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...it's over. The ref raises Neil's hand, and Paul storms off, his eyes two green flares in his reddened face, and says, "Holy——! That guy's as strong as an ox!" The tournament, though, is a double elimination: The loser must lose twice. The winner, like the winners in all 13 cities where Yukon Jack sponsors tournaments, goes to San Francisco in July to compete for the distiller's national title.
So Paul has another chance, and no way he's going to lose this time. He doesn't feel strong tonight, that's true, but he'll outsmart Neil, he'll trap him.
They face off again—"Neeeeee-yul!"—and this time Paul does everything right. Everything. He pulls Neil's arm toward him and tries to come over on his wrist with quick jerks, and Neil's arm...doesn't move. The guy's arm is like the hand of some freaking clock stuck on midnight, and he's looking Paul square in the eye, and he brings Paul's hand down slowly to the table, like a weightlifter striving for perfect form.
"Was it ever in doubt?" Neil's friends are yelling. "Was it ever in doubt? He's a freak! A freak!" Debbie's all over him now, and they head back into a booth for a beer. Some skinny, awestruck guy asks Neil where he works out.
"I don't work out," Neil says. "I just work."
"Then how'd you get so strong?" the skinny guy asks. "Do you have some kind of job?"
"He's a freak!" a friend says.
"I'm a customer representative for Pepsi," Neil says.