Friday, 18 April 2014

A spontaneous, no-contact boxing match between me and a man dressed in a lion costume, at a themed restaurant, in an amusement park, goes badly awry


To win the
fleeting respect of
these children
- my niece and nephews -
for the rest of the day
I must play ball:

I must accept the challenge
of the park mascot -
this interloper on my territory.

In mock unarmed combat
I must best this man
who has clothed himself
in anthropomorphised
lion costume,
accessorised with maroon
fez and crested blazer,
without actually
kicking his arse
so bad
that he later
tracks me down
to my home
and shoots me
gangland execution style,
holding his
pistol sideways.


This synthetic lion:
Apex predator of
'The Jungle Juice Bar
and Lost Mayan Temple
Soft Play Area.'

This rival for
the love of
my brother's children,
refuses to fall to
my mimed haymaker.

He grabs my hair
and pushes my head
under the sneeze-guard
of the salad bar
into an aluminium serving tray
18 inches deep in coleslaw.

A dream of drowning:
Significant moments
from my life
flash before my eyes:

A former girlfriend
dressed as 'Death'
from Neil Gaiman's
Sandman graphic novels,
posing for a photo
alongside Brent Spiner,
at a Star Trek convention
in Basildon.


A park ranger
pats me on the back:

"You did okay there.
Always best to fight a lion
if it attacks."

"And always try to make yourself look bigger."

"Eating the coleslaw
was a good idea,"
says his partner
-a young man.
His flushed cheeks 
are dusted with acne.
"The mayonnaise is high in fat."

"They come down
from the mountains
this time of year
to scavenge,"
says the sheriff.

With his baton,
he pokes the body
of the sad man
in the lion costume.

"If we eat the lion
will we gain its strength?"
inquires my nephew,
paraphrasing something
that he read in a book
about Native American cultures.

"You should take a trophy,"
says the sheriff. 
"Not many folk can
say they killed a lion
with their bare hands."

Again with his baton,
he raises the head of
the fallen beast 
a few centimetres
out of the warm tray
of boiled potatoes
where it rests.

The movement briefly
separates the mask
from the man underneath
exposing an area
of pallid stubbled flesh.

"I've got some glue in my truck, should fix that,"
says the head ranger.
"No-one will ever know
it was a man in a lion mask."

A waiter disappears
into the restaurant kitchen
to fetch a meat cleaver.

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