The Comeback — Chapter 04

Posting this while on holiday in Portugal.

Paula Chan stood in the back room of Dino’s Gym that served as his makeshift office. ‘He wants to fight,’ she said. She was well spoken, probably educated, no real trace of an accent.
Dino sat back in his chair behind his desk amid the disorder, papers spilling everywhere, old fight posters peeling off the walls. ‘With all due respect darling,’ he said. ‘I think Ollie knows what’s best for Ollie. Don’t you?’
‘Well that’s the problem, isn’t it?’ said Paula. ‘He doesn’t, does he? He never has done.’
Standing sheepishly beside his girlfriend not saying a word was Oliver Long. Equally unconventional outside of the ropes, Long was wearing some sort of three-piece suit accompanied by trainers that were falling to pieces. The beads in his dreadlocks hung over his shoulders like baubles on a Christmas tree. The odour of cheap after-shave was unable to mask the smell of sinsemilla on his breath.
‘Paula, he’s in no condition to fight. He’s got a cut in his eye or haven’t you noticed that?’
‘A cut that you caused,’ said the girl. ‘Or haven’t you noticed that?’
‘That’s not fair,’ said Dino dejectedly. ‘It was an accident, you know that.’
‘Was it?’ said Paula.
Dino frowned. ‘What’s that’s supposed to mean?’ he said.
‘Well what kind of manager messes around like that with only three days to go to the fight?’
‘It was an accident,’ repeated Dino grimly. ‘And it’s probably gonna cost me a fortune.’
‘Cost you a fortune? What about Ollie? He needs that money, Dino. He’s desperate.’
‘Ollie’s always desperate…’
‘I’m not joking, Dino. He wants to fight – don’t you Ollie?’
‘Yeah certainly… For sure… That’s right boss,’ said Oliver to both or either of them, sounding to all intents and purposes like somebody had just asked him if he took sugar in his tea.
‘He can’t fight, Paula. He’s got a cut. How many times do…’
‘He can fight.’
Dino shook his head in frustration. ‘Just how do you work that one out Paula?’ he sighed.
‘The doctor said it’s not too bad. He doesn’t need stitches, you know.’
‘Well that news to me,’ said Dino. ‘Good news for a change.’
‘And he’s a good healer… He’s always been a good healer. Haven’t you Ollie?’
‘Well I can’t disagree with you there darlin’,’ said Dino.
Paula Chan crossed her arms. ‘Cut out the fucking ‘darling’,’ she said. ‘This isn’t Victorian times you know. He’s fighting and that’s that.’
Dino stood up and moved closer to Long. He took a long hard look at his boxer’s injury. ‘I’m sorry Paula,’ he said. ‘They’ll take one look at that eye and call it off. He’s cut, Paula. There’s no other way of saying this. He’s cut!’
‘That’s where you’re wrong,’ said Paula.
‘Oh come on…’
‘Look away a second.’
‘Look away. Go on… Do it…’
Dino was on the verge of losing his temper, which was a rare thing for him to do and a complement to the persistence of Paula Chan. Even so, he did as he was told and turned his head away from his fighter.
‘You can look now,’ said Paula Chan after a couple of moments.
Dino once more stared into the eyes of his boxer. He moved even closer. ‘What’cha do?’ he asked.
Paula was holding a jar of foundation in her hand, the sort that would cost you a couple of quid on the high street. She smiled.
Even Dino looked surprised. ‘Well I have to say… It’s… It’s pretty good.’
‘It’s more than just pretty good,’ said Paula. ‘It’s pretty fantastic.’
Suddenly thoughts were going through Dino’s head. Maybe his boy could still fight. Perhaps Long could do it after all. Maybe they could just about pull it off. Even with that cut he still had more than enough for the Italian. ‘He’d have to make sure that Rossi stays away from that eye,’ he said.
Now Oliver Long was smiling. ‘Nobody touch Ollie Long,’ he said.
‘I gotta think about this. I don’t want to put you at risk. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I did.’
‘Nobody touch Ollie Long,’ repeated the boxer, puffing out his chest.
‘He’s only got to last until the opening bell goes,’ said Paula. ‘And then we can say that he got cut in the first round.’
‘I dunno…’
‘He needs the money,’ said Paula. ‘You need the money.’
Both of these statements were true.
‘I gotta think about it,’ said Dino. ‘I could lose my licence over this.’


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