They were covered in dust. Everyone was watching, tensed. Both the fighters looked very tired.
“Punch him hard, Robbie!” one of the onlookers said…
“get him in the stomach” someone else said.
Robbie was the favorite in that street bout, one of the many that happen everyday in that neighbourhood.
He was fighting Josh, one of the newer fighters in the arena. Josh had won a couple of fights, nothing major but. There are no rules. fight till someone dies or is injured fatally. The onlookers watch and derive a demonic sense of entertainment out of it. Robbie has been the champion for a while. He won every bout he played. He did not kill many people but he injured them seriously. some were crippled for life.
Josh closed in on Robbie,with a sharp punch aimed at Robbie’s face. Robbie ducked, placed a death blow on Josh’s stomach. Josh crumbled to the ground. He lay there, motionless. That’s it. Robbie won one more of those bouts. Josh was not dead. He was injured.
“You did it again, Robbie!!” someone yelled.
Robbie wasn’t listening. He was lost in the past. He remembered how he got into this dangerous dangerous sport. He was an orphan, and he was just wandering on the streets, doing nothing. He was a street urchin, with no one to go back to.
One of the “organisers” came to know of this fit young lad on the streets. He went and talked to Robbie, and Robbie accepted.
“You want to earn some easy money,lad?” the organiser asked.
“of course.yes.” Robbie said.
“So you should work for me.” the man said
“what am i supposed to do?” Robbie asked.
“you are supposed to fight.” said the organizer.
“But..” Robbie retorted
Before he could say anything, the man put some money in Robbie’s hand and said “enjoy yourself with that. I will call you when i need you.” he said, walking away.
…….Robbie was panting, nursing his bruises. Josh was very competitive.
“The kid was very good” he said,to the organiser. It wasn’t the old one anymore. The old organiser was arrested by the police.
“Get ready to a new bout tomorrow” the organiser said, counting his money
“That is all my money. MINE.” Robbie thought. He hated how all the people showed up to watch the bouts. No one hated the amount of violence or bloodshed. Women came to the bouts,too. Kids were accompanied by parents. No one was barred from entering the zone. Everyone had to buy the ticket. Kids or adults.
….”We need you for a fight today” the organiser said.
“sure” replied Robbie.
“Be careful, you are fighting a very strong man.He has defeated many people.” “He is the reigning champion”
Robbie was getting ready to his first bout. The opponent was supposedly ruthless. His name was Joshua. He was massive.
Joshua started on the offensive. He punched Robbie in his stomach.
Robbie withered in pain. That was something that he has never experienced. Sheer Power.
“Hit him, Joshua” the crowd was yelling
Joshua took another punch. Robbie ducked. Then,it was Robbie’s turn. He caught Joshua unaware. He landed three consecutive punches on Joshua,three deadly punches. Joshua slumped on the spot. Blood oozed from his nostrils. He lay there,dead.
“Get up, Joshua”
” Come on, Joshua”
people in the crowd egged Joshua on but he did not get back up. Robbie’s stealthiness has done him in. The crowd was livid. Everyone just lost their money,on Joshua. And thus emerged a new champion.
“Stealthiness has always been my power” though Robbie.
He liked the adrenalin in the game. He came coming back for more bouts. sometimes, he did it for the money.
Sometimes, for the women. He got them all. He was having a ball, winning bout after bout, getting the money and the women.
Then he started to be rude to the organisers. He often told them that all the money was his and that they were robbing him off it.
“you blood suckers are pocketing my money. be grateful to me” he used to say.
The next day, they had a new bout set up. Robbie walked in, as usual. It was a new fighter, fresh off the streets. The crowd was languid. Everyone knew that Robbie is going to win.
“It’s apparently a new kid.” someone said
“I feel so sorry for him.” said someone else
“Robbie is going to knock the life out of him.” said the third.
“Apparently his name is Mark”
The bout started, pretty quiet, everyone lazing around and waiting for Robbie to win.
Robbie started off with a hard punch in Mark’s face. Brutal, hard. Mark was bleeding. Robbie smiled. He got the upper hand.
Then, he moved in for another punch. As he did, Something happened,that startled him. Mark ducked. Before he could recover, Mark landed a hard blow in his chest. Then one more in his stomach. As he was about to get up, then came the final blow. In his chest again. Same spot. He did not get up again.
In the gallery, the organiser smiled. He walked over to Mark, said “Prepare yourself for a great career,kid.”…”But remember, don’t ever question us about money.”
Robbie was barely conscious. He remembered how Joshua went down that night. He himself was fresh off the streets,too. And he ended the reigning champion’s career. Now, when he turned against the organisers, they knew exactly how they could shut him up.
It all seemed strikingly similar. His and Joshua’s downfall. No one would ever ask for them as they HAD no one. The people at the bouts would miss them for a day or two. And then, they would be forgotten. Sent into the oblivion. The show will go on. The organisers know how to take it forward.
With those last thoughts, Robbie closed his eyes. For once, for all.