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Between the rounds, Perry sat and chuckled at the fight he was making. What a field day the sportswriters would have. He could see the headlines: "Dirty Fighter Gives Technique a Bath!" He chuckled again.

The Bum #5 panel 2

Buzz worked on the bad eye so he could see and Perry asked himself if he could somewhere find something deep down within himself this last round to score a knockout. Wind up his career with a big noise.

With the bell he rose slowly. Cold, calculated, untouched by the drug of anger which had won him previous battles, he accepted Travis' straight left jabs with disdain, crowded beneath the flurry of whiplike blows to rip home a short right, another one. And a left. The crowd rose with a roar.

Perry moved into the kid, forced him across the ring, ripped across his middle with piston-like precision, switching to his face. Travis fought back hard, his breath whistling; jabbing, crossing.

Perry took a face full of punishment to get Travis where he couldn't circle, and he rocked him with a right hook to the jaw and dropped his left fist half-way to the wrist into his body. Travis staggered, quickly recovered and fought back with dogged ferocity.

Both were battling now, their hardest. Travis forgot his jabs as they squared away in the center of the ring. And, head burrowed between his thick shoulders, Perry answered him with flying fists.

Dimly, through the great pain, he could hear the screaming of an ambulance siren in the distance.

Travis folded quickly. Perry ripped a short left into his solar plexus and left him gasping. The kid's hands dropped. Perry splashed rights and lefts into his face, drove him across the ring. A crisp left hook straightened Travis up and a whistling right uppercut dropped him for a nine count. He struggled to his knees, raised one foot under him, then sprawled forward on his face.

Perry was exultant as he slipped through the ropes, bathrobe thrown over his shoulders, the tumult of the mob roaring in his ears. He couldn't wait to phone Florence, to hear her happy congratulations over not losing his temper; he was going to retire after a good clean fight.

The Bum #5 panel 5

The gravel was still harsh against his palms, but strangely his throat and chest no longer hurt. Then his hands clawed at the alleyway, one last time. A dull voice in the crowd spoke, but he didn't hear the words:

"Cripes, what a tough break. And over such a little bit of dough, too. He woulda made a hundred times that much fightin' Mike Travis tomorrow night.

"He musta lost his temper to get shot up like that. He never could keep his temper."

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Neural Network Novellas series cover
The Bum #5 episode cover
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Neural Network Novellas

AI generated art using text prompts are a new, controversial means of creating visual art. The cowboy and the shepherd have working dogs to assist them. The spaceman relies on his blaster and android assistant to complete his mission. The writer can now use an AI artist to create art for his written creations. Join us as we explore this new creative process by taking classic prose stories, feeding them to our supportive silicon sketcher, and share the results with you.
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