Jaws Fanfiction: Captain Quint Shark Hunter - 13. Chapter 13 Odds Against
Chapter 13: Odds Against
The Southerner was called Rhett Bodine. He was three times hammer throwing champion at the Kentucky State Fair, and was reputed to have snapped a Chinaman’s humerus in two in an arm wrestling contest in San Francisco. He had an iron grip, with biceps the circumference of a Hollywood starlet’s waist. The stories circulating about Bodine flattered his vanity. He obliged anyone who asked to see his fighting arm by rolling up his sleeve and flexing the muscle. He was broad-chested with wide shoulders, and his upper body strength would give him an advantage. The guy from the East Coast – sure, he had stamina – you could see him running round the base perimeter and swimming across the channel – but his frame was almost boyish in comparison to Bodine’s. Even if the kid could hold his own in the first round, some said he didn’t have the nerve to go the distance. Bodine had seen action – briefly – in the Pacific, and they said he wasn’t the kind of man to flinch or waver. The kid, on the other hand, was a shirker, doing whatever he could to escape a transfer by visiting the administration block every month and pleading his case. At least, that was the word around the base.
Abel went about his business as usual, and ignored the taunts shouted across the mess hall, or whispered to him on the parade ground. The night before the contest he was stretched out on his bunk, flexing his grip with a large ball of wax, when Herbie Robinson came by and tossed a roll of ten dollar bills onto the blanket.
“Everybody’s betting on Bodine,”he said.
“Yeah?” Abel swung his legs over the side of the bunk and sat up, making room for the shortstop.
Herbie sat down.
“Can you beat him?”
Abel picked up the roll and riffled the bills with a thumb.
“What do you think?”
Herbie looked down at his boots and began nodding to himself.
“I think you can beat him.”
He looked up with a wide grin on his face.
Abel gave him the shadow of a smile in return and pressed the money into his hand.
“Then, I guess I got no choice. Now get out of here. I need some shuteye.”
Herbie stowed the dollar bills in his breast pocket and stood up.
“Say, I’m going to need a second.” Abel said. “You interested?”
“Sure.” Herbie said.
He started to walk away, then turned round and said,
“What’s a second do, exactly?”
“Hold the chalk. Towel off the sweat. Make sure there’s fair play.”
“Not much chance of that, with Bodine.”
“Then you’ll have you work cut out for you. Still want it?”
“Even more,” Herbie said, and gave another one of his smiles. “Gotta go. I got me a bet to make.” He patted his pocket.
Abel stretched his legs out again and stared at the wooden slats of the upper bunk until lights out. All the while the fingers of his right hand squeezed and moulded the wax into a tight ball.