End Of The Line

November 19, 2010

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“Weighing in one hundred forty six pounds,  Ellllllston Murrrrrray.”

Murray climbed into the ring to moderate applause.  He could see his opponent approaching with a large entourage in tow.

“And weighing in at one hundred forty seven pounds, the resigning world welterweight champion, Bruuuuuuuiser Brrrrrrrrrrown.”  The sellout crowd broke out into a deafening chant – “Bru!  Bru!  Bru!” 

Elston Murray watched the spectacle with disguised disgust.  Brown was an egotistical showboat who had gained his championship belt in a controversial split decision in which he had leveled several cheap shots when the ref wasn’t looking.  A sportsman he certainly wasn’t.

Murray had begun his boxing career as an angry, troubled youth.  By the time Murray had become a Golden Gloves champion, his legal problems were a thing of the past and the anger had begun to fade.  When he met Maria, the anger disappeared altogether.

Maria disliked seeing him in the ring, and eventually Murray also tired of the scene.  The ugly underbelly of the sport gained more exposure every year and fighters like Bruiser Brown brought shame to a sport that had once been great.  Elston Murray had retired in his prime – never having gotten a title shot, but having experienced much success in his career.

Elston had saved most of his prize money, rather than blowing the cash on fancy cars, drugs, and call girls.  Even with the conservative investing, he and Maria should have been earn enough in interest and dividends to live comfortably, if not extravagantly.

Then the cancer came.  Nothing helped Maria – not even the experimental treatments.  The medical bills would have been crippling for many people.  For Elston and his infant son, the bills were of minimal importance compared to the loss of a beloved wife and mother.  He sold some of their assets to pay for the medical bills and Maria’s funeral, and the two Murray men soldered on – with a bit of belt tightening.

Then came the salt in the wound.  Elston had intentionally engaged three different financial advisors to manage his assets in order to minimize the risk of embezzlement.  The advisors devised a plan to work together to steal the entirety of his portfolio out from under him.  His nest egg was gone.  He was forced to take out a home equity line of credit to make ends meet.

Elston realized that in order to send Sammy to a good college, he’d have to step back in the ring.  At 30, he was getting a bit old for the business, but had kept himself in good shape.  He reached out to some boxers he had mentored when he was still active, asking for a fight.  Most were happy to oblige a man who was universally liked and whom had aided many fighters with their technique.

After two years of slugging it out for peanuts, Elston had begun to get some bigger fights.  A couple of stunning upsets pushed him up the rankings.  When the champion needed to schedule a title defense in order to keep his belt, he picked the old guy, assuming Elston would be a pushover.

Elston was aggressive from the opening bell, rocking Bruiser with a devastating blow to the jaw.  Brown quickly shook it off and began to trade blows with Murray.  Murray had a longer reach than the champion, but Bruiser was quicker.  If Elston could keep Brown from getting too close, he’d be able to deliver blows with impunity.

The bout quickly turned into a rout.  Bruiser’s legendary quickness had been taken down a notch as the result of lackluster training and too much time spent at the buffet.  Murray pounded him relentlessly, with many observers wondering why the referee hadn’t stopped the fight.  When they came out for the final round, the champion’s face was bloodied and battered, and he could barely see out of his two black eyes.

Murray took it easy on Brown – letting him dance around and delivering blows to the body in order to avoid further damage to the pretty boy’s face.  Murray knew that he was far ahead on points and just needed to play defense for the final round in order to preserve a victory.  He’d walk away from the sport once again with enough money to retire.

When the bell rang to signal the end of the fight, Elston dropped his arms to his side.

He never saw the fist coming.  Before the referee was able to announce that Elston Murray had won a unanimous decision and was the new welterweight champion, Murray lay dead in the ring.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Plotkin
    Nov 19, 2010 @ 18:05:09

    NO!!! You made me love a character and then killed him off. You are amazing Kosmo. In a matter of minutes you made me feel hope and then despair for a fictional character that came alive brilliantly.

    Thank you for a great, memorable read.


  2. kosmo
    Nov 22, 2010 @ 09:57:13

    Incredible how powerful short stories can be 🙂 A few minutes before your comment, that character of Murray didn’t even exist in your mind.

    At least Murray won the fight 🙂


    • Barbara Plotkin
      Nov 22, 2010 @ 16:05:17

      Agree! That’s why I love reading your short stories so much!

      Please tell me that Sammy is taken good care of and grows up to meet the woman of his dreams and Brown goes to jail forever and has to give all of his ill-won earnings to Sammy who sets up a trust in his father’s name promoting fair practices in boxing. And Sammy and his kind and loving wife have a beautiful baby boy who they name Elston Jr.
      (I’m writing a romance for nano this month and I guess it’s rubbing off on everything I write!)


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