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Friday, March 8, 2013

FIGHTS: Multimedia excerpt from 'Pit Fighters: Double Cross'

by Bowie Ibarra



The following multimedia passages are from the upcoming ZombieBloodFights.com title, 'Pit Fighters: Double Cross'.  Click on the active links to see fighting maneuvers or music from the story.

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PROLOGUE

            Red leather-clad fists waltzed with the grace of lead slugs blasting forth from shotgun shells, expelled violently from the black barrel of a pump-action shotgun. Their furious crimson collisions against hot flesh sent sour sweat into the air, spinning and twisting like raindrops tossed about in the west wind of a summer rain in south Texas.  The pellets of perspiration pelted the blue canvas like Napalm, splashing down to the mat after their freefall from the human bombers they once tried to cool down.

            The symphony of pain the padded punishers partied to in their time-honored ritual combat were the songs, chants, and calls of the spectators.  Their varied tempos and ranges were tempered by the yelling of their corners, bridging at the commands of an old bald man with a bow tie and blue shirt over black pleated pants and polished black shoes.  The shaman of the ancient ritual watched the dancers intently, providing safety through judgment from the honed eyes of a man who has led many through the combat rite.

            But two men sipping whiskey and watching the fight in a bar far away from the combat sporting event were not impressed.

            “They’re alrecht, dornt ye hink, Angus?”

            “I’ve seen better, Billy,” said Angus, taking a sip from his fifth glass of Chivas Regal whiskey.  “I’ve seen much better.”

The MGM Grand had never been filled to this capacity for a heavyweight boxing title fight.  The crowd in attendance was a raucous combination of high-rolling Americans and loud, rich, and proud hooligans from Great Britain.  Both global factions were cheering loudly for their respective heavyweight boxing heroes.  Fighting out of the red corner was the American boxing Heavyweight Champion, Claudell ‘Dollars’ Jenkins.  Out to claim Claudell’s title was the undefeated U.K. sensation, ‘The Pub Brawler’ Stewart Lethbridge.

“Dae ye min’ when Lethbridge first started, Billy?”

“Ah dae.  Ah kent he’d be guid when ah first saw heem.”

            “Nae, ye didne,” said Angus, chuckling and drawing smoke from his pipe.

Las Vegas was dubbed ‘New London’ by ESPN’s Sportscenter, as the fight weekend found Brits throughout the streets of Vegas.  The fun-loving, yet unruly boxing fans and a smattering of ‘chavs’ indulged in everything Sin City had to offer.  They even dominated the weigh-ins, singing their joyous anthem for Stewart Lethbridge, “Brawler Wonderland”.  The fans sang more with drunken enthusiasm and verve than learned vocal prowess, much to the chagrin of the locals.

            The American crowds supported their boxing star with the less-than-dulcet and mostly monotonous tones of ‘U-S-A, U-S-A’.  It was more of a chant than an actual song. 

The American crowds sounded more like Neanderthals chanting at a campfire, than like the more sophisticated songs of the Brits. The two nations, brought up on their own styles of football with two different sporting traditions and spectator etiquette, were clearly in a clash of civilizations incarnated with the warriors utilizing their knowledge of the sweet science within the ropes of the squared circle.

            “Lethbridge really is the symbol of U.K. toughness,” said the bartender, looking up at the TV screen after passing William and Angus another round of whiskey.  “They say he was raised in Leeds by his hard-drinking father.”

“Alistair Lethbridge,” said Angus.  “He’s a dobber.”

“The lead-up show said Stewart was raised on fighting,” said the bartender.  “Nurtured in drunken aggression’ they said.  Built by the ‘mean streets’ of Leeds.”

“Th’ city whaur every doorstep is a bathroom,” chuckled William. 

“They said Stewart quickly gained a reputation as a feared brawler who fought his first money fight when he was fourteen, beating a man… well, a drunk man, ten years his senior.”

“Speed, tooghness, an’ hate,” said Angus.  “It’s a guid combination fur a fighter.”

            “And sobriety,” said the bartender.  William shot the bartender a look and drank the rest of his drink.

            “He was a rich cheil by seventeen,” said Angus.  “He was fightin’ fer bunsens in back alleys, causey corners, an’ within th’ pubs ay Leeds.”

“Gart heem a rich cheil,” said William.  “Richest in his neighborhood.”

“Yeah,” said the bartender.  “That’s when his dad pointed him to a boxing gym, and, well, here we are watching him fight one of the best in the world.  Maybe best ever in the sport.”

“He’s alrecht,” said William, shaking his head.

            “It was a similar road his adversary had taken,” said the bartender, serving up drinks for the other patrons.  “Claudell Jenkins was the second child in a family of four brothers and three sisters living in the inner city of Chicago near Humbolt Park.  Only two of his siblings knew their real father.  Claudell wasn’t that lucky.”

            “Puir dobber,” said Angus.

“Claudell’s brother fell into the drug and gang scene of Humbolt Park.  Claudell stayed as far away from that and tried desperately to keep his grades up.”

William sighed, wishing the bartender would be quiet so he could watch the fight.

“LaDell, that’s his brother, was initiated into the gang when he was just a seventh grader, and he was breaking into cars and homes by the eighth grade.  He had been in several fights and one gunfight before his ninth grade year.”

“That’s America fur ye,” said William.

            “But get this.  Claudell would escape by spending time alone in his room with his modest hamster farm.  The animals kept him motivated, focused, and away from the dangers outside of his apartment complex.  His mother working two jobs and was never home, it was also the only place he felt any true love and affection.”

“If Ah gie ye a dollar, will ye haud her weesht?” asked Angus as the first round ended on the TV screen.

 The bartender shook his head, not quite understanding what Angus had said.  But he played it off like he had heard it and chuckled.  He continued, “Anyway, the show said he loved the animals, the comfort they provided, and stuff.  And just kind of wished he had that kind of environment to live in.”

“Uh, huh,” grunted William.

“He just wanted that kind of world for himself.  A safe place, so they say.  That’s why when his brother came into his room one night, flying on goofballs, on a rampage, Claudell played ‘Papa Bear’.”

            “Papa bear?” asked Angus.

“Yeah.  LaDell went into his brother’s room and attacked him, tackling him to the bed and pounding him with fists.  Being beat up by his brother was nothing new, but this time was the most vicious beating he ever had.  It was, like, a short flurry, but violent and effective enough to have broken his nose and cut him over the eye. 

“Sae much fur th’ innocent ten-year auld, huh?” said William, taking a drink from his whiskey.

“Especially when his brother made a move on his hamster cage.”

“Not good,” said Angus, watching the next round start.

            “Yeah,” said the bartender, serving up another two whiskey shots for the Scotsmen, who were somehow drinking a little faster.  “He threw the cage against the wall and when the hamsters fell out, he started stomping on them.”

“Oh,” groaned the Scotsmen.  The bartender thought it was a response to the story.  But actually it was a combination that Claudell had unleashed on Lethbridge on the telly.  The bartender turned and looked.  Lethbridge looked hurt before the bell rang, ending the round.

            “Sae, whit happened next?” asked William.

            “Claudell whipped his brother’s ass, that’s what,” said the bartender.  The two Scotsmen laughed and took another swig of whiskey.

            “It’s grottie tae gang efter a man’s pets,” said Angus.

            “No shit,” said the bartender.  “Claudell snapped like a fucking rubber band and just went to town on his brother, they say.  And that’s the moment he turned a corner.  Made him the fighter he is today.  Or at least helped sculpt that part.”

            “Th’ troaps a pure techt sonovabitch, Ah can teel ye ‘at,” said Angus.

“I’ve seen meaner,” said William.

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            Standing to the right of the aged referee, Claudell held up one taped fist for the gaggle of camera people.  The gold and jewel-encrusted green belt of the American Boxing Federation Heavyweight Champion hung buckled on his shoulder as the ref held up his left hand in victory.

            Respectfully, Stewart Lethbridge approached Claudell and shook his hand.

            “You’re one tough blighter, you are,” said the Englishman.  His fat lip made his thick accent that much harder to understand.

            Claudell responded with as much grace and respect as he could muster.  “It’s cool, man.  I’m just the best fighter in the world right now.”

            As the once exclusive ring became cluttered with teammates, management, and photographers, Harry Ledbetter, legendary boxing commentator, entered the ring.  The ancient and opinionated old man was clad in a red blazer with the MGM patch on the pocket.  He approached Claudell for a television interview.

            “I’m standing here next to the ABF Heavyweight Champion Claudell Jenkins.”  He took a deep breath, as if making the last statement took the wind out of him.  “Claudell, you seemed to start slow in the first two rounds.  What was your reasoning for that?”

            The eloquent Claudell answered. 

            “You know, Stewart’s a good boxer.  Strong boxer.  He likes to bring it early, you know.  I was hoping to let him blow his load a little in the first round, you know.  Make him tired.  Make him tired.”

            “Did you consider him stronger than any of your previous opponents?”

            “Yeah.  You know, he’s a tough fighter.  Guys from England are always tough.  I know his fans were giving him power, you know.  He’s got great fans.  But I’m the best in the world right now.  Pound for pound best.  No one can beat me right now.”

            “What’s next for Claudell Jenkins?”

            “I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me.  No one can beat me right now anyway, you know.”

            “Well, you’re very confident right now,” said Captain Obvious.

            But before Ledbetter could finish, Claudell had one more thing to add.

            “And I want to say something right now, Henry.”  Harry thought Claudell was talking to someone else, but then realized the boxer just forgot his name.  “There’s these new fighters out there.  These no-holds-barred fighters who talk a lot of sh…”  Claudell censored himself.  “…a lot of trash about boxing.  How boxing is dead.  That boxing sucks.  Well, if you think you’re so great, come put the gloves on and step in the ring with me.  You think you’re the best?  Well, come and beat the best.”  Claudell was getting worked up, throwing etiquette out the window.  “Shit, you people want to fight me, you martial arts people?  I’ll step in … I’ll go to your backyard and play.  You got me?  I’m the best fighter in the world right now, you know?  Ya’ll can’t beat me.  No one can beat me.  Not in this ring.  Not in that cage.  I’m the best in the world.  No one works harder than me.  No one fights better than me.  I’m just the best.  Those no-holds-barred motherfuckers ain’t got shit on me.  You got me?”

            Ledbetter tried to take control of the situation.  A smile grew across his face, beaming with pride at the champion in spite of the brash rudeness.  Ledbetter took the moment to make a snide remark.  “It will be a cold day in Hell when one of those so-called no-holds-barred fighters finds the courage to step into a fight with you, Claudell.”

            Back in that distant bar in San Uvalde, Texas, a pair of men standing near the television at the exclusive watering hole, Lunker’s Saloon, had a very different opinion.  Dressed in the San Uvalde International red ringer and a red tartan kilt that complimented the shirt, William Campbell and Angus MacDougal took yet another shot of Chivas Regal.  It was a victory toast, in a way, as the challenge thrown down by Claudell ‘Dollars’ Jenkins provided an enormous opportunity for the no-holds-barred heavyweight champion.

            “What do ya’ll think of that?” asked the bartender.

            “A true ‘boxer versus a no-holds-barred fighter’ would draw millions, ya’ ken?” commented Angus in a thick Scottish accent.

            “That’s God’s truth,” said William, taking another drag off of his Rothman cigarette.

            “Ya’ hink ye can drap th’ bampot?”

            “’at bessie has nae chance, he diz.”

            The two men chuckled.

            “Ya’ hae ya’ title defense next week.  Let’s hae ye accept th’ challenge efter th’ barnie, ‘en gab tae Hess abit getting’ tha details.”

            “Indeed.  Boxing versus no-holds-barred.”

            William smiled at the prospect.

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            TALK RADIO FM 1400 – SAN UVALDE SPORTSLINE – MONDAY MORNING

RADIO SPOT – It’s 11a.m.  When the time is right, come to Melton’s for a great selection of diamond and gold jewelry.  When it matters, make it Melton.

Intro to Sportsline – (low intense voice playing over the opening riffs of Cinderella’s
‘Save Me’)  You’re listening to San Uvalde’s home for sports talk radio.  FM 1400 Sportsline with Mac Grey.  (Music slowly fades out as Mac begins talking)

Mac Grey – I gotta tell ya’, I can hear that song every day and it never gets old.  Makes me want to throw on some shoulder pads and hit the football field with the San Uvalde Marauders.  Don’t you think so, Volz?

Larry Volz – I think I like it behind the mic here, Mac.

Mac Grey – No kidding, I guess, considering how the Eagle Pass Toros roughed up the
Marauders Friday night at the Honey Bowl.

Larry Volz – It was a physical game.

(Car wreck sound effect is heard.)

Mac Grey – 21-14, Marauders.  But they were punished at every turn by the Toros’
defense.

Larry Volz – Eagle Pass has always been a physical and punishing team.

Mac Grey – And speaking of punishing, Claudell ‘Dollars’ Jenkins… punished British
Invader Stewart Lethbridge at the MGM Grand Saturday night.

Larry Volz – I had my money on ‘The Pub Brawler’ and was surprised at the outcome.

Mac Grey – You picked Lethbridge to win?

(Laugh sound effect)

Larry Volz – I picked Lethbridge to win.  Thought it would end early.  I was clearly
wrong.

Mac Grey – (Teasing)  What kind of broadcast partner do I have over here now? 
(Chuckles)  Clearly, indeed.  (Laugh track).  Claudell ‘Dollars’ Jenkins gets the decisive KO late in the fifth.  And it looks like ‘Dollars’, as arrogant as he is, is unstoppable.

Larry Volz – I couldn’t pick anyone in the current heavyweight division, even super
heavyweight division, who can match the skills and speed of Claudell Jenkins.

Mac Grey – Which is why he must have chosen to call out the mixed… what is that sport
again?  The human cockfight?

Larry Volz – Mixed martial arts.  He called out…

Mac Grey – (interrupting) Yeah, the mixed martial arts people.  You know, these guys…
(shuffles papers) these guys, they get in a cage and they fight like animals.  Is this like bear baiting?

Larry Volz – Mac, it’s nothing like that.  It’s actually an interesting sport and…

Mac Grey – You call it a sport?  Really?

Larry Volz – Mac, there are rules.  It’s still a … it’s a controlled environment.  They
don’t use weapons or anything.

Mac Grey – But it’s in a cage?  What kind of sport is in a cage?

Larry Volz – It was just a convention used in its inception, you could use anything now. 
A ring.  A flat surface.

Mac Grey – Well, it will never be as big as boxing.

Larry Volz – It’s growing in popularity, though, Mac.  You might be surprised.

Mac Grey – Well.  Time will tell.  Wade has… what?  (indistinct voice in background) 
Oh, O.K.  We have Lewis from the San Uvalde Voice on the line.  Go ahead, Lewis.

Lewis – Hey, Mac.  Mixed martial arts is the future, good sir.

Mac Grey – What do you mean, Lewis?  Lewis,… by the way for those listening for the
first time,… Lewis is the editor for…

Lewis – (Interrupting) …for the San Uvalde Voice, Mac.  You said it before I came on. 
(chuckles)

Mac Grey – Oh, yeah.  Well, not a bad thing, right?

Lewis – Duh!

Mac Grey – Alright, that’s enough out of you.  (Laugh track).  I get enough abuse here
with Larry.  Right, Larry?

Larry Volz – Yeah, that’s me.  Mr. Abuse.

Mac Grey – Alright, Lewis.  Tell us why human cockfighting is the wave of the future.

Lewis – Listen, I don’t … first of all, let me state that I am a big fan of boxing.  Huge. 
Duran.  Spinx.  Holmes.  Tyson.  Cooney.  I was there…um..Leonard…

Mac Grey – Cooney?  Seriously?

Lewis – Cooney’s left hook was the stuff of legend, Mac.  C’mon, now?  Listen, my
point is that I am a fan of boxing.  Mixed martial arts is just another combat sport,
like boxing, with extra elements added.

Mac Grey – Eye gouging?  Finger breaking?

Lewis – Mac, there’s no eye gouging or finger breaking.

Larry Volz – Maybe in a street fight, but not in the cage.

Lewis – Thanks, Larry.  Anyway, it’s one part boxing, one part Thai kickboxing, one part
wrestling, one part jiu-jitsu… just a lot of fighting styles combined, O.K.?  And that’s what makes it exciting.  The elements, all the elements…  You could see a great… you could see some great hand techniques combined with kicks.  You could see a great high throw combined with a joint lock or leg lock.  It’s just a larger fight game.

Mac Grey – Well, what do you say… what do you think of ‘Dollars’ calling out these
kinds of fighters?  A comparable sized mixed fighter to take on Jenkins in the ring.

Lewis – I think its, personally, quite exciting.  The prospect of it….  I think any promoter
who’s smart and has deep pockets, naturally would be smart to book this fight.  It would settle a lot of the controversy over which style of fighting is better.  I’ll put it to you like this, if Jenkins goes to the ground, he’s in trouble because his major weapon, his hands, would be nullified.  Is this in a … what? … a boxing ring?

Mac Grey – Yeah.

Lewis – So, boxing rules, or what?

Mac Grey – I’m pretty sure that’s correct.

Lewis – (Inhales with mouth open and teeth together)  Man, that’s a tough one.  Which,
to me, clearly distinguishes the sports… the two sports.  If a boxer is boxing a mixed martial artist under boxing rules, then its advantage boxer.  But if it’s a boxer in the cage, he’s got a puncher’s chance in the very, very early going if he can stay on his feet, like I said.

(Cinderella’s ‘Save Me’ starts up again)

Mac Grey – Which is all a good boxer like Jenkins needs, Lewis.  Lewis, from the San
Uvalde Voice.  Thanks Lewis.  We’ll be right back with the coach of the San Uvalde Marauders and a new training exercise for your young future Marauder.  We’ll be right back.

Voice Over – You’re listening to Sportsline with Mac Grey on FM 1400 KUOV, San
Uvalde’s home for sports talk and country music.

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Chapter 1

The “Mark”
 
            “Do you give up?”

            “NO!”
            El Aire, El Rey del Cielo, was stuck in a vicious arm-trap crossface by Krayger, who was one half of the psychotic tag team The Asylum.  Krayger cranked the neck of the masked Mexican lucha libre superstar and San Uvalde International member.  The move was a double threat on El Aire’s health, as the trapped arm was also skillfully cranked at the shoulder and hyper-extending the elbow.  The move was debilitating and taking the fight out of the Mexican lucha libre hero.

            Krayger’s long brown and sweaty hair hung across his face.  Strings of hair fell into his mouth.  A goatee wrapped around his lips in a stylish villain look.  Coupled with his black leather biker pants, black singlet, and matching boots, he was quite imposing.  A black skull tattoo sat on one arm, set on the skin as if it were silently judging every person who gazed upon it.  And there were many people in the crowd this evening at the Honeycomb Saloon, ready to watch the gladiators fight it out in a ring positioned on the dance floor.

            “Don’t hold back, Krayger!  Break his arm!” yelled Krayger’s tag team partner from outside the ring.  Slightly larger than Krayger, Sage was the power man of The Asylum.  Long fiery red hair and a thick red beard hung over his black Asylum shirt.  He wore faded and worn Wrangler blue jeans and snakeskin boots. A rodeo championship belt buckle was latched to his belt.  He slapped the mat in an effort to cheer on his partner who was moments away from claiming victory.

            The crank was putting tremendous pressure on El Aire’s neck, and the trapped arm was moving closer and closer to snapping.  The move found El Aire lying flat on his stomach with Krayger lying across the masked man’s back, forming a kind of t-shape.  Aire’s arm was pulled backward and locked between Krayger’s legs.  Krayger’s fingers were locked just below El Aire’s nose, providing even more discomfort.  His upper body was under total control by Krayger.

            “Do you give up?” asked the referee again.

            El Aire could not vocalize his answer.  So instead, Aire shook the index finger on his free hand in the negative.

            With the crowd cheering for El Aire, he maneuvered his lower body toward the nearest rope.  His leg was inches away from hooking the bottom rope, but he still needed to maneuver a few steps closer.  Digging deep, El Aire threw his left leg over the bottom rope, allowing a break to the hold by the referee.

            But the referee’s back was turned away from the leg.  Sage took full advantage on the outside of the ring and threw the leg off the rope.  He chuckled with sadistic glee in front of the rabid and angry crowd, yelling, “Crank it, Krayger!”

            The referee, however, did notice the movement of the bottom rope and turned to see Sage on the outside.  He suspected Aire had initiated a break, but had no evidence to make the call.  So he repositioned himself to watch Aire’s legs and Sage.

            Closer to the ropes, Aire once again threw his leg on the rope.  This time, the referee saw it.  He called for Krayger to break the hold.

            Instead, Krayger held on to the hold and cranked just a little bit longer.  The evil heel knew he had a five count by the referee before he was disqualified.  Krayger took the quick count by the referee to four before breaking the hold.

            “C’mon, Krayger,” chided the ref.  “Let go of the hold when I tell you!”

            Krayger pulled the referee in a position that turned the official’s back to El Aire, who had crawled to the second rope to catch his breath.  He dangled on the second rope, rubbing his injured neck and cradling his strained elbow.

            Sensing yet another opportunity at skullduggery as Krayger argued with the ref, Sage moved to the crowd.  Reaching over into the audience, he threw a young child out of his seat and grabbed the metal chair the boy was sitting on.  Folding it flat and grabbing it by the legs, he lifted it up and swung the chair against the masked superstar’s head.  The crack of steel against skull made the crowd groan in unison.  El Aire melted back into the ring, flat on his back, like a wax candle in the summer sun.

            Krayger smiled with delight, shoving the ref to one side and quickly going for the cover.  He hooked a leg as the ref slid to the mat to start the three count.  Krayger began to chuckle, a huge smile on his face as the ref slapped the two count on the mat. 

            “Yes,” said Krayger, eyes closed with a wellspring of evil joy filling his heart with delight.

            But the three count never came.  El Aire had put his leg on the rope again, breaking the count and freeing him from the pin attempt.

            In anger, Krayger rose to his knees and got in the referee’s face.  The ref held up two fingers and yelled, “Two!”  Krayger responded by slapping his hands, yelling, “One, two, three, godammit!”

            Frustrated, Krayger lifted the still dazed El Aire to his feet and pushed him against the rope.  He then stomped the mat three times to signal to the fans he was about to unleash his Krayger Kick, a variation of the legendary Super Kick made famous by “Gentleman” Chris Adams (7:40 mark).

            “Adios, amigo!” yelled Krayger, bouncing El Aire off the rope to the other side of the ring.  Aire hit the ropes on the other side, bouncing back toward Krayger at a high rate of speed.  Krayger fired off his kick, bounding forward to meet El Aire with the knockout kick to the chin, only to have the luchador forward-roll under the vaunted Krayger finisher.  Flying back to his feet, El Aire bounced off the rope and took to the air.  Turning around in confusion, Krayger was hit with an immaculate “Mexican Hammer”, a flying forearm smash made famous by TitoSantana.  El Aire’s forearm smacked against Krayger’s head, knocking him on his back as El Aire landed on the mat.  The luchador quickly hooked a leg and went for the cover, but was unsuccessful in the pin attempt as Krayger got a shoulder up moments before three.

            With the momentum shifting clearly to his side, El Aire planned to utilize another air assault, a flying headbutt in the tradition of Mil Mascaras.  El Aire lifted Krayger to his feet and pushed him to the ropes, bouncing him off the tightly-bound barriers and sent him flying to the opposite set of ropes.

            As Krayger passed the center of the ring, twisting to meet the opposite ropes, El Aire dashed to the opposite set of ropes.  As he bounced forward, he stumbled.  One of his legs had been grabbed by Sage from the outside.  El Aire turned to face the adversary on the outside and yelled at him.

            Mira que hijo de la chingada!”

            “Speak English, you wetback sonovabitch!”

            “You better run, culo!  You’re next!”

            The brief moment had allowed Krayger to grab the opposite ropes, stopping his anticipated rebound cold.  Seeing El Aire with his back turned, he repositioned himself to gain the proper range.

            As El Aire turned around, Krayger pulled the trigger for the Krayger kick, landing flush with El Aire’s chin.  The pinpoint strike sent El Aire flat on his back on the mat, knocking him out cold. 

            Krayger’s pin was academic, and as the opening chords of Metallica’s ‘Welcome Home (Sanitarium)’ began, Sage joined his partner in triumph in the ring.

 

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            When El Aire awoke, he could see the arena lights above the ring.  At first, he thought they were angels, then feared he was on an operating table.  When referee Abel Zamora’s face appeared in his vision, he knew he was not in Heaven or the operating room.  Abel was neither an angel nor a doctor, and had qualifications for neither.  Abel got his degree at a tech college.  He would do no surgery tonight, though the lights above the ring did seem to give him a halo.

            El Aire rose to his rear to see The Asylum still congratulating each other with the giddiness of two high school troublemakers who had just dropped a cherry bomb in a toilet in the teacher’s workroom.  His jaw hurt like hell, but his neck felt worse.  The pain in both those areas were so bad that he ignored the pain in his hyper extended arm.

            The kick did him no favors in recovering from his mixed martial arts fight.  The boxer from Mexico,  ‘El Rey de Chingasos’ Pedro Medrano, that he had fought in the first round of the FPG tournament and the savate fighter from France had worked him over good.  El Aire hadn’t given himself time to heal properly.

            As the dastardly duo made their way through the curtain, El Aire rose to his feet.  With assistance from referee Zamora, the masked luchador stepped out of the ring.

            It was a frustrating loss.  He had let his anger get the best of him.  He knew full well Sage would be ringside and anticipated plenty of dirty tactics from the redneck devil.  The momentum was clearly on his side, and he let the anger get the best of him.  The Asylum had been a thorn in his side since their debut at the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio.  It was clear The Asylum had El Aire’s number, as the luchador had not notched one win against either of them.

            The fans at the Honeycomb Saloon were thankful and appreciative of El Aire’s efforts.  They held out their hands to touch the lucha legend, and he kindly held his uninjured arm to them.

            Amid the kind comments and respectful salutations, a voice spoke up.  The owner of the voice was clearly setting himself apart from the other fans, considering the peculiar offer he was making.

            “Let me manage you, Mr. Aire, sir.  Please.  I can do it, I swear.  You’re my biggest hero and inspiration.  Please give me a chance.”

            Continuing to move forward, El Aire turned to look at the fan.  He was a young Hispanic man, perhaps in his early to mid-twenties.  He wore glasses and a Lord Trevor Mims shirt, a British heel in one of the biggest East Coast pro-wrestling leagues.  A red flannel stood open.  Wranglers and ultra-lites bottomed out his peculiar wardrobe as he continued moving through the crowd in a most impolite manner.

            El Aire held out his hand to the fan to slap it in friendship, not considering that the guy might grab it, which he did.

            “Please, sir.  Teach me.  Let me be your student.  Let me learn from you,” the young man begged.

            El Aire jerked his hand away.  Ignoring the pleas, he headed through the curtain to the dressing room.  Behind him, the annoying fan continued to beg.

            “Please, El Aire.  Teach me!”

 

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            El Aire cooled down in a corner of the storage room that served as his dressing space.  He wiped himself down with a small towel.  The suit he had arrived in was hanging in its protective bag.  With no place to shower, it was time for him to head to his home at Cenizo Bluffs on the north side of San Uvalde.

            As he stood up, the promoter for the indy outfit, Tommy Luna, entered.  He held a stuffed white envelope with El Aire’s name written in Sharpie along the flat side.

            “Thank you, El Aire.  I’m sorry things did not work out so good for you tonight.”

            “It’s alright, Tommy,” El Aire responded.  “I’ll get them some day.”

            They both chuckled.

            As Tommy was walking to the door, El Aire remembered something.  “Hey Tommy.  I have some young talent back at the San U facility I’ve been training.  I think a couple of them are ready.  Can you book a couple of them to curtain-jerk in about a month or two?”

            “Anything for you, Aire,” said Tommy with a smile.  They shook hands as Tommy walked out.

            El Aire trusted Tommy, but still checked the envelope.  Three hundred and fifty dollars cash, lined up in twenties and tens, filled the envelope.

            Fifty extra dollars on top of the agreed upon amount, thought El Aire.  Concessions must have been good tonight.

            El Aire sat back, leaning against the wall.  He reached for a plastic bag filled with ice water that sat beside him.  The condensation from the bag was soaking the bench in water.  He lifted up the bag and placed it on his neck.

            Working professional wrestling and mixed martial arts was quite a challenge.  Participating in both sports endeavors was a bit of an anomaly in the U.S.  But it was a common practice of his Japanese counterparts.  But it was hard for El Aire to figure out what was worse.  Was the almost daily pounding in a pro-wrestling ring bad?  Or were the rigors of training that culminated in a battle where there are no rope breaks or refs to scold fighters for close fists worse? 

            MMA is a physical challenge, but so is professional wrestling.  There is most certainly an entertainment aspect to pro-wrestling, and America does not take the sport as serious as the Japanese.  The Japanese would never disrespect the sport by calling it fake or phony like American fans.

            But the physicality is most certainly real.  Ask John Stossel what happened when he asked Dr. David Shultz if pro-wrestling was fake.  Ask any person who says its fake to sit in Krayger’s Arm Trap Crossface, or to take the same chair shot from Sage he had taken earlier that night.  It takes a very special athlete to be a pro-wrestler, just like it takes a very special breed of human to be a mixed martial arts star.  Both deserve respect for the entertainment they provide.

            El Aire placed the ice water bag back on the bench, then reached for his San Uvalde International shirt, throwing it on over his clammy torso.  He didn’t have a female friend joining him on this evening, so he didn’t need to freshen up.  The Elena debacle made him cool down on the dating scene.  Women were trouble, and despite enjoying their company in more ways than one, it was better to keep them at a distance.

            At least for tonight.

            Aire reached for the ice bag before taking his secured suit off the hook.  He walked outside to his vehicle.

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PIT FIGHTERS: DOUBLE CROSS is now available via Kindle and paperback at Amazon.com.

BOWIE IBARRA is the author of the 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press and Simon and Shuster.  Network with Bowie at his official website, ZombieBloodFights.com.

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