Blue looked down at me like a disapproving father, but you know, a lizard “So let’s recap what we accomplished. We interviewed fifty people and what did we come away with? Zero people to help us and you’re going to get your ass kicked in front of a big crowd of people?”
I mumbled defensively “It wasn’t fifty people, it wasn’t even half that many.”
Martialla finished taping up my hands and clapped me on the back “Don’t forget about the money. Ela’s gotten beaten up for a lot less than fifty thousand dollars before!”
I looked around at the crowd “Where did all these people come from? How did so many people hear about this?”
Martialla laughed “You’re kidding right? Super-powered bloodsports are a third of Madripoor’s gross domestic product, and chick fights are super rare. I’m sure someone was taking bets on this as soon as the words were out of your mouth that you were game.”
“Is anyone betting on me?”
Martialla laughed again “Ela, the odds against you are an unprecedented one thousand to zero, which means a bet of zero dollars on you pays out a thousand if you win, still very few takers.” She laughed a third time, uproariously “It’s just not a smart bet!”
Blue started rubbing my shoulders as Martialla walked away “Don’t listen to her, just remember what I told you, no strikes are allowed to the groin or joints of the legs, and no elbows to the head. What you want to do is clinch but you need to stay active.”
“You didn’t tell me any of these things!
“I did tell you, last night, you don’t always listen Ela.”
“Shut up, I do too listen! Jesus Christ, is that Mr. X over there in the audience? What the hell is he doing here? You think he’s going to try and kill me?!”
Blue looked over at the humorless psychic sociopath and then shook his head slowly “I don’t think so, interfering in a fight like this is one of the few true taboos in Madripoor, I don’t think even he would do that. Still, might be a good idea to keep your head down.” He glanced around “Keep an eye out for snipers.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?!”
It was about three seconds into the fight when I realized that I was woefully overmatched. Or outclassed. Do those mean the same thing? She may look like a sex toy turned into a human form through Pinocchio magic, but she was both trained and experienced at fighting – and as you may remember, I’m neither of those things.
Here’s the thing. She was a better fighter than me, fine, I’ll accept that. I would have been willing to take a few lumps and that’s that. Beating me up doesn’t make her right. But just smacking me around wasn’t enough for her. She had to humiliate me. She was dancing around and toying with me. And I could have even taken that with good grace. I mean that’s why people love Muhammad Ali, he’s a great fighter and he knows it and he taunts his opponents like a real asshole. People love that shit.
I can handle that. She wants to make a big show out of beating me up, fine. That’s life. One thing Martialla was right about is I’ve gotten hurt worse for a lot less. But then she knocks me down and I’m a little out of it and when I realize what’s happening, she has her foot on the back of my neck and she’s waving and blowing kisses to the crowd. Everyone was having a good laugh at her antics. And then she spit on me.
You’re not going to do that and get away with it. There’s a bully inside everyone that just loves it when someone else is being embarrassed. It’s a sick little part of the human soul. I wasn’t going to be the object of everyone else’s good time. I got a hold of her around the ankle and I flicked my wrist like I was throwing a Frisbee. I had zero leverage, you know because of the position she put me in, but it didn’t matter. I’m very strong.
I heard some cracking. I heard her halfway scream – it was like she started to scream but then passed out before she could let it loose. Like she drew in all the air for a scream and then it just dribbled back out because she was unconscious. When I stood up she was on the ground and her one leg was like a kinked up garden hose that you drag out of the shed after winter. I didn’t know a human leg could look like that. I bet if she hadn’t been wearing her magic hooker suit, I would have ripped her leg off. I saw what I assume was bone poking into the side of the material.
A moment before, the crowd was howling and screaming and having a good old time. Now they were dead silent. I feel like I could hear people’s hearts beating, it was so silent. I got a cigarette out of my pocket and stuck it in my bloody lips. I lit up, I took a long drag, and looked over at the referee.
“So did I win? Is this like a TKO? Can I get an official ruling?” I crouched a little and grabbed my aching ribs “I should have got the money up front. I bet she’s going to weltch. Welsh? Do you weltch on a debt or welsh?”