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Rated: 13+ · Novella · Sci-fi · #2027551
"Bobby's Fight," Chapter 1. Available in paperback and digital formats.
Part 1: Pre-Fight Jitters
Chapter 1
1.
January 27th, 2007.
Las Vegas, Nevada.
8:51 p.m.
Clint Gault wanted to be alone. He sat on a plush leather massage table, staring at a white wall. At his request, everyone—including his own crew—had cleared out of the locker room, leaving him in blessed silence. The other fighters and their crews might've resented his audacity, but Clint didn't care. He needed this time to think...to concentrate.
If I can survive that, I can survive anything.
At twenty-four, Clint bore little resemblance to the pudgy, unkempt boy he’d once been. Now devoid of body fat, he’d grown up to six feet, three inches of proud Celtic manhood. The freckles remained, dotting his cheeks and shoulders, and his flesh glowed with an athletic sheen. He wore a hooded black sweat-top, black shorts with the word:
Gladiator
emblazoned on the sides in dark green, and a steel cup beneath a black jock strap. A light coat of Vaseline had been smeared on his forehead and beneath his eyes to protect the delicate skin. A black mouthpiece cushioned his upper teeth. Athletic tape covered his ankles and feet. Black neoprene braces sleeved both knees. Beneath the hood, his bald head glistened from the pre-fight warm up.
If I can survive that, I can survive anything.
Clint’s hands rested in his lap. He looked down, considering how he intended to use them in the near future. Black, fingerless gloves protected his taped knuckles. These curious adornments allowed Clint to punch without fear of breaking his hand, and—unlike boxing gloves—allowed him to grapple his opponent. He clenched his fists, relaxed them, and sighed. His hands felt comfortable, as did he.
If I can survive that, I can survive anything.
The calm fighter closed his eyes. Before each bout, he forced himself to relive the day his life almost ended. He pictured his ten-year-old self walking into the Twilley restroom; Bobby standing at the urinal; the lunchbox sitting on the counter. Emotionless, he recalled the haunting tone of Bobby's voice—
Hi, Clint.
—and the chill which had swept through him. Bobby hadn't seen him, but somehow knew who'd entered. Then Bobby turned to see him holding the lunchbox, and Clint remembered the fear in the boy's eyes. He used to cringe when thinking of how he'd enjoyed tormenting Bobby, but with Dr. Brix's guidance, he'd made peace with the little monster he'd once been, and learned gratitude for the lessons Bobby taught him.
If I can survive that, I can survive anything.
With another sigh, Clint opened his eyes.
Almost time. Almost ready.
“Damnit, Bobby. I wish you were here.”
2.
From the moment Clint gathered himself in that cold, still bathroom and ran to the principal's office, his life had forever changed. At first, for the very worst. As he'd burst into the office, Principal Herb Fairchild had risen from his desk and asked what had happened. Clint, unable to speak, had thrown his arms around Herb's waist, lapsing into violent tears. When the school nurse failed to calm him, she called Clint's mother while Herb dialed 911. The ambulance had taken Clint to Stark County Medical Center, where another nurse tranquilized him and a doctor diagnosed a bruised trachea and shock. Once home, Clint told his parents that Bobby had jumped him from behind and started strangling him. Roger—knowing Clint and Bobby's history—hadn't believed the story, but Christina had, and the next morning she called Bobby's mother, Colleen. That call ended in a shouting match, which left Christina steaming mad and plotting litigation.
Then things got weird.
Not long after Christina and Colleen's heated exchange, Christina came charging into Clint's room, where he lay in bed, still pale and reeling from the terrifying incident with Bobby. “Clint, darling!” she'd cried, falling on her knees beside his bed. “Something horrible happened!”
Clint had shuddered. “What?”
“That Williams boy! Bobby! He's dead!”
Clint showed no emotion, but felt sick inside. “How?” he'd asked, hating the pain in his throat.
“His...his own teacher killed him with a shovel right inside the school!”
Clint had nodded. He'd known Bobby's teacher. Norma Thornton; a mean old woman.
“The news is saying that she crashed her car into the entrance! Maybe trying to run him down!”
To that, Clint had shaken his head. He'd been unable to even imagine such a thing.
“And Bobby's mother...Colleen...she killed Mrs. Thornton!”
Then Clint had shut his eyes, wishing his mother would stop.
“Principal Fairchild was there, too! They found him dead in his office!”
The whole world's nuts, Mom, he'd thought. I don't wanna hear no more...
“They're saying he had a heart attack, and they're not sure if he was involved in the murders or not!”
It was Bobby, Clint thought but didn't say. Bobby killed him.
“Clint, I'm so sorry to have to tell you this now...”
By then, Clint had gone fetal, weeping into his hands, and Christina cradled him like an infant. They stayed that way for a long time, and Clint refused to leave his bed, even for dinner.
That night, Clint had the first of many nightmares, and awoke in a puddle of his own urine. He always dreamed of Bobby; of being strangled by the strange boy's invisible hands. Sometimes in the Twilley restroom, sometimes on the playground. He felt haunted; as if Bobby still lived and watched from the shadows, ever hungry for vengeance.
With such a horrific crime scene, Elmer G. Twilley Elementary remain closed for two weeks as the Stark County Police investigated and the school district scrambled to replace Fairchild. The faculty and parents all received letters of condolence from Stark City's mayor. The national and local news had a field day with what came to be known as The Twilley School Massacre. And when Twilley's doors reopened, Clint returned a very changed boy. No longer brash and outgoing, he kept to himself, seldom playing basketball or looking at baseball cards during recess. He often looked sad and pensive, and his schoolwork—shoddy to begin with—slipped ever further.          Everyone, including Clint, grew quite concerned.
The summer of 1993 began with Roger Gault taking Clint on fishing trips every weekend. They'd hike in the lush Oregon hillside, then settle down with their poles by the river. Roger tried everything he could think of to reach his son, get him to talk about his feelings. But Clint, afraid that no one would understand the truth, remained sad and pensive. Christina also tried her hand at coaxing Clint to talk, taking him on long drives on the weekday afternoons. But nothing worked. The nightmares remained, the bed wetting continued, and Clint began to fear that he'd never feel happy again.
At their wits end, Roger and Christina decided that Clint needed a psychiatrist. But not just any psychiatrist; one who specialized in childhood trauma, with a proven track record. It took some time, but in the end a family friend provided the answer:
Dr. Anton Brix.
The venerable psychiatrist indeed specialized in childhood trauma, and practiced in downtown Stark. Clint warmed to the kind old man upon first meeting him. Dr. Brix's thick German accent lent a certain gravitas to his every word, prompting Clint to open up about Bobby Williams. Clint told Dr. Brix all about Bobby's strange behavior. How Bobby's obsession with Void Hunter and Ve'yn unsettled everyone in school. How he'd taunted, teased, and shoved Bobby around until the boy snapped and strangled him almost to death. And to his surprise, Clint found that the more he talked, the better he felt.
His first real breakthrough.
From there, Dr. Brix worked backward, delving deep into Clint's psyche, and Clint began to understand himself in a way he never knew possible. Session after session, Clint confronted his feelings about his body, Leslie, his parents, and The Twilley School Massacre. Dr. Brix even helped Clint to understand how Bobby must've felt when he taunted and teased him. By the end of summer, Dr. Brix had reawakened Clint's interest in both school and athletics, and the therapy continued, growing into a profound relationship which lasted throughout Clint's teens; even into adulthood. And through it all, whenever Clint felt reluctant, afraid, or sad, Br. Brix reminded him of that awful moment in the restroom. “If you can survive that,” he'd say with a slight smile, “you can survive anything, Clint.”
And he'd used that mantra to overcome all manner of adversity ever since.
3.
Thump!-thump!-thump!
“Time to go!” a gruff voice called from behind the door.
Clint nodded, more to himself than his trainer.
“I deserved it. I deserved what you did to me. But tonight, I deserve to win.”
Thump!-thump!-thump!
“Come on, Clint!”
“This one’s for you, Bobby.”
Thump!-thump!-thump!
“Hurry up, damnit!”
The fighter sighed, looked up, and slid from the table. His trainer continued to knock, continued to yell as he strode to the door. No need to hurry, he thought, stepping into his rubber sandals.
No need at all.

(Author's Note: Download "Bobby's Fight" @ https://www.books2read.com/u/3JK5BP)
© Copyright 2015 Jesse Lynn Rucilez (jlrucilez at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2027551