South Africa
Part 77
Based on emails from October, 2002.

The break from school had been really kewl. Hectic, but kewl. I'd been paddling out in some sloppy shit [surf], though, cos Bruce had been too busy to drive Wingnut and me around to Long Beach and Witsands to check out the conditions. Apart from that, I didn't have the fucking energy to hike around. I'd also been busy with all sorts of shit.

Steph, me, Winger, and Jacky made a foursome on Monday night when we went out for pizza. Jacky couldn't get enough of Winger. Whenever they were standing around she'd be behind him with her hands under his T, rubbing his stomach and chest, and he was fucking loving every minute of it.

"How odd."

"Shuddup, G, and just pay attention."

Anyway, I went around to see Mr T. Wingnut had already told Mr T that I'd be coming, and the reason why. Mr T asked me a load of questions about my attitude towards Craig. He'd already met him. He admitted that Craig was a spoilt brat, but he also added that Craig was an awesome swimmer and very strong.

THANKS A FUCKING LOT! I KNOW THAT ALREADY!!! Don't worry, G. I didn't say that out loud. I just thought it. But Mr T also thought that Craig was a nice kid. NICE KID???? Were we talking about the same Craig? Yeah, we were. Mr T had met Craig a few times already. But he said that I could beat Craig in a fight if I could get him angry enough to do something stupid.

"You need to watch his eyes all the time, Steve. His eyes will signal exactly what he's going to do next, or where he's aiming to plant you."

"Think I can beat him?"

"Craig's a good kid, but he can get too cocky. Make him mad enough and you're bound to make him do something stupid. He and Cody faced up to each other once, and Craig backed off. Cody used to get angry - yes - but he could channel his anger the right way. Hey, Steve, I'm not saying it's cool for you guys to knock your blocks off. Especially not now. You just do more damage as you get older. But, from what you've told me, Craig is going to follow you around forever if you don't stand up to him, so it'll be good for the two of you to settle this thing. I also don't like what he said to Steph. So you've got me in your corner, bud."

"Thanks, Mr T."

"No problem, Steve. But don't try any power shit with him cos then he'll beat you. Use your head to control your fists."

I also spoke to my dad during a session in the gym. I was holding the punching bag for him as he gave it a pummeling. Holding it? It was more like I was holding on for my very life just to stay on my feet! WHAMMO! *eeeek* Wingnut was quietly watching.

"So what do you say, dad? You've been pretty quiet about this thing with Craig."

"Is he on the school boxing team?"

"Don't think so. He's a swimmer, but he hits around in the school gym."

"I'm not happy, son. If he's been training with the boxing guys then he's got the savvy. Hey, don't look at me like that, Steve! I know you've got to do it - to meet this challenge. But it doesn't mean I have to be happy about it. I've seen a lot of damage done, even when guys were wearing protective headgear and everything else."

"I think I can beat him, dad. I really do."

"I don't know this Craig, but I think I can give you some pointers."

My dad then went on to give me a lesson in how to take a hiding. Every time I moved away from him, he'd hook me. Every time I moved into him, he'd hook me. As soon as I was a decent arm's length away, he'd fucking hook me! Thank fuck he wasn't putting all his power into the punches. Nevertheless, he was giving me a helluva work over.

The lesson? Don't give Craig the space to throw a hook. Then my chin got it. Block. "Keep your gloves up and keep your elbows in!" OOOOMPH! My dad connected me in the abs.

Then my dad invited Wingnut to join him for a spar, which was cool to see cos Winger didn't give a fuck... he just kept throwing punches as hard as those my dad was throwing at him. Then my dad started putting a bit more power into his, but Winger got through the flurry of fists. The lesson? Let him try to power punch cos it's difficult to control against an opponent who is using tact. Don't stand flat footed.

"Actually, G, it was obvious that my dad was taking to Winger. Maybe cos he was like the son he'd lost? Fuck knows, but it was cool to see him loosen up, and he even smiled once. I think. Hahahahahaha! Nah, he was smiling a lot at the way Winger was flying into him and being tough, and handling what my dad was dishing out."

OK, so I'd been a good boy... following everyone's advice. Now it was time to phone Mark and get his opinion.

"Have you tried speaking to him, Steve?"

"Yeah. He answered with his fists and his boot."

"How deep are you into this fight?"

"Pretty much. My dad and Mr T and Winger have been giving me a load of sparring and advice, while I've just been trying to get fit. Hey, Mark, if you're gonna suggest I walk away from this fight, I think it's way too late."

"I was gonna suggest you walk away. It's not that I think Craig's a great boxer, but he's fucking strong. Anyway, how the fuck could you agree to do it at his school?"

"I didn't arrange it. OK? And now you're not helping me."

"OK, I guess if you have to do it, then it's cool. But he's gonna try to psyche you out. Might even get his buds to phone you at home before the fight. Remember, he'll be on his own turf so he's gonna arrange for his buds to be around even though they can't watch the fight. They're gonna stare you down and make you feel like you're not welcome there... which you're fucking not, just by the way."

"Thanks."

"Pleasure. Just remember, every time they try to psyche you out, respond by getting more and more angry with him, not them. Channel that anger at him. Don't internalize the fucking shit. Go to your gym and smack your bag hard. When the big day arrives, and the coach tells you guys to fight, Craig's gonna plough right into you cos you won't be expecting it. But now you are. Right? .... RIGHT?"

"Yeah, yeah... I fucking hear you."

"Then fucking say so! Serious question. What do you think your chances are? Even if nobody helps you."

"I think I can take him, and beat him."

"Don't place your bets on what you and I did together here in Joburg. That was play. But anyone can beat anyone else if their mind is set. Keep your gloves up, and your elbows close together. He'll be going for your gut, but forget about doing that to him. He's fucking muscular, and you won't be doing much damage. Go for his face and his head... especially at the start cos he won't be expecting that from you."

"What's his weak spot?"

"He doesn't have one."

"So I'm dead?"

"Only if you listen to yourself. Craig rides on a massive ego. He's got more to lose than you have. His ego is his weakness. Sounds to me like you need to get your mind right, bud. Want me to come down there and smack you around a bit?"

"Hahahahaha! Kewl."

"Every time you have doubts about this thing, just remind yourself of what he said to Steph and what he did to you. You could win this thing, Steve."

"Think you could beat him?"

"Hey, I was a boxer. That's the difference. And that's your advantage. He swims and you surf. You both do a bit of training. He's stronger but I think you've got more savvy. I think you can beat him with the right focus. Don't look away from him if he stares at you. You need to keep your eyes on him all the time. You'll pick up little things that will project what he's gonna do. Don't pick up the dummies. Watch the eyes."

Spring break had been pretty hectic, but with training and trying to psyche myself up for this fight, I thought I could win. Fact was, I knew that I was gonna beat Craig. I'd trained so fucking hard for this, and I felt a lot stronger. So that would put paid to Mark's comment about Craig being stronger than me. I figured I could get Craig down in a wrestle if we'd had one at the time of writing this.

Wingnut had been around at my house every day, putting me through the whole fitness routine, as well as punching the bag. "You should get yourself a speedball to train with as well. Gets your reflexes going and sharpens your aim and timing."

Steph had been pretty cool about the whole situation as well. I figured she'd come to terms with the fact that a guy had to do what a guy had to do.

"So, G, what's with this comment on MrB news about Steph and me, and the end of something? I forget what it said, but I remember it upset me a bit. Almost like it's a 'Cody's gone forever' kind of fucked comment. His passing has been sealed. Upset the fuck outta me. He'll never be fucking gone for me. The two of us invested way too fucking much for me to say, 'yeah, well he's gone'. Just cos I made love to Steph? Is that it? Kinda screwed your brain or something? I didn't do it to score points, Gary. I did it cos it just kinda happened... the timing was perfect, and Steph and I needed it. Sorry. I just lost it there. I can't handle the fucking thought of him not being around ever again. I also know that giving up smoking has screwed you up, but it'll get better. It's awesome the way you're handling it."

Peace
Your friend and the Codeman's,
Steve

> Hi Gary. The break from school is really kewl.

G'day Steve,

Maybe it should be 'the break from skewl is really kewl'.

So let's get this Cody's 'passing is sealed' thing out of the way first. You and Steph making love is another milestone in the aftermath of Cody's death. One of the first milestones I had difficulty with was the scattering of the ashes. I just couldn't wrap my mind around an urn full of ash as being Cody. Cody was always about life and energy. But I didn't blame his dad for scattering the ashes, just as I don't blame you and Steph for making love. And I certainly didn't think you were trying to "score points".

I wrote what I wrote cos that's how I was feeling at the time. It has nothing to do with you or Steph personally. I just get pissed about life marching on without him. I can't pick up the phone and be comforted by Steph or Mark or Wingnut or Mr & Mrs T. My only link with Cody is an invisible and anonymous dude in Cape Town. That's how it was for you earlier this year. I was your only link. Now, that's all changed. All of Cody's friends are your friends, and his folks welcome you as a son. Actually, all of my friends are now your friends as well. And that's how it should be. But don't forget where I am. I'm still hanging by a single thread.

So Bruce has been too busy to drive you to Long Beach and Witsands? That's gonna change. I've got a feeling that after you graduate from high school this year, you won't be needing to hitch any more rides hehehe. But I'm just guessing, so don't hold me to it. BTW, as an ex-driving instructor, lemme give you a bit of advice... don't let your dad teach you how to drive. You'll be better of with a driving school - a total stranger. Once you get a bit of experience, then you can drive with your dad or Bruce as passengers. If your dad can afford it, it would be a good idea to take an advanced driver's course as well.

I think it's great that you and Steph made a foursome with Wingnut and his girl for pizza. Jacky's obviously good for his ego hehehe. And I'll bet as her hands were exploring under his T you were remembering all those bumps and curves. :)

Good advice from Mr T about Craig. I agree that Craig's weakness is his temper. If he becomes angry, he'll make mistakes. And, yes, watch those eyes. I also agree with Mr T about not liking what Craig said to Steph. Despite Steph's hysterics to begin with, you had every right to protect her honor as well as your own. Here's what Jason [June's other half] had to say about it:

Concerning Steve-Craig. I AGREE with you. No one deserves to be talked to the way ass-wipe talked to Steph and Steve. Steve did exactly what he should have done. Itís time the Craigs of the world were put in their place. Steve also did the right thing by trying diplomacy first even when he knew the outcome before hand. Next step is to show ass-wipe what comes out of his ring and it ainít sunshine.

I know how much pain Steve is in right now. Iíve had bruised ribs more than once. It only hurts when you breathe? Yea Right! It hurts like hell all the time. I also remember how long it took to heal. A fight right now would not do Steve any good, but could cause a lot of damage. If ass-wipe Craig finds out about the ribs he will want to fight now to take full advantage. His kind arenít known as "fair" fighters.

Steve should make it perfectly clear to all, win or lose itís finished. NO MORE BULLSHIT from ass-wipe for Steve, Steph or Winger. Once again Steve has shown what he is made of in taking up the challenge.

As to Steve "getting lucky" {I assume those were ass-wipe's words}, donít believe it. Sounds to me like he more than held his own considering he was cold-cocked from behind and double-teamed. If he hadnít been distracted things might have turned out differently. Just let him know he will not be alone in the ring.

Me again. I think your dad was spot on when he gave you pointers about how to take a hiding. I would imagine most boxers get into the ring determined to bash the crap outa the other guy. But learning how to take it as well as give it seems very logical to me. Is your dad a virgo? :) I had a friend years ago and I used to say to him, "You can punch me on the arm as many times as you like. All I want is to punch you just once." Hehehe. He knew the power of my punches, so he never took up the offer. Meantime, excellent advice from your dad. Soak it up and wait for your opportunity to strike back.

Hey, I don't blame your dad for taking to Wingnut. He's an awesome little guy, and very loveable. But I think your dad has new eyes now... new eyes with which he sees you, as well as your friends. Actually, that brings something to mind - Cody never commented on Wingnut's dad, except to say that he had a paunch, was once a hot looker on the school swim team, and that Wingnut liked his dad. But that was it. It seems a little strange to me that Mr T and Wingnut's dad didn't become friends. Oh, well...

Mark's advice is also good. He's been part of the street scene and knows all the rough tactics. He knows how Craig's mind works hehehe. Yes, Mark's advice is very good. Watch the eyes, and remember those nasty things Craig said to Steph. I would also add to that the memory of the way Wingnut looked at you when Craig pummeled you at the beach during your drug withdrawals.

I like your confidence, Steve. But don't let your confidence blind you. Never, ever underestimate your opponent. You've spoken to Mark, your dad, Mr T and Wingnut. Seems like they've sized up Craig pretty well from various perspectives. And that's your main advantage. He can't size you up cos he doesn't know anything about you apart from what he's experienced personally, which is fuck all. He'll be fighting the mystery man! :)

Mr T may be right about Craig being a nice kid, or at least having the potential to be a nice kid. If Craig shakes your hand after this fight, win or lose, maybe he's OK. But I doubt it. Cody offered his hand to Craig after Craig had won a swimming race, but Craig refused the offer. He's a bitter bastard for whatever reason, and he likes to throw his weight around, including intimidating the juniors. That's a sure sign of insecurity. I wonder what makes him tick? Maybe one day you'll find out.

Meantime, you've got everyone who counts in your corner, including a bunch of guys Craig is totally unaware of... guys from the States, guys from Europe [even Helsinki!], guys from Oz, guys from Canada [Please give my regards to Steve and tell him that he has more friends than he realizes and that we are all in his corner. Your mate from Canada, Dave (Tails)], and guys from wherever.

Hey, Steve, you started out 2002 friendless except for maybe Bruce. Over the months, you've earned not only a number of important friendships, but also the respect of many people. EARNED being the operative word. Seems to me that Craig earns his "friends" by intimidation. He could learn a lot from you, and I hope that somehow he gets the opportunity... for his own sake.

Awesome the way I'm handling the smoking? Nah. I have two choices. Smoke or don't smoke. That's it. There's no middle ground.

Your friend and the Codeman's,

Gary

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 Steve Part 78