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Soccer Scam by The Hit Man

Part i

As soon as the first punch hit his gut, Rafe thought that maybe getting involved to right a wrong wasn't all it was cracked up to be. What had started as a simple desire to help someone in trouble had now escalated into the present situation. Rafe lay on his back. His legs, made long by genetics and powerful by long hours of playing soccer and wrestling practice, were wrapped around the mid-section of another boy. Rafe was squeezing with all the strength he could muster. The ab's of the boy he held weren't as developed as his own. After many such bouts with other friends where the power of his legs squeezed the air out of them, or even threatened to crack a rib, Rafe was confident that this boy too would succomb. Then the first blow exploded into Rafe's own muscled ab's. Another right behind it. A third and fourth. Each hitting the same spot. Try as he might, Rafe felt his leg's lose some of their grip. He tried to concentrate on keeping his ab's hard as blow after blow rained down. Suddenly he realized his legs had lost their hold entirely and lay on each side of his adversary. But the blows to his gut hadn't stopped. He really was in trouble.

It was spring break and Rafe had been selected to participate in an international high school soccer training camp located in Spain. Youth from all over the world were gathered in Barcelona for a two week experience of their lifetime. Sure, they had to study, but it was worth it to have this chance. The trouble had begun earlier that week when Rafe had left the hotel for his daily run. Barely out the door, he stumbled on a young boy being assaulted by an older one. The younger one had a bloody nose and was being punched repeatedly in his soft, undeveloped gut. Rafe didn't recognize the boy under attack, but he did the attacker. It was a local boy who was also part of the camp. In fact they were on the same team. His name was Anthony but everyone called him "Tee", like Tony Soprano on the popular American TV show. Rafe had stepped in without thinking and grabbed Tee in a full nelson, pulling him back from the younger boy. Tee struggled but Rafe, his upper body well developed, was an experienced wrestler and easily held on. The smaller boy, trying not to cry but obviously afraid, took off as soon as Rafe intervened. As the boy disappeared down a side alleyway, Rafe let Tee go with a forward shove. Caught off-balance, Tee fell forward, landing ackwardly on the rough hard pavement. Before he could rise, Rafe was on him, sitting on him in a school boy pin, his knees holding Tee's arms, his weight distributed evenly to keep from being jostled off. "Get off me," Tee hissed through his teeth, "you Americans are always interfering where you don't belong." "Picking 'em kind of young, aren't you Tee," Rafe asked, not moving to release his hold. Tee managed to wrench one arm lose from under Rafe's knee. He swung at Rafe's chin but Rafe easily grabbed it, applying a forearm bar, bending it upward at the elbow. Tee sucked in breath at the pain. "Last chance, wrestle boy," Tee said through gritted teeth. "Or what," Rafe asked? "You'll know when it happens," Tee said, the venom in his voice unmistakable. "All I ask is that you let the younger boys alone," Rafe said, letting go of the arm and standing up. "Oh, I'll leave them alone for awhile, you can count on that," Tee said softly as Rafe turned back toward the beach. Rafe was reminded of the saying, if looks could kill, as he left Tee laying prone on the street. And now this was where they were. With Tee beating the crap out of him.

Tee was exhilerated as his fists crunched into Rafe's ab's time after time. He had almost given up himself as Rafe's legs had squeezed him. But he had felt an immediate change in pressure with the first blow. An experienced boxer, he knew he was now in charge. Putting first one hand and then the other in the sand for balance, he continued the rain of blows until the legs fell helpless to his sides. With that threat gone, he concentrated more on hurting Rafe. Rafe tried to block the blows but Tee simply pushed his hands away with one hand while hitting him with the other. With each blow, Tee could feel the muscles under Rafe's skin weaken, each blow finding his fist sinking deeper into the soft organs below. He had been landing his blows in the same general area for 15 minutes. Time for a change in tactic. He really wanted to hurt Rafe but he had to be careful as well. The coach would really be angry if one of the participants were injured and had to be sidelined. Besides, he couldn't be certain that Rafe would keep his mouth shut. His fist changed direction minutely, landing more toward the side. The change caught Rafe unaware. "Ugh," escaped his lips. Tee hit him again, this time on the other side. No sound this time, but the same expression of pain was on Rafe's face. Tee put more power behind the next blow, this time satisfied by the sound again. "So, wrestle boy," Tee said, as he landed another blow, "how long you been wrestling." No answer. Tee changed location and landed another blow. Another grunt. "I asked you a question." "Since I was 8," Rafe grunted out between clenched teeth as another blow rocked his mid-section. He was trying to concentrate on keeping his ab's solid and having to talk broke his concentration. "I have been boxing since I was about the same age," Tee said, landing another blow higher up, just below Rafe's sternum. "Did you know I have been a golden gloves champion for the past 3 years," he asked? No answer. Tee put more power into the next blow, placed lower into the softer area just at the bottom of Rafe's ab's. "I said, did you know...", Tee was cut off by Rafe's answer. "No." "Guess boxing prepares us a little more for real life than wrestling, wouldn't you say," Tee asked as he delivered a double blow, one fist after the other to the same spot, right in the middle of Rafe's solar plexus. "Yes," Rafe hissed, hoping to stem off another blow. It did no good. Another double to the same spot. Rafe was feeling sick, his insides feeling as if they had been torn to shreds. He couldn't even raise his hands to try and stem the blows any longer.

Rafe had headed out from the hotel that morning for a run along the beach. It was a tad chilly, probably the reason for the lack of tourists. Running bare foot, clad only in his blue and gold swimming trunks, he headed off along a deserted stretch of sand away from the hotel. The spray from the ocean caused his body to glisten in the early morning sun. He felt good as his muscles began to respond. As he sped along, he suddenly became aware of someone behind him. Glancing back over his shoulder, he felt an uncontrolled moment of fear as he recognized Tee. Also only in black and blue striped trunks, Tee moved up, matching Rafe stride for stride. Rafe made a move to pour on more speed, sure that his longer legs would leave Tee in the dust. Anticipating the move, Tee used an illegal soccer move, thrusting a foot between Rafe's legs, causing him to trip. Both boys sprawled in the sand. Tee was on his feet first, a few feet ahead, turning to face his fallen comrade. "So sorry, Senor," Tee said laughing as Rafe picked himself up. The same mist that had made his body glisten only moments before now caused the sand to stick over his entire front side. "What was that for," Rafe asked, trying to control the anger in his voice. "Told you I would leave the younger ones alone," Tee replied. At that moment he started toward Rafe, his fists clenched at his side. "Someone has to take their place." Rafe surprisingly made the first move, something he was used to doing in wrestling. But the move he made wasn't one of the legal ones he usually would employ. While grasping Tee around the neck with his hands, he jumped, locking his legs around Tee's midsection. Off balance, the two went down, Tee landing on top of Rafe, supported by his hands and knees. Rafe had hugged himself in tight to prevent having his breath knocked out. The look of surprise on Tee's face almost caused him to laugh himself. He let go with his hands, laying back in the sand. But his legs remained locked around Tee's muscular torso. Without hesitation, he began to apply pressure with his legs. Tee straightened up, pulling Rafe's body across the sand as well until Rafe's butt lay on his own thighs. Anger replaced the look of surprise. "Nice move," Tee said, which surprised Rafe. "I...", Tee started to continue. He was cut off as Rafe applied more pressure with his legs. "Just shutup," Rafe said, "unless you want to cry uncle." Rafe was pleased to see a wave of pain sweep across Tee's face. Struggling against the pain and lack of ability to breath, Tee said, "I just wanted to say I had a couple of moves myself." That was when the first blow had landed.

"What's going on," a voice sounded from above both of their heads. Tee glanced up, but Rafe only wished he had the strength to do so. But he recognized the voice, his roommate Henry, a boy from England. "Move on, piss-ant," Tee growled, as he planted another blow to Rafe's midsection. He knew he had Rafe under control. But Henry was equally as built as Rafe and Tee wasn't sure he could take them both on. But he had a secret. "Unless you want some to, that is." Ignoring Tee's warning, Henry asked, "You okay Rafe?" Rafe struggled but was able to move his head once from side to side in the universal signal for 'no'. Henry was also on the same training team and it bothered him to see two of his teammates fighting. "Come on then," Henry said, laying a hand on Tee's shoulder, "be a good chum and let him up." "Ya had your warning," Tee mumbled under his breath. Rafe tried to warn his friend off with his eyes, the only part of his body that would seem to move without pain. Tee stood up. "That's a good mate," Henry said, clapping Tee on the shoulder. Without warning, Tee drove an elbow back into Henry's midsection. He was pleased to hear a loud "umph". He then spun around and followed it up with three powerful uppercuts into Henry's lower gut, just below his belly button.. Though Henry's ab's were as well developed as Rafe's, he simply hadn't been prepared for the attack. Henry sank to his knees. Tee grabbed him roughly by the hair and forced him to his feet. He then hit him in the gut two more times. Henry leaned over, wretching up his breakfast. "Know what I hear about you, chum," Tee said calmly, mimicing Henry's English accent? Jerking Henry's head back up by the hair, spittle flecked around Henry's mouth, Henry glared at Tee but he didn't answer. Tee planted another blow. Henry's ab's were completely useless and Tee was pretty sure he could have grabbed the boy's spinal cord if he wanted to. Henry blast out with another series of spasms, dry heaves as there was nothing left in his stomach. "What," Henry answered this time. "You have a glass jaw, mate" Tee said. Even as he spoke, his fist was on the way. Tee knew the answer before the blow even landed. It was in Henry's eyes. He was going down. The right hook caught Henry squarely on the jaw, rocking his head solidly to the left. His eyes glazed over and his body was airborn. It landed limply a couple of feet away from where Tee stood. Tee turned back to Rafe who was struggling to get up. Tee shoved him back down with his foot. Without warning, he jumped up in the air. Rafe tried to make his ab's hard. As Tee landed, coming down with his feet directly on Rafe's ruined ab's, Rafe groaned so loud, Tee thought they probably heard him back at the hotel. While balancing, he dug his toes deep into the muscles. He then dropped straight down on Rafe, landing his weight squarely on Rafe's ab's with his knees. The air whooshed out, blowing sand from around Rafe's mouth where the sweat had caused it to stick. Rafe's mouth opened and closed as he gasped for air. "Looks like I've got you pinned now, huh, wrestling boy," Tee asked, a tone of glee in his voice. "Hey, I know," Tee continued as he stood back up. "Wanna see a wrestling move I know?" Rafe once again managed to move his head side to side, signaling no. "Well, then close your eyes," Tee said laughing, "cause here it comes." He jumped in the air, his body laying out almost flat. He came down with all his weight, driving his elbow directly into Rafe's midsection. Rafe's body bent in the middle, his torso and legs both rising in the air. Then his eyes also glazed over as his body sagged to the sand. Tee stood up, brushing the sand from his own legs and arms. "Thanks for the workout, boys," he said as he walked away, a smile across his lips.

Part ii

Rafe and Henry lay on their beds in the hotel room, commiserating together about their day. Their team had barely won their match, finally scoring the winning goal during the second overtime. However, while the rest of the team celebrated, the coach had berated them both for their performance on the field. "Sloppy, practically gave the game away, no team spirit, play like that again and I pull you both," type of stuff. Both boys knew the truth but would have been too embarrassed to admit they had been fighting with another of their own team, jeapordizing everything they had all worked for so hard. "I'm going for some ice," Henry announced. "Want anything?" "Yeah, another shot at Tee. Alone." Both boys high fived as Henry picked up the ice bucket and left the room.

Tee was nothing if he wasn't observant. He was down the hall when he saw Henry come out of his room, ice bucket in hand. Tee slipped into the small room that housed the ice machine. He had a surprise for Henry. As Henry rounded the corner, Tee slammed his knee hard into Henry's groin. The ice bucket flew up as Henry dropped to the floor, clutching his balls, moaning. Tee grabbed him by the hair and dragged him out of view. Pulling him upward by the hair and his throat, Tee held him in place with one hand while he pounded away at his gut with the other. As Henry started to droop again, Tee raised him off the floor with a knee to the gut. A second for good measure. He then positioned Henry's head. A stiff uppercut to Henry's jaw and he slumped to the ground. Tee pulled Henry's tee-shirt off and stuffed it in the ice chest. "Now for Rafe," Henry said outloud as he headed down the hallway.

Rafe was almost asleep when a knock sounded on the door. Rafe drug himself off the bed. "Forgot your key again, did ya," Rafe asked as he turned the door handle, expecting Henry to waltz in. Instead, he was shoved back as Tee entered the room. "You better leave now," Rafe said, his voice full of false bravado. "My roommate and his pals will be back any moment." Tee pulled something from behind his back and tossed it toward Rafe. Rafe backed up as he saw the ice bucket but he caught it in mid-air. "Look inside," Tee egged him on, a glint in his eye. Rafe pulled Henry's shirt out. Tee turned the extra lock and put the chain in place. "A little privacy," Tee said, his face lit up with an evil twisted smile. But once again, Rafe then did the unexpected. He lowered his head and charged, ramming his head straight into Tee's ab's with enough force to drive him backwards against the wall. Caught unawares, Tee felt like he had been hit in his ab's with a bowling ball. Maybe he had underestimated Rafe. Rafe threw a punch but since he wan't holding Tee, Tee turned so it only connected with his side. Rafe tried to knee him in the gut but Tee easily blocked it. Then Rafe turned to the only offense he knew, wrestling. He pulled Tee away from the wall by the hair, slipping in behind. He grabbed Tee in a chokehold, applying all the pressure his muscular arms would allow. Rafe was a conditioned athlete and the bicep against Tee's neck was as hard and craggy as a rock. Combined with the strength of the other arm pulling the noose tighter, Tee began to choke. Tee's body began to slump but Rafe didn't relax his grip. Suddenly, as if just realizing that he might seriously hurt Tee, Rafe loosened his grip. An elbow blasted backwards up into his ab's. He tried to tighten his choke hold but it was too late. A second and third elbow erupted into his sore stomach muscles. He lost his grip and Tee was free. He grabbed Rafe by the leg and heaved backward. Rafe went over landing half on the bed. Before he bounced, Tee was on him, smashing into his gut with a knee. Rafe grunted loudly, the early taste of puke in his throat. Tee leapt past, landing on the bed above Rafe's head. Hands grabbed Rafe by the hair and he was pulled full onto the bed. A scream erupted from his throat. Tee was on him with Rafe looking at his back. "Let's see how many times I can hit you in a minute," Tee said. Fists began to pummel Rafe's ab's with such speed that he couldn't even begin to count the number of times he was hit. Rafe's own blows against Tee's back and side were pathetic, random and ineffective. Tee was laughing, all the while driving his fist repeatedly into Rafe's ab's. The laughter was ringing in Rafe's ears. Finally Rafe had no strength left. His arms felt like they weighed a ton and they finally could do no more, falling harmlessly by his side. Tee drove his palms deep into Rafe's collapsed mid-section and raised himself like a gymnist, his full weight balanced on Rafe's destroyed ab's. Tee turned himself around, his palms kneeding into the muscle until he faced Rafe again. He then dropped his butt directly onto the soft area below Rafe's bellybutton. Rafe was barely conscious. "It would seem that we are lucky about two things," Tee said, as he slid off, grabbing Rafe by the tee-shirt and pulling him up off the bed, swinging him around against the wall. "One," a word he emphasized with a knee to Rafe's mid-section, "that your father failed to teach you to fight. And two," emphasized by another knee, only this one to the groin, "that mine did." Rafe collapsed on the ground, pulled up into a fetal position. Tee kicked Rafe in the kidney, making his body involuntarily straighten out. Tee dropped with both knees directly into the center of Rafe's useless ab's, the final whoosh of air floating up against his cheeks. As Tee stood up, Rafe whispered, "enough." His eyes glazed over once again. He didn't hear the pounding at the door that separated his room from the next. .

Tee could hear Rafe talking through the door. As it opened, he used the element of surprise to push his way in, driving Rafe back far enough that he could shut the door behind him. Tee was amused by Rafe attempt to bluff him and smiled as he watched Rafe's response as he pulled Henry's shirt from the ice bucket. What he wasn't prepared for was Rafe's response. Driven back against the wall, as the other boy's head caught him in the gut, Tee felt the first pain he had experienced in awhile. A couple of ineffectual blows caught him, but nothing that did any damage. Then Rafe had grabbed him by the hair, pulling him forward and locking him in a chokehold from behind. The muscle against his neck was solid, the hold capable of rending him unconscious if he didn't do something quick. He immediately began to slump, placing more weight on the arms that surrounded his neck. Tee could feel blackness beginning to edge in on his vision. Then it happened, the moment he had been waiting for, the arm around his neck loosened. Unable to restrain himself, he burst into laughter. He drove an elbow back into Rafe's stomach. A second and third. Finally he was loose. Reaching down and grabbing Rafe's leg, he pulled up, throwing Rafe off balance against the bed. Tee was on him before he even bounced, driving his knee deep into the tender ab's. Jumping past Rafe, he pulled him full on the bed by the hair. Rafe's scream drove him into a frenzy. Jumping on Rafe facing his legs, he began to pummel Rafe's ab's as fast and as hard as he could. Tee ignored the blows to his back and sides, mentally comparing them to drizzle. It was obvious that while Rafe might know how to wrestle, he knew little or nothing about defending himself or inflicting pain. Tee began to laugh, ever harder as he saw how red and blotchy Rafe's skin was turning. He sensed Rafe's surrender, the boy's arms falling useless to Tee's side. Tee joined his hands and plowed them into Rafe's gut. Like riding a pummel horse, he lifted his full weight onto his arms and turned until he once again faced Rafe. Sliding off he grabbed Rafe by the shirt and swung him up and around against the wall. Tee spoke, punctuating his words with powerful leg blows to Rafe's ab's and groin. With Rafe on the floor, he gathered up all his strength and delivered a foot hard against Rafe's kidney. When Rafe straightened out, Tee dropped with both knees straight onto Rafe's midsection, a breath of air blowing up against his cheeks. "Enough," Tee heard as he stood up. Glancing down he saw that Rafe had lost consciousness. Loud knocking sounded from the door connecting the rooms. "Rafe, are you okay?" "He's getting some beauty sleep," Tee yelled back through the door. The pounding increased as Tee moved to the main door and let himself out, disappearing down the hall.


Part iii


Part iii
As suspected, neither Rafe or Henry could hide their soreness and were forced to sideline the championship game. Their team lost in the final couple of seconds as Tee, playing goalie, missed the losing goal by inches. The winning team, jumping around hugging and clapping each other on the back. The losing team walking off the field, heads hung low, disappointment written all over their body's. There was still another day before they would all be heading back home to their respective countries. Rafe and Henry, having become fast friends for more reasons than soccer, but reasons that no one else would ever know, were on the hotel's uppermost floor, looking through viewers installed around the edge, offering an excellent view of the city from all sides. Rafe was watching the people jostle each other in the market when he brought the viewer to a halt. Using the finger knobs, he focused the moveable lens on two people standing by the entrance to the market. "Henry, take a look at this," he said, pulling his friend to the viewer. Putting his own eyes against the double viewer lenses, he asked, "What am I supposed to be looking at?" "Those two fellows down there by the market entrance." "Is that Tee," Henry asked? "Yeah," replied Rafe, "and the smaller fellow with him is the kid I rescued from him the day this all started. "Hey, wait a minute," Henry gasped, "I think they just passed some money." "Let me see, "Rafe said. "It's too late," Henry replied, but stepped away anyway. "So, Tee is back to shaking down the younger boys again, now that he is done with us," Rafe said angrily, pounding a fist against his open hand. "No, Tee was giving money to the boy," Henry said. "That doesn't make sense," Rafe said puzzled. "Unless we were set up and that kid was part of it." "Yeah, but what did Tee have to gain by beating us up. Other than pleasure?" "I don't know, but I am going to find out. Are you in?" Henry raised a hand and the two boys did a high five. They headed down the stairs that ran along the outside of the hotel.

Both boys were in excellent shape, except for their pounded ab's, but they still arrived at the market within minutes. They went first one way and then another. Finally they saw them. Tee was walking away but the young boy was bent down unlocking a new bicycle. "Let's talk to the boy first," Rafe said. "You come up in front and I'll grab him from behind. If he sees me, he is likely to run, especially if we were set up." "Guess that mean's I'll do the questioning, huh, chum?" "Guess that about says it all. Let's go." Henry walked up in front of the boy, pretending to need directions. Distracted, the boy stood and pointed away from the direction Rafe was approaching from. Rafe moved in, wrapping his powerful arms under the boys arms and locking his hands behind the boys head in a full nelson. The boy tried simply to relax to slip out but as he raised his arms, Rafe grabbed them at the wrist. He raised the youth off the ground even while bending his head downward painfully. The boy was cursing in Spanish. "No harm will come to you son. We just want some answers. Do you speak English" "No entiendo," the boy rattled off. "Bull," Rafe said from behind. "Talk to us or I'll break your scrawny little neck," Rafe whispered in his ear. "Me intiendo usted?" The boy shook his head in a yes motion. "That's better," Henry continued, "what is your name? "Me llamo Jose'," the boy answered. "Well, Jose', do you know that fellow walking away, the one in the white t-shirt?" Jose' shook his head no this time. Henry moved forward and ripped the pocket off Jose's shirt, exposing the money. "We just saw him pass that off to you. Why was he paying you?" Jose' started to shake his head no again when without warning, Henry plowed a fist into his soft lower gut. "Wuff", the sound the boy made. Anger glinted across his face. "There's plenty more where that came from," Henry said. Rafe was smiling. They were doing the very thing he had stopped Tee from doing. Jose' glared at Henry in defiance. Henry planted another fist into his gut. "Ugh." Jose' didn't have the developed ab's that they did and Henry wasn't pulling his punches. Jose' was gasping for air. "He paid me to beat me up. He was trying to get the attention of someone. A team mate or something, I think." "You know he was attending the soccer camp, don't you, " Henry asked? "He told me," the boy answered. "He had bet large sums of money on another team and needed to make sure his team lost. He had a plan to mess up the best player on the team." Rafe and Henry looked at each other knowingly. Rafe set the boy down on his feet but didn't release his grip. "Henry, you come around back and hold this boy." "My pleasure," Henry replied, moving behind Jose'. Rafe was satisfied to see Jose' look turn scared when Rafe stepped in front of him. "Now listen. I am going to move off after our friend there. You will follow with my friend here. When I raise my arm like this," Rafe held it out to the side, "I want you to call his name loudly. Get his attention. You understand?" Jose' shook his head yes. "Henry, we are going to put some serious hurt on old Tee there, both of us. Are you ready?" Henry rubbed his chin with one hand, while twisting the boy's arms behind his back with the other. "You bet, mate. Let's make this happen."

Rafe started out slow, not wanting to draw attention to himself as he ran through the market. He glanced back a couple of times to make sure Henry and the boy were going to be close enough. No worry there, they were moving along rather quickly. As Rafe closed in on the lone figure ahead, toward the end of the market where boxes and crates were stored against the wall, Rafe picked up speed. Finally he put his left arm out at a 90 degree angle. He was going to deliver one hell of a clothesline on Tee. As his arm went out, Henry released the choke hold and pulled upward on Jose's arm, his hand now touching between his shoulder blades. "Anthony," the boy screamed out. It appeared that the boy in the distance didn't hear him for he didn't slow or turn around.
Rafe heard him loud and clear, Anthony. Something was wrong with that. But what? Vengeance was his finally. He tightened his arm muscle for maximum effect against Tee's upper body. In a moment, Tee would be writhing on the ground.

"What did you call him," Henry shouted at Jose'? "Tee, I called him Tee. Everybody does," the boy almost screamed it as Henry pushed him harder after Rafe. "No you didn't. You called him Anthony." Suddenly Henry stopped in his tracks. "Rafe, it's another trap. Rafe." But it was too late. Henry started forward again, no gentleness left. Jose's arm was practically being pulled out of its socket.

Rafe was only inches away from his goal when he realized what was wrong. The boy had yelled out Anthony. He could hear Henry yelling from behind. Suddenly his forward motion was abrubtly halted, all the air in his lungs expelled in one giant exhalation, his ab's screaming inside his head. A foot had appeared out of nowhere and he had run into it at full speed. He dropped to his knees on the dirt, puking. "Nice to see you again too," Tee said, pulling Rafes head back by his hair. He smashed his knee into Rafe's chest, knocking him to his back in the dirt. Rafe was obviously in distress.

Henry stopped several yards back after he saw Rafe drop to the ground, filmy yellow spewing from his mouth. Matching Rafe's earlier example, he released his arm lock and changed to a full nelson. As tall as Rafe, he easily picked Jose' off the ground, bending his head down until his chin touched his chest. The boy started a constant low moan. Henry apprached Tee, wincing as Tee delivered another foot hard into Rafe's prone body

"So, you and wrestling boy found us out, huh," Tee said as Henry approached. Tee leaned toward the boy held tight in Henry's grip. "Stay back," Henry said," or I'll break his neck." The boy, against Henry's grip, raised his head enough for his eyes to meet with those of Tee. "It's okay, Jose'," Tee said. "I am not mad at you. But do you remember what I told you about the gringo who holds you?" Tee waited. A groan came from Rafe. Tee landed another foot into Rafe's gut. A loud moan but little else.
"Do you remember," Tee asked again, his voice that of total patience and caring. The boy forced his own head up again, once up, then back down. "Okay. Use your foot the way I taught you and then...well, use your head." The boy forced his scrawny neck up once more. This time he winked. Tee took a step forward. "Stay where you are," Henry said. "I mean it, I'll hurt the boy." Jose' began to wiggle. Off balance, Henry spread his legs further apart. The next thing he knew, pain shot up from his groin where the Jose' had managed to plant a backwards kick, catching him solid. A second shot and Henry thought he would be joining Rafe in the puking dpartment. The strength was gone from his arms and his grip on the boys neck slipped. Henry saw the black hair coming back toward his face but couldn't stop it. The hard bone of the boys skull caught him squarely on the chin. Henry dropped like a rock, coldcocked for the third time in as many days. Jose' rolled free and Tee helped him up. Though Henry was unconscious, Jose kicked him twice in the gut. "Payback is hell," he said, smiling up at Tee.

Rafe watched the scene unfold but there was nothing he could do. Henry collapsed on the ground, his glass jaw betraying him once again. Rafe started to crawl while Tee's attention was elsewhere but there wasn't really anywhere to go. Hands grabbed him by the hair, pulling his head back. Then they locked under his chin and a weight dropped on his back. His head was pulled back roughly, bending his back and ab's the wrong way. He wanted to scream but the hands held his jaw locked closed. All he could do was mumble. His arms were on top of the legs of the person who held him. His body was pulled further back. Then Jose' stepped in front of him. Two against one. "So, did you like my little karate move back there, Rafe?" Since Rafe couldn't answer, Tee moved his head in the affirmative for him. "When I heard Jose' call out my real name, I knew someone was coming. Just my luck it would be you, huh?" Rafe couldn't answer. Tee shook Rafe's head roughly for him again. Though he was being bent, he wasn't being hit and Rafe could feel some of his strength returning. Suddenly, he hoisted himself up on his hands and knees, the move dislodging Tee from his back. But before he could do anything more, a foot caught him in the side. Another. He fell to his side, twisting into a fetal position, trying to use his arms to protect his ab's. Tee walked around behind Rafe. Bending over, he pulled Rafe up by the hair. Finally high enough, Tee wrapped Rafe in his own full nelson, using its position and his own strength to drag Rafe the rest of the way to his feet. "Okay, Jose'," he said, "let's see what you have learned in boxing lessons." Jose dropped into a boxers stance. His eyes met with Rafe's, pure hatred boring into Rafe's. Rafe closed his eyes. The first of hundreds of punches to his mid-section arrived. By the time, they finished, Rafe was a solid mass of collapsed muscles and red blotched skin.

Part iv

Henry and Rafe were loading the taxi. Neither could move very fast or well for that matter. Finally over their pride, they had been treated by the hotel doctor and had spent several hours telling the coach about what had transpired over the last few days, culminating in the loss by the team. The coach, also a local man, was angry that they had not trusted him enough to say something He also commiserated with their pain. He thanked them for the information. He had still been sitting in his chair when they had gone to finish packing. As the taxi was pulling away, Rafe thought he saw some motion in the alley next to the hotel. Something about the scene caught his attention. "Alto! Alto," he shouted at the driver!" The brakes squealed as Rafe jumped out. "What? What is it," Henry called, also leaving the taxi. Rafe turned into the near alleyway. Henry pulled up beside him. About midway down the alley were two people. The boys looked at each other. One was Tee. The other, their coach. The coach was holding Tee against the wall with one powerful arm and was gut-punching him with the other. Tee looked their way. "Auxilio. Llame a la Policia," he yelled, not really recognizing who he was talking to. Coach caught him with a forearm, driving his head straight back against the brick wall. A knee caught him solid in the groin and Tee fell to his knees. He was pulled up again by two hands undeder his chin, choking him. Then the blows to his ab's continued. Rafe walked further into the alley. It was obvious that Tee now recognized him for his speech changed to English. "Help me," Tee said again, this time looking straight into Rafe's eyes. "Sorry, I learned my lesson about interfering." With that, he turned Henry around and the two walked back to the taxi.