HEAVY CHAMP IN SPANISH
Links and baby bewilderments, fresh air Sunday and the mountain tells the way. Been up and down the waterfalls all day. Been a stranger far from home. Been a lunatic and a memory (mostly to myself). Been a golden arrow and a short order cook host on the other side of the moon. Lunatics in waiting, but nobody asks any questions. They can do it like that. They are heroes and mega stars, waiting for reimbursements and pay checks and legitimacy. Lucky guy out there in Brooklyn. Lucky family whom digs for oil. That is the last time you ask for money; that is the way we say hello in Zagreb.
Short, punchy behind the ears, now we are all upset. Never saw it coming. The first Mexican world champion, never saw it coming. The first scents of entitlement, never saw it coming. Dragged out to the country side and taught how to move, never saw it coming. But the dad is on the phone, finally spending some time with his kid. It is Sunday, everyone says it is cool, never saw that coming.
INTRODUCING THE NEW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!
Have to be a little crazy, insane, unhinged, loose, charismatic, unpredictable, not matching colors, remotely intelligent, though unsure of all endeavors (past, future and present). The kid sounds happy, but who knows….. the family gathers around and calls for help. All the luck you get, awarded a reprieve from those pesky concentration camps; awarded life again, yet angry forever. Survivors guilt. Everyone thinks they are cool in Zagreb. The kids are way tougher then you think.
First time ever. Sits up at the dais and starts to cry. Hint of tears down the face. Cheeky with that smirk and knock off New York Knicks jersey. The boy represents in style. The gangsters appreciate the shirt. Been celebrating in the back with a proud papa and a concerned mother and a brother who alway said he has the right stuff, but nobody likes a chubby Mexican. Not until tonight. Not until the lights go out. Not until everyone starts to panic. Not until you cannot complain anymore, for fear of indignation or stunning defeat. Not until you prove yourself upon the world stage, regardless of where the pay check comes from. The fame shields the decisions, the cameras watch from traffic light poles and spot stray Tiananmen Square trouble makers. Risked it all for a better world. Got caught when coming back home to visit his parents.
A few days at the center of the universe and everyone gets into trouble. Was not expecting to ask the cleaning lady to marry me. Was not expecting for the food to taste so good. That is ok. Blue haired Krishna devotee with the fresh cookies and the reluctant smile walks around the kitchen all day searching for trouble. She gets a name. Call her Dragon. Call her perfection. Arriving at the edge of a killer void, right time and place, traveled all the way out to the country for another heavy pay check and no security. She asks if you are listening. She requests that she be taken seriously. Center of a European black hole, best time she ever had with another person in the room.
“You cannot wake up at 5am and do road work when you are sleeping on silk sheets.”
That is the white man calling home. That is the sound of prison cells and money laundering. All the way to New York City but nobody wants to hang out. Spent all that money. Wasted all that time. The new kid can fight anybody, get his name in the record books, but history is a heavy lady to carry around. Never know whom is going to call. Never sure when is the correct time to leave a message. This all looks fine from the outside. But who knows what tomorrow might bring.
Leave the kid at his fathers house and come cruise around for a little while. You can stay close, but expect to stay out after midnight. Left a huge hole where the bank account used to be. Left a dent in the career. Left a few coins for where the future used to lay. Love? Ask him about it. The whole nervous death march. The whole cache from outer space. Coming home in a plastic bag, flying business class, sure that the Mexican could win, but nobody wants to believe that jive.
Play me a love song called Hectic. Lets wake up early and go to the beach. You can take photos of me in the golden light, and I can call you pretty and plan our future.
Up in the hills we are banging on garbage cans and insisting on red sauce. Best strudel ever. A fine place to watch the afternoon sunshine from, open and warm across the ridge line, next to where the saxophone player sits, behind the older women in the red hiking shoes. The aged couples make their way to the benches and tables in front, with pints of beer and bowls of bean soup. Dressed in colorful sweaters and plain blue jeans, with worn leather boots and thick faded shoe laces.
They sit and speak of men and children and wine and politics. They bask in the sunshine that is lifting higher now in the sky. They smile at old friends and sit closer to their loved ones, commenting on the children playing with rocks and tree branches in the small opening next to the hut. The coffee is warm and the drinks are cold. The tea is made strong yet sweetened with honey. The lemons are sliced abnormally large. They barely fit into the plain white ceramic cups. The men bring out large trays with food. The ladies pass around the bread and arrange the cutlery for each person at the table. A stainless steel knife, well cared for and brought from home, is laid at the center of the table, for slicing the second loaf of Rye bread that sits there.
The forecast calls for rain this afternoon, but in the late morning the air is cool and the sun is bright without obstruction. Further up the trail is a small flat spot that signifies the summit. The ground is muddy from the previous nights rain, and few people venture further ahead for the actual summit. The mountain hut seems to be a sufficient summit for most of the local people, who have labored all week and now enjoy their Sunday morning walk through the mountains. The air is fresh. Regenerative. Various shades of green shine through the dense Balkan forest. Meditative. Almost violent.
At the trail’s mid point there is a small cabin, with twin garbage cans attached to an aging tree. The structure’s ceiling is high enough for a tall adult. The ailing wooden beams and aged cedar posts create this welcomed protection from the rain and sun. Occasionally the senior people gather in the shade and exchange stories of the old city, and compare grandchildren. The kids were taught to respect their resting elders. Do not disturb the choirs of wisdom that coalesced on the warm weekend afternoons.
They told stories of kings and bankers and concentration camps. The older men sat along the wall at the far side of the structure, arguing the persistent questions that have hounded the Great Continent. The occasional cough and languid guffaw would echo from the low cabin just below the ridge line, where the summit hut trail curves drastically to the West and further up into the high trees.
There are no more gambles. The absence of chance, the fear of luck. A few more years and the earth has her Big Crunch point. The veterans discuss concentration camps and singular moments of risk. The older men testify to action. The younger men personalize their nation’s history with tales of valor and determination. A slight haze of regret hangs in the cool solemn air. The brutality is rarely spoken of. Their honesty is deeply caked in the lines of their forehead, and indoctrinated in numbers along their forearms. The curses of Jesus and Buddha and Brecht are familiar on the bending path of service and grace. Have lived through a few thousand days, and still counting, they remark. The smell of lavender and juniper is fresh on their finger tips. The sight of freshly blossoming buttercups is soothing to the heart.
They fight over the definition of ‘best time ever.’ The battle over whom is tougher, with spit and blood and sweat, still holding the mantle of caption, chief, sergeant, valentine. They once fought in the bloody dirt, across from familiar barn yards and open fields, with burnt out tractors and dead cattle across the sown rows of rotten vegetables and soot covered greens. They fought for philosophies and prudence, for strangers back in the cities who cried themselves to sleep at night, when they could sleep. Strangers who sat in basements and barracks; in domesticated tube stations with neighbors and shop keepers, pressing their few belongings close to their hearts and clutching the hands of those to young to serves or to sick to know the difference. While out in the fields the boys ran at each other with heavy metal guns and other metallic killing device accessories. They wailed at the on set of action, under brittle helmets and wedged into small boots that barely kept their feet warm. They forced themselves to eat, when there was food. Some walked around in a dense haze of inconceivability, riddled with speculations of God and honesty and valor and recrimination. The speeches labeled them brave. Their girls presented them with envelopes that spoke of loneliness and blew them kisses at night when they are alone and feeling low. These giant vigilantes in uniform. These predecessors of faith. These banging humanitarians in robes whom refuse to surrender and march long miles every day in order to converse about freedom and lunacy later on. The last hand of valor. A firm handshake. Men of their word.
Under the fading sun they speculate on nationalism and gamble on football scores. Boorish and brutal, it is never safe to fully go back home. They comment how the roads around Rome are many, and the coliseums are crumbling under the great hammer of time.
Leave us alone to enjoy our last years of dedication, they remark. These perfect creatures do not last forever.
AND THE NEW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD!!!!!!
See these champions in the tight corners of this lumbering century. Witness the great surprises with hands open and legs spread apart. This is retribution. This is celebrity. This is fast hands and right hook. They will forever ask ‘what happened?’ They will speculate on foul play and mistaken probabilities. This is the greatest game ever. There are land mines under the stadium. There are banners in the rafters. The ghosts of peasants and arch enemies, of Cortez and Guevara and Chavez, swoon over head. The long loans of gravity. The long sting of embarrassment. The new champion steps to the podium and explains the dynamics of M Theory, and the confines of perfection. The new champion radiates like a child. The new champion is visibly chubby and honestly insane. The new champion is a man that no one has ever seen before. The new champion is a fresh piece of meat for all the media badgers and training naysayers. This remarkable bit of history. This unknown hero. This newest problem. The over grown king slayer. This miracle brawler that the morning news programs label mis understood.
I would like to thank my mother and my father and my brother, he says. I would like to propose a toast to champions and the lion tamers. I would like to dedicate this victory to my lady, who never doubted me. I would like to take you all with me to California and feed you home made Mexican cooking without danger or discrimination. I would like to thank the United States of America, who can’t make up her expensive mind about me. I would like to go home now and sleep for twenty one days and night. I love you all. I believe in love. I am honored to be your new champion. God bless you all. Turn off the lights. Unplug the radios. Tell you mothers you love them. Tell your ladies you are sorry.
The stadium lights slowly fade. The loud drawl of ringside philosophers begin to dim. The aisles are emptied by over worked security guards and dramatic fans. Men and women in blue jumpsuits troll through the stadium collecting trash. Sweeping up popcorn and crumpled napkins. Discarded paper cups and plastic bottles are loaded into yellow bins on wheels. The odd penny or silver dollar is found beneath the metal folding chairs on the upper levels. A timeless scent of cigarettes and candy permeates the auditorium. The faint sound of a Bruce Springsteen song drifts through the air. The final chairs are folded. The ring is an empty tomb. The assaults are a finished. The plans are never the same.
I love you all, he yells again. Remember my name! Remember my bloody name!