I am mass. I am momentum. I am a big, shuddering kind of a man, arms swinging and trembling muscles in my red spandex. I am wroth, I am masculinity, I am self-assurance. I am anger incarnate in rubber horns and a glimmering cape. I am cousin to Cain, nephew to Grendel, Womb-Twin to Fenris. I am the Bull.
I am the oldest young thing you will ever see.
The big-thumping of the audience, of their cheering, of their stomping– it excites me. It spurs me to greater fury, to take greater pleasure in the thing which I will do here tonight. They do not cheer for me, and I know this, and it drives me to greater fury still.
I think in poetry. I am potential. I am pure destruction. The audience which cheers for the man in blue spandex would call me pure evil.
This is not true. I am disruption. I am a bull-shaped ripple, an angry shudder in a still universe. I am born again tonight, born to tear at the root and spill the blood that it might cry out from the earth. I think in poetry.
“Are you ready?” asks the Fat Man In The Dark Suit. He is almost invisible in the wing-darkness. I think that this is funny. I laugh.
“Good.” he says, and squeezes my shoulder. He believes his chains bind me—paper contracts. But what is paper against me? I am a Great Beast, growing strong on blood sacrifice. For the moment, I am content. For the moment, I will feast on those who enter my maze—but someday I, too, will be free and then their paper will not help them.
A foolish man indeed is he
who thinks to tame his enemy.
I think poetry.
“Time to go.” says the Fat Man In The Dark Suit.
I growl, and the shudder-which-I-am, breaker of chains, devourer of heroes, many-crowned and many epitheted, I move into the light.
The Man In Blue, Mr. Fantastic, is kneeling in the ring. Every eye in the arena (and several hundred thousand outside, watching live pay-per-view) is on him, kneeling as he is, murmuring as he is. I see, on the great screen, that they are pulled in tight. He is murmuring something. A prayer? A spell? Who can say? He is pure of heart and good of mind and they will cheer him no matter what he says, but I think—and I pause, at the top of the ramp, they have not seen me yet and I am not in a hurry—I think he is praying. He is praying to the God who sent him here, to the Fat Man In The Dark Suit. He is happy to be here, and I am happy to bring the poetry to him.
They still have not seen me, the frothing crowd. I look out over them, and growl poetry.
“Thank you.” says Mr. Fantastic, the Man In Blue, the Sinner Reformed, the Praying Man. He is Chivalry. He is Grace. They have him on mic. A spotlight reflects his golden hair, his perfect chin, his dazzling teeth. He has the complete attention of the largest crowd of people he has ever seen.
And then it wavers. There is a tremor in the universe, and somewhere high above an operator has detected it, and realized he has missed a cue, and the light flicks across the ring, across the crowd, up the ramp.
I charge, and the light follows me, and the cameras follow the light, and the audience follows the cameras, and Mr. Fantastic realizes that he has lost the attention of the largest audience he will ever see. He turns, but it is too late—
Here I am!
Here I am!
Here I am, and here are the lights, and here are the cameras, and here is the audience, and here is Mr. Fantastic, turning to the sound of my Red Rubber Boots With Spiked Heels pounding, to the sound of me leaping, flinging myself over the ropes and down, a tremor in a still universe.
I am Mass. I am a Spacetime Earthquake. I am Red Rubber Boots With Spiked Heels.
I scream poetry. I hit the Golden Boy, red flash and rubbery crack, and I am back on my feet before he hits the ground. They are booing, the audience, they are chanting for my death. They are chanting for trophies to be made from my horns and jackets from my hide and delicacies from my masculinity.
It is not a sexual thing, kicking a man. It is not a sexual thing, eating bull testicles. There are no lies here, in the ring. We are here to devour each other.
The whole audience recoils at the crack, the sound of my boot, of his ribs. They hate me. They ugly hate me. There is little they can hate more than me.
I kick him again. He can’t get up. They hate me, and somehow it is poetic. This is my poetry, my words on the page.
He screams! poetry. I kick!
I scream! He has rolled out of the way, Mr. Fantastic has rolled out of the way and has found my leg, Mr. Fantastic is pulling my down and here I come I try to find my own elbow, to deliver it hard into his chest, but he is gone, Mr. Fantastic is gone where did he—
I hit the ground. Crack!
The sound echoes in my head. I am still. Crack!
I hear nothing. I do not hear the audience. Crack!
I do not hear poetry. Crack!
I am me. Crack!
I am a professional wrestler. I am getting old. These things I know to be true. I have never seen stardom, never succeeded in the way I hoped I would.
Mr. Fantastic, he is a wrestler too. We went out for drinks after rehearsal last night.
His real name is Jordan. He is beautiful. Not in a sexual way. He is virginal, Adonis without his Aphrodite.
He is kicking me. The crowd loves it.
I am not beautiful. I am old, and ancient, and primordial. I am also new, and bestial, and yet not young, and this leads me to a conclusion.
I roll, silently, and he kicks empty air. His knee hyperextends, snaps like a rusty chain, and he screams, and in that scream I hear poetry.
I stand, trembling again.
The crowd is furious. They scream, but I scream right back at them, tell them who is in charge in the language of beasts and men.
I have the roar of a lion, the eyes of an eagle, the horns of a bull. I see the Fat Man In The Suit watching from the audience, trying to tell if Mr. Fantastic is really injured. I will show him.
The crowd cheers, and I turn in time to block a sloppy charge. I send Mr. Fantastic careening off into the ropes, favoring his left knee. Surprisingly, the cheer doesn’t die. I double down, chasing my injured prey and screaming my poetry as we go.
The action comes in flurries—a kick, a clothesline, I charge and am sent spinning into the turnbuckle. Mr. Fantastic is not as injured as I thought, but his crowd is divided. His poetry is weak, and their sensibilities are fading.
A fool to think that he could hold/
An audience who here behold/
A man in shining blue and gold/
slaughter the weary and the old
Does he not know that I am the Lord of All This Fight? The God of Malicious Intent? The Bull of Righteous and Bloody Slaughter? We are in my maze—escape will be his only victory.
Still he stands, and chants his verses, hoping to turn the shifting crowd. Some call to him, answering, informing him that they are still with him, have not been seduced by my strength, by my frothing rage, they say finish it, Mr. Fantastic, destroy him, ruin him.
And even in this, they are echoing my poetry.
Bloody him! They say, and End It! they say, and Look out, behind you!
His Golden Head turns, glossy white-and-blue shoulders tensing but it is too late. It is too late and I have glossy shoulders of my own. Red they are, and red-caped, and bulging as I lft him. I hold him, first like a fireman and then like a priest. I rescue him, convert him, baptise him. I offer up the sacrament to the spotlights and the cameras and the screaming, sweating, beer-spilling mass of the people, the frothing congregation.
He is screaming the high-pitched feminine scream of a dying poet, of a pagan brought into the light. His golden hair is a mess. He is crazy-eyed, and I look into those eyes, and his scream dies and he starts begging. He calls me by name—not my wrestling name, my real name. He grabs my horns in a desperate plea, but my mask is slick and smooth and bloody red and it will not do him much good. His fingers are pianist’s fingers, not the fingers of a fighter. It takes both hands to hold one long horn.
The room goes silent.
Years from now, I know, this image—Mr. Fantastic held high, the light reflecting on my shoulders, the silent, frozen, raging crowd—will be printed on T-shirts and posters and coffee mugs. It will be a reminder of that which was, which is, and which will someday come again.
My horn comes off with a rip, my mask tears and I bring Mr. Fantastic down in a grand arc, delivering him into the ground with a sickening crunch. Chivalry dies on the spot.
I am the God of Malicious Intent. I am the Bull of Righteous and Bloody Slaughter. I am the Monster of the Here and Now.
A Fat Man In A Dark Suit rises, suddenly, and flees the stands for the exit. I move to pursue, but am stopped by the sudden roar of the crowd. They chant for me, cheer for me. “Blood!” they say. “Blood! Blood! Blood!”
And they are mine, and I am free.
© Che Pieper
[This piece was selected by John Haggerty. Read Che’s interview]