CALLING IN A FAVORSampson looks down to his phone. The messages of anger flashed their way across his screen from various outside investors. He knew it was a shot in the dark, but he had to jump on the possibility that last week was going to go off according to his vision. He couldn't have been more wrong. Not only did it blow up in his face, he has to try and not only secure another venue for his upcoming fight, but he also has to make sure that he doesn't lose his only client, Valora. He made a promise that he had yet to deliver on. However, he was sure he could at least put up a decent argument as to why she should stick it out with him. Just then, his phone buzzed once more. It was "doc."
"What up, doc?"
"Seriously? Like that shit doesn't get old. Check it, I'm sending you a couple of fighters to fill in your gaps. I've been in contact with a couple of low card guys, as well as a vet or two. I think you'll like what i've lined up for you. Any thoughts on how you're gonna save face this week?"
"You heard about that shit, huh?"
"Everyone's heard about it. Twitter's blowin up right now thanks to the shit that went down. For what it's worth though, the Hambright, and Nathan fight was a hit."
"Yeah, too bad it wasn't my fight. I needed Valora to get some face time, instead, she ends up gettin' down in the loading dock against some lost fat fuck. I don't know if the CCTV even picked up on that shit. Nothin to even leak on youtube from what i can tell. Shit pisses me the fuck off, doc. I don't know what the fuck im gonna do to keep her."
"Oh? Is she looking for new representation?"
"She's mine, bruh. You know better than to try and poach my shit."
"Do i? I might be able to give her something you can't."
"Right, what would that be, homie?"
"Face time. A fight that's actually seen by people, and not a camera. Hell, i'd even hook her up with a decent percentage."
"She's got a fine percentage, she did all the fuckin' negotiating, son. I took a hit, no doubt, but it's a good investment, ya know? Gotta spend to make so to speak."
"Well, i guess... But if you can't make, then you'd better stop spending, and cut your losses."
"There anything else doc?"
"Nah man, like i said, i was just callin to let you know I found some flesh. I ain't signed em or anything. Just testing em out. Found em from here and there, reached out to em, offered them the old song and dance offering them a better life, more money, fame, respect... You know the old bullshit."
"That ain't old bullshit, cuz. That's what these guys be needin. If they can't get it, or we can't provide it, they're fucked. Don't many people reach out to guys that failed in Absolution. They come out too fucked up, and ain't worth the price of admission."
"Whatever you say, bro. Anyways, you got something lined up yet? I need to know where to ship these guys."
"Nah, not yet. I'll text you when i get it figured out."
"Sounds good, but don't wait too long. I don't know how long i can keep em on the hook."
Rasheed lowers the phone from his ear, and ends the call. Taking a deep sigh, he looks over his shoulder to an approaching escalade. His eyes narrow slightly behind the dark tinted lenses of his sunglasses. The Vegas sun beat down on him as he waited on the curb of walker air field. His bag resting at his feet. While it felt good to be home, he had already been missing the cooler temperature of Chicago.
The car came to a stop in front of him, and the passenger door opened. Out slid Beretta Jordan. A smile crept across her lips as she looked him up and down.
"You look fuckin rough, Rash. Real rough. Rode hard and put away wet. Got some news for you though. Want a ride?"
Rasheed looks from side to side, shrugs, and walks towards the SUV. The driver lets himself out, and goes to collect the bags of Rasheed. As Sampson nears Beretta, she extends her arms to embrace him. Planting a small kiss on his cheek, she breathes him in gently.
"Shit happens... Shit happens. Look, you aren't cashing in just yet. We just need to start smaller, right?"
Sampson steps back.
"Since when are you involved with this?"
"Since you flew me out to chicago, and had me look that club over. It would have been a hell of an event, and in all honesty, it was a hell of event. It's just too bad it wasn't yours, you know? Anyways, remember Red? You know, ol' punchy?"
"Yeah, i remember him. Why? Did he die or somethin?"
"No. I told him about how you were looking for a place to showcase your fighters. He said he'd do it for a minimal fee. Don't worry, I already fronted you. What I'm getting at, Rash, i got your next venue locked down. It's not much, but right now, it beats parking lots, and whatever else you can scrape together. I promised him that we'd start with two events there, and then we'd negotiate after that. He was all for it. It seems his gym is a lot like your so called business venture, faultering."
"The fuck? Why's his gym goin under?"
"Everyone wants to do MMA now. That's where the money and pride is. Boxing is a dying sport. With all the big fighters having their own gyms, there's not much room for the old school gyms to produce talent. Hell, the armature circuit has been pretty much taken over by central americans, and they're not gonna come up here to train when they can train down in mexico, and los angeles. Red is doing us a favor, and we're doing him a favor. See, we put on a couple of good shows, and that puts him back on the map. We end up filling up the gym, and we have our exposure once more. It's a win win. While it might not be your ideal venue, it's gonna have to do."
"Yeah. Mind if we run by there, and take a look at it?"
"Sure. Let's go."
Rasheed slides into the back seat of the car, while Beretta enters opposite of him. The car starts up, and begins it's somewhat short drive to the 'old vegas' gym. While not in the neon light of the main strip, it's still close enough to old vegas, as well as new vegas to be considered a good location. There was plenty around it, just nothing cutting edge. There were no Mandalay Bays or anything along those lines around it, however, there were some smaller casinos, scattered about. Mostly single story, bar type atmosphere type places. Businesses that the locals would frequent for a drink, and some slot action. After about 20 minutes from the airport, they pulled up along the side of the gym. The sign that had once been vibrant and well maintained was fading, and chipping. Red had made the decision a long time ago to not change with the times. He didn't want all the flash and flair of neon or digital signing. He felt that he was a traditional gym, and that required traditional marketing. Rasheed looked up to it from his seated position in the car and shook his head.
"He's really let it slip, huh?"
"A little bit, yeah. But you know how it is, you start to hurt in one area, and another area suffers as more attention is put into the higher priority."
"So you're saying it looks better inside?"
"Well.... Sort of. He's got a ring still. It's in decent shape. Nothing great, but there's been far worse."
"Fair enough. Just as long as it can hold a decent amount of people, we're good."
"Yeah, he could probably take on a couple of hundred or so. Maybe more if it's standing room only."
"Let's go with that. I want to try and maximize the volume as much as possible. We gonna serve?"
"What? Drinks? I don't know. We can... I don't know why you'd want to though."
"Why wouldn't I? They get to drinkin, they'll get to bettin'. Money talks baby, you know that. Nothin more than well drinks and cheap beer. We don't need nothin special."
"I'll see if we can get down on that. I'm sure i can set up some sort of station for booze. We'll get some girls in here to make the rounds too. You still stay in touch with Raven?"
"Nah, not really. I don't know if she's even in the game any more. Ginger Bread though. He could be beneficial. Maybe you could get him on the line?"
"I'll see what i can do. He's been doin pretty good. I don't know if he can spare some girls as a favor, but we'll see. We'll make it work, sampson. Now, let's go check it out, huh?"
The two let themselves out and walk to the main entrance. Rasheed pulls the door open, with a loud creak. The sounds of speed bags and heavy bags could be heard, but, for the most part, it was pretty much dead inside. Hunched over, listening to a hand radio, we see an elderly man in the corner barking out orders to the few boxers that were in the gym, while at the same time, tapping his radio to get a signal.
Beretta approaches the man, and smiles.
"Red? It's me, Beretta. How are you?"
"Retta, that you? How are ya, child? You keepin' up with bills?"
"Always, pop. Always. Look, I brought Rasheed with me, you remember him, right?"
"That son of a bitch owes me money."
"The fuck you say, old man? I don't owe you shit."
"You fixed that damned fight. I know it, you know it, and everyone else knows it."
"Ain't no proof one way or the other. I don't owe you shit old man. Maybe you should work your fighters better, maybe then they'd be able to take a hit."
Red tried to feign anger but can't help but to grin to himself as he shuffles over to rasheed.
"We made a killin, didn't we, son? A god damn killing. How ya been, boy?"
"Pretty good, old man, pretty good. I see the gym ain't changed much, huh?"
"Nah, not really. I hear you need a favor..."
"More or less, yeah. But Beretta tells me it's gonna be mutually beneficial to the both of us. We both need a reputation, right?"
"More so you than me. Hell, i'm getting too old for this shite anyways."
Sampson lights up a cigar and looks around, taking in the venue. One section devoted to free weights, that would have to be moved into storage to provide room for standing or the bar. Heavy bags hang from the ceiling that could be removed. A smile curves his lips as he looks up.
"That second story still stable?"
Sampson points to the railings that allow for more standing room to look down on the crowd and fights.
"Huh? Up there? Ohh yeah, it works just fine. You want to go up there and take a look?"
"I'll take your word on it, old man. Anyway we can get the ring moved into a more central location? I wanna be able to get as many people in here as possible, and really get all the angles covered."
"I'll get my boys on it, Rasheed, don't worry, this place will be good to go. It'll accommodate what you need, alright ?"
Rasheed exhales and takes once more look around.
"Yeah, i think this'll do just fine. It's still in pretty good condition, that's for sure."
"It's all i've got left, rasheed, it had better be in pretty good condition. Without this gym, I've got nothin left to live fer. Join me fer a drink? Got some Jameson in the office."
"Still hittin the bottle, huh?"
"The taste reminds me of better times, Rash, much better times."
"Yeah, i'll have a drink with you. Beretta, i need you to make sure that we can do what i was talkin about earlier, you mind checkin that out fo me? "
"Yeah, i got you sampson. Don't worry. You two catch up."
The two men walk into the office of Red. It's clad in various championship belts from the past. Pictures of boxers who had come and gone from the gym. Almost like a personal shrine. Back in the day, Red was quite the trainer. He knew how to exploit the weaknesses of almost anyone after just watching one fight of theirs. The problem was, he drank too much, and it ended up costing him due to poor decisions.
Pulling out a desk drawer he removes two glasses and a dark green bottle. A smile curves his wrinkled lips as he watches sampson.
"You look good, boy, real good. You still keeping fit?"
"What? Yeah. Haven't been in the ring for a long ass time though. But i'll still lift from time to time. Got an image to maintain, right?"
"You had potential, son. A lot of potential."
"So i've heard. But, given that i liked to skew things into my favor, i had to get out of the business."
"But you're back in it."
"Yeah, i just don't have to answer to anyone now."
"You got any blood?"
"Yeah, i've got one fighter... for now. She's fuckin good, Red, real fuckin good. Too good."
"Then what the feck's she doin with you?"
"Well, i don't know if she's gonna stay with me after last week. She and I got the tip of the dick, fo sho. I'm just waiting for the text that tells me to fuck off, she found someone else."
"No paper trail, you know that Red. I run things on mutual agreements. That way, there's nothing that holds up in court if it were to come up."
"I got ya. So, she got a name?"
"Valora. You'll see her this week. I was thinkin about feeding one of Doc's guys to her. You know? Give her that little nudge in the right direction."
"You be careful with doc. He's got an eye for talent."
"Nah, he's got luck for talent. He ain't got an eye. He's like one of them fools that plays fantasy football, and just goes down the list of what's available with the highest rating. He don't look too deep into they character and potential."
"Well, just be ready, okay?"
Red pours the shots, and smiles as the two clink glasses and drink, talking about old times.
As the scene fades out, we see Sampson answering his phone once more. Excusing himself from the company of Red, he steps outside.
"That you, Val? Look, we need to discuss some shit, a'ight?"