In The Ring, We Are Gods
"A wrestler can irritate irritate or disgust, he never disappoints, for he always accomplishes what the public expects of him. In the ring, and even in the depths of their voluntary ignominy, wrestlers remain gods because they are, for a few moments, the key which opens Nature, the pure gesture which separates Good from Evil, and unveils the form of a Justice which is at last intelligible." — "The World of Wrestling," Roland Barthes, Philosopher.
This was the Last Battle: Good versus Evil. The first time Antoni was informed it'd be two-a-side was right at the tradesman's entrance, his duffel still on his shoulder and his long hair tucked up under his beanie to spare it the wind: the bouncer asked if Antoni could get him a signed photo of Isra's tits, please, for, uh, his nephew.
Right. Antoni was wearing a wifebeater with "hooters" written on the front: it made for good irony. (Sure, so he'd lost boyfriends because his casual wear consisted of wifebeaters and parachute-silk tracksuits, but what were clothes compared to costumes?)
Antoni arched his back, did as the irony scripted across his chest demanded, and thrust his pecs forward.
'Mine not good enough, cap'n? They're bigger, for sure. I'll even kiss the poster for you.'
'Ho, yah,' the bouncer grinned, nervously, 'for sure, but you know girls, Tony, I think. It ain't always about the size, gotta think about the quality.'
Antoni promised the bouncer - er, his nephew - Isra's hand-signed tits, clapped a shoulder firmly enough the lightweight winced - bouncer? Hah! Antoni could throw this guy further than he could spit! - and went inside.
Antoni was a crossdresser; Isra a scarred woman. In this country, he'd learned the women weren't allowed to be scarred, or anything less than beautiful and virtuous; the men weren't allowed to be anything more than what they were, men. When it came to Last Battles, Good versus Evil, no guesses whose side the public wanted people like Antoni and Isra to fight for, they had to be Evil. If people like him and Isra were Good, well, what would that say about all those carefully unscarred virtuous women and those diligently business-suited and tightly restrained men?
Antoni didn't mind. If he'd tried this back in the old country, fairy-boy electric blue, well. He hadn't tried it; he'd been too young to be in too deep. Pink triangles, or they would've shot him, but Antoni had always known the value of a good roleplay: at fifteen, the military cadet uniform he'd worn had been just another costume. If only Hugo had seen it that way.
Hugo had never forgiven Antoni for surviving, had never forgiven Antoni for keeping him alive past that last battle. The way Antoni thought about it, a British POW camp was a world of freedom compared to what their homeland had become.
But this. This place! Antoni was old now...well, older. The costumes were endless! This was the country of all opportunity, and if Antoni was going to be bad, well, they loved it when he was bad! As long as they could pick he was bad, of course. Antoni thought electric blue lightning bolts were much more flattering than pink triangles and drab prison grey.
People loved the oppression of the underdog, as long as Antoni struggled sufficiently against the inevitability of it all. Tony, Tony, Antoni, fight like you think you can win! Take it like a man!
Antoni really liked the theatrics of that struggle, he threw his heart and soul right into it. And why not? It was the ring. It wasn't like he could ever affect the outcome.
Comfortably ensconced in the familiarity of the tiny half-derelict changeroom, Antoni busied himself oiling his biceps with coconut oil. Sniffing appreciatively, Isra claimed a palmful and slicked up an overly tanned cleavage.
With a professional respect, Antoni admired her scar, the eyepatch and her breast implants. The scar was very ugly, and real, he'd heard her ex-husband had done it to her, and she'd killed him for it. She had a prison tattoo on her forearm: he'd believe what he heard, for sure.
Isra wasn't pretty. She would've been such a boring looking girl without that scar. Antoni liked it, and he liked her. The eyepatch was fake, though - but Isra told him her breasts were real. Sure. As real as the colour of his hair. Antoni grinned. Isra grinned right back.
'So, doxy, you pick your lycra to match your eyes? Oo, oo, electric blue?'
Antoni parted the sleeveless rose-embroidered dressing gown to present the full package. 'You betcha I do. Gotta match.'
'Game, set and match, by the look of what's in your trousers.' Isra slapped his abs with admirable familiarity, recoiled with great theatricality, shook her hand, and blew on her fingers.
Eyepatch in place, Isra's wink was a one-eyed blink. Oh, yes, Antoni liked her.
'Seeing as you missed the pre-meet so's you could, uh, do your hair, I spoke to Rusty and the Ram.' Isra could go all business when she needed to. Antoni liked that, too. 'So, here's the set: I'm going to go in for the clim right off, and they're expecting you to do your round the ring thing, Rusty's—'
'Lemme guess,' Antoni interrupted, and he and Isra said in unison: 'Ringtailed Ram Jam and the Pyroclasm, double team crash down!'
They laughed. Isra held her hand high. Antoni hi-fived her. And, she did not flinch!
'Those guys are so predictable,' Antoni said.
Still grinning, Isra shook her head. 'Fuck, honey. Good guys always are.'
Walking down the aisle to reach the ring, Antoni offered Isra his arm. And why the hell not? They were a pretty fucking pair. Isra looked startled, then took it. Her biceps had really nice distinction. She was well cut.
As they entered the ring, the catcalls were as good as a full house of cheer. Antoni waved, and Isra stuck her chin up in the air, proud.
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