“Blackout” by Chandler Reid
You have read a story by Chandler before called, “Night Carry Me.” An intelligently eerie tale that was. . . good, but strange. “Blackout” is clear as a whistle. It’s about a fight, the fighter, and what he’s fighting for. Unlike a great majority of the artists that are featured on Blue Indian, I know Chandler personally. Quite honestly, you don’t see this side of him much. This sensitively, observant side of him in a casual conversation. But, when this man picks up a pen (err keyboard), something explodes. And it’s messy. A beautiful mess . . . just like “the Champ.”
The room reeks of an old towel. The towel is drenched in day old sweat with spots of dark red blood throughout the brown, rusted towel. Thrown over a stainless steel chair intertwined with the chair. The boxer was hunched over a wooden bench overlooking that first victory in the ring. Every time the boxer glances up at the towel, he feels the devils he fought years ago. He is up in his age in this fight. He has grown old with hate in his veins just like everything else in the locker room. Everything seems to fade. He now sees through a red lens of sorts. Every bit of hate overflows throughout the room and he feels as though this is his first fight again. This time is different he has an old, rusted white beard and just does not move like he did in his prime 10 years ago. The other boxer is in a room that resembles the champs, but he is much more younger, agile, and accurate. He goes by the name of Zack. No nickname, just Zack. Back to the champ. The champ hears a knock on the door and rises up. He eases over. Every step gets tenser as he reaches the door. His back aches, hands heavy. He can barely make it to the door. It opens and creaks as the stench flows outwards. A lady stands at the door. The champ knows exactly who this is, but does not give it away at first. He smiles, a smile that fills his face. His aches and pains go away. He feels young again just like this is his first fight. She stood at the door. The girl in red “Chandler, it has been a minute.”
In that instant, the boxer is no longer a boxer. Chandler declares a moment of clarity, a moment in which all things are clear. Every bit of light suddenly gets brighter and bliss fills the room. The stench is gone now and she just stands there. Flawlessly.
“Ansley, I did not think you would be back around.”
“Chandler, please do not make this harder than it has to be.”
Another man approaches. Dressed casually, but not too casual with a suit and tie. A man suited to have a wife like Ansley.
“Chandler, I wanted you to meet someone.”
The frustration fills his eyes. The red glows with red. The day old hate. This man has caused all of this pain and she brings him around.
“We have already met, Ansley.”
“Really? Where at?”
“I don’t know, maybe at the wedding.”
“Of course. I forgot.”
Talk about frustration. The Champ is gripping his arm trying not to tear this man apart. The man goes unnamed to the boxer. He never gets the name. Even at the wedding. He disregards it, he goes to support her. Ansley and her no-named husband exit. He closes the door and drifts back to the bench. The time passes by slowly as the boxer over thinks his opponent. The opponent gets rocked to sleep by his loving wife knowing he is going to be the champ.
Zack does not go around with the hate. He does blow for a living. Cheats on his wife with whores out of town, but that does not get him off like the blow. He comes home late at night with powder in the inner rim of his nostrils. Kisses his children then goes upstairs and lays in his bed. Wife under his arm.
The Champ has never felt anything like this. He drowns out his rage with liquor. He finds himself in bars and in cheap hotels surrounded by bottles that will haunt him until the day he dies. Knowing all he ever needed was Ansley, and her husband knows that. The Champ still calls late at night and says he has the wrong number just to hear her voice. Knowing maybe one day she will come back to him. Hoping one day she will come back to him. The time approaches. The Champ reaches in his locker and grabs his favorite whiskey and downs a quarter of the handle. He then puts it back in the locker and puts on his game face. Thinking about Ansley. She is everywhere he looks but beside him. The room gets cold. He walks to the door aching in pain and misery. Just humming their song.
The gym glistens for a title match, but he Champ chose his home because at home he could never lose. The lights stare down at the stage and the Champ knows this: “Watch therefore, for ye know not the day nor the hour.” That is all that he can think about. His eyes bounce all over the room hoping that he will find in the crowd those green eyes. Those old, green eyes so he will feel his youth again, but he finds this selfish. He realizes that the chase has been on too long. She never wanted this, all she wanted was to not feel alone for a summer. Then she just leaves him to drown himself.
He approaches the stage. The same exact way he always has. The ropes open up; he goes under. Cameras and lights flashing from afar. He knows he is at home now and knows she is watching. He could not feel more at home. All the bets are on him to lose. He will prove them wrong even if he has to die for it. He will not lose. This is bigger than the Champ. Larger than him. This is for the thing he loves; she is a part of him. He will have to die before it’s all gone. Zack will have to beat the life out of him and every last drop of it because the Champ will not stop until this is all over.
The exchanging of the gloves are met. The fight begins. Zack bears witness to an animal in his humble abode. An animal, that has just lost control. The Champ’s shorts glisten with that red, white, and blue. Those colors don’t run. Zack did not stand a chance. The animal in the Champ was just bigger some will say. The bell rung. First round over. Zack goes to his corner trying to find a weak spot on the champ. There is nothing. There is only one spot that Zack cannot hit and that is his heart. The thing that keeps that animal ticking. The Champ sits in the other corner not a scratch on him. His heart beating faintly like this is home. He knows the odds were against him. Leaving the crowd in shock, the Champ stands up.
Round two begins. The Champ connects blow after blow. Every single one connecting perfectly. The contender, Zack, rests tirelessly on the Champ’s shoulder like a tired lover. The referee pulls them apart and the Champ begins to wail on Zack’s flimsy body. In that moment, the Champ stops devouring his prey. His teeth slowly withdraw from the body. Zack feels the clinching stop and decides to take a breather. The Champ stares at those green eyes. The crowd pauses and looks to her as though they all know she is the apple of his eye. Everyone feels it. Zack begins to punch the Champ. The punch doesn’t connect before the Champ counter hits Zack right under his chin. He then collapses to the ground. Blacked out.
The crowd still in awe from the match earlier. The Champ reigns supreme once again. He does not feel it though. The Champ feels detached from all of this. He stares past all the fans rushing on stage. He sees Ansley reach down and pick up her stuff and depart. His eyes dart all the way to the door. Then, he follows. He knows the exits better than anyone else. He stops. Zack stands up.
“Chandler, you are the champ.”
“Sorry about that last hit, man. Are you alright?”
“I did not see an old man pulling that one off, at all. You really are the champ.”
The Champ sees her exit. Her scent still lingers in the room filled with the masses. He just wants to see those eyes glow one last time. Both of his caretakers, Ben and Luke, are still on the stage. They see her exit to the door and in a panic, they take off after the champ.
“Chandler, stop you don’t have to do this…”
The Champ’s sweat stained the white in his shorts. He starts to fade out all of the sounds. Ben and Luke are no more. Everyone in the room slowly drifts away. It is essentially just the Champ chasing the girl in the red. She leaves his home and he feels something for the last time. Hands all over him trying to pan him back to the ring, but all efforts lost. The Champ disregards this again. Ben and Luke both fall limitless to the Champ’s endeavors.
The door opens. The champ opens the door outside of his home. He just stares at the girl in the red. Ansley stands there flawlessly. The Champ just breaks down into tears.
“Ansley, come back to me, please.”
“It’s just too late.”
In a flash, the life was taken away from the Champ. A head blow with a metal object. A blunt blow to the head. The Champ flings to the ground. Gravel in mouth. Gravel deep into wounds. The Champ is down. The Champ is down.
He regains consciousness soon after. Gripping the ground to amount to the size of his opponent.
“I lost a lot of money on this fight, Ansley.”
“I don’t think you have to kill him.”
“What do you still love him?”
“No, I just don’t want to see him suffer anymore.”
The Champ stands up on the ground. Taller than ever. Bigger and fast than ever. The Champ could easily knock this man out with one blow but instead turns to Ansley.
“You don’t love me anymore, do you?”
She just stares into his eyes and reaches for her husband’s gun.
“Sorry Chandler. I am easing your pain. Sorry.”
The Champ has nothing left. He is no longer a boxer. Ansley pulls the trigger and lets Chandler meet his fate. They both let him blackout like he has done to his opponents. They took the Champ outside of his home to kill him like cowards. The Champ did not have to fight anymore though. This was all behind him. He already knew that was his last fight. They had to put four in the Champ. He fell to the ground bounced up. Then the husband grabbed the gun and emptied the clip. The Champ sat there for 15 minutes alive with a smile on his face. Knowing she did the only thing possible to stop his pain. They hit everything but his heart. The only thing that kept the champ ticking for 15 minutes. A dedicated fan that saw the Champ get shot called the ambulance a few minutes too late. He bled to death, happy and still. Knowing the fight was over now. He just knew the fight was over.