4. Here I Go Again

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Like a drifter I was born to walk alone. - Whitesnake

4:34 p.m. Thursday, September 23, 2021

"You're late, Jackson," Lee tells one young man entering the gym. "Four laps."

Harry smiles at the 'punishment'. "What if they choose not to do what you ask when they're late?"

"Eh. Then they can quit. These boys need to learn discipline." Lee eyes Patrick who enters the gym 7 minutes late. "Ugh. But sometimes they have garbage going on that they can't change." To Patrick, he hollers, "Seven laps, man! Be on time!"

Patrick nods, "Sorry, Coach," as he begins jogging.

"Seven laps?" Harry inquires.

"Yeah. It's according to how late they are. Five minutes is five laps. At ten minutes, I turn them away. They can't practice with us. But Patrick..." the retired Marine shakes his head. "Hopefully he'll be back on track soon. He's got a lot of frustration built up. Maybe you'd be willing to let him have a go at you today?"

Shrugging, Harry agrees, "Sure. I could use a power workout."

"Be careful of him, though. His right hook is sharp and unexpected. Wouldn't want your pretty face to get damaged," Lee teases.

Rolling his eyes, Harry grabs headgear from the workout bag he'd hauled from Los Angeles. "Let him try."

"I like your spirit," the coach claps him on the back. "But seriously. Watch out for his right hook."

The boys all do their own stretches as Lee introduces him, "Guys, this is Harry. He's going to join us for a few workouts. Hope no one minds."

The boys glance at each other, then they all look in different directions. Some at the ceiling. Others at the floor. A couple stare unabashedly at Harry. Most of them shrug. None of it is the reaction Harry expected. Surely some of them know who he is? He was in a war movie for crying out loud!

==========

4:57 p.m. Thursday, September 23, 2021

Lee pairs each of the 8 boys off with a partner, and Patrick is disappointed to not get started early. He's ready to knock the shit out of someone, and if he has to wait for the second round.....

"Patrick, you're with Harry," Coach gestures to the new guy. He's old, and doesn't seem to be much of a challenge. Dammit.

Standing across from Harry, Patrick's chest heaves with the heavy breathing from the laps he'd had to run.

"We can take a minute if you need it," Harry says.

"Nope. I've wasted enough time. Let's box, old man." For such a tall boy, Patrick moves fairly quickly, jabbing gently at Harry. But he soon moves to more powerful punches when he sees Harry can box. Wondering why this stranger is in their midst, he shrugs. Probably just a friend of Lee's. The guy is good, though. Really good. Jab. Jab. Jab. Right hook. Harry anticipates it and blocks.

Within 20 minutes, both are perspiring hard. The rest of the boys have gathered around, cheering them on. Harry lands a few blows, as does Patrick. When they are both dripping with sweat, Lee moves between them.

"Hey! Enough!" he yells.

Sheepishly, Harry removes his face mask, walking away from the area where they'd been boxing.

"Dude? That was awesome! You should come to practice more often! You're really good, and I could feel myself getting better," Patrick follows him.

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