Authors: Priya Grey,Ozlo Grey
Tags: #Contemporary Romance
Copyright © 2015 by Ozlo & Priya Grey. All Rights Reserved.
Edition: December 26, 2015
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I shouldn’t be here – in an abandoned warehouse on the East Side of LA, fighting a dude ten years younger than me. I’m not ready for this fight. I didn’t have enough time to train. The only reason I’m here – getting the shit kicked out of me – is because of my son.
Max is five years old.
I’m fighting to save his life.
Damn it! This sly motherfucker just hit me with an elbow strike. My right eye is swelling shut. Now, I only have one good eye to keep track of him. It won’t be easy because this dude moves fast.
Figures, he’s Brazilian.
Shit! He just hit me with another leg kick. My knee buckles. I struggle to stay on my feet.
Sensing an opportunity, the Brazilian storms forward and launches a spinning back kick. Losing my balance, I crash to the floor.
The crowd outside the cage roars with approval. They’ve come for a real fight. They want to see blood. Well, it looks like they’re going to get what they paid for.
Unfortunately, most of the blood being spilled is mine.
The Brazilian, whose name is Jose Silva, jumps on top of me and pounds me with a hammer fist. I thrust my pelvis forward to get him off of me. Quickly, I roll to my side.
But like I said: This fucker’s fast.
Before I know it, he’s got his legs wrapped around my waist. His arms squeeze my neck in a chokehold. By applying pressure, he hopes to cut off the oxygen and blood flowing to my brain.
This Silva dude has been fighting regularly for the last two years. He’s good, real good. He’s an expert in Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai. He actually trained at my gym once. I taught him a couple of moves. I freakin’
taught him how to properly apply the chokehold he’s using on me right now.
I feel my head getting lighter from the chokehold. I picture my son, Max, lying in his hospital bed. He may only be five years old, but he has the heart of a tiger. He’s been stuck in the hospital for the last month fighting what doctors’ call acute myeloid leukemia. All I know is that it’s a rare form of cancer. The doctor’s are trying their best. It’s going to be a tough battle.
Max is a fighter, though. He won’t give up.
Neither can his old man.
I slam my elbow – hard! – into Silva’s side. His grip loosens. I slam my other elbow into his other side. With a loud grunt, I fling my head back, and head-butt the Brazilian. He falls backward, finally letting me loose. Swiftly, I whirl around and try to place him in a neck crank. But he predicts what’s coming and rapidly rolls away.
We both struggle to our feet.
I try to catch my breath.
This is the longest five minutes of my life. I just need to get through this round and hopefully get my second wind.
Through my one good eye, I stare Silva down.
I can’t believe it. He doesn’t have a fucking scratch on him. In fact, he looks like he just stepped out of the shower and is ready to go out to the club.
My chances don’t look good the longer this fight goes on. I just don’t have the stamina. If I had more than two days to train, maybe it would be a different story. But I can’t use that as an excuse. Max doesn’t need excuses; he just needs the best medicine money can buy.
That’s why I’m here: Money.
If I win this fight, the money I’ll take home will help pay for some experimental drug treatment. The doctors believe it may be the only chance Max has at beating the cancer.
I can’t let my son down.
I lurch forward. I throw a superman punch at Silva followed by a liver kick. But he surprises me; he wraps his arm around my extended leg. Suddenly, he squats and punches me with an uppercut – straight to my groin. FUCK!!!!
I should have seen that coming. This is an underground fight. Anything goes.
There’s no time to recover from the scorching pain shooting through my nuts. Silva still has his right arm wrapped around my leg. I look up and see the sinister look in his eyes.
He’s going in for the kill.
“Desculpa, velho,” he says with a grin. Which means “sorry, old man” in Portuguese.
He flips himself over, taking my leg – along with my entire body – with him.
My head slams down on the mat. Silva then pins me in a knee bar, twisting my leg. Excruciating pain bolts through my lower extremity. He keeps applying pressure. I should tap out – quit – but I can’t.
Max is counting on me.
Silva keeps twisting my leg. I struggle to get free.
“Tap out, old man,” Silva screams in English. “I don’t want to break it.”
“No,” I shout.
I won’t tap out.
I can’t quit.
I try to punch him, but I just hit the mat.
I hear the crowd outside the cage roar once again.
Silva keeps applying pressure and my leg bends further. The pain is unbearable.
I pray for a last burst of energy, hoping that I can somehow get out of this position.
“Tap out,” Silva screams again.
I shake my head. “No!”
The pain burns through me like a raging fire.
I won’t tap out, ever.
Then I hear the tear.
My leg snaps.
The fight is over.
I’ve failed as a father.
I’m sorry, Max.
I’ve been sitting at my piano all day. All I have to show for it is some shitty verse and a forgettable chorus. This song blows. I can’t save it. It’s terrible – just like all the other songs I’ve tried composing this week.
I ruffle my long brown hair. Then drop my head onto the piano.
I’m creatively fucked.
The record label has been waiting months for my new songs. My last album,
A Different Melody,
spawned five number-one hits and launched a sold-out world tour. I’ve performed to adoring fans all over the world: London, Rio, Sydney, Tokyo…
I’m the hot, new music sensation. My label doesn’t want too much time to pass before releasing my follow-up record.
“We have to strike while we’re hot!” my agent Randy keeps saying.
She checks in daily to see how the songs are coming. She says if the next album is as successful as the last one, I’ll be bigger than Taylor Swift and Beyoncé combined. I think she’s exaggerating but maybe not by much.
No one, including me, saw this kind of success coming.
In little over five years, I’ve gone from an obscure YouTube singer/songwriter to one of the most popular entertainers in the industry. And the funny thing is, I don’t even put on much of a show. I don’t dance on stage with an entourage, wear crazy outfits or even twerk. It’s just me – my voice and my music.
But fans can’t seem to get enough of me.
And even though I’m not much of an actress, it turns out fans like to see me on the big screen too. I’ve acted in two movies that have done really well at the box office. So besides being a successful musician, I also have a nice little acting career on the side. I guess you can say I’ve won the lottery: I’m doing what I love and everybody seems to love me.
But there’s a problem: Now, everyone has expectations. I’m feeling the pressure big time to deliver on my next album.
In their last issue,
called me ‘the voice of a generation.’ Well, if that’s the case, my generation is fucked. Because right now, every song coming out of my mouth is total garbage.
With my cheek still pressed against the piano, I dance my fingers over the keys. I’m trying to find some inspiration, but nothing’s coming. I lean back on the piano bench and shout, “Fuck!!!”
My voice echoes off the walls of my living room.
Randy says if I’m having a tough time, she can call in some collaborators… aka ghostwriters. But that goes against everything I believe in. I write and perform my own music. If I sang someone else’s words and tried to pass them off as my own, I couldn’t respect myself. I’d be a fraud.
I look at my phone. It’s almost midnight. I can’t let another night pass without a decent song. I’m Melody Swanson for crying out loud. According to that same
article, ‘I’m the next Lauryn Hill, the next Jodi Mitchell.’ The way the article describes me, it’s like I’m not even human: “Melody Swanson has the face of an angel and the voice to match. As the whole world anxiously awaits her next album, we can only hope it’s as relevant as
A Different Melody.
If Miss Swanson delivers, than her status as musical juggernaut is assured. She will be a torchlight for these bleak times.”