"A cup of sugar and two sticks of butter." Said a woozy Joe "The honey badger" Rodriguez. He sat on his stool in his corner of the ring, but didn't know it. His head swam in a sea that didn't exist. Three thousand people paid a full month's rent in order to pack into the Eastern Colosseum to see him fight Richard "Two Fists" Johnson.
"What're you talkin' 'bout?" Asked his manager, Carl, in a voice that sounded like he was gargling nails, thanks to decades of smoking. He was standing beside him and just splashed water in his face. "If you want some sugar, you better talk to your wife. Not me."
"No! Not from you! I always helped Gramma make the best peanut butter cookies when my parents dropped me off. If I could only remember..." Joe put his hands out like someone had just put a mixing bowl in front of him. Then he started mixing it.
"Ah, dangit! Snap out of it, Joe!" Carl slapped him in the cheeks, but Joe just kept stirring his imaginary bowl. "Give me the smelling salts." He said to his assistant, on the opposite side of Joe.
When Carl cracked opened the salts and waved them under Joe's nose, he sat up and flailed his arms like he was about to lean his chair off a cliff. A world of violence and sweat came crashing down on him. "Jeez! Where am I?"
"You're still at the fight, kid!"
"Dammit! Am I winning?"
"No. Not at all. He's kicking your culo, kid. It's the third round and you've barely touched him. If it hadn't been for that bell, you would've already been done by knock out."
"That sounds terrible."
"Yeah, it is. He's twelve years younger and a lot faster than you. You can't keep trying to match him, punch for punch. Give him a target and let him tire himself out, for a while. Take your time. Okay? Wait 'till you bring him down to your level then unload on him. You got me?" Carl, sprayed water over the cut on Joe's forehead to clean it out.
"Yeah, I got you. Tire him out." Joe nodded his sweaty head and the bell rang, again. He stood up and put the mouth guard back in then tried to repeat himself. "Tire him out."
The crowd cheered from the darkness as the light of God shown down onto the ring. The house that Rosa built. That's what they called it. TV cameras surrounded the ring, from just outside. Commentators commented on their every move. Joe stepped into the center and met his opponent, "Two Fists" Johnson. Johnson was visually leaner and more fit than Rodriguez. When he punched, it was like his whole arm turned to lightning. When his glove hit flesh, it sounded like thunder. If he did make contact, it felt like a punch from the gods, themselves. But his footwork was sluggish and clumsy. Rodriguez had to make sure he could outmaneuver Johnson to stay out of his way.
Johnson threw a right but Rodriguez stepped aside and let the blow glance off. He hopped on his feet, like he was stepping on hot coals. Johnson threw another and Rodriguez turned to let it fly right passed him. Rodriguez stepped back, just as Johnson stepped in with an uppercut. The crowd cheered as everyone thought that he'd finally dialed-in to Johnson's rhythm. He'd figured him out and it was just a matter of time, now. For several seconds Rodriguez let Johnson throw all the punches he wanted and always seemed to not be where he aimed.
Then Rodriguez got distracted. A spare thought floated through his mind, just long enough for a left jab to land square on his nose. He reacted with one of his own but overextended his reach, giving Johnson the perfect opening to cleanly land a right hook on Rodriguez's jaw, sending him to the mat as surely as if someone flipped a switch.
The referee ran over and threw his hand out.
One cup of butter, definitely. And another cup of peanut butter. It sounds like a lot, but it isn't. That's why Gramma was always so smooth.
Two cups of sugar. One of white and the other of brown. That's what kept Gramma so sweet.
Three whole eggs. Two, if they're the large kind. You can't forget those. They hold everything together. Just like Gramma.
Flour. You need flour. You always need flour. It's the foundation of every cookie. If you leave it out, all you have is delicious mush. Two and a half cups of it, should do the trick. Then one and a half teaspoon of baking soda and one teaspoon of baking powder to help them rise in the oven. He loved to sit and watch them rise.
Rodriguez shook the sleep from his head and stood on his wobbly feet, holding onto a rope. As he rose, the crowd erupted in cheers. Rodriguez's grandmother was one of the regular Women's Boxing competitors in the Eastern Colosseum, back in her day. They said that the money she would bring in paid for its construction, earning it the name "The House That Rosa Built". Even though he couldn't see her, she knew she was there, cheering for him along with the crowd. Only it was her that Rodriguez heard the loudest. She may as well have been sitting in his corner, along with Carl. Letting her down was not an option that night.
He had taken a beating from Johnson. Sweat poured from all over, falling on the mat. The cut on his forehead was dripping down into his eye. His legs shook like trees in a hurricane as they tried to keep him standing. His ears rang from the constant pounding. His joints creaked. His gums felt like he was chewing glass. His muscles howled in pain. His lungs fought for every breath and his heart screamed for him to show it mercy. But he absolutely refused to let Gramma see him lose.
Johnson saw him stagger on his feet and sneered, dropping his guard. Rodriguez saw it and couldn't believe the indignity. A feeling of rage started in his gut and swelled inside him until it exploded. Then with everything he had, every ounce of strength, every bit of passion and all of his determination, he charged full speed at Johnson while screaming like a madman. Johnson froze solid from the sight of it. With one right hook and with the power of an out of control freight train, Rodriguez sent Johnson crashing to the mat.
The crowd shot to their feet and shouted Rodriguez's name, wildly.
He fell to his knees and hunched over with nothing left, waiting for conciseness to leave him, again. But ten counts later, it was all over. Carl scurried into the ring to help the referee lift him back to his feet. The referee raised his lifeless arm and proclaimed to thousands of spectators, and Gramma who was watching from somewhere, that Joe "The Honey Badger" Rodriguez had won the match.