Fiction | Giant by Jacob Parker

0
131

Jacob Parker


Giant

 

When he debuted America in 1996 the scales finally tipped at 679 pounds.
………..49 stone.
………..We needed a giant, the promoter said.
6 feet 11 inches. Giant Haystacks. Renamed ‘Loch Ness’ for WWF.
………..Snarling. Snaggle-toothed. Lumbering penguin-footed.
From behind he looked like an old man.
………..Saw off Jim Duggen though – ‘I’ll challenge any wrestler in the world.’
………..Had his eyes on Hogan too – ‘Not good enough to beat me.’

His daily diet consisted of
………..21 pints of milk, 8lbs of sausages, 10 large loaves, 2 edam cheeses, and more.
Took all three seats on a plane.
………..His home – all specially reinforced furniture.

Behind the pantomime, Martin Ruane. Kind, intelligent, deeply religious man. Devoted to his
wife, Rita (5ft2”). Met as teenagers.  Three sons.
He’d done every kind of work you’d expect of a big man cast in his type:
………..Timber factory, tyre firm, heavy goods vehicle driver, night club bouncer.
Before wrestling.
………..Where he let his form define who he was seen to be. Learned to play the villain by not saying much at all. Cautioned to one-word answers. To hide his gentle nature. The politeness in his bones.
………..
Absorbed all that hate – the booing, jeering, spitting.
We needed a giant.

………..‘I like to drive wherever I can,’ he said. ‘The car is my thinking place. I work it all out there. I’m a loner. I don’t need friends.’
………..But there was Thatcher, McCartney, Sinatra. Even the Queen was a fan.

More circus than sport, the doubters said.
………..Injuries real enough though. Dislocated ribcage. Broken fingers. Lacerations.
And then the ex-rugby player, the magnificent King Kong Kirk – heart attack in Great Yarmouth Hippodrome after a hideous Big Daddy belly-flop.

Not for fortune either.
………..At his peak Haystacks was only clearing £600 a week.

Then axed from ITV.
………..Debt collector. Car salesman.
………..
And finally, lymphoma.
………..………..
Out for the long count at 52.

Gone now, the big men.
………..Mick McManus. Danny Lynch. Big Daddy. Len Britton.
And your dad too. A big man as well. He was always           there, you said.           His frame.
Stature.
His      body.               That’s what you remembered.
………..
Physical presence.
He grounded your swirling family. The anchor for all you unwieldy, long-haired girls
………..flapping around him.  He adored that.
………..
Then an ill big man. Grounded to his armchair now. Watching wrestling             with his
four daughters           nestling round him      pulled in             as you watch this unbelievable
act    unfolding before you –           Haystacks in the 6th round             with Kendo Nagasaki.
………..His greatest rival.        ‘My most formidable opponent.              A wrestler to be          in
awe of.’
………..And Haystacks            sure enough     by the 6th         has been destroyed.
Nagasaki has laid everything into this huge, now unconscious form.             Unimaginable
suffering:
………..
People’s elbows. Pile drivers. Sleeper hold. Three astounding             top-rope flops.
And in what is meant to be     the final pin     on the last       count                   Haystacks breaks
the hold
………..
and now
………..………..
begins to rise

as you watch   spellbound      this giant         rising from the canvas, out         from all of that                  ………..……….  .incredible hurt             his great weight lifting                             hauled
……. ….hulked              first one knee  then the other  pushing                           grounding up        up

and all of you believing                     despite everything      that something like this
………..something so   huge    so unbelievable           might just be possible
that there was somebody        who could withstand such pain          and still           get up
………..
standing now
………..
his whole         magnificent form        risen
………..
and Nagasaki frantic
………..………..
not knowing where     to run
………..………..………..from this hideous miracle.

 

Jacob Parker lives in London and teaches in a sixth form college. His short fiction has also featured in Structo, Open PenMIR Online, Litro, The Interpreter’s House, and others.


To discover more content exclusive to our print and digital editions, subscribe here to receive a copy of The London Magazine to your door every two months, while also enjoying full access to our extensive digital archive of essays, literary journalism, fiction and poetry.