It was a fight (and injury) to remember… You’re not invincible, and you may have been crazy to do it, especially with a difficult man, whom you do not trust: Spaso, who walks a fine line between your tolerance and resentment.
Even though you and Spaso found common ground (namely, knowing that he wanted to sleep with you) and were getting along well, you still shouldn’t have fought.
He made a comment, something like, “So you think you’re stronger than me?”
You’d said nothing of the kind, but that’s how his words came out. You eyed him keenly and said, “I’m certain of it.”
And why shouldn’t you be! After all, lifting weights was your business.
“So you think you could beat me in a fight?” Spaso continued.
You thought about it for a moment. “It’s very likely that I would beat you in a fight.”
He jumped to his feet with a smile. “Let’s fight!”
Are you joking? Please… you must be joking. You never could tell with Spaso.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
He goaded you on, said that if you thought you were stronger and could beat him in a fight, prove it.
You didn’t want to. Not at all. Even though most things about Spaso left a bitter taste, you never once wanted to fight him, let along touch him (forget about having sex with him!).
Item one: because you had been getting along so well that day, you suspected it was his ploy to wrestle you so that he could touch you. The sheer physicality of wrestling could be a reward in itself, especially to someone with a sexual agenda.
You told him so.
He denied it; you didn’t buy it.
Item two: Spaso was highly competitive. Just watching him play “full court ping pong,” during which he threw out his back, made you shudder. Why should anyone take such a silly competition so seriously? It was one thing in a game… it was an entirely different thing in a fight.
And you knew perfectly well that he would fight you.
Item three: someone could get hurt! After all, Spaso had just fucked up his back (but had miraculously recovered after two days somehow) that week. He stood perhaps an inch shorter than you, and was a mere 70kg (you, a whopping 90). He was a lean man, frail-seeming—but not. Not at all. One could easily mistake his smooth, slow, methodical movement for frailty. You didn’t. This was a man who had been building and tiling and concreting roofs, working wood, and hammering nails for 20 years. He hadn’t an ounce of fat on him, and pound-for-pound was as strong as a skinny man could be. You could see it in his work, in his cat-like agility on scaffolding, decks, rooftops… Oh no… He wasn’t frail, he was scrappy. Don’t let his back fool you.
Item four: strangling was allowed?! Yes. No punching, no kicking, no striking of any kind; but all submission holds were okay. The point was to fight not until someone was pinned, but until someone tapped out.
Jesus… Someone could really get hurt. A tap-out? What does it feel like to need to tap out?
Cheda looked at you and said, “I’m 100kg, and not even I would fight him!” You didn’t fully understand what he meant. Because they were brothers? Or because Cheda knew that Spaso was utterly mad?
Well, Spaso more or less dared you, and you suddenly felt that you needed to do something, anything, to demonstrate to this asshole that while you might sit back and listen to his bullshit and be over-powered verbally, you would not be over-powered by him physically.
So you fought. Unbelievable.
What ensued was the most intense fight of your life. More intense than when a certain person tried to strangle you years ago; more intense than when a drunken 300-lb Beefer slammed you to the ground and choked you with his forearm in a swift motion last summer; more intense than any for-fun wrestling match you’ve had with your friends…
Because you’d wanted the fight to end as quickly as possible, you didn’t go for the take-down; instead, you tried your best to wrap your arm around his neck and get him into a guillotine within the first few seconds, but he rammed his shoulder into your torso—up to his neck for protection–wrapped his arms around your waist, and hooked a leg behind one of yours for a take-down. Holy shit! Holy shit! Holy shit! You were a mere 20 seconds into the bout and already losing your feet!
You released him for a retreat, and he flung himself on you immediately, seized you with awe-inspiring force. His arm wrapped around your neck for his own guillotine, and he squeezed. Holy shit! No way!
You felt him begin to constrict and knew that you would be tapping out in seconds if you didn’t do something.
You tried to tuck your chin against your chest and lift his entire body with your neck, at which point you felt all your muscles strain in the worst way possible. Ouch. Oh Jesus… Oh what have you done? With your chin on your chest, he was unable to get the full lock, but you were still stuck, neck and upper back burning.
You dropped to your knees, hoping for a window of opportunity. He dropped with you, didn’t let go—and you couldn’t breathe. Spaso, you crazy fuck! He’s going to strangle you, Maria. After a prolonged period of intensifying strangulation, you did the only thing you could think of, and somersaulted into him, violently twisting your whole body; the weight of your body and its momentum was too much, and Spaso lost his grip.
The two of your scrambled on the ground. The vicious sonofabitch had you in another guillotine within seconds, and once again you felt your impending loss. No. Just hang on. You were aware of how powerful his grip was, how the hold became tighter and tighter as his hands crept up his wrists and forearms, constricting your neck as you tried to catch your breath, “This isn’t fun anymore,” you croaked.
Whatever you did, you aren’t certain, but you were able to flip the both of you onto your backs, you landing on top. He lost part of his hold, and you kicked at the floor and slid both of you across the tiles and forced his head against the wall.
He started to lose his composure, perhaps from being partly pinned under your weight, but more likely because he had just expended everything he had and it hadn’t worked.
Your main advantage: cardiovascular fitness. Your heart could beat harder and longer, and you had twice the lung capacity. You knew at that point that letting him catch his breath would be a mistake. You tried to disengage, regain your feet, knowing what a goddamn animal he was on the ground.
He flung himself into a kneeling position with unbelievable speed to catch you, but you caught him first, in a guillotine that just missed. Fuck! You started losing your grip, and he was twisting free.
Do you even know how to fight, Maria? God knows, you can’t land a punch to save your life, but you can hit a bag pretty hard. But, no. You’re not a fighter; you just love watching fighting. Thanks to The Ultimate Fighting Championship: Big Hits, vol 1, you knew a little technique that you were able to apply. Grab your gi!
Gi: the traditional outfit worn by martial artists (think Judo uniform). It makes grabbing easier, for the wearer and his opponent. The wearer can grab his own gi for leverage, or his opponent (and this is how the wearer ultimately lost in the fight featured in Big Hits) can grab it and use it against him.
Before Spaso could free himself from your ill-accomplished submission hold, you grabbed your left sleeve and hung on for dear life.
Bingo! Spaso was stuck. Beautiful. You worked your grip further up your sleeve. By that point, Spaso was panting hard, and was ceasing to struggle. You realized that you, too, were breathing very hard, “I should really quit smoking,” you said, holding him as he struggled.
“How about we make a break?” came Spaso’s muffled voice.
A break!? Fuck off. Now that you’re stuck, you want a break?
“If we break, I want the fight to be over. This isn’t fun,” you said.
“If we break, this fight is over. I don’t want to fight anymore.” You really didn’t. Really, really didn’t. Already, you could feel the muscles of your neck seizing painfully—it wouldn’t be able to stand another choke hold.
“Do you want a break?” you said louder, and made a point of wrenching his neck hard—you didn’t realize until that point that all it would take was another major wrench to really end the fight, but like any decent person you were holding back.
“Okay! You win, Maria. You win.”
Music. You weren’t even asking for a win, just to stop. But hey, you’d take the win.
And then you wondered who really won. Though you may have beat him in the fight (you suppose that was Spaso’s version of a tap-out), you lost—really lost, as your entire neck and upper back had been so strained in the first thirty seconds of the battle that afterward you couldn’t even support your head witout a hand.
You really hated Spaso, then. He was utterly mad! What kind of grown man would assert himself so violently against a woman!?
You went to bed that night fuming, indignant, wondering why the hell you were voluntarily living and working with this person—this psycho—this wayward hippie who force-fed you his philosophy 24-7, made you feel like an imbecile, and ultimately just wanted to sleep with you.
When you woke up the next morning, you couldn’t actually sit-up out of bed—your neck was locked on both sides, too weak to lift the weight of your own head. It took several minutes to figure out how to even get out of bed, and several more to dress yourself (could barely push your head through your shirt).
“Do you want to stay home?” Spaso asked, seeing you hobble down the stairs on a bum knee, using a hand to support your skull.
You didn’t commit a week of your life to this whack job to miss work and not get paid!
Turning your head was impossible, and of course, the work that day was punishing; especially compared to all the other days you spent idling and handing him tools. Spaso’s final job for you was to help him build and tile a roof, and your readers can guess who got to do all the heavy lifting.
How you managed to work…? God only knows. Your pride is stubborn, though you made it abundantly clear that you had been injured as a result of the fight, hoping to inspire some feeling of guilt in Spaso : “I said it, didn’t I? Someone could get hurt.”
Your disdain for Spaso faded throughout the day as you did some quality work—real work, the very thing you’d signed up for, a thing in which you know your own value and don’t need to be lectured. By the end of the weekend, you somehow managed to look upon Spaso amiably–gratefully even–for branding his name, his attitude, his work ethic, his Zen, insanity, and words into your memory.
There you were, smiling over at him in a small town in the south of Crete, situated at the foot of towering mountains. The sun was blazing, your skin tanning, your hands dry from plaster, and your back and legs burning under the weight of stacks of tiles. The weekend was punctuated by fireworks for the last day of Carnival, against a picturesque backdrop–and you walked away 200 Euros richer.
(Oh, and your neck almost recovered 72 hours later).