Why Do They Cheer?

July 8, 2012
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The Fight

"Why do they cheer, what makes them cheer."

I moved away from Mike’s hand on my shoulder, he gave me one last push into the center of the circle. All around me were cheering kids, all my age, none of the faces were familiar. I looked down at my feet, and my vision focused immediately on the cuts and bruises on my legs. I don’t remember where they came from, but undoubtedly from the earlier fights. Then I raised my hands to find a pair of fighting gloves. Not boxing gloves, they had no padding to soften the rain of blows to your opponent’s chest. They served only the purpose of protecting your own hands from becoming bruised. This game was based entirely on self-preservation.

My opponent was pushed out of the crowd adjacent from me and he looked ready to fight. He hadn’t endured the fights before this one, he didn’t have the weight of a hundred punches on his shoulders. He stood on the other side of the circle of teenagers flexing his muscles for the crowd. His body wasn’t that impressive really, but I noticed many people used the crowd as their strength.

Every fighter had something that drove him. I didn’t have a lot of friends, and this was my chance to make friends. Not real friends, I realized, but it was better than sitting at home every weekend. Working to meet my parents expectations. But that’s a story for another time.

I looked at the crowd. They all stared at me. And immediately they all turned to the other side of the ring. I turned just in time to see him charging at me, shoulder lowered, arms out for a football style tackle. I reacted in time, stepped out of his way, and allowed him to fly passed me and onto the ground. He wasn’t a fighter, he was a kid trying to prove himself. I moved to the other side of the ring, turned around and pulled my hands up for one more fight. The kid, who must be Matt due to the crowd yelling his name, got up and acted like it hadn’t happened. He moved in with his hands up mimicking me.

Matt didn’t know what to do, so he whipped his arm at me with a right hook. Slow and uncontrolled, I ducked and it flew by. I returned it with an immediate string of jabs to the belly. Unfortunately this wasn’t organized fighting, so anything was legal. I made a full turn and then landed a roundhouse kick to his rib cage. He went down hard.

Once again I thought why do they cheer? What makes them cheer? The crowd exploded with cheers. I stood in the middle of the ring, with my arms at my sides, looking around at my peers. I realized I hated their approval of what I had done. But I looked at Matt, laying on the ground. He laid on his side and looked up at me. I could hear his thoughts penetrating my head. They said "Why did you hurt me?"

These people turned me into a monster. I hated what I stood for. But it was me now.

I returned his look with a look of my own, "Because they cheer."





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