The Land of The Thieves - Chapter 9
Episode 3: Fight Club (3)
The club room was filled with applause and shouts. The shirts and ties of spectators were wrinkled with pleasure. In the middle of the red circle, Rudi had just knocked out his opponent. I swallowed hard. Theo joined in clapping, whispered, “He’s the No.1 fighter in the club. Don’t try to challenge him. “
Rudi’s grim face during the battle was gone. Now, he was helping his opponent to his feet, laughing with him as he did and hugging one another. “A fight or two can be very emotional, Tom. But this is a club with respect above all else. We are only enemies inside the red circle, outside of that all club members are good friends. All fighting activities are kept a secret. Even if tomorrow, you are to meet any club members, no one will discuss last night’s events.”
I nodded, still stunned by many things. When Theo asked me to go home at midnight, the last battle had wrapped up, I decided to become a member of the club.
“Welcome, Tom. If you want, next week we can schedule an exhibition fight. What do you say?” Randy, who accepted my registration credit card, winked.
I hurriedly shook my head. That’s a bad idea!
“All right, next week, the second fight. Three rounds, five minutes each, against, uh, Erik. Yes, Erik, he has been demanding a battle schedule for a month now. Well, you have to get ready.” Randy didn’t care, he guffawed aloud.
That was three years ago. And immediately I became part of the “fight club”. Erik was my first opponent. You could imagine, someone who had never been into boxing, never mastered any martial arts technique, entered the red circle under the gazes and cries of the spectators. I was nervous. Even though Theo had already given three sessions of crash course every time he came home from work, it was not enough. Erik ripped my temples bloody. He knocked me down in the third round, just as the bells chimed.
“Think of your wound as a replacement for the annoying meeting this afternoon, Tom. You should approve of my presentation, not slay it.” Erik grinned, helping me up.
My legs trembled, I didn’t know what my face was like finished off by Erik’s best blow.
“Dude, this is great. For someone who joined for the first time and immediately fought, you are setting a record.” Randy laughed happily, helped take off my gloves, and handed me a drink. “You’re the first to stand up to round three.”
Theo just grinned, staring at my bruised face. Meanwhile, dozens of other club members patted my shoulders, said welcome to the club, stuck out their hands, made friends, and praised the exciting battle just now.
Despite my battered condition, this felt really great. I had never felt more enthusiasm, excitement, tension, or whatever you called it when fighting when sending punches, and when receiving blows in a row. It felt like my whole body was exploding with the ecstasy of pleasure. Since that night, my first fight, I decided to become a fighter. Three years passed, more than a dozen times I faced other club members, and that was the first time and for the last time, I fell. The other times, if I didn’t win, we were both still standing proud until the bells of the last round rang.
I grew up to be a great fighter. I got back at Erik in the fight a year later, and I even knocked Randy down three months ago. The only club fighter I had never defeated was Rudi. Two times we fought, both ended in a draw.
“You are up now, Tom.” Someone hit the locker room door. At the sound, my irritated face, Theo’s calm face, and the annoying face of Randy turned around.
“Hurry up, Tom. They’ve been waiting impatiently for this fight since earlier. One or two have been at the club since four in the afternoon.”
Theo nodded, said that we would soon go to the red circle.
“You’re going to fall this time, buddy.” Randy was still busy babbling.
“Tom will beat Rudi,” Theo answered flatly, “just like he beat you three months ago. I bet on him.”
Randy waved. “That time was just a coincidence. You guys cheated, deliberately pranked, causing me to have a stomach ache when fighting. This time you don’t have a chance. “
Theo raised his fist, telling Randy to move away. I still didn’t answer, simply stepping into the battle room.
“You don’t talk much now, my friend.” Randy chuckled. “Remember this! If you succeed in defeating Rudi tonight, I will fulfill your request. Anything, even if it includes letting off big criminals at the airport immigration gate!” Randy’s provocative shouts rang behind me.
I was not listening anymore, continuing to head towards the center of the audience’s attention. Several club members shouted, tapped my shoulders, cheered me up, saying, “You have to win, Tom! Finish him, Tom!”
The club room was full. There were some I didn’t recognize — It was always a good time to bring in new recruits when important battles were taking place. Every once of the room was filled with fighting fervour. And inside the red circle illuminated by the spotlight, stood my challenger.
Rudi, the club’s true boxer.