Karbath the champion fighter gets challenged by a young fool.
|(Note: This scene is part of my daily writing practice.)
Karbath scowled as he entered the bar and sweat and poor quality beer assaulted his nostrils. A couple young patrons scampered to get out of the way of his bulky eight foot frame. He approached a somewhat isolated barstool and took his seat. The patron next to him moved as if to strike up a conversation, but reconsidered when the fighter’s annoyed countenance fell on him.
“Karbath! I’m surprised to see you here tonight. Surely you’re not fighting?” the bartender asked as he put a glass of better than awful whiskey in front of him.
“Never on amateur night. I’ve earned that right by now,” Karbath said. He took a swig of the strong drink and nodded his tepid approval. “Benny just asked me to show up and strut around outside the ring for the contenders.
“Right, trying to entice more to sign up for their chance to fight their way into the big times.”
“You got it. Selling the dream. And some of these damn fools are likely to fall for it,” Karbath chuckled as he took another drink.
A voice came from behind him. “I recognize you! You’re Karbath! You’re one of the prize champions here!”
“No autographs today, kid,” the fighter said without turning. He surmised the young man addressing him wasn’t even sixteen yet.”
“You don’t look so tough to me!”
“Whatever you say kid.” Karbath didn’t like where this was going. Why do these punks always think it’s going to end well for them if they try to start something?
“I bet I could take you right now.” Karbath exchanged an exasperated glance with the bartender before turning around to finally inspect his would-be challenger. He reassessed the scrawny redhead to be around fourteen years of age, standing a mere five feet tall. Karbath bellowed out a laugh. “Son, you couldn’t take the kid who helps me put on my outfit. And he’s probably four years younger than you.”
“Care to step into the ring and find out?” the boy challenged.
“You got guts kid, I’ll give you that. Now let me explain to you how things really work before you find someone actually willing to spill those guts all over the floor for you.”
Karbath took the new drink the bartender handed him and took a sip before continuing. “Tonight is amateur night. That means that a couple dozen young guys -- though all of them will be older than you by at least three years -- are going to attempt to beat each other bloody and senseless in the hopes that an agent or sponsor will take enough interest in them to get them into the moneyed fights. Most of them will have spent years learning to fight as best they can and will have some sort of informal training. Formal training too, for those lucky enough to have the funds or connections for that.”
“A couple of those guys are probably going to die or be maimed for life. Leaving any families they have scrambling to survive without them. Most of the others will spend a couple weeks recovering from whatever injuries they sustain and give up on their dream or try again. At most, four will actually find a way into the monied fights. At which point they will spend years trying to reach the champion fights like me before something ends their careers.”
“You don’t think I have what it takes to make it?” the redhead scoffed.
Karbath slammed the rest of his whiskey. “You have no muscle tone. Half the guys signed up for tonight’s fight could probably snap you like a twig. Also you have no training.”
“How can you be so sure about that?”
“Trained guard dogs don’t bark, kid. And that’s what you’ve been doing this entire time. In fact,” Karbath said as he stood, towering over his challenger. The redhead immediately cowered and backed away. “Just as I thought. The moment you thought I was going to accept your challenge, the fear came out. Let me guess, you were just hoping to get bragging rights about challenging a great champion and living to tell the tale.”
“Well, yeah,” the kid said, hanging his head.
The fighter swallowed the kids left shoulder with his right palm. “It was a nice try, but pointless. This ain’t the life for you. You have neither the build or the grit necessary to pursue this line of work. There ain’t no shame in that. Quit pretending to be something you’re not and find something you’re good at.”
“Please. I like to draw. Like anyone cares about that.”
“Art’s a noble pursuit, kid. Believe me, if I could make my living painting murals for some rich merchant rather than crack skulls and ribs, I’d do it in a heartbeat.”
“But isn’t it hard to make a living off being an artist?”
“Kid, I’m a brawler and always have been. I don’t know jack about that world. It probably is hard and you may have to find a way to avoid starving while you chase after it. But I don’t see why that would be any harder than having to wait six months until your spine heals enough to get back into the ring.
“I guess,” the boy admitted, pondering the warriors words. “Hey, I’m sorry for being such an ass.”
“It’s cool kid. I get it. Everyone feels like they have to prove themselves from time to time. Just find a way to do it that you have a hope of being successful next time.”
“Thanks, man. You really are cool.”
“So are you kid.” Karbath turned back around and found the bartender staring at him. “Oh don’t look at me like that.”
“Benny would ream you for two hours if he had heard that. He’d want that kid signing up for tonight’s fight, and you know you could have incensed him enough to do exactly that.”
“Benny can go drink from the slop barrel. He’ll get enough guys willing to bleed tonight. That kid would’ve been dead and you know it. I didn’t want that on my conscience.”
“You have a heart of gold, you know that?”
“Yeah, just keep it to yourself, will you? I don’t need my own competition finding out I’m going soft. Now how about another drink?”