This week’s challenge was to rewrite a scene from a well known story, but to genre flip it to another genre.
The Far East Fightin’ Style Kid
By Scott Mollon
Daniel hit the dusty dirt floor of the mine shaft face first to a chorus of drunken cheers from the gathered crowd of miners and company men alike. His left knee pulsed with pain in tune to his racing heart beat. His opponent, having caught Daniel’s attempt at a roundhouse kick, had then driven his elbow down into the side of Daniel’s knee.
A pair of worn shoes landed next to his head. From the gathered crowd, “Someone put the kid’s shoes back on him!”
Money and cigarettes began changing hands. Not a lot though, as no one had given Daniel any chance to win the fight. This was to be the latest in a long line of disciplinary beat downs administered by the management of Kreese Mining, Incorporated.
Daniel pushed himself up out of the dirt, to surprised cheers from the audience; company men, there to see an upstart miner get what was coming to him, and his fellow miners, who just wanted to see a fight. And of course, for all, to drink. Bowler hats, suspenders, and waist coats on one side. Denim, dirt, and sweat on the other. Alcohol and smoke all around. The whole scene barely lit by gas lamps that hung from the ceiling of the wide junction where the Jersey, California, and Valley shafts met in the widest part of the mine.
Someone yelled, “Put him in a body bag, Johnny!” as Daniel struggled to his knees. More cheers. More laughter.
Wiping blood and sweat out of his swollen right eye with the back of his hand, Daniel scanned the faces of the assembled miners.
There he was, off to the side, standing where the half circle of miners met the half circle of company men. A short skinny man, dressed in loose fitting pants and shirt. A ring of long white hair hung from his bald head, and long white mustache from his lip. The, what, Chinaman? Maybe Japanese? Hell, Daniel didn’t know or even care. Whatever he was, that old man could fight like no one Daniel had ever seen. Mr. Migayoto or Miyagi or whatever, had been teaching him some far east fighting style so that when this day came, the day he was thrown into the ring with Big Johnny, the mine foreman, he would stand some kind of chance. And Daniel knew it was bound to happen. You couldn’t do the things he had done with Mr. John Kreese’s daughter, and expect to get away with it. At least not the lowly bastard laborer that he was.
They made eye contact, master and student, and the small Oriental man gave the smallest of nods.
With a deep breath, Daniel raised himself up, balancing on his good leg, forcing himself to ignore how much his entire body hurt. He raised his left leg up in front of him and his hands over his head, open, not in fists. He had been told that the stance resembled a crane. Having grown up on the great plains, Daniel had never seen a crane and didn’t know what one looked like.
Seeing Daniel standing bare foot, one leg in the air, arms raised, barely able to keep his balance, gave fire to riotous laughter, and hootin’ and hollerin’.
From the crowd behind Johnny, Mr. Kreese stepped forward and put his hand on the big man’s shoulder.
Smirking, Big Johnny raised his fists like a pugilist, and took a puff from the cigar gripped between his teeth. Confident of victory, he quickly stepped forward.
Daniel leapt up off his good leg, pulling his fists down to his sides, and shifting his weight to his bad leg, his knee emitting lightning bolts of pain. And there it was, a momentary confusion on Johnny’s face, a hesitation, and his fists drifting ever so slightly apart and away from good boxing form, leaving just enough of an opening. Daniel’s kick snapped up through through the defensive gap. The ball of his right foot driving the burning end of the cigar up into the man’s eye, smashing and tearing the mustached upper upper lip in two, breaking the man’s nose with a wet snap, and sending the big man stumbling, falling backwards trailing an arc of blood through the air.
Big Johnny landed on his back amid a dust cloud of stunned silence.
And then Allie Kreese was there, pushing past her dumbfounded father and jumping over the unconscious Johnny, catching Daniel just as his legs gave out.
Her smile. Her triumphant smile. That smile would heal him for days.
Then the other miners were there, lifting him up, and the mine shaft was so loud, impossibly loud. They were lifting him and carrying him. Carrying him out of the mine, through the mass of company men who stood there, not knowing what to do, waiting for Mr. Kreese to tell them what they should do.
The miners paid no heed. They carried Daniel up and out of the mine and into the night outside.