“Oh, come on! What are you doing? Just give him the — come on!” Jared yelled at the TV. He waved his hands like a malfunctioning animatronic trying to conduct an orchestra. Through the passionate flailing, he never lost a drop of his vodka and orange juice.
“You’ve got a lot to say for someone who’s never been in the ring,” Don said. He stayed seated, his eyes fixed on the screen. He savoured each bite of the cheese-drenched pizza for which he’d been homesick.
“Exactly, it’s frustrating as hell when the pros are dumber than me.” Jared waved at the TV.
Despite their different reactions, both watched the fight with equal concentration. They observed each step, wind-up, block, and impact. Years of watching had given them an informal education on the sport. They read the footwork and strikes by instinct and familiarity. Yet, when watching two greats in the ring, they became children at a magic show. Anything could happen. Knowing the tricks only made it more compelling.
“Come on,” Jared cheered his favourite fighter. “Round’s almost up, you got—” Suddenly, his fighter charged forward. He landed an uppercut that snapped his opponent’s head back, creating a mist of sweat and blood. The opponent crumbled against the ropes, straining to remain on his feet.
“Whoa!” both men shot to their feet.
“There we go! Like that! Keep up the— what are you doing? Don’t let him go when you have him!”
The bell sounded, ending the round. Jared gulped down the last of his drink. “Refill,” he announced as the screen cut to commercial.
Jared’s gestures and nods continued as he moved to the small kitchenette behind the ugly sofa. The sofa, the centrepiece of the room, had a pale tan colour that might have once been brown. Beer stains dotted the sofa like birthmarks, rubbed into place by lazy wipes of a hand towel.
“You see that?” Jared said, “That’s what gets me worked up, right? He had the guy. Could’ve ended the match, right? Did he push? No. He let the dude get free. Wasted a chance. Drink?”
As usual, each sentence flowed into the next when Jared talked. Regardless of changes in tense or tone, whether he moved from explanation to question, he spoke it all as if it were a unified thought.