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'Twas the Fight Before Christmas
Jack McCallum
December 26, 2005
A high-wire experiment in sports fiction, written in nine chapters, sequentially, by nine SI authors, wherein a fast-fading pugilist suddenly finds himself in the bout of his life. Read on....
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December 26, 2005

'twas The Fight Before Christmas

A high-wire experiment in sports fiction, written in nine chapters, sequentially, by nine SI authors, wherein a fast-fading pugilist suddenly finds himself in the bout of his life. Read on....

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"Are you...?"

I nodded.

He took a little walk and ended up staring into my refrigerator. "Went to the doc's a few months ago." He was talking to last week's pizza. "He called it dementia pugilista. Said there's nothing much for it, but he'd read a study claiming that yoga might slow it up a little, affect the brain chemistry somehow." He shut the refrigerator. "Load of crap, but it don't matter." He winked at me. "I like it."

He headed toward the door. "Don't worry," he said. "Considine will get me past the commission doctor at the checkup. You'll get 81 of the 100 grand."

Hundred grand? "What're you talkin' about?" I croaked. Neither of us had ever seen one twentieth of that for a fight.

He headed down the hall.

"Didn't that crook Considine tell you?" he said. "He sold it to TV. Gonna follow us around with cameras for six weeks before the fight. Some kind of reality show.

"I'll take two grand to clean up what I owe my doc, trainer, landlord and yoga instructor, 10 grand for the 100 thousand life-insurance policy I took out--with your mother as beneficiary--and seven for her to cover the pine box and plot at St. Michael's. That leaves 81 for you."

"Stop walking away!" I shouted. "What are you saying?"

He turned at the top of the stairwell. "You tell me how else your mother'll ever afford her medical bills. Look, I got big ones." He grabbed his crotch. "But not big enough to do this myself. Tried three times. I'm not gonna spend the next 20 years drooling and staggering around the Port Authority, not even knowing my own name, and I'm not gonna sit and watch your mother go destitute and die. So just do your work, don't hold back, and I'll stand there and take it, like I always do. No big deal, Tommy. Only thing I ever asked you to do in your whole life."

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