Wow...would you look at all the dust that's gathered here. Cough cough. OK, first, this is an update-duh! Second, this chapter makes up for Chapter 14. Third, sorry that I don't update as quickly as I used to/should. Let's face it, the big names in boxing fight more in a year than I update. But let's not fret. New chapter which means new reviews. Let's see if we can get the reviews over 300...not that it's important, I just like to gloat.
Chapter Fourteen: The Comeback
The cold metal of the stethoscope pressed against the heart of Garfield Logan while Dr. Greg Laurie listened to the heartbeat.
"Heart rate…normal," he analyzed as he pulled the earpieces out. "He hasn't been twitching…"
"He's still snoring," complained Raven.
Laurie looked at her with his five o'clock shadow face. "Thank you," he said in a dry tone, "I couldn't hear with nothing in my ears."
Raven felt very tempted to punch the doctor but couldn't since Alfred was taping her hands.
"There's one simple explanation as to why he's snoring," explained Laurie. "He's asleep."
"Asleep?" asked Tim. "You're saying he's sleeping?"
"Hmmm…I suppose asleep is the appropriate word to describe someone who's sleeping," answered Laurie, still using the same sarcastic tone he used with Raven.
"Can you wake him?" asked Bruce.
Laurie shrugged. "He seems to be into it right now." He sighed. "But…there is a method I could use to wake him."
"Do it," said Bruce.
Laurie moved his slender frame close to Garfield's head, bent to his ear and shouted, "WAKE UP, GARFIELD!"
Garfield found himself back in the ring, still wearing his gloves but his headgear was missing. The auditorium was dark and all lights were on the ring. Garfield wasn't even sure if he was in the auditorium or how he got back into the rings. He moved towards the ropes and looked out to see if he could find where he was.
"Is anybody here?" he called.
From behind him came a large booming noise. Garfield turned to see Jorge Farman staring at him and banging his gloves together. He too, was sans headgear. His biceps bulged and his chest was flat like steel and probably just as strong.
"I almost killed you last time," Farman said. "This time, I'll do better."
An ill-intentioned smile appeared on his face. The small thin moustache under his nostrils made him seem even more threatening.
"No," said Garfield. "I don't want to fight you." He tried to move out of the ring but found that his feet had merged with the ring canvas. Gloved hands pulled the legs to get them moving but they wouldn't budge.
Farman slowly walked towards Garfield, delaying the inevitable like a killer in a horror movie. His gloves still making the booming sound.
It was at this point that Garfield realized that he wasn't wearing a mouthpiece.
Farman put his gloves on his hips and sneered at Garfield.
"Take your best shot," he invited. "Hit me wherever you want as hard as you can."
Garfield was panting, trying not to panic. He put himself in a fighting stance and threw everything he had at his gargantuan opponent.
Garfield felt his wrist shatter as he struck Farman's abs. Fine china against a terrifying obelisk.
Garfield screamed in pain as he felt blood seeping through the glove. Farman's body was indestructible in the mean time. Garfiled found that it was like trying to break marble with water balloons.
Farmarn was about to connect with Garfield's chin when he heard someone shout, "WAKE UP, GARFIELD!"
Garfield shot up from the table like a zombie. His eyes were wide and his breathing was laboured, sweat was forming on his back and chest.
"He seems fine," summarized Laurie. He looked Garfield in the face and shined a penlight into his eyes. "What's two plus two?"
"Four," panted Garfield wearily, still drowsy from his catnap.
"Spell first name backwards."
"What's the best team in the NHL?"
"What? Oh, I don't know, the one with the overpaid players."
"Not much of a hockey fan?"
"He's fine," Laurie said as he clicked off the penlight and looked at Bruce. "I would recommend that you don't spar for at least ten days."
"Yeah," mumbled Garfield.
Alfred fitted Raven's gloves on her while Bruce put on the headgear.
"Are you ready?" Bruce asked her.
She nodded. She tapped Garfield on the shoulder.
He looked at her.
"Are you going to watch on the TV?" she asked.
He nodded. "Just…just try to do better than I did, OK?"
Raven won a split decision.
Kori won by unanimous decision.
Dick won by TKO in the first round.
Tim and Victor won by KO.
The ride home was bittersweet.
Bruce had called Sally earlier to inform her of Garfield's loss. He knew that the first loss can usually be traumatic to a fighter who's been on a winning streak. But to a fighter that had achieved the recognition that Garfield had obtained would only make this loss sting even more.
As soon as he entered his apartment his mother got up from the table and wrapped her arms around him in a hug.
"I'm so sorry, honey," she said. "But you can't let this stop you from doing what you want."
"Mom…all I wanted to do was win this tournament. I wanted to win and say that on a certain day of the year I was good at something I wasn't pegged for." He let himself out of his mother's embrace and went towards his room. "Do we have any comfort food?" he asked her.
"Yes, we do," answered Sally. "Is there anything in particular you want?"
Garfield shrugged as he entered his bedroom, keeping the lights off.
"Surprise me," he said. "Just knock and leave it outside the door."
Robert Stone was tapping his desk while trying to cure a spontaneous case of writers block. It had come up out of nowhere and now the frustration of trying to figure out how to end one paragraph and then the rest of the story was making it hard for him to concentrate. It became even harder for him to concentrate when he heard a tapping at the wall of his cubicle. He turned and saw Francine, the secretary, a short, large wise woman in her 50s standing there.
"Hey, Francine," he greeted with a yawn, "what's up?"
"Robert, you've had this look on your face ever since you came in this morning that just tells me that you're in trouble."
"Am I that predictable?" he asked.
Robert sighed, looked at his screen and then back at Francine.
"It's about that Gar Logan kid I wrote about."
"That boy who lost last night? That's too bad, I read that story so many times, I thought he'd be an amazing story."
"Well…now that he's out, Jack is going to be on my ass because he told me that this story wasn't important."
"Mmm…true but I'm sure people are going to be eager to see where the rest of those kids go, right?"
Robert shrugged. "Yeah, but…I don't know, everyone wanted to see Rocky win but after Apollo beat him nobody cared to see what Apollo did. They wanted to watch Rocky."
Francine put her hands over her face and gave a sob-like sound.
"What's the matter?"
Her fingers dragged down her face.
"I fogot to mention this to you. Do you remember that summer student program we're doing?"
Robert's face dropped.
"Don't tell me…"
"It's only for the summer, Rob, if you keep him busy I'm sure it won't be too painful."
Earlier in the year, Jump City University had made a deal with the president of the paper to have a student from the journalism program come and work with another reporter.
"This was Jack's idea, wasn't it?"
"He said that you usually enjoy taking on tasks that no one else cares about."
Robert cursed in a foreign language.
"How am I supposed to work with a shadow around me who can't really contribute."
"Have some fun. Make him a gofer."
Francine turned around and chuckled.
"Glad you like it, because here he comes."
Robert turned around and saw a young white male in a blue shirt and khakis come towards him. He was clean-shaven with short spiked brown hair.
"I'll leave you to have fun," whispered Francine as she went on her way.
The young man approached Robert and held out his hand.
"Robert Stone? I'm Jake Kinsey from JCU."
Fun time, thought Robert. He put a frown on his face and limply took Jake's hand.
"Oh, boy, a white kid, this is gonna be interesting," he mumbled loud enough for him to hear as he went back to his computer.
Jake got a timid look on his face and tried to compose himself.
"Uh…I was thinking, since we're going to be covering the State Championship, we could contact some of the winners from the first round and get their opinions on their next bouts."
"I have an even better idea," began Robert but Jake was still rambling on.
"…the judges, see if they have any opinions on the fighters and if they have any favourites and then-"
"Kid," said Robert loudly to wake him back into reality. "Look, I appreciate your enthusiasm but right now I got an important lead I need you to follow up on."
Jake's face lit up. "You want me to follow up a lead?"
Robert jotted down a phone number on a small note page and handed it to Jake. "Get in your cubicle, get on the phone, and just find out their hours. Ask nothing else, just introduce yourself as a reporter from the Times and just say you only want to know the hours. Can you handle that?"
Jake was nodding like a six year old boy who was just asked by his dad if he wanted to play catch with his dad. He eagerly got into his cubicle which was directly behind Robert's, turned on his computer and picked up the phone. He dialled the number and waited for the other line to pick up.
Robert listened carefully with attentive ears as Jake spoke
"Hello, my name is Jake Kinsey, I'm a reporter for the Jump City Times and I…no, I don't know about any investigation…I'm very serious, sir, I don't know; it's my first day."
There was a pause. "No, I'm not lying to you, it is my first day. I'm not-I just want to know your hours of operation. Yes, that's all. Nine to nine, everyday. And…yes that is all I wanted to know." There was a final pause. Jake gave a chuckle. "That's fine, sir, call me whatever you want." He hung up the phone and stuck his head over the cubicle.
"He swore at me," said Jake with amazement. "I mean…do people really do that? You call for their hours and they swear at you?"
Robert chuckled. "Glad you didn't swear back at him, that can get you in big trouble."
Jake clapped his hands together. "So…where do we go on from here with that phone call."
Robert scribbled down some words on a piece of notepad paper and then handed it to Jake.
"Go to Sal's Pastries two blocks down the road and get me what's on that list."
Jake's face dropped. "You want me to go pick up donuts?"
Robert smiled and handed him a green note. "My wife doesn't let me eat them at home so I have to turn tricks, so to speak. You can keep the change."
The hot summer weather didn't make it any easier on those who trained in Titans Boxing Club since there was no ventilation in the gym.
Victor had already drenched his sweatshirt when he came back from roadwork and now that he was in a muscle shirt, the discomfort factor had only dropped a little bit. He had only four days to prepare for the second fight and he wanted to win badly. He wanted to wear the belt, he wanted his picture taken, he wanted people to recognize him as he walked down the street.
"Victor," called Bruce as he approached him and held the heavy bag for him. "Speed, fifteen seconds."
Victor knew what the command meant: Give hell for fifteen seconds.
As each punch was thrown, Victor grunted loudly, every bit of anger and frustration he felt in his life was put into his fists.
"Time," called Bruce and Victor stopped.
Victor backed away from the bag and panted. Bruce wiped his head with a towel.
"Take a rest for five or ten minutes," advised Bruce, "then get back to work but wear your mouthpiece this time."
Victor nodded and panted, "Thanks." As he sat on the bench and looked around he saw that something was missing.
"Yo, Alfred," he called to the man behind the desk. "You know if BB's coming down today?"
Alfred shrugged. "I don't know what he plans to do. But the day is still young. I'm sure anything can happen."
Jake presented the box of pastries to Robert and wiped his brow.
"Pretty fast," remarked Robert.
"I used to do track and field in high school," muttered Jake as he caught his breath. "So…is there any article that we should get to work on?"
"Actually," said Robert, "I need you to go thru the phone book and check the prices of all the Chinese places in town. Do you like Chinese?"
Jake gritted his teeth. "No," he growled.
"OK, then you can call Burger King and see if they can deliver you a kids meal or something."
Jake lifted his head up, looking at Robert.
"No, I mean, I am not going to run around getting food for you," snarled Jake.
Robert raised his eyebrows.
"Oh, really? Are you saying that you want to quit?"
"No, but I'm smart enough to know that this isn't part of the job. I'm supposed to be helping you with articles, you're supposed to show me what it's like to be a reporter. I'm not a lapdog who's going to buy you doughnuts simply because you're scared that your wife will catch you at home!"
At this point, several other people were sticking their heads out their cubicles or over their cubicle walls to get an exclusive at what was unfolding.
"I don't want to get you doughnuts," continued Jake, "or anything else that's going to go in your mouth unless you actually let me do some real work! I'm not some dumb punk who wrote just one good article in his class-I've submitted stuff to The New Yorker so I'd have to say I'm pretty damn good at what I want to do!"
Robert smiled and handed the kid another sheet of paper.
"I'm not taking that," said Jake.
"That's the phone numbers of three of the gyms that had winners last night," explained Robert. "Get cracking, call them, ask them exactly what you wanted to ask them."
Jake frowned and looked puzzled. "Why, then, did you…?"
"Rule number one," explained Robert, "don't take crap from people when you know you don't have to."
Jake smiled and headed towards his cubicle.
"So…you wrote for The New Yorker?" asked Robert.
"No," answered Jake.
"But you just said-"
"I said I submitted…they just turned it all down."
"Thank you," said Jake as he typed away Mr. Crozier's response on his computer. He had just completed his third interview and was now starting to breathe a lot easier now that he had figured out Robert Stone's game.
"Mr. Stone?" Jake asked as he popped his head out of his cubicle, "I just finished another one, got any others you want me to tackle?"
"Yeah," replied Robert without getting up and looking at Jake, his face still on his computer screen. "First, call me Robert, Rob, even Bob but don't call me 'Mr. Stone'. And you can call that huge kid who beat Gar Logan the other night. What's his name?"
"That's right," muttered Robert. "The one that looks like a bulldog."
Jake chuckled as he flopped back down into his chair and dialled the number for the Iron Fist Boxing Club.
"Hello, my name's Jake Kinsey, I'm a reporter for-"
"Oh what the hell is this!?" barked the man on the other end.
"I'm sorry?" asked Jake. "There must be some mistake I'm just calling to ask about-"
"Don't you beat around the bush, you little desk job pansy! I wanna know which of those rats told you about the dope!"
"Sir, I have no idea what you're talking about," said Jake as he began snapping his fingers above his head to get Robert's attention.
Sure enough, the dark man peered over and saw his assistant mouth the words, 'Line two'. He picked up his phone carefully and soon listened in on the conversation while keeping his hand over the speaker.
"All I wanted to do is conduct a short interview with Mr. Farman about his next match."
"There isn't going to be a next match!" shouted the man, whom both Robert and Jake assumed was Farman's trainer.
"And…and why is that?" asked Jake as he began typing away.
"You little crap! I wanna know who told you he failed that drug test! They said that they weren't going to announce this until tomorrow. Who the hell told you?"
"Failed drug test?"
"Did they tell you that I'm gonna be under investigation? Jesus Christ, I help my fighter out by giving him an edge and they wanna take away his win and give it back to that little turd he beat!"
Robert hung up and got to the top of his cubicle wall. He ran his index finger across his throat.
"I'm sorry, I think I have the wrong number," said Jake as he disconnected.
"Let's get this straight," said Robert. "Farman was doped…possibly without him knowing."
"All the boxers had their urine tested before the fights," continued Jake. "Whatever was in Farman's system was obviously picked up by the tests…so they're dropping him from the rest of the contest…"
"And if I understood his profanity, they're putting Garfield back in…"
Robert got up from his desk.
"OK, start writing: Scandal Rocks State Championship. Call the judges, pry whatever you can from them and then start writing. I'll be back in a while."
"Where are you going?" asked Jake.
"I'd much rather deliver this news in person than over the phone."
Garfield Logan sat in his boxers atop the covers. A blue bruise was visible on his ribs. His hands were acting as a pillow as they themselves rested on the pillow of his bed. From this position he could get a good whiff of his armpits and he realized that he didn't smell too good. He never showered after last night and he didn't want to now. He would just lay there like a smelly bump on the log while Farman was probably off partying and planning his next hit on a soon-to-be-executed fighter. Chances are he was going to win the Championship too.
He felt so stupid. What the hell was he thinking getting involved in a sport where it's either kill or be killed?
"Screw boxing," muttered Garfield.
It felt so good to say those words.
They seemed so right. You train and train and train and train and after that you train some more. All for sometimes just six minutes of action. Then that's it. How long had he trained. How many sore muscles, cracked ribs, headaches, bloody noses, sore hands, sore feet, sore everything, how much of it had he gone through only to have such a humiliating defeat?
"Screw boxing," he repeated.
"What do you mean he's not here?" asked Robert.
Victor shrugged. "Sorry, Dad, but he hasn't shown up and there's no answer at his place."
"Mr. Stone," greeted Bruce as he came down the stairs. "Here for an exclusive?"
Robert smiled. "Not today, Bruce. I'm here to give you an exclusive."
"Oh?" Bruce raised an eyebrow.
Bruce sat at his desk and almost chuckled at the story he had been just told.
"When did you find this out?" he asked.
"Only ten, twenty minutes ago." His cell-phone started ringing. "Just give me a minute," he told Bruce. "Jake, what do you got? Uh-huh…really? Yeah, I'll be sure to relay that. OK." He turned off his cell phone and looked at Bruce. "If Garfield isn't coming in today, you might want to get him."
Garfield Logan had exited the shower thirty minutes ago and had dried off but had wilfully neglected to get dressed. Instead he sat naked in the recliner couch, watching an anime he stumbled upon channel surfing while eating chocolate chip pancakes.
This is so much better than boxing, he thought as he chewed. No pain, no strain, no…bad stuff.
There was a click and Garfield heard the lock turn and the door was suddenly pushed open.
Garfield screamed and hid behind the side of the sofa bed, away from the door.
"Mom, don't come in, close the door," called Garfield, "I don't got any pants on."
"I'm not your mother," Garfield heard Bruce say as he closed the door.
"Wha…?" asked Garfield as he peeked out the side of the couch. Bruce was there in a black t-shirt and blue jeans. He ducked his head back and buried his head on his knees.
I'm so busted! he thought. I'm stark naked in my living room and Bruce has to walk in.
"I don't know where you are," said Bruce, "but just grab some pants or something to make you decent."
Garfield turned around and stood up, his lower half covered by the sofa. His cheeks were red and he kept his head down.
Bruce sighed and shook his head.
"How…how'd you get in here? I never buzzed you in," said Garfield.
Bruce held up a single key. "Your mom made me a copy."
"Could you…uh…" Garfield twirled his finger.
Bruce turned around and Garfield streaked to his bedroom where he quickly put on some boxers and some jean shorts and came back into the living room to find Bruce sitting in the recliner. The anime had been put on mute.
"Sitting ass naked, eating pancakes and watching Japanese cartoons," remarked Bruce. "I take it you didn't plan on coming to the gym today."
"No," said Garfield quietly.
Bruce squinted. "How's that bruise?"
"It's OK," said Garfield. "Are you mad at me because I lost?"
Bruce frowned. "Why would I be mad at you?"
"I lost," said Garfield. "I lost pretty badly."
"Did you cry?" asked Bruce. "Did you go into round two with doubts about yourself? Did you beg us not to send you back in? You took your beating like a man and you still wanted to keep fighting. I was proud of you, Garfield. I was only upset about that Farman kid-and that's why I'm here."
"Do you remember the mandatory drug tests before the fights?"
"Yeah. We had to pee in a cup."
"Farman tested positive on the results. He had something in his system when he won the fight. The judges are going to allow you back into competition and give you a bye for the next round. All you need to do is win the next two matches and you'll be champion."
"And what about that the loss? Is it still going to be regarded as one."
"It's going to be recorded as a win by disqualification. So you're still five for five. So, get dressed, get your gear and I'll drive you back."
"Actually, Bruce," chuckled Garfield, "I don't wanna do boxing anymore."
Bruce's face dropped. "What do you mean you're done with it?"
"I mean I don't want to fight anymore. I mean, I train and train and train and it doesn't make any difference. Besides, I trained my ass off and I still got beat."
"You got beat by someone using steroids!" Bruce insisted. "It was a mismatch and if you hadn't faced Farman that night you would have faced someone else you could have beaten."
"Maybe, but I just don't think I want to do it anymore. The loss kind of woke me up."
Bruce was getting angry. "And what about the people who were rooting for you?"
Garfield shrugged. "They can find someone else to root for."
Bruce sprang up from the chair and pulled Garfield up by the arms, looking him dead in the eyes.
"You little brat! Do you think that you can just walk away from all of this and people will just go on? You're the hope of an entire city! People have been coming to the gym just to watch you train and just because you got knocked around, you want to stop. I wonder what they'll think when it says in the paper tomorrow that you refused to re-enter the tournament?" Bruce released Garfield, walked to the door and opened it. "You have two options Garfield, either take advantage of a second chance, or just keep running away and stop wasting my time. Because to tell you the truth I just don't give a shit."
Garfield stared at the door and felt a chill go through his body. What the hell had be been thinking by quitting? He wanted to run after Bruce and apologize over and over but something in the back of his head was telling him that he might get knocked out if he pestered the man enough.
A crowd was at the gym when Bruce got back. They were so busy observing the boxers that they thankfully didn't pay any attention to him as he went back up to his office.
The nerve of that kid! How could he throw something away that most amateur boxers would give their teeth over?
He slammed the door and drew in the blinds so he could have privacy. If alcohol wasn't such a problem for him in the past he probably would have downed a shot in frustration.
How would this affect his relationship with his mother? Would she be upset over the way he spoke to her son or would she see things from his perspective and agree?
Suddenly the telephone in his office rang. He looked at it and wanted it to leave him alone. But he knew that it was Alfred calling from the front desk. He sighed and picked up the receiver.
"Sorry to interrupt you, sir, but there's a young man here who wants to box."
Bruce groaned. "Alfred, just give him the sign-up sheet and have him fill it out."
"Normally I would, however he is requesting your…approval to box."
"Send him up," growled Bruce. Whoever this new kid was, Bruce intended to show him the ugly side of boxing from the beginning. He would warn him about detached retinas, broken noses, dementia and all the other demons related to the sport.
The door opened and Garfield Logan entered the office.
"You're here to box?" asked Bruce, not entirely surprised to see who was in front of him.
"I'm here to box," Garfield squeaked. He looked like a prisoner, begging for his life.
"What made you change your mind?"
"You did," answered Garfield. "And…I knew that I wouldn't be able to look at myself without hating myself for walking away."
"It's not that easy," said Bruce. "You can't just waltz back in here and expect that it'll all be the same."
Garfield gulped. "What do you mean."
"I mean you'll have to prove yourself," explained Bruce. "Prove that you can last 3 rounds against Dick and the slate will be wiped clean."
"And…if I don't last?"
"Then I'll put you through a training program I like to call, A Thousand Years of Pain."
Dick paced majestically in the ring, almost like a cat, stalking a mouse. Bruce had told him about his task and now he waited for Garfield to don the groin protector, headgear and mouthpiece. The mouthpiece was the only piece of equipment he decided to wear; he figured it would be good practice for him for the Championship. He bounced on his feet, eager to fight Garfield.
In his workout clothes and all the protective gear on his person, Garfield stepped into the ring and watched as Dick gracefully danced around the ring, not paying any attention to Garfield and just throwing out jabs at an invisible opponent.
The electric clock went off and Garfield went out to meet Dick. They tapped gloves and the spar began. While Garfield went on the offensive, Dick was dancing away from Garfield and slipping and sliding away from punches. Occasionally Garfield would land a jab to the body but Dick would quickly land two to his face and dance away. The hurt from the previous fight still lingered in Garfield's body and he could feel his arms start to droop.
Don't get tired, he shouted to himself. Stay alive.
Ten seconds before the end of the round, Garfield was able to fake Dick out with straight left and land a good combination to his face.
The audience had certainly gotten into the spar and cheered at the end of the round. Alfred refreshed Dick with water while Bruce worked Garfield's corner.
"The reason you're getting so frustrated is because Dick's dancing away from you before you can catch him. You have to make him come to you. If he dances away, wave your glove towards him like you're saying, 'Come on, bring it' because Dick hates being taunted. Also, you're not angling your body. Remember, angle your body and he's got a smaller target to hit."
The minute passed too quickly for Garfield. The headgear was too tight on him, making every blow he took to the head in the next round even more painful. His ribs were aching but he had to earn this. It was either another round of punishment or the Nazi punishment that Bruce had planned in the evil recesses of his mind.
Just as Garfield finished that thought, Dick was able to get past his guard and drop him with a hard left hook. The crash to the canvas woke Garfield up and everyone 'ooo'd' at the hard impact.
"You're OK," called Bruce over the commotion. "Get up, get up."
Garfield shook his head while on all fours and stood up just as the bell rang.
Saved by the bell, he thought as he staggered back to his corner. He could feel blood coming from his nose. As he sat down on the stool, he asked Bruce a question that had been lingering in his mind.
"I thought I wasn't supposed to spar for ten days," Garfield inquired.
"He recommended that. I'm not a doctor, but I've been boxing more years than you've been alive and I know a lot more about boxers than that doctor did."
"So what do I do for the last round? His punches are pretty hard."
"Just dance," advised Bruce as he stuck a q-tip up Garfield's nose. "Let him come to you and that'll really piss him off. Then hammer him with everything you got in the last thirty seconds."
Garfield stood up from his stool and looked Dick in the eyes. Out of one last act of arrogance, he stuck his tongue out and waved it at Dick like a child on the schoolyard.
The bell rang and Garfield immediately began to dance, keeping his distance from Dick and not let him cut off the ring. Then without hesitation he dashed towards the older man and slammed him with body shots.
Hithithithithithithithithithithithit! Garfield screamed mentally while exhaling with every blow.
Eventually the onslaught got to much for Dick and he moved forward to draw Garfield into a clinch.
Garfield saw the move coming a mile away. He moved back and drove a left uppercut that landed on Dick's chin, making him wobble and then crash down against the bottom ropes.
The crowd was cheering and photographs were snapping like mad.
"That's it," shouted Bruce. He got up on the canvas and helped Dick up. "Garfield, take off your headgear and do three rounds on the heavy bag!" He pulled out Dick's mouthpiece and saw that parts of it were red. "Are you OK?"
"He hit me really hard," panted Dick. "When he punched my ribs, I thought they were going to break."
"So you're gonna come back in the tournament?" asked Victor as he dried himself off.
Garfield finished pulling up his socks. "Yeah. Bruce really gave me a talking-to and I realized that I couldn't just let this go."
"He yelled at you?" chuckled Tim as he put his t-shirt on. "Did he get up in your face?"
Shuffling his feet, Garfield said, "He kinda dashed across the room and picked me up by the arms. And before he started shouting I had a feeling he was going to kill me."
Tim laughed. "Yeah, I've been there plenty of times before. Bruce wouldn't hit you though. I've done worse stuff and he's never laid a finger on me in anger."
"But just his voice is scary," admitted Victor. "I mean, sometimes when he chewed you out, I would get scared myself, thinking that he might just yell at me for no good reason."
The three of them laughed at their intimidation of Bruce. It was strange that despite the fact that they often faced strangers in the ring and knew that they would get hurt, that all paled in comparison to a father figure who was an Olympic champion and heavyweight contender.
The door to the locker room swung open and in walked Dick, holding his side.
"How you holdin' up?" asked Victor.
"Check this out," Dick almost whispered. He took off his t-shirt and showed the group a bruise twice the size of a golf ball that was many different colours.
"Holy crap!" exclaimed Tim in laughter. "Jesus Christ, that's got to be killer!"
"Dude, I'm so sorry," Garfield sincerely apologized. "It was just, I had to beat you so-"
Dick waved at hand at the younger man. "Forget it, Gar. I've been threatened with Bruce's 'Thousand years of pain' warning and I've even suffered through it once before I won the championship. Believe me, I'm surprised you didn't go so far as to kill me to make sure you didn't go through it."
Later, the four guys decided that they would go cruising around town looking for fun and trouble. When Garfield arrived home to quickly get dressed and grab some cash, his mother was heating up some leftovers.
"Are you going to be late?" she asked.
"Depends," he answered as he laced up his shoes.
"Garfield, please don't do anything dumb," she pleaded.
"I don't do anything dumb," Garfield defended. "That's why I'm going out tonight."
"Well, I'll probably be going to bed early. I haven't been having trouble sleeping lately so I want to try and catch up."
"OK, mom, I'll try not to come home too hammered," Garfield smiled as he left.
Sally smiled. It was hard to believe how much he had changed over the months. He was a completely different person. Stronger, confident, determined and above all, happier.
He was having fun while she worked hard to provide for them. And then an idea popped into her head. If her son was going out to have fun, why couldn't she? She picked up the phone and began dialling Bruce's number.
"Hello?" greeted Bruce in that broody tone of his. Sally often found it hard to believe that he was a fan favourite in his pro days when he spoke like that.
"Bruce, it's Sally."
"Hi," he said, the tone gone and replaced with one that was more sociable and pleasant. "What's up?"
"Are you doing anything tonight?" she asked.
Bruce hesitated. "I was going to…check my emails, maybe watch some old fights."
"Would you like to come over?" Sally invited. "I've got some wine, leftovers and an empty house that's just too quiet for my tastes."
"I'll be right over, in that case," Bruce said. "Did you want me to…bring anything? A movie or-"
"Just come over," Sally insisted. "I'll be waiting."
"On my way." Bruce clicked off and Sally hung up.
She turned off the microwave, went to a drawer and got out some candles.
Bruce drove down the streets of Jump City, sometimes going over the speed limit. He knew what was in store for him when he got to his girlfriend's apartment. He knew it when his old girlfriends would call him at the gym and ask him to come over. They didn't even have to say it, he recognized the tone in their voices.
With the sun starting to set, the afternoon heat was still blistering and would continue on into the night. Bruce drove with the air conditioner off and the driver's side window open a crack. He wanted to keep his body heat high and not risk getting cold. Sex was like a workout, the warmer you stay, the more you'll be able to go on but you don't want to get too hot so that you burn out just when things are getting good.
He got out of his car when he got to the complex and pulled out his key smoothly and made his way to the elevator. It was important not to use stairs and waste energy.
It was strange, during his pro, and late into his amateur career, Bruce had always had plenty of one-night stands and girlfriends. He had even moved in with a girl once and planned to marry her but with Sally it was all different. She seemed to fill whatever void was present in his life and the time they spent together, whether naked or clothed was the most satisfying her ever had with a woman he loved.
Once he approached the door to her apartment, he lightly knocked twice. Without waiting to be invited in, he slowly opened the door and found the vicinity to be dark. Only a small light above the stove provided illumination for Bruce.
"Sally?" he called. He then knew that he didn't have to. She would be waiting for him in the most logical place. Closing the door and slipping off his shoes, Bruce made his way down the dark hallway, past Garfield's room, the bathroom, until he stood before Sally's bedroom door and pushed it open gently.
There she lay, seductively on her bed wearing her red lingerie which she had bought shortly after her second date with Bruce. She felt so excited, bringing her boyfriend into her bedroom while her son was out on the town. It reminded her of times with Mark except she knew that Bruce wouldn't leave her if things ever got complicated. Not that she expected to have a child with Bruce but that wasn't the original plan with Mark. "Glad to see you made it," she greeted. "You know, with Garfield going away to college next year, it's going to get very lonely around here." She started to crawl towards Bruce.
Feeling the lust in the air, he bent down and kissed her. "It doesn't have to be so lonely," he mused. "There's something I'd like to ask you, unless you had other plans first?"
"We'll talk later," she said. She threw herself back on the bed laying face up.
With only the lamp on her night table, Bruce felt that he could comfortably strip for Sally. He wasn't going to be cocky and strip seductively like a Barry White song was playing. Once down to his boxer briefs he crawled onto the bed.
Downtown Jump City was ablaze with the summer life of the season. Visiting tourists, partying high school and college students made it a lively area with all the bars and strip clubs in the radius.
"Why couldn't you get us ID's?" Tim asked from the backseat of the car. "Some of us would like to see women take their clothes off for us."
"They do it for me already," said Victor.
"I couldn't get one for Garfield," explained Dick. "Tim could'a used one of my old ID's and Vic you look old enough but Garfield's got face that was hard for me to match. I wasn't about to give him one with a Puerto Rican guy on it."
"Sorry," mumbled Garfield.
"Ah, not your fault," consoled Dick. "Besides, just cause we don't have ID's doesn't mean we can't try to get in, right? Right?" Dick parked the car on the curb.
"We-we're going into a strip club?" gulped Garfield. "B-but I'm underage!"
"So are we," said Victor as he got out of the car. "Don't mean we can't try."
"Wh-what about Raven?" asked Garfield as he shut his door, unwillingly going along with them yet still trying to find an excuse out of it.
"What about her?" asked Tim. "Do you think she'd want to come with us?"
"I'm dating Raven! This is almost…cheating!"
Dick put his arm around Garfield. "Look, Gar. Don't think of it as cheating. It's not. I got a girlfriend who's at home and I'm gonna visit her soon but that doesn't mean that I can't look at women while I'm dating her."
"But…I really like Raven…" stammered Garfield.
"And I like Barbra," insisted Dick, "but it doesn't mean that we can't have fun. Besides, you can look but you can't touch. And besides, if looking was so bad, we'd all be broken up by now."
Garfield sighed. "Just…don't tell her about it, OK?"
Dick laughed as they got to the door. "What happens in here, stays in here."
Garfield gulped. "Thanks," he said even though half of him didn't mean it. Strip bars, he thought, the final frontier.
Once again, Bruce Wayne found himself naked in bed with his girlfriend. They had just finished another romp full of kisses, caresses, clawing, panting, sweating and moaning. Now they stared at the ceiling as a fan slowly rotated counter clockwise for it had gotten to hot that it was intolerable.
"Come on," said Sally as she threw off the covers and got out of bed. She went to the door and got a silk bathrobe and but it on.
"Where are we going?" Bruce asked as he climbed out and reached for his boxer briefs.
"To the kitchen," Sally answered as she opened the door, "and don't bother putting those on."
Bruce looked at them and then tossed them aside. "Why not?"
"Because you're going to be taking them off when we're done."
Bruce was sitting at the kitchen table while Sally scrambled eggs in a pan. He was reminded of his time with Selina and how they would do almost the exact same thing. Sex, eat, more sex, rest, sex. But Sally was more than that. She was an intelligent woman and he knew that she wouldn't try to betray him.
Sally came to the table with the pan and scooped eggs onto his plate. "There you go."
"Thank you," smiled Bruce.
Eating her own eggs, she asked Bruce, "So what was it you were going to ask me?"
After swallowing a fork-full of eggs, Bruce cleared his throat. "I'd like to know if you want to move in with me when Garfield goes to college."
Sally wiped her lips and put down her cutlery. "Move in with you?"
"Yes," smiled Bruce. "Would you be willing to move all your stuff from here…to there-there being my place."
Her eyebrows went up in the boldness of his question. "So what happens after that?"
Bruce frowned. "What do you mean by that?"
"I mean, what's after me moving in? Do we share a bedroom, separate rooms?"
"We'll…cross that bridge when we come to it. But I want you to just-"
"Are you going to ask me to marry you?"
An invisible punch socked Bruce in the jaw. "Would you want to get married?"
"It'd be nice to be married again. The truth is, while I would love to call someone my husband, I've always been afraid that I would be left alone with Garfield again."
"I wouldn't do that, Sally," insisted Bruce. "Whether you realize it or not, you're an important part of my life. I mean…" he chuckled, "I'm sitting naked in your kitchen…I don't do that for just any woman."
Dick Grayson's car speed down the streets, the four occupants knowing they had dodged a bullet. While trying to get into the strip club, Garfield had been stopped for ID.
Knowing that he was in trouble, Dick swung in to save the younger man by saying he was a foreigner and that he was of age, the bouncer didn't buy it. When Dick slipped him a fifty note and told him to keep his mouth shut, the bouncer threw the bill back at him. Dick then called him a foul four letter word. Then the bouncer whipped out his cellphone and threatened to call the police.
"I told you they would check me for ID!" shouted Garfield.
"Fine but I didn't think they'd take offence to a bribe," Dick defended.
"Well if you didn't call him what you called him for refusing it," Tim countered.
"Why the hell are you speeding anyway?" asked Victor. "Not as if he's chasing us."
"He said he was gonna call the cops," answered Dick. "When you got a parent like Bruce and you're brought home by the cops, you're more likely to survive a shootout with SWAT."
Sally was in the shower and Bruce was sitting at the table, reading an article about the war in Iraq. He had offered to join her but she insisted that he relax for now. Bruce had been invited to spend the night with her and he had accepted. As his eyes skimmed across the letters on each line, Sally's words kept echoing in his mind.
'Are you going to ask me to marry you?'
He had thought of proposing a few days after they made love for the first time and while their children where off training in Miami. But he knew that it was lust and his heart speaking and not his mind. But now things were getting more and more intense. What if she did decide to move in. How would that affect his relationship as a trainer with Garfield? Would he have to do more to earn the young man's respect? He already had it, but his mother was the only guardian he had throughout his life. For him to come in and figuratively swoop her away might cause tension and jealousy and even resentment. But Garfield was very mature for someone his age. He also had spoken with him briefly the first time he came to pick up his mother. And yet he had also promised him that he didn't plan become on becoming a father to him. But would it be so bad if he tried to be? At the moment, it would be closer to the one he had now. While he and Sally never talked about Garfield's biological father, Bruce knew that he lived at the other end of the state and had never spoken to or seen his son in the eighteen years of his existence. His son was dying of cancer and not so much as a phone call was made he remembered Tim telling him.
And what about Dick and Tim. Would they be able to accept calling Sally their mother? No doubt it would be a bit awkward at first calling Garfield their stepbrother but they were close so nothing would really change.
Would she want me to adopt Garfield as my own son? he suddenly thought. A million thoughts went through his head.
Garfield found himself giggling as he entered his apartment. The night, like all his others with the guys was full of laughter, danger and above all fun. Dick had gone into a 24-hour liqueur store and bought a six-pack of beer. He gave one to each of the guys who couldn't buy beer legally and kept the rest for himself. While Garfield wasn't fond of committing a misdemeanour, he wanted to take a small step into what would be a preview of college. Beer binges, wild parties were what the stereotype was and most of the time it was true. He wasn't drunk and he didn't even have a buzz. He wasn't a big fan of underage drinking but he knew that when he did it he wouldn't do it to the point of getting so drunk that when he passed out, you could hold his eyes open and he still wouldn't wake up. He knew that he was being hypocritical with his logic but it didn't matter to him. He looked at the time and saw that it was 1:33AM. He would be up in less than six hours, training to earn redemption that had been granted to him a little more than twelve hours ago.
"A lot happens in a day," he admitted to himself.
He moved towards his mother's room so he could let her know that he was home. Even though she wouldn't remember it in the morning, he always felt a little better about telling his mother that he was safe and sound. With the light of the hallway to show him where he was going, Garfield was about to slip into her room quickly but stopped when he saw Bruce on the other side of the bed. He quickly closed the door tightly and returned to his.
So, thought Garfield,
Raven bobbed and weaved around a double-end bag, striking it gently but still giving it enough force for it to move greatly. Kori was skipping and moving her feet along as well while observing her form in the mirror. Garfield was on the decline bench doing sit ups so that he could improve his six pack which Raven found incredibly sexy on him. Tim and Dick were doing pad work in the ring, switching between rounds and Victor was on the speedbag.
Once his elbows were on his knees, Garfield twisted his waist several times to get the maximum effect. Once he stopped, his attention focused towards the front desk where Bruce was chatting away on the phone. He must have left while Garfield went out for his morning roadwork since Garfield couldn't find a trace of the older man when he came back. And of course his mother didn't say anything about it to him. Not that she needed to. He was his own man…despite still living at home. And it wasn't that he was angry at Bruce, he just wished that he and his mother would be a bit forward with their relationship.
Do you want them to tell you when they're having sex?
"Good point," he muttered to himself as he continued his exercises. He knew he'd be sore afterwards but nothing that a hot shower and bath wouldn't relax afterwards.
"Listen up," called Bruce. "Come over here, I've got something to tell you." Once they were all before him their coach continued his speech. "Because of the coverage of this year's State Championship, there is a renewed interest in boxing in the city and some of the surrounding areas because of the hype. I was just talking to a producer over at 97.5-"
"JC Talk Radio?" interrupted Victor.
Bruce nodded. "That's right and they want to have you guys on the air with Mike Towers."
"So they want to interview us and then play it on the air?" asked Raven.
"Actually they want you to go to the studio, sit down and do an interview live on the air, maybe answer some questions from callers…if that's OK with you."
"I'm in," Victor piped up. "I want to do it." Victor had been accepted to several schools for broadcast journalism and had picked one four hours away from Jump City.
"Anyone else?" asked Bruce.
"I'll do it," volunteered Garfield. He turned to his girlfriend and asked quietly, "How bout you? Do you wanna come?"
"I don't-I…I'll go," said Raven in a brooding way.
Garfield gave her a quick peck on the cheek.
"None of that," said Dick, "you'll take out your legs. I've talked with Towers tons of times before, I'll pass."
"Me too," said Tim. "Besides, if this tourney is getting to be as big as people are saying then this isn't the only time I'll be in front of a microphone."
Kori smiled. "I too will wait until I speak to the media."
Bruce clapped his hands together. "All right. Raven, Victor, Gar, go shower and get ready. They want you on the air in two hours but get there right away."
In Victor's car, the two passengers could sense the driver's excitement and anticipation as they got closer and closer to the radio station.
"Calm down," said Raven from the backseat of the car. "You look like you're going to pee yourself, you're bouncing around so much."
"I can't help it, Rae. This is what I wanna do with my life, I wanna be on the radio! It's like if you were going to meet Dr. Phil since you're into psychology."
"I don't watch Dr. Phil," replied Raven.
Mike Towers had a crew cut and a brown goatee. He was a wild sort of character who always had fun with his guests but made them comfortable that they'd want to come back for another chat. Sometimes he'd have celebrities come on the show though most of his chats with them came over the phone.
Now in a commercial break, the teens were lead into the studio and sat down in front of microphones, given their own headphones to wear and told to just act natural.
Victor viewed all the different coloured buttons like a child viewed candy. He wanted to press everyone, curious about their function even though he had been told not to touch anything.
"OK," smiled Towers as he tapped the table, "we're gonna be coming back from commercial in about a minute. I'm just gonna ask some simple questions about training, fights, the tournament. You know, just be yourselves."
Victor rubbed his hands together and gave a little squeal.
Towers laughed. "This guy's ready to go." He looked at the clock. "OK, here we go."
A steady rap beat started filling the air and then Towers grabbed his mic and started speaking into it. "And we're back. Mike Towers on 97.5. And…oh hold on." He pressed a button and suddenly the theme from the movie Rocky started playing while Towers continued. "OK, now, in the thirties, they had Joe Louis, in the sixties and seventies there was Ali, Frazier and Foreman. Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns dominated the eighties and Tyson, Holyfield and Lennox Lewis were the top heavyweights of their era. But now…boxing doesn't really have the rising stars it used to, that could grab your attention and draw people by the thousands, unlike our local hero Bruce Wayne, who's training a bunch of new boxers for the new generation. I'm sitting here, with me from Titans Boxing Club with Raven Roth, Victor Stone and the guy that's really caught our attention, Garfield Logan. Guys welcome to the show."
"Good to be here," smiled Victor.
"Hi," said Raven in deadpan.
"Now, how long have you been training as boxers?" began Towers.
"Well, for me and Raven," began Victor, "it's been a couple of years."
"I started back in November," offered Garfield. "I was…just looking for an outlet for rage and all that and boxing looked cool."
"That and having Bruce Wayne as your coach probably was a good incentive."
Garfield chuckled. "Actually before I started boxing, I didn't know who he was. It wasn't until after a while that I started reading about him, how he won the Olympics, had to deal with the backroom politics and got screwed a lot but I didn't know jack when I started."
"My dad told me-when I started-that he was a big fan of him but I thought he was probably a guy who was…maybe a bit punch drunk," admitted Raven. "But he's the smartest man I've ever met. The way he plans is like a general going into battle."
"OK," smiled Towers as he slammed the table, "first off let me just say that I've seen some of you guys fight before and you…you're amazing."
Victor laughed. "Well…I mean we're good but I don't know if we're amazing…"
"I have no problem calling myself amazing," smiled Garfield.
Towers laughed though part of it was exaggerated. "Yeah, you've really gotten a lot of attention in the media," admitted Towers. "Does that…bother you? Do you feel you have to be amazing. Because I-I read that article in the paper today about the steroid scandal and I couldn't believe it. Did you expect to be let back in?"
"In truth, I didn't believe it and for a while I didn't want to go. But Bruce…he really changed my mind."
"So are you going to go all the way now?" asked Towers.
"All of us are going to go all the way," Victor replied boldly. "There isn't anybody who can beat me because nobody in my weight class wants it that bad!"
"Raven, do you view yourself as a role model for younger girls?" asked Towers. He then pressed a button and a voice screamed "Girl power" out of nowhere.
Raven smiled. "Well, I have no problem if a girl looks to me as a role model but the truth is I'm not the only female boxer to admire. There's Laila Ali, Ann Wolfe…and the truth is it's not just boxers. Dr. Rice, Hillary Clinton, you don't have to be an athlete or a celebrity to be a role model."
"So, have any of you ever been seriously hurt in your time boxing?"
Garfield chuckled. "The, uh, the first time I sparred, I got a broken nose."
Towers quickly pressed a button and the voice of Chris Farley said, "That's gonna leave a mark!"
"It did," laughed Garfield. "It really did but the thing was…that made me want to fight even more."
"OK," smiled Towers. "Let's take some calls. Candace, you're on 97.5 with Victor, Raven and Garfield. Go ahead."
"Hey, Mike," said Candace, a young sounding female. "Um…why is it that boxers don't have sex before a fight?"
Victor and Garfield started laughing.
"I'm not going to answer that one," smiled Raven.
"OK, Candace," said Victor as he recovered. "The thing is, key ingredient to a boxer is his stamina and believe it or not, sex actually takes some of that stamina away from you. I mean-I'm not gonna say what I do but, uh, Lennox Lewis would go three months."
"Do you have girlfriends or boyfriends?" asked Towers.
"Me and Raven have been dating for a little while," admitted Garfield.
"I've got a special girl of mine on the side," Victor said coolly.
"OK, next on the line is…John. You're on 97.5."
"Yo, I got a question for Logan," said John. He sounded tough and spoke like he was upset. "Hey, man, how are you gonna beat the next guy you fight?"
Garfield shrugged. "Uh, well, I'm probably going to punch him a lot until I knock him out."
"You can't beat him," protested John. "I want to let you know, Logan, that I'm gonna beat yo' ass!"
Towers laughed. "Whoa. OK, John. What brought this on?"
Garfield looked at Victor then at Raven. Both of them had their eyes on him.
"Man, I'm tired of everyone saying how cool this guy is and how good he is. He ain't that great!"
"Hold on-hold on!" said Garfield in an annoyed tone. "I want to know who you are."
"Man, I'm John Spints. I've been boxing for six years and I was supposed to fight Farman!"
"Too bad for you," replied Garfield. "Can we go to the next caller?" he asked Towers.
"That's why I'm gonna fight you. Cause you screwed everything up, I got a bye too and we gonna fight and I'm gonna kill you!"
Garfield was getting annoyed by his antics. "Look, man, I have no idea why you're so pissed or why you're taking it out on me."
John really got mad at this point. "I'm mad cause you cockblocking! I know I'm the better featherweight and I know that you just a sob story cause you had cancer."
"Dude, I can't wait to whip you!" cried Garfield. "Our fight's the second Friday of July and that will be the worst night of your life."
"Logan, I'm gonna kill you like that cancer should have!"
"Oh, come on," said Victor into his microphone. "You're out of line now!"
"Put another caller on," said Raven to Towers.
Garfield leapt out of his chair and started screaming into his microphone like he was Hitler. "Everybody listening out there, get to your television sets, get to your radio because I have never wanted to whup a man so bad! This will be a first round knockout!"
Towers was laughing at the scene unfolding in front of him. "OK, now things are getting interesting. Uh, look, we'll take a break and be back before Garfield kills somebody. This is 97.5."
The rest of their segment went smoothly but after that, most questions revolved around Garfield and his prediction. Raven remained mostly quiet unless asked a question.
Victor was full of glee when they exited the radio station. "Man, that was so cool! Damn, I can't wait till college-just wait till I get to college! I'm gonna be the biggest force on the whole damn radio!"
"Are you OK?" Raven asked as she rubbed Garfield's arms.
"Why did I do that?" asked Garfield. "Why would I say that I'd knock him out in one?"
"You were in the zone, Gar," explained Victor. "Man, if someone came out and talked smack the way he did, I would of done the exact same thing."
"But one round," complained Garfield. "I've never done that before."
"Well you got a lot of time," assured Victor.
When Garfield stepped back into the gym, the spectators (most of whom had been waiting for Garfield to show up), turned towards him and burst into applause and started cheering and whooping.
Bruce was standing by the ring and waged his index finger at him, indicating he wanted to speak to him.
"What you did was very brave," he conceded. "However, it was also very dangerous. Planning for a one round KO is hard to achieve and I'm going to be training you extra hard now to make sure that you can bring that prediction as close to reality as possible."
Jake was still spellchecking through his article on the radio show incident when Robert leaned over his cubicle wall. "You know that we have editors to do that for us right?"
"I know, but it's a habit of mine. We don't have editors in school, only ourselves." He rubbed his eyes. "How do you stand staring at a computer screen for so long?"
Robert shrugged. "It isn't easy. Listen, I got us tickets for the third round of the State Championship in Gotham. They weren't easy to get though."
"Yep. That Logan kid sure knows how to hype something."
"I don't think he was intentionally trying to hype it," defended Jake. "I think he was purely mad. You ever see Roy Jones Jr. fight?"
Robert shrugged. "A few times."
"The first fight he lost was because of DQ and the guy he was beating talked like he had the upper hand and was trying to take away everything from Roy, that pisses Roy off, they meet again in a rematch, one round later, it's over, Roy beat the guy."
"So you think that Logan wants to beat the guy to prove a point?"
"Both of them do. This Spints kid wanted to fight Farman and beat him to prove that he's the best but since a guy that Farman beat (due to juicing) is back in and going to fight him, Spints feels that Logan is taking away from him."
"Cockblocking," deduced Robert.
Jake nodded. "This isn't going to be just a boxing match. It's going to be a war."
In the meantime, the second round of the State Championship had come and gone. Since Garfield had received a bye, he didn't have to participate but he was in the dressing room and in the stands, cheering them on as they all moved one step closer to glory.
Tim received a cut in the mouth and was spitting out blood the rest of the night.
Victor had received a low blow but was able to come off of it and win by doctor stoppage.
Dick got received some redemption by beating the fighter who had usurped his position as state champion from before Garfield had started boxing.
Kori easily danced around her opponent, making her tired and easy for Kori to move in and pummel. Like always, Kori hugged her opponent like a friend after their bout was over.
Raven floored her opponent for a ten count after delivering a chopping right that reminded Garfield of a guillotine.
There were a lot more people in the stands this time, the bout taking place in the auditorium of Jump City University and there seemed to be a camera crew from the local TV station along with commentators who were describing the blow by blow action. One for both radio and television.
On the ride home, Garfield knew that training from here on in was going to be getting more and more difficult. He had to beat Spints. Not just for himself, but also for everyone who had rooted for him before and those who had sent him money so he wouldn't be forced to move away.
The temperature in the gym was a sweltering one hundred and five degrees.
Victor slowly tapped away at a heavy bag, like a child playing patty-cake. He had done so much earlier that the heat had sapped his energy and strength. There were still another two minutes left in the round. Then he could rest for a few minutes, get some water and-
"Victor," observed Bruce. "You know I was watching some of the other middleweights out there the other night…they'd look really good with that belt around their waist."
I know what you're doing, thought Victor, and I hate that it's working.
Taunting Victor with the idea that tiring simply because of a little heat was enough for Bruce Wayne to get his fighter to give the heavy bag the pummelling it so righteously deserved. He held the bag to keep it from swaying until the round was over.
"Good job," congratulated Bruce as he pulled off his gloves. "Having trouble adjusting to the heat?"
"Kinda," Victor panted.
Bruce smiled. "In the 1980's, whenever I had a huge fight in or around Detroit, I would go to the Kronk gym to train and the temperature was usually around one hundred-twenty." He squeezed ice water into Victor's ready mouth.
"Hundred and twenty?" swallowed Victor. "How the hell is someone supposed to train in that?"
"It tests your endurance and stamina, plus a lot of pros fight under those huge lights. Believe me, it gets really hot in the ring at Caesar's Palace."
Garfield twisted his waist several times very rapidly as he finished his hundredth sit-up. Once he got off the decline bench he went to the pullup bar and started repetitions. The crowd today wasn't as large yesterday. It seemed that the heat had gotten to a lot of them and they decided to visit the local pools or anywhere else with an air conditioner inside of it. One he finished his set of ten, he dropped from the bar. A quick thirty second breather and he would be back at it. He pulled at his shirt and found that it was sticky, sweat making it cling to his chest and back. Not caring about showing off, he peeled off his shirt and lay it to rest on the ground while he did his next set. As he started doing his reps, people started taking pictures and a few people started clapping and whistling.
Tim, Dick and Victor noticed the attention Garfield and his torso were getting and quickly did the same, showing off their athletically tuned bodies.
"Hard to believe that's used to be some anorexic kid who was probably scared of his own shadow," Victor said quietly to Tim. "Now look at him, he…the dude's freaking ripped!"
"That and I get to call him my boyfriend," said Raven as she snuck up behind them and placed her hands on their backs, instantly regretting it because they too were sticky with sweat. "Gross!"
"So when are you ladies gonna take your shirts off?" asked Victor. "Because it is pretty hot in here."
Tim punched Victor on the arm.
"Hey, that was cool back when I was single, but now…" Tim watched Kori skipping rope and moving her feet. "…Now we gotta grow up."
"At least one of you has," said Raven as she moved away.
"You're such a prude," muttered Victor.
"You could ask Sara if she wants to come work out with you and get topless," smiled Tim.
Victor turned away. "We broke up."
"Last week. I didn't wanna make any noise about it because I thought I might get distracted with the match coming up." He looked a bit sad but then clapped his hands. "Oh well, nothing I can do about it now. She didn't cheat on me and I don't got any regrets."
Garfield was thankful that Tim was pulling his punches in this sparring match. Either that or the heat had sapped his strength. That could be it. After all, it had done the same to him and he knew that his punches weren't landing nearly as hard as they could.
Tim told me not to hold back, he reminded himself. Don't get tired now! Rest during the break. Dig deep!
Summoning the needed strength to keep Tim at bay, Garfield fired off his jab, but Tim got inside and began to clinch.
Tim breathed through his nostrils and then groaned. They were still shirtless and the heat inside the gym and their strenuous workout resulted in a non-pleasant odour to be produced from both of them. "Dude, you stink," panted Tim.
"Well when was the last time you took a bath?" asked Garfield. He broke free of Tim's clinch and both of them fired right hooks at each other, each of them landing a clean blow.
"Keep your hands up," called Bruce. "You're getting tired, you're letting them drop!"
Out of nowhere, Tim was firing jabs all over, some of which Garfield was able to dodge, some he took on the face and he then knew that Tim wasn't pulling his punches anymore.
That bath comment must've pissed him off, thought Garfield. As soon as he found an opportunity, he slipped under one of the jabs, got behind Tim and once his opponent had turned around to face him, he drove a hard left hand into Tim's face, sending him against the ropes.
The bell rang and that was the end of the spar.
Bruce approached Garfield and helped him take off his gear.
"Hold still," he instructed him. He started feeling Garfield's muscles. They certainly were strong but…
"Everything OK?" asked Garfield.
Bruce stopped. "Your muscles are too stiff," he explained. "You've done a good job at developing and preparing them for the upcoming fight against Spints, but they're too stiff."
"Well…what do you want me to do?" asked Garfield.
Bruce and Garfield moved towards a storage closet and pulled out a rectangular table that was padded and had a face hole so that the user of the table could be comfortable.
"Get on," instructed Bruce.
Facing down, Garfield felt Bruce's hands go over his back and begin to massage the muscles, telling them to relax.
"For a few months, I fought professionally in Asia and parts of the Middle East for a promoter whom I should have avoided," said Bruce.
"Hmm?" said Garfield as he began to turn around.
"Stay still, just listen. Anyway, his name was Raas al Ghul and he promoted fights all over the east, almost like a Bob Arum of that area. I was doing an exhibition in Egypt and he was really impressed. Said that I studied my opponent like a detective studies a crime scene and that lead to him calling me Detective."
"Sounds like a weirdo," said Garfield as he felt his body becoming less tense.
"He was a bit. The way he really got me to sign with him was through his daughter. I was only nineteen, had only a few fights under me and I was attracted to her."
"Raas started putting me in at least three fights a month. Boxers from days way before your or my time, fighters like Ray Robinson, Jake LaMotta, Willie Pep, those fighters could do that and it seems he thought I could too."
"How did you do?"
"I won every fight. Fourteen fights in a four month period. And while it helped build my reputation, I later found out that I was being used be Talia and her father."
"Hmm? What do you mean?"
"They were only using me to try and draw other fighters and when it wasn't working, they decided to push me even harder. When I found out they had no intention of giving me a title shot, I left. Then I came back here, Alfred trained me and…well we know the rest."
"Did you ever get a title shot?" asked Garfield. "I know that you were a contender for a long time but you must have had your shot at some point, right?"
Bruce stopped working his hands and paused. "Larry Holmes won a decision over me in 1984," replied Bruce as he resumed his massaging. "Of course I worked at it again but by the time I would have had a shot, Mike Tyson had burst on the scene and…it never happened."
"Were you afraid of Tyson?" asked Garfield.
Bruce scoffed as he massaged the back of Garfield's legs. "Hardly. It was Don King who was scared of me. He did every trick in the book to make sure Tyson didn't fight me. By that time I had two losses on my record but my fan base was building and people loved to watch me fight. My sparring sessions would always be watched and that's when the nicknames developed. Around the late 80's, they started calling me Batman and the Dark Knight and then those t-shirts started selling like crazy."
"Why did they call you that?" asked Garfield with a smile Bruce couldn't see.
"Batman? Well that started after I used a move I like to call 'the flying bat'. That's where I'm far away enough from the opponent that I can run at them, leap up and come down, striking them on the head and if didn't knock them out, the next punch usually did. That and bats are interesting creatures; they're great survivors."
"So…who did you first lose to?"
Bruce began working Garfield's arms. "Ernie Shavers. That man could hit. They thought he was a bit washed up but it was a hell of a fight."
"Then Holmes…so there were three other loses. Who were they to?"
"The last two were people I had no business losing to and the public knew that, otherwise they wouldn't have chanted about bovine manure after the decision was announced."
"Bovine manu-oh, I get it," laughed Garfield.
"The third guy I lost to was in late 1990. Evander Holyfield was the undisputed heavyweight champion and he was looking for a challenger and I was ranked number two and I faced off against number one. That was a brutal ten rounds which could have gone either way." He patted Garfield on the back. "You're all done. Tell Victor to come over and I'll give him one."
"So who was number one?" asked Garfield as he climbed off the table.
Bruce turned towards him and smiled. "George Foreman."
Sitting at his computer, Garfield decided that he would write an email that he knew was well overdue. He opened his hotmail account and began typing.
Sorry I haven't written you in a while. Lot of interesting things have been happening around here in Jump City. First off, bad news; I got KO'd in the first round of this tournament I entered. I had been such a favourite that a lot of people were surprised that it happened. Truth is, something like that is pretty crushing to a guy who feels that he can go all the way.
Good news; the guy who beat me was on steroids or some other 'performance enhancing substance' and so I'm back in! I've been training my butt off, though according to you, I probably didn't have a butt to begin with.
If I continue to win in the tournament, I'll be heading to the finals which are being held in Metropolis so hopefully, if fate will allow it, we can get together like old times. There are some people I know you'd love to meet, including my girlfriend, Raven. Try not to fight her for stealing me away when you meet her, lol.
It's really hot here so me and a few of the guys are going to the pool tomorrow for a little while. Hopefully you're staying cool. Knowing you, you're psyched about going to Metropolis University after being home schooled for all those years. If I win, and believe me, this time I have to, I hope I can see you. It's been way too long. Plus, there's someone else I have to try and see while I'm up there.
His feet were firmly planted at the edge. The sounds of people going about their business below could be heard. Laughter, screams of joy.
"Gotta jump," Garfield whispered as he tucked his toes just out so that they were touching the open air. "God…why am I doing this?"
"Jump already!" called Tim as he waited patiently at the top of the ladder to the high diving board at the local indoor pool.
Garfield turned around. "Let me take my time," he insisted. "I have a fear of heights."
Tim rolled his eyes. "So…you have a fear of heights and you decide that the smart thing to do would be go off the diving board. Weren't you supposed to have an above average IQ?"
"I'm going," said Garfield. He bounced once then leapt off the board, shooting his body out on an angle before bringing his knees up towards his chest and holding them in place with his arms. In the shape of a cannonball he impacted with the water, creating a large splash. He surfaced quickly and swam to the side where Victor was at, watching the girls while trying not to draw attention to himself.
Tim did a run and jump, trying to dive straight into the water but just as he stepped off, his footing was off and his body went out horizontal.
Victor and Garfield cringed as he sharply hit the water with a loud 'FLOP'.
"Damn," remarked Victor.
Tim arched his body out of the water and gave a light groan.
"Looks like you're going to have to settle for the silver," smiled Garfield.
With a swing of his arm, Tim brought a small wave over Garfield.
"I'm wondering…what happens after this?" questioned Victor.
"The pool?" asked Tim. "Well…we'll probably leave, spend the rest of the day smelling like chlorine and-"
"I mean the Championship," stated Victor as he let his body float to the top while he held his hands behind him, hanging onto the edge. "Boxing wise and…well what happens to us. I mean, I know I said I was hoping to go to JCU but-"
"I'm moving away," said Garfield.
"What was that?" asked Tim.
"I'm going to school up north…about four hours away at Jonesville."
"Wait-wait-wait a minute," said Victor. "You're to Jonesville. B, why the hell didn't you say so! They got a better broadcast journalism program there and I'm heading up too. Dude, we should totally look for apartments together. I'd rather live with you than try to get used to some strange guy's way of life."
"Um…I didn't want to say this but I'm going to now…you guys are stalking me," said Tim.
Victor frowned. "What you mean?"
"I mean I'm going to Jonestown and I didn't want to tell you guys until after the Championship. I've…I really want to experience living in residence and on my own so Bruce and I…wow, we're going to the same school."
"This is…a bit weird," admitted Garfield. "Like, what if this is fate? What if we're really some characters on an internet story website and our lives are controlled by some writer who lives in the shadows."
Victor looked at Tim.
Tim nodded. "If you don't, I will."
Victor got up, put both his hands on Garfield's wet scalp and pushed his friend underwater for three seconds, holding him there.
Surfacing with water in his mouth, nostrils and ears, Garfield snarled at Victor, "What the hell was that for?"
"You obviously needed to soak your head, Gar. Talking about some shadow guy writing about us and that controls our lives? Damn! Next you'll be saying we should have our own series on Cartoon Network."
At 8AM, on July 8, the fighters of Titans Boxing Club climbed into a van Bruce had rented with their baggage (enough for two days) and drove on the highway towards where the next round of the State Championships would take place: Gotham City.
Tim was apprehensive about going there. While he knew that glory would never come to him if he didn't go, that city was a bit too painful for him to remember. While his ordeal with the Jokers was over, nightmares still surfaced. It also took a toll on his teeth too-he would grind them at night, forcing him to wear his mouthpiece while he slept. That and he knew that his father was still in Gotham. He had to have been. He never wanted to see him again and yet…part of him wanted a sense of closure. He wanted that biological tie that he father denied him.
Garfield kissed his mother on the cheek as she lay in her bed just before he left. The fight was going to be broadcast on TV, radio and newspapers would be covering the event as well. Most of the fight journalists, which included Robert Stone and Jake Kinsey-whom were driving up later in the morning, since the fights were in the evening-were particularly looking forward to the fight between Garfield Logan and John Spints.
When they arrived at the Gotham Heights Hotel, they were divided into their rooms. Bruce and Alfred would take one, Kori and Raven would have their own and the four remaining gentlemen took the third one, which was designated 'the party room'.
"Win or lose," Bruce said on the way up the elevator, "tonight we will celebrate."
Tim took a nap on the bed as soon as he put his bag in the corner. The bed faced the window which gave a wonderful view of Gotham's skyline.
"Hey, a mini-bar," observed Dick.
"You empty that and you'll be walking back," Bruce warned as he and Alfred made their way towards their room.
"I was just going to sample," stated Dick as he stuck his head out the door.
"What's that sound?" asked Garfield as he sat on the mattress, pulling off his shoes. "Like something's scratching or grinding against-"
Dick moved toward Tim and caringly shook him. "Tim," he asked quietly, "you have to stop grinding your teeth."
Tim groaned. "OK," he said drowsily.
"Where's your mouthpiece?"
"In…in the side pocket."
Dick grabbed the duffel bag and pulled out a small round-rectangular holder. Inside was a piece of plastic which had been customized to fit Tim's teeth. Using his fingers, Dick opened his brother's mouth and stuck the mouthpiece inside.
Tim's breathing became a bit slurry for a second but then resumed normalcy.
"He OK?" asked Victor. "How come he didn't sleep in the van?"
"Tim's always had problems sleeping," explained Dick. "That and being back in Gotham isn't always great for someone who had to live the way he did. I mean, I doubt he told you all that he's told me but let's just say I don't blame the guy for not wanting to be here."
He climbed onto the opposite side of the bed and turned on the TV.
Victor and Garfield got onto the other bed and lay back, watching the screen constantly change from one channel to the next.
"So…this is it," remarked Dick. "One more step and off to the finals."
"What is it like?" asked Victor. "I mean…we saw you win this before but…what's it like to have people cheering you and knowing you're the best in the state?"
Dick stopped flipping through channels. He paused to think of his response because he knew that he couldn't answer by just saying 'it's great' or anything simple like that. His answer had to have meaning and profoundness.
"You'll stop," he began, "and when you hear the referee reach ten, wave his arms or hear the announcer call your name…just for an instant, time stands still. Everyone else will have a different point of view of the moment but you will remember everything that happens in that moment exactly. You'll remember the sounds, the faces, even the smells of the place. In that one moment…you gain immortality. And just as soon as you realize what you've gotten…it's gone and everything before seems like a dream and you question it until your coach and everyone around you is congratulating you…and the feeling slowly comes back."
At four thirty, after a quick lunch, the fighters were loaded back into the van with their boxing gear and drove over to the local hockey arena where the Gotham Knights played.
The girls were in one locker room where they weighed in with Bruce (tradition allowed that even male trainers were allowed in the women's locker room for the weigh-in), while Alfred stayed with the boys.
Garfield stood on the scale in his boxer briefs and felt the metal underneath his bare toes. He hadn't seen Spints in the locker room but he knew he had to be around. There was no way that he would chicken out after all of the trash talking he had done.
"Garfield Logan…one hundred twenty four pounds, even," remarked the doctor as he scribbled it down in Garfield's book.
He went back over towards his bag and pulled out a book. He had to read to keep his mind off the anticipation of the bout. Just as he was about to turn the page, he heard his mother's cell-phone going off in his bag. He quickly whipped it out and flipped it open.
"Hi, Garfield," greeted Raven. "I noticed you brought your mom's cell-phone."
"Yeah…I guess once the weigh in is over they'll let you ladies come in here and vice-versa."
"How come we can't come in now?"
"Oh, some guys are still in their underwear and…yeah, one guy had to pull off his briefs to make weight. So…it'd be better if you stayed where you are for the time being. Besides, I don't want you to start considering that you made the wrong choice when you decided to date me."
"Well I've never seen your butt so I can't compare," replied Raven.
"True," said Garfield. "Wait-remember at the hospital, when you guys came to visit before my operation?"
"Oh…well, OK, I think I saw part of a cheek but not the whole thing."
"Part of a cheek? The cheek is part of the butt so you technically saw part of a part."
"You never offered to show me the real thing…except when we visited you after your surgery."
"Don't you remember?"
"Uh…no. I mean…I remember that you guys were there but I don't really…remember."
"You asked me if I wanted to see you naked," she told him flat out with a hint in her voice that she found the situation as funny now as she did back then.
"Oh…" said Garfield as he covered his eyes. "You can't see this right now but right now I'm probably blushing."
"If your mom wasn't around I would have said yes," Raven told him bluntly. "Look, I know that a couple hours before we go beat the hell out of people isn't the best time to say this but…I've been happier with you than I ever was with Gavin. I look at that time and I know that I was so stupid. I wasn't…I didn't really get a lot of attention from guys and when Gavin and I met…it was just nice but then he wan-"
"Raven, I know where you're going with this," insisted Garfield. "If you're apologizing for not going out with me sooner, that's fine, I don't really care. I mean, you can make your own choices and ultimately you made the right one so-"
"Gar…" she whispered, "I don't want you to get hurt out there. That guy's not just talking. He's wants to hurt you."
"Rae…I love you," whispered Garfield. "I'm gonna beat Spints for you…for both of us."
Garfield was going to be the fifth match of the evening. He watched the first two fights on TV and used the rest of the time to get warmed up. He skipped rope for five minutes, worked pads with Bruce and shadowboxed with his gloves on.
"Hold on a minute," said Bruce as he pulled up a large suitcase trolley. He put it up on one of the benches and opened it. Inside, wrapped in plastic were boxing robes for each of the fighters.
"Whoa," exclaimed Dick as he marvelled at the black robe with the blue silhouette of a bird of prey on it. "Bruce, kick ass!"
Tim's was red and black and had a stylistic 'R' on the back.
Raven's was blue and featured a bird of the same name on the back with red, ominous eyes.
Kori's was white with a lone orange star on the back.
Victor's was a sky blue colour embroidered with the phrase 'BOO-YAH' on the back in black.
Garfield was the last to put his on. It was green with black lining. On the back of it was one word, embroidered in black like Victor's: DELIVERANCE.
"Sugar Ray Leonard wore the same thing on his robe, the night he fought Thomas Hearns," explained Bruce. "He was out to prove that he was just more than a media darling and a pretty face."
The word melded with Garfield's emotions. That was the simple word he needed to describe what needed to happen.
Not just victory.
Not just a knockout.
Not just a first round knockout.
He sought deliverance from anyone who doubted him as a fighter.
And only he could achieve deliverance.
"Logan, Garfield," one of the promoters called. "You're up!"
The walk to the ring was bigger than anything Garfield had experienced in his life. Cameras snapped photos, video cameras recorded every detail and TV cameras broadcasted it all across to those who were able to receive it on their television.
In the press box, Robert Stone sat with Jake Kinsey. There was no way that any of the coverage would be able to make it to the presses so they simply had to wait until the day after tomorrow to see their coverage of this in print…should it make it there of course.
"Spints'll kill him," remarked a reporter behind Jake, "first round."
Jake turned around. "You really think so?"
"Of course," snorted the reporter. "I'd bet a hundred dollars on that."
Jake paused and looked at the fighter approaching the ring. "I'll take that bet."
"I bet that Garfield Logan will not only win, but he'll win before the round is over."
"Hey," nudged Robert, "we're supposed to remain neutral."
"I'll remember that when you're cheering your son on," said Jake. He extended his hand to the other reporter. "Come on, man, shake on it."
"If Logan loses," Jake whispered to Robert, "can I borrow a hundred dollars?"
Spints trotted into the ring with rap music playing over the speakers. Had Garfield known that that option was available he would have come out to something by Clapton or Eye of the Tiger.
"Are you nervous?" asked Bruce.
Garfield looked over at Spints. He seemed to be older than himself, his dark skin made him handsome yet he had that smugness about him that Garfield hated.
"Well…I know he's not dumb enough to try and fake out the urine test, and I think his mouth wrote a check his ass can't cash," replied Garfield. He looked at his coach and said, "Deliverance."
Sally Logan sat watching her son as he bobbed around on his feet and then undid his robe.
"Garfield Logan has sort of been a big star here in the State Championship, despite losing in the first round," stated the announcer. "However, due to his opponents use of an illegal substance, Logan is back in the tournament. He declared on a Jump City radio show that he would knock out John Spints in the first round. Spints showed incredible courage in the first stage of the tournament, using incredible defence skills and a lethal jab that eventually wore down his opponent in the third round. Now they're being called towards the center of the ring where referee Charlie Pep will give the instructions."
Pep looked like a hologram of Mahatma Ghandi but without the accent. The walking stick would have gone well with his vanilla white suit.
"Boys, I want a good clean fight. You're gonna fight for three rounds-"
"Or less," Garfield said over him to Spints.
"-avoid using any kinds of fouls. Break when I tell you to. Are there any questions?"
"I got a question," volunteered Spints. He looked at Garfield and asked, "You know how to get back in this tourney after I beat you? You know how to get back in?"
"Let's not ask questions like that and go to work," Pep said sternly.
Garfield returned to his corner.
Alfred fed his mouthpiece into his mouth and patted him on the back.
"If you're going do what you say you are," he advised quickly, "just dash out there as soon as the bell goes; don't give him a second to move, get him against and give it to him!"
The bell and chimed and without a look of hesitation or thought upon his face, Beast Boy bounded towards Spints, who was just turning around from his corner and slammed a right hook into him.
"Spints is caught off guard!" cried the announcer as the Teen Titans cheered in the dressing room. "He's wobbling from one corner to the next! And Logan is going to work on him and now Spints is firing back from against the ropes."
Inside the ring, the two fighters were absorbing as much punishment as they were traded bombs. Beast Boy could already start to feel his cheek ache through the head gear while his skull vibrated left and right.
He regained pretty quickly, he thought to himself. Retreat for a bit and formulate the next attack.
Leaping back like a cougar, Beast Boy put a good distance from himself and Spints. He observed his opponent. Spints held his arms high with his left arm at the top of his forehead and power hand underneath his right eye almost.
He's protecting his head…he knows I'm going for the knockout…have to trick him somehow. His chest…he's leaving that and his stomach wide open!
Beast Boy began shooting out jabs towards Spints, but none of them were landing. Spints however knew that Beast Boy saw this and would try to move in closer and began moving his hands down to smack away the jabs. Just as he wondered why Beast Boy was using only one punch to try and weaken him, he suddenly knew he made the fatal error.
Beast Boy's left had dug back and shot out like the tongue of a lizard, snatching a fly out of thin air and slammed into Spints chin. The contact was loud and the crowd erupted when they saw this impact.
Spints tried to move back but soon found that his body was moving like a wet noodle. He closed his eyes as Beast Boy threw another left into his face, causing him to fall down.
The arena was on it's feet, screaming and cheering. While Spints could hear the count of the referee, he knew that he had no chance of getting up. And he didn't want to. He knew he had been beaten.
"Logan has won the fight!" shouted the announcer as Sally Logan jumped up from the couch, nearly spilling her bucket of popcorn. "Logan has proved his doubters wrong and proven his place in this tournament. And he has only one more fight until he can be called State Featherweight Champion!"
Bruce leapt over the top rope and picked up his fighter by the waist, swinging him around.
"Deliverance," shouted Garfield to nobody. Bruce set him down and he ran to the nearest corner, jumping onto the highest rope and raising his arms. After a few seconds of posing he jumped back down and headed over to Spints corner.
The dark man was sitting on his stool, swelling under his left eye. Garfield held out a glove for him to tap. Spints got up and hugged Garfield.
"You the champ," he said earnestly. "Nobody ever knock me out like that before. I'm sorry for all the crap I said. You earned your spot here. You have to win now, for both of us."
"I will," Garfield said gently. He walked back to his corner and allowed Bruce to pull off his gloves and put his robe on for him.
"How do you feel?" he asked.
"OK," replied Garfield. "I…I got hit with a lot of bombs in there but so did he."
"Only one more," stated Bruce. "Think you can survive the last match?"
Garfield smiled. "You bet. But let's not think about that right now. Like you said, tonight we celebrate!"
The bell rang three times.
"Ladies and gentlemen," boasted the ring announcer, "at one minute, two seconds of the first round, the winner by way of knockout…GARFIELD…BEAST BOY…LOOOOOGAAAANNN!"
To Be Continued...
Wow...can't believe I did that. OK, chances are that there will only be one more chapter, maybe an epilogue. Not sure, but If I can, I want to have this finished before the end of the year. I started in 2004 and I don't want to still be working on it in 2010 or something like that...though some of you might, I don't know. Anyway, please review and let me know how you felt about this chapter