(precedes, Bob O'Malleys Wedding reception part one)
The 19 year old light heavy weight leans his muscular body forward to rest his hands on the top rope. He bows his head waiting to regain his breath as his lungs fight to force air deep into his chest. Bill Wain has just boxed four rounds with Red.
Harry, the trainer, gently pulls the untied gloves from Red's hands.
"Good fight, "he says, patting Red on the back as the fighter climbs through the ropes and heads across the gym to the showers. Harry hands the sweat soak gloves to Felix who puts one glove under his arm while he loosens the laces on the other 16 ounce glove. He makes the sleeve wider. "Do you want the head gear?" the old black man asks.
Jack Delleto shakes his head and pushes his taped hand deep into the glove.
The former welterweight champion of Nevada smiles. He glances at Harry and then at Jack. "Head gears unnatural and you can't use them in a pro- fight. It only gives the fighter a false sense of security, anyway."
"Like a condem," Harry says.
"What's a condem ? Are you talking about a fucken rubber?" Felix asks, a bit perturb. "What's a rubber got to do with anything?" Felix demands, not understanding Harry's joke.
"Well, " Harry drawls. "It's suppose to protect your head. It's not natural and just gives you a false sense of security.
"Are you fucken kidding me? Is that suppose to be a joke? Harry, I just don't understand your sense of humor."
Harry smiles and Jack is laughing.
Felix tries not to and then shakes his head laughing, too. "Man, that was the worst joke. How does that feel?" Felix asks Jack when he has finish tying the glove.
Holding up the glove, Jack rotates his wrist. "Feels fine."
The old man takes the other glove from under his arm, pulls the laces out, and holds it open. Without turning his head to look at him, Felix tells Harry, "Make sure Bill doesn't cool down, tell him to shadow box." Harry walks over to Bill and Bill starts shadow boxing. Jack pushes his hand into the glove. "Make a fist." Jack does. Felix pulls the laces tight and ties them into a bow.
Felix looks intently into Jack's eyes. "How does that feel?" He does not see any fear.
"you look tired."
"I am a little."
"Are you sick or is it a woman." Felix asks somberly.
"I'm not sick."
A big smile spreads across the face of the former welterweight champion of Nevada. The face of the sixty-eight year old blackman is lined and cracked like the old boxing gloves that jack is wearing, but his tall body is youthful and athletic in appearance. Above Felix's eyebrows Jack sees the affects of twenty years as a professional fighter. He sees the thick scar tissue and the thin white lines where the old man's skin has been stitched and restitched many times. As he gives instructions to Jack, Felix's brown eyes seem to be staring at something distant and Jack wonders if Felix has chased around the ring one time too often his dream.
"I like your style, Jack. Get off first and don't stop punching until he goes down. You've got it kid, and not every fighter does."
Jack and Felix start walking over to the ring.
Jack wonders, "What is it I've got?" He asks.
Felix puts his foot on the fourth strand of the rings rope and with his hand pulls up the top strand. "You've got HEART."
Jack steps into his corner.
In the opposite corner Bill Wain waits while a concerned Harry talks quietly with Felix at the center of the ring apron.
"Will he be alright?" Harry asks.
"Bill's tired." Felix says, then he tries to explain. "It's not the money. I almost 70 and I want to go out a winner." He pauses, and then offers, "he can hit hard with either hand."
"yeah, but at best he's a small middleweight and he only moves in one direction, straight ahead."
"Harry, I love the guy." Felix puts his hand on Harry's shoulder. "He's like Tyson at the end of his career. He'd fight you to the death, but he wasn't fighting to win anymore, either."
Harry puts his hands in his pockets and stares at the floor. "Do you want me to tell'em to go easy." Harry looks up at Felix, waits for an answer.
"I'm tired of sweeping the dirt from behind the boxes of wax beans and tuna fish. I'm sick of waitin in the rain to collect shopping carts. A half way decent white heavyweight can make a lot of money. It's not good for a fighter to practice holding back. Bill's a winner. Jack"ll be alright."
Felix reaches into the pocket of his faded brown and grey checkered pants. He hands the pocket watch to Harry so he can time the rounds.
Felix nods to Bill Wain and the he looks over to Jack standing in the opposite corner. He winks at Jack Delleto and whispers, "The Jack of Hearts."
Bill comes out purposefully out of his corner, circling left.
Jack rushes straight ahead.