West Marston



West Marston is a writer from LA, and this work is dedicated to both of my grandfathers.

The Theatre Suicide

Music Selection: “22nd Century” by Nina Simone

Scene One – Apportionment of Wounds

“I don’t think there exists, two fighters better suited to represent all of boxing right now, than the two men in this fight tonight. I think Kendrick Castillion as the challenger and Pope Augustine as the champion was meant to be. I think this fight is fate,” Braddock, one the commentators ring side, says to his partner, who is already nodding in agreement.

The walk up the stairs is a fair warm-up, given that Pope is heading all the way to the nose-bleed seats. It’s a private stairwell, but it’s still several dozen flights. Pope emerges from the stair case already smiling, already hearing people chanting. He has no security with him, no coaches, no one. Pope just has his robe, his gloves, and his championship belt. He wipes his nose and heads into the stands.

“And you talk about fate, Kendrick has stated numerous times that he has had dreams of this day, of this chance. He has been claiming prophetic dreams of the heavyweight belt since he was a teenager. He has never claimed to win it, but he always knew he would be here. Its belief, faith, that has brought this little Salvy here, or so he claims,” Louis, the second commentator, says with a bit of a laugh.

“Other than raw talent, obviously.”

The nose-bleeds erupt in roars so loud that the entire arena has to look up to them for understanding. They swarm the Champ. They swarm him. Pope has to keep them from picking him up, trying to ease them down, but excitement at his mere presence is overwhelming them.

“And while we are talking about Kendrick, I think it’s important that we discuss his record, because his professional record, of twenty-five wins and two losses is in no way an actual reflection of his true record,” Braddock states.

“It’s very common knowledge that Castillion started in the underground circuit, in completely unsanctioned fights that can never be counted in his official record, and the problem is that we don’t actually know how extensive that record is. We have people telling us that his wins are actually in the high thirties, with others claiming he has almost fifty wins total to his name, fighting almost every day for a short period of time. We don’t know what he was doing underground, but we do know he was winning.”

“I mean, not to speculate too much on this topic, but the most prevalent rumor is that Castillion won a match with two broken hands. That his coach taped him up, and he fought until he won.”

Pope manages to calm the crowd down a bit, bumping fists with several people, giving hugs, and even throws one of the younger kids on his shoulder. The boy’s father is close to tears as he watches the World Champion lift his son into the air. The boy lifts both fists into the air, Pope and the crowd roaring for him.

“His first legitimate fight was at the Olympics and he won gold. Since that time, and since officially entering this league, Kendrick has been almost unstoppable, bringing that raw, bare-knuckle energy to every fight. He doesn’t have the belt, but most here tonight consider him a champion of the people.”

“You’re right, Louis and I think that is the most important thing, going into this fight, and hits on what we were talking about earlier. These two men are more than just fighters. These two are heroes. These are guys that people believe, genuinely believe, fight for them. People don’t watch a Kendrick fight and see a fighter, they see themselves. And Pope has been the undefeated Champ for five years. Five years he has defended that title and never lost once. People have believed in him for over a decade. So what we have for this fight is two men who hold the dreams of others in their hands.”

Pope leads an exodus. The entire nose-bleed sections, all the people who could barely afford seats are taken from the highest perch and lead down to the ring. More than a thousand people descend toward the ring, and no one makes a movement to stop them, because Pope is leading them.

Kendrick is already in the ring, and can only watch as the aisles fill up, as spectators line up behind the press, behind the cameras, as the lights reflect in their eyes, as they look up in awe at him, to finally see him up close, to finally see the crown on his chest, to see his gloves, his eyes, to finally see the man. Pope stands with them, almost laughing as Kendrick searches through the sea of faces for some kind of meaning.

Pope lowers the boy from his shoulder. “What’s your name?”


“I need you to do me a favor, pal. I need you to hold this for me. And you keep holding on, even if I go down and even if I lose. You keep this, okay? It’s for all of them,” Pope places his Championship belt over the kid’s shoulder and points with his fist to the entire stadium, to everyone present.

The boy nods quickly, and Pope puts his hand to his hair, and rubs his head. He gives the boy a wink, before heading into the ring. The belt is almost too much weight for the boy to carry, being more than fifteen pounds of gold, and it takes both of his arms to keep it in place over his shoulder. But he doesn’t let it fall. And no one around him would have let it fall either.

“And the Champ has finally arrived.”

“In style no less.”

“We would expect nothing less of Pope Augustine,” Braddock shakes hands with a few of the new spectators behind him.

Pope goes to his corner and removes his robe, listening to his coach and corner man telling him a few things.

A microphone lowers to the center of the ring and the announcer grabs it, reading the names of the fight’s sponsors. The two men take time to drink some water, pace a little, and just try to stay warm as the ads are read.

Physically, Pope is less than an inch shorter than Kendrick, but his chest is wider, his arms are bigger too. The Champ has long dark brown hair, kept in a loose ponytail. His face is warm, like he’s incapable of frowning or scowling. There are kisses of grey in his beard. He doesn’t have any scars, no held-on wounds or markers of fighting. His face is pristine and his jaw is strong. The ads finish up.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is the main event of the evening! This fight is fifteen rounds for the heavyweight championship of the world,” the announcer says into the mic, people now rising to their feet, knowing it is close to starting. The announcer then points at Kendrick.

“Introducing first, fighting out of the blue corner, the challenger, with a professional record of 25 wins, 2 losses. Standing at 6 feet 7 inches, weighing 235 pounds, fighting out of Los Angeles, California, the son of El Salvador… Kendrick ‘REGIA’ Castillion!”

It is thunder in the arena, thunder, and all Kendrick can do is lift his arm in appreciation of the recognition.

“Introducing his opponent, fighting out of the red corner, the undisputed Champion, with a perfect professional record of 56 fights, no losses! Standing at 6 feet 6 inches, weighting 240 pounds, fighting out of Rome, Italy, the reigning, the undefeated, ‘THE BEAUDACIOUS’ Pope Augustine!”

The announcer almost roars it just to be heard, the people overtaking the amps and speakers. The police aren’t trying to control the crowd in anyway, because they are cheering just as loud. Half of them have bets on the fight also and people are even buying them beers. The box seats are completely empty, as are most of the upper decks. Everyone, everyone in the stadium is trying to be ringside, or as close to ringside as they can get.

“The respect these two men have shown each other throughout the entire press circuit has been admirable.”

“Kendrick is fighting his hero. He has never wanted to disrespect the man. If he loses, he’ll probably do it smiling, Braddock. The kid has always just wanted a shot.”

The referee brings the two fighters to center ring. “I already explained the rules to you both. Let’s make this a good fight, gentlemen. Follow my instructions at all times. Protect yourselves at all times. If you want to touch gloves, do it now.”

Pope offers both of his gloves, and Kendrick lowers his head, bowing in respect first. He then puts his fists to the Champion and the bell to start the match rings out.



Scene Two – The Pillow of Shame

“Championship round! OH MY GOD!” Louis is excited, but is also clearly exhausted.

“These men have gone to war with each other. They have gone to war!” Braddock shouts into his mic. “And win, lose, or draw, ‘The Beaudacious’ Pope Augustine has sworn that this is his last fight. This is retirement for him.”

The ring, from corner to corner, is covered in blood. All four corners and the ropes themselves have red on them, wet and dripping. Center ring has it worst, whatever ads were there are completely soaked through now, left as nothing more than a wet stain in the canvas.

“This is a fight that could have, could, have been ended in the 8th. But this is also a fight that should have, should, have one hundred percent been stopped in the 11th. One hundred percent. The fact that we are now in the 15th round is astounding to me. Astounding, in a way that isn’t good, Louis.”

“I think I have to agree with you, Braddock. I think tomorrow, we’re gonna wake up to an entirely different league. I think tomorrow, following this fight, this entire league is going to have an overhaul and there are going to be a whole new set of rules.”

Both Pope and Kendrick refuse to sit in their corners, instead choosing to stand, choosing—in their moments of peace—to just look at each other. They keep smiling at each other, as if 42 minutes of fighting mean nothing to them. But Pope’s entire left arm is broken, from his shoulder, to his elbow, and even his wrist, all of it is broken.

“Okay, but let me say this, because both fighters have been dropped, but when they were dropped, they both went down swinging, and not just swinging, but connecting. They might have hit the canvas, but they scored points doing it, Louis. And honestly, I don’t know how to explain that.”

“I mean, at the mid-way point, they both came out looking like they had just finished a warm-up session. They outright ignored the pain and blood loss, and looked like fresh fighters.”

“I absolutely believe that Kendrick could have taken this in the 8th round, and when it was smart for him to circle, when he was leading, he decided to go in for more, to go in to get hit more, to trade blows, and Pope is a man to stay on the outside, but if pushed he will return blows like a man in his fucking twenties. Excuse my language but that is the truth.”

The minute of rest ends, the coaches and corner men recede behind the ropes. They leave the ring to just be the two fighters.

“I want to say this again, in case somehow, you missed it, but the three knock-down rule is in effect, and both men have been knocked down twice. Meaning, if either of them falls during the next three minutes, they will automatically lose,” Louis says this and almost drops his head as the words leave his mouth. He shakes his head and rubs his mouth and that is just to keep himself up.

The referee calls both men out of their corners, and they come forward, both lifting their hands, instinctively ready to fight, ready to protect themselves, but when the bell rings, when the referee lets them loose on each other, the only thing they are capable of doing right away is coming forward and hugging each other. It’s not a clinch and it’s not something to kill time. It’s fucking respect and they pat each other on the back before pulling away, before lifting their hands again, before fixing their feet, fixing their stance, before getting back into it completely.

It’s a short break, but the two are back to fighting shape, and ready to fully face each other. Then they start swinging on each other.

“And they get right back into it, Jesus Christ, swinging on each other like this is the end of the world. Pope who is normally a southpaw has switched stances so many times we’ve lost count, and is now favoring his right, but Kendrick normally a brawler is sticking to the outside, or at least trying, trying to be smart, but he keeps pulling in, keeps getting hit and that claim that his chin is made of diamond is holding true because here he comes now with heavy hands through a barrage by the Champ! A right, a left, upper cut!” Louis shouts, on his feet, holding people around him for support as much as they are holding him for support.

Kendrick leads Pope into the ropes and starts unloading, almost all body shots while Pope fires at his unprotected head, hammering his skull back and forth with hits. His eyes would roll back if they had time to do it.

Pope’s hand lowers when he finally feels his ribs break, even though several had broken earlier in the fight, it was just that now they finally started to push more inward on his organs. He could feel one in particular poking at his right lung, but he tries to keep his hands up… tries.

“The Champ is in trouble! He’s in trouble!!” Braddock shouts, also getting to his feet, joining the entire stadium that is already there.

With Pope against the ropes, and his hand dropping lower and lower, Kendrick fires off several quick hooks, hard hooks, and follows that up with quick crosses that make Pope’s hands drop even quicker but his knees are stiff and he stands his ground, leaving his face open for Kendrick’s jab that comes in heavy and breaks his nose, breaks his nose on contact, pushing the bone and cartilage dangerously close to his brain, but Pope fucking Augustine doesn’t go down, he stays standing, trembling, but he stays up.


The wood pads are slapped together, telling the fighters, telling everyone, that there is only ten seconds left in the round.

Pope is unable to lift his hands, and all he can do, all that is in his power is to remain standing. Kendrick already has tears in his eyes and takes a step back. He drops his hands also but never stops looking at his hero.

“I love you.”

Pope barely hears it.

 Kendrick steps back and spits on the ground, his blood soaked saliva hitting the mat right in front of the referee’s shoes. Kendrick ‘Regia’ Castillion then points at the ref.

“I’ll kill you… I’ll kill you.” The stadium is so quiet that everyone in attendance hears his statement.

Kendrick walks toward his corner, the bleeding from his eye pushing through the Vaseline, and dripping down his face, down his chest, down his leg, past his shoes, and these single drops of blood hit the canvas.

The referee comes toward Pope, but the Champ pushes him away, almost punching him out of the way. He pushes everything away from himself, even the air, trying to be totally alone in the ring, trying to have it as just him and Kendrick in the ring as the bell start to ring.

As the final second ends, both fighters meet eyes—blood shot and swollen shut—they both manage to meet eyes as the 15th round ends.

Man truly became his God.






Scene Three – The Severing Abyss

“After fifteen rounds of fighting, we go to the judges’ score cards for the decision,” the announcer says, there is a stillness to the crowd as they wait to hear the results.

The two fighters are at center ring, the referee holding one hand of each man. The blood under their feet will forever stain this canvas. It will never be removed.

“Nogueira scores it 148-147 for Augustine. Tedesco scores it 148-147 for Castillion. And Grillo scores it 148-147, for your winner by split decision!”

Both men go breathless, with Kendrick looking up, toward the ring lights while Pope looks down to his shoes, to the blood under him. He looks out to the crowd. It’s a sea of faces but he can make out the individuals, the parents with their children, the brothers with their sisters. The couples together and the groups of friends chanting. It was all of these people who had made him a king. It was their voices, their spirits that empowered him. His bows his head to them.

“And… NEW!”

As he hears the second word, as it processes in his head, as the three letters are put together and become coherent, Kendrick drops to his knees. The referee is already lifting his hand.

“Heavyweight Champion of the World! Kendrick ‘REGIA’ Castillion!”

People rush into the ring, leaping over the ropes, coming forward to touch him, to touch the new Champ. But Pope gets to him first. He brings him up off his feet and the two hug, they hug tight, Kendrick pushing his face against Pope’s shoulder, hiding his tears. Pope pats his head.

“You’re my brother, Kendrick. I love you. You’re my brother.” Pope lifts Kendrick’s hand now.

The people take Kendrick’s other hand and hold it up too. He can’t even look at everyone around him, too overwhelmed by it all, so he keeps his head down, keeps his eyes closed and just feels it. He feels the pulse of their hearts in his hand. He can feel Pope’s pulse too, the rhythmic drums in the distant. It gives him courage and he lifts his head, and faces everyone around him. His coach comes out with the Salvadoran flag and drapes it over his fighter’s back, like it’s a cape.

Louis manages to push his way through the people, and brings a microphone with him, and makes toward Kendrick.

“Great fight Champ, great fight. Congratulations on the win, but I got to ask, you’ve been after that belt since you were a teenager, who do you feel about it being in the crowd tonight?” Louis puts the mic toward Kendrick, who still has tears in his eyes.

He licks his lips, thinking first, and feels several people hugging him from behind.

“I think Pope was the people’s Champ and he’s gonna live forever. I might have won, but I think the belt is where it needs to be. Where it belongs. Out there, with them,” he points to the audience and they all chant his name. His lifts his fist again for them, and nods at them, trying to nod at individual faces he finds.

“Well, we got a bit of surprise for you,” Louis says and motions with his hand.

An older man, the commissioner of the league comes forward and he is holding a new belt.

“You deserve this,” the commissioner says and hands Kendrick his new championship belt.

The center plate is slightly different than Pope’s, but still large and still golden and the whole thing is still heavy to hold. But inscribed under World Heavyweight Champion is his name.

Kendrick Castillion.

The Champ lowers himself down, and sits on the canvas. He places the belt on his thighs, so it faces up and he can look at it. Pope makes room for him, and everyone respects it. Around and outside the ring there is still chanting, still celebration, but in the ring, between everyone that used to be sitting in the nose-bleeds, there is silence as Kendrick sits and is quiet and looks, only looks, at his title.

His fingers come forward and he starts feeling at the gold, at the leather, and at his own name. He lifts it, his tired arms straining to hold it up, and he pushes the gold against his forehead.


Three weeks after this fight, Pope Augustine ‘The Beaudacious’ would die in the hospital, after suffering a stroke in his home.



Final Scene – A Blood-Streaked Throat

It began here; all of this began here, in the dirt and dust, with chains and a distant, fading, dream of gold.

Kendrick manages to reach his hand out, trembling from exhaustion, his fingernails broken, his palms cut open, the chains on his shoulders so heavy they keep his tiny frame down more than anything else. But then the fists start to rain down. They punch his head, they punch his back. A metal baton swings down and slams into his out stretched arm. He screams with his face against the ground. And they keep laying into him. He is starved skinny, his ribs pushing against his bruised skin. The army surrounding him doesn’t relent just because he is a boy. They just keep hurting him until he finally stops fighting back. Until he gives up.

Once he is still and not moving, they stop hitting him. They grab the chains and start to pull him away. But, he gets flipped over as they pull him away and it comes back into his view. In the distance, in the dirt, alone in the field, is a chunk of gold. It’s a belt, and it has his name on it. It has his name, his family’s name. His eyes are blood shot, and his jaw doesn’t feel entirely connected in place, but he can still breathe. His nose isn’t completely broken, yet.

“Solo….solo tengo que tocarlo.”

It takes him a second to get to his feet under him from being dragged but he manages it. Kendrick stands and yanks at the chains, pulling them free of his captures, and sprints toward the belt.

“¡Puedo agarrarlo!”

They tackle him almost immediately but he throws an elbow into one of their faces and makes room for himself. They dive on the chains and keep him from fully standing, even as he pushes his body more and more into the metal, finding strength in the glint of the gold. Kendrick roars, roars as much as his teenaged body will allow for and even a bit past his limits.

They try to beat him down, but he rises, they try to beat him silent but he still roars, they try to beat him until he can’t move, but even with broken bones and burst veins, Kendrick keeps pulling himself forward.

“Estoy tan cercas….tan cercas…”

Él cava su mano en el polvo, y se jala adelante.

But it all ends here. At the end of time, at the end of all things, there is an arena. There is a ring. Pope sits in his corner. He has no coach or corner men with him. He just sits in his corner, on a massive throne made of obsidian. Beside him, sleeping peacefully on the hand rest of the throne is a small black and white cat. His only company in the ring. Pope is missing his entire left arm, lost some time earlier. His right eye is now made of glass, having no pupil or iris, having only a grey orb in his eye socket. His right hand is in a glove, taped up right, and he’s in his shorts, with his last name embroidered on the back. Pope is bigger in death than he was in life. His muscles are more defined, he’s taller, and his shoulders are even wider than before too. The shadow he casts reaches all the way to the other side of the ring.

A light in the opposite corner shines down. A new arrival. A recently deceased. Pope pushes his fist into the throne and rises to his feet. The stands were empty and cold, but with Pope on his feet, they start to warm, they start to glow, they start to vibrate, and slowly they begin to form. Bright and shining spirits, the noble dead form in the stands and start cheering. Warriors from every generation are here, along with every single person that has ever be in service and dedicated themselves to others, all stand in attendance, in witness.

Pope lifts his right hand and walks toward the new opponent.

“My name is Pope Augustine. I am the King of the Dead.”

His challenger doesn’t speak, but lifts their fists, ready.

Pope grins.

“Don’t worry. This is just so you don’t pass on without any regrets. We don’t have to fight, if you don’t want to.”

The opponent shakes their head and motions for him to come forward. “Come on, Champ! Come on! Give me a piece of forever.”

The Beaudacious grins even wider at the challenge and the fighters come forward. They touch gloves, back up, and then both shoot forward, swinging with all the strength of their arms.

The small black and white cat lifts her head, and watches the fight, waiting to see who would win.




Tomorrow becomes eternity.


© The Acentos Review 2019