The Boxer

A warning. For those used to my typical prose, this story will be dark and harsh, raw and blackened. It’s a catharsis for me, a truthful metaphor reliving a past life. If this type of writing bothers you, please go no further, and accept my thanks for being a faithful reader.

He sat alone, as he had so many times before, looking across the canvas at the demon. He was born to look helplessly at the distance between them, but lived for utter devastation when the gap had gotten much too close to bear.

He could hear the Minions behind him, shouting their meaningless encouragements. If he won, they’d be his best friends, if he lost he’d be where he always was. Alone.

He could feel the sting of the cut carved just above his left eye. He would not publicly flinch in the sight of such pain, nor would he bleed. They would not see him hurt. He had been cut so many times before that the pain was like a familiar friend, one he sought to avoid yet embraced when they met. Pain was his ally, for at least he was alive in its embrace.

The cut was not some masterful stroke by his opponent. The Boxer has seen the hook coming, but rather than duck he leaned into it. As it landed, he smiled, and as he felt his flesh tear and the pain come, he finally felt at home. This was what he was used to, this is what he had come for.

He trained to torture himself, purposely inflicting pain worse than any other could inflict. Soon, his hands become like stone, his body taut with the remnants of a religious insistence on being hurt, his mind impervious to the games they would play. They may have taught him such displeasure, but soon it became his own.  It was the single thing he could count on.

His body tensed, naturally anticipating the bell ringing. He marveled at the rhythm of this game. Most of it, three minutes to be exact, would be a fight where little bits of him would die. Then would come one minute of glorious respite, where he almost believed that life could be different. At the end of each round the Boxer would almost find truth in the cheers of those Minions and the accolades of those in his corner.

He could almost trust the judges, believing they would see what he saw. He had survived the round, given better than he had taken, and shown what he was capable of doing. Surely they would have to give him the points. Surely he had won. Surely he could count on them…

Invariably, he knew better. He could trust none of it save his own solitude, and his own sense of direction. In the familiar rhythm of his life, aloneness became his companion. Before the respite was over, he would look once again at the Minions with disdain, his opponent with disgust, and the arena with little feeling at all.

Such vicious training you couldn’t afford to buy, but they gave it to him for free. When he would look at her, he only wished it could be different. Yet, he knew better. He always knew better. There would never be a shining star in the crowd, and he must be free from her in order to give her freedom from him.

Normally, when the Boxer grew tired of the game he would spring from his stool and end the dance. It didn’t take much, for his training had strengthened his body and turned his hands to stone. He would rush out with a smile, and the obstacle in front of him would fall. Then would come the hollow cheers, the fictitious pats on the back. Soon, when the party was over, he would return to the aloneness he neither craved nor wanted.

Tonight, it would be different. He had grown tired of the fight, of the bullshit. He had grown tired of the one way street, of the road work , of the endless repetition. As the bell rang, he knew what he would have to do.

When his body hit the canvas, it was over. He cried real tears, alone as usual, finding relief in the end. He could see tiny drops of his blood in the fabric, and already see the backs of his once admirers as they turned and walked away. He had done his best, but he was done with this game, this time. The end had finally come.


photo by: Isaí Moreno