(Thanks to Mikebaor for the image)

 

STORY n° 3 -  (6 Votes)
STORY TITLE LOST CAUSE
WRITER'S NAME Harold Downs
E-MAIL harolddo@cox.net

 

Sybil Conrad looked at her reflection in the mirror.  She was blonde-haired, blue-eyed, 5’10” at a trim and  shapely

125-pounds.  Tonight she was garbed in boxing attire.  Why not, she was athletic and able to take care of herself under

whatever conditions required, including fighting.  At tonight’s event, her boss Randy Putman had committed her to engage

in a boxing match at a bar called “Lost Cause”.  She knew the opponent she would be facing tonight, Sarah Freeman,

another female entertainer, like herself. They weren’t friends.  As a matter of fact, she wouldn’t mind knocking that stupid

red-head out.  Maybe things would work out that way, when their script was revealed at the venue. 

The red, foxy boxing shorts, and white-high top boots, made her look great, and she was already getting into character

Sybil “killer” Conrad.  Holding her fists up in a boxer’s pose, she started to shadow box before the mirror.

The knock on her door, interrupted the imaginary story line that was going through her mind.  That must be Randy.

Randy was dressed in his best, and only suit.  If it was supposed to make him look like a successful promoter,

it wasn’t working.  He was a man of great promise, but little actual accomplishment.  Why Sybil stayed with him was

uncertain, but he’d manager her career now for almost two years.  Many different gigs came during that span of

management, but certainly no financial or artistic success.  She had taken jobs as magician’s assistance, pole dancer in

a sleazy strip club, promotional model for Wayne’s Used Car Sales, and now a female boxer role, at a less than noteworthy

tavern.  As he often told her, “you never know when you big shot will come”, and she was inclined to hope this wasn’t

the night. Repeated appearances as a woman pugilist wasn’t her idea of stardom.  Well, at least this was a pay day,

the money would come in handy, no matter how little it might turn out to be. They arrived at the site of their engagement

almost one hour before their scheduled appearance.  Sybil’s first impression of the non-pretentious “Lost Cause” was

the appropriateness of its name.  What a dump she thought.  The unpaved parking lot was filled with pickup trucks,

old clunker cars, and motorcycles. Randy’s 1982, Chevy Nova looked like the cream of the auto selection.

When they made their entrance into the bar, a huge, bouncer wearing tee-shirt, and old jeans, and military high-top boots

that looked like they’d seen far too many wars, asked them for identification.  Perhaps he thought they had mistakenly

entered the wrong establishment.  Music of the 1970’s blared from a jukebox some where in the dark recesses of the dive. 

Bar patrons were spread around the bar, and tables to the right of the entranceway.  The smoke was like a bank of fog,

with the scant light sources mere glimmers like amber-hued lightning bugs.  It took the newest entrants several minutes

to achieve adequate night vision to move from their host, toward the hallway where they were directed by the welcoming

greeter/bouncer.  Randy cautiously led the way into the poorly lighted passageway.  The manager’s office was identifiable

by an overhead light, above the sign “Business Office-Official Visitors Only”.  Wasn’t that special? Sybil and her manager

were probably as “official” as this club ever got.  Sitting inside the business office, was the owner and manager of this rather

dubious bar.  Billy Joe Gallagher the handwritten name holder on the front of the desk read.  Billy Joe was huge,

with a pot-belly, that threatened to pop all the buttons of his vintage leisure suit.  He attempted to rise from his chair as

we entered, but couldn’t lift his great bulk to a full-standing position.  From his seat, he motioned us to take our seat in two

rusty medal folding chairs.  Where had Mr. Gallagher found his office decorator?

Within a few minutes, a knock on the door announced more “Official Visitors” for Billy Joe.  The woman, and man who

entered were easily recognized by both Sybil and Randy.  Still, Mr. Gallagher made official introductions all around. 

Wearing a rather gaudy blue-sequined boxing outfit, Sybil’s opponent and sister entertainer, Sarah  Freeman. 

Her manager and companion for this evening’s event, Kenneth (call me Kenny) Grooper looked like a teenager with

a bad case of acne, and a suit purchased at the Salvation Army’s rejects shop.  Neither couple exchanged handshakes,

or hospitable pleasantries.  This was strictly business, and the less intercourse between them the better. 

Billy immediately pronounced this evening’s boxing scenario. 

The two boxers would come to the ring, wearing contrasting red, and blue gloves, as determined by their ring attire. 

They would appear one at a time, and sashay through the audience for the preparatory boxing match.  Once each was in

her respective corner, red for Sybil, blue for Sarah, Billy Joe would introduce the combatants formally.  One of the tavern

waitresses, Mary Harding would act as referee giving them the last minute, instructions before the bell.  They would touch

gloves after these instructions were given, then return to the corner to wait for the bell.  For their wages, they were to box

six-two-minute rounds to a decision.  Anything less than that, meant no-money for either woman, the contract had been

broken.  At the end of the contest, even the decision was pre-determined.  They would fight to a draw, with good

sportsmanship displayed by each boxer at this decision. Leaving the ring, they would return to their dressing room,

where they would receive the agreed stipend, fighters $ 500.00 each, and $200.00 split between the managers,

Randy and Kenny.  They were asked if they understood everything clearly.  Yes, the program’s plan was clear as gin,

they all concurred. Mary Harding, the assigned bar maid/referee led the two couples to the dressing room.  It was the beer

and liquor storage room for the “Lost Cause”.  With a single small-wattage lamp in the ceiling, the facilities consisted

of two long, narrow benches, placed on opposite sides of the room, facing each other.  For storing their clothing – empty

plastic milk cases, one for each bench was provided.  Showing the consistency of this whole production, one plastic case was

red, the other on the opposite bench ( what else?) blue.  Nothing was left to chance in planning for this significant event. 

Sybil and Randy completed the necessary wardrobe requirements, the red,  Jack Dempsey boxing gloves were secured

to the “Killer’s” untapped fists.  Once that detail had been achieved, they whispered secretive ring strategy between them. 

The red-headed, Ms Freeman proposed some choreographed boxing rehearsal might be beneficial between the two stars. 

Thus the two women, faced each other in dramatized boxing stance, and started to rehearse their coming encounter. 

Sybil, proposed each alternate the domination of their foe in successive rounds.  Sarah selected rounds one, three and five. 

Sybil would excel in the other three, resulting in the agreed upon draw verdict.  Both women expressed ideas about

the techniques used in scripted fight scenes that they might employ tonight.

It was at this point in the pre-fight deliberations that disagreement first reared its ugly head.  Sarah insisted that facial punches

should be avoided throughout the show.  She didn’t want any bruises, or other impairments to her beautiful facial features. 

Sybil was equally convinced that pulled-punches could do no damage to the participants, and would be critical if this audience

was to accept the efforts of the participants.  Billy Joe wouldn’t pay them if the patrons weren’t satisfied with this evening’s

entertainment.  Thinking that a demonstration of her punch-pulling talents might convince this stubborn red-head of

the validity of her proposal, Sybil threw a right hand toward Sarah’s face. Regrettably, Sarah moved forward at precisely

the wrong moment, impaling her face upon the red-gloved fist of “Killer” Conrad.  Ms Freeman instantly assumed that this

hurtful hit was purposely delivered by the blonde, snob, Sybil.  Without hesitation, and with forceful motion, Sarah retaliated

with a round house blue blaster to the ear of Ms Conrad.  Much like the splitting of an atom in an atomic reaction, the action

continued to accelerate and things warmed up.  Both women started this ring war in earnest.  No dance steps, nor pulled

punches practices, just an all-out donnybrook.  Randy and Kenneth both made a feeble attempt to part the warring pugilists,

but self-preservation by these male managers quickly convinced them to stay away from this hostile shootout.  Had it not been

for the intrusion of the tavern bouncer, who had come to summon the ladies to the arena, the final results of this spontaneous

combustion might have blazed hotter than the sun.  With practiced skill, he interrupted the hostility of these two combatants

forthwith.  Then he directed the huffing red-clad Ms Conrad to follow him in to the official fight site leaving her red-haired

adversary no target for further fisticuffs. As Sybil followed their peace-maker toward the tavern bar, the noise of drunken men

assaulted her ears.  They were facing toward the hallway from which she approached, hooting and hollering like Indian

savages on a raid.  The closer she approached this mob of motley men, the more frightened she became.  Were they going

to attack her physically?  Was there any avenue of escape from what appeared certain calamity?  With Randy cowering safely

behind his boxerette they went among the fight audience of inebriated patrons.  Hands touched, prodded, and slapped her

over various locations of her anatomy.  Their smelly breathes, and slurred speech encouraged her to beat the snot out of

her boxing antagonist.  Specific choices of mayhem were proposed by this unsavory gathering.  Even she didn’t hate Sarah

enough to do the things they suggested to her.  Somehow, she arrived at the contest ring.  It was simply four single posts

spaced 8 to 10 feet apart, with a single strand of hemp rope, marking the border of this meager square. Something like

a painting drop cloth was the only covering over the hard wood boards of flooring beneath.  As foretold, a red-painted,

wooden bar stool, appeared in one corner of this miniature ring. There was also a probable spittoon, and a bottle containing

an unknown liquid substance.  Could this be the site for the end of her entertainment career? In comparison with this venue,

the pole-dance was elevated to the artistic level of classical ballet.  Her life and career would be terminated at the “Lost Cause”

– how ironically appropriate that seemed to Sybil at this moment. Standing fearfully in her ring corner, she witnessed

the reversal of terror she had recently experienced directed this time at the victimized Ms Freeman.  It was enough to almost

make her smile.  What thoughts must be going through that sacrificial adversary?  Sarah was lost from view among

the milling throng of drunken primates.  When she finally emerged into the tiny “squared-circle” she was the living enactment

of a victim who survived a deadly gauntlet of killer sharks.  She stumbled gratefully to her waiting blue bar stool. 

At just the right dramatic moment,  Billy Joe Gallagher, resplendent in his over-stressed, green, leisure suit entered

the enclosure with cordless microphone in hand.  Introduction of the two female combatants proceeded with

theatrical fanfare.  Sybil “Killer” Conrad, introduced from the red corner made a courageous attempt to represent her version

of a confident, professional pugilist.  Raising both gloved-fists above her head, she bounced lightly around the ring perimeter.

Bad mistake!  She quickly realized that every inch of the ring exterior was occupied by intoxicated men, seeking to touch

the bouncing contestant’s posterior.  A couple of Neanderthals almost managed to pull her into an amorous embrace,

from which she would most certainly have been ravaged.  Wisely, she limited her showboating efforts to the very center

of the ringed enclosure.  Next, the bejeweled blue contender was presented to the crowd.  She had learned by Sybil’s

performance, to restrict her celebratory displays out of the reach of the groping patrons.

Mary Harding called the two women to center ring for the formal, final instructions.  The reality of that “final” modifier

was not lost on the two combatants in view of their present surroundings.  Without microphone, Mary instructed the two

women to put on a “good show” for the men.  If she detected anything less than their most convincing fistic efforts,

she would most certainly allow two of her most ardent customers, to have their way with the contestants. 

Did they understand?  Both women were quick to answer affirmatively.  Then, the traditional “touch-up” marked their formal

ceremonial requirement.  Sarah brought her two blue gloved fists down upon Sybil’s red gloves so forcefully,

it almost sent the shaken “Killer” to her knees on the unyielding ring canvas.

The clattering dong of a metal cow bell signaled the beginning of round number one of this featured entertainment spectacle. 

As the two women advanced toward her foe, the ringside patrons pressed forward against the strand, threatening to get

involved in the fight action. It appeared to Sybil, that Sarah was following their script, although the rehearsal hadn’t ended

in total agreement.  The blue-clad red-head, advanced directly toward Killer with the look of pure hatred.  She pumped to

hard left gloves- bing-bing- on the nose of a stunned Slbil. Wow, thought killer, that hurt, this dame is over-acting. 

Didn’t she catch the part about pulling her punches?  It was readily obvious, to the red-shorted Killer, that her foe was taking

Mary’s threat at the instructions very seriously.  Something was seeping from her nose after those two shots, she wasn’t sure

whether it was blood or snot, neither sounded attractive on her part.  Sarah charged straight ahead, driving the stricken

opponent back toward the outreached hand of a ringsider.  It was definitely not one of her fans, because the hand propelled

Sybil quickly forward, right into the swing right hand of Sarah.  Ooof!  The air discharged from her mouth along with spittle,

and the mouthpiece she’d worn to protect her teeth. She couldn’t breathe after that hit.  To help her forget the pain of that

body blow, Sarah struck her next in the eye.  Tears ran from Sybil’s damaged eye, and her head snapped back with a painful

arch of the neck.  This red-haired witch was going to kill, Killer without reaching the sixth round.  Did she want to breach

their contract too?  The fans were definitely enjoying this fistic action in round one, as one-sided as it might be. 

Sybil, stumbled backward from the hurtful punches of Ms Freeman, only to get a pinch on the seat of her red boxing trunks,

which certainly wasn’t Sarah’s fault.  Foolishly, sybil turned around to wallop the pinching-culprit, only to get belted in

the back of her head by another blue blaster from Sarah.  With that hit, Sybil pitched forward to her hands and knees,

below the single rope.  Her face looked directly at a rubber work boot, with the odious stench of cow dung.  Yech ! 

Could it get any worse than this? Standing above, and behind her, Killer heard the waitress/referee Mary start the turtle-slow

count-out over her….one, one-thousand…..two….one thousand….three…one thousand.  Before the fourth-one thousand

could be delivered, kneeling Sybil was rewarded with the metallic clang of the cow bell…round one was over.

Randy was quick to retrieve the humbled Killer, assisting her back to her waiting red stool.  Saved by the bell…that expression

took on fresh new meaning to Ms Conrad as she savored the moment’s vacation from the pain of boxing, sitting contentedly

on the red bar stool. Randy offered her water, and splashed some liquid into the face of his client entertainer.

He inspired Sybil to renewed hope, when he announced that she was to be the winner of this second, two-minute drama. 

That thought brought pleasant images of the revenge she planned to enact upon that Blue demon in the opposite corner. 

Sarah was going to pay for her treachery and what a joy that would be to the revengeful Sybil.

With the melodious clanging of the official ring cow-bell, Sybil shot across the miniscule ring, to commence the mayhem

for round two.  Her first punch a sling-shot type left uppercut caught Sarah under her clenched jaw.  Its upward trajectory

lifted the head into a backward arch, stunning the unprepared Sarah, and rocking her backward into own blue corner. 

She sat unceremoniously under the ring rope, on the seat of her blue-sequined trunks, and then fully extended on her back.

Her head was under the strand, staring un-seeing into the glaring fight fans, nearest her location. Mary now had a decision

to make, as Sybil displayed her victory pose to the delirious mob.  There was no way, she could expand a ten-count

to last the full-two minute duration of this round. Hence she made the quickest decision of her official referee-career,

calling the semi-conscious Sarah, a victim of a shove rather than a knockdown…no count required.  Instead, with the help

of some willing ringsiders, Mary hoisted the downed fighter back up to her feet.  Sarah might well have fallen to the canvas

again, if Mary hadn’t thoughtfully instructed the two ringside helpers, to hold Sarah erect.  With her adversary, thoughtfully

positioned as a standing target, Sybil was thrilled with the prospective punishment she could foster on this hated rival. 

Again, she hurdled forward with a lethal right hand swing that spun Sarah right off her feet, and out of the supportive hands

of the willing fight fans.  Sprawled awkwardly, face downward, on the ring floor for the second time this round,

Sarah received the aid of a corrupt ring official, Mary Harding took her official complaint directly to the celebrating

Sybil “Killer” Conrad.  Killer had violated one of the most basic tenants of the ring – never hit an opponent when she is

not looking.  Since Sybil had never heard of that boxing law,  Mary took it upon herself to explain it to this novice pugilist

in great detail.  Along about five-minutes into the tutoring session the fallen victim, Sarah Freeman, regained consciousness,

and arose in an angry fit of rage to continue this vendetta  against her hated foe. Mary the teaching referee, stepped away

to let the participants continue, while Sybil charged toward the revived red-haired Sarah.  With murderous intentions,

both women closed the gap between them set to deliver “the final solution”.  They launched respective right hand punches

that started from the cellar of the tavern, and traveled in a deadly arc toward the face of their adversary.

Boom, in one spectacular second one red-glove, and one blue glove exploded on the intended targets. 

The destruction they dealt was immediate and decisive.  Before the shocked fans, and bewildered referee,

lay the prone bodies of Ms Freeman and Ms Conrad. Each woman had one gloved arm entwined with the other,

as they lay side by side on the ring floor.  Mary’s course of action was clear.  She knelt between the fallen women warriors,

and  counted the require ten-seconds declaring both women “Out”.  Reaction from the fans was mixed.  Some were amazed,

and others really didn’t care, but sought to return to their favorite drinking hole, and forget the whole thing,

which they could do best with alcohol.

Ironic isn’t it?  Two women came to the “Lost Cost” tavern for an entertainment engagement. They are expecting to

garner wages.  Instead they acquire black eyes, multiple-bruises, pain-racked bodies, and breach their work contract,

resulting in forfeiture of their expected reward.  It all turned out to be a lost cause.

Wouldn’t you agree, they came to the right place?


END