Blood, Sweat and Tears Ch.02
"Turn right after passing the restaurant," said Gael. Isabelle turned her car right. Isabelle didn't know why Gael would ask her to pick up the boy she sparred with yesterday. Maybe it's because of his old body that was exhausted. Whatever the reason, she was sure that the boy would be having second thoughts about coming if he saw her so soon after she had pounded him in a sparring session the day before.
She had half a thought that if the boy took one good look at the young woman who battered his face in yesterday that he might just run away and never come back. The other half of her thought that this boy may actually want to learn to box and would show a less tepid attitude upon seeing Isabelle and Gael that afternoon.
They arrived at a school building. It was private looking. The garden was kept tidily manicured. Dead leaves were swept away by the gardener. A French flag and the school flag were hung proudly on two flag poles. "He must be from a first-class family," thought Isabelle. Unlike him, she was from a middle-class family.
“I’m going to wait outside the car,” said Gael after Isabelle parked near the curb.
"D'accord," Isabelle replied in her usual monotone voice. She probably thought she'd scare the daylights out of the boy had she decided to wait outside with Gael. At least if she's in the driver's seat and he gets in it might be too late for him to change his mind, and he'll take his situation more seriously than the previous day.
Isabelle wondered just what kind of boy she's going to see coming out of the school after surveying the grounds of this rather prestigious institution. He couldn't possibly be the same gangly little 13 year old that she saw yesterday, could he? More than likely, he'll be prim and properly dressed in a school uniform, bag slung around his shoulder; intently looking for Gael to guide him to the car for what he hopes is a valuable day of training.
The school bell rang and children were pouring out of the building. Some of them board a bus waiting for them. Some have their parents waiting for them in luxurious cars. Isabelle felt her Volkswagen Golf is a stark contrast to the luxury it was surrounded by. There was one girl strutting with her nose up in the air to a limousine with a butler opening the door.
"Hmf," muttered the unimpressed Isabelle as she watched this rude and stuck up rich girl's behaviour. She detested people who thought they were better than others without proving that they were worthy of their position. She sat there in the driver's seat just staring at the stream of wealthy students from wealthy families leaving their wealthy school to do the kinds of things that wealthy kids do. It's a concept that Isabelle found incomprehensible to her. Her life was nothing like that. Her life revolved around a squared circle, a pair of gloves, the heavy bag and doing everything she could to destroy any opponent who dared face her. To this point, no opponent has been able to take her down.
Isabelle heard the sound of the passenger door opening and closing, plus the loud panting of a boy around 13 years old. Almost in a robotic way and with her trademark emotionless visage, she slowly turned her head to meet the boy's face, who had yet to realize that she was the one driving the car.
“Guah!” the boy yelped. Gael, after entering, almost broke into laughter.
Isabelle just stared at the boy, as if he really wasn't there, and tried her best to greet him as if she was a ghost, instead, "Bonnnnnjoooouuurrr."
The boy avoided her emotionless stare and bit his lip. He had a partial thought to just open the door and run home, but the other side of him told himself that if he did that, he'd never be able to live down being scared of a girl, regardless of how much older she is. He desperately wanted to send some sort of greeting, any kind of greeting to this scary looking French girl.
“Hi,” said the boy in a tiny voice.
"Ready to go, little boy?" Isabelle said as she pulled the parking brake on the vehicle and shifted to get going. She was impatient to return to her training and get this boy out of her car, hoping that he might man up enough today not to leave crying like a stuck-up rich girl from this school.
"My name's not 'little boy'. It's Bertrand DuChamps," said the boy. Isabelle was a little bit surprised at his sudden bravery to talk like that. However, she chose to let it go and concentrate on the road.
"So I see, Bertrand DuChamps," She repeated his name as she kept her eyes on the road, nearly ignoring the boy's gaze. At least the traffic was flowing smoothly this time. "Keep this up, please," she thought to herself, "Don't keep me from my training."
"So, boy. I have prepared a training schedule for you. Since you agreed to come to the gym every day, I don't have much energy to train you alone because, you know there are others to train. So, I put you under Isabelle's training," said Gael.
Isabelle's eyes widened upon hearing this bit of news from Gael. What would she do with this little boy, babysit him? Not when all she wants to do is train hard so she could destroy the next competitor who dared challenge her undefeated record.
"Gael, I really don't have time for..." her voice was cut off by the grizzled old man in the back seat.
"No buts. It's for both of your own good," said Gael.
"She will hit me hard!" said Bertrand.
"How does babysitting a little boy help me defeat my next opponent?" She quizzed her trainer. "It's just not helpful to me." As she stopped at a red light, she tilted her head slightly to take a quick look at this petulant boy who wanted to be a boxer. "More like 'pretend' to be a boxer," she thought to herself.
“Your next fight is a long way away. In the meantime, you can train him,” said Gael.
"But..." Isabelle tried to protest the words of her gruff trainer, "He's weak,"
"I'm not weak!" said Bertrand angrily.
“I’m sorry, I’d rather not waste my time on you, weak boy,” said Isabelle.
“QUIET, both of you! You'll work together or I'll double up your training regime, which is fine with Isabelle but not you, boy," said Gael.
Isabelle punched the horn of her car to the car in front. She really wants to get back to the gym pronto. The car in front screeched ahead and Isabelle put the car into first, and then revved the vehicle ahead, jerking her passengers back into their seats. "Just get me back to training," she thought silently. "I just want to forget that this boy is even here right now.” Isabelle put the car in Park, jerked the parking break then exited the car swiftly and silently, hoping to escape the gaze of her trainer as she darted off to her own training.
"Hullo, Isabelle!" said Nadia cheerfully, who was about to train. Isabelle brushed past her and went straight to the changing room. Nadia looked at Gael and the direction Isabelle went alternately, puzzled. Isabelle went out of the changing room minutes later. As she was about to glove up, Bertrand approached her with a brave face. More like pretending to be brave.
"Like it or not, I have to train with you. So, give me all you got!" said Bertrand. Isabelle rolled her eyes and continued tying her glove. Alright, she thought. He asked for it. She has a couple of training regimes in mind that will make him quit.
"See that skipping rope?" said Isabelle, pointing at a skipping rope that was hung on a hook near her "I want you to jump 1000 times, proceeded by 500 push ups" "Without stumbling AND whining." She continued when Bertand was about to open his mouth. Bertrand gave her a glare and went to the skipping rope.
"Good riddance," thought Isabelle, climbing the ring and started to shadow box. She concentrated deeply, imagining an opponent in front of her. She raised her glove and weaved as an imaginative hook came towards her. She countered the imaginative opponent with a jab.
Isabelle continued to imagine her opponent in front of her as she danced around the ring. She fires several left-right jabs and what would be a devastating right hook, looking pleased with herself as if she had just destroyed another would-be challenger. Taking another look in the direction of Bertrand, she was astonished that he was not only doing the jump rope exercise she told him to do, but he showed no signs of even one stumble!
"995...996...997...998...999...1000!" huffed Bertrand and almost yelled the number 1000. He stopped skipping, breathed heavily and looked at Isabelle who was at a loss for words. Was that the boy who she pummeled yesterday? She's sure he won't be able to do the push ups! There’s just no way can that happen! Bertrand lied on his stomach and started to do push ups. Isabelle slipped under the ropes and rushed to the boy who has just reached the 20th count.
Instead of stopping him, she took a moment to observe him closer. Bertrand was executing the push-ups rapidly. He'd probably be somewhere in the 200's and struggling considerably at this moment. Isabelle knew it because his arms are shaking, like it will give up on him in a moment.
“Stop,” said Isabelle, to which Bertrand stopped and looked at her confusedly.
“What’s wrong? Surprised?” said Bertrand. Isabelle bit her lower lip.
“Go run around the gym. 60 laps,” said Isabelle “No stopping or slowing down either…”
“60 is too much for me,” said Bertrand.
“Then, 100 will be,” said Isabelle. She glared at him, using an authority-like tone in her voice.
“You know, for a scary person, you really are a jerk!” he said, sticking out a tongue at her. Isabelle was ticked off. Fortunately, she could control her patience. The last thing she would do is another brutal spar with him. Her thinking was that if she hit him often enough and hard enough he'd run like the crying boy he was the previous day.
Gael was amused to see the both of them starting to get familiar with each other. It’s been a while since this gym has been this lively. At least, Isabelle had to train one boy. Imagine a class of kids. Chaos would ensue.
“So, having fun being the trainer?” said Gael, patting Isabelle’s shoulder.
"Obviously not!" Isabelle hissed. Gael laughed, patting her shoulder harder. That irritated Isabelle more.
"Look at him go. He's a fast runner. I'll bet he's good to be a speedy boxer," said Gael. As he talks, Bertrand had completed the 24th round. Isabelle scoffed. He will tire out in a few rounds. Surprisingly, he doesn't!
"Gael, are you sure that this is the boy from yesterday?" said Isabelle. She had enough surprises for today.
"Of course he is!" said Gael "There's no clone of him nor a twin. He's just a plain young boy who got his ass whooped by you."
Isabelle gritted her teeth. Her plans to chase him out have failed. Resigned to her fate of looking after this little boy, she stopped him on his 50th round.
“Alright, time to do some focus mitt training. Let’s see how hard you can hit,” said Isabelle, avoiding Bertrand’s sneering grin. She threw a pair of 16 oz gloves at him and gloved up a pair of focus mitts. Isabelle thought he will surprise her further, but for some reason, his stance is off and awkward. Taking her chance, it’s time for her to let it out.
“You’re doing it wrong!” she said. She entered into a fighting stance for him to copy “Like this!” Her sudden outburst made him to fidget as he copied her stance. Satisfied, Isabelle put out her mitted hands in front “Give me a 1-2 punch first.” Bertrand gave a 1-2 straight to the mitts. Thinking that he might have done it right, he was greeted by a yell “Harder!” He punched the mitt as hard as he could. Then, his shoulder was hit by the mitt. “One more time!”
“Oi, don’t be so harsh on him,” said Nadia, leaning her front on the ropes. Isabelle gave her a glare before returning to her training. Bertrand must have hated her and that’s a good thing. She’s almost there to make him quit.
“Well, what are you waiting for? Give me the 1-2 punches. I won’t stop until you make me satisfied,” said Isabelle.
“Hyaah!” Bertrand hit the mitt with all his might. Isabelle could feel the force of it. It was strong. Even with the mitt on, it hurts. However, she pretended that she’s not impressed.
"1-2! 1-2! 1-2!" Isabelle yelled, hitting each side of Bertrand's shoulders to provoke him. Bertrand released a flurry of 1-2's. The sound of each punches resonated the gym. But, still, Isabelle went on to provoke him again. “Faster!”
Bertrand released his strength into his punches. He didn’t stop, instead his punch speed increased. Isabelle was astonished. Her hands started to sting. “Stop!” The last punch impacted on her right mitt like a hammer with a loud “THUD!”. It also jerked her hand away! She thought he’s just a wannabe-boxer, but Bertrand's proving her wrong. It seems like she'll never get rid of him. Unless she hits him rather hard now.
Isabelle swings a hook that hits him on the rib. Bertrand, totally unprepared, cried in pain. “A boxer must be aware of his surroundings. Don’t act high and mighty when you just hit a mere focus mitt!”
Hissing in pain, Bertrand raised his gloves. His eyes were burning in determination and it disturbed Isabelle. It will take more than that to make him quit! Isabelle began to dance on her toes “Alright, try hitting while I’m moving.”
Bertrand swung a hook, which Isabelle dodges. Isabelle countered with a jab on his shoulders. She'll try to make his shoulders sore so that he felt pain every time he threw a punch. It’s cruel, she knows, but she just wanted to get rid of him.
“What do you think, Gael?” said Nadia, watching the two.
“The boy’s a natural,” said Gael “It’s just he didn’t know that. Yesterday, on the way to send him home, he told me the reason he took boxing.”
“What is it?” said Nadia.
Thud! Thud! Thud!
One by one, Isabelle’s jabs hit their target. Bertrand hissed. His shoulders were starting to swell. He didn’t get a chance to throw one punch when Isabelle kept on the offensive. To everyone on the gym, it looks like she was bullying him. To Isabelle, those looks don't really bother her. She just doesn't care. “Come on, come on,” she taunted, beckoning him to come closer. He took her bait and with a strong hook, she hits his shoulder. Bertrand yelped, clutching his sore shoulder. He thought Isabelle would show mercy and stop, but he was wrong. Isabelle continued to hit his other shoulder.
“Don’t show pain! Endure it!” said Isabelle. For the first time after her relentless attacks, Bertrand swung a hook. It caught Isabelle off guard. Her sides received the hook, although it's not hard. Before she could continue her assault, it looks like the table has been turned against her. Bertrand let out a flurry of punches. Isabelle shuffled away from them. She will not let herself beaten by a boy. It is an insult to her. She stopped in her tracks and with a swoop, tackled him to the canvas.
“Alright, alright! Knock it off!” said Gael. Before Isabelle could kill the boy, he better stop her. Huffing, Isabelle got off from Bertrand. She doesn't say anything, but gave him a stare that looks like she was mocking him if Isabelle could move those lips.
“That’s it for today,” said Isabelle. She ungloves the mitts and threw them at him, which landed beside his lying body.
“Cow tits," mumbled Bertrand. He was lucky Isabelle didn't hear him.
Afterwards, Isabelle finally can train by herself "Finally, some peace," She was about to go for the heavy bag when Gael interrupted her. Groaning, she shot a glare at him "What?"
"Kid wants to go back to school. He left something," said Gael. Isabelle's nose flared. This boy...
"No!" said Isabelle, firmly.
"Come on, or I'll revoke your pro licence," said Gael.
"Alright, alright!" said Isabelle. To save time, she just put on a jacket above her sports bra. Once she and Bertrand get in the car, Isabelle sped off in a speed that's considered dangerous. Just, what is important about the thing he left at his school? Bertrand clutched the seat as Isabelle weaved her Golf through traffic.
The car finally stopped at the curb of the school. “Um, can you accompa-,” said Bertrand before a glare was shot by Isabelle.
“Go! Now!” she said. Bertrand gulped, stumbling out of the car and ran into the building.
Isabelle gave a long sigh. What a stressful day, she thought. Her body that is hot is cooled down by the a/c of the car, but her head is still boiling mad. She will double her efforts to make him quit.
10 minutes have passed and Bertrand was still not in sight. Isabelle tapped the steering wheel impatiently. Where is he? She sensed that something's not right, since it should have only taken a moment to grab the thing he wanted to retrieve.
Bertrand has encountered a problem. Running down the hallway while clutching the package, he hoped he could reach Isabelle’s car fast. Glancing back, he saw his pursuer, a grade 10 student, gaining on him. He had a menacing look on his face. Bertrand turned to the right, but then, a leg tripped him over. The package flew from his hands, landing a few feet away. He looked at the perpetrator. It was a girl the same age as him.
“Beatrice,” he hissed. The pursuer grabbed his clothes and hoisted him up against the wall. His look was not just menacing, it was one of torment designed to strike fear in less fortunate students who dared crossed him the wrong way for any minute reason.
“So, what brings you here, chicken?” said the bully. Beatrice snickered, standing behind him with the package.
“I don’t know. What about you?” Betrand said defiantly. Then, he remembered the bully is the president of the Student Council. Of course, he had to stay late at school to do some paperwork.
“Well, Beatrice told me about this interesting package you brought to school. I want to confiscate it. I didn’t know you’d come to take it,” said the bully.
“Yeah, right. More like confiscate for your own use,” said Bertrand. He knows he always does that to everything he confiscated.
“Can’t tell you,” Bertrand sneered
“Beatrice, open it,” the bigger boy barked at the girl.
Beatrice was about to rip open the package when a voice called out, “Put him down,”
Bertrand was relieved to see Isabelle coming to the rescue. Isabelle walked to them, casting a glare at Bertrand, probably for making her wait.
“Who are you?” said the bully rudely.
“Let him go,” said Isabelle. The bully didn’t comply to her demand. He laughed.
“So, you got someone to protect you and it’s a girl. Can you really protect him?” said the bully. Isabelle was a bit offended by his snide remark. She grabbed his shoulder, applying pressure to it to give a warning.
“I’m asking you nicely,” said Isabelle. She can’t stand the sight of bullies picking on someone smaller than them. It’s not because she wanted to save Bertrand. She just wanted to go back to the gym quickly.
“Fuck off, bimbo,” said the bully. He shoved his hand towards Isabelle. Isabelle dodged. The bully released Bertrand and engaged Isabelle. "Come here, bitch!" Isabelle sidestepped his hook and gave a jab to his eye. She dodged a straight and planted an uppercut to his chin, sending him flying to the ground
"T-two punches?" thought Bertrand, flabbergasted by Isabelle's strength.
"Maurice!" said Beatrice, running to the fallen bully. Maurice, still groggy, was carried by the arm.
"I'll get you next time!" said Maurcie to Isabelle. He glared at Bertrand "You’ll get yours tomorrow, Escargot!"
“T-thanks,” said Bertrand to Isabelle as the bullies disappeared from their sight. He picked up the package left by Beatrice. Isabelle crossed her arms, her patience almost reach its limit. However, she was curious to know what is in the package.
“It’s not damaged,” said Bertrand happily. He ripped open the wrapping and pulled out…
“Boxing gloves?” said Isabelle. The gloves were light green in color and were brand new. They were 16oz and were made by a high quality sports goods manufacturer.
“Yup, I bought them on the way to school using my own money,” said Bertrand. Isabelle sighed.
“What’s the use? You can just use the ones at the gym,” said Isabelle.
“They are special to me,” said Bertrand. He wore the gloves. Then, he threw a hook at Isabelle’s side. Isabelle didn’t see that coming. It landed with a soft thud. “Because one day, I’ll use them to defeat you in a real match,”
Isabelle almost laughs at his large but ridiculous enthusiasm. “Cheeky bastard,” she thought “Don’t even think about it. You’re 100 years behind me.”
“You’ll see,” said Bertrand, sticking a tongue at her. He later regretted doing it. Isabelle kept him in a headlock all the way to the car, looking more like an older sister than someone who was determined to get Bertrand to quit and leave her alone to her boxing training.
“I’m going to train you harder from now on,” said Isabelle “It’s not like I wanted to do it. I’m just following Gael’s instructions.”
“Really? Thanks,” said Bertrand, smiling at her. Isabelle blushed lightly and tightened the headlock.
-To Be Continued-