"We had a bunch of options but went with We Are Fam-melee. Get it, Tommy Boy?"
Yeah, I got it. But he might be lookin' at A Homicide at Yuletide if Pop got his way. The reality show people had scheduled the fight for Christmas Eve. They thought it added "flavor."
Maybe it was all the build-up. Maybe it was just seeing Pop on that yoga mat. Or maybe it was knowing he'd slept with Cheryl Sue. But I decided that if I was going to lose, it wasn't going to be for lack of preparation. I quit working the construction crew and, for the first time in our five years together, my trainer actually trained me. You could say I was Doggy's bitch. Every morning he dragged my ass out of bed so early there were still infomercials playing on my TV. He rode his bike next to me as I ran down Jerome Avenue all the way to the gym. He held my feet while I did sets of 100 sit-ups. "We're going to turn the topography of your gut from Colorado into Kansas," he growled.
Three mornings a week he had me throw on a piece of headgear that smelled like rancid goat and spar with Kassim Martin, a teenage tough who'd dropped out of school three years back and had been begging Doggy to train him. He already had a nickname--Kassim the Dream. What he lacked were skills. But he was tougher than calculus and had the stamina of a Kenyan marathoner.
I never did get the whole sparring thing. You're supposed to go easy on the guy and concentrate on your footwork and conditioning. But, shoot, fighting is fighting. A guy tries to rearrange the architecture of my face, I'm not going to hold back. One morning the Dream knocks me on my butt with an uppercut. Soon as I land, I'm windmilling some fury in return. He catches me with a lucky left, and we have to quit because it looks like my lip went through a deli slicer.
"You can't be takin' shots like that, Tommy!" Doggy barked as he grabbed a wad of paper towels and daubed the ring and my mouth, in that order.
"Why are you matching me up against Kassim, anyway?" I shot back. "I thought you were supposed to spar against a guy with the same style as your next opponent."
"Your next opponent is old, don't move and has a chin of concrete. Tomorrow you can spar against a bridge abutment if you want."
If my body was getting into some semblance of shape, my head was all messed up. It had been weeks since I'd called Cheryl Sue, and she wasn't exactly taking advantage of her free-nights-and-weekends plan with me either.
And for some reason, I was having second thoughts about murdering my own father. Doggy wasn't much help. "When you get in that ring," he kept telling me, "forget he's your dad. You gotta act like he's your worst enemy."