Tension electrified the atmosphere, like a storm cloud waiting to relieve itself, bringing destruction to the ground at random. Parker waited for the verbal tirade that was to follow, the questions coming at him, wounding him with each response. He tore into the street with his eyes, hoping the assault would end sooner rather than later, that maybe relieving himself of this burden would somehow help matters, though he knew, whether acknowledged or not, the delay would only cause further pain. The storm never came.
Instead, Joe guided conversation elsewhere. Progression is necessary Joe thought without giving context to his own words.
"So Gordon, I was wondering; you seem to love America with a passion I have yet to see in a person that isn't racist. Is there anything you don't like?"
"Not sure mate, hand me the die an let me ponder it."
With a throw, a single eye winked at him, reminding the young Brit what he loved.
"And there it is. To answer your question chap, its your Yankee notions of heroism. I come here and what do I see? Athletes, movie stars, all your celebrities being venerated like a golden bloody calf. World record this, record that, top ten fuckoff. You yanks hold these people in such a high regard an what the fuck did they even do? They entertain you, so why the bullocks would you put them on a pedestal, deify em' an all that. Ya can't wait until they fuck up, gettin caught in less than savory circumstance an then ya blow it out of proportion. You design your heroes for failure, what the bloody ell' is that? Let me tell you about a real hero."
His name is Bill Buckley. Name may not ring a bell, hehe, but back home he's a legend. A boxer by trade, the man fought 300 pro fights......losing 256 of them. Now I know what your thinking, why have a loser as a hero, an that's exactly my bloody point. There's such a focus on winning an being the best, that your idols will fall. They will take steroids, they will cork bats, they will spy on other teams, whatever it bloody takes to win. What does that teach you? Cutthroat tactics? Do whatever it takes? Winning is everything? Bullocks. Bill taught me about having heart, about keeping with a dream no matter how many times you fall and doing what you love, whether you're good at it or not because there's always someone better than you, no matter where you a re in life. In his career he fought 24 future champs. That is a fuckin' hero, not your shite of men. The guy would take fights on half an hour's notice, he'd fight once a week sometimes, which is bloody insane, but he did it. You show me another human being with that level of passion. Seeing him fight was the greatest moment of my life.
It was a saturday night. He was all of nine and his father, a born n' bred fight fan did his civic duty by treating his frail son to experience first hand what he had been relegated to viewing in papers and on the telly for so long. The boy clutched his ticket in anticipation, wanting to grasp every sense the event brought. As he handed his ticket to the well suited older gent, he couldn't shake the beaming grin on his face, and it was an infectious one at that. Every rough n' tumble figure that came n' went saw that boy and smiled as well. The man that the boy became felt like he had reminded them why they do what they do, of what it meant to be a fighter.
The seats were all on a single level, chairs positioned in neat squares, as long as they were wide and fitted neatly on each side of the ring. The converted warehouse filled the boy's nose, stinging it with sweat and salt and plastic and iron, a product of the dried blood that never left the building, painting for the boy, what it meant to be a man. The sounds resonated, as if the building itself were having a discussion. Voices argued and laughed over a variety of topics both familar and alien to the boy. Local politicks, foreign legends, fights over the best n' worst n' everything inbetween that always eded with laughter, a point the boy always felt was important. That no matter how heated matters became, the end should always be one of joy, like celebrating with the enemy after a long, hard fought war.
A rugged fellow with slick grey hair rolled his sleeves to reveal a serpent wrapped around his forearm. The hand that belonged to the forearm picked up a microphone off the ground and held the small (by comparison) black object to his face. The event was about to begin.
The boy couldn't contain himself. it was a spectacle like no other. Two men entering a contest that assessed their strength, fortitude and character. There were no losers. The main event began and it was announced that Bill Buckley would retire after that, his 300th career fight. As Bill walked down the makeshift aisle, the boy noticed a tattoo of a boy laying, a man kneeling and an old man standing, looking at the sky. The boy held onto that. He wanted to know.
The fight was epic. The crafty veteran bounced around the ring, bobbing and weaving, throwing jabs when the situation arose. A nicely placed left hook swelled the eye of his opponent, and by the 12th round, it was obvious to both fan and judge alike who had won. Bill Buckley had won his 300th career fight. No one cared that he lost far more than he had won. He was a man with dreams and the crowd witnessed the end of his, not with a whimper, but a bang.
After the fight, the boy tentatively approached the veteran and after several attempts at words, inquired about the tattoo. Bill happily replied:
"Observant rascal innit he? Well son, this is a special one ta me. These three chaps represent man. No matter who ya are, where ya from, in life, you are but a man, nothin more. We are children, men and elder, all the same. Keeps me grounded in me dreams."
The boy kept that with him until it was his time.
Following the final line of the story, Gordon removed his jacket as well as his shirt, revealing the very same tattoo stretched across his left arm, from shoulder to elbow.