Tuesday, November 29, 2005

El Fiera de Batata

There is a legend spoken in the quiet corners of the Earth of a man who knows what evil hearts burn inside his fellow man. He knows for once upon a time this very heart of evil beat in his chest. In his younger years he was dedicated to the cause of globalization. He believed in the goodness of trickle-down economics despite the evidence before his eyes. He even voted republican. But then something changed. He looked around the comfortable confines of his bourgeois life and realized the people were suffering. The people needed a champion.

How can one man make a difference, he asked? He decided to wander the world and seek the guidance of wise men from every corner of the Earth. Captains of industry. Politicians. The poor and downtrodden. Democrats. He sought insight from every angle, no matter how disillusioned or just plain wrong.

Eventually his winding path took him to the great wrestling rings of that jewel among cities, Mexico City. He had to learn how to fight for justice. He had to taste the struggle. His spirit was willing, but his flesh was chubby and pale. Evildoers would not flee at the sight of this man, no matter how furious his gaze. There was only one thing to do. Forge that weak flesh into the weapon Justice needed. He would endure the life of a luchador as he sought a true purpose and physical fitness.

He fought in the rings of Mexico City, becoming known simply as El Gringo. He toiled for years, always struggling against the rudos and seeking his place. Some say he lost his way, becoming consumed by his lust for the belt rather than concentrating on forging himself into the weapon he desired to be.

Then one night there was the climactic match, El Gringo versus his archnemesis Azul. It was an epic match, eclipsing all others before. A true clash of the titans. Exhausted he pinned Azul. The belt was finally going to be his. The referee’s hand rose and fell. Uno. And again. Dos. He could feel his grip loosening. The referee’s hand was falling in slow motion, it was like a scene from a made-for-TV movie. Too slow, he thought, too slow! Suddenly he felt a pair of hands about his legs and before he could do anything else he was jerked off balance. He lost his grip on Azul and in that moment he saw the ugly face of defeat once again.

Later, after the match, alone in his car he drove along the highway until he was overcome by despair. He stopped his car and stumbled out into the empty fields, like Achilles before the gates of Troy, he called out his despair to the heavens. He raged at the gods. Demanded they answer him. No answer came. He collapsed, nothing left in him at all, his body empty of everything.

Minutes turned into hours as he lay there, breathing, smelling the purity of the farmer’s earth. Then out of the darkness a young girl approached him and silently handed him a sweet potato. He started to lash out at the girl, to ask what the hell she thought a sweet potato would do for anyone but then he stopped. He took another second to breathe and in that moment it became clear to him. The sweet potato was mankind. Ugly and gnarled on the outside, but beautiful and sweet at its core.

From that moment on El Gringo was never heard from again and whenever people are oppressed or down-trodden he knows and dons his mask, becoming El Fiera de Batata.

The Wild Beast of the Sweet Potato.

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