Christopher Reynolds has been the reigning British cage fighter champion for the past two consecutive years. The next time he goes into the cage to defend his title, he demonstrates to his opponent in the first few minutes why he’s earned the nickname, Raging Reynolds. Christopher is fired up and on good form. His opponent’s blood is shed, and it’s more than his male ego and pride on the line. When it looks like Christopher’s about to seal his victory, he freezes, puts his hand to his throat and collapses on the floor. When he’s pronounced dead and high levels of heroin are found in his bloodstream, foul play is suspected. Unable to go to the police, Christopher’s bereaved long-term partner, Ethan, turns to the Apparition Intervention team for help. As the ex-female karate champion in her county, Jane is the obvious person to investigate the case. The spirit of a junkie comes to her aid and leads her to a potential culprit, but when she gets too close to them, she finds herself in the cage with them, and then she’s the one fighting for her life so that justice can be served.
It was fight night again, and as Ethan gripped the steering wheel, it became increasingly clammy. He did his best to focus on the road ahead and control the car as well as he could so he wouldn’t kill himself and Christopher before they’d arrived at their destination, but his heart beat faster as he drove along the approach road to where the fight was going to take place. The nearer they got, the more erratic and uncontrollable his breathing became. He breathed in deeply through his nose, then exhaled slowly through his mouth.
The giant yellow dwarf star that bathed Earth with light, energy and heat on a daily basis glowed brightly in the distance. It looked enchanting surrounded by an orange aura that was eventually consumed by the onset of the evening darkness. It gracefully disappeared on the horizon when Ethan and Christopher arrived at the sooty grey disused brick warehouse where Christopher was going to be fighting for his life again. Ethan swallowed hard and wanted to stop the car so he could find a paper bag and place it over his mouth and nose.
Christopher put a reassuring hand on Ethan’s forearm. “Look. I can sense that you’re nervous, but relax. Everything’s going to be fine.”
As much as Ethan wanted to, it was beyond him. When the two attendants had opened the gates to the warehouse car park, he looked in front of him, and the only form of life he could see were ugly bunches of green weeds that had sprung up in between the cracks in the surface of the grey concrete.
Ethan passed through the gates and drove to the back of the warehouse. He parked as quickly as he could by the entrance door. He looked at it and turned to Christopher. “Gees. I’ve got butterflies in my stomach, and I feel as sick as a dog.” He opened the car door, leaned to his right, and started retching. Thankfully nothing came out, but it left his stomach muscles tight and strained.
Ethan always got nervous before a fight even though he knew Christopher hadn’t been beaten in any of his fights during the past two years. Ethan snuggled into Christopher, who put a reassuring arm around his shoulder.
Christopher pecked him on the lips. “Don’t get so uptight. I know who I’m up against and I’m confident I’ll be able to knock him out in the first few minutes.”
As much as Ethan wanted to believe him, and had every confidence in Christopher, there was a nagging doubt and concern in the back of Ethan’s mind that he might lose more than just the fight.
Christopher was competing in another illegal cage fight, and unlike the televised professional fights, the illegal fights were a lot more brutal, and they were no-holds-barred. Some of the men never made it out of the cage alive, and that was Ethan’s biggest fear—that he’d lose the love of his life before the night was over.
Ethan looked around the car park. “Judging by the number of cars here, it looks like the fight has attracted a big crowd. There’s always a big crowd when you’re fighting and given you’re defending your title that has remained intact for the past two years, I guess the crowds have flocked in to find out if you’re going to be defeated.”
Christopher chuckled. “Well, you know as well as I do, the spectators are divided when it comes to me. There are those who love the fact that I, as an openly gay man, knock the shit out of straight macho guys, and there are those who despise me for it. Especially my opponents because it dents their male egos to be annihilated by a gay man—or a queer or poof as I’m often referred to behind my back.”
Ethan snorted. “Yeah, but no man in their right mind would have the courage to call you that to your face because they’d be instantly knocked out. It’s always puzzled and intrigued me why heterosexual men invariably stereotype gay men as being camp and weak. I’m really proud of you for completely shattering that image of gay men by consistently demonstrating that a gay man can fight just as well—if not better—than any heterosexual man no matter how butch and burly they are.”
Christopher leaned into Ethan and pecked him on his cheek. “Why, thank you. That means a lot coming from you. Anyway, let’s get in there, so I can get this fight over and done with.”
As they walked toward the entrance, two security guards were standing by the door. They beckoned Ethan and Christopher to follow them and led them down a dimly lit and dingy corridor.
Ethan shuddered, and the hairs on his forearms stood on end when he heard the distant sound of the master of ceremonies talking to the crowd and getting them fired up before the fight. “And challenging the reigning champion tonight is Desmond the Destroyer.” The crowd cheered and shouted out their words of support and encouragement. And of course, the reigning champion is Christopher. Otherwise known as Raging Reynolds.” There was a roar of cheering, which was quickly met with booing.
A man in the crowd shouted out, “Desmond’s gonna destroy that poof tonight.”
The roars of laughter that ensued echoed around the warehouse and other members of the audience started chanting, “Desmond’s gonna destroy that poof tonight!”
Christopher looked at Ethan and chuckled. “Looks like I’ll have to knock the shit out of Desmond the Destroyer as quickly as I can to shut those bigoted fuckers up.”
Ethan laughed nervously and reached for Christopher’s hand. “You do that so we can get out of here as soon as possible and go and have a nice relaxing meal.”
Christopher stopped, turned toward Ethan, placed his hands on the back of his head, and pecked him on his forehead. “Yeah. That sounds like a plan. I fancy a nice Chinese. What about you?”