I can taste blood.
Metallic, tangy and weirdly addicting.
Running a finger along my mouth, I can feel the sharp prick of a split lip and I lick at it, relishing the pain, to sharpen my focus.
A big right hook sweeps in towards to my eye and I lean back, allowing the knuckles of the Turk to brush across my chest.
His back was now to me. The worst position for any fighter.
Stepping in close, I softened his torso with a right handed blow to his ribcage, before scything my left elbow towards his face.
The fight should have ended there.
Instead, the Turk saw the move coming and he ducked his chin, allowing the brunt of my elbow’s force to dissipate against his strong forehead.
Grimacing, I keep my momentum going, to break free of the close quarters we were in, and we both glared as each other, as we stood on opposite ends of the fighting square.
Our chests heaving from physical exertion, I decided to take quick stock of the situation I was in.
The iconic smell of sawdust mixed with centuries of beer and blood perfumed the air and set the scene for exactly what this fight was: a pub bash, with 70-ish people crammed in a small space, baying for more blood.
The ring wasn’t exactly circular, more a square that was commonly used to herd in fresh cattle on market days. Straw matted the floor, making our fight perilously slippery and it didn’t help that spilled beer sploshed constantly, as the crowd cheered on the Turk who came stumbling forward, his dark face twisted in a fierce scowl.
The cheers turned to boos, as I dodged out of the way and tripped him with my feet, causing him to crash into the wall and knock over 3 over enthusiastic men, their coats and beer mugs flying into the air, as they stumbled back into a less than happy crowd.
For a man so large, the Turk was extremely nimble. He was sheer muscle, a former strongman that worked at a circus, lifting heavy items and astonishing people with his muscle mass.
Which, to me, meant that he was a tiny bit slower than the fighters I was used to, but also a lot damn harder to take down.
Hitting his body, was like punching a wall.
But I had to persevere. I could tell that the last punch to his torso hurt him, more than he was anticipating. And that was because, this entire fight, I was just aiming at that one spot, dodging and dancing, counter-attacking at that single spot, just underneath his ribcage.
Already I could see that his dark complexion was even darker in that spot, ugly purple bruising mottling the skin. His right arm wasn’t as quick anymore, and the recovery move to protect himself was now significantly slower.
Despite these percieved disadvantages though, I was getting thoroughly trashed.
My knuckles bled from hitting such hard muscle all the time. I couldn’t feel the right side of my face properly, and there was a gash above my left temple, where his fist had nearly split my head open.
Blood was dripping constantly from my left brow, causing me to wipe at it constantly and I was now favouring my left side, after a monstrous blow nearly split my kidney in two.
I was losing.
The Turk though, was still hesitant to finish me off. He was still wary of me, my counter-punches that had slowed him down, enough to cause doubts in his mind.
I had also worked out a simple trick. Every time I wiped my bloody brow, he would advance and try to get into my blind side. Then he would feint to my strong side, before coming at me from my bleeding left side, eager to give me another trashing.
I knew that this was his favoured strategy, but I had to apply my knowledge carefully. It had to be for the final blow. I was recovering still, gathering my wits, will and fists for a final attack.
Both he and I had been here for too long, the match that was supposed to be over in seconds, now dragging out the minute hand of the grandfather clock, where the pub owner stood with everyone’s bets.
Our breathing was getting heavier and heavier, the Turk’s grunts as he threw punches louder and more savage, and my feet were starting to drag sawdust, straw and blood along the ground, instead of nimbly dancing above them.
The next hit, rocked me to the floor. The Turk had feinted with his right shoulder, before coiling his left hand into a fist and sending a massive sternum punch that launched me backwards and left me kneeling on the floor, coughing.
The Turk, sensing my weakness, charged forwards, eager to deliver a final king hit that would win the fight once and for all. His huge dark body, glistening with sweat, his face contorted into a viciously smug scowl, bared down on me.
The crowd screamed and cheered as they sensed the fight ending. Flecks of beer foam rained down on the fighting square.
I wiped my bloody brow.
The Turk just went straight for my blind side, coming in hard and fast towards my “unseeing” left side.
Just as the Turk pumped the brakes, and raised his right leg to kick me square in the face, I swiftly moved my head out of the way, allowing his leg to rest on my left shoulder and uppercutted the bastard right in the nuts.
The crowd instantly fell silent.
The Turk’s face went purple from the pain, and before he could even reach down and cup his balls, I placed both of my hands on his knee that was outstretched in front of me, and chopped down brutally, nearly breaking the joint.
The Turk toppled backwards as I released him. He screamed in pain, tears streaking down his face. Incredibly he was still standing, his breathing coming hard and ragged, his damaged right leg, hobbling behind him.
The Turk hissed in intense pain as he glared at me pitifully.
It was time to end this.
I feinted to the spot that I had been hammering away for the entirety of the fight, and the Turk dropped his arm to protect himself. However, as his head drooped down, I stepped in and chopped an overhead elbow, right into the side of his head.
The Turk barely had any time to react, as his head was promptly met by my rising knee that sent his neck cracking back up the other way.
I cut my elbow across his face for good measure, and the Turk spun around.
The poor bastard was now stunned, defenceless and barely conscious.
But still, he was standing.
Taking a step back, to the deafening silence of a stunned crowd, I ran forward, like the Turk had done to me, but this time, I knew that he was truly done.
Jumping up, I raised my knee and slammed it, right into the spot just underneath his ribcage, where his kidneys were.
A sickening crack could be heard, as I broke two of his ribs and an even louder crash swiftly followed, as the Turk smashed onto the floor, completely unconscious.
I landed on my feet, and gasping for air, I raised my right fist in silent triumph, before wiping bloody spittle from my mouth, and spitting in the corner.
No one could believe what had just happened. Looking over at the pub owner, who nodded in respect, I opened the door to the fighting square, and grabbed a spare towel, from a stunned patron, wiping myself off before collapsing into a chair.
The pub owner grabbed a bottle of whiskey and threw it underhanded at me. I barely caught it in time, but the moment I ripped off the cork with my mouth and chugged a good portion of it, I could feel a hint of pride in still being able to function adequately, despite the immense damage to my body.
The stunned crowd then cheered raucously and clapped loudly, as the pub owner broke the spell by yelling “Alright lads, show’s bloody over. Come and get your winnings!”
Random men came up to congratulate me, clapping me on the shoulder, shaking my hands and throwing me respectful nods.
As the bar attendants cleared the ring and carried away the Turk upstairs, I sighed and took stock of my injuries, gratefully dousing my bloody knuckles into a pitcher of cold water that one of the bar’s local prostitutes bought over.
She was pretty too, with blonde hair, green eyes and porcelain skin that whipped at the senses, when you noticed her plunging decolletage.
Always after a dollar, I thought to myself as she came up and gently stroked my shoulders, sitting astride me with a naughty tempting smile playing across her red lips.
“Good fight out there lad. Need some help loosening up?” whispered the girl into my ears, she gently massaged a knot in my shoulder.
“I’m not sure I qualify as a very attractive client right now, lass” I replied as I close my eyes, enjoying the way how she is digging into my back.
“That’s never stopped me before, has it now, Jack?” said the girl teasingly.
“No Lucy, it certainly hasn’t.” I smiled at her.
“Come on then, let’s get you upstairs and cleaned up. Otherwise some of the other girls might get the wrong idea.”
Lucy pointed looked at the other girls, who were glaring enviously at us. No doubt they were angry that Lucy and I had a long term understanding, thus she would get the first pick. After all, I was a man who had just made a lot money in a fight and all these girls wanted a piece of me, no matter how badly I looked.
Lucy was still continuing her ministrations as I sighed and swallowed the rest of the whiskey.
“You’re insatiable Lucy. I don’t know what is worse, not knowing whether you’re after me or my winnings.”
Lucy pouted prettily at me as she allowed me to wrap my arms around her shoulders and we slowly climbed the stairs to one of the spare rooms above the pub.
Looking back, I could already seeing the next fight about to commence, this time a young aristocratic looking boxer taking on an wiry Indian. The crowded bayed once again, and I shook my head before looking ahead and wondering if my body was even going to perform for the next strenuous exercise.
Lucy, sensing my trepidation, gave me a cheeky smile.
“It’s OK, Jack. I promise you own’t have to fight much. Just surrender to me darling.”
This one was astonishingly easy to write and it was all because of an tennis injury I sustained recently. Going for a forehand, I misjudged the timing, and complete with the sun in my eye, ended up smashing my racquet into my lip, cutting the inside and leaving me with a split lip.
So inspired by the strange new look I had to sport for a few days, I wrote this and was very happy that everything was quite smooth to write. I obviously based it off the Sherlock Holmes slow motion fight scene in the pub but made my guy a bit more of a dirty fighter and tried to pay more homage to the setting with the inclusion of different ethnicities being forced to fight for money.
Hope it was as fun to read as it was to write!