“Handling” a Prelim. Fighter

Damon Runyon

Salt Lake Tribune February 20, 1916

You See It Here Every Monday

The first round of the preliminary was over, and Kid Botts returned to his corner puffing a little. It had been a fast round, but the Kid had more then held his own. There was a slight cut over his right eye, which gave off a tiny trickle of blood.

Halfway to the corner the Kid was met by one of his seconds, who had his mouth filled with water. The second squirted the water in Kid Botts’s face just as the Kid was trying to draw a long breath.

You have seen a Chinese laundryman sprinkle shirts before ironing ’em! The second used the same method. Most of the water was inhaled into the Kid’s straining lungs, along with the tobacco smoke and the foul air of the fistic emporium. The Kid was gasping a bit as he sat down on the stool in his corner.

His manager and three seconds immediately surrounded the Kid. One second grabbed him and pulled him backwards until he was stretched out almost flat, his head against the ropes, his feet barely touching the floor, and only about an inch of his anatomy resting on the stool.

Another second had a large towel, which he began flapping up and down with such vigor that it popped like a whiplash, and raised great clouds of dust about the Kid’s face from the resined canvas. The third second had a sponge and a bucket of cold water. The manager of the Kid had half a veteran orange in one hand. In the other hand he had a bottle containing some fluid of a medicinal nature.

“Handling” the Kid

“How duh y’ feel?” asked the second with the water, as he doused the Kid’s head and shoulders with a chilling flood.

“Puh puh—purty good!” gasped the Kid, shivering.

“Yer aw righ’, ain ‘t chu!” Inquired the manager, vociferously, jamming the veteran orange into Kid Botts’s mouth. The manager wore the conventional cap, and was in his shirt sleeves.

“Blah!” spluttered the Kid, meaning that he was all right.

The second who was holding him down, despite the squirmings of his victim, now began slapping the Kid on the body with astonishing force. This process was supposed to increase the circulation of the Kid’s blood, and maybe it did, but also it knocked the last few whiffs of breath out of the Kid’s body.

“Yer goin’ good,” said the manager, “only you wannah use your lef’ more.”

“Yer winnin’ easy,” said the second who was holding him down, “but you oughtah keep swingin’. Use yer right more.”

“No, you better jab him,” advised the second with the towel. “Jab ‘im with yer lef ‘. He’s a sucker fer a lef ‘ hand. Anybody kin see ‘at. Jab ‘im all the time. Keep jabbin’.”

“Never let ‘im git set,” remarked the second with the water, who was now mopping the Kid’s face with a dirty sponge.

The manager noticed the cut over the Kid’s eye and began fumbling with the cork of his bottle.

“Hold still a minit, I’ll fix ‘at.” he said, daubing the tiny wound with some of the fluid from the bottle. The Kid winced. He had been unmindful of that wound up to then, but now it smarted like blazes.

Weary After His “Rest”

“Remember whud I told you—uppercut ’im when he’s comin’ in,” said the manager, as the bell rang for the second round, and they dropped out of the ring, yanking the stool and buckets with them.

The Kid seemed rather weary as he walked out for the second round, and the showing he made in this session was not as good as in the first. Still, he appeared strong enough when he went back to his corner.

“How duh y’ feel!” inquired the second with the water, as he gave the Kid another bitter bath.

“Blah!” spluttered the kid.

“Yer aw’ right,’” said the manager, encouragingly. “On’y you don’t seem to use you right a’tall. Not a’tall. Whatsa matter? It ain’t cut off, is it?”

“Blah!” sputtered the Kid, meaning that he was all right.

“You said to use my lef,” replied Kid Botts, feebly endeavouring to escape the restraining hands of the second and got to an upright position.

“Yeh, but you can’t do nothin’ to him with you lef, so you oughta have sense enough to switch,” said the manager.

“Don’t try to box with for,” said the second with the towel, who was now using such vigor in his swings that he covered yards and yards of territory.

“Certainly, box with ‘im,” said the second with the water, “you kin outbox ‘im easy.”

“I better put some stuff on ‘at eye,” said the manager. “It might bother you. Go on out, now, and use yer head.”

But It’s No Story

Kid Botts was quite weary indeed when he escaped the bands of his handlers for the third round, and the punch started by his opponent landed in the Botts stomach. The Kid’s vitality was at low ebb as he went into a clinch, and gazed appealingly at his manager.

“Keep swingin!” yelled one of the seconds.

“Box ‘im you; box ’im righ’ on,” said another.

“Use yer lef’,” shrieked the manager. “Why don’t you do like I told you!”

“Step away and let ’im fall down!” cried the third second; but meantime Kid Botts’s opponent was doing the stepping away and it was Kid Botts who was doing the falling down.

A fellow whose lungs are filled with water and resin dust and smoke and germs, and whose body is chilled and whose breath has been pounded out of him and whose stomach has been upset with swigs of cold water and aged orange juice, and who—but what’s the point. This started out to be a story, but somehow we can ‘t get it going. It has no plot, so purpose, or finish.

“Well,” said Kill Botts’ manager, as he stepped up to the office of the fistic promoter and collected $5for the Kid’s end of the preliminary encounter. “I don’t have no bank no more. There’s a little bum I’m workin’ with and advisin’ for weeks and tryin’ to make and som’pin of him, and here he goes and quits on me, the yeller stiff!”

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