No sex, but lots of action...
CJ Chapter 35 Karate and Danger
Chris woke up sore on Friday morning. He carefully got out of the bed so he wouldn't wake Mike up, as he knew his buddy needed his rest. Chris drained the main vein and decided to go for a morning run to loosen up his sore muscles. He got banged up in the football game, but knew that his bruises and sore muscles would recover faster if he exercised. He found Leif and Isaac and asked them to take care of Mike while he was running.
During the celebration after the Oregon football game, everyone heard that the Phi Tau's were all out on bail, awaiting completion of the State Police investigation before formal charges were filed. Chris knew that he needed a buddy to run with him and was pleased that both Delano and Jarvis were ready to go. All three guys were sore and needed to loosen up their muscles, and did some stretching exercises before they left the fraternity. They ran together and talked about the Oregon football game and the way the CSU campus had welcomed them home. They ended their run at the Jacobs Dorm where they could shower, relax in the hot tub, and then get dressed to return to the fraternity.
When the three athletes returned to the fraternity, the Delta Delta Delta members who wanted to harass them immediately confronted them. All three pledges got whacked by the members before they were able to find their Big Brothers and complain about their treatment.
Mike just laughed at Chris and asked him if he expected to be treated as a pledge or a prince. Chris finally relaxed and accepted that the members wanted things to return to normal. They had quizzed him and his pledge buddies on fraternity history, details of their Big Brother's interview, and anything else that they can think of to legitimize the application of a paddle to the butt of the pledge.
"When I get back from Las Vegas, I'll get even!" Chris threatened Mike. "My pledge buddies and I aren't gonna let our asses be used for batting practice without getting payback!"
Mike laughed and said the members wouldn't have it any other way. Whacking pledges and getting zapped in return was part of fraternity life, and gave everyone a relief from the tension of college classes.
Chris and Mike had breakfast before Saul would pick them up for the trip to the airport. It was great that college classes had been suspended for the day, allowing Chris and Mike to leave for Las Vegas without missing any lectures. Saul and Helen arrived at the fraternity and listened to Chris complaining about how he and his pledge buddies were whacked by the members. Saul had warned Helen that Chris was getting closer to initiation as a member, and that the current brothers would be tormenting all of the pledges.
Mike was very happy that he was included in the trip to Las Vegas, as he wanted to be with Chris and watch his Karate competition. He knew that he would need help to get around and that Chris would take care of him. It was a nice feeling for Mike, as he knew that Chris wanted him to share every part of his life.
As soon as they arrived in Las Vegas, a limousine was waiting to take them directly to Caesar's Palace, where the Karate competition would be held in front of a national television audience. Chris was happy to see Uncle Steve and Aunt Karen waiting for them at the luxury hotel. Uncle Steve wanted Chris to see the competition ring and then exercise with him before supper. Chris took Mike to their room and grabbed his Gi and Karate gear before meeting Uncle Steve for the practice.
When the practice was finished, Chris went back to the suite that he would share with Mike. The two guys marveled at the beauty of the suite and noted that it was big enough to house at least four couples.
"B wants us to meet him for supper," Chris said to Mike. "What do you want to do until then?"
"I'd really like to blow you," Mike admitted, "But I sure don't want to drain your energy. How about you load me in my wheelchair and give me a tour of the hotel and casino?"
Chris liked that idea, as he didn't want anything to drain his energy. Uncle Steve knew that Chris and Mike were gay lovers, and had suggested that Chris abstain from any exercise that would tire him out before the competition the next day. The Karate matches would begin at 4:00 p.m. and would conclude by 7:00 p.m. CBS Sports would be broadcasting the opening ceremonies and the first round of competition, but they would break away for other telecasts and return to broadcast the final competition live across the country, with feeds going around the world.
Several people recognized CJ Hammer for his status as a gold medal winner in the Olympics, his success as a CSU Falcon football player, and his status as the United States Karate Champion. He pushed Mike's wheelchair around the hotel and casino and paused frequently when asked for his autograph. Mike enjoyed watching his big buddy talk to boys and girls, or men and women, as he graciously gave his autograph and shared friendly conversation with the requestors. Many famous people would avoid fans or would refuse to give out any autographs. Whenever a young person asked for his autograph, Chris asked them if they were a California State University fan. Of course, the kids said yes, and Chris told all of them that they should go to college at CSU. The parents of the children were impressed with how polite Chris was to their children, and thanked him for being so friendly.
When Mike and Chris got into the casino, the manager, David Powell, asked to accompany them on a tour along with security guards. Chris and Mike enjoyed the tour that included several areas that were off limits to normal tourists. Two photographers followed the group around and took pictures of Chris and Mike with several fans. Normally, cameras weren't allowed in a casino, so each photo was taken only after the subjects agreed to being photographed.
"I'd like you to be my guests for supper tonight," David Powell offered. "Our hotel is getting a lot of media attention from the Karate competition, and we'd like to post some of the pictures of you on our closed circuit system around the hotel and casino."
"I appreciate your offer," Chris said with his thick Texas accent, "But I can't accept any special treatment. I don't want anything to affect my amateur status, but you can use any photos you want to. Uncle Sam Gardner is my personal lawyer, and he always tells me to refuse any gifts or special considerations, but I'll sign a release letting you use any photos as long as the release states that I wasn't compensated in any way."
"I understand completely," David Powell said. "I do have one favor to ask. Could you autograph one of the pictures for my 13-year-old son? Marty will be at the Karate competition, and he's one of your biggest fans. When he heard that you'd be staying here, he begged me to get your autograph."
"How about we do this differently," Chris suggested. "My dad has one of your banquet rooms reserved for supper tomorrow tonight, and I'd like you and Marty to join us for the meal. If your wife is available or other family members, they're invited too."
"My wife and daughter would love to meet you!" David Powell said. "You just turned the tables on me! I'll make sure that the hotel staff takes good care of your party!"
Chris and Mike returned to their suite and knew that they had to get cleaned up for supper with Saul and Helen. Chris was happy to help Mike get cleaned up in the spacious bathroom. He was very careful as he wrapped the towels around Mike's casts and covered them with plastic bags that they had brought from California. He gently cleaned his buddy and then took a shower himself, while Mike dried himself off.
Mike was getting a lot better on taking care of himself, and wished that the large casts were gone so he could walk with crutches and move around without using a wheelchair. He loved the attention of Chris and knew that their love was strong and pure.
Once the two guys were dressed, it was time to meet Saul and Helen for supper. Chris pushed the wheelchair of his buddy to the Apollo Room where Saul had said they would have a quiet supper together. Chris wasn't prepared for what awaited him when he opened the door to push Mike into the beautiful banquet hall. The loud cheers shocked Chris as he looked at a multitude of family and friends waiting for him. One particular face caused Chris to break down and cry in joy.
"Father Joe!" Chris screamed as he saw the happy face of the priest from the St. Mary's Orphanage where he had spent most of his life. He left Mike and ran to grab the priest and hug him, with tears flowing down his face. "I can't believe that you're here!"
"Your father brought me here along with two nuns, two boys and two girls from St. Mary's," Fr. Joe said as he returned the hug to the huge athlete. "Everyone at St. Mary's recognizes you as a sign of hope for all unwanted children. The nuns and children that are here were all selected by a vote of the children. I want you to meet them, and I hope you won't pollute them with language that you used to use!"
Chris laughed and dried his tears of joy. The large hall was filled with family and friends, but right now he was focused on Fr. Joe as he returned to get Mike and introduce him to the fantastic priest. Mike and Chris met the two nuns and four children that had been flown from Dallas to Las Vegas to watch Chris during the Karate competition. The four children ranged in age from 6 to 12, and were afraid at first to even shake Chris's huge hand. Chris picked up the smallest child, Julie Smith, and asked Mike if he could take a rider as they greeted the huge group in the banquet room. Mike was pleased that he was included in the celebration, and took the tiny girl on his lap in his wheelchair.
"I'll carry this one," Chris said as he looked at a black boy of about 12 years old. "What's your name, dude?"
The small black boy was tongue-tied, and couldn't even say his own name. He just held up his arms and let Chris pick him up and wrapped his legs and arms around the muscular body.
"That's Nathaniel Jerome that you're holding," Fr. Joe said. "Nathaniel doesn't talk, but he's a great kid. He's been drawing pictures of you and making banners to support the CSU Falcons ever since he came to us. He's an excellent artist."
Chris remembered other boys who came to the orphanage that had refused to talk to anyone. His heart went out to the boy who was shaking as he held him. He looked into the dark eyes of the child and saw a mixture of fear and happiness. Chris smiled at the boy and said that he wanted to introduce him to some people in the banquet room.
Saul had joined the discussion and gave his son a hug and kiss on the cheek.
"This is the man who adopted me when I was living at the St. Mary's Orphanage," Chris said to Nathaniel. "He's the best dad in the world, and I really love him!"
The little black boy was still in Chris's arms as he reached over and gave Saul a hug. He quickly returned to the big athlete who was holding him, as Chris started around the big room.
Fr. Joe picked up a little boy named Carlos Chavez to follow Chris around the room. Saul asked if he could carry the small Hispanic boy and was pleased when Carlos clung to him and kissed him on the cheek. Fr. Joe then picked up the girl named Carrie Mathers and joined the group as they walked around the room to greet all of the special people in Chris's life.
Jonathan Carpenter hugged his son and gave Nathaniel a lot of attention as Chris introduced him as his biological father. Nathaniel reached out and hugged Jonathan and then broke away from Chris to be carried by the blonde man that looked just like his hero. Jonathan Carpenter was shocked that the small boy would leave Chris to be carried by him. He held the cute little boy and introduced him to his wife and children, as Chris hugged and kissed his mother, brothers, and sister.
"I can't believe that you're all here!" Chris said as he hugged Carol Carpenter and his siblings. When he saw Grandma and Grandpa Carpenter, he broke down in tears. He had only seen them once when he first met his biological father, and he knew they were old and didn't like to travel.
"Victor and I wanted to be here," Grandma Carpenter said. "Saul convinced us to get out of Boston to see how the rest of the world lives! We've watched all of your football games, and this is the first time we'll get to see you compete live. I think your Grandpa wants to visit the casinos, but I'll make sure he doesn't have any credit cards when he starts to gamble!"
Chris laughed as he hugged his Grandma and Grandpa. It was fantastic for him to see his grandparents again, and he marveled at the sparkling green eyes of his grandmother. Saul had pulled off another fantastic surprise for Chris by getting his Boston family to travel to Las Vegas.
Chris moved around the large room and was shocked that so many people had come to Las Vegas to see him compete in the Karate tournament. Uncle Steve and Aunt Karen both hugged him and moved around the room to meet Chris's friends. Nathaniel gave Saul a hug and kiss and made it obvious that he wanted to be carried around the room by Chris. Chris quickly swooped up the little dude and went around the room to greet other people.
"I don't believe this!" Chris said as he saw the happy faces of Henry and Shannon Jones and their daughter, Latisha. "Uncle Henry! How did you get here?"
"Your dad invited us," Henry Jones said. He was the police officer who went after Chris after he had ran away from the St. Mary's Orphanage a long time ago. In a fierce gunfight, Chris had killed bank robbers who had wounded Henry Jones and were going to kill him and Chris. Latisha was the girl who taught Chris how to dance, and she was obviously a mature woman now.
Latisha hugged Chris and told him that her husband was taking care of their two children so she could travel to Las Vegas. She was thrilled that she was hugging the huge athlete that had saved her father's life many years ago, and wanted to meet the rest of Chris's family.
"This girl can shake her booty!" Chris said to Nathaniel. "When I was 12, I couldn't dance without falling all over myself. Latisha taught me how to dance, and maybe she'll teach you too!"
Nathaniel was in heaven as he was held by the man that he considered a saint or a hero. He loved being held by Chris as they traveled around the room to meet Chris's grandparents from Wisconsin and a multitude of Chris's friends from California.
"I gotta pee," Nathaniel said to Chris.
Fr. Joe was shocked that Nathaniel had spoken the first words since arriving at the orphanage over six months ago. He choked back his tears of joy as he watched Chris carry the small black boy to the men's room before setting him down. Chris waited outside the men's room until Nathaniel finished his business and jumped back into his arms.
"I don't know if you look better, but you must feel better," Chris teased as he hugged the cute boy.
"Thanks, Chris," Nathaniel said. "Can I call you Chris?"
"All my family and friends call me Chris," Chris replied. "When Fr. Joe was mad at me, he called me, Christopher! I'd rather have people call me CJ or Chris."
"I'm hungry," Nathaniel admitted.
"Let's get some food," Chris said as he carried the small treasure back into the banquet room. He was filled with emotion as he realized that Nathaniel was talking to him in direct contrast to what Fr. Joe had said about him not talking.
The group all found seats, with Mike sitting on one side of Chris and Nathaniel on the other. Mike spent a lot of his time giving Julie Smith special attention as he cut up her food and helped her eat.
Fr. Joe watched the two men give the orphan children their undivided attention, and wished and prayed that other adults would find room in their hearts for abandoned children. Hearing Nathaniel's voice for the first time was a miracle, and he prayed that the boy would now continue talking when they returned to Dallas.
The banquet room was filled with the sounds of people enjoying the great food and the chance to visit with their family and friends. Saul and Helen whispered together that this was a great way for Chris to see how much he was loved.
Chris was a great host as he tended to Nathaniel until the boy was stuffed with food. He then picked the cute boy up and carried him around as he talked to his family and friends.
"Who's taking care of Alex?" Chris asked Sam, Kate, and Jason Gardner. He was happy to hear that Robbie was in charge of his huge dog, knowing that Robbie was probably riding Alex around in the yard when he wasn't swimming with him.
Chris carried Nathaniel up to where Saul and Helen were finishing their dessert, and asked, "How did you pull this off without me knowing about it?"
"You used to hide behind a door and jump out and scare me," Saul replied. "This is my way of paying you back for giving me gray hair! I figured out that no one would be cheering for you tomorrow unless I bribed some people by paying for their airline tickets and rooms. I'm still not sure that they'll cheer for you, but maybe Helen and I will."
"You're such a jerk!" Chris said as he hugged and kissed his father on the cheek. Nathaniel gave Saul a hug and kiss too, knowing that the man was teasing his hero.
"I think that we all need to go to our rooms and get some rest," Fr. Joe said. "We all want Chris to be well rested for his competition tomorrow, and I know this has been a very emotional time for everyone."
Chris knew that Mike had to be tired from the flight and from meeting so many people. He wanted to get his buddy back to their suite so they could relax and get some quality sleep.
"I'll meet you in the lobby at 8:00 a.m. for a morning run and exercise," Stephen Segall said as he hugged Chris. "Tomorrow is your day to prove to the world how talented you are."
Chris gave out hugs to all of his family and friends and pushed Mike back to their suite. He loved seeing his family and friends, but wanted to spend some special time with Mike.
"I can't believe how loveable Julie is!" Mike said as Chris helped him undress and get on the king-sized bed. "Just because she's part black and part white is no reason for society to exclude her. I feel guilty for having a family that loves me and has always taken care of me."
"The orphanages in this country are filled with kids like Julie, Nathaniel, Carlos and Carrie," Chris said. "Many of the kids have been abused or have physical or emotional problems. People like Fr. Joe are trying to give them hope for a future where they can find love and be trained for a vocation or qualified for college. Fr. Joe is a Saint as far as I'm concerned."
Mike was seeing another side of his lover as he listened to Chris open up and share his innermost feelings. He snuggled next to Chris and realized that he was holding a very special person who had deep feelings toward other people.
The next morning, Chris woke up and looked at the handsome face of his lover.
"How long have you been awake?" Chris asked Mike.
"About 10 minutes," Mike replied softly. "I've been watching you sleep and staring at your handsome face. I still can't believe that we're together. I love you so much that it's impossible for me to put my love into words."
"I love you the same way," Chris admitted. "I know that God meant for you and me to be together and live our lives as life partners. I want to wake up with you next to me for the rest of my life."
"I prayed for you and us last night," Mike admitted. "I hope that you'll win the Karate competition, but even if you don't, I want us to stay as lovers and be with loving people like the ones that were with us last night."
"We need to get up so I can be ready for training with Uncle Steve," Chris said. "Fr. Joe and the kids want to be with you while I'm training. Uncle Steve wants me to focus on the competition until it's over, so I probably won't see you until tonight. B has a banquet room reserved and I hope we'll be celebrating."
"I'll miss you, but I know you need to focus," Mike replied. "Just remember that I'm always with you."
When Chris and Mike got to the lobby, Fr. Joe, the two nuns, and the four children were waiting, along with Uncle Steve and Aunt Karen. Sr. Katherine and Sr. Angelina were very pleasant nuns to be around. They both gave the children a lot of loving attention and it was obvious to Chris and Mike that Fr. Joe had found two excellent nuns to take care of the children at the orphanage.
Chris and Uncle Steve left the group and headed for the arena where the competition would be held. They were pleased that no other competitors were in the facility so they could walk the ring and meditate together. Unlike a boxing ring, a Karate ring has no ropes. A point is scored if the opponent is knocked to the mat or is forced outside a yellow line that forms a 25-foot circle on the mat. Three points win a match. A referee is inside the circle with the competitors, while four linesmen have the responsibility for calling any line violation that the referee might not see.
Chris and Uncle Steve left the arena and headed for the exercise gym in the hotel where other coaches and competitors were practicing. They nodded to the other competitors to show respect and then went through their stretching exercises and then used some of the exercise equipment.
Everyone in the room noticed Shori Tagucci and his father, Mitsu Tagucci, enter the exercise room. Mitsu Tagucci was the coach for his son, who had won the Japan Championship, and was considered the favorite to win the World Championship. Mitsu had been defeated several times by Yoshi Yamamoto, and had never won a World Championship. He hated Yoshi, and hoped that his big son would take the World Championship trophy back to the Tagucci Dojo in Hiroshima for the first time. Chris looked at Shori and saw that he was about 6 foot 5 inches tall and looked to weigh about 240 to 250 pounds. It was unusual to see a Japanese competitor who was that large, and Chris remembered watching Shori destroy his opponents with his size and strength in videos Uncle Steve had sent him.
"Let's go," Uncle Steve said to Chris. "We'll see these guys later today."
Mitsu and Shori both sneered at Chris and Steve and turned their backs to them as they left the exercise room. It was their way of refusing to show any respect to Chris and Steve, and was viewed as an insult by everyone.
The rest of the morning and afternoon was spent discussing strategy and meditating. At 2:00 p.m., the World Karate Federation released the pairings for the first round of competition. Chris was top seeded in the Top Bracket and Shori held the same seeding in the Bottom Bracket. If the two competitors were successful in the single elimination matches, they would meet in the championship match.
In another room in the luxury hotel, Mitsu Tagucci celebrated when he saw the listing of athletes who would be competing for the World Championship. "This is wonderful!" Mitsu said in Japanese to his son. "The stupid Americans have made a mistake on their registration! CJ Hammer is listed from the Yamamoto Dojo correctly, but instead of showing Stephen Segall as his Sensei, they listed Yoshi Yamamoto! The big American will be disqualified! You and I both know that Yoshi hasn't left Japan in over 20 years! He won't be here, and Segall can't change the registration! Now we are certain to win the championship!" He and his son celebrated, knowing that every detail of Karate competition was carefully followed, and any irregularity would result in disqualification of that competitor.
Chris and Uncle Steve looked at the pairings and Chris asked for advice on how to compete in his first match as they walked toward the hotel rooms.
"I'm not going to give you advice," Uncle Steve said to Chris.
"Uncle Steve, you're my Sensei!" Chris blurted out. "You have to help me prepare!"
Chris and Uncle Steve were walking down the hallway of the hotel, with Chris shocked that his Sensei was abandoning him when he needed him the most.
Uncle Steve stopped in front of a door and knocked, before he said, "I think someone else might give you better advice than me."
Chris was very upset that Uncle Steve was dumping him, and was about to beg his Sensei to help him when the door opened. He saw two large Japanese men standing in the room that looked like they were Sumo wrestlers. Standing behind them was a man that Chris never expected to see in the United States.
"YOSHI!!" Chris screamed. He wanted to run and hug his Japanese Sensei, but quickly remembered that he had to show respect by bowing to his ultimate teacher. Tears of joy were flowing down his face as he remembered that Yoshi Yamamoto hadn't left Japan in over 20 years, even when his students were competing for the World Championship across the world.
"Golden One," Yoshi said in Japanese as he returned the bow of respect. "I ask your permission to replace Stephen as your coach today." He opened his arms to accept the hug that he knew Chris wanted to give him.
Chris sobbed as he hugged the man who had been training him in Japan for many years. He began talking in Japanese so fast that Yoshi finally pushed him away and motioned for him to be silent.
"Stephen asked me to come to the United States to see you compete," Yoshi said in Japanese. "I hope you are not upset that Stephen asked me to be your Sensei today."
Chris was so excited that his conversation was a mixture of Japanese and English as he finally convinced Yoshi that he was honored to have him as his Sensei for the competition.
"I hope that you will focus better during the competition than you are right now," Yoshi admonished in Japanese. "We must meditate together so you can clear your mind and focus your energy for the competition."
Chris bowed respectfully, and knew that he had been so excited by seeing Yoshi that he had momentarily lost his focus.
"I apologize, Sensei," Chris said in Japanese. "I have shown you disrespect."
"I accept your apology, Golden One," Yoshi replied in Japanese. "You show your youth with your excitement, but today you must be focussed. Come and meditate with me while Stephen leaves to take care of some last minute business."
Chris and Yoshi knelt on the floor and remained silent as they meditated to clear their minds in preparation for the competition. The two large bodyguards remained in the room, but made sure that they didn't move or talk during the meditation.
Meanwhile, Uncle Steve had located the CBS Sports crew that was adjusting equipment for the televised competition. The crew quickly recognized Stephen Segall and allowed him to see the announcers, Robert Morris, Daniel Ray and Takeo Kubota. Stephen and Takeo greeted each other as friends, as they had met before at Karate competitions.
"My friend," Stephen said in Japanese as he bowed to Takeo, "It is a pleasure to see you again."
"Stephen, it is my pleasure to see you again," Takeo replied in Japanese. "It is impolite for us to speak in Japanese when others are around who cannot understand us."
Uncle Steve agreed and introduced himself to the two broadcasters. He complimented them for having Takeo providing expert commentary, knowing that Takeo Kubota was one of the World Champions who had been trained by Yoshi Yamamoto.
"I have a surprise to share with you," Uncle Steve said. "If you'll look closely at the registration for CJ Hammer, you should see my surprise."
Takeo looked at the registration information and quickly recognized that there was an error identifying CJ's Sensei as Yoshi Yamamoto. "This is terrible!" Takeo said. His two broadcasting companions begged for an explanation, as they saw nothing wrong with the information. "Yoshi hasn't left Japan in over 20 years!" Takeo explained. "The registration should have listed Stephen Segall as Hammer's Sensei. CJ will be disqualified!"
The two announcers were devastated. Their directors were hoping that CJ Hammer would do well in the competition, and everyone knew that the U. S. audience would turn to another channel if CJ Hammer were disqualified.
"Relax, my friend," Stephen said calmly. "You and I both know Yoshi's aversion to air travel, as he wasn't present for either of us when we competed and won our World Championships. Things have changed, and that's why I'm here. Yoshi Yamamoto is here in the hotel, and he'll be with Chris for the competition as Chris's Sensei. No one else knows that, as he is staying in a room that I reserved in my name. Yoshi is very fond of Chris and calls him 'Golden One'. He knows the terrible things that have happened to Chris and gave him special treatment and training. He also knows that Mitsu and Shori Tagucci are here, and that Shori is the favorite to win the championship. I came here to see my friend, Takeo, so he could brush up on some history of Yoshi's distinguished career and be ready to give him a proper introduction."
Takeo was very happy to explain to the other two broadcasters that Yoshi Yamamoto was a ten-time world champion, and was undefeated in his Karate career. Yoshi ran the most exclusive Dojo in the world, and only trained the best competitors. He also explained that Yoshi had defeated Mitsu several times, and that Mitsu had only hatred for Yoshi. The two commentators quickly realized that this information would make their telecast even more exclusive, and asked if they could inform their producers so that news bulletins could be broadcasted to increase the size of the audience.
"You have honored me with this information," Takeo said to Stephen. "I look forward to greeting my Sensei after the competition. I will not dishonor him by interrupting his time with CJ Hammer, but I'm excited about seeing Yoshi again."
"I think that you should share your knowledge with the announcers for the crowd here at the hotel," Stephen suggested. "I think everyone here should know how important Yoshi is to the art of Karate."
Takeo agreed, and promised to give information to the ring announcers so they could introduce Yoshi to the live audience in a manner consistent with his stellar record.
When the time arrived for the opening ceremonies, the arena seats were filled, with the CBS Sports Broadcast hooked into the hotel circuit. Several banquet rooms had been converted to temporary viewing auditoriums for the overflow of fans.
Back on the CSU campus, televisions were tuned into CBS to watch CJ Hammer represent their college and the United States in the World Karate Championship competition. At the Delta Delta Delta Fraternity, it was still morning, but the guys were all fighting for position in the Lounge and Living Room to get the best view of the large television screens.
As the opening ceremonies began, each Sensei entered the arena with his student following behind and holding the flag of his nation. The order of introduction was alphabetical, with the United States being one of the last countries announced. When it was time for Yoshi and Chris to enter the arena, Takeo was doing the commentary, and made sure that a camera was focused on the faces of Mitsu and Shori Tagucci.
"Now entering the arena is the ten-time World Champion, Yoshi Yamamoto!" Takeo began. "Yoshi is my Sensei, and he was undefeated in the many years of his Karate competition. With him is his student, CJ Hammer, the United States Champion. It's an unexpected surprise for us to see a man who has trained more world champions than any other Sensei in the world. My Sensei speaks no English, but he calls CJ Hammer, the Golden One, obviously recognizing the color of Hammer's hair. Yamamoto San hasn't left Japan in over 20 years, even when students like me and Stephen Segall competed for the World Championship. It's obvious by the looks on the faces of Mitsu and Shori Tagucci that they aren't pleased to see Yoshi here today. Mitsu was defeated several times by Yoshi, and has never hidden the fact that he doesn't like Yoshi."
Caesar's Palace erupted with loud cheers when CJ Hammer carried the U.S. flag into the arena. Each year the competition was held in a different country, and the partisan crowd went wild in support of their National Champion.
Back at the Tri-Delt fraternity, the members and pledges were screaming their pleasure at seeing their pledge wearing his pledge pin on the front of his Gi, as he held the U.S. flag and walked into the arena. They knew that Saul Bernstein had flown several members and pledges to watch Chris compete live and wished that they all were there to cheer for their buddy.
Saul and Helen were both proud as Chris entered the arena. They were sitting with a large group of family and friends, and knew that Chris was the favorite of the partisan crowd. Stephen Segall had joined them in the stands and explained the significance of having Yoshi Yamamoto arriving from Japan to Coach Chris during the competition.
"I see that the officials have told CJ Hammer that he has to remove something from his Gi," Daniel Ray said. "From what we've learned, CJ had to remove a pin that signifies his pledgeship to the Delta Delta Delta Fraternity on the California State University campus. CJ is a star athlete on the CSU Falcon football team, and is also scheduled to join the basketball team this year. I'm sure that his fraternity buddies are happy that their pledge wore that pin, but jewelry is strictly forbidden during competition."
The Tri-Delts screamed their appreciation that the world was hearing that CJ Hammer was a pledge at their fraternity. It was fantastic publicity for the National Fraternity and the CSU Falcons, and they loved the fact that Chris had worn his pledge pin to draw attention to their fraternity and show his devotion to the world.
During the first round of competition, the favorites won easily. Each time the match ended, the competitors and their Sensei's bowed to their opponents in a gesture of respect. 32 competitors finished the first round, and the 16 winners were then paired for the second round.
"CJ Hammer won his first match easily," Robert Morris said. "I noticed that the referee has three colored flags in the belt around his waist. Takeo, can you explain the significance of those flags?"
"You've already seen how the referee uses the white flag," Takeo responded. "Each time a point is awarded, the referee will wave the white flag to the Sensei of the student to show that his protégé has been successful. In Karate, there are certain aggressive blows that aren't allowed. Those blows could severely injure an opponent or even kill him. Karate is a very honorable sport, and the competitors are expected to show respect to the code of honor and to respect their opponents. If the referee sees any aggressive blow to the groin, throat, or nose of a competitor, he will display the red flag to the Sensei, signifying that a point is awarded to the competitor that has been hit by the forbidden blow. I've never seen the black flag used in Karate competition. It's the most serious flag to be used, and signifies that the competitor has been disqualified for his behavior in the circle of honor. No Sensei or competitor can live with the dishonor of being 'black flagged' during competition. It's the strongest message that the competitor has dishonored the art of Karate, and could end the career of the competitor."
"I don't think we need to explain the effect of a blow to the groin of a man," Robert Morris said, "But can you describe why blows to the nose and throat of a man can cause serious injury or death?"
"A blow to the nose of a competitor can drive his nose into his brain and cause immediate death," Takeo explained. A blow to the throat can collapse the windpipe, and the injured person will suffocate before anyone can help him. Every student learns the danger of those blows, and also learns that they are deadly. There are times when men trained in Karate have used those blows to save their own lives or the lives of their friends. A true Karate student matches his moves and blows to the danger that he faces. If he is attacked by a person with a weapon like a knife or gun, the student is not dishonored by killing his adversary."
"I'll be more careful who I mug in a dark alley after hearing that," Daniel Ray joked.
Back at the Tri-Delt Fraternity, Joe McClure reminded the members and pledges how Chris had saved his life when members of the Phi Tau Alpha Fraternity attacked them. He told the guys that Chris had broken bones and severely injured the Phi Tau's, but never killed any of them, even when Larry Carmody had attacked Chris with a knife. No one at the fraternity ever wanted to fight with Chris under any circumstances, but knowing that he had the ability to kill someone with a single blow shocked everyone.
"I'm not the only guy that punched Chris in anger," Joe admitted. "He could have killed me, but he didn't even fight back. I know that Mike punched him too, and look what Chris did with Cody to save Mike's life!"
Back in Las Vegas, the second round of the competition began. Instead of breaking away to broadcast a football game, the CBS directors had decided to broadcast the entire Karate competition. All of the focus was on the two top seeded competitors: CJ Hammer and Shori Tagucci. Chris won his second match by a score of 3-0, and Shori got the first red flag of the competition, but still won his match by a score of 3-1.
Each time Chris won a match, he sat quietly next to Yoshi Yamamoto and listened to the advice of his ultimate Sensei. Yoshi had instructed Chris before each match and told him what moves and blows to use. Chris was surprised that Yoshi instructed him to refrain from using several advanced tactics that would score the required three points easier. He followed the advice of his Sensei, knowing that the special tactics would be used when Yoshi felt they were needed.
During the intermission before the third round of competition, Chris looked into the crowd for the first time. He was pleased to see his entire Boston family sitting in the audience and cheering for him. He also saw several of his pledge and member buddies, and knew that his Dad had pulled another surprise on him. He saw Marco sitting with an older guy that he knew must be Tony, Marco's lover, along with Brice Cox, Brian Williams, David Patrick, and Marcus Knight. To Chris, it looked like B had brought the entire world to cheer for him, and his love for his Dad warmed his heart. He was brought back to the present by Yoshi, who demanded in Japanese, that Chris focus on the competition.
Chris won his third match, and was watching Shori get another red flag before winning his own third match. The crowd was going wild when Chris advanced to the 4th round. After winning that semi-final match by a score of 3-0, he was headed for the finals of the World Karate Federation Championship.
The Tri-Delts screamed their joy at seeing their buddy head for the finals of the competition. The CBS broadcasters stated that CJ Hammer was the first American to advance to the final competition for the World Championship of the World Karate Federation in many years. The Tri-Delts watched and booed as Shori Tagucci was red flagged again, but won his match by a score of 3-1. They all wanted Chris to kick Shori's ass, and bring the World Championship trophy back to the CSU campus.
After a break, the final competition began with CJ Hammer facing Shori Tagucci for the World Championship. Yoshi had told Chris that Shori had already displayed the moves and blows that he would use, and it was time for Chris to use the special training that he had received. Chris now realized the value of having a World Champion as his Sensei. Yoshi also warned Chris that Shori might use a forbidden blow that would result in a red flag, but would injure Chris to the point where he was vulnerable. Yoshi knew the tactics of Mitsu Tagucci, and also knew that he would use any means possible to have his son defeat Chris and have the first opportunity to claim domination over his long-time adversary.
"Golden One," Yoshi said to Chris in Japanese, "It is now time for you to show the world what you can do. I am honored to be your Sensei, and I know that you will bring our Dojo honor when you win this match. Focus your mind, and show the world what you can do."
"I'm honored to represent your Dojo," Chris said in Japanese. "I know the history between you and Mitsu Tagucci, and I am honored to be your student. I will do my best to honor our Dojo."
"Everything comes down to this last match," Robert Morris said to the television audience. "It's CJ Hammer representing the United States against Shori Tagucci representing Japan for the crown as the Champion of the World Karate Federation! We know that fans across the United States are rooting for CJ, but no U. S. champion has won this competition since Stephen Segall won it years ago."
"My Sensei wouldn't leave Japan unless it was extremely important," Takeo added. "CJ Hammer has only used typical Karate moves and blows to win his matches so far, and I know that Yoshi Yamamoto and CJ Hammer have some surprises for the Tagucci men. This competition is the culmination of all of my dreams when I was a competitor, as I will witness the student of Yoshi Yamamoto compete against the son of Mitsu Tagucci."
"Let's go back down to the arena where the two competitors are ready for the finals of this fantastic competition, Robert Morris stated. "It's obvious that this is more than CJ Hammer against Shori Tagucci, it's Yoshi Yamamoto against Mitsu Tagucci!"
The cheering at the Tri-Delt Fraternity could have drowned the noise of the partisan crowd out. The beer was now flowing freely, as the guys all prayed that Chris would win his match and be crowned as the World Champion.
Yoshi gave Chris his last instructions, and hugged his favorite student before the competition began. It was an unusual physical exchange between a Sensei and his student, but Yoshi knew how special Chris was and wanted to show his support with the gesture of love and appreciation that his student loved.
Chris bowed respectfully to Shori, but didn't receive the customary bow in return. It was obvious to Chris that Shori was in a foul mood, and that the competition was going to be intense.
When the referee lowered his hand to announce the beginning of the first round of the competition, Chris quickly moved on the offense and dropped Shori to the mat with a stunning move and blow. Shori was shocked, and quickly jumped up and tried to continue the match. The referee got between the competitors and waved the white flag to Yoshi Yamamoto, signifying the first point in the match.
The Tri-Delt Fraternity went wild as they listened to Takeo Kubota describe the move and blow as one he had never seen before. They knew that their buddy was talented, but hearing a former champion give him praise, intensified their celebration.
During the brief pause between rounds of the match, it was obvious to everyone in the stands and watching the broadcast that Mitsu Tagucci was very upset with his son. In contrast, Yoshi Yamamoto was very calm as he locked eyes with his Golden One.
When the second round began, Shori launched a series of blows toward the forbidden areas of Chris's body. Chris was ready for the moves and quickly avoided them and kicked Shori completely out of the ring and into the audience that had ringside seats. The crowd went wild; cheering for the American that was on the verge of winning the World Championship.
Back at the fraternity, there was no way to describe how the guys and their female friends were cheering for Chris. The entire CSU campus was watching the CBS broadcast, and cheering for their football star as he brought fame to their college.
Chris was standing at the edge of the arena and listening intently to Yoshi. He was trying to focus his entire body to listen to his Sensei, and never dreamed that he was in any danger.
Shori Tagucci knew that he was going to lose the championship to this American asshole, and refused to be humiliated in front of a television audience. He left his father and Sensei and quickly grabbed a metal folding chair and attacked his adversary. The blow across the back of Chris's calves was brutal and dropped Chris to the mat in front of his Sensei. The referee and other officials quickly grabbed Shori and restrained him as Yoshi tried to hold up his huge student.
"I'm needed now!" Stephen Segall said as he jumped from the audience and ran out onto the arena floor. He quickly helped Yoshi tend to Chris. They both knew that the blow to the back of Chris's legs would cripple him for several days, and that the match was over.
Chris was moaning in pain, but tried to focus his energy to stand up. His legs were like jelly, as the blow from the metal chair had hit the back of both of his legs and he felt like his legs were cut off.
Yoshi and Stephen quickly started applying pressure to places on Chris's feet and lower back. They both knew that pressure to certain parts of a man's body could reduce pain, but also knew that a severe impact to the back of the calves of a man's legs would cripple him for several days.
Mike had to be restrained by Nathan Pease and Brian Williams from trying to get out of his wheelchair to kill Shori Tagucci. The two men wanted to kill Shori themselves, but knew that Mike could really hurt himself by trying to get out of the wheelchair and kick Shori's ass. The only thing that calmed Mike down was the combination of attention from his parents and Julie Smith. Just holding the little girl and listening to her try to calm him down worked. Mike had tears flowing down his face as he watched his buddy writhing in pain from the assault.
Yoshi and Stephen continued applying pressure to the special spots on Chris's body to relieve his pain. They were both surprised when Chris asked Uncle Steve to bring his brother, Charlie to him.
"Charlie can help me!" Chris pleaded with Uncle Steve.
Jonathan Carpenter had been in the stands with his wife and children, and was shocked that Chris had been attacked. He had all he could do to restrain his daughter, Jennifer, from running onto the floor to defend her brother.
The Tri-Delt members and pledges were shocked as the television coverage clearly showed the unwarranted attack from Shori Tagucci. The fraternity members and pledges went wild as they cursed Shori Tagucci and the way he had attacked their buddy.
The CBS Sports broadcast broke away for a commercial, as the treatment of CJ Hammer continued in the arena of Caesar's Palace.
Stephen Segall ran to the audience and asked Charles Carpenter to help him and Yoshi treat Chris's injuries. Charlie immediately followed the famous Hollywood star to help his brother, and grabbed Chris's hand. The reaction was almost immediate, as Chris felt strength flowing into his body from his brother.
Yoshi Yamamoto had heard from Stephen Segall about the special bond between Chris and his biological brother, but had never seen anything like it in his life. He saw Chris relax from his obvious pain, and also saw that Charlie was getting weaker as Chris got stronger. When the bond was broken between the two brothers, Randy Carpenter was there to hold up his twin brother and help him back into the stands.
"I'm sore, but I'm okay to continue," Chris choked out in Japanese.
"This match is over," Yoshi replied in Japanese. "Shori and Mitsu have dishonored the art of Karate. Shori deserves a black flag, and his Dojo should be shunned. They have brought dishonor to their family and the entire nation of Japan. I am embarrassed for my country for what has been done here today."
"I've never seen anything like this in all my years of Karate training and competition," Takeo Kubota said to the television audience. "A major part of Karate training is to respect our sport and our opponent, but this display of aggression between rounds of international competition appalls me. I've never seen a trained Karate competitor attack his opponent like we have just witnessed. CJ Hammer won't be able to even stand up, let alone continue in this competition."
The referee walked into the center of the Karate ring and was very dramatic as he pulled the black flag from his belt and threw it at Mitsu Tagucci. The television cameras captured the event and the reaction from Mitsu and Shori Tagucci. The referee then went to the announcers table and told them that Shori Tagucci had been disqualified, and that CJ Hammer was the new World Champion.
Chris struggled to his feet, and addressed Yoshi and Uncle Steve in Japanese. "I need to defend my honor, and the honor of my Dojo. I will give Shori the Warrior's Challenge, and I will defeat him and take him out of Karate competition forever. This is my destiny, and I ask you to let me do this."
Yoshi saw the determination in Chris's eyes and knew that his Golden One was putting his future in Karate in jeopardy. He nodded his agreement, knowing the results if Chris lost the match. He also knew that Shori Tagucci had dishonored himself, his father, the Tagucci Dojo, and the nation of Japan.
As the referee walked to the center of the ring, he turned his back on Shori and Mitsu Tagucci, in a gesture of disgrace and dishonor to them. He faced Chris, Yoshi and Stephen and bowed graciously as he announced to the crowd first in English and then in Japanese that CJ Hammer was the winner of the World Championship.
The crowd in the arena stood and gave Chris and his two Sensei's a standing ovation as they cheered and applauded. Back at the Tri-Delt house, the members and pledges were going wild as they celebrated Chris's success.
"CJ Hammer is now the World Champion," Takeo Kubota announced. "Shori Tagucci knew he was going to lose this match and has dishonored himself, his Dojo, and the nation of Japan. I congratulate CJ Hammer on his victory, but I am saddened that my home nation has been disgraced. The Japanese people have been dishonored in the eyes of the world, and I know that they will shun the Tagucci's and their Dojo."
"I see that CJ Hammer is being called to the center of the ring by the referee," Robert Morris announced. "Hammer is shaking his head no and bowing to the referee. What's going on, Takeo?"
The audience watched Chris retrieve the red silk headband that he had worn when he entered the arena and limp to the side of the referee. He said something to the referee and then held onto the ends of the untied headband and lifted it over his head with his arms spread apart. He then crossed his clenched fists at his wrists as he faced Shori Tagucci.
"I don't believe this!" Takeo blurted out. "CJ Hammer has just given the Warrior's Challenge to Shori Tagucci! I've never seen this in competition, but it is a recognized way to challenge Shori Tagucci to the ultimate Karate bout! If Shori accepts the challenge, this will end the career of the loser of the match!"
Robert Morris was confused and asked Takeo to explain everything to the television audience as they watched Shori perform the same motions, signifying that he had accepted the challenge.
"During the Warrior's Challenge," Takeo explained, "All moves and blows are allowed! This could be a fierce fight, as lethal blows are allowed. It is very possible that one of these two competitors will die today! Both fighters will present their headbands to the referee, and only the winner will be allowed to accept it back. Each headband has Japanese writing on it that identifies the competitor and his Dojo."
"What is Yoshi Yamamoto doing?" Robert Morris asked as he watched the famous Sensei walk to the side of CJ.
"This is unbelievable!" Takeo said excitedly. "Yoshi has just made the Dojo Challenge to Mitsu Tagucci! If Mitsu accepts the challenge, this fight will end the existence of one of the two most renowned Dojo's in the world! If CJ Hammer loses this match, he will be banned from any future competition, and Yoshi Yamamoto will never be allowed to train again! The same applies to the Tagucci's. The challenge has been accepted by Mitsu Tagucci, and we're going to see history made today! I know my Sensei, and he is putting his Dojo in jeopardy to restore the honor of the Japanese people after they were disgraced by Shori Tagucci."
The guys at the Tri-Delt fraternity were stunned to silence when they heard that lethal blows would be allowed in the match. They all could see that Chris was injured and knew he would have trouble even standing, let alone moving around the ring to fight.
The announcers at the arena explained to the local crowd the significance of the actions that had just occurred in the ring. They explained that any blow could be used and that the winner would also claim the World Championship, as CJ Hammer had declined to accept the trophy unless he won the next match. They also announced a brief intermission before the fight would begin.
"Why did you make the Dojo Challenge?" Chris asked Yoshi in Japanese.
"The Tagucci's have disgraced not only themselves, but all of the people of Japan," Yoshi replied. "My people are honorable and do not deserve being disgraced in front of the world. I have confidence in you, Golden One. When you win this match, all dishonor will go to the Tagucci's and the honor of Japan will be restored."
Chris ignored everyone in the arena except Yoshi and Stephen as they applied more pressure to his body to give him temporary relief from the severe pain in his legs. He focused his mind to the teachings of Yoshi about mind control over pain.
Mike was very upset when he heard the danger that Chris was facing. He wanted to beg Chris to change his mind, but knew that Chris was very stubborn, and wouldn't listen to him. He pleaded with Saul to intervene.
"You and I both know that Chris has a mind of his own," Saul said to Mike. "Neither of us can convince him to back out of this fight, as he would be disgraced for making the challenge and then withdrawing. We need to pray for him. Yoshi and Stephen are with him, and they know what he can do."
"What's Chris thinking right now?" Charlie asked his twin brother.
"He's thinking only in Japanese," Randy replied. "I can't understand anything, and he just closed his thoughts to me."
"Leave him alone," Jonathan Carpenter said to his son. "He has to focus his mind on the match, and you'll interfere with his concentration. Let's all say a prayer for him."
"Golden One, you know what he will try to do," Yoshi said to Chris. "He will try to disable you and then try to kill you. He will be the aggressor, and you must use that to defeat him. He is very angry, and his anger will be his weakness."
"I'm ready now, teacher," Chris said to Yoshi. "I will fuel his anger and then defeat him."
"I ask that you do not kill him," Yoshi said. "Shori must live to regret the day that he brought dishonor to Japan."
The announcer began by saying, "Ladies and Gentlemen. This match will be one fall with the winner claiming the Championship of the World Karate Federation. I remind those of you with small children that you may wish to leave, as there are no rules against potentially lethal blows."
Mike was shaking with fear as he watched Chris walk toward the Karate ring. The beautiful green eyes of his lover had been transformed into the eyes of a predator, ready to strike down its prey. He had only seen that in Chris's eyes once, and that was when Chris had saved Joe McClure's life in the brutal fight with the Phi Tau's.
Chris stood at one side of the Karate ring and bowed in respect to the referee. The referee returned the bow to Chris and turned to face Shori Tagucci. No bows of respect were exchanged between Shori and the referee.
Stephen Segall returned to his seat with Chris's family and friends and was immediately barraged with questions of concern.
"Chris is a formidable adversary," Stephen said. "His mind control is powerful, and he'll block the pain in his legs. Look at his eyes and you'll see that he's determined to win this match."
"This is it!" Takeo announced. "This will be a match to remember, as there are no rules and the winner takes the championship, while the losers will never be seen again in Karate training or competition."
Chris was limping badly as the referee signaled the beginning of the fight. Shori did as predicted and launched a vicious attack toward Chris. He tried to kick Chris on the legs to compound the injuries, but Chris quickly jumped in the air and avoided the sweeping kick. Shori was shocked that Chris could jump so high after being injured, and changed his tactics to strike a lethal blow to Chris's nose and throat. Chris blocked each strike and countered with a sharp slap to Shori's face.
"He's bitch slapping him!" Nathan blurted out.
"He's attacking Shori's anger to make him lose his focus," Stephen stated. "Being slapped in the face is a way to humiliate an opponent."
Shori was enraged as Chris continued to block or avoid his attacks. Blood was running out of his nose as Chris continued slapping him instead of landing any severe blow.
Chris saw his opportunity when Shori lost his focus and got sloppy. Chris grabbed Shori's arm and applied his immense strength to snap the bone in Shori's right arm. He then spun around and landed a solid left hook to Shori's face, breaking the jawbone. Shori fell to the mat, unconscious.
The referee got between Chris and Shori and waved the white flag to Yoshi. The match was over, and Chris had won the World Championship.
There was quick movement on the mat, as Mitsu Tagucci attempted to attack Chris. Yoshi was prepared and intercepted his archrival and quickly dropped him to the mat. Yoshi compressed the arteries on the sides of Mitsu's neck, cutting off the flow of blood to his brain and rendered Mitsu unconscious.
Chris went to his Sensei and grabbed his hand and raised it in victory. Cameras flashed, as the image was captured for use in newspapers and magazines across the world. The crowd in the arena stood and cheered for their champion, as the referee retrieved the headbands that belonged to Yoshi and CJ. He handed them their silk bands and bowed graciously, as Yoshi and Chris returned the bow of respect. As Yoshi and Chris tied their headbands around their heads, the referee brought the two bands that belonged to the Tagucci's and threw them on the mat. He ceremonially stepped on each of the discarded symbols of the Tagucci Dojo, and then kicked the bands out of the Karate ring.
Back on the CSU campus, sounds of joy and celebration filled the air. The Tri-Delt house was pure bedlam, as the members and pledges hugged and screamed their approval of their pledge winning the match and the World Championship.
Paramedics came into the arena and attended to the two injured men, as Chris walked to the announcers' table and asked to borrow two of the small flags that adorned the table. He held the flag of the United States in his right hand and the flag of Japan in his left. He raised both flags high above his head as he screamed, "YES" and turned slowly around to accept the appreciation of the wildly cheering crowd with tears flowing down his face. When he was called to the center of the ring by the referee, he put the two small flags in the belt of his Gi.
"Takeo Kubota is going down to the mat to see if we can get a live interview with CJ Hammer," Daniel Ray said. "We've just witnessed history in the art of Karate with the match between the American and Japanese champions, but more importantly, we've seen the Warrior's Challenge and the Dojo Challenge for the first time in the history of the Championship Series. I see the Chairman of the World Karate Federation, Akira Matsui, carrying the championship trophy toward the New World Champion, CJ Hammer. It's my understanding that his initial comments will be in Japanese and will be repeated in English. Let's go down now to Takeo, who is standing near the Chairman and the new champion."
"On behalf of the World Karate Federation, it is my pleasure to present the trophy to the new World Karate Federation Champion, CJ Hammer of the United States," Akira Matsui said in Japanese. "You have proven to the Federation and the entire world that you recognize the importance of honor in our sport. The acts of two men have brought disgrace upon Japan, and I speak for all Japanese people in extending our apology to you and the United States of America."
Akira Matsui then repeated his words in halted English. The crowd was still standing and cheering as Chris accepted the trophy and held it high in the air as he turned around so everyone could see the huge trophy.
Many of Chris's family and friends had tears running down their faces as they watched Chris accept the recognition for his World Championship. Saul hugged Helen with tears in his eyes and saw Helen was equally affected by the events of the day. Saul then hugged Mike who was sobbing and having trouble catching his breath. It was easy for anyone in the arena to know which spectators were the friends and family of CJ Hammer, as the large group was hugging and celebrating in the stands.
Chris called for Uncle Steve to come down on the mat to have his picture taken with Chris, Yoshi and Takeo. All four men were trained at the Yamamoto Dojo, and all had held the title of World Champion. Chris handed the large trophy to Stephen as Takeo Kubota was addressing him with the CBS Sports cameras rolling.
"CJ, how does it feel to be the new Champion of the World Karate Federation?" Takeo asked.
"Before I answer that, I have something to say to some very special people in Japan," Chris replied. He then began speaking in Japanese, saying, "I humbly accept this honor in the name of Yoshi Yamamoto, my teacher and friend, and the people of two fine nations, the United States of America, and my second home, the country of Japan. Much of my training was in Japan, where my Sensei taught me lessons in Karate and honor. I held the flags of these two wonderful countries when I reverted to my Texan heritage and celebrated a victory for both countries in a manner that I know my Sensei frowned upon. I want the people of Japan to know that I could have never been successful today without the combined training of Yoshi Yamamoto and Stephen Segall. I ask the people of Japan to discard any thoughts or feelings of dishonor because of the actions of two men who acted improperly today. This championship belongs to both Japan and the United States, and I humbly accept it in the name of both countries."
Yoshi was very moved by the impromptu speech by his student and bowed in gratitude before giving Chris a big hug.
"You have learned well," Yoshi said in Japanese to Chris as Takeo translated Chris's message into English for the arena and television audiences. "You have cleansed the honor of the Japanese people and shown them respect. They will remember that when you come back to visit me."
Chris answered several questions from Takeo, showing his humility when most athletes would wildly celebrating. Uncle Steve noticed the pained expression on Chris's face and knew that his leg injuries were now very painful. He suggested that Chris sit down, and was startled when Chris nearly collapsed on the floor. The two huge bodyguards of Yoshi Yamamoto moved like a flash and caught Chris before he fell.
Chris moaned in pain as the big men easily held him up and guided him to a chair. He insisted that he could continue the interviews, as he wanted the art of Karate to get as much publicity as possible.
Takeo Kubota thanked Chris for the extensive interview before returning the broadcast back to Daniel Ray and Robert Morris. He then talked to Yoshi as a student talking to his teacher. It was a great reunion for the two friends and they talked for a long time while photographers swarmed around Chris. Every possible combination of people was grouped with Chris and the trophy. Chris insisted that Mike be included by holding the large trophy while Chris stood behind him on crutches or sat beside him in a chair.
"I know you're ugly, but don't hide your face behind the trophy," Chris teased Mike.
Mike cuffed Chris on the back of the head to acknowledge the smart remark, but loved the fact that Chris wanted him in so many pictures. About halfway through the long photo session, Yoshi Yamamoto came up to Chris.
"I must leave now to return to my home in Japan," Yoshi said. "I will welcome you with honor when you return to Japan to visit me."
"Please stay, Sensei," Chris pleaded. "My Dad has a banquet room reserved, and I want you and your friends to be our guests."
Yoshi smiled and said, "American food and American beds don't suit me, Golden One. I must refuse your gracious offer, as our flight leaves in less than two hours. Go and share your success with your family and friends, but remember to be humble."
Chris struggled to stand up and accepted the help from the two bodyguards as he grabbed the crutches to say goodbye with a respectful bow to his Sensei.
"I'd like these two as linemen on our football team," Chris joked in Japanese.
The two bodyguards and Yoshi laughed, as Yoshi repeated his previous comments about football being a sport of animals. He hugged Chris before he left with his bodyguards to get in the limo to leave for the airport.
Chris was sad that his Sensei was leaving so soon, but knew that just having Yoshi leave Japan to coach him during his competition was a major event. He returned to the photographers and posed for several more pictures. A special photo was taken with David Powell, the Casino Manager, his wife and daughter, and his teenaged son, Marty. Another was with Mike and Chris seated with Fr. Joe, the two nuns, and the four children from the St. Mary's Orphanage. By the time the photo session was over, Chris couldn't stand without help. He still needed to shower and change before heading to the banquet room, but he knew he would need help.
Chris called to his two brothers and asked them for their help in showering and getting ready for the supper meal and celebration. Randy and Charlie quickly agreed, with Jennifer offering her help too. Randy and Charlie told their sister to go take a cold shower, as it was obvious that she had a "wide on" for her brother, Chris. Jennifer laughed and said it was worth a try, but she would get Mike to the banquet room where they would wait for her brothers.
Stephen Segall gave Chris another pressure treatment, but told him that he wouldn't be able to walk very soon, and would need a wheelchair. He promised to find a large person wheelchair, and asked David Powell for help.
By the time the three brothers had finished their showers, it was nearly impossible for Chris to walk without assistance. Poppa Mike and Uncle Steve came into the locker room and demanded to examine Chris before he got dressed. They were both concerned about the deep bruises and knew that Chris had to be in a great deal of pain. Poppa Mike had visited the doctor that took care of emergency situations in the hotel and was able to get some pain medication that he insisted that Chris take. Chris grumbled when Randy and Charlie made him sit in the wheelchair for the trip to the banquet room, but he made them bring the crutches. He was determined that he wouldn't go into the room in a wheelchair, and focused his mind on blocking out the terrible pain in his legs.
Outside the banquet room, Randy and Charlie helped Chris out of the wheelchair so he could use the crutches to walk into the hall where his family and friends were celebrating. As soon as he appeared in the doorway, the crowd of people began cheering. Chris saw that a large poster was on an easel that showed him raising his fists in triumph over his victory, and another showed him with David Powell and his family. David Powell laughed and told Chris that the hotel had a developing service and he hoped that Chris would autograph the posters and allow the hotel to display them in the lobby. As Chris walked into the room, he saw that just about everyone had a photo for him to autograph.
Chris was taken to the head table in the banquet hall where B and Helen greeted him along with Mike, Poppa and Momma Mahley, his Boston family and his grandparents. It was obvious that he was in pain, so Helen offered to fill a plate for Chris from the huge buffet meal, while Mary Mahley filled a plate for Mike.
"Now you know what it's like to be a crip," Mike said quietly to Chris. "How are we gonna be able to make love when neither one of us can walk?"
"I'll crawl to get to your bod!" Chris whispered to Mike. "I'm starting to feel the effects of the meds Poppa Mike gave me, so you may have to wait until tomorrow before I can blow your lights out!"
Their private discussion was interrupted when two small children begged to sit on their laps to eat. It was Nathaniel and Julie, and the two orphans wanted more attention from Chris and Mike. The two guys laughed and fed the children from their plates until Fr. Joe admonished the two children that had disappeared from his table. The two kids hung their heads in shame until both Mike and Chris convinced Fr. Joe that they wanted the children to stay with them. They continued showering attention on the two children while Chris was autographing photos for his family and friends.
Saul interrupted the festivities by reminding everyone that they would have more time tomorrow to visit with Chris and get pictures signed. He could see that both Mike and Chris were exhausted, and suggested that Randy and Charlie help the two men to their room to get some sleep. Chris tried to stand up, but quickly realized that Poppa Mike and Uncle Steve were right when they predicted that his injuries would get worse as time passed. He was upset, but finally allowed his two brothers to help him into the wheelchair to leave the party.
Everyone stood and cheered as Chris and Mike were wheeled out of the banquet hall. Randy and Charlie gave Chris and Mike hugs and kisses after they took them to the bathroom and got them safely in the same bed. Chris and Mike cuddled together and drifted off to sleep.
To be continued...
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