Clinch

June 4, 2017
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“Hello is this Ms. Clay?” “Yes, who is this.” “This is the principal of North Hill Academy, I called to inform you of your son’s behavior. He got into another fight today, and we had a meeting to discuss his actions. We have come to the conclusion that it is best to decline his admission for next year.” “What, no, there must be a reason for this fight, he has gotten better just give-” “I’m sorry ma’am but we have given him too many second chances, this is his eighth recorded fight in 5 years. I’m sorry but there is nothing else we can do.” “Where is Justice supposed to go, all the other schools are out of our district.” “Like I said before there is nothing we can do.”
“Boy you have really done it, I work hard, long hours everyday just to see you blow your education for some stupid fight.” said Ms. Clay “What do you want me to do?” replied Justice “Well you can’t go to school at North Hill next year, because they kicked you out. So you are going to live with your Uncle.” “Mom, no I can’t go-” “You can, and you will go, you have three weeks to get ready, your Uncle will come pick you up on your last day of school.”
Three weeks go by and just like Mom said, Mr. Mason was parked right outside the school, the school I had attended for so many years. I opened the door and sat in the seat with my bag still on. “How are you doing nephew?” I didn't respond, I just sat there, looking out the window. “You should probably take your backpack off, it’s a long haul to the city.” I tossed my bag in the back seat, and buckled my seatbelt. Mr. Mason, my uncle, lives in Seattle, he owns a gym, which I’m told makes good money. The trip was long, but it gave me time to think, as we drove by the cold, stiff mountains I thought about what it will be like in the city. We finally stopped, and my Uncle said “This is our apartment building, and down the street is the gym.” We got out of the car and walked up a flight of stairs to his apartment. It was a plain, simple place with little furniture, and no television. He showed me to my room, there was nothing but a bed, it was like a cell. “I’m going to the gym, if you want to come you just take a left exiting the apartment and keep walking.” I grabbed my key and left. I had always fought in school, but I never truly looked at it as a sport, only a means to survive. As I walked into the gym I was struck by a gust of icy, cold air. I sat up against the wall closest to the ring, so I could see the fighting. I watched closely as the men in the ring exchanged punches. I was confused how everyday the same guys would come in just to refill the pain from the day before, but in a way I also admired it. The rest of the summer went by fast, and August arrived at the speed of light.
“Orientation is today, how do you feel about going to a new school?” Mr. Mason asked “I feel alright.” Uncle Mason responded “Just be patient, it will take time to get used to everything, but you will be fine just don't rush in.” I arrived at orientation seeing people hugging and laughing. I sat down by myself on the second to last seat of the row. I pulled out my phone and starting going through twitter to kill time before the program started, then someone came and sat next to me. I looked over and saw a simple faced girl with dark hair, and green eyes. “Hi, my name is Chloe, I am here to help with orientation, so if you have any questions just ask.” “What is the point in this.” I replied sarcastically “Well, the school is trying to make the transition for new students more fluid.” As she finished her sentence a man with a bald head, and a bowtie began speaking, then the lights dimmed. Chloe sat down next to me on the seat closest to the isle. We joked, and made small talk as the program continued. She was also a senior and had been going to this school since her freshman year. The program ended and we were dismissed, I walked out with Chloe, and we found ourselves striding down a long hall way with blue, rusty lockers. Out of no where I felt off balanced, then quickly everything went blurry, and I heard a high pitched clap that continued to ring in my left ear. I couldn't open my left eye and I only saw stretched figures crowding around me in my right eye. After lying on the ground disoriented for what seemed like a lifetime, I lifted my torso, but I couldn't get my legs under me, and as a result I fell to the right and hit the locker again, only this time with less force. “Get up, saxon!” I looked up and faintly saw a broad shouldered, man with strong facial features. “Come on sax, you want to talk with Chloe, talk with me.” I immediately stood up with my hands up. “Marcus, please just leave him alone.” Chloe exclaimed “Hit me then.” I jabbed directly at his head, however, my aim was off. Marcus threw a right hook, and I managed to somehow slip it. My confidence had grown, as I looked over at him and... “Justice, Justice, listen to me.” I open my eyes and see the inverted image of Mr. Mason with his hand on my face. “What time is it?” Mr. Mason ignores me and asked “Don’t you think you would win more fights, if you knew how to fight?” I sat up holding the ice pack against my head. “What time is it? I ask again “It’s 7:47, I think you have slept enough for today, maybe we should go eat somewhere.” Laughing a little I nodded in agreement.
I drive to school the next morning and as I walked through the halls I see people staring at me from all angles. Maybe they knew what happened, or maybe it is just because of the bruise on my head. I locate my locker, locker number 48. I enter my code three or four times before it finally opens and I hear laughing behind me. I turn around and see Chloe with Marcus and some others. Thankfully they were not looking in my direction. “You’re the kid that got his ass beat right?” I look to my right and I see a skinny kid with tattoos from head to toe staring at me smiling. “Yeah, if that is what you want to call it.” I responded “Yeah, that’s what most people call getting knocked out.” “Who are you?” I said “I’m Damian, I just moved here from Portland.” ‘Aight, well I guess I’ll see you around.” I hear the bell and began looking for room 615. I walked up and down the halls like a lost child. Finally I saw a janitor and I asked him where the room was. He replied pointing, “That way and to the right.” Though the description was vague I managed to find the room. Everyone was in their seats and the teacher was in the middle of a lecture when I walked in. “Sorry I’m late, I couldn’t find the room” I remarked. “Well now you know, find a seat Mr. Clay” the teacher said lightheartedly. I sat down and noticed Damian looking at me from across the room with a sly, smirk. I was confused at why he was looking at me like that, however, I assumed that was just his personality. Until I looked to the left and saw Marcus. He turned and stared at me with a vile look. I ignored him and let time pass as if it was a quarterback. After class ended I went to my locker once again, and yes Damian was standing there with his duplicitous expression he said “You scared of Marcus?” I replied, “Why would I be.” Damian explained, “You do know he’s a fighter right, like a good one?” I replied, “How good?” Damian leaned in closer, but still spoke at the same volume “He’s ranked number thirteen in the state, and two in Seattle.” Irritated I quickly said “How do you know all of this?” He replied, “I looked him up.”
After a long first day of school I sit down with Mr. Mason for an early dinner. I ask, “Do you know a fighter named Marcus Simmons?” He replies, “Yeah, why?” “He goes to school with me and he’s given me some trouble.” “I assume he’s the kid who hit you?” Mr. Mason inquires “Yes, he did. I wish I could get another chance to fight him, I wou-“ Mr. Mason interrupted me “Why don't you just sign up and fight him in the ring?” I replied, “He is ranked top twenty in the state, how am I supposed to beat him?” Mr. Mason grinned “I have a student who is top ten. If you want, go to the gym tomorrow after school, and that will be our first day.” So I did, day after day I went to the gym after school, and we trained.
The last week of school before winter break comes, and I am ready for school to be out. I see Damian and I go over to sit by him before school starts. “Hey, Dame.” “I’ve been looking for you, everyone is going crazy.” He replies anxiously “What, why?” “People are saying you are signed up to fight Marcus in May.” I pause for a moment, and speak “That’s probably true, my Uncle must have arranged the fight.” Suddenly, I feel someone grab me and I shrug them off and tun around. Of course none other than Marcus Simmons, standing in front of me. He looks at me intensely and says “Withdraw, or I will make sure you can’t fight.” Feeling confident I look around and reply, “You know what withdraw means?” I expected him to hit me, but no, he looks at me and just walked away. I felt uneasy, almost sick to the stomach because I was expecting something, something different than what I got. The week went by much more quickly than the slow weeks, however, also slower than the fast weeks. I thought to myself as my final period of the first semester ended. I thought maybe Marcus is actually afraid of me, maybe he thinks I will win. My Uncle picked me up, we were going out to celebrate my first half-year of school. We drove around aimlessly for a few hours, then just walked around the city, going from place to place with no worries. At around 8:20 we decided it was time to go home. We came to our street and saw police cars, and fire trucks down the entire street. Black smoke was escaping from the windows of the gym. I saw the look of my Uncle, he was in disarray. His hands dropped from the wheel and his posture weakened. The rest of the night lethargically progressed. We had to file multiple police reports, and answer a seemingly infinite amount of derivative questions. Most people would be irate, but both my Uncle and I felt laid back, we had nothing to look forward to. Then we walked into our apartment, I closed the door carefully, and there I saw in black spray paint “withdraw”. I stared at it for a moment, then turned around to see my Uncle looking at the wall with a enlivened look in his eyes. Days, weeks, months went by, the only thing I thought about was that fight, the only thing I wanted to do was train, my sole purpose in life was to win.
We sat in the dressing room, everyone is motionless, even the sound of the light bulb grew to be quiet. The room was so still time seemed to be distorted as there was nothing to compare it to. “Listen son, this kid is great, but he’s got nothing to be angry about, you do. You should be angry you got kicked out of school, you should be angry about what he did to me, you should be angry he hit you in the first place. If you can’t accept the pain, then you can’t win, not just in the ring, but in life. So if you’re not angry, then tell me now so I can call off the fight.” Once again silence filled the room, the echo of Mr. Mason’s voice was still bouncing from wall to wall. “Then get out there and fight.” I heard the crowd, I sensed the presence of so many people, but could only see the ring, and the man that waited for me. The announcements of each fighter vibrated throughout the building, there was a pause- then the ref brought us to the middle of the ring. He spoke quickly and softly, and in the blink of an eye the first round had begun.”Marcus Simmons has come out swinging with brutal combinations, and Justice looks as though he is playing to not lose, rather than to win.” the announcer states “The second round is now underway and the pendulum has swung, Justice is hitting body shot after body shot, and Simmons has no response.” My Uncle screams in my ear, “There you go, keep it close his arms are too long to be playing out on him” I listen to him lecture on as my arms are filled with hot blood, and my face drips with sweat. “We have made it to round 15, I really believed Justice would be done much sooner than this. The bell has rung and Justice Clay is dancing around the ring, with both confidence and caution. Justice closes in and throws a right hook, which is countered by Marcus. Marcus fails to connect on the return to Justice, and Justice hits Simmons in the outer part of his eye. Blood from the hobbled fighter gushes past the ropes, and onto the crew of Simmons. Justice follows up his blow with a multitude of strikes, Justice Clay looks like he is in a different dimension than what we are in.” Marcus falls to the floor and the count begins one, two, three, four—nine, ten. The crowd irrupts in celebration, and Justice kneels down in pain. Mr. Mason embraces Justice, and that is the night Justice became his own man.






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