Palaver in an Elephant Graveyard




 In addition to being a king himself, Odin was a shapeshifter, and frequently roamed the world in disguise. One of his favorite manifestations was that of a one-eyed old man…the one-eyed man appears regularly as a bringer of wisdom and knowledge to heroes.”

 

Patti Wigington

 

"Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad"

 

Euripides

 

I found myself walking around Cleveland, Ohio in a dehydrated stupor. Words cannot really express how one feels when one cuts weight. One must truly experience draining all the fluids from their body to fully appreciate the state of mind that I was in. After not eating or drinking for several days, the mind sort of drifts above the body, and gazes down in perplexity. No right mind would remain in a body so determined to die. I shuffled my feet across the convention center’s hardwood floor a mere mindless drone, a thoughtless zombie. A myrmidon. It was the U.S Senior Nationals for freestyle wrestling. Wrestling competitively was nothing more than a lucid dream for me. I somewhat took an interest in competing again, but for some reason couldn’t must the strength to follow through on anything. Such is the case with most things in my life. Yet here I was. Perhaps this was to be an elephant graveyard; I would lie to rest my dreams on the mat with gods and monsters alike.

Wrestling’s pantheon was all here, childhood heroes and villains. What was I doing here? I was outclassed in literally every attribute. Physical strength? Check. Superior Conditioning? Check. Washboard Abs? Check. Really cool fucking shoes? Double check. They had it all and all I had was a weird code of honor and a stubborn attitude. Fuck you. Fuck Me. Fuck everyone. I’m here. I’m doing this. The halogen lights beat down on me from the tall vaulted ceiling. Had I any water to give I would surely sweat. I could almost imagine buzzards silently circling be from above, waiting for me to shuffle my mortal coil. A booming speaker was in my ear, ejaculating announcements at a ludicrous volume. But all I could hear was a low muffled voice like my head was buried in sand. I was in sea of people and felt a million miles away. I slowly but surely made my way to a bench that seemed arbitrarily placed off to the side. I collapsed on the bench of on the north side of the building. How could I expect to wrestle if walking less than a hundred yards has a herculean task?

 

“Excuse me son.”

 

A voice that sounded like a rusted chain grinded in my ear. I large heavy set man had seemed to materialize next to me. He had quite a girth to him. This guy clearly hadn’t missed a meal for a while. He wore a red flannel shirt and black track pants. Dark unkempt hair spiraled out from his head in every direction and had a long beard that matched. He looked to me like some sort of homeless Santa Claus. But all these attributes took a back seat to the man’s eyes. Anyone that knows me knows that I rarely look people in the eye. I’m not sure why. Perhaps I am terrified you’ll steal what is left of my soul (joke would be on you, I traded it for some Krispy Kreme donuts in 2004). Whatever the case was our eyes lock for a moment. He had one blue eye, deep and piercing like the sea and the other was dead. It was glazed over in a milky film, but it also billowed like a cloud. It almost smoldered by the top of a volcano.

 

 “Excuse me son,” He repeated, dare I say grunted. “waz yer name?”

 

“Ryan. Ryan Lancaster. Nice to meet you.” Pleasantries were the furthest thing from my mind, but I did my best to palaver.”what’s your name?” The old man either didn’t hear me or ignored my question.

 

 “You wrasslin’ today, Ryan?” He shifted his weight onto is wood carved walking stick that was ornate. No, fuck that. It was beyond ornate. A serpent curled all the way to the top and out of its open jaws sprung the head of a raven that served as the handle.

 

 “Yes sir, excited to get back at it.”

 

 “Back at it? What are you ranked boy?”

 

 “I’m not sir. I just came out of retirement.”

 

“Retirement?” he sort of sneered at the idea. “What fer?”

 

 “Well, I said politely as I could (dehydration makes pricks out of the greatest men), “I spent the last few years getting caught up in other things. Work, school, and girlfriends made it difficult to compete.”

 

“HA!” the old man bellowed out a chortle that sounded more like gathering thunderclouds.”You are a wrassler! You can’t retire from wrassling!” His giant finger extended from his giant paw and poked me square in the chest. “It’s in your blood! Ya can’t stop being what you were made to do!”

 

I took a moment to let that soak in. I mustered the best smile I could from cracked, peeled lips.”Yeah, I suppose your right.” The old man lifted his ass and let out a fart, which I would have smelled if I wasn’t so afraid that I was going to gain from the extra calories.

 

 “That’s my boy! I look forward to watching you with my family from above.” He put his gigantic arm around me in an endearing way.

 

“What?” I was completely perplexed by this statement, which I chalk up to a delirious mind. He pointed up to the balcony, his dead eye never leaving his gaze from me.

 

“Up there with my family. I’m sure you’ll do us proud.”

 

I looked down at my shoes. I almost felt sheepish. It’s not every day I get new fans. I turned to me him again, “Thanks sir, I’ll do what I-“ But he was gone. Just as fast as he appeared he was gone, all that was left was a warm bench and a single ebony feather that floated silently and eloquently through the air. I never saw that man again. I went onto wrestle in the tournament and placed top 12 in the country.

 

I find it almost disheartening that the there is very little wonder left in the world. Information has butt fucked imagination into a quiet  submission. I feel even more for my brother’s son. What future will he be left with? If Zander ever reads this, I want him or anyone else to know that I lived in an age when men walked with frost giants. I took on those creatures head on, and I lived to tell about it. We are the heroes of our adventures, and we need never lose sight of that. To this day whenever I start to lose my way or get down on myself, I can almost hear the soft caw of a raven in the distance. It comforts me.

 

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