By Stuart Buck
‘You ever think about what would happen if we just started kissing and fucking on the mat?’ Trystan said. His arms were round my waist. Face pressed into my ass. I could feel his breath softly make its way through my singlet and hit my anus.
‘You know… I do! I do sometimes. Especially…’
‘...your coaches face!?’
‘Ha-ha yeah. Oh man.’
‘My dog died.’
‘Oh shit. I’m sorry. I’m… I’m having issues with intrusive thoughts about hurting animals and people.’
‘Oh dude. That’s some serial killer shit you know that right?’
‘I do. I’m trying my best. I wouldn’t… you know. Its hard to explain. But I know inside me that I would never...’Arm-bar. Hard. He wasn’t budging. I tried to hyper-extend his shoulder. Wanted to feel it pop underneath my hands.
‘oh hell no I’d hurt something. I hurt things all the time I’m a human being. But I’d never kill an animal or a person. Unless they were threatening my life. Then it’s free game right?’
‘I'd punch a chicken’
‘A chicken. I would punch. A chicken.’
‘If it was threatening your life?’
‘Nah. Just at any point. If I ever saw one.’
‘You’ve never seen a chicken?’
‘I have not’
‘That’s fucking crazy man. They are everywhere.’ Elbow-Tie. Take-down. Two points. Trystan got up, wiped my spit from his mouth and knelt down for me. Second period.
‘I bought google goggles last month. You can load videos up on them. My latest thing is to load videos people have made of the sun setting. I speed that shit up and play it over and over again as I’m sleeping.’
‘Looks like a fireball is engulfing the world. Smashing us all to pieces. My dog died… so…’
‘So you are grieving. That’s all. It’s a totally normal thing to do’
‘Is it? I worry sometimes too. Not… not about killing people. You know. That’s rare. You are rare…’
‘But I worry I’m weird. You know. I have zero friends. I train and lie in bed. That’s it.’
‘That’s the case for a lot of people I think. Worlds fucked.’
‘Never mind. The...the way you said worlds fucked made me think of that meme. You know. Moons haunted’
‘Oh right. so. Tell me about your dog?’ I said, grabbing his ankle. For a split second, I thought about sinking my teeth into his leg. Just tasting him. Raw in my life. That sweet iron tang of blood.
‘Should I? Are you gonna want to...like...touch yourself?’
‘And let you get the fall? Nah. Tell me. What was it’s name?’
‘His name. He was a boy dog.’
‘Oh OK. I didn’t know’
‘His name was Charlie’
‘That’s a nice name. What color was he?’
‘Yeah he was hairless. A hairless Khala.. he was twenty three. Real fucking old. And so grumpy. Hated everyone except me. My little buddy…’ Trystan had started to cry. I could feel the familiar dampness through my singlet. A real bastard would have taken advantage of the blurred vision. A real bastard who needed a win. It’s me. I’m talking about me.
‘Sorry…’ I muttered and attempted to hoist him around and to the floor. He whirled around so that I was behind him. I pushed my chin deep into the small of his back. I wanted to fucking kill him.
‘Why?’ he asked me. He wasn’t on the floor. He just batted me away like I was a fly.
‘Nothing… so are you getting another dog?’
‘Yeah. Eventually. It’s just. It was sad you know? Having him put to sleep and...I went in. to the vet. I said I wouldn’t but I wanted to comfort him. And so I went all the way with him. Sat next to him as the vet cleaned the area for the injection. He knew. I’d given him a double dose of the CBD treats so he was pretty calm. But his eyes. The eyes showed me he knew. And I was crying so fucking much. I was just weeping and shit...’
‘Damn. I’m so sorry’
‘...and the vet injected him. And he died. I was holding his paw. It was shaking. I just…’ Trystan had lent his head against my shoulder.
‘I’m sorry’ I muttered.
‘I miss him every single day. Every fucking one. And its a fucking dog? You know? This is why I can’t get close to people.’
‘Because you hate when they leave?’
‘Grief is all-consuming. I had to leave home when I was sixteen. Move in with my shitty uncle. Because...i couldn’t watch my mom age. It was too much. And it’s… it’s so fucking selfish man. Making everything about you.’
‘It’s human nature no?’
‘I guess. Still feels bad though. I want to be selfless. In everything. I think that’s the key’
‘To happiness. Every religious text tells you the key is forgiving, forgetting and being selfless. Have you read the Upanishads? Or the Bhagavad Gita?’
‘No. I know of it. But...its never really appealed to me.’
‘Oh it’s good. You should read the Gita at least. It’s short and punchy.’ Trystan spat. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure but I think I knocked one of his teeth loose.
‘So the opposite of the bible?’
‘Ha yeah. The bible is shit man. Fuck Christianity. That’s not faith it’s ownership. The Gita is all about being nice to people, enjoying life and shit. And through that you learn that being selfless and being kind helps you to enjoy yourself. Enjoy your time. And through that you gain the knowledge needed to ascend.’
‘Ascend where?’ I asked. I reached between his legs and hooked his ass, moving him slowly over my shoulder. I had planned to throw him to the floor but the referee blew. End of second period. Still two to nothing. I knelt down before him. Supplemented myself. He grabbed me from behind and whispered in my ear.
‘To heaven. To Svarga Loka man! Off the wheel. Away from rebirth. Into bliss.’
‘Oh yeah. So according to the big Eastern faiths we are on a wheel. Called Samsara. The wheel of life and death. And if we don’t perform the way we should in the world we stay on the wheel. If we are good but not good enough we are reborn as something good that has a chance of ascending. If we are bad it’s not the end. We aren't condemned to hell like in Western Theologies. We just go again. We learn. We adapt. We go again man. We go again.’
‘OK but...what if you are a total cunt? Like a killer or some shit?’
‘You get reborn as something that suffers. But it still isn't the end.’
‘IT IS! Its so forgiving. Western faith is just ‘do as I say and go to heaven – don’t believe in me and go to hell.’
‘Harsh man. Totally harsh.’
‘So are dog’s on the wheel?’
‘Yeah of course. Everything is on the wheel. Dogs are souls reborn.’
‘Tardigrades? You know. The tiny guys. There are trillions of them. Maybe more. Are they on the wheel? Every single one a reborn soul?’
‘Fuck man. I guess?’
‘Listen. I don’t know about that shit OK. That’s you being negative.’
‘That’s me being realistic’ I said. I was winning. He was weakening. When you wrestle enough you can feel people becoming weak. Their muscles relax slightly. Less ‘bricks in a sock’ more ‘snake full of golf balls’.
‘No. its more than that. Faith. It’s about accepting we don’t know everything. And that’s OK.’
‘I just need clear guidelines…’
‘OK but look. We don’t have clear guidelines. We don’t have clear guidelines about anything. We have to adapt the texts and the knowledge. They ain't gonna mention fucking tardigrades in a book that’s five thousand years old.’
‘That’s a good point. But doesn’t that mean we need to dismiss the book as old and shitty? And write new shit.’
‘They write new shit all the time man go join a fucking cult if you want new shit. Or go to some buttfuck American town and attend church. But this text has lasted five thousand years and people still read it and act by it. What does that tell you?’
‘That people need to read other books’
‘Wanting to believe in something other than math and science isn’t a bad thing you know?’
‘I know. I know. I just...have a hard time believing in something I can’t see.’
‘You believe in shit like that all the fucking time. Science asks you to take bigger leaps of faith than religion.’
‘Does it really? Because science is about providing empirical truth. About theorizing that this thing happens and then spending years and decades proving it. So that we don’t have to just believe. So that we know.’
‘Right. I understand that. But take something like quantum physics. We don’t know half of how that works.’
‘No but we are trying to. Religion just says believe this. Science says we think this is true but be patient with us while we check.’
‘I think if you really believe something you will make changes in your mindset when things occur that seem outrageous.’
‘The fuck is that supposed to mean?’
‘It means. If you think god created everything then maybe he created the scientific framework that the world adheres to.’
‘I just…I need this fall man I’m sorry.’ I whispered in his ear. He was strong but I’d worn him down with my need for proof. I threw myself to the floor, a rookie move usually, but as I went I grabbed his singlet and pulled him with me. We slapped about like dying fish for a moment before I pushed his head to one side – away from the referee – and licked his eyeball. He wasn't expecting it and he struck me square in the face. I cried out, the referee cried out and Trystan was disqualified. He looked at me with respect. This was the game and I’d won. He was fucking nothing to me.
I’d never see him again, so I made a stupid face as I left the mat.
Stuart Buck lives in New York. He runs the Bear Creek Gazette and loves his wife.