Pride

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IV

The old saying goes, “Legends never die.” I have always appreciated that, ever since I was a little boy hearing tall tales of guys like Babe Ruth from my dad. Like the day that he called his shot over the centerfield wall, I thought it meant that their memory would live on even after they did. I never thought it could be so…literal.

I remember reading a story in middle school. It was called “The Devil and Daniel Webster.” In the story the devil shows up to claim the soul of a man with whom he had made a deal. The man, in turn hires Daniel Webster to defend him in open court with a jury comprised of some of the meanest, most hateful damned men the devil could conjure. Daniel Webster speaks so brilliantly in his defense that the man wins the case and keeps his soul. Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was less fiction to that then the author let on. If only I could get ahold of old Dan’l.

Until that day, or until the day Drake shows up with a young gun that can beat me, I am stuck here. I don’t know how long that will be, and honestly I don’t know how long it has been since my win over Les Sinclair. I lost track when time stopped mattering. It would seem the saying should be “Legends never die…until they stop being the Legend.” I see now that that is what I did for Les. When I beat him I created a story where he wasn’t the Legend. He was the guy I got the best of. And with that he faded away. No wonder he looked relieved.

I know what you are thinking. You are wondering why I don’t just let someone beat me. You’re wondering why keep going. If it were that simple I would have, but it is not. I did have that thought myself. But I have been around now for a very long time. Even when I first won it was three years before Drake found someone worthy of me. By then I assumed Lilly had moved on from me. I hoped she was happy. She deserved to be. And the money, Drake assured me, was real and kept going to our joint account. I hope she didn’t close it. I doubt she did. Drake isn’t a bad guy…or thing…he just is, and he assured me he would take care of it.

When you live alone, with just one responsibility for so long, you begin to take greater and greater pride in it. Now I don’t want to lose because I really am the best and I get better with each challenger. As long as I keep winning, my legend lives. And that is all I have now.

Also I’m scared shitless. I don’t know what happens when I finally lose. What happened to Les when he lost? Did he just fade away? Was his memory gone? Was history washed clean of his accomplishments? I don’t know, but I’m not ready to find out. Not yet anyway.

Maybe you could say I have embraced my station. Or maybe I am really as naturally predisposed to this as I told myself I was so many years ago. If any of my challengers had beaten me, would they hold up to it as well as I like to think I have? That is another question I don’t think I want answered. Really, neither do they. And so I keep playing and I keep winning. That is how I want to keep it until I don’t control it any more. So whenever I hear that discordant “E” on the piano I come. I come ready to play and win. For myself, for my family, and for every one of those poor bastards who will never know what they so narrowly escaped, I show up with the same thought in my head.

“Let’s rage. Let’s fucking rage.”

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