Saturday, January 26, 2013

Joel Williams

The Monk and The Hammer
Fiction by Joel Williams

Phillip Reilly O’Hoolihan stood on his front porch, scratching his armpits and smoking a cigarette. He let out a breath of smoke and watched as his neighbor wrestled with a chimpanzee across the street. The chimp worked a lanky arm underneath the man’s neck, getting him into a headlock. Phil took a puff and wondered what kind of sauce might go well with monkey flesh.
Phil tapped the ash off of his cigarette, shaking his head as his neighbor allowed the monkey to get his back, yet again. The chimp’s name was Louie the Hammer and had been the heavyweight champion of the world for three consecutive years. His presence in pop culture had been ubiquitous until one fateful television appearance on the O’Reilly Factor, where he discussed the use of steroids in wrestling. During the discussion, Louie lost his temper and shit hit the fan. It also hit some stage lights, Bill O’Reilly’s face, and many innocent bystanders. After a great deal of legal trouble, Louie fled to Ireland.
Phil used to be a bit of a wrestler himself back in his hometown of Bozhou, China. Back then he was known as Feng Hua Song. He moved to America at the age of nineteen to pursue his dream of joining the WWE. He endured years of drunken rednecks with John Deere hats and sleeveless camouflage shirts pulling at the corners of their eyes yelling penis jokes and Chinese food orders in pronounced Asian accents. Eventually, he quit wrestling for good and earned his degree in accounting from the University of California. He graduated with honors, changed his name, and moved to Ireland.
Phil decided that a mesquite barbecue sauce might do the trick. Pig DNA and chimpanzee DNA is 82% similar, so Phil made the logical deduction that chimpanzees must be at least 82% delicious.
Louie lifted his opponent into the air and tossed him into his own garbage can like a basketball. Phil chuckled a little. He’d always admired Louie and supported him even after the scandal. As far as Phil was concerned, Bill O’Reilly had been asking for it.
 Phil noticed a bird pulling up worms in his yard. He decided that if he was able to hit the bird with the cigarette butt, he would have pizza for breakfast, instead of the low-fat organic oatmeal his personal trainer had recommended.  Phil flicked his cigarette and hit the bird square in the face, stunning it a little. Phil pumped his fist in success and stepped inside his little suburban home. He sat down at his computer and Googled recipes for chimpanzee. Unable to find anything, he gave up and ate a breakfast of cold pizza and hot coffee. He sat in the shadow of a papier-mâché sculpture of a banana, constructed out of mostly clippings of Louie the Hammer’s interviews, portraits, news stories, parking tickets, and a couple of cable bills.
Phil stood up, straightened his pants, and picked up his papier-mâché banana and stepped out into the sharp autumn air. He stopped for a moment, frowning at the bird picking worms out of his lawn. The bird looked at Phil for a moment, blinked and returned to its business. Phil thought for a moment and decided that if he could kill the bird with his pizza crust, he would cross the street over to Louie’s. He held his pizza crust loosely in his hand, cocked back, and released it like a throwing knife, hitting the bird hard in the head. The bird keeled over, lifeless, worm in mouth.
“I’ve still got it,” Phil said, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth. In his short career as a professional wrestler, Phil utilized his training as a Shaolin monk. After Phil pile-drove the neighbor’s dog, his parents dropped him off at a temple in the middle of nowhere.
Phil was famous for pulling Jackie Chan-esque stunts with the ladders and chairs. Because of the vaguely racist nature of the predominantly white trash fan base, Phil lost many of his fights; his fatal flaw being his “fancy karate shit.” Many of Phil’s stunts had been scripted to fail, giving his muscle-bound white opponents an opportunity in which to “pummel his foreign ass.”
Phil took a deep breath in and crossed the street. He walked up the driveway, sidling in between a Cadillac Escalade and a powerboat. He raised his hand and knocked on the looming oakdoor. Louie’s trainer, Ben, opened the door.
“Hey Ben, is Louie around?” Phil asked tentatively, fiddling with the banana sculpture.
“Yeah, he just came home.”
“Alright, cool. I was hoping to see him.”
“Yes come in, come in” Ben said, smiling warmly.
Phil stepped inside. The house was decorated with trophies, championship belts, African folk art, sculptures and paintings of bananas, and a few regal looking portraits of Louie strangling men with their own arms. Louie the Hammer shambled into the room wearing a smoking jacket, walking on his feet and knuckles. He climbed up onto a chair, sat down and lit a cigar.
“Hey, Louie. Remember me? Feng Hua. We met at Wrestlemania one year.” Phil extended his hand which Louie grabbed and shook vigorously. Louie grinned, revealing a lot of yellow teeth. He jumped up and down, making a great deal of excited monkey noises and moving his hands around.
“Yeah, I remember you. 2001, right?” Ben translated. “You used to be one hell of a wrestler. Sucks those assholes wouldn’t ever let you win any.”
Phil scratched his head a little. “Yeah, yeah I know. Oh well, though.”
“Yeah. I think the only reason I made it was because I reminded those hicks of themselves a bit.”
 “Maybe,” Phil laughed. “Hey, I’ve been working on this sculpture for a while. Just finished it. I thought you might like it.”
Louie the Hammer puffed on his cigar and looked at the papier-mâché banana. He began to wave his arms over his head and beat on the table, signing furiously. Ben translated, “It’s cause I’m a god-damned chimpanzee! Isn’t it?! You think every chimpanzee likes bananas?!”
“No! No!” Phil sputtered, “I just… I just thought I’d be nice!”
Louie smiled and took the banana, signing to Ben.
“I’m just kidding, Feng. You know, you’re alright.” Louie climbed down from his chair, walked over to the fridge and grabbed a couple of beers. He opened them with his teeth, handed one to Phil and returned to his seat. He took a swig and then signed, “How’d you like to do an exhibition match?”
“I dunno, I mean we’re old men now,” Phil laughed.
“Come on, Feng,” Louie took a drag on his cigar and Phil watched the smoke swirling, illuminated in the light shining from the window. “It’s why you came, right?”
“Well, erm, maybe.”
Louie laughed. “Alright, I’ll talk to some people.” He grinned and extended his hand. Phil shook it.
“Alright sounds like a plan.”
“I’ll call you in the morning.”
Phil waved and walked home. He hadn’t really expected an exhibition match, but he was kind of hoping. Phil always made these sorts of fixed bets with himself. If he could throw his trash into the barrel without missing, he’d do his taxes that night. If he could hit bird with a cigarette butt, then he’d have pizza for breakfast. If he could spit onto the red stone in the pavement, he’d ask out the cute girl at the gym. That sort of thing. He always knew what he was ultimately going to do, so it didn’t really matter. But he liked the idea of leaving things up to “chance.” In this case, the bet was if Louie offered an exhibition match then he wouldn’t eat him. The problem was that Phil had pretty much made up his mind that he was going to eat Louie.
The next morning Phil received a phone call from Louie the Hammer. Louie told him that the exhibition match would be in two weeks. Phil took a few days off from work to train with Louie. In their sessions they shared ideas and Louie decided that Phil should emerge the victor. Phil protested saying that Louie was the champ; people back home would be infuriated. Louie argued that since it’s a small match in suburban Ireland nobody would really hear about it. Eventually, Phil agreed.
During one of Louie and Phil’s practice matches Ben had left to go pick up some food. Louie sat down next to Phil on the edge of the ring and began to speak. “You know, sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live in the wild.”
“Holy shit, you can talk?” Phil exclaimed.
“Yeah, Ben’s been helping me out.”
“Shit, must be a hell of a teacher. Anyways, going back to the ‘living in the wilderness’ thing…”
“Yeah. I mean, glad I’m here, but sometimes I kind of wish Ben didn’t take me out of the jungle,” Louie looked at his prehensile toes hanging over the edge of the ring. He looked up at Phil and said, “Don’t tell him I said that.”
“No, of course not. But what makes you say that?”
“I don’t know,” Louie said, twanging one of the green elastic ropes. “He’s been weird lately. He’s been reading that book. Oh, what was it… Fifty Shades of Green? Anyways, I found him one day–oh, how to put it. Auto-erotic asphyxiation.
“Whoa,” Phil said. “Noose around the neck, spanking the monkey?”
“Bad choice of words, but yeah. He’s been asking me to give him sponge baths, too. I really don’t know what to do about it.”
“I don’t know, man. That’s some heavy shit.”
The morning of the match, Phil cooked up a batch of homemade barbecue sauce. He ventured into the basement and unboxed his old paddy hat and orange monk’s robe, which hadn’t been touched since his move to Ireland. Phil arrived at the arena and was surprised to see the stands mostly empty. Louie jumped up and down and he and Ben walked over. Louie shook Phil’s hand enthusiastically and said, “See, I told you it would be a small match. Wrestling’s not too big in Ireland.”
Phil scratched his face, looking at the sparsely populated stands. “Yeah, I guess not.”
“We’re on in about 15 minutes.”
“Alright, I’ll see you out here.”
The announcer’s voice boomed over the PA, “In the blue corner, three time heavyweight champion of the world, Louie the HAMMMERRRRR!” Louie walked out, beating his chest and barking. He pounded the floor of the ring and roared.
“Annnd in the red corner, hailing all the way from Bozhou, China, Feng “The Monk” Song!” Phil walked out to the ring, bowed solemnly to Louie who snarled at him. As planned, Phil failed a backflip ‘people’s elbow,’ allowing Louie to gain a chokehold. Phil got out of it and ran to the other corner. Louie threw fake poop and hit Phil in the face, temporarily blinding him. Louie bounced off the ropes and clothes-lined Phil, who appeared to be knocked out.
 Louie beat his chest and roared, celebrating his seeming victory. Phil wiped the fake poop out of his eyes, stealthily cutting his forehead with a concealed razor. Phil got up and hit Louie in the back of the head with a chair. Louie fell to the ground and Phil stumbled around the ring, raising his hands in the air, gesturing for the audience to cheer. Louie got up and swung at Phil who deflected the blow and landed sixteen swift punches on the chimp’s body. Phil finished him off with a pinwheel kick to the jaw. The paramedics ran in on cue, put Louie on a stretcher and carried the former champ out of the ring.
Backstage, Louie puffed on a cigar and said, “Great show, kid. Really good stuff. Felt good to be back in the ring, didn’t it?”
“Yeah, I’ve missed it.” Phil paused for a moment. He looked up and asked, “You ever think of going back?”
“I’ve thought about it, but I just don’t think they want me. I mean, Bill O’Reilly, Phil.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Say, you want to have dinner at my place?”
“Sure, why not?”
“Alright, awesome. We might be able to catch the last of the soccer match.”
Phil and Louie met at Phil’s place. Louie was sitting in a chair, drumming absently on the table. Phil opened his knife drawer, his hand hovering over a long chef’s knife when Louie said, “What do you think of starting up a league here? Why don’t we open up a gym?”
Phil closed the drawer and smiled. “Yeah, that sounds nice.”
“Alright, great. I’ve already got a place in mind.”
Phil smiled, then began to laugh hysterically, which slowly digressed into gross sobbing. He slid down the wall until he was sitting on the floor with his face buried in his knees. Louie watched, utterly confused. Eventually Phil was able to piece himself back together and confessed, “You know, I was going to eat you if you didn’t say that.”
Louie stared at him.
“It sounds weird, and I really don’t know why I’m telling you this, but it’s true. You see, I’ve always wanted to know what ape tastes like. I had this neighbor back in America. He’d been stationed over in Panama and he would always talk about how he would go down and get monkey on a stick from the street vendors. And he always made it sound so damned good!”
Phil wiped tears out of his eyes. “He wanted to eat you, too. It was all he talked about when we watched your matches.” Phil paused for a moment and rubbed the side of his face and sighed. “Maybe it’s like that old belief that if you eat the flesh of your enemy, you’ll gain his power, that kind of thing. Native American spiritual cannibalism, or whatever.”
“So, I’m kind of having second thoughts about that gym thing…”
“I’m not going to eat you, it’s just, I dunno. Plus, I mean chimps and pigs are 82% similar, so that must mean that chimps are 82% delicious.”
Louie’s face lit up. “You know, I’d been saying something similar. Humans and pigs are 83% similar, so...”
Phil smiled.
“What do you say we invite Ben over?”
“I think that sounds like a great idea.”


After their meal, Phil and Louie sat outside on the porch. Phil lit a cigarette and watched the birds hopping around his lawn. He smiled for a moment and then his face fell. “Do you think we’ll get caught?”
Louie laughed and replied, “Phil, I’m an international celebrity. Who cares?”

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