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Out of the Shadows, Part Seven

5.

‘Are you ready champ?’

‘I am always ready. You know this.’

‘Then let’s go.’

Paul Malone, with his trainer and manager in tow, makes his way out to a ring for the latest defence of his lightweight championship. The venue is packed to the rafters with approximately eight thousand people filling every available seat between them.

The undercard for the night had been considered an attractive one to boxing fans though many of those in attendance at this venue is there for the main event and Paul Malone’s fight is that main attraction, he himself is that main attraction and as he does make his way to the ring the atmosphere steps up a notch.

The event is being broadcast live over a number of mediums and this is nothing new to the champ for Malone is currently unbeaten having completed twenty-seven professional fights with none of these previous fights going the distance. This, his twenty-eight professional fight, is also the sixth defence of his championship and the twelfth of his bouts to be televised live.

The challenger is a worthy one and is someone who is also going into this fight undefeated. The champion is indeed ready. He sees potential in his opponent though fears nothing and is confident that he can more than handle what is to come his way on this occasion.

The first round, once it gets underway, proceeds almost exactly to what Paul Malone expected it to. The challenger’s offence coming in the manner Paul had prepared and trained for. No big deal, if the fight continues along these lines then Paul is sure that he can wrap things up by the fifth or sixth round and it won’t be long before he will be heading back to the showers.

‘Take this guy seriously, will you?’ speaks Paul’s trainer during the interval between the first two rounds. ‘He can turn it on and give you problems. C’mon Paul, we’ve been through all this.’

‘Relax; I’ve got this, no problem.’

Round two and right off the bell Paul is on the back foot. This is something he is certainly not used to. He did expect something like this, a threat previously ignored because of his own confidence. His own confidence can often work to his benefit too for with it and his resilience Paul makes it through the round being more on the defensive rather than his usual offensive.

For the first time in his career, Paul is taken the distance. The fight goes the full ten rounds and at a grueling pace.

Despite the heavy blows he took to the head and body throughout the fight as a whole and especially towards the end, Paul is still sure he has done enough and he is right. He wins the fight on a decision and keeps his title. His opponent, six years his junior, will definitely come looking for a rematch if a rematch does occur then it too will surely draw quite an audience, probably more so given the quality of the fight which has only just occurred.

Post-fight interviews within the ring and just outside it, Paul puts on a brave front. He is hurt, more hurt than he is willing to let on. This hurt goes to the extent that he feels dizzy on return to the locker room. He is so dizzy that he collapses upon that locker room return. At the manager’s request, this is kept behind closed doors.

The challenge for a rematch is put forward and Paul being Paul accepts the challenge despite being advised to put an end to his career. This advice is issued by his doctor and Paul’s manager believes that Paul should not just consider but take that advice. Paul Malone is and always has been a top-class boxer and if it weren’t for what had occurred from that most recent fight then his career could have been far away from seeing its final day.

Against advice, the return fight is set up and due to occur sixteen months after the first match took place. Paul is sure that his opponent had the best fight of his career first time around and being as confident as he naturally is, is sure that the challenger will not step up so well again. Has Paul made an error in judgement? If an error is being made then only time will tell, then again in the eyes of another the effects of a return fight have already been seen and it may come down to if she will choose to interfere or not.

6.

Florence Reardon’s thirty-eight years in this world has had as much an incredible effect on her surroundings as it has taken a ragged toll on her body. The rewards returned on her soul outweigh the drag taken on her physicality. Where once was beauty, a beauty that can be imagined if one cared enough to take the time to truly look and see, there now is aged features beyond her years and a lag on her extremities which on occasion take a moment or two to get into gear.

If a stranger were to come into contact with Florence then that stranger would be quick to notice how large a heart she has though would also be quicker to add years, decades even, to her actual tenure of life.

In her current guise, Florence spends a great deal of her free time, if it could be said to be free, working voluntarily with a local women’s shelter, a shelter she founded. This is something she has been doing for quite some time and something she is more than willing to keep on doing for some time to come, circumstance permitting. There are no requirements to be a recipient of what the shelter has to offer other than as long as one is female, of any age or race and is in need, whatever that need may be, then the shelter will do all it can to provide that aid.

It would be rare but not surprising to come across someone out wandering lost in a daze, unsurprising indeed if someone has been through something traumatic and thankfully rare enough that only a small percentage of those who use the women’s shelter do so via being found wandering out by some main or back road.

As chance would have it, it would be Florence who would find Majella out wandering the streets wearing nothing other than what could be described as hospital clothing, clothing which has long since been soiled before such time she has been found.

Majella’s feet are bare, cut and bruised with other bruising and minor injuries soon becoming obvious. Florence phoned for help, surprised by the fact that aid had yet to find this girl prior to Florence’s own arrival for there are passers-by and on-lookers, all doing anything but help an apparent lost and confused girl.

Fairly soon Majella has a place to be and a place to feel somewhat safe within along with fresh clothing and something to eat. It probably has been quite some time since Majella has had a proper meal. Florence has, had and will continue to see to it that the girl she discovered receives the immediate attention she needs at that shelter for ladies.

Not to be ungrateful or anything of the sorts but once Majella feels more like herself she realizes that she has somewhere else to be; at least she hoped she did. Her father, her sisters, oh heck, her sisters, is Abigail alright? Knowing the things Majella knows, seeing the things she can see, she knew as she had been taken from her home that trio of years prior to this one, that Abigail would be in danger, no imminent danger at the time though danger all the same, danger that will come and of course quite some time has now passed.

At the moment when she had been discovered wandering the outdoors Majella had been silent, lost within herself, on the journey to the shelter she remained silent though she did show a desire to have Florence remain close, so remain close Florence did. Speech only returned when that realization of her had fully hit. Dad, Abigail and Lisa, where are they?

‘Steady now’ speaks Florence in response to Majella’s stirrings. ‘It’s alright, everything is alright. You are safe now.’

By this point Majella had been cleaned up, she has changed clothing and had begun to eat, at that she probably wasn’t fully aware of what it was she had been eating.

‘No, everything is not alright’ Majella says, indeed now completely out of her trance-like state. ‘Abigail, my sister; I have to get to Abigail. She is in danger.’

‘Okay, we’ll find your sister. Don’t you worry, we will find her.’

Florence glances around searching for a particular co-volunteer in the hopes that between them both they can get all the necessary information from the shelters newest recipient of aid. Majella too glances around and as she does she feels an immense fear grow by the second. She has never felt fear like this before, not even when she had been taken from her home and not when the abuse within that home she was forced to stay within was at its worst.

When pain is your own or when you face a threat you can deal with it one way though when a threat, a possible life-ending threat faces a loved one then dealing becomes something else especially if a timer is being faced along with an unknown as to if a zero is close or already passed. There was that letter from Abigail but there is no way to know just how much time had passed since that letter had been written.

Her gift, seeing too much harm all at once or possible amounts of harm yet to come, intensified by the situation she is in and the location she currently rests in, if rest is something she could experience in the here and now.

She could see the harm many of those in the immediate vicinity have already experienced and are yet to still experience and it is intensely horrific, to say the least. It was getting to be far too much, collapsing in on her all too quickly. Her entire soul was being flushed with images, experiences and emotion and it most definitely got too much to the point where consciousness is lost. A rest has come, forced upon her and badly needed at the same time.

She has never been free to be herself, to explore things other girls, regular girls her age get to experience, though Majella knows no real difference. On some level, she has readily accepted all that her life has been right up to this point in time. It may never improve and there will be difficulty ahead, she may have subconsciously accepted this too but who really knows what the future may hold?

When Majella wakes, it is to the sight of someone she knows. The face she sees is different to what it looked like the last time she had seen it. Who it is, could it be? No, it can’t be, but it is and if it really is as it appears to be then where are the other two? Upon waking, Majella needs a couple of seconds to gather herself then she takes a few more to study the face that has come to her. A couple of years or so have passed, a little over three to be precise, faces, especially young faces are bound to change quite a bit in such a time.

‘Lisa?’

It is indeed Lisa and Lisa had given her little sister those seconds upon waking to make the discovery for herself before allowing the delight within herself and her sister to settle in.

‘Eh, yeah …’

Now a different kind of rushing comes, a healthy kind, a happy kind, two sisters are reunited. Then that something else hits.

‘Where are they? Where are dad and Abigail? Oh my God, Abigail. Tell me she is alright.’

‘Listen, dad is on his way. I rang him the second I was sure that it really was you here.’

‘Don’t leave me in the dark … please, where is Abigail?’

‘Look, when dad gets …’

‘No … no … no …’

The flood gates open and Majella cannot contain it. If only she hadn’t been taken, if only she hadn’t been locked away for those three years, she could have done something to save Abigail. Majella is strong and can deal with a lot of things if she is forced into doing such, but this, damn. She could have done something to save her eldest sister, if only. That letter she had received indeed must at least a few months old, at most, Abigail's final thoughts were with her youngest sister. This letter is something Lisa knew nothing of.

Tom Smith arrives into the shelter and is questioned. Security checks via a computer and the internet; he has two daughters so he is informed and one of those daughters has passed. Allowing just anyone to come into the shelter and lay claim to a minor is a big no-no.

‘Hey I ain’t going to waste time here’ Tom speaks impatiently. ‘Let me see my daughter, ask her and she will tell you. My other daughter is with her now. They are sisters for God’s sake.’

There are guards present to prevent this Mister Smith from going any further into the shelter than where he already so happens to be. The girls being where they are within the building are unaware at this point that dad has arrived. The person dad had been dealing with at a reception point nods to the guards indicating that it is alright, for now at least, to let this man in as long as an eye is kept on him and on in he does go. When he arrives to where his daughters there are more tears to be shed.

‘Why didn’t you save her?’ Majella cries, struggling to get the words out and feeling more grief than relief to be in the position she is in. ‘I told you … I told you …’

‘I know you did, honey. I know you did …’

The reunited father-daughter hug is joined by another daughter, making it difficult for any onlooker to believe that there is no relationship here with the girl who had been brought in off the streets not all so long ago and the man who has come to her. Whatever created the circumstances to which the girl had been found, this too is obvious not down to family mistreatment.

It doesn’t matter what any record shows, it is clear to anyone and everyone near that Tom Smith is Majella’s father and that Lisa is a sister. There is a physical resemblance too to add credence to it all. Florence Reardon will see to it the best she can that the girl she found wandering lost in a daze will get to stay with her family and that this girl will get all the care that she deserves. She may be willing to let this girl go with whom has come for her though she is not willing to forget her and move on.

Florence wants to at least be a part of Majella’s immediate future and all parties concerned are more than happy to see this become something more than a promise.

 

 

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