Maybe its not your fault but ours, Billy Farts said. It is our problem. We are your corner. It is our job to guide you into your own corner and onto the stool as quickly as possible. Your job is to fight for three minutes. Our job is to take care of you for the minute between the rounds. The more of the one-minute that you rest and we can work on you, the better our man fights. Am I right, Mike White?
This is the final chapter in the Kid Coole serial that began in May of 2015.
This novel is both a boxing novel and a novel about multicultural America in the 21st century. What distinguishes it from other boxing novels is its many women characters, which the author has drawn sympathetically. It is a novel about a world in which different races seem to operate without as much friction as in other social realms.
The reporter scribbled frantically, not hearing the differences that Mike White wished to articulate, just getting them onto his notepad. The writer would figure out what his interviewee meant later. Mr. White was a renowned boxing cornerman, and whatever he said was noteworthy to the journalist.
They left the arena and went into the locker room where Kid showered and changed into a new white nylon outfit of pants and zip-up jacket and a new pair of white trainers.
He sat on the porch of the nursing home next to his auntie. Aunt Ella had gotten old, not before her time, but right on time, though she had become much older than the last visit to the home. Uncle Tony, her brother, the fighter, the prisoner-of-war, he was old prematurely, only he still looked like a dopy teenager.
In the Kid’s corner Billy Faherty screams. The cutman Mike White talks. The spit-bucketman Ralph Half-Dog adds his two cents. Everyone yaps all at once so Kid can’t hear any of them.
Dear God, Parnell prayed, give me a rematch with Blue Rivers. Make such a fight possible. My body is hard and elemental, Billy Farts says. I have no distracting thoughts.
Gladiola and Kerry were fighting again. They fought all the time lately. It started with words and escalated to shouts. Sometimes the daughter threw things at her motherglasses and plates, knick-knacks and cups and anything that wasn’t nailed down.
Kid walked through Times Square. Earlier in the day, he had sparred with this up-and-coming welterweight in Brooklyn. A Spanish guy. Named Carlos. He forgot his last name. Short-term memory. He had dinner in Little Italy.
Boxing was a game of inches. That’s what Billy Farts said. He heard it from Whitey Bimstein, the legendary trainer. A fighter only had to move an inch to slip a punch. Step one inch to the right, and you are not where the other guy expects you to be.
“They all want to become champion. But reality sets in and then you start to become an opponent. And then after you become an opponent, you become a sparring partner.”