He mashes the peas with a fork and puts it all on a plastic TV tray. It’s like everything in his four-room, four hundred square foot apartment. Just another antique. Like him.
He grunts his way around the counter and into the living room. He puts the tray on the coffee table and falls back into the chesterfield. The springs are busted and the cushions are torn but it’s the best he can’t afford and he sinks into it like quicksand.
Dinner, he yells. His answer is the silence he expects.
The clicker doesn’t work, so he grunts his way back to his feet, the chesterfield trying to hold onto him like a dying man, and grunts his way to the set, to hit the switch and then flick through the dial until he finds the channel. There it is. Posts, ropes and turnbuckles. 20 feet to a side, just like his apartment, but somehow more spacious. Canvas floor the deep green of Elysian fields.
He grunts back to the chesterfield, splashing into it again.
It’s gonna start soon, he yells.
It won’t start for another half hour. Highlights are cycling. Thirty years ago, some cheesy announcer is saying. And there they all are. Younger. Not him, he’s always been ancient, but the rest. Young, raw, chock full of potential. And there, the Kid in his pink tracksuit, punching and pounding, crossing and jabbing, hooking and deking, bobbing and weaving. Dancing like a fly, biting like a mosquito. It’s enough to make him dizzy.
He looks over at the newspaper clippings pasted to the wall. There, the headline, yellowed with age: Last night…a small but great champ.
Last night. Two words for going such a distance. Thirty years of nights. A lifetime of lasts.
And tonight, what would it be without him? A fight without a champion. An epic without a hero.
It’s starting, he yells again, as the announcer comes back on, pointing his finger down the barrel of the camera.
Let’s keep it clean, he’s saying, And come out boxing.