Monday, July 2, 2012
LaZorra let her BFF Trina haul her by the wrist toward the clearing deep in the woods. “Are you sure this is legal?” she asked.
“The fights are. The betting isn’t,” Trina replied with a vulpine grin. “That’s why they hold it way out in the woods. Just remember, if the cops show up, you don’t know me.”
“Gotcha.” They had arrived at the clearing. A burly jaguar gave them the hairy eyeball, but let them pass. Using feminine wiles and fox flexibility, they wormed their way to the front of the spectators. Just in time; the Friday night fights had begun.
A pair of wolves opened the show with a lackluster wrestling match. LaZorra figured she enjoyed it more than the rest of the audience. This crowd was jonesing for mayhem and blood, and wolf fights on the whole lacked both, in spite of the body slams. The wrestlers, clearly low-rankers, were more intent on dominating each other as opposed to annihilation. Finally one pinned the other, and the crowd howled and boo’d. The winner shot them the finger while he helped his opponent to his feet.
“Why do they always start with wolves?” Trina complained. “They snarl at each other and then they show throat. What kind of fight is that?”
“If they held the best fights first, everybody would leave early. Look at it this way: it has to get better.”
Next up was a cat fight. The jaguar got in the ring with an African lion. Halfway through the bout they forgot themselves, shifted to their animal forms and went at it fang and claw. The crowd went berserk, LaZorra along with the rest.
Blood or bloodless, the primitive beast within her loved watching males in combat. Since foxes weren’t an aggressive breed, she had to feed her dark streak in other ways. Cock fights and dog fights, using real animals, were not only illegal, they were cruel and disrespectful to their little cousins. But if two shifter males voluntarily chose to pound on each other in public, where was the harm?
As the lion bore the jaguar to the ground LaZorra felt a hand land on her backside. She slapped at it without turning around. The lion shifted back and rose up, blood running down his sweaty brown body, grinning with his arms in the air. The jaguar slunk away to the hoots of the crowd.
The hand hit LaZorra’s rump again. This time she whirled around. “Hands off,” she snarled at the wolf behind her.
The wolf leered. “You’re feisty. Bet you like to fight."
LaZorra called him a name and nudged Trina. The vixens moved across the ring. They found a new spot just in time for the start of the next fight.
Oooh, nice, LaZorra thought. Muscles piled on top of muscles, just the way she liked them. A bit squat, barely as tall as she, but little guys had big guy energy. He’d shaved his head except for a tall Mohawk, dyed bright red. The seams of his tank top strained to hold together over a chest that looked as broad as she was tall. The name El Gallo had been stitched across the front.
El Gallo’s opponent was a vicious-looking wolverine. They circled briefly, then attacked. The wolverine was counting on a few swift punches to end this fracas early. El Gallo ducked under his swing, leaped into the air and kicked. The wolverine went down with a bloody nose and a look of pure shock.
“I’ll be damned,” Trina murmured. “He must know some UFC moves.”
“More like KFC.” LaZorra grimaced. The grabby wolf had followed them. He shouldered his way next to LaZorra. “No wonder he has to cheat with his feet. Those chicken wings don’t have enough power for a real fight.”
“They look like they could snap you in half,” LaZorra said. “Why don’t you get in the ring and find out for yourself?”
“I like it here.” The wolf made a grab for her butt. LaZorra swayed aside.
Scat. Now she’d missed the end of the fight. El Gallo stood with one foot on the chest of the fallen wolverine and crowed. The crowd yelled approval, and money changed hands.
Suddenly a raven’s shrill caw knifed out of the woods. “Cops!” somebody hollered. “Scatter!”
In human and animal form both crowd and fighters bolted for the woods. In less than a minute the clearing had emptied.
As arranged, LaZorra and Trina split up. Trina went fox, but LaZorra stayed human. She circled back to the parking area. There might be cops around, but without any proof they’d have no cause to hold her.
Suddenly the grabby wolf darted into her path. “Where you going, sweet thing?”
“Get bent.” She tried to duck around him, but he seized her by the arm. “Are you scatty? There are cops all over the place.”
“So we alibi each other. A shifter and his she in the woods, who’s going to question that?” He hooked his leg around hers and tripped her up. LaZorra landed hard, with the wolf on top of her. He pinned her to the ground with a knee on her chest. She thrashed and bit, without success. The wolf just laughed in her face. “Did those fights get you as hot as they got me? I bet they did.”
“The senorita doesn’t want you, perro. Let her go.”
The wolk glared over his shoulder, and LaZorra stared beyond the wolf. The little fighter, El Gallo, stood at the edge of the trees. He flexed his arms in warning.
“Go lay an egg, chicken boy. You know what wolves do to you twerps?”
“Where I come from,” El Gallo said, “this is what we do to wolves.”
LaZorra almost missed the fight, it went by so fast. El Gallo leaped in and yanked the wolf off her. The rest was a flurry of jabs and kicks and lots of grunts and yelps. In desperation her attacker shifted to wolf form. El Gallo laughed and caught him by the tail. He twirled the beast around a few times, then let go. The wolf went flying into the bushes. LaZorra heard a heavy crash, followed by heavy whimpers.
Then she was lifted from the ground by muscular arms covered with soft yellow down. “You are not hurt?” the rooster asked.
She assessed her triple-action heart rate and decided she’d live. “Just shaken up. He outweighed me, but I’ll bet I could have out-bitten him.”
“Perhaps.” El Gallo grinned. “Now come, before la policia find us. You will be safe, but I’m known to them.”
He took her hand, but it was LaZorra who led the way back to the parking area. As she’d feared, the cops had posted a couple of officers by the cars. They were already questioning several people. LaZorra spotted Trina’s silver fox shape in the bushes just as an officer approached them. Trina nodded her muzzle and slipped away.
“Excuse me, ma’am, we have a couple questions.” He barely glanced at her. His suspicious stare landed on El Gallo. “You know anything about an illegal fight club out here tonight?”
“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about,” LaZorra said with a flutter of lashes. “I came out for some privacy with my boyfriend.” She squeezed the rooster’s hand. He smiled benignly. “We like to play fox in the henhouse.”
“Boyfriend,” the cop repeated doubtfully. He looked at El Gallo as if he recognized him. LaZorra made sure to keep her tight tee and short shorts in the cop’s line of vision. The diversion must have worked, because the cop let them go with only a couple more questions and a warning. She gestured at her car. El Gallo held the door for her, then climbed in himself.
Out of the frying pan, she thought, stealing glances at the burly bantam beside her. He must have guessed her thoughts, because he said, “You’ve nothing to fear from me, senorita. We are born and bred fighters, yes, but we are also gentlemen. You may let me off anywhere once we get back to town.”
“I’m not scared,” LaZorra said. Surprisingly, she wasn’t. “Thanks for the hand back there. And the fists and the feet. You’re good.”
“We live for combat. Among other things.” He eyed her body with frank appreciation. “You are a fox?”
“You’re not in any danger from me either,” she said with a grin. “I’m LaZorra.”
“Ah! You are Mexican also?”
“East Texas. I guess Mexican if you go back far enough.”
“Esta bien. I am Eduardo. I do not fear foxes.”
She doubted if he feared much of anything. All of a sudden, neither did she. “Pleased to meet you, Eduardo. I’m too wired to head home yet. Do you have room in your fight schedule for a cup of coffee?”
# # #
SHAMELESS PLUG DEPARTMENT: Legacy is now available in print at Amazon and Barnes and Nobel. I ordered my copy already. What can I say? I like physical books. Drop by Title Magic on Thursday, when I’ll be running an excerpt. (end of commercial)