Ancient dreams, dreamed-No More Defeats- Magical Realism 101
Desperately clutching his new white flags, his new millennium embossed white flags, linen white, exchanged years ago for bloodied red ones. White flags proudly worn for a while now, he wipes his brow of the sweat accumulated from the fear he has been living with for the past few months. A fear that some old thought truce would not hold, that he would mercilessly be called to account. He, still rubber tire around the middle, he brown turning grey turning to white, he comfortable with an off-hand jabbing session and back room talk about old time exploits and when guys were really tough. And about how he could stand toe to toe with the best of them (forgetting to mention, “for a while”). Talk, all talk. But signs portended some danger, some confrontation, some one more beating, and maybe some real damage this time. To his almighty soul condition if nothing else.
His old time opponent, a few pounds heavily, a few tricks wiser after a fistful of fights, a more checkered record than when they first did battle where that big brawny young flash mopped the floor up with him, without a sweat, in two rounds had dusted off the old moth-eaten contract. The old option contract that called for a rematch at either party’s beck and call. No expiration date given. He could see the wheels working in that now slower opponent’s mind. His manager’s really. Hell, he had done the same thing himself on the way up. Use him for a dust mop and then back to the “bigs.” Damn that option, damn that contract, damn that Sam for making him sign the damn thing even though right after the previous match, brains egg-scrambled, he had yelled out rematch, anytime, anyway.
Nothing to do but get ready, get a little, a very little, of that rubber tire off the middle, and learn to back up to the ropes fast, jack lightning fast. Hell, he chuckled, that was the easy part. The big event came and his ancient arms folded, hard-folded against the rainless night, raining, he carefully turned right, left, careful of every move as the crowd comes forward. He eyed their murderous eyes, money in hand, “smart” money as always on the younger, faster man, more a matter of rounds than victories, but murderous eyes, aflame with an easy victory. Glory days be damned the guy in front of him looked plenty tough still.
After the ritualistic formalities were over the bell rang-go to it, boys. The first round begins. He holds his own, like he had always done in every fight (never knocked out in the first round, ever, a source of pride, drink in hand barroom, pride) a little wobbly, a little rubber tire around the middle wobbly, but moving in and out to avoid the bigger man’s still fearsome blows. Hell, after all these years the guy is not even that winded. A memory from the first match flashes before him. It was like a phalanx of something driving him to the ground, or about six corner boys from his youth, his sullen youth when six guys decided that he was, what? Mush? A fag? Stupid? Those guys didn’t know nothing .Second round he runs into a series of upper-cuts that drive him to the floor. He stagger on his knees and then up on the eight count. But he notices that the blows were not as fearsome as of old and his opponent shows just a hint of fatigue around his eyes. Another barrage. Down. Back up again on nine. Close. The bell rings. He has survived two rounds. Some “smart” money is not going to be happy this night, no way.
Third round. He faces another barrage, rights then lefts. He wobbles, knees akimbo, if that is possible and after this mauling it probably is. He hits the floor. Face down, stay down. You have proved your point, go collect your dough. Once again, as if on call, a distant muted echo hits his brain, his egg- scrambled brain, don’t give up the fight. He is ready this time though, smart, maybe not ring smart but life smart now. Tomorrow is another day. Hell, there are always other days. If not me then some young hungry guy, some barrio guy, some ghetto guy, hell, maybe both. His brain says… Out.
As he lays on the cooling board locker room gurney he remember old Sam, damn, money-fisted old Sam, and what he said before that last fight. Or was it some other guy. Well, some old guy, met, or guys like him, met long ago said going into the damn fight and I quote, he said struggle, struggle. Ya, it was easy for you to say, buddy. You didn’t have to go three rounds with the guy. Jesus he never let up even with those fatigued eyes. Give me those damn white flags, jesus.
Funny though he noticed as he was carried out to the locker room that white flags, or not, the crowd, not a crowd, no, a horde, a beastly horde, was sullen, not like the old days when they would sent up a Bronx cheer. This was no time to stick out with white flags (or bloodied red ones, for that matter).
Later, dressed, white flags placed in back pockets, he jumped out of the way of the hordes passing through the doors after the feature fight, the horde passing brushing him lightly, not aware, not apparently aware of the white flags. Good. What did that other guy, that old guy say, say, oh yes, struggle.
Ancient dreams, dreams, Reflections In A Fierce Wind, Magical Realism 101
One more battle, one more, please, one more, one fight against the greed cowboy and Indians night, one more questing for the blue-pink great American night dream, and one more struggle against no dreams. He, maybe a little punch-drunk, maybe suffering egg-scrabbled brains after one too many fights, chained himself, well not really chained, but more like tied himself to the black wrought-iron fence in front of the big white house with his white handkerchief. Gone are retreat flags, sullen retreat and pondering armchair flags. Another guy, shaking the clotting snow off his old army jacket still useful against driving winds and off-hand city snows, did the same except he used some plastic hand-cuff-like stuff. A couple of women, bundled knowingly against all weathers just stood there, hard against that ebony-etched fence, if can you believe it, they just stood there. Others, milling around, disorderly in a way, started chanting after someone starts om-ing, om-ing out of Allen Ginsberg Howl nights, or at least Jack Kerouac Big Sur splashes. The scene was now complete, or almost complete. Now, for once he knew, knew for sure, that it wasn’t Ms. Cora whom he needed to worry about, and that his black and white television child dream was a different thing altogether. A ruse. And he had no longer to worry about flags, white or red. Just keep pushing against immorality. But who, just a child, could have known that back then.