Holiday Throwback: Throwing in the Towel

((As 2014 draws to a close, I have one last Holiday Throwback story for you all. This one was another college story for a creative writing class. The prompt? Dialog-only, with a hard limit on the number of non-dialogue sentences used. Happy New Year!))


The fifth round had just ended, and the coach was approaching his exhausted boxer.

“Kid, I’m gonna level with you. You look like something a coyote ate and shat off a cliff,” his coach said.

“Thanks for the pearls of wisdom, Coach,” the boxer replied.

“I’m serious here. There’s only so much a body can take.”

“I’m fine, Coach.”

“No, you’re not. You’ve got bruises on your freaking bruises, not to mention the gash across your eye. Your hand is shaking like crazy.”

“So what? I can still take him.”

“You can barely stand, let alone fight. The only thing you can take is another uppercut.”

“I don’t care. I’m not giving up until I’m on the mats.”

“I’m not letting you hit the mats.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You don’t have to give up. I’m a man of my word, and I’ll end this if I feel that it’s gotten too far out of hand…”

It was before the match, and the boy was in the bathroom.

“Hey, Kid! You all right in there?” His coach called out.

“I’m fine, Coach.”

“Then what was that retching sound I just heard?”

“That would be your hearing aid, old man.”

“Cut the shit. What are you doing?”

“Alright, I felt like a little porcelain worship, okay? What’s it to you?”

“Besides the fact that vomiting is a complete waste of energy, nothing. You scared or something?”

“Scared of what?” the boxer asked. “I’ve fought worse opponents than him.”

“Yeah, but never in the limelight.”

“No different from before.”

“Are you sure? I don’t think you’ve ever had more than twenty people watching one of your matches before.”

“Will you do me a favor, and stop talking? I have a headache.”

“Will you do me a favor, and get out here? ‘Cause I’m sure as hell not coming in there after you.”


“Your match is gonna start in thirty minutes, whether you’re there or not,” the coach continued.


“Was that a ‘I’ll come out now’ fine or a ‘let it start without me, I don’t care’ fine?”

“It was a ‘I’ll come out because I don’t wanna stare at this anymore’ fine.”

“As long as you come out, I don’t care why. How’s your hand holding up?”

“It’s alright. I’ve been using a stress ball on it the past few days, and most of the pain is gone.”

“Will it hold up for ten rounds?”

“It should.”

“What I don’t get is how you managed to break your hand.”

“You know, I really don’t feel like talking about it.”

“As your coach, I’m entitled to know as much about your injuries as possible.”

“Well, I think you’re entitled to making me a winner, and nothing more.”

“I’m getting sick and tired of your damn attitude, kid.”

“What damn attitude?”

“If it weren’t for me, you’d be still fighting in that grimy bar.”

“If it weren’t for me, you’d still be managing that grimy bar.”

“I could have easily found another up-and-coming to help. One that didn’t have an attitude.”

“And I could have gotten a competent coach just as easily. Only this one wouldn’t waste his time asking dumbass questions.”

“If you don’t want me, I can leave.”


“And my crew comes with me. No doctor, no sparring partner, nothing.”


“Are you even listening to what you’re saying? You just told me that you would rather fight in half an hour without someone to make sure you weren’t getting your ass kicked.”

“That’s not wha-”

“Or someone to clean up after you got your ass handed back to you.”

“Will you –”

“Or anyone to give a damn when you’re KO’d.”

“Alright, I get the point. Damn.”

“Then are you done being a stubborn lil’ punk?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“Good. ‘Cause I need to tell you about this guy.”

“What’s there to know? He’s just another opponent.”

“I thought you said that you were done.”

“But it’s the truth. No matter what you know, it won’t do me too much good in the actual fight.”

“Make me feel better, and just listen.”


“This guy favors his right hook. It’s really fast and strong. He’ll try to get the doctor to take you out of the match by going for the same spot.”

“Is that it? I thought you were going to tell me that he was a dirty fighter or something. I just won’t let him hit me.”

“You were never good at dodging, remember? You’re the type to trade blow for blow.”

“And I’m pretty damn good at it, too.”

“Don’t get full of yourself, Kid. He hits harder than you do. If you try going toe to toe with him, you’ll be on the mat in the first round.”

“So whaddaya want me to do? Learn to dance in 30 minutes?”

“No, I want you to listen, for Christ’s sake. Play it easy. Don’t try to push him. Make him come to you and jab him into submission.”

“The crowd’s not gonna like that kind of a match.”

“The crowd’s also not gonna like a bout that goes all of ten minutes. It just makes them wish they had spent their money on some other match. No one will come to see you fight if you get dropped that easily.”

“You don’t need to worry about me hitting the mat.”

The coach gave him a disappointed look. “I don’t need to take this crap from you.”

“Why are you here, then?”

“I’m here to make sure that you don’t get completely wasted in this next fight. In order to do that, there needs to be a bit of trust between the two of us.”

“What do you want to know?” The boxer said, exasperated.

“I want to know what happened to your hand. I want to know why you’re so confident you can win. I wanna know why the hell you’re such a cocky bastard!”


“I’m sorry.”

“…I broke my hand two weeks ago when I punched a wall while at a party. At least that’s what they tell me, I was too drunk to tell.”

“Will it last?”

“I think I already answered that one.”

“I’m serious. If it won’t hold, then I’m not letting you fight this one.”

“I’m sure that it will hold.”

“If it looks like you’re in too much pain, I will throw in the towel and end this match.”

“Not if you know what’s good for you.”

“Oh really?”

“If you end this match and I can still move. I will knock you into next week.”

“Kid, you never change.”

“I thought that’s what you liked about me.”

“Coach, you know what will happen if you end this. So don’t even think about it.”

“Kid, if you could take me in this condition, then I deserve the beating.” The bell rang for the next round. “Listen, I don’t want you to get killed out there…”

“Don’t worry your senile little head about it coach. I’ll be fine.”

The kid staggered towards his opponent, but was decked with one punch. The coach held the bloody towel tightly, and then dropped it.

“Get your head back in the game, Kid! I didn’t come all the way here to watch you sleep! Get yer ass up, and get swinging!”


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