If they think they can stop me, they’ve got another thing coming. They’ve messed with the wrong man this time. I’ll rip them apart until there’s nothing left. You expect, when you’re the mayor of this city, to get threatened, bribed, smeared, and slandered, but not to have your own daughter kidnapped right from under your nose. To be in your own office one week into your term and hear a voice saying “Hee hee hee, Mr. Haggar. So pleased to make your acquaintance. I believe you know who I am. Don’t hang up! We have a little business proposition for you… Your daughter for your cooperation. And we’ll throw in the regular monthly bonus to your salary we offered before.” At 11 o’clock in the morning to pick up the receiver and hear “Your daughter for your cooperation.” I immediately stand up, flinging my chair behind me, and make my way out, my way only temporarily barred by the usual motley of staff members and civil servants mewling for my attention….
Stepping out of City Hall, it is immediately obvious that this is not a nice part of town. The normal functions and furniture of the city are all around, but in degraded form. Through the cracks I can see that the asphalt is not the regulation two to three inches deep. Streets need to be strong. They must be able to sustain and protect the utilities, sewers, subway system below, and everything and everyone above. Water pools in the middle of the street, which should not be possible, which means that this street, the street that runs outside City Hall, that runs in front of the mayor’s office, was never laid down correctly to begin with and after almost 200 years of this city’s existence, was never fixed. The concrete sidewalks don’t look any better. The sidewalks along the mayoral mansion have bluestone curbs. Here the curbs are steel-faced and as I step up to a hooligan, twist his arm, and crush his face into the curb, I give thanks for little miracles. As I make my way to save my daughter, all around me are potholes, sinkholes, ditches, hummocks, ponding, open or failed street cuts, cracked catch basins, cave-ins, badly installed grates, and open-mouthed vaults.
I body slam a punk into a cellar door and he breaks through like it was tissue paper. Technically the city owns the vaults—technically they fall under the joint jurisdiction of the department of transportation and the department of buildings. Technically someone should be made aware of faulty cellar doors, but at the moment I’m busy—I must save my daughter myself. To be forced to roam the city like a solitary jungle cat is ridiculous to me, when I, as mayor, should have the entire city infrastructure working behind me, when in fact I have to leave it behind me to fight this so very necessary fight, this fight I cannot turn away from, this fight I am compelled to fight, this fight I fight because the world demands it.
Walking into this warehouse, this dilapidated wreck which should have been demolished long ago, I’m greeted by a small group of freaks who think they’re toughs, complete with sneers and crossed arms, hands behind biceps to artificially enhance muscle. Before anyone can utter a word, I grab one by the face like a bowling ball, two fingers at the eyes and thumb at the mouth-hole, and throw him at the two behind him. The three still standing are frozen in horror when I grab one of them, launch him up across my shoulders, and pull down hard on his head and ankles, breaking his spine. I let the last two run away to tell their tales of the terrors that shall be unleashed over all Mad Gear gang members, though I immediately regret doing so. Such soft-bodied and soft-minded punks cannot know the suffering of a father, having no commitment, having no framework to think with outside of an easy slide into crime and degradation.
I walk through the now deserted warehouse and out the back door, intending to catch the train to the west side’s red-light district when I meet with a hood I know is in the mid-to-upper echelons of the gang. A geek who styles himself as “Thrasher,” but taking a good look at him, he seems to have received more thrashings than he’s delivered. I remark as much when he sucker punches me with a fistful of chain. Finally, a challenge. Unable to restrain myself from grinning maniacally through the next several maneuvers, I pick him up over my head, my arms completely extended, then spin him several times before bringing him down onto the street head first in a technically perfect piledriver. He seems to be dead, and yet I almost wish for a CCTV camera to have captured us. It would have gone down in history, inspiring artists and choreographers as much as future wrestlers and MMA fighters….
Oh well. I enter the subway station and I’m greeted by the stench of human waste and sweat. The subway system handles over four point five million people a day. Sixty-two hundred cars servicing twenty-five lines, the biggest in the world by far. The fact that so few people are murdered every day along the various lines is a miracle, proof of God’s concern for man. As I pass a pillar, an arm juts out to grab me. I twist it until I hear a crack and beyond until I see bone. The punk screams and I punch him out, the finishing move that disposes of “Thrasher” having satisfied my momentary need for high art.
I stare into the tunnel and strain into it to force the train to come. It comes. It is one of the newer trains, which, like everything else new in the world, is designed specifically to deceive. It looks bigger than the older models, though it is actually smaller. There are few people riding it this early in the line, but they are all obviously gang members. One begins to reach for his pocket but I slap him with the back of my hand, drawing blood. The other three stand up and though I have only limited space, I begin spinning wildly with my hands extended—fortunately, these more modern cars have the central poles by the doors rather than in the middle of the car. At the next station I throw them out, sorry that I have contributed to the station’s human waste problem. The train is stalled for an inordinate amount of time and it becomes obvious that the metro system too has fallen under Mad Gear’s tentacles. No matter. I hop down onto the tracks in front of the train and make my way to the next station on foot. The next station, the end of the line, is characterized by decorative scenes in tilework on the walls, scenes depicting an imaginary happier time for the city, an Arcadia of bicycling families, kite-flying couples, and jubilant children being taken to school on a bouncing school bus. Throughout my first week in office, I have brooded over the scenes depicted on these subway station walls. This is how I want my city to be. This is how I shall remake this city. But when I arrive at the station, I cannot believe my eyes. In the middle of the space is an enormous wrestling ring. Is this a flashback to my wrestling days? But no. There it is. I touch the mat, the ropes. I get into it and hear a whooshing sound as if someone were cutting the air with a sword. Someone is. From out of the gloom an enormous man in samurai gear is wielding a katana. He’s coming straight for me. I dodge a strike meant to kill and deliver a standing drop kick to gain some distance. As he falters backward, I switch tactics and try a suplex. He drops the sword. It is only now that I notice his samurai armor is a completely homemade affair. The chest armor is nothing but repurposed football shoulder pads. He’s wearing jeans and everyday sandals with white socks.
“You’re not Japanese, are you?” I say.
Hai? he replies. I deliver a punch to the head that shatters his helmet and knocks him out completely. I bend down to examine him: Norman Rockwell would have loved him for a model….
I make my way out of the station and find myself on the West Side. Though superficially more attractive than the neighborhood around the mayor’s office, the West Side is in many ways a deeper den of depravity: home of the City’s red-light district. Blocks upon blocks of chintzy restaurants, seedy bars, and townhouses made over into bordellos and whorehouses. Pleasure Island for the criminal set. As I walk down the street I feel the accumulated urges bubble through the atmosphere. Sex, drugs, illicit activities I could only begin to contemplate. I walk into a bar full of hoods obviously connected with Mad Gear. I throw a few around hoping to get something out of them, but others join in the fight. Soon I am spinning around, performing a Double Lariat for the first time since I wrestled professionally in Russia. After dispatching with the whole roomful of ruffians, I make my way to the back of the bar, intending to go out the back door, when Andre the Giant’s bigger, uglier brother surprises me from behind and carries me by the neck to a chain-link enclosed ring where his identical twin is already waiting. A large crowd cheers on as I quickly recover, lifting one of them up and slamming him into the other. I grab the second one by the ankles and slam him into the first one just getting up. Someone in the audience tosses a steel pipe into the ring. One of the Andres manages to grab it, swinging it at me, but failing to connect. I grab it while elbowing him in the face. As he falls, I knock him on the head with the pipe, taking him out completely. I turn my attention to the other one and use the now bent pipe to choke him into unconsciousness. With both opponents dispatched, I jump out of the ring and make my way out of the room, the audience parting upon my approach. I come out on a back street full of parked cars and am immediately confronted with some toughs with knives. Still running high on adrenaline from the previous fight, I dispatch them easily and walk on to a street filled with hole-in-the wall restaurants and food stands.
“What’s this?” I hear someone say behind me. “Assault and battery, attempted murder? Not very becoming behavior from the mayor himself.”
I turn and come face-to-face with someone in a police uniform.
“Those punks are members of Mad Gear, the criminal organization responsible for kidnapping my daughter.”
“Do we have proof of this, Mr. Mayor? Perhaps you should let the police handle the case?”
“There’s no time for that. I must rescue my daughter immediately.”
“Well, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that, Mr. Mayor. The PD frowns on vigilantism.”
With that, he slaps a pair of handcuffs on my wrists and reads me my rights.
“I see,” I say. “So you’re with them.”
“What’s that?” he says, hitting me with his baton.
“THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!” I shout. Breaking the cuffs, I deliver a solid left hook to his jaw. Staggering backward, he tries to use his stick on me again. I grab a garbage can lid and use it as a shield, then deliver a few jabs and an uppercut. Feeling especially annoyed at this supposed peace-officer, I deliver first an inverted atomic drop, then pick him back up for a reverse bulldog, which puts him totally out of commission. Exhausted and hungry, I stagger out of the alley, grabbing a turkey leg nestled in a stack of tires by the curb….
I walk on towards the bay and enter the park along the edge of the water. This so-called green space shouldn’t even be here, the result of millions of tons of reclaimed sand, soil, and rock left over from other city projects. Though it’s all new and the real estate expensive, all I see as I survey the park is the same grime and graffiti I will get rid of, Mad Gear be damned. I break a barrel under a lamppost and find a bottle of soda inside. I chug it down and walk into a public restroom with only the faintest hope of relief, for the public restrooms of this city are the filthiest I have ever encountered. Obviously, the hygiene of the city was not important to the previous mayor, but the hygiene of the city is the canary in the coalmine. Crime establishes its fungal roots in the rotten undergrowth of civic negligence. No sooner have I finished than three roughnecks waltz in looking like they not only own the place, but live in it. Before any of them can make a move, I go up to the one closest to me. I start head-butting him quickly and repeatedly—I have already head-butted him about a dozen times before his knees start giving out and I have to hold him up by his shirt. Stop! the others start yelling, but by the time I do, he is a bloody mess, all trace of a human face now erased. The other punks start to make a run for it when I grab their heads and smash them together, knocking them out. I make my way out of the restroom. Awaiting me is a brooding hulk whose name and reputation is quite well known to me. An ex-pro-wrestler, Abigail had found that crime pays better than working the regional pro-wrestling circuits. I know I have to be careful with this opponent and try a tackle. Abigail jumps out of the way and I almost catch him with a leg sweep. He rolls away. We circle each other again when I suddenly drop down and deliver a forward sweep that almost shatters both his shins. Once he’s down, I have the instinctual urge to pin him, before I remember where I am and deliver a perfect leg drop instead. I pick him up. Remembering his old finishing move, I put my arms around his neck and deliver a perfect DDT, ending the match….
I finally make my way uptown to the corporate hub of the city. Everything is more or less spotless—no thugs waiting in the wings—but I know that this is where the orders are given, where the originary crimes are committed. I’m all for big business, but when big business becomes big crime, I must put a stop to it. They are not above it all, no matter how tall the buildings, how high up the penthouses. The uptown district may buy and maintain its own streetlights. With greater illumination than the rest of the city, two hundred and twenty volts instead of the usual one hundred and ten, it is a luminosity that only serves to obscure. I enter a building where I know I’ll find him—Belger—the head of Mad Gear. I know that little creep has my daughter. I walk through the sinister ebony door. The enormous, plush lobby looks more like a five-star hotel lobby than anywhere people would actually make their homes. I punch out the doorman before he has a chance to make a move. Here in the building, at this stage of my journey, I must be brutal. I must be a pit-bull on the pantleg of opportunity if I want to rescue my daughter. I make my way up the stairs, all one hundred flights, and come out at the rooftop garden, complete with palm trees, swimming pools with lounge chairs, and umbrellas. It makes me sick that these symbols of happiness and prosperity have been perverted, have been deranged to suit the habits of the criminally wealthy. At the other end of the garden there is a final protuberance, a tumescence ridiculously in the shape of a medieval cloister with cathedral motifs like stained glass and stone work on floors and walls. The only jarring notes are the long red carpet, office furniture, and a chandelier that misses crushing me by inches.
“What are you doing here?”
The shrill voice of Belger scratches my ears. He’s on some kind of combination office chair, wheelchair, and La-Z Boy recliner. On his lap, my daughter is writhing in his embrace. I rush up to them and grab the entire Satanic pieta, chair and all. The chair falls apart in my arms and I allow wriggle room for my daughter to slip out. Then, I squeeze Belger and deliver a devastating suplex. He gets up from the floor, snatching a crossbow from the wall—not even willing to attempt a fair fight. Any sense of restraint, of composure, is gone. I black out.
When I come to, I am back at home with my daughter by my side. My policy advisors are recommending a presidential run.
Jose Silva was born and raised along the Texas side of the US-Mexico border and now lives in New York City, where he is writing a novel about life on the border. His writing has previously appeared in BODY.