Allison’s Gift by Jack Lindstrom (Not Your Typical Girl)


My third mixed boxing/BP story and a favorite of mine....based originally on a letter that appeared in the FIGHT TIME letters section of the old CAVALIER men's magazine out of Florida... I've gotten good reviews on it.

Allison’s Gift by Jack Lindstrom (Not Your Typical Girl)

“Dave, are you down there?”

Allison Crane leaned over the railing of the stairway, looking down into the basement of the condominium where Dave Connell lived. She had found the front door unlocked, not a wise practice this close into the city, but realized that anyone stupid enough to try and rob Dave while he was home was the one deserving the sympathy, not Dave.

There was a rattling of metal and his voice answered.

“Yeah, I’m down here, Tigress! Want something to drink?”

It had been a long drive back out from the inner city of Nashville. “Sure!” she said. She went across the hallway into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator, taking out a diet cola for herself and a can for him. She leaned over the railing again as he ascended the stairs, his arms streaked with black machine grease.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

“Hmmm...I wonder about that myself,” he said, dragging one forearm across his forehead and successfully blackening it even worse. He took the can of cola she offered and popped it open, draining almost half of it in one swallow. He sat down in the kitchen chair near the wall. She sat down with her back to the ‘fridge. “I am trying to replace the starter on my car,” he said. “The main trouble is, nowadays most of these engines are built and installed by the Japanese, who have an annoying tendency to place the engine sideways in the engine compartment. I think I’m going to need a hoist.”

“I think,” said Allison, looking at the clock, “you are going to need to walk through a carwash to get cleaned up in time.”

“In time for what?”

“It’s Saturday. I’m scheduled for wrestling tonight.” She was smiling now, and something twinkled in her eye.

“Dog of Flanders!” Dave muttered, trying to read his wristwatch through black petroleum. “How could I forget THAT?!? Just a moment, angel, and I’ll have this off!” He opened the refrigerator and removed a can of Goop, scooped out a large white blob, and began coating his arms with the stuff. Alliosn got up, walked over and turned on the water tap as he tried applying more of the degreaser to his face. She leaned on the counter and watched him.

“What does ‘Dog of Flanders’ mean?” she asked.

“A post-WWI expression of surprise,” said Dave.

“Where do you get this stuff?” she asked, shaking her head. “You’re like talking to a history book!”

“I borrow freely and liberally from all periods of the past, m’lady,” said Dave, rinsing under the tap. “’Tis me own way of compensating for a lack of imagination.”

“Yeah, right,” she said. She leaned toward him and he caught the gleam in her eye. “You seem interested in tonight’s events,” she said, mimicking him.

He glanced down a moment and gave a wry smile. “Avast, I’ve been caught red-handed...or something similar...” he said.

“You’d better just keep your hands off it,” she said, grinning. “I’m not climbing into that ring so you can have fun later all by yourself!”

“Allison, I have fun whether I’m watching you or thinking about you, and I certainly won’t start without you.” He bent down and kissed her. She held him and refused to break the kiss, put one arm around behind his back, and pressed him close. She felt him smile a little and his own arms went around her and crushed her against him suddenly. Her heartbeat quickened.

She could feel him against her thigh, and she knew she had better stop or they might end up on the kitchen floor and be late to the Club. She pulled back and rubbed his chest with the palm of her right hand.

“I’m so glad you’re here, finally,” she said.

“I am so in love with you,” he said, looking into her eyes. He grinned. “Who are your opponents? Do you know?”

“Two girls: Mallory and Kim,” she said. “I set this one up, especially for you.”

“Oh? What’s so special?”

“You’ll see.”

Dave looked at her seriously.

“I hope you’re not intending on getting your clock cleaned.”

Allison smiled and leaned back against the counter, folding her arms before her. “Maybe,” she said. “You know I like to test myself. I have some special things

I want to talk about it at the pre-fight meeting.” She smiled, took a step forward, and put a hand to his crotch. “You’d better think some more about that starter,” she said, “or they won’t let you in the spa with this thing.”

Dave looked at her carefully.

“You trust them?” he asked.

Allison nodded. “Kim is kind of quiet, but I like her smile. Mallory’s really sweet, in a big, horsey kind of way. I think she came from a farm family too: she sure knew a lot about tobacco. “

“Not smoking it, I assume.”

“No, curing it.”

“Hmm.” He looked her up and down carefully, held up one palm. She threw her left fist into it with a loud SMACK! He smiled.

“Okay,” he said, “it sounds safe enough.” He knew she was doing this as much for him as for herself. He put a palm over her heart. “You are one of the bravest girls I’ve ever known,” he said. “Just be sure you don’t get hurt seriously.”

She smiled and threw a right hook into his stomach. It thumped against solid muscle and he smiled again.

“We want this to go away, remember?”

“Oops! Sorry!” She turned and headed for the stairs. “I’ll meet you out in the car!” she called behind herself.

“Mike meeting us there?”

“He’s bringing Lindy!”

Dave pulled a towel off the rack and dried his arms and face before pulling off his greasy shirt, grabbing his spare shirt off the chair and throwing it on.

From the stairs, Allison watched and smiled. “Nice view,” she observed.

He came down the stairs after her. She laughed and was out the door with him right behind.

When they arrived at the Club in Printer’s Alley, Dave looked up and down the narrow street. Music drifted from different directions, and many people were still outside, some laughing and talking, some merely holding up the walls of buildings. One hand went immediately into his pocket.

Allison noted this move.

“Dave, this isn’t the South Side of Chicago,” she said.

“No, and it isn’t Disneyland, either,” said Dave, looking out from under the brim of his hat at some of the locals. More than one looked away as his eyes found theirs. “Nice crowd,” he observed.

She took his arm, shaking her head. “Well, at least they’ll leave us alone,” she said as they walked toward the club.

Inside, there were sounds of shouting and occasional cheers, accompanied by thuds and bangs from the direction of the main hall. Lisa let go of Dave’s arm and smiled.

“I have to meet with the owners and the other girls,” she said. “Mike will be along in a little bit.” She looked up into his eyes and he took her by her elbows and smiled. She smiled back. “Enjoy yourself, okay?”

“Okay,” he said, nodding grudgingly. He had watched her box at her health spa before, but this was the first time he was coming to see her wrestle, and the atmosphere was completely different. There was a smell of sweat, stale beer and cigarette smoke in the air that made the whole scene seem unsavory.

Allison shook his arms a little.

“Dave, I don’t want you doing something stupid, like jumping into the ring and trying to rescue me.”

“I won’t do that,” he said.


“Allison, if I see you getting hurt too badly...”


He sighed and nodded.

“Okay,” he said, “I promise.”

“Good!” She hugged him. “I’m pretty tough,” she said. “I can handle anything these girls throw at me.”

“Just be careful,” he said, and hugged her so fiercely that she felt tears sting her eyes momentarily-not out of pain, but out of knowing that he loved her so much. He stepped back. She smiled, turned, and

walked for the office.

Dave turned and headed for the main hall.

He stepped through the swinging doors into a scene of complete chaos.

Two girls were in the ring, both fairly large and both seemingly determined to mop up the floor with each other. One had lunged forward and caught her opponent in the midsection with a shoulder, propelling her back into the ropes where she rebounded into a forearm smash to the chest that knocked her flat on her back. The crowd of some fifty or sixty men roared their approval.

Dave walked down the aisle to ringside and spotted an empty chair at mid-row. He walked over to it and sat down between one man who looked like an ex-prizefighter, and a boy of about twenty who appeared to be here on some kind of bachelor party event, judging by the raucous laughter of his friends behind him.

Dave took off his hat and shoved it under his chair. Beside him, the prizefighter turned a leering face toward him and scowled.

Dave looked back at him in boredom.

The prizefighter thought for a moment, then turned back to the ring and began yelling the name of one of the girls in the ring - Marti, evidently.

The young bachelor to his other side was hooting and waving a fist in the air. When Marti’s opponent successfully tripped Marti up, knocking her flat on her face, he howled and thumped Dave on the back, hard.

Dave took one fist and swung it straight out to the side. It banged into the boy’s chest just over the heart, hard.

The boy’s eyes grew wide and his mouth formed a large “O.”

“Uuurrrkkk!” he said.

Dave turned and looked at him.

“Touch me again,” he said, “and I’ll pull your lips out your ********.”

All of the boy’s friends behind him fell silent, staring at Dave. To the other side of him, the prizefighter roared with laughter.

“Wotta line!” he yelled.

The boy blinked at Dave a few times, then flushed red.

“I’m really sorry, man,” he said.

“Good,” said Dave. “Now prove it: I’ve got two friends coming and one’s a lady. Give me your seat and the seat next to you, and stick around to help me keep an eye out for them.” He reached into his daveet and pulled out a ten-spot. “Get yourself a beer while you’re at it,” he added.

“Wow - thanks! Sure! Okay!” Magically, two seats opened up beside Dave to his left. He felt a nudge at his ribs to his right and turned to see the prizefighter grinning and holding out a hand the size of a slab of bacon.

“You got real style, mister,” he said as Dave took his hand and shook it. “I like a guy with style. I’m Mace.”


“Well, Dave, you got my vote! Whaddya doin’ here? Come t’ watch th’ ladies?” “Came to watch my lady.”

“Whoa!? She’s a wrestler?”

“Boxer, too.”

“Hey, I like that! I was a boxer myself, back in New York.” “Heavyweight, right?” “Hah! Not anymore, but yeah, that was my class! You know boxing, huh?”

“Light-heavyweight, Chicago, 1981.”

Up in the ring, Marti had her opponent in a chin-lock and seemed bent on twisting the other girl’s head off, sideways. The crowd went crazy.


“Amateur only.”

Mace squinted at him.

“You must’ve been pretty good,” he said. “I don’t see a mark on ya!”

“I was okay.”

“Yeah...right,...” Mace grinned at him. “So, your lady, she’s a pro, huh?”

“More or less,” said Dave, smiling wryly. “She likes to entertain.”

Mace thought for a minute.

“Who is she?” he asked.

“Allison Crane.”

Marti was now down on her stomach and banging on the floor as her opponent attempted to tie her legs into a square knot. A bag of popcorn flew over Mace’s head and bounced off one of the ropes of the ring. Marti flipped the bird at whoever had thrown the bag.

“Hooo, boy!” Mace was looking at him now with new respect. “Dave, I been comin’ here for about a year now since I moved down from Jersey, and I’ve seen her in here before! Man is she tough! I’ve seen her get thrown all over this ring and still hook her foot up in the ropes after they’d just about beat the stuffin’ outta here! SHE’S your lady?”

“Unless she says otherwise,” said Dave, smiling now.

Mace shook his head in amazement.

“I can’t believe some of the **** she’s taken in here, and still kept on goin’! You ever watch her do this?”

Dave shook his head. “First time,” he admitted. “I’ve’out of pocket’...”

“Aw, well, I can’t always afford t’come here myself,” said Mace. “When I do have the bucks, though, this is my favorite place!” He leaned closer, lowering his voice. “Listen, Dave,” he said, “I don’t want t’ seem like a creep or nothin’, but I was wonderin’, if maybe afterward, you could kinda introduce me t’ her...if that’s okay with you.”

Dave looked at him and grinned.

“Mace, she’d love to meet you,” he said. He looked around. “How do I get a drink around here?”

“There’s a couple of girls who bring ‘em,” said Mace, whistling shrilly through his teeth. He put up a huge hand and waved. Soon a blonde girl dressed in a silver top and very short-shorts had come over and was leaning over Mace, who admired the view and grinned.

“Crissy, Dave, and me here would like a couple o’ beers,” he said and slapped a fin down on her tray. “Make ‘em cold.”

The girl smiled and winked at him before stepping back down the aisle. Mace smiled after her.

“She’s a sweetie!” he said. “Man, if I was twenty years younger...!”

“...she’d be in diapers,” Dave finished.

Mace snorted but suddenly jumped to his feet and roared. “YEAH, MARTI!! GO! GO! GO! YEAH!!!”

Marti had her opponent down in mid-ring in a school-girl press and, despite the frantic jerkings of the other girl’s legs, the referee was down and banged the floor once, twice, three times. Marti put both hands up in the air in fists and her opponent’s legs fell limp in defeat.

The triumphant girl jumped up and bounced around the ring, taking in the approving yells from the crowd. Once the MC had entered the ring and declared her the winner, she was escorted from the ring by a pair of men with her name on their sweatshirts. The loser climbed to her feet and was helped away down the aisle by another man in a brown daveet.

Mace sat back in his chair and laughed.

“Man, that Marti is one wildcat!” he said. “If she wasn’t married, I’d be asking her out t’ dinner!”

“Married, eh?”

“Yeah, with three kids!” said Mace, shaking his head. “She lives about a half-mile from where I work now. I see her around sometimes.”

Dave looked up. A familiar face had entered the main hall, accompanied by a slender girl with blonde hair and huge blue eyes. Mike and Lindy had arrived.

“Wow!” said Mace, fielding his beer from Crissy’s tray and handing the other one to Dave. “Who’s the angel?”

“Her name is Lindy,” said Dave. “The gent with her is my brother, Mike.”

Mike came over and let Lindy sit down beside Dave before parking his big frame in the next seat over. Behind them, the college boys had fallen silent again. All eyes were on Lindy, who hadn’t noticed anything unusual except that there were two vacant seats beside Dave.

“How were you able to hold seats open for us?” she asked Dave.

“I asked politely,” said Dave, smiling. He put out a hand and took Mike’s warmly. “Mike, Lindy, I’d like you to meet a new friend of mine: this is Mace. Mace, this is Lindy and Mike Crane.”

Mace put out a hand and took Mike’s behind Dave and Lindy’s backs. Mike nodded to him and grinned. Mace leaned back and then frowned.

“Hey, Dave,” he said, “did you say, Mike Crane?”


“And didn’t you say he’s your brother?”


“But I thought your lady was Allison Crane.”

“She is.”

“But then,...I mean, doesn’t that mean...”

Dave looked at him. “Mace, it’s a little complicated,” he said. “Basically I’ve adopted them, and they’ve adopted me. Allison means a lot more to me than a sister, though.”

Mace mulled this over for a few seconds and finally nodded, evidently satisfied that nothing very weird was going on.

Mike was looking around the hall. “Looks like nothing’s changed much,” he said, looking over at Dave. “How’s Allie?”

Dave half-smiled/half-frowned. “She’s up to something, Mike. She had that look in her eye again.”

Mike shook his head, grinning. “We’re in trouble now,” he said.

“I just hope she doesn’t get into trouble,” said Dave.

“She can handle herself,” said Mike.

Lindy was shaking her head, too.

“I don’t know how she can do it,” she said. “I’d be scared to death in there!”

Mace grinned, a little more gently.

“Well, you don’t have to worry,” he said. “I’ve seen her up in there before, and she could swap holds with a rhino.”

Mike beamed at this praise of his sister.

The MC stepped to the center of the ring again, waving as he raised the microphone.

“Alright, sports fans!” he shouted, “our next match is tonight’s main event, and a special treat for you regulars out there! Tonight’s tag team match features Kim Bryson and Mallory O’Connor against Jeanette Davidson and...” he paused for a moment, allowing the crowd to fall silent, “...ALLISON CRANE!”

The cheering was deafening. Dave was looking around in amazement as most of the men were on their feet, yelling, applauding, pumping fists in the air, and waving.

Mace leaned closer to him.

“She’s pretty popular, isn’t she?” Dave asked.

“Hell, yes!” said Mace, grinning. “She’s a favorite!”

Down the main aisle came two large girls in matching black and silver costumes. Mallory O’Connor, a brunette with dark eyes, stood 6-foot tall and weighed in at what Dave guessed to be 190 - at least as much as himself. Kim Bryson had reddish-brown hair and smiled coolly at the mixed boos and cheers from the crowd. Evidently, she had a reputation. She was shorter than Mallory, but judging by her fairly well-defined muscles in her arms, had seen plenty of action.

The two big girls climbed into the ring and walked about, waving and making occasional threatening gestures at the crowd, who accepted their act good-naturedly and offered boos in return.

Next down the main aisle came Jeanette Davidson, a mere slip of a girl, light brown hair and green eyes, with the build of a ballet dancer. She wore a two-piece costume with a blue top and light blue trunks and tights. She was smiling and waving at the men in the crowd. Behind her came Allison, in her yellow halter top and gold leotard. She was smiling also, and Dave’s heart suddenly felt warm. This was the girl he loved.

She was soaking up the approval of the crowd and loving it. Dave grinned as she high-fived one guy on the way down to the ring, gave another a slug in the arm, and waved as she climbed up after Jeanette and stepped through the ropes. Under the lights, her blonde hair cascaded down her shoulders like a glowing waterfall.

“Dave, you are one lucky man,” Mace said, shaking his head.

“Tell me about it,” said Dave, grinning as he watched Allison.

She hung onto the ropes and did a few deep knee-bends and Dave smiled as he admired what had to be one of the most beautiful sets of legs he had ever seen in his life. She did a half-split next and stretched her left leg out, flexing, then repeated with the right.

While she was doing this, Jeanette spent part of her time smiling out at the crowd and letting that smile fade when she took in her opponents across the ring. Mallory ignored her. Kim was eyeing her with a sullen and calculating look.

“That Jeanette seems pretty fragile,” Dave noted.

Mace snorted. “She’s a freakin’ hood-ornament,” he said. “She’ll be about as much help as a rubber crutch. Window dressing. Your lady’ll get all the action.”

“So Jeanette is, what?...a token partner?”

“Yeah, sumpin’ like that. If she gets tagged-in, they’ll mop the floor with her; you’ll see.”

“Then why,” Dave mused, “do they bother having her in there at all?”

Mace nudged him in the ribs again.

“Dave, this is a show,” he said. “It’s a gimmick: they put Allison up against these two diesels and give her a partner that’d get winded wavin’ pom-poms. It’s like a set-up, ya know? Allison takes all the heat and her partner’s worthless, so everybody feels sorry for her because she’s in there pretty much all by herself.”

Dave looked at Mace.

“You’ve got this all figured out, don’t you?” he asked.

Mace nodded. “Pro-wrestling is like...goin t’see a movie,” he finally said. “It’s all figured out ahead o’ time. Now, with Allison, these guys who run this place got a sure draw: the fans love her. She’s plenty spunky, all right.”

The referee had called the girls together and was going over the rules. Allison and Mallory were looking each other in the eye and Jeanette was avoiding making any eye contact with Kim. Once finished, both teams returned to their corners, and Kim and Jeanette stepped out through the ropes. So, the opening confrontation was to be Mallory and Allison.

At the opening bell for the first fall, Mallory and Allison began circling. Mallory made a few half­hearted attempts at a grab and Allison fended her off easily. Mallory lunged forward then and she and Allison went into a lock-up, one hand behind each other’s head and the other gripping the opponent’s arm. They struggled back and forth for several seconds, and Dave was amazed as Allison managed to hold off her larger opponent’s efforts to throw her. Mallory gave a sudden sidewise wrenching movement to the hold and Allison went off-balance and hit the canvas on her left side, rolling slightly to offset the impact.

Mallory dived on top of her but Allison kept rolling and reached up to tie up Mallory’s left arm in a half-nelson hold. It was a quick maneuver and Dave was impressed.

“I didn’t know she could do that!” he said.

Mace laughed and hooted. “Hey, your lady’s no slouch, Dave. She may get hammered on, but she’ll make ‘em pay for it.”

“Come on, Allie!” Mike shouted. Lindy was whooping, too.

Allison had reversed positions and had Mallory down on the canvas now, applying pressure to the hold. Mallory struggled to reach back with her free arm and managed to get hold of Allison’s hair, but the pulling she did seemed less than serious to Dave. Still, Allison made a show of being in pain, and in a few moments, Mallory had broken the hold and rolled free, keeping a grip on Allison’s hair. Standing up, she pulled Allison across the ring and banged her head-first into one of the corner turnbuckles. Allison fell back to the canvas and Mallory followed her down. She put her knee on Allison’s chest and began pounding Allison in the stomach with her right. Allison’s legs jerked each time the fist drove into her belly and she grimaced in pain.

Mace shook his head. “Man, she always takes a lot of that,” he said. “I think they like to work on her gut ‘cuz she always wears it bare.”

“There may be other reasons,” said Dave, smiling quietly. His own heart was pounding now as he watched her being beaten, and he knew that while the punches may have stung, there was no way they were causing any serious damage. He had seen to that some time ago.

Mallory stood up and Allison remained on her back, gasping. Mallory bent and, taking Allison by the head, pulled her to her feet and dragged her over to the corner where Kim was waiting, an evil smile on her face.

Mallory threw Allison back into the corner and Kim seized her arms and pinned them back by her sides. Mallory balled both hands into fists and began punching Allison’s belly as hard as she could.

The crowd literally went wild.

Dave suddenly found himself in one of those “alone in a crowd” situations: people around him were yelling, shouting, screaming and he was completely focused on the tableau in the ring. Allison’s face was reflecting pain as she was pounded, and Dave knew that this was something she had ‘arranged’ for his own benefit. He was aware of the crowd around him and almost felt left out, somehow. He felt he should also be on his feet, cheering for his love, but instead he found himself in the grip of a desire so powerful that it almost stopped his breathing. The scene before him, of such intense brutality, stirred such powerful desire in him that his whole body shook.

The roaring of the crowd broke in on him again as Allison’s foot came up, planted itself on Mallory’s belly, and pushed, hard. Mallory went staggering backward and Allison’s head came back and banged Kim’s forehead. Kim released her hold and Allison whirled, grabbed her by the top of the head, and pulled down, banging her head on the top of the padded ring post. Kim’s head bounced and she fell back off the ring apron into the crowd, while Allison spun again to meet Mallory’s return charge by putting her elbows up over the top rope and lifting both legs to kick the larger girl in the stomach. Mallory went back again and Allison followed her, keeping her moving back with a forearm smash to the collarbone.

Mike was howling. Lindy was jumping up and down and screaming. Dave’s eyes were wide: he hadn’t known Allison was this good.

Mace was laughing like crazy.

“Whoa, she’s steamin’ t’night!” he yelled. “Watch out, Mallory!”

Allison drove left and then a right-left-right into the bigger girl’s stomach, driving her back into the corner where Jeanette was waiting. Jeanette reached out and grabbed Mallory’s wrists, pulling them back behind her, and Allison began beating on Mallory just as she had been beaten on, earlier.

Dave shook his head in amazement. Mallory was grimacing in pain as Allison worked on her stomach, and her knee came up once in pain from a particularly brutal right to the midsection. Then, with a huge effort, Mallory pulled her wrists free from Jeanette’s grasp and clouted Allison on the side of the head with a haymaker. Allison went down and Mallory fell on top of her. One arm hooked Allison’s ankles and the other went around her neck as the big girl bent Allison back in a Boston Crab hold. Allison yelled in pain and pounded the mat with one hand as Mallory applied more pressure. The hold was excruciatingly painful, and Dave sensed that this time Allison needed to do no acting to convey the agony going through her body.

“That’s a bad one!” Mace observed. “She’ll need a break to recover, and she probably won’t get one.”

“C’mon, Allison!” Lindy yelled. “Get out of there!”

Mallory dropped Allison’s neck and bent her legs further while pressing with one knee into Allison’s back between the shoulder blades. Allison’s hand pounded the mat again and she grimaced from the pain. Dave could see her leg muscles straining and quivering as her ankles were forced toward her ****.

Mallory released the legs, then, and, sitting on Allison’s back, wrapped her hands around Allison’s chin and pulled back, putting more pressure on Allison’s spine.

Dave leaned forward and every muscle in his body tensed. This was NOT something he liked to see.

Mace looked over at him.

“Geez, it must be hard to see your girl taking this!” he observed.

Dave didn’t bother to reply. He was measuring the distance between the ring and his chair.

Now Mallory had Allison pulled back in a surfboard hold, with her foot planted in the middle of Allison’s back while she pulled on her arms. Besides Dave, Lindy was biting one hand and Mike look tense, too. Allison was pulled further back and Dave prepared to leap out of his chair.

At that moment, Allison’s eyes opened and she looked straight into Dave’s eyes. Even though she was in pain, he could feel the love there pouring out of her. He eased back into his seat as a smile flickered briefly on her face before that pained grimace returned. Allison was hurting, but she was all right.

Bored with this hold, Mallory released her arms abruptly, allowing Allison to smack forward to the mat. She pulled up Allison’s left ankle, pulled sideways on it, and put it behind Allison’s right knee, then pulled back on her right ankle and put on the pressure, forcing the ankle up toward Allison’s back.

Allison gritted her teeth and slammed her right hand down on the mat once more. Dave watched in a mixture of anger and concern as Mallory tried to break Allison’s right leg once more, but failed. She released the hold and went for Allison’s head, dragging her to her feet once more. She pulled Allison over to her corner and tagged Kim’s hand, and the two women switched places, all the while hanging onto Allison and keeping her trapped.

Many of the men in the crowd were booing at this obvious infraction of the rules, but the referee made no effort to prevent this tactic or even issue a reprimand.

Mallory, now standing outside the ring, thrust her arms down through Allison’s and held them back as Kim held up a fist and waved it around, turning to take in the entire crowd, then turned back to Allison, who had a look of fear on her face. Mallory was pushing against her back and forcing her belly out, giving Kim a clean shot at it.

The first punch drove in at the navel and Allison’s mouth opened in a gasp of pain. Many of the crowd groaned in sympathy for Allison. The same fist returned again and again now as Kim dug more punches up into her helpless opponent’s belly. Allison’s mouth was open in shock, her eyes closed, and Kim pounded her again and again to the stomach.

Mace was shaking his head.

“Man, can she take it!” he said. “I seen guys get hit in the gut like that in boxing and just fold up like a lawn chair! She just takes it and keeps on going!”

“She trained for it,” said Dave, barely able to stay in his seat. “We had her training for over a year.”

Mace nodded approvingly. “Yeah, that’s right - you said she was a boxer, too. Wow!” He watched as Allison took more stomach punches. “No wonder she’s so tough!” he said.

Jeanette was protesting to the referee from her corner and, true to form, the ref was busier explaining to her why he couldn’t let her interfere than he was in trying to prevent this obvious violation of the rules against Allison. Once he had turned and seen what was going on, he walked over and began trying to pry Mallory’s arms off Allison while Kim continued to pound the blonde girl in her stomach.

Kim backed off and Mallory released her grip on the now-gasping Allison’s arms. Allison straightened up and Mallory shoved her forward out of the corner. Kim was waiting: as Allison came staggering forward into the ring, Kim swung a looping right that buried itself in Allison’s stomach. Allison folded over the punch, the breath whooping out of her as her legs came forward out from under her and she hit the mat hard. Her arms went to cover her middle and she rolled over on her side in a fetal position, her eyes closed and her teeth clenched in pain.

Mike and Dave were both on their feet.

“I can take the ref if you can handle security,” Dave yelled over the crowd’s roar.

“No problem!” Mike yelled back. Lindy had both hands over her mouth. Her eyes were as big as saucers.

Allison opened her eyes and looked at them both. Her eyes fixed on Dave and he froze. She smiled a little, but it was pained. The punch had hurt her, but she was signaling she was okay.

Dave waved Mike back down.

“Are you sure?”

“No, but I promised her I wouldn’t interfere, and she promised to quit if it got past her limits.”

Mike glowered at the referee, who happened to be looking at him at the moment and paled slightly. Mike pointed one finger at him and the man understood the intent completely.

Allison smiled at Dave again. A moment later her head was seized by Kim, who pulled up on it and pulled Allison to her feet. The fist pounded into her stomach again, but Allison countered with a punch of her own to Kim’s stomach. Kim’s eyes went wide and she bent over forward. Allison helped her to the floor by pounding a fist on the back of her head. Kim hit the mat, hard.

Allison walked over and tagged Jeanette.

Kim was up on one knee when Jeanette sauntered over to her and, planting one foot on her left shoulder, pushed the bigger girl over onto her back. Her foot next came down to stomp on Kim’s stomach, making the bigger girl jerk like a landed fish. She backed off and slowly circled Kim as the black & silver-clad girl struggled to recover. She finally sat up, glaring at Jeanette, who smiled sweetly and waved Ôta-ta’ with one hand. Kim got to her feet, lowered her head, and charged. Jeanette instantly fell into a crouch with her arms straight out ahead of her, crossed, the hands open, and turned with thumbs downward. What happened next was unbelievable. As Kim hit her, Jeanette grasped the sides of Kim’s head, rolled back with one foot in Kim’s stomach, and threw her opponent up, over the ropes, and out into the crowd. Kim flew back three rows and landed flat on her back on top of the college boys directly behind Dave, Lindy and Mike.

Mace was on his feet.

“HOLY CHROME!” he yelled, looking first at the stunned Kim, who was flailing about in a tangle of college boys and beer suds, then back at the ring.

Jeanette was already on her feet, leaning against the ropes, one foot angled casually back behind her and smiling down at Kim. Behind her, Allison was wide-eyed with shock.

“That girl,” Dave observed to Mace, “is no hood-ornament! That was a judo throw!”

Jeanette turned and walked back to her corner. Allison was eyeing her narrowly. Dave could see her say something, and it looked like her mood was a little on the irritable side. Jeanette said something back and patted her on the shoulder reassuringly. Allison smiled and Jeanette turned back to walk toward ring center again.

Kim had successfully extricated herself from the college-boy float she’d been bobbing in and was climbing back into the ring, a look of murderous rage on her face. Jeanette stood calmly, waiting for her.

Once back through the ropes, Kim advanced on Jeanette and put out her hands to try to grab the slighter girl. Jeanette grabbed one of Kim’s wrists in one hand and bent it at a strange angle. Kim was suddenly flying over backward and hit the mat like a ton of bricks.

“What was THAT?” asked Mace, looking at Dave.

“Aikido,” said Dave, shaking his head. “I wonder if it’s legal?”

“I didn’t think anything was illegal in pro-wrestling,” said Mace.

“Knowing how to defend yourself might be,” Dave said.

Jeanette was standing over Kim with her arms folded. The crowd was howling, unfortunately, which drowned out Allison’s shouted warning as Mallory came up behind Jeanette and drop-kicked her in the middle of her back. Jeanette literally flew into the ropes and, on the rebound, had her legs knocked out from under her by Mallory and slammed to the mat on her back. Mallory helped Kim up and the two girls went for the prone Jeanette while the referee, predictably, bent his efforts on preventing a furious Allison from entering the ring to aid her downed partner.

Dave was steaming.

“I hate this!” he yelled to Mace over the crowd. “Let a couple of girls in who have some class and they get thrown to the lions!”

“Yeah, you got that right,” Mace agreed. He looked over at Mike and Lindy. Lindy was jumping up and down and hollering for Jeanette. Mike looked over at Allison and winced at what he saw.

Allison, red-faced, had the referee by the collar and was twisting the front of his shirt into a knotted mass in one fist. He was protesting and she looked like she was ready to, as she would say, “pop him one.” A number of fans in the crowd appeared to share her sentiment.

Mallory picked up Jeanette and put her in a standing full-nelson, and Kim proceeded to give her a stomach workout that would have tested Allison. Jeanette wasn’t as strong as Allison and before long she was hanging limply in Mallory’s grasp as Kim’s fists hammered away at her. When Mallory let her go, she slumped to the mat, gasping in agony.

Allison finally induced the referee to attend to the more serious problem in the center of the ring. He gave Mallory a warning. Kim promptly tagged Mallory and walked off toward their corner. Mallory picked up the much lighter Jeanette and dropped her over one knee in a back-breaker. She pounded her fist into Jeanette’s stomach once for good measure and lifted her to body-slam her face down to the mat. As Jeanette lay writhing, Mallory covered her and easily pinned her for the first fall. The crowd booed and Mallory sneered at them.

Dave sat back, folding his arms.

“Mace,” he said, “tell me what you know about Mallory and Kim.”

Mace frowned.

“Not much t’know about Mallory,” he said. “She’s wrestled here before, but she’s usually a pretty good sport. I ain’t seen her be a heavy before like this, but she’s doin’ okay. Kim, now she’s new, but I hear she’s done the pro-circuit out west in California.” He shook his head, grinning. “Man, the way that little Jeanette threw her was really cool!”

“So Kim is pretty skilled, eh?”

“Yeah, and pretty mean, too, from what I hear. The next fall oughtta be a real killer.”

Dave stared back into the ring.

“Great,” he muttered. “Just great.”

The referee had spoken to both teams and it was determined that the start of the second fall would be between Allison and Kim. The two girls were almost evenly matched, with Kim being slightly heavier but Allison being slightly taller. Kim watched carefully for an opportunity as she circled Allison, moved in and ducked the lock-up to give Allison a knee to the crotch. Allison winced and bent forward and Kim took her by the hair and flipped her flat to the mat. Stunned, Allison offered no resistance as Kim put a knee into the small of her back and hit her in the head several times. What happened next made Dave’s blood pound in his temples.

Kim flipped Allison over and pinned her arms behind her back, sat her up, then began pounding her belly with her right fist, doing some really serious punching that brought loud grunts of pain from Allison. Red splotches began to cover her stomach as Kim worked her over from just under her breasts all the way down to her beltline. Under the bright lights, her navel seemed dark and deep when it could be seen between punches.

Dave felt his heart pounding in his chest as he watched Allison absorbing the punishment. Her head went back, her mouth opens as punch after punch pounded into her trim stomach, and Dave felt the hot flush of desire sweep through his body. Her head came forward again and her eyes opened and looked into his. There was no smile this time, only the unspoken words in her eyes. This is for you, Dave. Her eyes closed again as the cruel fist dug deep into her belly, and her legs jerked in pain. Dave felt the pressure building within him. If there was ever any time he wanted to hold her in his arms, it was now.

Kim pounded several more punches into Allison before dropping her back to the mat.

She stood over her, then, and brought her foot down into Allison’s stomach, stomping her in the belly over and over. Allison jerked and writhed, and Dave could feel his hands shaking as he watched. He was as intensely turned on as he had ever been in his life, and both he and Allison knew it. Kim dropped to one knee next, and did something that shocked him: she looked right at him, smiled, raised her fist to her lips and kissed it, then looked down and pounded it over and over into Allison’s belly.

Obviously, this was part of Allison’s ‘plan’ for the evening, and Kim and Mallory were in cahoots with her on it. Mace had said that it was straight entertainment, and he’d been right. Dave was being treated to a choreographed beating of the woman he loved. It was frightening, infuriating, and also the most hotly ****** thing he’d ever seen. If not for the crowd, he’d have been in there in moments and making love to her.

Obviously, that had been her idea all along: to drive him crazy. He smiled, shaking his head a little. What an extraordinary girl!

He became aware, through the shouting of the crowd, that Mace was nudging him again.

“Dave!” he said, leaning over closer, “did she set this up for you?”

Dave nodded slowly.

Mace nodded also but sat back. He knew when to leave a man alone.

Lindy was leaning over toward Dave now.

“How can she take that?” she asked. “I’d be half-dead by now!”

Dave couldn’t answer: he was mesmerized by the sight of watching Allison’s stomach take punch after punch. From what he could tell, her muscles were holding out, but the pain must have still been terrible. Her entire belly was bright red from the punching. Her eyes closed, her head lay turned to one side with her mouth slightly open, and to Dave, she had never looked more beautiful. Under the lights, her blonde hair framed her face like a halo and clung in sweaty streaks of dark gold across her forehead. Her chest heaved with the effort of her trying to breathe as a punch drove in up under her breastbone and her face contorted in pain. Another punch drove into her at her navel and she groaned. It was unbelievably arousing.

Kim got up, flipped Allison over by putting one foot under her and lifting, then took Allison’s legs and bent them up and over her back. Allison shouted in pain as the pressure mounted.

Mallory casually stepped into the ring when the referee turned to warn someone in the crowd for some imagined infraction. She walked up to Kim and knelt down. Allison’s legs were bent so far up that only her chest still touched the mat: her belly, still reddened, was stretched taut and exposed. Mallory very deliberately kicked Allison’s belly, hard. Allison’s whole body jerked and she tried to yell, but she seemed unable to make a sound; she could only shake her head back and forth in agony as Mallory kicked her belly again and again.

To Dave, it looked as if the booted foot of the bigger girl drove considerably deeper into Allison’s stomach muscles than Kim’s fist had done. Behind his eyes, in his temples, and in his throat, Dave’s pulse pounded out of control. At the same time, a single tear blurred the vision in his left eye as he felt his heart cry out for the pain his loved one was forcing herself to endure for him. It was a strange conflict of emotions: on the one hand, being filled with such raging desire that all he wanted to do was ravish this beautiful woman, and on the other hand, being enraged at the treatment she was receiving and having to repress the urge to rush to her rescue and carry her away, safe from harm. It was, quite possibly, the most terrific excitement he’d ever felt.

Mallory was about to deliver another kick to Allison when Jeanette stepped up behind her and drove a precise punch into the big girl’s right kidney. Mallory hollered and fell to one knee, her hand going to the injured spot on her body. Jeanette took her by the hair and drove a fist straight into her heart, between her breasts. The hollow THUMP of the impact filled the hall as Mallory went over backward. Jeanette looked at Kim, who released her hold on Allison’s legs and retreated warily. She was not going to make the mistake of underestimating Jeanette ever again.

Given time to recover, while Jeanette stood guard over her to keep Kim at bay, Allison managed to get her legs back under herself and struggled to her feet. Jeanette tagged her hand and gently pushed her toward their corner. She then turned her full attention to Kim. Mallory was still out of it on the mat, struggling to catch her breath.

Kim circled Jeanette, and Jeanette turned slowly, keeping her left side turned toward her larger opponent. Kim moved in and Jeanette surprised her by jumping up to grab her hair with both hands...and to lock her legs around Kim’s midsection in a scissors. Kim’s hands had come up in a reflex to grab Jeanette’s hair, but the sudden imbalance of weight threw her back and the two went crashing to the mat.

Mallory, meanwhile, had recovered enough to start getting back to her feet. The referee stepped forward to get her out of the ring and Mallory quickly dispatched him with a forearm smash to the chest that knocked the man spinning toward the ropes. The crowd roared their approval: nobody liked the ref.

Jeanette, seeing Mallory up again, knew she was in trouble, but couldn’t release her hold on Kim without having to face both women at the same time. She shot a look at Allison, who vaulted into the ring over the ropes and ran headlong at Mallory, pulled back, and drop-kicked her. Mallory fell across Jeanette and Kim, and Allison jumped on top of her.

Pandemonium broke out in the crowd as all four girls tangled arms and legs, each trying to attack her opponents and aid her partner.

The referee, recovering from Mallory’s hit, looked at the scene fearfully.

Mace was on his feet.

“C’mon, ya wimp!” he yelled. “Get in there and break it up!”

Evidently less willing to face the wrath of the crowd than the wrestlers, the referee stepped in and began grabbing arms and legs, trying to sort through the tangle. Dave saw Mallory’s arm come up with a fist and then go driving down into the fracas. When the girls had finally been separated, Allison was still laying on the mat. As Jeanette helped her up, Dave saw that the left side of her face was bright red at the cheekbone. Evidently, she’d been hit, hard.

“I think I may have to meet Mallory outside later,” said Dave through clenched teeth, his eyes narrowing. “She needs a lesson in manners.”

Mace shrugged. “Probably,” he said. “Still, I dunno if I’d want ta meet her outside in th’ dark; that chick’s BIG, man!”

Dave said nothing but continued to watch. Jeanette was helping Allison back to their corner when Kim hammered her between the shoulder blades. Jeanette was knocked forward, pushing Allison ahead of her, and fell face-first to the mat.

Mallory hung back, and as Allison turned to help her partner, Mallory rushed her, catching her in the stomach with her right shoulder and pushing her back to the ring post in the corner. She grabbed Allison’s right arm with her left hand, Kim seized Allison’s left arm with her right hand, and, holding her arms out and away, both girls began driving their free fists into Allison’s stomach. Since she was backed to the turnbuckles, there was virtually no room to recoil, so her body was taking the full impact of the blows. The two girls fell into an alternating rhythm, and Allison’s knees came up several times in pain as she was pounded heavily.

Jeanette was struggling to her feet. Kim turned, seeing this, and let go of Allison’s left arm to attack the recovering girl. Mallory saw Allison’s arm start to come up off the ropes, pulled back her right, and pounded it into Allison’s belly with all her strength. The punch drove up deep into Allison’s body and actually lifted her feet off the ropes. When she came back down, her knees buckled and she bent forward until her forehead touched the mat, both arms around her middle.

Kim took Jeanette by the hair as she got to her feet. She propelled the smaller girl forward, headfirst into the turnbuckles, right over Allison. Jeanette collapsed atop her partner.

Mallory and Kim took this opportunity to parade around the ring, soaking up the enthusiastic booing and jeering of the crowd.

Jeanette slid off Allison’s back and lay beside her. Allison raised up slightly, and gently put out one hand to Jeanette’s shoulder.

Dave could barely contain the love her felt for her at that moment. Even in the midst of her pain, her first thought was for her partner. She was, without a doubt, made of the stuff of heroes. He smiled. She always denied that, but he knew the truth.

Mallory had returned to Allison’s side and had her by the hair again. She drew Allison up to her feet, and Allison gave her a hard elbow to the stomach. Mallory flinched and released Allison’s hair. Allison grabbed her outstretched wrist in both hands, spun while holding it over her head to twist the arm, then applied pressure. Mallory howled as she was forced to her knees and Allison forced her to lay down on the mat, then jumped on her shoulders and pulled the one arm back, locking it in a half-nelson. Mallory’s free arm flailed and reached back, but she was fended off by Allison’s free hand.

Jeanette was not faring so well against Kim. The heavier girl now had her in a bear hug and was applying the pressure to her ribs. Jeanette, her back to Mallory, gasped and shook her head from side to side as the breath was literally squeezed from her body. Her fists pounded back uselessly against Kim’s sides. Her legs jerked and twitched. Her mouth was open, desperately seeking to draw breath, but the chest could not expand enough. Her eyes went wide with terror as she realized she was suffocating.

Looking back, Allison saw this, released Mallory, and flew at Kim. She grabbed Kim around the neck with a forearm and dug the knuckles of her other hand into Kim’s back. Kim yelled, but wouldn’t let go of Jeanette.

Jeanette was in the final stages of oxygen starvation. Her eyes had gone glassy and her whole body was twitching in spasms as the muscles and nerves lost their coordination. Allison released Kim’s neck and began pulling back on her head.

Mallory was up now and took in the situation in one glance. Kim was in trouble but had Jeanette in such trouble that she decided the easiest thing would be to just finish the job. She stepped forward and drove a cruel punch deep into Jeanette’s belly. The smaller girl stiffened as if shot, unable to make a sound, then went limp.

Kim released her and put her hands back to grab Allison’s hair. Mallory, in the meantime, got down on one knee, turned the unconscious Jeanette over on her back, and prepared to pin her. Instead, Kim collapsed under the pressure Allison was putting on her neck and head, went over on her back, and found Allison on top of her. The referee moved in and, before Mallory could get up off Jeanette, Allison had won the second fall.

The referee, after finishing the count on Kim, got up and checked on Jeanette. He sent Kim and Mallory back to their corner but allowed Allison to remain in the ring. Allison knelt over Jeanette and tried to wake her, patting her face and calling her name. She was out cold. Then, tears in her eyes, she lifted the girl and, pulling one of Jeanette’s arms over her shoulder, took her back to the corner where the corner seconds took her out through the ropes. It looked like Jeanette was finished.

Mace shook his head. “Jeez!” he said, “that’s bad! Really bad!” “What, it’s over, right?” Dave asked. Mace was still looking up into the ring. “I don’t think so, Dave,” he said.

Dave looked back into the ring.

All the girls were back at the ring center with the referee. He was talking to Allison. After a moment or two, she looked at Kim and Mallory, who regarded her back coolly, nodded her head, and turned to walk back to her corner. Mallory and Kim smiled at each other and returned to their own corner. Dave’s blood ran cold.

“No!” he said, standing up. “She’s CRAZY!”

Mike was on his feet, too. Allison saw them both, smiled, shook her head, and waved for both of them to sit down.

“She’s gonna go up against both of them alone,” said Mace knowingly as Dave sat down once more. “Man, she’s gutsy! They’ll make hamburger outta her...oh, sorry, Dave!”

Dave looked at him.

“A lot of this isn’t faked, is it?” he asked. Mace shook his head.

“People can tell the difference,” he said. “Some of the bad stuff is faked, but a lot of it isn’t.”

He looked back into the ring. “She’s gonna be hurtin’.”

Dave sat back in his seat, his arms folded in front of his chest, and fumed. His promise to Allison had suddenly worn very thin.

Mike leaned over behind Lindy and touched his arm. “She won’t want us to stop it,” he warned. “You know that, don’t you?”

“Yes, I know it,” said Dave. He looked up at Allison on the far side of the ring and she must have seen the anguish in his face. She smiled and nodded. It was her assurance everything would be okay.

The referee blew his whistle. Time for the third fall.

It was Allison vs. Mallory to start, and Mallory was stalking her. This was the deciding fall of the match, and Allison was out-gunned. Kim watched from the corner, no longer smiling.

Mallory made a grab, tried for a lock-up and Allison broke free and dodged back. She was not going to allow her larger opponent any kind of advantage like that. Again, the two circled. Again, Mallory rushed in to try to grab Allison, but Allison backed away, turned, and managed a roundhouse kick that took Mallory solidly on the hip and knocked her off balance. Allison rushed her, went to grab the right arm, but instead found her own arm seized. Mallory swung her around and propelled her into the corner - straight at Kim.

Allison hit the turnbuckles hard and suddenly found an arm around her throat. Kim tightened the grip and pulled back as Allison’s arms went to grab at Kim’s arm in a futile effort to break the illegal chokehold. She was stretched up and then back as Kim forced a knee into her back. Mallory came in and swung, burying her right fist in Allison’s belly at the navel. The loud smack of the punch echoed in the room and Allison gasped in pain.

Mallory lowered her head and bored in on her now, firing lefts and rights into her unprotected stomach as hard and as fast as she could. Allison released her grip on Kim’s arm and brought her arms down to try to cover - only to have them seized by Mallory at the wrists. Kim released Allison’s throat immediately and wrapped her own arms through Allison’s, pinning them back. Now, with the whole front of her body exposed, Allison became a living target.

First, the belly was tortured: heavy, brutal punches that smacked and thudded against weakening, aching muscle that had already taken too much punishment. No longer able to resist the battering, Allison grunted deeply and gasped in agony as Mallory’s fists began driving in through the damaged wall of muscle and digging into the sensitive organs underneath.

Once she had softened her up down there, Mallory next turned her attention to Allison’s breasts. The punches here hurt just as bad, but in a different way: sharp lances of pain drove into Allison’s upper torso and she cried out as the fists flattened her bosom against the hard ribs below. She began to struggle in Kim’s grip. Mallory put a stop to that by slugging her deep in the belly again. Allison’s voice was cut-off in mid-cry as the breath was pounded from her body. A look of horrible pain crossed her face. It returned a moment later as the cruel fist slammed into her belly once more.

Dave could not believe what the scene was doing to him. He felt as if his whole body were on fire, and the discomfort between his legs was almost unbearable. Allison’s body, glistening with sweat, quivered and trembled as her belly was tortured by the invading fists. Her head lolled forward for several moments, then pulled back, her eyes clenched shut, her mouth open in pain as yet another brutal punch drove deep into her abdomen. Her belly had almost lost all its muscle tone, so many punches had she absorbed, and her knees came up with almost every blow to the stomach at this point. She was in mortal agony. Dave longed to take her in his arms and press his own mouth to hers, to feel her body against his own, to feel her sweat upon his skin. It was all he could do to stay in his seat.

Mallory stepped back a moment, surveying the damage she’d done to the helpless girl before her. The referee remained a striped dummy in the background; utterly worthless. Mallory stepped forward, put one hand in Allison’s hair, and lifted her head up. Allison’s face came up, tear-streaked now, her eyes turned upward to Mallory’s, pleading...

Mallory swung hard and punched the belly again, with only cruelty in her own eyes. Allison’s eyes closed as her left knee came up again. She barely managed a weak gasp. This was no longer wrestling or even punishment: this was destruction, pure and simple. Mallory was out to demolish Allison, and she went about it with no apparent thought for her opponent’s health or safety.

Where her punches before had been hard and fast, she now began to take her time. She would drive a fist deep into Allison’s stomach and pause, watching and listening to the reaction. The gasps grew weaker, the leg didn’t come quite as far up as it had the last time, and the look of pain grew worse. Allison was in terrible trouble; Mallory seemed intent on beating her to death with stomach punches.

Dave couldn’t even hear the crowd anymore, couldn’t hear Mace yelling beside him...all he could hear was the sound of those awful punches, Allison’s gasps and faint groans of agony, and the sound of his own heartbeat...a heartbeat that ached for his lady-love.

Kim let go of Allison, who fell forward onto her knees in front of Mallory. Kim stepped through the ropes, dropped to her knees behind Allison, and grabbed her arms again, pulling them back cruelly. She pulled Allison’s body back, stretching her torso out...and Mallory got on her own knees before her and began the pounding once more.

The crowd was going absolutely crazy. Security guards had entered the hall and were moving toward the ring as the crowd became increasingly angry over the blatant abuse. Dave was on his feet along with Mace, Lindy, and Mike. Behind them, the college boys were yelling for the referee to stop the match.

Mallory drew back her right and plunged it into Allison’s stomach. The thud and her gasp of pain sent an answering knife of pain through Dave’s heart. The right came back again, higher under the breastbone, and Allison couldn’t even grasp this time. The pain was so bad she could only make a weak toss of her head to one side, eyes closed, face streaked with tears…

Lindy covered her eyes and looked away. Tears were leaking from beneath her hands.

Now Mallory began alternating lefts and rights, slowly, cruelly working her way down the belly and back up...hard, brutal punches that beat into weakened muscle and sent pain rocketing deep into Allison’s body. Twenty, thirty punches, and Allison’s head lolled forward, her body quivering, glazed with sweat.

Allison slowly lifted her head, opened her eyes, and looked at Dave again. Even though her tears, she managed a weak smile. It was more than he could bear.

He was moving toward the ring when the security guards reached the front row. He was already up on the ring apron and preparing to step through the ropes when the referee, seeing him approaching, read the murder in his eyes and quickly stepped forward, stopping Mallory’s beating of Allison. Kim released her hold and both girls stood up, looking straight at Dave. Both had fear written on their faces.

Allison and her sister had both spoken to him of their mother, how she would give ‘the look,’ and you would know you were in for it. Dave’s ‘look’ had the same effect, except it was entirely hostile. He was poised at the ropes, and both girls simply backed away. There was no mistaking the intent written in those eyes.

Mace and Mike were beside him, with Lindy waiting below, inside the security line. Dave lifted the top rope and stepped through, and looked around at the crowd. The sudden silence was deafening.

Still, on her knees, Allison looked up at him through tear-filled eyes as he stepped forward, knelt, and put his arms around her. She fell forward against him.

The crowd began cheering.

Carefully, he picked her up in his arms and stood, carrying her back across the ring to where Mace and Mike held the ropes open. She put one hand to his chest as he carried her out, jumped down to the floor, and walked for the aisle leading to the lockers, Mace, Mike, and Lindy behind him. The cheering continued long after they had left the hall.

In the locker room, he laid her down carefully on a low stack of loose pads in one corner. Sweat covered her whole body, staining her costume. He carefully brushed the hair from her face. She looked up at him.

“You broke your promise,” she said weakly, still smiling.

He put a finger to her lips. She smiled more at the familiarity of the gesture - one of her own.

“Not so, milady,” he replied gently. “I did not enter the ring until the enemy was routed.”

“You looked at them,” she accused.

“You never said I couldn’t just look,” he replied.

She grinned and attempted a weak laugh, winced at the pain in her middle, and gave up the attempt.

“Ah, ah!” he said, waving the finger. “Just take it easy for a few minutes. We’ve sent for a doctor.”

Her eyes widened and she tried to sit up, again unsuccessfully, while shaking her head no.

“No arguments, Tigress,” said Dave, pushing her back down gently. “Right now, you are my number one priority in the universe, and you are going to get checked out before you stir from this-hyar vicinity.”

Mike leaned over them.

“How are you doin’, Allie?” he asked, putting a hand to her shoulder.

“Mike, this guy is bullying me,” she said. “Beat him up!”

Mike made a fist and tapped Dave on the shoulder.

“You take good care of my little sister,” he said.

“Okay, okay! Help, police!” said Dave.

Allison pouted. “Conspiracy!” she growled.

Lindy knelt down beside her and squeezed her hand. “I’m just glad you’re out of there,” she said. “I couldn’t stand to watch you get hurt anymore!”

Allison smiled and patted her cheek. “A lot of it was acting, Lindy,” she said.

“In that case, you deserve an Oscar,” said Mike.

The door opened and Mace came in, escorting an older man.

“The doctor’s here,” announced the ex-pug. He smiled at Allison and stepped back as the Doctor knelt down beside her, set down his bag, and nodded.

“Well, young lady, I hear you’ve taken a beating,” he said.

“I’ve had worse,” she said.

“No she hasn’t, Doc,” said Mike.

The doctor probed carefully at her abdomen with his fingers, noting each wince of pain that crossed her face. After a few minutes of such probing, he nodded, took out a small bottle of pills, and handed them to Dave.

“She’s got some abdominal trauma,” he said. “I can’t see any sign of internal bleeding, which is good, but she’ll be pretty sore for several days. These are Vicodin: a relatively mild pain-killer. Two every four hours with food for the next two days or so, and she’ll be fine.”

He looked down at her again.

“That must’ve been some brawl,” he observed, noting the emerging bruises on her ribs and stomach. He nodded and stepped from the room.

Allison looked up at Dave.

“Can I stand up now?” she asked.

“You’re sure you wouldn’t rather be carried?” he replied.

“Hmmm...I kind of liked that...but I’d rather try myself if you don’t mind.”

Dave leaned back and Allison struggled for a moment, got her hands behind her on the floor, and pushed up to a sitting position. The effort and pain showed on her face.

“Okay, c’mon,” said Dave, holding out his hands. She took them grudgingly and he helped pull her to her feet. She held onto his hands and looked up at him.

“Did you enjoy yourself?” she asked.

“Not nearly as much as I intend to,” he said, smiling back. He turned around, saw Mace, and grinned.

“By the way,” he said, “there’s someone here who’d like to meet you.”

Mace’s eyes lit up.

“Allison, allow me to introduce Mace, former heavyweight professional out of New Jersey. Mace, this is Allison.”

Mace shuffled forward, smiling shyly. “Miss Crane,” he said, “I’m real pleased ta meetcha!”

Allison beamed at him and Mace looked like he’d just seen his first Christmas tree. She opened her arms and he stepped forward and hugged her gently. She returned the hug and he stepped back, smiling hugely.

“I’ve been a fan of yours ever since you started,” he said. “You’re the greatest!”

“Thank you!” she said, smiling. Mace looked like he was in heaven. Which he was.

March 10, 2022 12:06 AM