The Road

by Benjamin Sparks, contributing writer

As I woke up, my eyes burned before adjusting to the sunlight beaming in through my window, and I yawned as my body twisted and contorted like a bent straw. The smell of pollen wafted in from my bedroom window and I sneezed, snatching me farther away from my natural morning grogginess. I threw my covers off and grabbed my towel from my dresser to take a shower. When I stepped out of my room into the hallway of my apartment, I was greeted by the familiar white walls and the picture frames of religious quotes that my mom spread through my apartment when I first moved in. There was a breeze rolling through my apartment and I shivered as I rushed into the bathroom.

The warm water finished the job of fully awakening my senses and as I got out the shower, I began to think about my agenda for the day. My name is Barry and I am currently a small time MMA fighter with my first pro bout right around the corner. I’m 6’3, 25 years old and for a heavyweight, am in pretty good shape. I’ve been supporting myself for a year, renting a studio apartment in Queens from my mom’s friend at a price of one thousand a month which is a steal. I’m currently working at my dojo training little kids eight through twelve, which isn’t too bad except sometimes the bigger kids don’t know how to take it easy on the little ones.

It was a beautiful Saturday morning and my day off, so I decided to have a light breakfast and head to the dojo for a workout. Also, to discuss my first opponent at the pro level. I put on some basketball shorts and a white tee. Afterwards, filling my duffel bag with all my equipment, shin guards, headgear, hand wraps etc. I slung it over my shoulder and left the apartment hopping on my bike. I usually biked to the dojo since it’s only like ten blocks away. Whenever I entered the dojo, the air of the place was just different. I don’t know if it was the smell of sweat flowing through or the groans and creaks of bags and pads being hit. But, once I entered the place there was never anything I wanted to do less than push myself to the limit.

I began hitting the heavy bag and getting a little rhythm going, following it as it swung around in an arc from the force of my blows. I went hard for about five minutes to work up a slight sweat and then moved on to jump rope just as my friend Mikey walked into the dojo.
He was about 5’5 all confidence, I had never met someone who could praise himself so much until I met Mikey one day at the precinct. He was a ginger and very proud of that fact, weighs about one fifty five, and has a pro record of 4-0. Even though I’m older than him he had started fighting way before me.

“Sup man, getting ready for the big night?” Mikey asked me lashing a big smile as I gave him dap.
“Honestly just thinking about it gives me butterflies,” I replied touching my palm to my belly.
“Aww, don’t believe the hype bro, a pro fight is just an amature fight where you get paid, there is no stepping into another level, if you’re good then you’re good.”

I always wished that I had Mikey’s confidence but, all in all I wasn’t a very optimistic person. I remember how nervous I was my first amature fight. It was so bad that after I won by decision, I threw up in the ring, it was quite a spectacle.

“Did you and Tony pick out your first opponent yet?” Mikey asked me.

“Nah, we’re supposed to discuss it today,” I replied.

“Speaking of which, here comes the big dog right now.”

I turned around and saw Tony walking up to us with a huge smile, as he gave me and Mikey handshakes.

“I’ve been waiting for this day since you first told me you wanna be an MMA fighter,” he said and I gave him a puzzled look. “You might not feel the same but, ever since your first amature fight, I noticed how well you perform under pressure.”
“Yea, thanks but I’m a little eager to discuss my first opponent, so what’s the first step?”

Tony let out a huge laugh slapping me on the back.

“It’s the same procedure as an amature fight loosen up. C’mon into my office and let’s talk business.”

Mikey left and went on about his training as Tony led me away into his office. His office was a little cramped but not too bad, it had a bookcase against one wall with philosophical books like the Art of War and such. The rest of the room was adorned with pictures of Bruce Lee and other great fighters. There was a mess of papers on Tony’s desk and he cleared them out giving me a nervous smile.
“Sorry about the mess, lot of new students lately and Nick doesn’t let us slack off for a second,” he said pulling out five bio sheets on different fighters with their pictures and overall record. “Take your pick, there are a couple newcomers in that pile but most of them are past their first fight.”

There were two ways I could approach this, I could give myself a challenge and pick the toughest guy like Mikey did, but then again I didn’t need to add any extra nervousness because my opponent was overqualified. So, I decided to play it safe and pick someone in the same position as me. I was flipping through the pile pretty quickly but one name caught my eye. Derek. I pulled up his record and he was 2-0 with two submissions, then I saw his picture.

“What the heck!!” I exclaimed loudly, it was a picture of my brother.
“What happened?” Tony asked me.
“That’s my brother, he dissappeared like two years ago but I know it’s him.”
“Derek Brown, he must’ve changed his last name.”
“I know it’s him, this might be my only way to get in contact wit him, I want him as my opponent.”
“Are you sure he’ll sign the contract?”
“Yeah, he’ll sign it trust me.”

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