The Grapple at the Apple
A short story by Ben Fontaine
Disclaimer: Names, dates, places have been changed. This is a work of fiction. Actually more like fan fiction, as I am a fan of these characters. Any likeness to actual people is purely coincidental. Also I feel dumber after writing this.
“The Thrilla in Manila”, that one fight in Zaire (I forgot which one), young Mike Tyson knocking his opponents out in seconds. Mohamed Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, and I know I’m missing many more but I don’t want to drone on.
The point being I came in at the end of boxing’s golden era, all the epic bouts, the historical ones happened well before my time. I used to dwell on the fact sometimes, sitting alone in my room sullen that I missed all the great fights. Little did I know that my destiny was to bear witness to one of the most epic fights of my era, a bout that defined 2007 and in my backyard of all places.
Two scrappy, hungry, young upstart fighters, two former friends, two on and off again roommates for many years decided their time was now. The story is one where I was often called upon for the retelling due to the “forgetfulness” of all the others involved. Like a child in a car with safety locks, I was along for the ride; unwilling and never prepared for the breaking point and in many ways I have never recovered.
Very special lessons I learned that day:
1. You can blame others for a DUI.
2. Don’t hit C-Span with a stick, he gets mad.
3. Pig Boy’s stance would make a great dance move.
4. Don’t stop to piss while on the way to buy drugs.
5. If your friend is being processed for DUI, score drugs and find your own way home without helping him in any conceivable way.
6. C-Span is surprisingly agile.
7. An ass kicking involves a headlock and being hit with a stick. Once.
8. It is impossible to dispense insults and throw punches at the same time.
That day the late summer afternoon air was even thicker than the normal Vermont humidity. It smothered us denizens of Appletree Point like a fluffy hospital pillow over an unsuspecting sleeping patient’s face, startling us, choking us until the brink of darkness and jolting us back to the reality of the situation at hand.
The event that cast the giant suffocation pillow upon Appletree started like most others; with a few drinks in the living room. Sitting around an undersized coffee table with an unknown origin talking of memories past was Pig Boy; an unscrupulous, gluttonous fellow, hence the nickname, sitting next to Pig Boy was C-Span; a gangly, cartoonish type man always looking for a ride, and Willingham; a friendly, rich kid without any responsibilities.
As they drank, Pig Boy’s penchant for blow grew into an irresistible force, a seductive silhouette beckoning him for an embrace, and Pig Boy with his mouth perpetually open, salivated at the thought and through gentle nudging convinced Willingham to drive him to his favorite, friendly neighborhood crack house.
Willingham and C-Span hoping to get a piece of Pig’s Boy’s action willingly (hence the name) went along with Pig Boy’s illicit plan. So they drove in relative peace all the way to Airport Parkway upon which Pig Boy began squealing about having to piss. The beers had hit him and he had already broken his seal, Willingham told him no several times, pleading with him to wait until they arrived at their destination.
Pig Boy was not one to be deterred and his squealing grew louder and eventually Willingham relented, pulling over to the side of the road on Airport Parkway. Pig Boy exited Willingham’s jeep, took three medium sized steps into a slight ditch where he relieved himself. As soon as Pig Boy hit mid-stream a siren lit up the area and a cop got on the loud speaker, beckoning Willingham to come to his window. The cop was a portly man who did not want to exert himself physically, ironically in a job that demands you exert yourself physically. Due to his immense girth he made both Willingham and Pig Boy come to his window, it was like fast food policing and the portly cop informed Willingham he must take a breathalyzer.
Willingham was a particularly defiant fellow and always refused orders no matter how rational they were, so fat cop took Willingham to the hospital where he would have to get his blood drawn in an attempt to get a DUI charge and finally win over his peers with a high scale bust such as this, and to a much lesser extent to make the community safer. As Willingham was whisked away to Fletcher Allen hospital, Pig Boy and C-Span being the unsupportive individuals they were, proceeded on foot to their friendly local neighborhood crack house (yes, I’m using that phrase again) where they scored drugs, possibly on credit. I do remember them being happy when their dealer got busted because they didn’t have to pay him back, so I’m guessing they had a good line of credit there.
Willingham eventually made it home by walking a herculean distance and was understandably seething by the time he arrived at Appletree. He wasn’t shy about letting Pig Boy and C-Span have it, blaming them for everything with his ire directed mostly towards Pig Boy’s bladder. The dynamic duo of Pig Boy and C-Span had made it home a few hours earlier getting a ride home from an unknown individual, what was known however, was that the individual who gave them a ride home was not compensated in any shape or form.
The argument spilled over into the next day, I could hear it through the open windows as I walked to the front door after a long day of being yelled at on the phone by uneducated rednecks, at a place I like to call work. The argument was barely audible from outside. It sounded more like a like a bunch of startled chickens in a coop, than a room full of grown men.
At this point, despite being a rich kid, Willingham demanded they pay him restitution, a concept completely unknown to both Pig Boy and C-Span. He kept getting more demanding with his voice getting shriller and high pitched with each repetition. Honestly I think he needed to draw them a flow chart or something, I’m pretty sure they weren’t outright refusing but they simply didn’t understand the act of paying for services or helping others.
C-Span who never had any more than 3 singles in his old faded leather wallet, at any given time refused and gave stern refusals to his Willingham’s demands using intricate rebuttals such as calling him a “bitch” and other variations of that word, implying that he was weak and effeminate and to act like a man.
Willingham was more than eager to prove his manliness and as I entered the living room he rushed C-Span who stood there, with his impressive Raymond Massey like physique like he was posing for a painting, or possibly for the cover of a romance novel called “Never Seduce a Scoundrel”. Willingham perhaps not seeing clearly through his rage underestimated C-Span’s somewhat soft down the middle torso and bounced off it. He toppled over, landing with a slight thud on the carpeted floor.
C-Span moved into swift action, the time for discourse was over; he needed to rough up Willingham, immediately. Willingham attempted to get back on his feet; he had one leg planted and was one leg away from being fully upright when C-Span shoved him over. Like a pumpkin being pushed downhill Willingham rolled a few feet and bounced off the back of the couch with such force that some knick-knacks jostled on the wall shelf, sending an echoing metallic galunk throughout the living room.
With deep concern over things getting broken and not their own physical well-being, I asked them to take it outside. For the first time in my history with them they listened to me and without protest did what I said. They exited in an orderly fashion through the backdoor into the yard. Pig Boy and I followed, uneasily standing on the porch as Willingham and C-Span marched into battle.
They walked to the edge of the yard and stood squarely facing each other on the border of the mowed yard and the scruff of the wild that bordered Appletree Point. Instead of the circling the wagons routine they stood still, trying to wait each other out, waiting to see who would make the first move. Willingham looking to seize the moment to possibly to gain the upper hand went on the offensive and grabbed a stick from a patch of shrubs.
The stick was not the best weapon or possibly not used in the best way, he would’ve been better off poking but Willingham decided to go with a swing instead. The stick was water logged and half rotted, I do admire his effort as he did try to make it work. With a one –handed “Casey at the Bat” like swing he whipped C-Span across the stomach with the stick (remember he was, maybe still is, somewhat soft down the middle) which made a cracking sound which briefly cut through the tension in the air.
C-Span was unamused but oddly not shocked but the stick attack. I remember looking around thinking why a stick? He had two fists, there were rocks, assorted beer bottles, and possibly a lone brick but he chose the softest weapon. Anyway, I digress; C-Span squared himself to Willingham and with a lunge, tackled Willingham with an agile cunningness that would make any NFL safety jealous. Or is it envious? I always get confused by those words.
The stick having completed its objective fell to Willingham’s side as he was sacked by C-Span who was now positioned on top of Willingham. C-Span took to muttering insults and throwing haymakers at close range but oddly kept missing Willingham’s face, by a measurable distance. I didn’t think anything could top the oddness of the stick attack, but being sober and on top of another man but still not being able to hit him in the face might’ve topped it. Maybe C-Span couldn’t multi-task, juvenile insults and punching is in fact multi-tasks.
“Get him off of me!” Willingham screeched into the evening, as haymaker after haymaker flew by his face.
Pig Boy jogged down to the scuffle and pulled C-Span off of a squirming Willingham and walked back to the porch. This was the first time I saw Pig Boy exercise or help someone, I applaud him for both. With our two young pugilists separated but still enraged, chaos was not far behind.
Willingham again went for the first move and like a predatory cat in the jungles of Africa (or at your local zoo) he waited for the right moment and pounced as soon as C-Span’s back was turned. He jumped on C-Span’s back and managed to cling on despite C-Span’s best efforts to shake him off. After a slight struggle Willingham managed to apply a Matt Hardy (former WWE United States Champion, I think he has wiki page) type headlock and like a boa he began to apply pressure and constrict C-Span’s breathing.
During this scene which easily could’ve been on the undercard of any wrestling show (wrestling sucks now) our other roommate Bebe peered through the screen door leading to the backyard and with disgust, turned around, and promptly left Appletree Place, wanting no part in the whacky antics that were unfolding.
This time it was C-Span begging for intervention, (double entendre, see above drug references and make possible parallels) yelling at either Pig Boy or myself to pull Willingham off. Pig Boy being the brawn between us took the initiative and pried Willingham off again, verbally jousting with C-Span once again. C-Span once again informed Willingham that he was in fact a “bitch” and Willingham claimed victory over the fight by exclaiming he had just “kicked C-Span’s ass”.
At this point Willingham was practically hysterical and couldn’t stop screeching. Pig Boy had enough and attempted to quiet Willingham down but Willingham would not take orders from anyone, so he turned on his one-time savior, threatening to “kick his ass” as well, which means applying a headlock and a possible stick whipping.
Pig Boy was always eager to show off his karate skills and he got into his stance which was an awkward mix of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish mascot and that hunchback who was also from Notre Dame (the cathedral, not the college he wasn’t college material). He maintained his hunched over stance with his fists poised in front of his face until Willingham stopped goading him and went a complete 180 with his hysterical screeching.
Instead of delivering another ass kicking, he was threatening to call the cops and charge both Pig Boy and C-Span with assault. Another guest arrived, a young man by the name of Richard, which I used as an excuse to leave. The aftermath of the grapple at Appletree Point would remain a mystery that will reside in the faded Memories of those involved.