During the deepest depths of the Bronze Age there was a kingdom called Chubungo. Chubungo was the richest and most powerful nation of its day, and liked to rub that fact in the faces of all the other nations around. The Chubungan military had developed a highly advanced martial art that had made them unstoppable on the battlefield for decades and eventually someone had the idea to taunt other nations with that fact by holding an annual fighting tournament, the winner of which would be granted wealth beyond the imaginings of most non-Chubungan persons. The tournament was called the Bloodfight Match 2000.
Dozens of nations would send their best fighters to the Bloodfight Match 2000 hoping to get that wealth. To many that much wealth would more than double their entire national treasure. Of course, it was futile. Nobody could compete with the Chubungan fighters. At least, nobody could until the thirty-seventh Bloodfight Match 2000. That was the year that everything changed.
At the start of the contest that year, there were over three hundred competitors, about two hundred of those being non-Chubungans. Usually those two hundred would be wiped out in the early rounds, but this was not a usual Bloodfight Match 2000. After a week of fights four soldiers remained, only two of them Chubungans. It was unprecedented.
The Chubungan champions were Zolo Dorton, who could punch through solid walls, and Selvie Truckstyle, who could shatter swords with just her teeth. The night before the last day of the contest, Coach Viggles visited the champions in the locker room.
“Youse guys gotta win this thing!” the Coach said. “We can’t lose this! Are you guys giving a hundred and ten percent?”
“Sure are, Coach!” said Zolo.
“I was giving a hundred and eleven percent, Coach!” said Selvie.
“Youse better be! Everything is riding on one of youse two beatin’ those other twose!”
“Well, I got an idea,” said Zolo.
“Well spit it out!” the Coach shouted into his face.
“We could cheat!” said Zolo.
“Brilliant!” said all three in unison, including Zolo.
Coach Viggles immediately got his best men on the task. Within the hour the trio had files filled with the details of their foreign opponents, Borgo Chaossmith and Dave Jacobi, and the champions pored over the information looking for any advantage that could be exploited.
“Say,” said Selvie. “It says here that this Borgo guy loves to eat hamburgers like crazy. If we get the hotel staff to give him a ton of hamburgers for breakfast, he’ll feel stuffed and not be in his best fighting form.”
“That’s excellent!” said Coach Viggles. To Zolo he said “What about your guy?”
“Well,” said Zolo, “it says here that he’s a real slave to fashion. Whenever he goes to a new country, he tries his best to fit in with the local styles.”
“How can we use that to cheat?”
“Well how about this: We convince him to wear a piece of fabric around his neck. Then I can use it to strangle him and to hold onto while I bash his face in.”
“That’s also excellent!” said Coach Viggles. And so he got his men to work quickly on these, frankly mediocre, cheating plans while the champions got a good night’s sleep.
In the morning, Borgo Chaossmith woke up to find a breakfast platter filled with more hamburgers than he’d ever seen in his life.
“Oh my laws,” he said as he quickly forgot the words of encouragement that his late grandmother had given him earlier that year as she had helped him defeat his addiction. Borgo ate every hamburger he saw that morning, hating himself all the more with every bite. When he arrived at the Bloodfight Match 2000 Arena, Borgo felt horrible, both because he was full and because he had lost his self respect. He just wanted to go sit down somewhere, but he had this fight to do.
Selvie’s plan worked perfectly. As they fought Selvie was quick and rested, but Borgo was slow and tired. Soon Selvie had her foe on the ropes and was ready to make the killing blow, but suddenly Borgo vomitted. Selvie was so shocked that when Borgo passed out and fell on her, she didn’t even react in time to get out of the way. Borgo’s weight knocked out the Chubungan champion and the match was declared a draw.
“Holy crap!” shouted Coach Viggles. “Well, it’s all up to you now Zolo. You had better hope your plan worked!”
When Dave Jacobi woke up in the hotel that morning there was a package by his door. He had opened it to find a strange piece of fabric with a note explaining how it could be worn around his neck. He looked out the window and saw a crowd loitering around on the street below, all wearing the strip of fabric. “Well,” he said, “when in Chubungo, dress like Chubungans do. I wouldn’t want to look like an idiot.”
So when he showed up at the Arena with the fabric around his neck, Zolo pointed at it and said to the Coach “He fell for it! This will be a piece of cake.”
The fight began. After some starting jabs and parries between the titans, Zolo made a lunge for the necktie. And he grabbed it. He pulled as tight as he could, choking his opponent, then raised his free hand into a fist preparing to rain down a series of punches the likes of which had never been seen. But then Dave Jacobi moved into the direction Zolo was pulling and proceded to rain down a series of headbuttings the likes of which had never been seen. Zolo Dorton was knocked out and Dave Jacobi didn’t even bother with a killing blow. He just adjusted his tie as the announcer declared him the first Non-Chubungan winner of Bloodfight Match 2000.
Coach Viggles fainted. For a moment the audience stood in confused silence, then there were gasps, then there was weeping, then there was silence again and people got back on with their lives. The Chubungan people quickly realized that it didn’t actually matter if they won a pointless contest or not.
Dave Jacobi considered his necktie to be his lucky charm. He went on to endorse his own line of neckties and the pointless fictional fashion accessory became a pointless real fashion accessory. His slogan, “When I Wear My Necktie, You Know I Mean Business”, eventually shifted its meaning from “headbutting type business” to “office work type business” and that is why office workers wear neckties even to this day.
And so everyone lived happily from then on, except Borgo, who was abducted by aliens and taken far far away, never to return.
Patrick D Ryall, the D is for Beach