“It’s not fair, it’s not the way it should’ve went down, I could’ve done better,” he yells as he drives punch, after punch into the bag, his knuckles split open, bloody, his face, bruised and swollen.
“There’s no shame in defeat,” a voice says from the shadows.
“I should’ve won!”
“But you didn’t, he knocked you down, five times in the second round, and you didn’t get back up that last time. But there’s no harm in that, use it to make you stronger, let it eat at you, let it define your existence, and then, when you step in the ring with him again, let it out.”
He grabs the bag and lightly head-butts it, trying to catch his breath, he looks out, into the darkness of the shadows, his eyes tighten as he searches for movement, “Want to stop hiding in the shadows for a while, there’s no one else around, it’s just you and me,” he says, seconds later the older man steps from the darkness, he smiles broadly and lets out a raspy laugh.
“I’m not hiding in the shadows boy, I’m standing behind the projector, watching the images play before me, reliving memories.”
“You are one crazy old man, no matter how much you play it up, I know I’ve taken some good hits around the head, but it’s still solid up there, I’m not stupid.”
“I never said you were, and I’ve never treated you that way, but I’m telling the truth, like it was told to me, when…”
“I know old man, you told me before, how you were down and out, just like me, and then one day this old guy showed up and everything seemed to start making sense. He spoke to you like he knew what was really going on in your head, he helped you focus the rage, harness the gift you had, and made you into the man you are today. Which, I might add, is old and crippled,” he says motioning towards the cane in his hand, the old man frowns for a moment, and looks to the ground, centring all his weight on the cane.
“I too, like you, felt confused, arrogant and self-righteous. I gave the old man a serving, even after I had accepted his help, and he still stood by my side, he still helped guide me, no matter how much I pushed him away. And then, one day, he was gone. I never had the chance to thank him for what he did for me, or ask him why, not that I cared, but, one day, not long before I came into your life I realised what I had to do, realised why he had come to me, and knew, it was my turn to pay it forward,” he says, as his eyes well up with tears.
“I get it all old man, I really do, and I gave you my word I’d give your way a try, but don’t try to preach to me about passing shit on, because I’m all about being number one, not the fucker holding number ones bucket,” he says as he barges past him, and out into the locker rooms, the old man turns and smiles to himself.
“God I was such an arrogant brat when I was young.”
You can read the original 50 Word Story here, I’d be interested in what you think of the full story that came from the short.