Ed. note – If you’re like me, you want to read Tank Abbott’s debut novel — the succinctly-titled Befor There Were Rules, A Trilogy By #1 MMA Cagefighting Legend David “Tank” Abbott, Book One, Bar Brawler, A Novel — but you don’t want to have to, uh, you know, actually read it.
Thankfully for us, Jessica Hudnall of Leg Kick TKO was nice enough to order a copy of the book and review it for us, SparkNotes-style. You’re going to read some ridiculous shit in here, but please keep in mind that we aren’t making it up for laughs, and that Jessica has a for-real hard copy of the book. I thought it was a figment of my imagination for like a week and a half.
Be sure you’ve read part 1 of her review before you read this one. It covers the forward, prologue and first chapter, and if you don’t read it, you won’t know the “right combination” to Walter’s “throw-down vault”.
Chapter Two – Heading South:
Walter’s done remembering the time last night he bashed another man’s skull to bits and it is time to get up and head to class. He roars down the traffic jammed freeway at well over 90 miles per hour on his Interceptor 700 and makes it to class on time. Walter’s still hung over and some of the lectures are boring, so he drifts in and out, preferring to watch the pretty ladies outside the windows.
His school day finally over, Walter heads home (At a more normal speed) and is greeted by his best friend, an 80-pound pit bull named Adolf. Walter lets us know that the dog is “named after a famous Colorado beer brewer whose products I quite admire”. A friend advises him that such a name would have unfortunate skinhead-related connotations, but you NEVER tell Walter Foxx he can’t do something (Because he is a true, real warrior). Foxx grills up some cheeseburgers for him and Adolf, takes a quick nap, and then it’s time to go to work.
Instead of the motorcycle, Foxx heads to work in his “mostly silver” Chevy Sprint, which has no keys, only two toggle switches, a cassette player plugged into the cigarette lighter for music (The only music is a looping The Smiths tape), and it might be a piece of crap, but “it has sheepskin seat covers so that makes it cool”. He gets to Sea Lion Beach Liquor and tries to catch up on his history reading while serving the various “surf and skate punks” all night. Walter drinks several Coors during work, then grabs a few cases on his way out (He puts it down in the ledger, he’s no thief!) because tonight he’s headed to Mexico with some buddies.
On his way home, Foxx drives past a guy slapping a woman (Walter informs us that this is not cool). She makes a break for it, and the guy gives chase, forcing Walter to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting him (Walter takes this opportunity to secure the bottle of Coors he’s been drinking between the seat and emergency brake). The guy doesn’t appreciate almost being ran over, so he screams at Walter and flips him off, continuing even after Walter starts to drive away.
Walter turns his Sprint around and tries to figure out what the guy’s problem is. The “high school quarterback type” wants to kick Walter’s fat ass, and that’s enough to goad Foxx into a fight (Do not call Walter Foxx fat, he will be unable to accept it and be forced to punch you). Foxx lunges for the guy, but the QB runs towards a parked car, keeping it between himself and Walter. Walter realizes the guy is a poser and heads back to his car, but the QB keeps taunting him about his fat ass. Walter lets the guy get close and then turns and charges.
Walter catches the quarterback and at first is just intent on scaring the guy, possibly sitting on his chest for a little bit to cut his air (Which to me sounds like a fat ass move), but before Foxx can “give him a little fright” the guy punches him in the head. Foxx drops the guy with a left hook, and as he’s about to tell off the quarterback, Walter gets punched twice more. Foxx is livid, so he hits the guy with a right, then finishes him off with his patented head slam.
The fight is over, and a random hippie appears to preach peace, while the unconscious guy’s girlfriend (The one he was slapping earlier) shows up, screaming for help. Foxx makes a hasty retreat, noting that even though he’s in the right, it’s best if he’s gone before the cops show up (It doesn’t help that he challenged the hippie to a fight, unprovoked). Foxx gets back home and he’s ready to head to Mexico with his six buddies, Dick, Tom, Grant, Mikey, Skip and Phil. (Adolf will have to stay home).
• Did Walter fight? Yes
• Walter’s opponent – High school quarterback-type, 5’11”, 190 pounds
• Did Walter get hit? Yes, 1 standing arm strike, 2 ground arm strikes
• Walter’s Compu-Strike Numbers – 1 standing arm strike (KD), 1 ground arm strike, 1 head-pound (KO)
Key lines: “Is there ever going to be a fighting sport that is authentic, with real fighting like last night?”
Oh, just you wait, Walter Foxx! Some cool Brazilians are going to be coming along real soon!
“When class ends I head to an identical building across a twenty-yard-wide grassy knoll that could have come straight out of Dallas, Texas. When you’re a History major you tend to make those connections.”
Walter Foxx is the smartest man alive. I’m a dumb accounting major and could never make a connection like that.
“I push the clutch in and hit the brakes, watching this guy in my rearview mirror standing in the intersection where our lives have crossed.”
Wow, check out that metaphor! The intersection of two streets also represents the intersection of two lives when you almost ran someone over because you weren’t paying attention to the road and were focused on securing your beer!
“Now it’s time for the jackal to pay full price for his sins.”
Jackals do a lot of sinning that is never paid for in full.
Chapter Three – Impending Doom:
Walter and the gang roll into Mexico, drunk from the road trip, and check into a cheap hotel. Everyone wakes up hungover, so it’s time to start pounding coffee (Except Walter, but more on that later). Feeling refreshed, they head to the hotel bar, down a pitcher of margaritas each, and then start bar hopping throughout the night, getting drunker and louder at each stop.
The crew round a corner and Foxx comes to the realization that it is time for him to buy a dress. He picks out a blue “moo-moo” style number, complete with a white bead necklace that he claims goes with his hair. His friend Grant picks up a yellow nightgown, and the group keeps bulling through the crowd to the next bar (“Get out of the way because Big Bertha is coming through”). Foxx’s foul mouth attracts the attention of a taco cart proprietor, but instead of punching his face into chunks, Foxx just buys a couple of tacos, possibly made with cat or dog meat (I’m not sure if Walter held back because he saw the guy’s wife and kids were with him, or just because the guy didn’t call Walter fat). The crew head back to the hotel to have an uneventful encounter with some hookers (Walter refrains, knowing that a person can catch anything in Mexico), and they all pass out.
The next day, Walter attempts to flirt with a pair of older ladies by mentioning that just shaved off his goatee because he might be on the run for killing that quarterback-type guy he beat up (Foxx is a smooth operator). Unfortunately, he doesn’t even get a phone number before the rest of the crew is dragging him off to another bar. More drinking ensures, his dumb friend Mikey thinks he scammed a bar because he signed his credit card receipt “Charles Manson”, and it’s time to head home.
There’s no answering machine message from the cops, or the D.A., or anyone else, so Walter realizes that he shaved his beard for nothing, and the guy he pounded must have been all right to accept his face-smashing and not get the law involved. Walter catches up on some history reading, and then snuggles with Adolf until bedtime.
Monday morning and it’s time for class again. Foxx tries to pay attention, but considers most of the professors wannabes in their own right (Besides, who cares about Russia and trains?). He has a brief run-in with a high school acquaintance, a football player, ripped as all hell thanks to steroids. The guy apparently mocks Walter for his weight, but Walter chooses not to beat him for the insult, secure in knowing he’s both tougher and smarter than the juiced-up meathead. Unfortunately, the meathead was right, and Walter is fat as hell (The loss of the goatee revealed his double chin), so it’s time for Foxx to start hitting the weights, the pads, and the mats.
Walter starts taking lessons at the Westminster Boxing Gym, but he considers boxing to be kind of a joke. He’s confident he would kill Olympic gold medalist Tyrell Biggs in a street fight because Tyrell’s not a REAL WARRIOR. Walter has his first sparring session and does what he does best, wades in, taking shots, and landing big overhands. He puts his sparring partner out on his feet a few times, but the most important thing to Walter is that he fought just like he does on the streets, “with instinct and heart”.
• Did Walter fight? No, sparring doesn’t count; IT’S NOT A REAL FIGHT BETWEEN TRUE WARRIORS!
Key lines: “I’ve never drank coffee and consider it a crutch, compared to vodka which is rich in vitamin B.”
B for booze!
“I have on my new dress and I’m hammered so don’t mess with me.”
Walter is saying yes to the dress, y’all!
“Does he think he could even last a minute with me in a brawl or a debate?”
Walter Foxx is the smartest, toughest man that has ever lived.
Chapter Four – Boxing and Brawling:
Walter has his first professional fight just five weeks into his boxing training. His opponent has three years experience on him, but it doesn’t matter, he’s a real warrior, after all. It’s an even two rounds, but Foxx takes it to another level entirely in round three, going for broke, throwing caution to the wind, and intent on leaving it all inside the ring as he wades in all guns blazing (I think this means he just windmills haymakers until he gasses out in thirty seconds). Walter drops the guy twice and wins his bout.
Walter’s hanging out with Adolf on his one day off from work and training when he gets a call from Ron “Gonzo” Middleton to head to the Dead Grunion for Monday Night Football. They party well after the game is over and the bottom floor is converted for dancing. Some giant pillows descend from the rafters (Sting is nowhere to be found), and during a drunken stumble, Foxx grabs hold of one to steady himself. The pillows retract, and he holds on (The DJ keeps raising them because he doesn’t like Walter for always requesting songs by The Smiths) until he’s about ten feet off the ground. Walter can’t hold on any longer and lets go, somehow not crushing anyone or killing himself.
Foxx lies on the ground for a moment, collecting himself, when a big guy walks past and steps on his stomach. Indignant, Walter gets up and confronts the guy. A few terse words are exchanged, Walter gets called fat, and is told if there’s a problem, to meet the dude outside.
Foxx heads outside to find the guy shadow boxing and he nearly warns Foxx that he’s a former Golden Gloves champ before Foxx shoots a double leg takedown. Walter shimmies up to mount, punches Golden Gloves in the face a few times. Gloves gives up his back, gets to all fours, and Walter lets him get back to his feet. Walter hits him with a two punch combo (“HE IS ROCKED!”), and with Golden Gloves dazed, Foxx scoops him up into a fireman’s carry, walks to the marina railing, and dumps him into the water (He just got Attitudinally Adjusted!). Walter almost tumbles over, but luckily Gonzo’s there to drag him back. Golden Gloves gets to some rocks, so he’s not dead, but it is the cue for Walter and Gonzo to skedaddle.
Walter goes back to his daily routine of school, training, and work, with partying every night afterwards. He comes to the realization that he’s basically drifting through life, not sure if a guy with his troubled past could get a job as a teacher and coach, besides, his only passion is for brawling. He wants to change the perception of a fighter by targeting jerks, bullies and meanies. Walter’s not just a guy that punches people for pointing out his weight, he’s basically a cosmic fist of justice, meting out karmic beatings to jerks that take advantage of others by being bigger or stronger than everyone else.
Walter’s working out when he gets a call from his buddy Tim about a party across town. It’s gonna be full of hot chicks, so Walter’s in. He joints Tim and Tim’s goofy friend, Gene (Walter notes that Gene isn’t his friend). Gene can’t really hold his liquor, so after a few drinks, he starts running around, grabbing random lady-butts. After an hour of his idiocy, Gene gets kicked out, which means Walter and Tim also have to leave. Walter’s hanging back a bit, keeping an eye on things since he spotted some bouncers being a little rough with Gene.
That’s when the head bouncer, a huge Samoan guy slaps Walter in the back of the head and orders him to hurry up and get out of the bar. Walter exits the bar and notices the bouncer has several friends with him, all at least 350 pounds. Realizing the need for backup of his own, Walter warns the guys he’ll be back and heads to the truck. Tim takes him to a phone and Walter calls Gonzo, who arrives with his brother, Reilly (All three are wrestlers).
Walter heads straight for the head bouncer, leaving his friends to corral the opposing crew. There’s a bit of jawing back and forth, and Walter pops the guy with a right straight that DOES NOT FAZE THE BIG SAMOAN! Foxx manages to get his hips into the next blow, and it snaps the bouncer’s head back. The bouncer charges forward, looking for a takedown, but Foxx sprawls out and bearhugs him from double overhooks. Before Foxx can land his intended belly-to-belly suplex, the bouncer reaches up and gouges a thumb deep into his left eye socket. Walter powers forward tripping the Samoan to the ground and freeing his eyeball from permanent damage. Foxx retaliates with a double eye gouge (Or, as he keeps calling it, a “thumb-lock”). The bouncer claws at Foxx’s face, and gets his index finger bitten to the bone for his trouble. Walter lets go of the guy’s eyeballs and unloads some ground and pound. Walter gets pulled off the Samoan momentarily, but Gonzo and Reilly quickly intervene, kicking the offender into submission. The bouncer crawls away, bleeding and crying, allowing Walter and his friends to make well their retreat. He cleans the blood off in a gas station bathroom, his eye swells completely shut during a late night breakfast at a café, and then Walter heads home to fall into bed with Adolf.
• Did Walter fight? Yes, twice!
• Walter’s first opponent – Golden Gloves champion
• Did Walter get hit? Nope!
• Walter’s Compu-Strike Numbers – 2 standing arm strikes, 2+ ground strikes, 2 takedowns (TKO, fighter fell out of the ring)
• Similar MMA fight – vs. Cal Worsham, UFC Ultimate Ultimate ‘96
• Walter’s second opponent – Head bouncer, 400+ pounds
• Did Walter get hit? Yes, with a thumb-lock
• Walter’s Compu-Strike Numbers – 2 standing arm strikes, 1 takedown, 1 takedown defended, 1 submission attempted, 1 submission defended, 3+ ground strikes
• Similar MMA fight – vs. Steve Jennum, UFC Ultimate Ultimate ’95
Key lines: “Long retractable pillows that hang down on chains descend from the ceiling onto the crowded dance floor, like schlongs from heaven, and one comes down right beside me.”
It’s not quite manna, but it’ll do in a pinch!
“‘If you want to be a rug, then expect to get stepped on,’ he says crossly.
‘If you want to be an ass then expect someone to kick it,’ I shoot back.”
Walter with the wicked comeback!
“I never scream from someone giving me pain. It’s the one rule of the true warrior: never let anyone know they’ve inflicted pain on you.”
This is where Walter and I differ (And it shows that I’ll never be a true warrior). If someone inflicts pain upon me, I don’t stop shrieking until they stop or I pass out from the aforementioned pain.
Be sure to visit With Leather again soon for Part 3, featuring chapters 5-7..