Parker lay on the canvas for a full eight count before getting slowly to his feet. This was his last round. IF he didn’t knock Huxtable out now the fight was over for him. Swaying gently he worked out the logistics, then brought his left hand up, jabbed twice harmlessly, crossed it with the right that was still hard, still fast. His legs were going, his breath was gone—but Huxtable was down, and he stayed down.
The bell rang. Parker felt his hand grabbed, held high. He felt his manager’s arms around him. Words came from far away: “Great fight…comeback…Wednesday week…Freeman Coliseum…Butterfly Joe…odds…”
He managed to shake Flannigan off and stand up. “No. No more. I’m done.”
“What!? But you never looked better. I’m telling you, this is your chance—“
“I’m telling you it’s not. I had one fight, one round, one punch left. I used them up. That’s all there is. You think I want to end up like that?” He gestured toward the elderly creature approaching them.
He was not quite walking, not quite staggering. A patch fitted over one eye. The nose had been broken so many times as to be only a blob in a crater of welts. Both ears were cobwebbed scar tissue. He came close enough to recognize Parker and began hurrying, in an erratic way, greeting them with a toothless grin. “Kid! You won! Used the combination I taught you.” His voice was a husky croak.
“Yeah—it worked good.”
“So when’s your next fight.”
The torn face was bewildered. “Whaddaya mean no more? You got a chance at the big stuff now.”
“I keep telling him,” Flannigan said. “He don’t listen.”
“There’s a time to fight,” Parker said calmly. “There’s a time to stop.” He put an arm around the old man’s shoulders. “Come on Pop. Now it’s time to go home.”
Lela Marie De La Garza was born in Denver CO. in 1943 while her father was serving in WWII. She curretly resides in San Antonio, TX with three and a half cats.