Fighting Peom Story

"Step up," he says to me,
lighter than me, younger than me,
skin bronzed by road work in the southern sun,
that skin taut against the solid muscles of his arms, the bulge of his shoulders,
his A-shirt a second skin across rounded pecs then loose around his waist,
the sheen of light sweat reflecting sunlight from the nearby windows.
Hands wrapped, gloves at the ready.
He stands in the ring, waiting, and he says, "Step up. Get in the ring."

Maybe I'll do it.
Maybe I'll get in the ring--it's more than likely I will,
just to be close to this challenger,
this beautiful, smooth-fisted mook of a man.

Maybe I'll keep my left in his face, just jabs,
not landing with much power, but letting him know I could.
Aiming a bit off to the sides to misdirect attention,
not wildly off, not opening myself for an attack,
but just enough to make him think I've got nothing for him to fear.
Then I'll follow the jab with a combination he's not ready for:
One-two to the jaw
double hook to body and temple
straight left and right uppercut
then I'll let him think about what just happened to him
while I go back to working the jab
and he waits for the bombs to launch again.

Maybe I'll charge across the ring and lead with my right hook
and just let the bombs fly before he can think to raise his guard:
left after right, right after left
as fast as I can and as hard as I can for as long as I can--
rattle his brains against his skull
until his legs give out,
his eyes roll back,
and the adrenaline pumping through my blood keeps my punches pounding
until he's down,
and he can't make the count,
and I spit out my mouthpiece as one last gesture of contempt.

Maybe I'll stay in tight and work his body,
thudding leather against his gut,
striking thunder just below the floating rib,
reddening the flesh,
thumping the organs,
working the beltline, right where he looks a little soft.
I'll find out about that gut of his,
just how much he can take before the muscles surrender.

And maybe his jab is faster than mine.
And maybe he attacks fierce and hard.
And maybe he thinks my body can't stand the pain he can give.
I'll spend the fight on the back foot,
evading the jab,
ducking the combinations,
staying on the outside, moving back towards the ropes,
showing him my left shoulder.
Maybe he'll outclass me
and swat my face at will,
bruise my body,
take me out.

Maybe we'll be even, matched perfectly, skill for skill,
and our fight more like a dance than a brawl,
as we trade punches equally, blow for blow,
neither of us getting the advantage,
ending tired and sore, but not defeated,
pumped and glowing from the battle.

I don't know what I'll do.
I don't know what he'll do.
And he doesn't know me, doesn't know what I can do.
Until I step up...
until I'm in the ring...
until we go.

"Step up," he says to me. "Step up. Get in the ring. C'mon. Let's go."

So I do.

view all stories