by David Wing
The pugilist fell to the canvas and took a well-deserved nap.
He’d thrown the average number of punches, somewhere between 450 and 550, sadly, only a small percentage landed on the other chaps mush and as such, it was nap time for Baby-Face Boggs.
The floor was comfy, that was his final thought before dream-land. The blue blanket enveloped him, the cheering lullabies calmed him and before his eyelids closed, he smiled.
Looking back at the video footage later, Baby-Face and his team would come to understand that given the training he had endured, the flails he’d flourished and the perspiration per bout, something had gone wrong. It was entirely possible that Baby-Face wasn’t equipped for the Welterweight division…or any other, to be honest.
He awoke on a padded bench in the changing room to the hum drum of well-wishers at the door and team support staff by his side. His baby face now took on a decidedly weathered form and a chuckled discussion echoed the room as to a valid replacement nom de guerre.
His face throbbed almost in tandem with the calls he could still hear in his mind, the taunts that fell as he did. Ice packs dotted his body and the ring doctor tutted as he depressed his stethoscope hither and thither.
“Well, Doc. What’s the verdict?”
The doctor turned to Baby-Face’s ever supportive manager.
“It’s just as I feared. The right pupil is blown, his fists looked more like pulp wrapped in gravel and as for his mid-rift; I’ve seen T-bones less pummelled.”
“Alright, Doc, so?”
“So…6-8 weeks, minimum.”
“Oh, come on! That’s ridicu—”
Baby-Face passed out. His manager’s objections lingered but Baby-Face saw little need to enter the fight.
“His face was in the canvas resin!”
“But he got back up.”
“Jim, he got knocked the fuck out!”
“Yeah, name one fighter who hasn’t.”
“I’m not giving him the OK. He needs to heal.”
Some of the conversation filtered through Baby-Face’s cauliflowered ears, but most of it he missed.
He spent the rest of the night on a ward at St Agnes’ and dreamt about a time when he didn’t throb and ache. His blood stained shorts had been skilfully replaced with a blue night gown by a Cuban nurse called Helena. Baby-Face had just about managed a pass prior to passing out, yet again.
A doctor shot his head around the curtain once or twice throughout the night, but shy of a scribbled note and a call for a smidge more Morphine, he did very little.
The morning came and Baby-Face flicked on the sports channel. He hadn’t even made the news. He’d spent the better part of eight months training, gone twelve rounds and graciously accepted a barrage of jabs, hooks and even the occasional haymaker, for what? For breaks and bruises and blown eyes.
Perhaps a new line of work was called for…?
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David is a flash fiction fan and a Master’s student in creative writing. He has a wife a baby and a Pricila (a dog, but she doesn’t know that).
7 thoughts on “The Pugilist”
Nice evocation of the agony involved in “The Fancy,” balanced with ironic distance. The dialogue is well done. Not sure Baby Face would have made to the twelve-rounders given his skill level, but a tale well told. AGB
Another way of saying, no one remembers the losers. sad but true
Ring Lardner couldn’t have told this little tale of a washed-up palooka any better. Bravo!
No wonder you’re a flash fiction fan – this suggests you’re good at it.
Very well written and entertaining. I enjoyed Baby-Face’s character and the story as a whole.
Thanks loads, everyone. Lovely words from all of you. I run http://www.zeroflash.org a competition for flash fiction writers. If you’re interested, it’s free to enter and there’s a prize.
Very enjoyable. Would enjoy more.