فصل 08

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فصل 08

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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Chapter eight

A Second Chance

Jim stepped out of the car in front of his apartment house.

“Are you sure you won’t come in and say hello?” he asked.

“Are you still married to the same girl?” asked Joe.

Jim gave the usual answer. “I was the last time I looked.”

Joe smiled. “Good night, Jimmy.”

The car drove off, and Jim stood outside the building. The Braddocks had sold their radio, so Mae and the kids didn’t know the result of tonight’s fight.

The door opened and Jay, Howard, and Rosy looked up at him with hopeful faces. Mae stood silently.

“I won,” he said.

The children screamed and rushed toward him. Rosy pulled on his arm. “Daddy, Daddy, you have to see what I got you!” She ran to the ice box. “Put it on your eyes,” she said, pushing a thick steak into her father’s hands.

Jim looked at the meat. “Where did you get this?”

“They all went to the butcher shop,” said Mae. “I tried to take it back, but the butcher says he gave it to her.”

“It’s a steak,” said Rosy. “It’ll fix your face.”

Jim held the thick steak up. He could almost smell it, hear it cooking. He went down on his knees to speak to his daughter- fighter to fighter. “Rosy, we have to eat this.”

But Rosy shouted, “No! You have to put it on your face.”

Jim knew that it was useless to argue. He lay back and placed the cool steak across his eyes. He waited a few seconds, and then lifted one edge of the meat.

Jay turned to his mother. “Do the announcer’s voice, Mom.”

“Come on, Mae,” said Jim with a smile. “Do the announcer.”

Mae’s voice became loud. “Introducing the holder of the amateur title for light heavyweight and heavyweight… from New Jersey… the future heavyweight champion of the world… James J. Braddock.”

These last words were shouted. The kids went wild, laughing and jumping around the room. Jim took the steak from his face.

“This really worked,” he told his daughter. “Let’s eat!”

He crossed to the stove and started cooking the meat. Soon the sound and the delicious smell filled the apartment.

“Jim,” Mae whispered. “Is it really just one fight, or are they letting you back in?”

Jim kissed her head. “It was just the one fight.”

Relief swept through Mae. As she went to the stove to get the steak, she said silent thanks that her husband would never step inside the ring again.

The early morning walk to the docks was the same as usual, but Jim felt different. His body ached, but his steps were quicker than they had been in months.

He joined the group of men at the fence. Finally, the foreman Jake appeared and began pointing to men.

“Six, seven, eight… Jake’s eyes passed Jim, then returned to him. The foreman said Jim’s name and everybody turned to look. “Nine.”

Jim closed his eyes in relief. As he passed through the gate, Jake said to him, “I listened to the fight last night.” He took out his newspaper. Jim’s eyes ran over the words: BRADDOCK KNOCKOUT OVER GRIFFIN IN 3

Jim shook his head, not believing it. A few men crowded round to hear what he had to say. They seemed surprised that he had come to work today.

“It was one night only,” explained Jim. “My share was a hundred and twenty five dollars. We had bills of one hundred and twenty to pay. That left me with five dollars.”

Jake laughed. “That makes you a rich man.” Then he said seriously, “Good fight.”

Jim could see that these men around him, with their old clothes and tired faces, had found hope watching him fight. He had fought something real, something he could see-they all wished for that chance.

He joined his partner, Mike. Words weren’t necessary. The two picked up their hooks and began to work, moving the heavy sacks.

“Why didn’t you tell me you were going to win again?” said Mike. “I didn’t put any money on you.”

Mike smiled, but it wasn’t the smile Jim remembered. It was tired. Less happy.

“Come on,” Mike said. “Talk me through that last round.”

Jim started describing the events of the last round again. Since the cast had come off his arm, he worked with both hands. Without thinking, he moved the hook to his left hand and continued working with smooth, strong movements.

A week later, Mae was walking back from the stores with Rosy when she saw a shiny new car drive away from their apartment house. Joe Gould’s car.

She found Jim standing in the yard behind the building. He looked so happy, so handsome and confident in the sun, with his square chin and his bright eyes up to the blue sky. Then he turned and Mae felt her heart stop. She saw it in his eyes-the old excitement.

“Joe was here,” said Jim. “He thinks they’ll let me box again.”

It was hard for Mae to speak. “You said it was one fight.”

“It’s my chance, Mae, to make you and the kids proud.”

Mae fought to control her fear and anger. “I am proud… and grateful. But what would we do if something bad happened to you? Something worse than a broken hand, so you couldn’t work?”

She couldn’t even tell her worst fear: What will happen if you’re killed?

“What would happen to us?” demanded Mae. “To the children? We’re hardly managing now.”

Jim shook his head sadly. He waved a hand at the broken building, the empty yard. Couldn’t she see? He was already killing himself-and for what? A few coins at the end of a long day’s work? “I have to do better than I’m doing,” he replied.

Mae stepped closer. “Things are better now. Please, Jim…”

He wanted to take her in his arms, but he stopped himself. He had to think about the family’s future. The strength was clear in his voice. “I can still take a few punches. At least in the ring you know who’s hitting you.”

Mae felt helpless as she watched him walk to the building’s dark back door. This isn’t over, James Braddock, she promised.

The next morning Jim left early for the gym. Mae left the apartment house, too. She took the kids to her sister’s house, and then she crossed the Hudson River to New York City.

She was going to the small part of the city known as the Upper East Side. It was an area of beautiful houses, expensive apartment buildings, and fine hotels. Some of the richest people in the country lived on the blocks along the city’s Central Park.

Two streets away, the buildings weren’t quite so beautiful, but they were still home to wealthy people. In front of each apartment building, a uniformed doorman stood guard.

When she reached the tall building, she looked up, trying to guess how many floors it had. She went through the beautiful entrance hall to the elevator. On the fifteenth floor, she moved down the line of doors.

She knocked on one and called politely, “Open the door, Joe.” There was no answer. She tried again, and again, but nobody came to the door. “Joe, open this door now!” Mae shouted. “You’re not going to hide in your expensive apartment while you turn my husband into a punching bag. I won’t let you get him hurt again!”

The door opened. “You’d better come in,” said Joe Gould.

As she pushed past him, Mae’s anger died. She had expected the manager’s home to be beautiful. But she looked around now at a completely empty apartment.

Minutes later, she sat on a camping chair, drinking tea with Joe and his wife Lucille. She hadn’t expected this friendly welcome.

“Sorry,” said Joe, pointing to the door. “People have to think you’re doing well.”

“I thought…” said Mae.

“That’s the plan,” said Joe, touching his fine brown suit. “Show people you’re doing well, even if you’re not. We sold the last of the furniture last week,” he continued, “so Jimmy could train.”

“Why?” Mae asked.

“Sometimes you see something in a fighter, something to hope for,” answered Joe. “Jimmy’s what I hope for.”

Mae shook her head. “This is crazy. You don’t even know if you can get him a fight, do you?”

“I’ll get him a fight,” Joe said, “if it’s the last thing I do.”

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