The Kids robe was scarlet, long, roomy to cover loosely his big tight biceps and lean thighs and guts, drowning him in affection, so that he felt blank and innocent, abstracted. On its back Aunt Anna had embroidered "Kid Obey" in white letters.
While the preliminary bouts were finishing, and his manager and trainer were talk-talk-talking, and smoke-smoke-smoking, the Kid gathered himself in and concentrated his mind upon the fight: Jesu Maxim was no pushover... Get inside his long arms and keep punching... corner him... Go for a knockout... This is Jesu's home town, go the limit and hell win by decision... And mind the bell, mind the bell. Get my ears examined.
The Kid looked down his long rolling lapels, velvety, clean white piping, large full pockets, his hands were already taped but they felt good , their rebuilt hard bones, brine-toughened skin, in the folds of the pockets. He slumped back in his hard chair. He sprang up, punched the air, one, two, and relaxed back into his robe. He pulled it tight, he loosened it, fingered his pockets - the baby plucking at his mother's beads while sucking at her breast.
"O.K." rasped the head from the door, letting the doctor pass in, "You're on next, Kid," so the Kid ducked out of his robe to let the doctor examine him -- no last minute drugs, no palpitations. "Come on, Doc, let the Kid through, he's got to concentrate, he always concentrates." They argued.
The Kid looked for his robe. He couldn't see it. Where's my robe? He didn't ask. He just looked. Under the examining table. On the floor, by the door. Hanging on a hook. He opened and slammed a locker, not there. Then he asked, "Where's my robe?" " There it is, Kid , right in front of your nose." The Kid looked surprised and hurt. "Why didn't I see it?" he said. They laughed, he laughed. "You must be going blind."
He was anxious. When he got to ringside, he held tightly to his robe until his trainer pulled it off. When the bell rang for the first round, he looked over his shoulder for it and was slow shuffling toward center, and was put on the defensive right away by a right clip to the jaw. He looked to his corner for his robe. He couldn't see it. He got angry and began swinging hard, chasing Maxim around.. "Put it where I can see it," he told his trainer. Still, he never saw it again during the fight. It went twelve rounds. He lost the decision. He was in bad shape. He couldn't see much, cuts above the eyes bleeding, eyes half closed.
When he got to his dressing room in his robe, he felt in a panic. The pains of his wounds were nothing. He just couldn't see well. "Nothing I can see wrong with his eyes," said the doctor, "why should he have trouble seeing things? Go visit a neurologist in the morning." He wouldn't let them take off his robe, not for anything. He wore it over his suit leaving the gym. He snuck out late with his trainer. When he got to his hotel room, he took off his robe and couldn't find it. Finally, the bellboy found it for him, in plain sight. He went to bed wearing it.
He wouldn't meet his trainer downstairs next morning. His trainer called a neurologist, and coaxed him into a cab. The neurologist said he was suffering from hysterical blindness. The Kid said, "I am quitting the ring." The trainer said, "If you fight any more like last night, you're finished anyway." The Kid just looked sullen. He thought he'd better go stay with Aunt Anna for a while. She was the only one who cared whether he was dead or alive.
Alfred de Grazia
30 December 1998