The Locker Room


 by Joseph Kirkham


The women stood in the circle, chanting and roaring with their fat fists raised in the air.  Their pudgy feet stomped against the wet grass in an eerie composition, crammed in thick wool socks, reaching just below their rough-surfaced knee caps. Like unpleasant smelling meat wrapped in sweaty plastic wrap, their feet that sat in thick wool socks were pinched in black leather shoes.  The frayed and dancing shoelaces bounced against their ankles, collecting bits of congealed dirt and horse maneuver that found a home across the bottom of their daisy dresses.  Their bloated yelps bled across the night sky, causing even the moon to hide in shame at such a gross display of large bouncing women.

Two more woman stood in the middle of the circle.  Each one had on a pair of red padded gloves cinched at the wrist.  They stood motionless in the mud, each one waiting to take the first swing.

“C’mon Georgalo, don’t be shy now.”  Georgalo wore a white, sleeveless shirt.  She had black curly hair that resembled a bird’s feeble attempt at a nest that sat ear level.  She had bruised elbows.  Large women always had random bruises.  Her arms looked like two pasty beached whales that had no hopes of revival.  Her sister fashioned her a makeshift shawl from stained bedcovers with two fabric straps that hung loosely around her shoulders, reaching midway between her thighs and clumped knees.  Her bellybutton had sucked in much of the fabric from the cold sweat that clung to her body.  Her white socks encompassed much of her lower leg, like a hideous looking sock puppet that put more fear than joy into a child’s eyes.

“Who you callin’ shy, Anastasia?” said Georgalo.

“I’m sayin‘ shy to ya cause you don’t dare take the first swing.”

Georgalo stepped forward and took the first swing.  Anastasia didn’t expect such concentrated fury as a padded glove flew towards her face.  Beneath the glove Anastasia saw Georgalo’s squinting eyes with tightened lips.  She was swinging blindly.  Anastasia was able to lift her face before her thick and pasty skin absorbed the moving glove.  Like a chef violently beating pizza dough for hungry spectators, Georgalo’s glove landed squarely underneath Anastasia’s chin, causing a ripple effect that traveled to her upper lip.  Her upper lip bounced against her yellow teeth, while bits of saliva mixed with rolling sweat flew off her face.  The crowd of gawking women exploded in a ravenous fury.  Some held up pieces of paper in the air with names scribbled, while others threw coins and moist crumpled dollar bills in the center of the circle.

“You done got my face, Georgalo.  My auntie’s not gonna be happy, why she spent thi‘ whole mornin‘ applyin‘ makeup on this here face of mine.”

“I think I done made it that much prettier,” replied Georgalo.  “Why, your auntie has no sense in puttin‘ those chemicals on your face, she done made you lookin‘ uglier than before.”

Anastasia’s auntie lurched forward from the crowd and grabbed Georgalo’s hair from behind, pulling it towards the wet grass.  Georgalo began to swing her arms, like two demented windmills.  Like an overweight domino piece, she fell flat on her back.

“How dare you harass my Anastasia, you hog!”  Georgalo looked up and saw the woman who had just pulled her down.  She had on thick, smeared red lipstick, with blotches of it spread across her corn shaped teeth.  She had clumpy black eyeliner that coursed down her round pancake face and infected holes that filled her cauliflower ears.  Her sweaty bushy sideburns connected to her thinning hair which stood wildly on top her large and bulbous head.

“Now, now, Auntie.  This isn’t your fight.  You stay out of this, you hear?”  A large man with thinning hair, black pants with rolled up cuffs, black socks, and faded leather shoes stepped into the center and gently pushed Anastasia away from the fallen Georgalo.  His name was Trawson Wellerbie, and being the only male present, made sure that no real harm came upon the women.

“Words can’t harm anyone, but you pullin’ her hair down can, now can it?” said Trawson.

“Can, can, all you can say is can, can’t you?” smirked Anastasia’s hot-tempered auntie.

“Enough!” Yelled Anastasia.  “Auntie, you stay out of this.  This here’s my fight.”

Georgalo had managed to prop herself to her feet.  Her knees were smeared with grass stain and her sticky shirt was bunched in the fat roles above her belly.  The back of her neck looked like a squinting hippo that had emerged itself in a swamp.

“You all right there, Georgalo?” asked Anastasia.  The out of breath Georgalo was busy pulling out her shirt from her fat creases when she glanced up and nodded yes.

“I didn’t expect ya to hit me all in the face like that,” said Anastasia.  “Why do ya got to be like that and hit me in the face before I was ready, huh?”

“What do you expect me to do when you talkin’ all, ‘don’t be shy now,’ Georgalo?  Cause that’s what you said to me.”

“Enough talking from the both of you,” said Trawson.  “Anastasia, It’s your hit.”

Anastasia began to pace back and forth.  She had a smug bull dog look on her face.  She made sure not to break eye contact with Georgalo as she pressed her foot in the soft soil.  Each woman was allowed one hit each.  Those were the rules.  Never had there been a winner in the sport of fat women boxing.  Never was there going to be a winner.  After one hit each woman was so exhausted that the end result was them lying unconscious in the grass below, while villagers and children attempted to revive them by waving fans over their blowfish faces.

Anastasia began to growl, swinging her fists like a creature of the jungle looking to mate, attempting to show its dominance over the creature that it so desired.  Georgalo showed no fear but stood proud, like someone posing for a painting, occasionally re-situating the loose strap of her dress as it tiptoed its way down her shoulder.

The crowd knew that when Anastasia took one step forward she would attempt her one and feeble punch.  The timing of her step that resulted in the swinging of her arm towards Georgalo’s face had to be in perfect sync.  If her rhythm was off she would fall face down in the mud like an intoxicated pig.

Anastasia never did take that first step.

Georgalo charged her like a bull ready to gore.  Anastasia felt the rushing force in her gut as she looked down and saw Georgalo’s lopsided head being swallowed up in her stomach.  Anastasia flew backwards, falling into several people.  They attempted to catch her with their arms but the weight was too unbearable.  Several people fell backwards causing a ripple effect that distributed to several of the front row bystanders.  Georgalo caught her own balance and managed to stay on her feet.  The rest of the crowd was in a communal shock.  Never had someone taken two swings in a single match.  Even Auntie dared not approach Georgalo.

A legend was born.

Everybody in the crowd stood with wide eyes and open mouths.  And then a cheer erupted.  The crowd raised their arms in the air and began to shout Georgalo’s name.  Auntie pushed her way through the taunting arms and made her way towards the fallen Anastasia.

“She’s much too big to lift by myself.  Somebody help me, please!”  Anastasia attempted to turn to her side, kicking her legs in the air.

“Don’t worry, momma.  Auntie’s here to help you.  Auntie dug her heels in the ground and shoved her hands in Anastasia’s side.  Her arms were swallowed in Anastasia’s stomach as her legs soon gave out, causing her to fall to her knees.  Now she was stuck.

Her voice was muffled by the song of stomping feet and clapping hands.

“I guess we have a winner,” said Trawson.

“Let’s lift her on our shoulders!” somebody cried from the crowd.  They surrounded Georgalo and began to raise her in the air.  Several bent down and wrapped their arms around her knees.  Others placed their hands in her lower back.  But her weight was too much.  They raised her up onto their shoulders, only to drop her, crushing both Anastasia and Auntie.

Legend quickly turned into tragedy as the fallen Georgalo now sat on top of a crushed Anastasia and Auntie.

The excitement died, and the ones who dropped Georgia, including everybody who had witnessed the great fall, fled, in fear of being blamed for dropping Georgalo.  She was up to her waist in solid earth.  She was able to turn her neck and swing her arms.  She yelped for sometime, but her voice soon gave out, knowing that she would be stuck, like some fresh tree rooted in the ground.  Maybe leaves would sprout along her arms.  She shuttered at the thought that Anastasia and Auntie were directly underneath her.  She felt their warm bodies pressed against her legs.

The sun eventually dipped below the mountains, and the villagers lit their kerosene lamps in their houses.  Georgalo still hadn’t moved.  She heard the rustling of leaves coming from the direction of the village.  Several children were walking towards her.  One had a small fan.  Another had a vase of water.  The other had a plate of bread with butter.  They approached her and sat down.

“We brought you some water and bread.”  Georgalo grabbed the warm bread with her bare hand and dipped it in the butter.  She grabbed the vase of water with her left hand and drank it in its entirety.

“Thank you, children.  Why have you all come to see me?”

“We heard that you won the boxing match.”  The little girl began to fan Georgalo.

“We heard that you punched her twice!  I wish I could have been there.”

“Can you tell us how you won?”

“How I won?” replied Georgalo.

“Yes, we want to hear it from you.”

And so Georgalo told the tale of how she won the boxing match.  The children sat and intently listened.  To the children, Georgalo was something of a legend.  The children didn’t know that she crushed Anastasia and Auntie.  Nor did they know that their parents, the adults, dropped her.  This didn’t matter to Georgalo.  She liked the version of the story where she was the hero, where she was the legend.  Every night the little ones visited her, bringing bread and water.  And every night she told them the same story, of how she won the first and last boxing match.

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