Tap Out - Sean Rodman - E-Book

Tap Out E-Book

Sean Rodman

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Beschreibung

When Darwin's father went to prison for assault, his mom decided it was time to move him from his inner-city school to the elite Norfolk Academy. It was supposed to be a brand-new start for him. But old instincts die hard, and Dar is used to fighting for everything.Convinced by a new friend to take part in an illegal fight club, Dar starts competing in no-holds-barred matches between students. He quickly rises to become the best in the ring. When one match goes too far and a student is almost killed, Dar faces a choice. Everyone tells him he's a fighter, but he needs to decide for himself—who is he, and what is he fighting for?

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Copyright © 2015 Sean Rodman

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Rodman, Sean, 1972–, author Tap out / Sean Rodman.

(Orca soundings) Issued in print and electronic formats.ISBN 978-1-4598-0875-1 (pbk.).— ISBN 978-1-4598-0876-8 (pdf).—ISBN 978-1-4598-0877-5 (epub)

I. Title. II. Series: Orca soundings PS8635.O355T36 2015 jC813'.6 C2014-906685-6 C2014-906686-4

First published in the United States, 2015 Library of Congress Control Number: 2014952067

Summary: Darwin is unstoppable in the illegal fight club. But what is he fighting for?

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.

Cover image by Getty Images

ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERSPO BOX 5626, Stn. B Victoria, BC Canada V8R 6S4

ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERSPO BOX 468 Custer, WA USA98240-0468

www.orcabook.com18  17  16  15  •  4  3  2  1

Other Soundings by Sean Rodman:

Dead Run Final Crossing Infiltration Night Terrors

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eightteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter One

Dear Son,

It has been a while since I wrote to you. I am sorry and will not make excuses for that. The last letter you sent to me was about how much you hate your new school. I think that I would hate it too, but your mother thinks it is the best for you. And there is not much I can do from where I am, is there?

So all I can do is give you some good advice. I think it is a father’s job to tell you how the world is. Not what it should be. And I tell you that you must fight every single day of your life. Whether with your fists or just the way you live every day, you will have to fight for everything. I know that I have.

And so when you wrote that you hate your new school, that is okay. In fact,I think hate is good.

Because in the end, the winner of any fight is decided by a few small things.

The winner is the one who doesn’t crap his pants.

The winner takes fewer punches than the other guy.

And the winner hates just a little bit more. And has enough control to let that hate out, hit by hit.

Dad

Chapter Two

“I don’t want any trouble,” I say.

It’s a lie.

I’m actually kind of hoping the bald guy makes the first move. It’s been one of my bad days, where my skin doesn’t feel like it fits. Like I’m just waiting for someone to come at me. I’m edgy. Pissed off. Looking for a fight. And I found one—this over-muscled chrome dome shoving around a skinny kid with glasses in front of the convenience store.

The bald guy in the Lakers jersey looks slowly over his shoulder at me and then snorts. He exaggerates letting go of his victim—his fingers snap open to release the kid with glasses. The kid’s wearing the same uniform as me. The uniform of Norfolk Academy.

Bald guy swaggers toward me. “What, you standing up for him? Private-school code of honor?” He laughs and shakes his head. “Would be funny, except your friend Jonathan here owes me money. So, you step off and let me finish my business.”

“Mason,” says the victim—Jonathan—from behind him. “Take it easy, bro. We can sort—”

I stand my ground. “Know what? I don’t know him and I don’t know you. And I don’t care what your business is with him. But you don’t do it on the street in front of me.”

“Or what? You gonna get your nice white shirt all dirty?” Mason gives me a shove, both hands on my chest. I stumble and then come back fast. Push him with one hand on his Lakers jersey. He doesn’t move, but his expression darkens. Game on.

We circle, staying on the balls of our feet, staying light. Mason fakes a punch, just testing me out. I keep out of range. He starts to get frustrated and holds his hands out, as if to say, “What are you waiting for?”

I fall for it and step in toward him with a wild roundhouse swing. I miss, and he takes the opportunity. A hard jab connects with my jaw. I stagger back, falling to my knees. Little zips of light flash in my eyes.

Mason laughs. He turns to his victim, who is still pressed against the front of the convenience store, eyes wide. “Jonathan, you need a better bodyguard.” While he’s turned sideways, I push up off from the ground and wrap both of my arms around Mason’s legs. He goes down like a tree, grunting as he hits the concrete. Then I’m on top of him, one forearm across his throat, pressing hard.

“Are we done?” I growl. He grimaces, shakes his head. His eyelids are starting to flutter. Another couple seconds and he’ll be out. But a firm hand grabs my shoulder and pulls me backward, off of him.

“What the hell are you kids doing?” It’s the owner of the convenience store behind us. A short guy with a white mustache and a pissed-off expression. Mason is coughing on the ground. “Look, I don’t want any trouble. All of you, get out here before I have to call the cops!”

“Hey, no cops. There’s no problem,” says Jonathan, stepping forward and pulling me away from the irate owner. “Let’s go.” He pushes me down the street, away from the store. I look back and see Mason, still on his hands and knees. Head down and breathing hard.

“I think I owe you,” says Jonathan. He keeps us moving down the sidewalk, then across an intersection on the red light. “Who are you?”

“I’m Darwin—Dar,” I say. “You don’t owe me. I just didn’t think he should push you around.”

“Yeah, well. You certainly know how to push back,” says Jonathan.

I rub my jaw, still sore from that big hit. Trying to figure this guy out. Jonathan is a thin kid, his uniform hanging off him like it’s half a size too big. I’ve seen him around before but honestly never taken much notice. He’s clearly not one of the really popular kids, but instead moves between the various cliques of the school—jocks to nerds—without a problem. Everybody tolerates him. Not sure if anybody really likes him though.

We hustle alongside a low brick wall, then left through a big black gate. The words Norfolk Academy scroll in an ornate iron arch over the gate. Back to school. I try to brush some of the dirt off my jacket. Touch my face to see if there’s any blood.

Jonathan stops me just before we enter the big main building. He straightens his glasses and then squints at me. “Doesn’t matter what you say. I still owe you one, all right? And I think I know how to pay it back.”

Chapter Three

Jonathan finds me the next day in the cafeteria. The big hall is filled with rows of students eating. The clattering of plates, cutlery and teenage chatter is loud. I drown it out with my iPod. Ever since I arrived a month ago, I eat alone anyway. The tunes keep me company.

But today I’m not alone. Jonathan drops onto the bench across from me, smacking his cafeteria tray onto the table.

“Hello, Downtown Darwin Stone.” He holds a hand out for a fist bump. I just look at it and slowly pull my earbuds out.

“What did you call me?” I say. “Downtown?”

“Yeah, because you’re from the inner city, right?” He pulls his hand back. “That’s all anyone knows about you, actually. That you transferred from a public school downtown.”

I nod and pay attention to finishing off my sandwich. Jonathan watches me for a moment, still half smiling. Then he starts into his own lunch, speaking around a mouthful of lasagna.

“They also say you came here because you decked a teacher at your last school. Based on what you did to Mason yesterday, I’d say that sounds about right.” Jonathan’s forkful of lasagna stops midway to his mouth. “Is it true?”

I sigh and rub the bridge of my nose. “No, it’s not true. I got in a couple of fights. But so did everybody else. It’s just a fact of life.”

Jonathan pushes the orange-red pasta around his plate. “So why did you come to Norfolk?”

Because my mom wanted me to have some “good influences” in my life. Not to end up in prison like my dad. Or bleeding out from a random drive-by shooting.

“I was too smart for my last school,” I say. “Norfolk couldn’t resist me.”

“Right.” Jonathan snorts, nearly spilling the milk he’s drinking. He finishes with his food and pushes the tray away. “Okay, smart guy. Remember how I said I could pay you back?”

“Yeah.”

Jonathan leans over the table and motions for me to come closer.

“I run a fight club, and I want you to be in it.”

“A what?”