by Ross Mueller
(Outside a prize fight is in progress.
Lights up in a tiny dressing room, backstage at “The Fights”.
A is wearing fighters trunks and a robe and a towel. Shadow boxing. The door opens and the crowd noise is loud. The “A Team” begins to assemble in the dressing room. They are dressed as a Crew and they are encouraging A; noting the speed and the precision of the shadow punches.
B enters the room. The noise level outside is peaking. Somebody has landed a heavy blow. B slams the door shut.
B motions for A to come and get hands wrapped. A is immediately obedient and sits in front of B on a massage table. B begins by looking at the bruises on A’s hands)
B Wow… Wow… Look, at you. Look at you kid. When you were seventy five kilo’s – you were beautiful, you coulda been another…
(B starts wrapping the hands of A)
But that skunk we got you for a Manager, he brought you along too fast.
A It wasn’t him Charlie… It was you.
(B stops wrapping, they lock eyes)
Remember that night at the Garden, you came down my Dressing Room and you said; “Kid, this aint your night. The Bookies have already started paying out.” You remember that? “This aint your night.”
B (to the rest of the team) – Give us the room for a minute, will ya? (hustling the Crew out of the room) Two minutes.
A I coulda taken Morrison apart…
(“Ding, Ding!” the end of the round out there. The room is empty except for A and B – the door is slammed shut)
A So what happens, he gets the title shot outdoors in the ballpark and what do I get? A one way ticket to Palookaville.
B Your hands are a disaster. You been in the street again – I can see it.
A I’m ready.
B Beating up the walls aint gonna get you nowhere. Fractures, these aint blisters. You’re damaged, you have to heal.
A I know what I’m doin’ –
B No, you can’t go out there tonight.
A Yes I can.
B You listen to me for once.
A I always listen to you.
B Well, listen good! (Beat) These are not easy times. They have not been easy times for a long time – and this is not an easy job.
A I know –
B He knows? It is a man-killing job! No Fighter has an easy job. That’s right. The urgency – pushing against everything – making everything beautiful, everything new – the conditions, the whole show – people who work with us can never have an easy job. Progress; it aint ever easy.
A You was my brother.
B I’m still your brother, kid.
A You shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me, just a little bit so I wouldn’t have had to take them dives for the short end money.
B I had bets down for you, you saw some money.
A You don’t understand, I coulda had Class. I coulda been “A Contender”… I coulda been “somebody”… instead of a Bum. Which is what I am, let’s face it… It was you Charlie.
(B stops abruptly. B reaches and hold’s A’s face gently.
A goes to the door and calls the team back inside. They assemble around their fighter and A speaks to the group as one – )
A I’m not perfect… I make some mistakes. I just wanna say in front of everybody… When we went out into the country and we had what? Ten or fifteen people there. When we were out there? One night, I tell ya, I found a man sitting beside me this one night and he had been in this fight for fifty-four years. Not for himself, but for his family, his children, his community… For our future. Not hoping for personal gain… Success depends – on the people who work. We have a great objective – the light on the hill – and we will reach that light by working for each other. This is the night. This prize is worth fighting for. And when we take the prize… We can make someone more comfortable, give to some father or mother a greater feeling of security for their children, a feeling that if a Depression comes there will be work… We are striving to do our best for each other… not just ourselves. What do you say, Charlie?
B I let you down.
A Oh Charlie –
B I got ambitions in my head – too many ideas, short money… the Bookies. (pause) It doesn’t matter about people like me who have our limitations… Promise me, you will be smart,
A I promise.
B Stay out of the gutter.
B They go low –
A We go high.
B – fight for tomorrow.
A I will – I love you.
B I love you too.
(A and B embrace. The Prize Fight outside is finished. The crowd is loud and ecstatic. The bell is ringing and the A Team is pumped and )
A Let’s go to work.
(Lights out. “Running on Empty” Jackson Browne)