BROUGHTON’S RULES - CAMERON ASHLEY
An Entry In Eric Beetner’s FIST Contest
Coach took a final swig of the beer Pete bought him.
‘Surprised they have Jolene on the jukebox. Weird choice for a bar full of tough guys and, man, these guys look fuckin’ tough. Are noses busted crooked and cauliflower ears an entry pre-requisite? Jesus.’
Pete sipped his beer, waited for Coach to get on with it.
Coach got the hint.
‘Okay, well, Steve and Dean sure hated each other. I’ve forgotten why exactly they hated each other but, really, it don’t matter a monkey fuck in the over-arching scheme of shit anyhow. Particularly now. But there are some facts I want you to know. Facts that got lost in the storm of misinformation that followed once the shit went down and the story got broke.’
Pete lit a smoke, leaned on the bar and got himself comfy. ‘Okay. You want another beer?’
‘Yeah. Sure. Thanks. Okay. God love ’em, but that pair was a major disruption to the other kids, kids good at learnin’ and all that Three Rs shit. Only Rs Steve and Dean knew were Roundhouse and Rasslin. The media called it a cage, but it weren’t really no cage. I think of a cage, I think mid-eighties NWA, y’know? Tully Blanchard and Magnum T.A. grindin’ each other’s faces into beef chuck. Our cage was a section of locker-room fenced off with chicken wire. Sure we called it The Cage, but that was mostly for atmospherics, thing was fuckin’ harmless.’
‘It was a pretty sorry-ass piece of construction.’
‘Fuckin’ Monty the woodshop teacher built it.’
‘Monty? Guy’s missing three digits on his right hand and two on his left.’
‘Exactly. Problem was nobody had the sack to tell him not to build it. We were worried about discrimination and shit. He’s one whiny no-fingered motherfucker, that Monty.’
‘And, yeah, better they throw some fists in The Cage than out on the street, I thought. Them two boys, all amped up on testosterone, new muscles popping out on their bodies all manly-like, who knows what they coulda done to each other mixin’ it up out there unsupervised.’
‘Yep. Anyhow, reckon that’s about it for the facts.’
‘Yep. But, for the record; I didn’t have nothin’ to do with no teachers placing bets. I’m a fuckin’ coach and they was both my boys and I didn’t show no favoritism even when Bruce pressed me for odds. Fuck Bruce. Geography’s a lame-ass subject and Bruce sucks a big pink pecker teachin’ it. He got jack shit outta me. Tim Hilton, the assistant principal, played bookmaker and, boy, was the staff riled up and ready for a pay-off come fight day. That’s what you get when you pay teachers jack shit.’
‘Timmy Hilton. Excitable guy.’
‘I know, right? Look, truth is, that fuckin’ fight excited all East Longfield High. More than even when Jenny Graham won the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Championship.’
‘That big filly who made the papers?’
‘Yeah. So, school spirit was at an all-time high and we even managed to get a couple of science geeks, feuding over Jap cartoon trading cards or somethin’ equally retarded, to fight, too. You saw the photos? Those two nerds could fuckin’ go.’
Pete nodded. They were scrappy, for sure.
Coach’s beer arrived. Coach rubbed some frost off the glass.
‘Obviously, there weren’t supposed to be no weapons in there and, hindsight being fifty-fifty, I shoulda patted Steve and Dean down. I didn’t ’cause I was concerned about inappropriate touching - teachers don’t have no business runnin’ their hands over fit teenage bodies unless it’s strictly hetero, after school hours and in exchange for better grades.’
‘Didn’t think you and Elsie McTitty was about grades, Coach.’
‘It’s fuckin’ McTierney, Pete. Jesus. Anyhow, Steve was scared of Dean and with good fuckin’ reason.’
‘Yeah. Now, obviously this here revelation don’t absolve me or nothin’, but Steve saw some of your fights on YouTube and, well, he decided that the badass apple probably didn’t fall too far from the badass tree. Forewarned being forearmed an’ all that, Steve forearmed his chickenshit self with a box cutter and that was that.’
Pete took a final sip.
‘Well, thank you for your candor and honesty there, Coach.’
‘Ahh, fuck, it’s the least I can do. It’s all such a mammoth fuck-up, Pete. It was an accident, a terrible, terrible accident. You don’t know how bad I feel. I know I ain’t been takin’ your calls, and I’m real sorry, but we coulda -’
‘Coach, I know you’re a fight fan, but I don’t know if you’re a fight buff. You a fight buff?’
‘Uh. I guess that would depend on what constitutes being a buff.’
‘I mean, like, history, I guess. You know much about fight history?’
‘Like Cassius Clay and shit?’
‘No. I mean like back, like waaaaaayyy back. Back when things weren’t so civilized, back when men fought bare-fisted for pride and beer money and the knowledge and security that, above all, they were men.’
‘Okay, well, what we do in this here bar is fight under Broughton’s rules. You hearda Broughton’s rules?’
‘Well, under Broughton’s, all’s fair except low blows and strangulation. Fight only ends when one man can’t crawl up to a line scrawled down the middle of the ring either cause he’s unconscious or beat dead.’
Pete peeled his shirt off, revealing a massive torso and arms sized like that gator-eating anaconda they found in the Florida Glades. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a stubby piece of pink chalk. He rolled it along the bar towards Coach, clenched his fists so tight his knuckles popped, and started shadow-boxing.
‘Go draw a line back there. And stop looking so worried, Coach. Just close your eyes and think of Tully Blanchard.’
At the rear of the bar, tough guys shifted tables and chairs and smiled gap-toothed, split-lip smiles.
BIO: Fight fan Cameron Ashley lives in Brunswick, Melbourne, belting out stories of tough cats and chicks doing tough shit. Currently plotting more Shibata stories for this site, jamming with Jimmy Callaway and also has a yarn upcoming at Darkest Before the Dawn called Ain’t No Burlesque.