

“I think you know damn well what that was about,” I replied casually. The adrenaline was beginning to wear off and the ache in my hand was eagerly taking its place. “By the way, sorry for turning your meal ticket into a worthless scrap of paper. I’m sure you had a lot invested in his success.”

“When did you become such a crotchety old man?” There was a brief flash of anger in his eyes but he controlled it well. “If you keep this up they’ll toss you behind bars just for being a pain in the ass.”

He had avoided a direct reply but I was just happy to have said it. I let my head loll backward until I was staring at the ceiling.

“Thanks for getting all that press here though,” I told him after a minute had passed in silence. “Alex is going to be front page news after what he did tonight and that’ll help him to find more fights. All over the province, the country, maybe even internationally if the right pair of eyes find one of the locals. It’ll really help his cause.”

“His cause?”

“Oh, didn’t I tell you?” I moved my gaze from the cracked ceiling tiles to his face. “The reason he’s fighting, the reason he was so damn motivated to win tonight, is for his family. His mother and sister are back in Haiti and he needs to pay for them to come over here. His mother’s in hospital at the moment, actually. Something about a robbery gone wrong.”

He chewed that over for a few minutes and still the cops didn’t return. He checked his watch and began pacing the length of the wall to my right.

“Go do your press conference,” I told him. “You don’t need to be here. Just do me a favour, okay?” He stopped and turned to face me. “Remind Alex that it’ll be a while before he can get medical clearance to fight again. Tell him now might be a good time to mention to all those reporters why he’s doing this.”

“What, you’re going to beg for donations or something?” Gregor actually smirked at me.

“Maybe if you paid a decent purse we wouldn’t have to,” I replied, heat creeping into my words.

“I’ll make you a deal,” he said as he strode to the door. “I’ll give Alex fight of the night and knockout of the night bonuses if you promise me his next three fights. That’ll more than double his paycheque.”

“He deserves both of those bonuses,” I told him as I pushed to my feet, anger clouding my thoughts. “Everyone will know something is up if you give them to anyone else.”

“That’s my problem, not yours,” he said as he opened the door. “Think it over.”

He closed the door, my legs gave way beneath me, and I landed on the chair with a painful crack. I glared at the floor and let my thoughts rage.

It was a lot of money but it sure as hell wasn’t coming for free.

The cops let me stew for another ten minutes before they returned, which was probably for the best for all of us. By then I had calmed down enough to not respond to every question with physical violence.

“We’re going to let you walk for now,” the shorter, slightly less angry one told me, “but we’ll need to know where to find you should we have anything else to discuss with you. Where are you staying tonight?”

“The King William.”

“Which room?”

“I don’t remember but if you ask for Doris I’m sure she’ll be able to help you out.”

“And you’ll be returning to Vancouver tomorrow?” I could tell by the edge in his tone that he was not happy with my last reply. “I hope you’re able to remember your home address at least? Or have too many punches to the head scrambled your brain too badly?”

I gave it to them without looking up and then they finally let me go. I gladly left them behind and returned to the lobby, the ache in my hand growing steadily worse. Straight ahead was the conference room, where things were already well underway by the sounds of it. To my right were the doors that lead outside where, somewhere, Dawn would be.

After the slightest hesitation I turned right and went out into the frigid night.

The End

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