By the time they rang the brass bell, Jep Winters was dead, his wife was no longer a virgin, and Sam John was wearing the leather winner’s belt, standing in the center of the ring and laughing. The maidenhead had nothing to do with Sam. It was a direct result of a repressed homosexual boxer who never tried women and a spurned wife who had never tried liquor. The death was tangentially related. None of it mattered in the grand scheme of things except to the old woman. The old woman smiled.
It took a while to sort out. New champion, death, and hymen destruction – that’s a lot to pack into the VFW on a Saturday night. All the yardmen were there. Plus there was a carnival in town. The carnival was full of junkies and miracles. People loved the carnival. They loved to fight and fuck and die there just like anywhere else.
Old man Porter, the mayor, liked to dress up in women’s clothing, but no one knew it except for Father O’Leary.
Jep’s body was burned. What was left of it. His wife ended up birthing a bastard right around the beginning of Spring, but she told everyone that it was Jep’s last gift to her. Sam John retired after his championship fight. He lived out his days eating pureed vegetables and shitting himself, the title belt around his soft waist. No one boxed in town after that night. Everyone figured the devil was going to the fights, and, in some ways, they were right.
Father O’Leary preached about the sins of the flesh, while he kept the secrets of his congregation in the back pocket of his pants to tinker with when he got bored. His diversions were God-sanctioned after all.
The old woman returned to the trees and vanished.
No one was around to see it.