The ring arrives. Twenty-by-twenty, surrounded by fans. Not just hundreds. Thousands of them who spent their grocery money, their rent money to be here, on the promise of a good show. The kind of show they’ll remember. The kind that inspires people.
I’m in that ring. I can’t see my opponent’s face, only the shining gold belt around his waist.
Sometimes, his face comes into a focus. A pecker head like Freddie Phelps. The kind of guy I’d relish beating, not only to win the title, but to take it from him.
Sometimes it’s a legend. Ric Flair transported through time and the belt is the old school Big Gold Belt. The ten pounds of gold. There are big TV cameras around the ring and as we lock up in that first collar-and-elbow-tie-up, he asks me, “You ready, big man?”
Sometimes it’s Ghost. Returned. Tangible. Ready to work.
Sometimes it’s a friend. Martin LeRoux or New York Nick Nettles. I think it’s best then. Less a sensation of taking than having something given to me, because there’s no disagreement that I earned it.
And I lock in my hold, The Autopsy. He cries out his surrender.
And the referee’s prosthetic hand catches my wrist and raises my arm in victory. He hands me the gold. And everyone’s there. I mean everyone. All the boys, past and present. And Dragon Princess. She’s all around me and smells like lavender and cream and then like the cotton candy my old man bought me when I was a kid and went to my first wrestling show and I thought the world champion was the most important man in the world A treasure. A hero.
And Dad is there. Cowboy Sam, too, looking on like Obi Wan and Yoda from the rafters.
It’s everything. My life is complete.
And I wake. Not with a goofy grin. Not with sorrow because it was all a dream.
I wake with a rumbling from deep within me, ages old, of a man unfulfilled and aching to get what’s his.
I wake up hungry.
Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and is an alum of Oregon State’s MFA Program. He won Bayou Magazine’s Knudsen Prize for fiction and has published in journals including The Normal School and Bellevue Literary Review. Find him at miketchin.com and follow him on Twitter @miketchin.