Monday, February 18, 2013

And In This Corner

Vin brushed his teeth vigorously, nearing the end of his nightly ritual of getting ready for bed. Each of his thirty-two cuspids, bicuspids, and premolars brushed, flossed, and gargled to minty-fresh perfection, the customer service rep ambled out to watch the late news, scratching his butt and attracting the attention of his dog Rugby, a Boxer and a real hellion whenever Vin had been away filling orders at the brokerage firm of Lumsfeld & Myers. The thirty-eight year old man settled into his old, overstuffed recliner, dangling his left leg less than precipitously over the left arm of the leather-clad seat currently sporting a spot of dill mustard and, suspiciously enough, dried dog slobber.

Ah, well, he thought comfortably to himself. Time enough tomorrow to take care of that. Tomorrow -that word which always turned into magic whenever it referred to a day off from the usual stress box which defined his cubicle. "What are you looking at?", laughed Vin, noticing his dog's steady gaze towards the hallway. Rugby had earned a reputation with Vin for not being afraid of anything except thunder. Vin had laughed until he was in tears that August afternoon last year when the sudden booming had sent the ninety-five pound brute yelping under the sofa, thereby lifting the couch completely off of the floor on one end. Vin saw the frightened, quivering butt of his dog peeking out from under the reupholstered antique. Now, as he studied his canine counterpart, Rugby began padding suspiciously toward the room, nose to the ground and emitting a low growl. Putting the TV on mute, he stretched out of his chair and plodded along behind the dog, fearing that a mouse had gotten inside the house.

Rugby reversed course halfway down the hallway. Suddenly sprinting back toward the living room, he clotheslined his owner in his haste to put distance between him and whatever it was which had spooked him. Vin checked his dog to make sure that he was okay and, seeing that the dog was perfectly fine except for being clearly frightened, went to check on whatever it was which had repelled his Boxer.

Drawing closer to his bedroom, he heard it -faintly, at first. The sound became clearer as he drew near to the doorway. Click-clack click-ck-click clack zing. Click-click-zing clack.

His Rock Em Sock Em Robots childhood toy was on the floor.

The Red Rocker and the Blue Bomber were duking it out. On his floor. Not in the yellow plastic ring, mind you, but on his bedroom floor.

Vin was equally frightened and fascinated. When his throat finally stopped feeling so dry, he called Rugby. "Come on, boy", he said. "You're a Boxer. You should love this", intoned the man whose sense of reality was warping not unlike a Salvador Dali painting.

The fighters continued on with their disagreement, clickety-clack click-zing clack. Soon Vin was cheering the two on, unsure of quite what was occurring. Sure, the robots were battling, but so what? It occurred briefly to Vin that he had been working too hard lately, that his order processing skills were virtually exceeded by the sheer volume of work awaiting him. Worse, his short-tempered boss Abbie, whose own stress levels would lead to a pearl box lovingly picked out by his wife and a discounted plot on the back side of Northgate Memorial Gardens next July, had been treated mercilessly by the older man for not paying attention to orange juice commodity prices closely enough. "Take a few days off" was tantamount to "we'll clean out your desk while you're gone".  Ah, well, thought the former broker. "We have enough to fall back on for a few years anyway, Rugby. Abbie's right. We will take a few 'days' off, won't we?" Rugby first sniffed, then licked, his owner's face from the ringside seats the two had after sitting on the floor together.  Clickety-zing (ooh the Blue Bomber got rocked that time) was the continuing theme as the battling 'bots continued competing for some unseen prize which both apparently coveted.

Vin, now fully into the spirit of competition, found himself aligning with the Red Rocker (if for no other reason than that red had been his favorite childhood color). "Switch to southpaw!" the paunchy man bellowed. "Slip the right!" His cheering was rewarded with the oh-so-satisfying "zing" of the Blue Bomber's head popping straight up. "Yeah! THAT'S what I'm talking about!" was the issued feedback -funny, considering that "what I'm 'talking' about" was expressed loudly enough to arouse Rugby into wagging his docked tail and nosing the Blue Bomber back into competition. Before Vin could cheer on some unforeseen combination of punches, however, Rugby's favored 'bot did put together a combination. "Zing" went the Red Rocker as the popping head was followed by the Crimson Counter puncher toppling backward onto the carpet. While the Blue Bomber walked a few paces away to some theoretical corner, it's competitor found its way to its side-riveted feet. "It's on now, Rugby ol' pal. Time to teach you a boxing lesson", laughed the involuntarily retired handler of no fewer than two-hundred forty-two accounts. Rugby, despite all reality that he was simply a dog, seemed to understand Vin's tone and, much like his human companion, began barking softly (as Boxers seem to do a lot) in apparent encouragement of the Blue Bomber. "Boof-boof-boof" went Vin's fawn-coated buddy. If Clint Eastwood were a dog, he'd sound just like that, the man mused. The perfect canine expression of "a man has got to know his limitations" was the thought just entering his mind when the Blue Bomber literally stepped out of character and, quite literally, delivered a perfect roundhouse kick to blast his opponent halfway across the room. "No fair!", cried one highly exasperated Vin. "No one does that to MY-"

Vin's sentiment was cut short by the Blue Bomber likewise delivering a snap kick to Vin's head. "For the love of -you gotta be kidding me!" What began as a rather slow, clumsy robotic expression of an ancient fighting technique had quickly gotten completely out of hand as both fighters shifted from boxing to Kung Fu to Hapkido in a blindingly quick transition. Rugby was now caught up in the fray, delivering several paws of his own to the Red Rocker in defense of his own fighter. "Hey! You can't do that!", protested a very frustrated -and confused- Vin to his dog. Rugby, replying first with a "boof-boof-boof" back at Vin, continued buzzing the Rocker's head first up and then back and, in doing so, continuing his mocking boof as the red fighter's head responded to that all-too-familiar "zing".

"Two can play at that", Vin said, countering with flicking his index finger against the Blue Bomber's head and emitting a few zings of its own. "NOW we'll see who gets points ol' pal!"
It was pandemonium in the back room of that small apartment as four competitors were now going all out to beat the bell, though no one knew exactly when that bell might ring. In fact, when it did finally ring Vin felt as though he had gone the distance in the fight of his life.

That bell, of course, was his alarm clock. He didn't know why he never slept in. It wasn't like he had a job to go to these days. "Ungghh", he said to his friend who had, as usual, sneaked up onto the bed during the night. (Vin always made a big deal to Rugby about sleeping in his dog bed, but the truth was that he couldn't bring himself to make him sleep there.) "I sure do feel stiff and sore as anything, buddy. I'll make your breakfast as soon as I wake up.

Vin rubbed his eyes -and was made aware of a very painful left eye. "What the freak -what is this?", the sleepy man with the sore knuckles asked himself. "My eye won't open!" Stumbling to the bathroom for a look in the mirror, he worried that his entire morning would be wasted sitting around in a doctor's office while Judge Judy droned away for the less educated in the waiting room  on the TV set.

Vin had a shiner.

Not just any black eye, but an honest-to-god, puffy, black, you-got-hit-in-the-exact-same-spot-ten-times kind of a bruise.

The robots were perched back in the squared circle, in their permanent fighting pose.

Rugby, contentedly, stretched, yawned a huge Boxer yawn, and winked at Vin.

And went back to sleep.


  1. Very entertaining blog... You're a very talented writer.

  2. Thank you. You don't give your identity (I assume you prefer to remain anonymous, which I respect deeply), so I can't thank you by name. Please know that I appreciate your feedback. -Rob