When the two men take positions opposite each other at the bar, somebody in the crowd shouts, “Take him out, Greg.” The crowd laughs raucously, and a few people applaud the heckler.
Fister just beams back at the crowd, so sure of himself that he pays no mind to the haters in the crowd. He will win them over, he’s sure.
Lynch plants his elbow on top of the bar, his bicep bulging and the veins of his forearm fat and swollen. Fister grins, wiping the sweat off his torso with a small towel, the better to shine in the spotlight focused on the two fighters. He dries his hand and fixes it up against Lynch’s.
Lynch puts on his deadpan fight face, but Fister’s eyes dart out to the audience, as if wondering how they like him, a fake fast-frozen smile on his face.
“Let’s get on with this, Feister.”
“Let the crowd get off on the show a little.” Fister whispers hoarsely. “They couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the competition. It’s just another meat market to them. Lighten up. It’s entertainment, not the friggin Olympics. Wrestling’s just an excuse to show our gunz off.”
Lynch winces. He knows Fister is about 70% right. The owner of The Dump cares jack shit about sports. His number one concern is money, his number two concern is money, and his number three concern is to keep the customers with money drunk and distracted enough that they leave a fat wad of that money behind at The Dump.
The ref puts both his hands on either sides of the opponents’ hands, holding them steady and at dead center.
The ref pulls his hands away and yells, “Start.” The two arms strain against the other, motionless at first, then they begin to quiver with the strain.
Lynch got a clear advantage much earlier in his other match-ups, even in the touch-and-go struggle with Lucas. He has to admit to himself now that, for all his showboating, Fister is sturdy, tough competition.
Beads of sweat collect on both men’s foreheads. The veins at Fister’s temples begin to bulge, his face going bright pink. Lynch concentrates on the back of his own hand, willing it to push forward, confident that, if he were so determined, it can bend steel.
Just as Lynch begins to feel Tom’s arm give, Fister jerks his hand away, breaking the grip.
(To be continued)