October 18, 2019, 03:47:08 AM

Author Topic: Training Day  (Read 148 times)

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Offline Cartier

Training Day
« on: October 24, 2018, 03:37:12 PM »
The inside of the gym is musty. Tiny motes of dust float through the dark room, illuminated only by the streams of rising sun coming in through dirty windows. As the camera pans from right to left the tell-tale sounds of someone working a heavy bag can be heard. Sharp inhalations. Hissing exhalations. Leather hitting leather with a fleshy slap unlike any other. Coming into view just as a flurry of punches rocks the heavy bag to one side is the former and self-described “real” 4CW King’s Road Internet Champion, Cartier, leaning forward and resting her gloved hands on her knees. Standing nearby, an older black man steadies the punching bag and places a hand on Cartier’s heaving shoulder, leaning down to speak.

Man: “Don’t stop now, girl. You got to keep pushing it.”

💎Cartier💎: “Redbone I gotta take a break, man… I’m blowed up, I needa rest. This been all morning!”

Her coach, Redbone, straightens up then and his voice grows stern. The tone makes Cartier stand at attention, though she still sucks deep gulps of air into her lungs.

Redbone: “You think them other people gonna take breaks? You think  Ana Valentine ain’t workin’ this hard to make a example outta you? That girl come outta retirement this month and wrestled for nearly twenty minutes! She in shape, don’t go in there thinkin’ she ain’t”

💎Cartier💎: “That bitch ain’t shit!”

Redbone: “That’s what she hopin’ you think! You gonna go in there all fulla your own bullshit and get caught unless you do the work.”

💎Cartier💎: “I been workin’ every damn day! Ain’t nobody workin’ as hard as me an’ you know it. We been crushin’ it in here on the bags, in the ring, on the weights… you got me in the best shape of my life! I’m only 21 years old, peak of my life. This a old lady with kids and a mortgage and shit, she was already suckin’ off the damn High School football team when I was born.”

Redbone: “You keep that attitude up an’ you gonna wake up starin’ at the lights in the Staples Center and wonderin’ what went wrong. Now get yo’ ass up in that ring we gonna work on them hands some more.”

💎Cartier💎: “Dayummmmmm!”

Cartier pouts and brushes away hair stuck to her forehead from the sweat she’s already worked up. Dark triangles of moisture extending from her collar and beneath each arm in her sleeveless grey sweatshirt as she lifts her arms in exasperated frustration, but still she follows her mentor into the nearby ring - a humble structure that looks like it could a hundred years old. The ropes sag, the canvas is stained, and the apron has been sewn like a quilt with dozens of repair patches.

Cartier knew its story. Redbone had told her all about it just over a year ago when she’d first gone to the man in hopes of launching a wrestling career. He’d told her how some local skinheads had kept breaking in and vandalizing his gym. How they’d write slurs all over the apron of the modest boxing ring. He told her the one most important lesson he could give her at the end of the story:

“Patch it up. Keep fighting. Don’t ever let them beat you with fear.”

She had looked wistfully at the patches on the apron then, as she does now while entering the ring, and tried to count them all. There were too many though, she kept losing track.

“How many times they did it?”

She’d asked him that day.

“It don’t matter. They don’t do it no more and the ring still here. That’s what matter.”

He was right, too. The apron had its scars, but it was still there. It survived. So did Redbone. She remembered the way the story ended. How the last time the two neo-Nazis came, Redbone had been there cleaning up after a late evening workout. How they’d attacked him, but he managed to fend them off. He’d sent one of them away with a broken jaw from the right cross that hadn’t lost any speed from Redbone’s twenties into his mid-fifties. They never came back, but Redbone walked with a limp ever since. Cartier didn’t let that go unnoticed at the time.

“They coulda killed you, ‘Bone. You ain’t ever walked right since. A damn ring ain’t worth that shit.”

“You think this limp is a bad thing?”

Redbone had asked her, incredulous. Cartier could only stare at him in shocked silence at the time while the older man laughed and shook his head. What else could it be but a bad thing?

“This limp in my leg reminds me I’m still alive today because I kept fighting. Sometimes we take a beatin’. Sometimes we catch a scar. We get hurt. We go down. But when you stop gettin’ back up, you die. When you stop fightin’, you just waitin’ to die. You gon’ sit here and wait to die?”

“Hell naw, I’mma fight!”

“Damn right you is.”

And that’s how it started. Her uphill climb from a nobody who never took a bump in a ring in her life to a performer in SAP, then Vengeance, Liberty… and finally 4CW. Redbone kept her fighting, he kept her training, no matter what. He called her sharp. He called her dazzling. He called her hard. He said she was beautiful but strong too, like a diamond. In a way, although her mother had been the one who gave birth to her flesh and blood, Redbone had been the one who gave birth to Cartier as she was today, in the ring. They both knew it, though it went unsaid. That’s why, even though she would put on airs about being tired and needing a break, Cartier always got up and kept it moving.

Cartier followed Redbone into the ring. He’d already slipped a pair of leather focus mitts onto his hands and was waiting for her right in the middle of the ring, which slightly sagged under their combined weight.

Redbone: “Go on now. Gimme a jab.”

Cartier did as he asked. She sent a snapping right hand out with crisp speed, colliding with his mitt with a crack that echoed through the empty gym.

Redbone: “Good. Don’t stop now. Follow me with it. Jab. Jab. Jab.”

Cartier continued to follow his coaching. He circled away from her, counter-clockwise, and she followed with jabs. He doubled back and went the other way, and she followed him then too.

Redbone: “Gimme two now… two more… duck it under… gimme a combo…”

Redbone kept backing away and circling, repositioning his hands to offer different targets for Cartier’s punches, changing out the pattern, swiping out the occasional mitt for Cartier to duck. Her shots were hard, fast, and accurate. The reverberations of gloves into mitts pounded like drum beats as the two danced across the canvas. After ten minutes of constant bobbing and weaving and punching, the teacher and student duo come a rest with Redbone placing his leather-covered hands on each of Cartier’s shoulders and looking her in the eyes.

Redbone: “You come a long way in a short time. But don’t let it get up here.”

Redbone taps Cartier on the temple with one of the mitts.

Redbone: “As soon as you start thinkin’ you better than the other one, as soon as you start thinkin’ you ain’t gotta work twice as hard as the next one, you gonna get reminded by someone else who tried harder and wanted it more. You feel me?”

Cartier nodded, almost solemnly. She looked down at her gloves in pensive reflection, catching her breath still from the flurry of activity.

Redbone: “Your jab good. Real good. Your cross almost as fast as mine. Your hands is special, but you can’t ever stop tryina get better.”

Cartier laughed.

Redbone: “What’s so funny, youngblood?”

💎Cartier💎: “My cross faster than yours.”

Redbone: “Oh you think?”

💎Cartier💎: “Hell yeah I KNOW that shit. When we sparrin’ again? I got my second wind, I could…”

And then she was rocked backwards by a lightning-quick swipe from Redbone’s right hand. He connected right on her temple, right where he’d just been reminding her not to get into her own hype. He didn’t hit her hard, but it was hard enough. She dropped to a knee for half a second before popping right back up and stepping forward with bugged out eyes and a wide open mouth.

💎Cartier💎: “Yo ‘Bone, what the fuck? You cheap shot a bitch now?”

The old man smirked, then walked toward the corner of the ring where a second set of gloves as well as sparring helmets hung from a corner post. He pulled off the focus mitts as he talked to her with his back turned.

Redbone: “First off, I told you my shit was faster. Second, you needa ALWAYS be ready to take a shot. Ana Valentine ain’t gonna wait and make sure you ready before she throw a punch. Genie Carlson and Lauryn Wolfe sure as shit ain’t. You needa be ready, and you needa also be ready to take the ones you ain’t see. Now put this shit on and let’s go.”

Redbone tossed Cartier a sparring helmet and then pulled one down over his own head. Cartier smiled as she watched the older man start to tug the gloves onto his hands, then she put her own helmet on, slapped her boxing gloves together and hopped to the middle of the ring to meet her mentor, telling herself his sage advice in her head over and over.

Don’t stop fighting.

Don’t stop fighting.

Don’t stop fighting.