Osaka Joe: Strength

Card appearing: The Power

The back room of the boxing club stank of acrid sweat and old tobacco smoke.

Keroberous mopped Osaka's brow and the back of his neck with a sweat-sodden towel and dropped it to briskly rub the detective's taut shoulders. "Sting like a butterfly! Float like a bee! ... Hang on."

Osaka doffed his shirt, slung his braces back up around his shoulders, and strode back to a table surrounded by rough, beery men. They grunted and cheered as he threw himself back into the chair and faced again the current champion of this Underworld arm-wrestling tournament: a small girl of great pinkness.

She blinked happy eyes, took his sweaty paw in flower-like hand, and slammed it down against the table.

A bell rang. "Point!" cried the announcer, "Point to Mysterious Contender in Pink! Next contender!"

The audience fell silent, and some rubbed their aching arms. None volunteered. "Me!" cried Osaka, and set his arm for another attempt to defeat the Power: his patience could wind into infinity.

Three days later, the Power got bored and conceded.

End