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The Ring by Kate Jayroe

Big bold black and white stripes.

Whistles so shiny you can see your own sweat in them and the smell of spilling hops and potato grease, sugars of all sorts. Washed and unwashed denim and XXL cotton tees and costumes.

The boy wears a tall and silly wig with big, blonde spikes. He sits with his fists balled tight and going light in his lap. There are lights and big metal screens. Cages, everywhere the eye can go.

Talking and winding their way to their seats, lots of big people move up and down all of the staircases and side-to-side in all of the sections named after letters. The lights go down and a booming voice comes up. The air is rising and things grow taller than they truly are. This all happens in an odd, metal-feeling flash.

In the first fight a small man with no hair is surprising and defeats a very big man with long, brown curling hair. Their faces go up and down and nearly graze each other in more private spots. People are happy for the small man and glad to have their expectations broken and met at the very same time. The rubber bands on the ring can never stop vibrating. They can never stop.

The Daddy looks wet on his face. Love sits hard like a diamond in his eye. The Daddy is young and his face droops because it is a sweet and doughy face. The Daddy sips his big, tall beer and grins a wide grin, especially wide for a Monday afternoon.

The Boy has his hair tousled by The Daddy. The man with hair just like The Boy’s wig goes to fight in a big group. Their group loses and The Boy is disappointed but handles it in stride. The Boy has been taught and has learned that in every game there must be a losing side. And from time to time, it is the side you love that goes down.

The Daddy raises his tall cup and a little amber-colored beer spills up into the air. It flecks The Boy’s face and drips down a little like milk spilled down him as a smaller one in the past, even more small than how small he is now. A fight with only girls is starting. Most of the men get up to take a piss during this sort of fight. The Daddy leaves The Boy alone and asks the young couple behind him, Keep an eye out? The Daddy is going to get more amber milk. It is the best day The Daddy has had in a very, very long while.

The Boy is offered sweet unwrappable candies by the young couple. They are drinking from tall cups too, and they make lots of little jokes that The Boy just loves to hear and The Boy just loves to laugh to. The Boy wishes The Daddy made jokes like these instead of being funny in the ways he is funny. The Daddy is funny in a way that isn’t a joke.

The Daddy comes back and gives a little bounce, a little tumble as he drops into his seat. He leans over to the boy and grabs just a little handful of the big, blonde silly and spiky wig. I wish your mom had hair like this, huh buddy? Asks The Daddy. The Boy listens elsewhere, wishing to hear another joke from behind him.

In the final round, The Daddy is circling in his head. The thick clank of his silver clunk wedding band makes a cheap sound against the plastic cup-holder of The Boy’s seat. The Boy’s head is sweating at the top where the big, silly spiky hair meets his actual tiny hair.

The last fight is in a cage. The ring itself sits inside the many metal diamonds and two big man bodies are meeting the many metal diamonds with some great force. A surprise large man crawls suddenly from a hole in the floor. The game has changed. The ring looks half its size with another body inside it. The cage may only comfortably suit two.

The surprise man from the hole wins the match. There is bright, metallic confetti in the air and the screens all go bright with winning words. The Boy is tugged out of the stadium by The Daddy, the promise of something sweet after they leave, maybe a hot slice of pie or a big, cold cone.


Kate Jayroe is a writer in Portland and staff member with Sewanee Writers' Conference. Other work by them appears in NANO Fiction, Juked, Hobart, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and elsewhere.