The next morning as we were sparring in the gym, I was hearing myself, but not quite believing how chatty I'd become. It was almost as though I was another person. "Hey, Kyle, do you mind me coming around to your place?" OK, so it was a dumb question considering how well his folks and I had gotten along, but I was hoping to hear something special from my bud.
"Well, the fact is, you don't come around often enough. I really like having you around. I want your bod real bad."
Fucking typical. He'd almost always give me a flippant answer to a serious question, so I gave him a friendly smack in the breadbox. It hit the right spot, though, and he wheezed as he stepped back. "Hey! I was just joking."
"I know that -- so was I."
"Seriously, you can come over any time. You don't need to ask."
"That's cool. There's a vibe in your house. It's different."
"Yeah, well take your beeper outa your pants and the vibe will go," he laughed.
"Fuck, Kyle, is that all you can think about?"
"No. It's just that I know that it gets you pretty mad, and you're way cute when you're mad."
"See what I mean?"
If he was expecting the friendly chat to stop me from hammering the shit outa the smartass, he was dead wrong. I was totally psyched for the tournament the following night, and Kyle was my practice target whether he liked it or not.
"I overhead what your mom said last night," I smiled as Kyle's ass kissed the floor with a thump.
"Me turning heads."
"Yeah, well you're kinda rough looking but good looking as well. And my mom hasn't seen your bod yet."
"Is that supposed to be another smartass comment?"
"Nope. I meant it."
"So what about my bod?"
"You live in a house with no mirrors?" he asked as he struggled to his feet. "Gimme a break, Mark. And stop fishing for compliments."
In the showers, I could almost feel Kyle's eyes running over every square inch of my bod. I knew that if I busted him, he'd stop gawking, so I was content let him have his fun. The problem was, his attention was giving me a boner. The damn thing just wouldn't stay down! By the same token, he had a screamer as well, so I guessed we were even.
Despite my paranoia about somebody unexpectedly walking in and seeing the both of us with major throbbers, the temptation to jack off was almost unbearable. It would have been totally fucking cool to jack off with Kyle -- or maybe even jack each other off. But what would Carol have thought about that if she'd known? And what would the other guys think? Yeah, I knew the answer to those questions already. What I couldn't understand was why those kinda weird thoughts kept invading my mind. I figured the only solution was to keep them to myself.
On the morning of tournament day, I was training with the team which meant that Kyle and I weren't sparring as usual. But he came to watch. On a couple of occasions, he tried to tell me to chill -- that I was as tight as a fucking guitar string. Obviously, I was, and didn't wanna chat with him. My main concern was to continue punching the crap outa the assistance coach. My total focus was on psyching myself for the match.
"I've never seen you so damn determined," Kyle remarked as I left the ring.
"The guy I'm fighting tonight is from one of the fancy, rich schools. He's beaten me twice already, and both times I got hurt. I suspected that I might be up against the same guy this time, but I was hoping that I wouldn't be."
"Well, I know you don't feel like being talkative -- but I'm here if you need me." Later, during recess as we ate our lunch, he was becoming more curious. "So what's the buzz?" he asked. "I've never seen you this intense before. Are you scared?"
"Scared? Me? No fucking way! It's just this dude. It's more of a psycho thing 'cause he's beaten me twice already, and he goes all out to fucking hurt me 'cause he knows just where I hurt."
"Oh? So tell me."
"Why? So you can get me there, too? In the ribs, just under my armpits. I keep lifting my fucking arm to hit him, and his timing is always fucking perfect. Folds me like a fucking piece of paper." I pointed to the spot under my armpit. "Just there. Lemme show you." I asked Kyle to raise his arm, then poked my fingers into the top of his ribs.
"Ouch! Wow, that really is a soft spot for sure! Damn!"
"Wanna hang a bit after school so we can go for a juice or something?"
"Cool. But aren't you gonna try to rest before the tourny?"
"Yeah -- I just need to hang for a while, though."
"OK, but I hope you get some rest. Your brain's frying more than that other dude's will."
After school, and a bit more training with the team, I walked out of the gym to see Kyle patiently waiting for me. I'd never had such a dependable friend before, and to see him there with his spiky, black hair and wearing his trademark grin was totally cool. He was just what I needed right then.
Kyle must've sensed that I didn't wanna chat as we strolled down to the beach where we bought a couple of fruitjuices and drank them on the sidewalk. Company was what I needed most. His company. Even in silence, I could feel his support and concern, and it helped big time. Then we took a slow stroll back toward our houses. "Thanks a stack," I said as I split to mine.
"Before you go, can I tell you something my dad said?"
"He said you'll win even if you come second 'cause you're that kinda dude. And he said that none of my friends are losers."
"Your dad rocks, Kyle. See ya tonight at the tourny."
I was sitting with the boxing team at the Civic Center when I saw Kyle, his dad, Wingnut and a bunch of the swim team guys arrive. Steve, Carol and Steph were already there. Anyway, I waved to Kyle who gave me the impression that he wanted to come and say something to me, but his dad whispered in his ear and Kyle sat down again. My mom wasn't there. She said she had stuff to do.
After the lighties had punched the fuck outa each other, there was a break before the senior fights. I saw Kyle and a few of the other guys head for the refreshments area while Kyle's dad made his way toward me. He said a few things, then returned to his seat where he exchanged a few words with his son. I could see that Kyle was mad at his dad -- he was as red as a fucking beet. I figured it must've been 'cause his dad had talked to me but wouldn't allow Kyle to. That made me chuckle a little. Kyle wasn't the kinda dude who liked to be told what he could or couldn't do -- but he had a great respect for his folks.
Time totally fucking dragged while I waited for my division to be called. But the moment I bounced into the ring, I felt pretty cool and calm. At least, that's the impression I was trying to create. My opponent was about the same size as I was, but had slightly bigger arms and shoulders, but no neck. He was built like a fucking bull. I was wearing a red top with gold shorts, while he had a blue top with white shorts.
As we touched gloves and listened to the ref explain the rules, I could hear the crowd going totally troppo. It was all a blur, though. I was way too focused to pay attention to anything other than beating the crap outa my adversary.
After the bell had rung for the first round, the guy connected me in the ribs almost right away, and I had to back off. He was damn good, alright, and I would've been a fool to underestimate him. The rest of the round was spent dancing around like a couple of roosters, and sizing each other up.
In the second round, all fucking hell broke loose, and I kinda lost it. I kept lifting my arm to hammer the guy while he kept seizing the opportunity to clobber my weak spot. About half way through the round, though, I jabbed him and he went down. Cool! After he'd struggled back to his feet, he took a count of eight before the ref gave the signal to resume the match. Well, at least my asshole opponent wasn't getting it all his own way.
Then, everything seemed to go into slow motion. I jabbed with my left but pulled it short. The guy fell for my trick and came at my soft spot. With perfect timing, I lifted my right and connected with his jaw. The dude crumbled to the canvas like you see in a slo-mo sports vid, then couldn't raise his ass for the count. It felt so fucking awesome to have my fist held high in the air as I was declared the winner. And not just the physical winner, but also the psychological winner.
I could see Kyle, his dad, Steph, Carol, Steve, Wingnut and all the others going totally ballistic -- screaming, yelling, jumping and frantically waving their hands in the air. Woohoo! This was my moment of glory, and I was loving every minute of it. Nothing could have possibly tasted as sweet as this victory!
The remainder of the tourny was almost over when I approached my friends after having showered, then dressed in my school uniform. Carol gave me a huge hug and a kiss, while everybody else shook my hand 'til I thought the fucking thing was gonna fall off. And all the while I kept hearing "awesome", "so damn cool", "wicked" and other such compliments. Probably the greatest surprise was Wingnut. I hardly knew the little grommet but he just threw his arms around my neck 'cause he was so excited, then hugged the shit outa me. No wonder Kyle thought so much of the little guy. He was neat.
Kyle's dad took us all for 'shakes afterwards, but there was so much noise from everybody talking at once around the table, I was sure nobody could've heard anything except for their own voice. It was a wicked atmosphere, though. Totally electric. They were all sharing my high, and were riding on their own highs as a consequence. What a fucking blast!
After dropping off the girls and Steve, Kyle's dad drove to my house where I shook his hand and thanked him. "For what?" I heard Kyle ask.
"A bit of advice," his dad replied.
"That I gave him."
"Boxing?" Kyle laughed. "You?"
"Don't knock it. I boxed when I was Wingnut's age. And I've always followed it."
"No shit? So what did you tell him?"
"To hit the deck before the other guy's glove gets him, and to play dead."
Kyle cracked totally, and so did I. Kyle's dad was joking, of course, and he was being evasive about what advice he'd actually given me. I'd won the fight because of it, but I figured it wasn't for me to tell Kyle what it was. That was up to his dad.
I was still so damn hyped after getting ready for bed, that I phoned Kyle's house. His mom answered, and I asked to speak to her husband. I thanked him once again, then asked if I could rap with Kyle for a sec. "Hey, bro, I just wanted to say thanks again. Not just for tonight, but also for chillin' with me this arvie at the beach. And, hey, your father is one helluva special man."
"Yeah, I know."
"Yeah, well if he hadn't spoken to me tonight, I might've lost. Did he tell you?"
"Yeah, about your weak spot, and how to pull that jab so that you could line up the dude's jaw. I told dad earlier this arvie about what you'd said to me about your weak spot. I guess he figured out what to do about it, then told you. I was mad at the time, though."
"When he spoke to me before the match?"
"Yeah. I wanted to speak to you and to tell you that we were all rootin' for you big time, but he told me to chill."
"Yeah," I laughed, "I saw you turn as red as a beet. So how come he never told you that he'd boxed before?"
"Tell me about it! It was a surprise to me, too."
"Well, buddy, I'm bushed. See ya in the morning. And thanks again, big time."
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