Saturday, 26 February 2011
The Chance Part 2.... The Aftermath
I sat in the dressing room on the black leather bench my head hung in shame at what I had done. My red robe hung loosely on my shoulders, the gloves long removed from my hands. I ached deep in side, not from the fight but from what I had been forced to do. Billy stood in the corner of the room. He hadn't said a word since the end of the fight. He shuffled around the room his head bowed trying to look busy, he didn't lift his head once and look at me. There was nothing he could say, nothing he could do to take away the pain that he had caused me.
I replayed the events of the night over and over again, the referee standing over me as I lay there on my back, the floor of the ring had felt very cold on my back. The lights that hung from the ceiling shone on me brightly. This wasn't how it was supposed to be. I watched as he waved his fingers above me, four, five,six, I started to get up at seven but made sure I didn't make it. I watched as the referee waved his arms above his head signaling the end of the fight and helping me back to my corner where Billy was placing the stool for me to sit on. The Champion jumping up and down and shouting how he had told everyone he would beat me in two rounds, if only they knew the truth, the real reason why he had won.
Of course they never would, no matter how much I wanted to tell them, I couldn't as I knew they would kill me. I had a lot of anger building up in me but I had to keep it under control for a little while longer. This was almost done, my part in this fraud was almost over. Then I could get on with my life and try and make myself a better person. It would be hard all I had ever known was Billy and boxing but they had both turned on me when I thought I had it all. There was no going back and I knew that. I continued to stare at the floor, the memories of my walk back from the ring burnt into my mind.
The boos and jeers of people that had supported me, placed bets on me to win, their faces contorted in anger and rage, the calls of having no bottle burned deep into me. If they only they knew, if only. My life had now become a series of if's only's. If only Billy hadn't had gambled, If only he hadn't gone to them for money. If only they hadn't asked me to throw the fight. What was the point?. There was nothing I could do about it now.
I watched as the door slowly opened. Two men walked into the room big smiles on their faces, dressed in smart suits, dark blue in colour and very expensive in style. Pale shirts and matching ties, handkerchiefs in the top pockets. They looked totally respectable businessmen. That was partly true I though, they were businessmen just not in the right kind of business.
They approached Billy the first one holding out his hand for Billy to shake. He took it reluctantly and they exchanged a few words. Billy didn't look comfortable but he was being reassured that his daughter was safe and he had repaid the debt he owed them. Yeah he had repaid them at the expense of my dream. I couldn't watch any longer and made my way to the shower. I needed to get out of here as quickly as I could. I threw my robe onto the floor, it meant nothing to me now, my shorts followed quickly as I reached for the tap to turn the water on hoping that I would be able to wash away the dirt that I felt was clinging to me. The water fell onto me quickly but it didn't work. I stood there for as long as I hoped it would take Billy to get the idea that I wanted to be alone. To leave the dressing room and never speak to me again.
I must have been in the shower for an hour maybe more, the water fell onto my head and ran down my back. I placed my hands on the cold grey tiles in front of me and stood there head down looking at the floor. My feet placed apart on the dark green slip mat.
Except I wasn't focusing on the floor, my eyes were filled with the tears of my own hurt and pain.The tears mixed with the hot water that ran down my face, no one knew I was crying apart from me, no one knew how much I had dreamed of holding those belts apart from me, no one could help me now I was on my own once again.
Like the angry 14 year old who Billy had first met, abandoned by my father, left to fend by myself by an alcoholic mother, neither of them cared what I did or where I went. I was an inconvenience to them. I had fell in with the lads that had hung around in the dark corners of the estate. They were dubious of me at first, kept me at arms length. Then my chance had come. I was going to meet them one day when I saw I girl I liked being attacked by three other lads. They were trying to drag here into an alley way and I snapped.
I ran over as fast as I could and hit the first one as hard as I could. He dropped like a stone and it felt good. The rush of adrenalin that raced through me as the sound of bone crunching under the weight of my fist. I liked it. I wanted more, I craved it. All the hurt and pain of the previous years finally let lose and I hit another one. My fist flattening his nose, as if in slow motion he fell to the floor blood pouring from the wound I had created. The girl lay on the black rubbish bags that she had been pushed onto, watching me attack the boys that had tried to rape her The remaining member of the gang, looked at me ran his hand across his throat in a cutting motion and ran away. I helped her up and we became friends at first, then more as we got to know each other. What I didn't know was that she was Billy's daughter, and it was through her I came to meet Billy.
We talked for hours about how we would get away from this place. The estate that sucked peoples souls out of them. I told her I would be the Heavyweight Champion of the World. She dreamed of taking over her fathers gym. To become the only female trainer to have a World Champion. I didn't laugh when she told me this as others had done. Who was I too pour scorn on her dream. At least she had one.
We were inseparable for many months until Billy stepped in and told me I had to make a choice. If I wanted to be a boxer that meant sacrifices. That meant that I had to give up Carly, who was by now my girlfriend. It wasn't because she was his daughter, I knew that, he had been pleased for us. It was because I couldn't have any distractions.
I had taken her to dinner but she knew what was coming. She knew we couldn't carry on together, not yet, if I was going to be a Champion. She had kissed me softly on the cheek that night, her perfume reaching the deepest parts of me. I hung onto that smell, that sweet flowery smell knowing it would be the last time we would be this close. I watched her as she walked away. My heart longing to hold her in my arms one more time, but I couldn't, she was gone.
Billy was determined to take me under his wing. To teach me everything he knew. He later told me he had never seen such punching power in one so young. I harnessed the pain and anger I felt at my parents and used it in the ring, winning all of my amateur fights by knockout. I was a sensation. I travelled the country winning time and again. The trophies I won soon filled the small trophy cabinet in the gym, so Billy built a bigger one. I was being talked about as the next big thing, but fate had another path for me.
When I came out of the shower, a towel wrapped around my toned waist the room was empty, no one was there. I got dressed quickly and threw my kit into my bag. I looked around the room one more time, the black leather bench stood silently, the hand wraps littered the floor, my robe, my beautiful red silk robe lay on the plain white tiles of the floor. I looked at it for a few moments and then turned and walked out of the door. I wouldn't be doing any press conferences I couldn't face people I needed to be alone for a while.
I headed for the emergency exit at the end of the corridor and pushed the handle on the door down hard. The burst of cold night air hit my harshly as I left the building. I knew where I was going, I was going home to the flat. The home I lived in since Mum had passed away a few years before. I remembered it so clearly and it still haunted me.
I had come back from training and assumed she had passed out drunk as she usually did, I left her there and went to bed. On waking in the morning I went to see if she was awake and she hadn't moved. That wasn't unusual but when I touched he arm it felt cold, like ice, no warmth from the blood circulating around her system. I had stood there in shock that she had gone. As much as I hated her for what she had put me through, she was my mother and I loved her and I knew she loved me in her own way. She had been left with a young boy on a sink of an estate by my father. The man who had promised her the world and left us behind when a newer younger version had flashed her eyes at him.
I had phoned Billy and he and Carly, had come round straight away. My mother was dead. My father had left me and I was 17 years of age. I had no one in the world now all I had were my dreams.
I had walked for miles in the darkness, lost in painful memories that haunted my dreams at night. I woke less frequently now in cold sweats than I had before, thoughts of my dead mother passing through my mind as I had fitful sleep. Billy had been kind to me back then, looking after me keeping me out of trouble. I pushed him from my mind. As hard as it was the pain I felt was down to him and I had to move on.
I saw the estate in front of me. The towering blocks of grey brick, a few lights dotted among them. Faceless neighbours who kept themselves to themselves, a sense of community long since passed. I pulled the metal door open and walked inside. The smell of damp bit painfully into my nose. No matter how many times I smelt it, it still stuck. The lifts were out of order again so I decided to walk up the 10 floors to the flat. I passed over the used condom that lay on the bottom step. The local prostitutes used this block to ply their trade. I didn't judge them, in this place you either stole or prostituted yourself if you were a girl, or robbed and joined a gang if you were a boy. This was the life that this estate had set out for you. You could say it was a place of broken dreams, except there wasn't any dreams to have here. It didn't allow you to dream, if you did they would always end up broken and torn from you.
I reached the door to my flat. The metal gate in front of the door stopped the few junkies that needed money getting in. It didn't matter to them I was a boxer, their brains riddled with drugs, a desperate need for the next fix meant they would try anything, do anything too get the money they needed. An artificial high that took them away from the life that they were desperate to escape from if only for a short while.
I didn't switch the light on I didn't want to catch sight of my face in the mirror in the hallway. I was so ashamed at what I had done. I walked through the hallway to the sideboard in the front room and picked up the bottle of scotch that was in there. A final reminder of my dear dead mother. I unscrewed the cap, placed the bottle to my lips and tried to drink myself into a happier place. It burnt at my throat as I took a huge swig. I lost my breath for a few seconds and started to cough. I had never had a drink in my life. Tonight though I wanted to be anywhere but here. I wanted to be in another place. A place where I hadn't thrown away the biggest fight of my life.
To Be Continued................