Beach fight 100: Gianni’s opportunity and Alfredo’s revenge

by Nick

1. Fists fly on the beach

Hi, I’m Alfredo. I’m going to tell you about something that happened last summer: a great excitement and a great disappointment that led to a great privilege … But let’s start at the beginning. I’m not a bad football player. Just … not quite good enough to be a regular player in our local team. I was always one of the reserves. Not like Gianni. He was our top player, the striker, and also the best-looking guy on the team.

I’ve got to admit, I had always wanted Gianni to like me. But so far as he was concerned—well, he knew my name, but that’s about it. Since I was only on the reserves, he hardly noticed me. Not that he was arrogant; in fact he was a nice guy. It’s just that he was so handsome, so athletic, that everyone competed for his attention, and I was just too far back in the crowd …

But street-wise Renzo, he did pay attention to me. ‘Stick with me, Gianni, and you’ll learn how to get on in the world. You’re made of the right stuff, I can tell. Just follow my example, and people will treat you with respect.’ So I began to go around with Renzo and his sidekick Paolo. Paolo was a scrawny-looking guy and, to tell the truth, I didn’t like him much. I could tell he resented having to share Renzo with me. But Renzo made it plain that Paolo and I had to put up with one another. ‘You two guys are like my left hand and my right hand,’ he said, ‘so you gotta learn to cooperate, for the good of all three of us. We’re like an army, we gotta have discipline.’

One day, when we were lounging on the beach, Renzo nudged me in the ribs. ‘Look, here’s our chance! There’s Gianni. You say he doesn’t respect you the way you deserve. Well, let’s teach him a lesson.’ And at once he leapt up and strode over to Gianni, carrying a beachball.

‘You wanna fight, pretty boy?’ growled Renzo, pushing the beach ball hard into Gianni’s chest. (02)

‘What the …?’ said Gianni in surprise. But, before he could finished the sentence, Renzo had planted his right fist hard on the side of Gianni’s jaw. (03)

Seeing Gianni close up like that—the effect of Renzo’s sneaky punch on the lean muscled body of the football superstar—it gave me a funny feeling … a funny excited feeling … (04)

In quick succession, Renzo delivered a left to Gianni’s belly (05),

then a right (06)

— Renzo’s fist was hard, but so were Gianni’s abs! (07)

—, then another left (08) …

At first Gianni tried to remonstrate. But Renzo, bigger and heavier than Gianni, was in no mood to listen.

Then suddenly—WHAM! Gianni slammed his right fist up under Renzo’s chin, swinging his superbly muscled upper body to add to the force of the blow! (09)

Wow! That was something Renzo hadn’t expected! How would he react? How would he punish Gianni? Yet … with a strange thrill, I realized that it was Gianni who was now punishing Renzo.

First a left (10)

and then a right (11)

landed with businesslike precision on my friend’s abs.

My friend Renzo, my only friend, was heading for humiliation! What should I do? I had to decide, and decide quickly …

2. My fateful decision

Two possibilities flashed through my mind far faster than it takes to describe them.

Option one: I intervene on Gianni’s side. Renzo is demolished. Gianni shakes my hand and puts his arm round my shoulders: ‘Thanks, Alfredo! You’re a real pal!’ Then, when word gets around that I am now Gianni’s best friend, everyone treats me with new respect …

Or else (more likely) … Gianni will say: ‘Thanks, but I didn’t need your help. And anyway, aren’t you meant to be a friend of his? Jesus! I’m glad you’re not a friend of mine!’ And, with a look of contempt, he will walk away …

Option two: I help Renzo to defeat Gianni. Renzo is grateful, and elevates me above Paolo. Besides, if Paolo and I allow Renzo to be beaten, he will be in a sour mood for days …

I chose option two. Renzo needed to know that he could count on me, and me alone. So I came up behind Gianni and punched him in the back as hard as I could (12).

(Yay! My first physical contact with Gianni! I found myself grinning …)

Gianni lurched round to face me. But he was off balance and … WHAM! My right fist landed in his abs (13).

Yesss! The football superstar had noticed me now!

‘Attaboy, Alfredo!’ It was an encouraging shout from Renzo. My heart leapt. I had done the right thing, helping my friend! What’s more, Renzo had grabbed Gianni by the arms from behind, so as to offer me a clear target (14).

WHAM! I planted my right fist on Gianni’s jaw, deliberately echoing the first blow that Renzo had struck (15).

This time I didn’t hit him as hard as I could. I wanted him to stay standing, so I could go on feeling his skin against my knuckles. I wanted the fun to last!

I realized that I was grinning with delight. I was finally making an impression on Gianni! It was the turn of my left fist now to land (hard but not too hard) on the pretty boy’s belly-button (16),

quickly followed by my right (17).

‘Ooof …!’ The handsome football star’s face registered pain—pain inflicted by me, Alfredo, the despised reserve! Never before had I felt this kind of intoxication—the intoxication of punishing someone for thinking that, just because I wasn’t as handsome and popular as him, he could ignore me … (18)

‘Alfredo … why? …’ Gianni croaked. Yes! He used my name! For the first time ever, I had Gianni’s full attention! Things could hardly get better. But I hadn’t anticipated what happened next …

3. Treachery and trust

‘Oof!’ It was my turn to react to a sneaky blow to my lower back! It was that little rat Paolo …! (19)

‘Renzo,’ he said, ‘why’re you letting Alfredo go easy on Gianni? He’s just playing with him, not punishing him like he deserves!’

‘You think Alfredo isn’t up to handling Gianni? Well, let’s give him a chance to show what he can do—on his own!’ So saying, Renzo abruptly let go of Gianni and backed away.

I realized Renzo was putting me to the test. It was me alone against the football star now! I was being given my chance to prove myself—and put the runt Paolo in the shade …

Unfortunately, I was too preoccupied with the honour Renzo was doing me to notice that Gianni had revived. Suddenly I felt his fist on my left cheekbone. (20)

Then it was his other fist in my belly—(21)

and again …! (22)

It’s true I wanted to make an impression on him, but I didn’t want him to make such an impression on me—not that way! I mean, I’m pretty well-muscled, but those pecs and biceps of Gianni’s—wow! They weren’t just for show! (23)

It was no fun being on the receiving end of what they could inflict! It was time to fight dirty, or else I would go down … (24)

Oh yes! I slammed my knee hard up into Gianni’s groin. That put me on top again! This time, when my right fist landed in Gianni’s belly (25),

I felt the soft flesh yield. (26)

The lean muscleboy, taken by surprise, hadn’t tightened his abs! (27)

I paused for a moment, surveying my handiwork.

That turned out to be a mistake. I had again underestimated the superfit footballer’s speed of recovery. Gianni’s right fist slammed into my belly again. But at the same time Renzo came to my rescue by attacking him from behind! (28)

Yes! My friend and mentor Renzo had joined in, so that he and I were working together as a team! And against the two of us, the pretty boy had no chance. With both hands Gianni struggled to dislodge Renzo’s chokehold around his neck while I punished his soft abs once more. (29)

That dazed look on Gianni’s face—how I relished it! (29a)

Now Renzo shifted his grip so as to present to me Gianni’s face as a target. Yes! Gianni could glower as much as he liked, but he couldn’t stop my fist landing on his nose! (30)

I was punched Gianni’s belly … (31)

his belly again … (32)

I felt a surge of delicious excitement. Gianni’s smooth tanned skin glistened with sweat under the pounding of my fists. Only Renzo’s hold on him stopped him from collapsing to the sand. That lean torso with its well-defined muscularity—it was a superb canvas for my knuckles to work on …

4. My enemy, my friend …

‘Hey, let me have a turn!’ Paolo piped up. I cursed inwardly.

‘OK’ said Renzo, ‘Alfredo and I will hold him while you have a go.’

At least I had the satisfaction of knowing that Renzo recognized that Paolo was too weak to tackle Gianni on his own. Paolo taunted Gianni with the football (33)

before punching him in the abs (34)

—those splendid abs that Renzo and I had paid homage to with our fists! I almost felt sorry for Gianni—so bruised now that even a feeble punch from little Paolo could hurt him. Gianni glowered at Paolo—and so did I! (35)

It was a kind of desecration: Gianni’s splendid body being messed with by a runt like Paolo! (36)

And to cap it all, Paolo kneed Gianni in the balls! (37)

When I had done that, I had had no alternative, or else Gianni would have beaten me—but Paolo had no need to, because Renzo and I had Gianni totally under control.

‘Oh, Gianni, I’m sorry, you don’t deserve this …’: I didn’t say that out loud, but that was what was going through my mind as I watched the agony on poor Gianni’s face. (38)

Twice more Paolo punched Gianni, in the belly (39)

and in the chest. (40)

At that point I couldn’t stand it any longer, seeing the little pipsqueak insult the handsome footballer like this. (39a)

‘Renzo, isn’t it your turn?’ I said.

‘Good thinking!’ replied Renzo, and immediately let go of Gianni’s left arm.

I grabbed my chance. I seized hold of both of Gianni’s arms from behind, so that my chest was pressed up against Gianni’s muscular back. Against my own skin, I could feel the satin-smooth skin of Gianni, slick with perspiration. With my arms and hands I could sense the power latent in his awesome shoulders and biceps. I realised it was my responsibility (my privilege!) to prevent Gianni from using his superb strength now to ruin Renzo and Paolo … (41)

Above all, I was intoxicated by what my nostrils were sensing. The smell of Gianni’s hair … the musky smell of his armpits … all the pungent sweaty smell of a proud young athlete! And not just proud but eye-catchingly handsome … pushed close to the limit of his endurance … one against three, yet still defiantly resisting … (42)

As Renzo continued punishing Gianni, the weight of his punches was transmitted to me through Gianni’s body. (43)

Then Paolo too joined in, coordinating his attack with Renzo. It was as if Gianni and I were fellow-victims …!

First the two of them pounded Gianni’s chest (44).

Then their fists, like a double battering-ram, slammed into his belly (45).

What I felt was … it’s hard to describe … a delicious agony … an ecstasy of painful admiration for this beautiful young man. I felt privileged to have his shoulders pressed against my chest. The weight of his body, held upright by my arms encircling his, was a weight that I would happily have carried for ever … (44a, 45a)

5. Gianni’s opportunity

My ecstasy was interrupted. ‘Let go of him!’ commanded Renzo. I obeyed. Would Gianni collapse? No! He stood, dazed, mouth agape—until Renzo grabbed his head and slammed his forehead into a metal post: CLUNGGG! (46)

Gianni staggered drunkenly. Yet even now he managed not to collapse!

Renzo steered Gianni around so that his back leaned against the post. What would he do now? Would the amazing Gianni still defy him—still defy all of us?

After this build-up—what an anticlimax! Renzo hit Gianni in the stomach again with his fist—yet casually, almost bored … (47)

Oh, Gianni deserved so much better than that! He deserved an opponent with passion, one that appreciated his courage and strength and beauty! My admiration for him compelled me to intervene …

‘It’s my turn!’ I yelled. ‘I’m in the football club—I deserve to have more time with him!’ And before Renzo could say anything, I grabbed Gianni by the throat (48)

to hold him in position against the post before slamming his jaw with my right fist.

This time I held nothing back. (49)

I didn’t care about Renzo, I didn’t care about Paolo. All I cared about was showing Gianni how much I admired his stamina. The proud athlete would understand that I was giving him an opportunity to demonstrate his amazing power of endurance. (Or so I hoped.) So I blasted him in the belly as hard as I could with my right fist. (50)

He sagged forward (51),

but I came in close for a follow-up sledgehammer blow from my left. Then, with a wide swing, I slammed my fist into his jaw (52).

It was a way of paying tribute to him—while at the same time (I hoped) he would recognise me as a worthy opponent. Renzo and Paolo were mere bit players, while Gianni and I were superstars—my smooth chunky muscularity (52a)

complementing his superb lean physique …

I was elated. I could have gone on and on and on, paying homage to Gianni with my fists. Just by staying upright, the football star would in the end be the winner … the more sweaty and bruised his torso, the more gloriously it would shine in triumph …

But Gianni disappointed me. Oh, he disappointed me so cruelly!

6. My revenge on Gianni

After that punch on the jaw, Gianni nearly fell. His stamina—that stamina that I had counted on, enabling him to absorb endless punishment—seemed to have abruptly run out. Only Renzo saved him, by grabbing his arms. And now Gianni could stay upright only with the help of Renzo, who held on to his wrists behind the post. (53)

So Gianni wasn’t invincible after all!

My mood changed from elation to fury. Gianni’s chest, his pectoral muscles, the contours of his abs—they had never looked more beautiful than they did now. Yet the beautiful young man had let me down. He had endured so much punishment from Renzo and Paolo—yet, after only three more blows from me, he had crumpled!

I was not interested in paying homage to Gianni any more. I wanted now to punish him—and punish him far more savagely than Renzo or Paolo would have done. I showed my contempt for him by squashing his nose with my elbow. (54)

Then I punched him in the balls (55)

and elbowed him in the belly… (56)

How different from when I had been behind Gianni, supporting him while Renzo and Paolo punched him! Back then, his pride and courage and beauty seemed to demand chivalrous treatment. But not now. Now he deserved no mercy. It was with a new sort of cold satisfaction that I held him by the shoulders while kneeing him in the groin (57)

and then the belly. (58)

His grunts and gasps of pain—they were music to my ears. (59)

The pain was no more than what he deserved for despising my help against Renzo. Yes, he would have despised my help, I was sure of it. Anyway, that other possibility—option one—it was too late for that now … it would always be too late …

Renzo manoeuvred Gianni away from the post. Gianni was too weak to stand now, so Renzo allowed him to sink to his knees. But that was not the end of his punishment. Oh no! Angry disappointment kept my adrenalin pumping. Gianni’s handsome face (60)

and his soft abs (61, 62)

—they deserved every ounce of the pain that my knuckles were inflicting ...

7. Beauty vanquished

‘Let me have a go!’ It was Paolo. And, strangely, I found I was no longer reluctant to hand Gianni over to that little runt. To be punched and kicked by Paolo—that would be a humiliation, but one that Gianni now deserved. Besides, it gave me the opportunity to stand back and watch …

First Paolo kicked Gianni in the face. (63)

Oh wow! The ultimate indignity! And Gianni’s body, so slim, now so vulnerable … his ribcage, his nipples, the muscles of his sides and belly … I couldn’t tear my eyes away … (63a)

Gianni was trapped between beefy Renzo, towering over him, and vicious Paolo, relishing the opportunity to torture him. He groaned as Paolo punched him in the balls (64)

and in the sternum. (65)

Gianni’s arms—those arms that had inflicted such pain on Renzo not long ago—dangled like overcooked spaghetti. (66)

With my side view of Gianni’s lean physique, I couldn’t help noticing how appearances deceive. His dark nipples still highlighted the bulges of his pectoral muscles, echoed by the elegant half-moon contours of his chest. Yet those formidable muscles, mashed to pulp, were useless now … (67)

‘Oh, things could have been so different!’—that was the thought that flooded into my mind. ‘Gianni, Gianni, if only you had noticed me—if only you had asked for my help at the start, when Renzo provoked you! It could have been Renzo kneeling in defeat now, Paolo fleeing in terror, and the two of us relishing together our victory over a thug and a coward!’

But it was too late. Consciousness was at last draining from Gianni. Renzo, looming above him, was still supporting his body. But his head was lolling to one side. At last his pupils rolled upwards. (68)

Beauty had finally been vanquished. (69)

8. Darker delights in store

The three of us looked down at our victim. Then Renzo, grinning, turned his back and walked away. Paolo and I followed. But I couldn’t stop myself from looking over my shoulder towards where Gianni lay. The star footballer’s battered body could have been a discarded mannequin. But then I saw the eyelids flicker … one arm twitched … I heard a soft moan …

I made a supreme effort. I forced myself to face forward. I carried on on walking. My future lay with Renzo and Paolo now.

‘That was fun, huh?’ asked Renzo.

‘Yeah, that was fun!’ I answered.

‘You did good, Alberto! I have to say, I thought you were going easy on him at first. But later on you seemed to get a real fire in your belly, you smacked him around good and hard. I can tell you’ve got the makings of a good reliable enforcer, a dude who’ll be feared and obeyed. You’ll like that, huh?’

‘Yeah, sure, if you think I’m …’

‘You’re too modest, kiddo!’ Renzo slapped me on the shoulder. ‘Believe me, you’re gonna be respected around town! No one will want to mess with you—and, as you’ll be working for me, I’ll make sure you’re rewarded …’

Oh, wow! A new sort of elation flooded my brain. In my mind’s eye I conjured up an image of myself as Renzo’s right-hand man, a brutal enforcer, someone to be dreaded. As I beat to his knees some poor shmuck who has earned Renzo’s displeasure, I will be cool and and businesslike .

It is only a job of work, after all. But then I will allow the guy to stagger to his feet again, babbling pathetically (‘Please, please, don’t hit me any more, I’ll do whatever Renzo wants!’), and I will at last smile—as I administer yet more punishment! .

Oh yes! As Renzo’s notorious hard man with the golden neckchain, I will enjoy my work. People will not like me. But what does that matter, so long as they dance to my tune?

And what will it matter if my arms never again feel Gianni’s weight, my solid strength complementing his exquisite beauty?

The world is full of Adonises, just waiting to be punished …