Malon Edwards: The Remy Cut (fiction)





The corner from Walcott bends toward me. It has a bit more pace than usual. Don’t matter. The world moves in slow-motion.

Just like the Indigo said it would.

***

Pre-match interview:

Jimmy Falafel: What must you do to triumph and kiss the trophy tonight?

Remy Lamers: We need to just do it. Get it done. Play Gunners football. Leave it all on the pitch.

Jimmy Falafel: It’s been a long, hard-fought season. Thirty-eight games. Both the Gunners and the Red Devils stand alone atop the league table. Equal in points, goal difference and goals scored. Talk a little bit about the battle you must undertake in just minutes for this playoff match.

Remy Lamers: It’s war, man. Plain and simple. We ’bout to get it. We ’bout to battle hard.

Jimmy Falafel: There you have it. They’re about to get it. They’re about to battle hard. Over to you, Martin and Alan.

***

The Indigo want love. Our love. Human love.

I want a high temporal resolution. And maybe a Spanish villa. With a butler. And a Ferrari 458 Italia. With a Members Only jacket.

I think that’s a fair trade-off.

***

Smalling and I throw down in the box. I’m like, move, bitch, get out the way. For him, our tussling lasts only but a second. For me, it’s a four-second fight for position on the White Hart Lane pitch.

And then, I make my run.

Walcott’s ball picks me out for a successful connect. It hovers. Beckons. Invites me to read its logo through its languid spin.

Barclays Premier League. Nike Incyte. Official match ball. 2013-2014.

I jump.

Swoosh.

***

My very first time, the Indigo said it wouldn't hurt. That was true.

I felt no pain as they sawed open my skull. They went in through the crown of my head. Stood me up. Stuck me in a block of some cold, viscous goo. Tilted me back. Blinded me with overhead bright lights.

I think it helped that I couldn't see them. Wigged me out, though.

At every new whir and buzz and screech of machinery, I slit my eyes open. Deep blue shapes teased my peripheral vision. Played hide and seek with it.

The shapes could have just been my blurred eyelashes. Or they could have been the Indigo. Searching for my visual processing systems. Heating my sensory tissues. Increasing my metabolic rate.

Trading athleticism for love.

***

Smalling doesn’t have a chance.

I’m at the apex of my jump just as his quads flex. I’ll win this header. No contest.

Or so I think.

He leaps. Reaches behind his head. Unsheathes his Oakeshott from his scabbard. Delivers a backhand neck cut with the light short sword. All in one fluid motion.

I raise my left forearm. Block his strike with my carbon fibre titanium gauntlet. Sparks fly. The ball caroms off my head. Off target. Nowhere near the goal. Out of bounds.

Goal kick.

Dammit.

***

My second experience with the Indigo was very different from my first.

They dimmed the overhead bright lights. Played some knockin’ boots music. Whispered sweet nothings in my ear from the edges of the shadows. Spoke as one. Used that smooth brown brother voice. That mackdaddy voice.

And then, just as Lou Rawls told me he wasn’t tryin’ to make me stay, the Indigo switched it up with some Anita Baker.

I couldn’t help but bust out laughing as I lay in that cold-ass goo. They were playing my mixtape. The one I put on when I brought that fit li’l posh bird (still feels weird saying that) from Dublin I’d met at Whisky Mist back to my flat after our final match last season. She liked my American accent.

I hadn’t seen the Indigo yet, at that point, and I didn't love them none, neither. But I for damn sure liked them after that.

How could I not? Right now, they’re probably blasting my mixtape out into space. Back home.

***

For a non-meta, Smalling has good aerial ability. I won’t lie; he got some hops. Good reflexes. Good swordwork.

He reminds me of me before the Indigo made me meta. Before I started processing visual information four times faster. Before the world got slow.

But the kid can’t hang with this.

Evra concedes a corner. It’s just the second of the day for us.

Walcott places the ball. He lingers. He wants to get it right. No one wants to go to extra time. That could lead to a penalty shootout.

Those crossbows ain’t no joke. Just ask Rooney. He’s not wearing that headgear because it’s fashion-forward.

The referee checks our backs to make sure our swords are sheathed before he puts his whistle to his mouth. Smalling and I throw ’bows as we jostle for position in the box. So does everybody else.

We’ll remember these ’bows, these shoves, this tugging at the latches of light armor beneath our jerseys once we’re airborne. Once we slide our swords from the scabbards between our shoulder blades.

Rooney’s solid mass bashes into me from the left. His buckler is in his fist. He’s detached it from his chestplate. Carbon fibre titanium. Just like mine.

I know what’s about to go down, but I’m hemmed in by Smalling on my right. And then, Walcott delivers a sweet ball toward me.

***

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a Gunner.

My moms had brought her Louisiana Creole, her love for Thierry Henry, and me to the South Side of Chicago from Natchitoches. She left behind my triflin’-ass father and his heavy fists.

It was hard being a Gooner in the Manor surrounded by Bears fans. To them cats, football was the Monsters of the Midway. Trap blocks. Cover 2 defense. Not corner kicks and the Arsenal side.

Even at five years old, I was Gunners for life. I got it tattooed on my stomach. I wanted to play the Arsenal way.

The friendly neighborhood gang recruiter didn’t know what to do with me. I tripped him right the fuck out.  

When he came around the house sniffing for recruits, my moms told him no. Didn’t matter I’d have the brothers she never gave me. Didn’t matter I’d have more money than she could count. A diamond in the back. Sunroof top. Nine millimeter for both hands.

She closed the door in his face.

When our friendly neighborhood gang recruiter came around the second time, my moms went to the backyard and cut a switch off the maple tree. Ran his hard-headed ass back home.

He didn’t come around a third time. But just in case, my moms sent me to the Arsenal soccer school in Hawaii. Far away from his dumb ass.

I never made it to the Big Island. I had my first of many experiences with the Indigo on the way, though.

***

I jump earlier than I usually would to avoid Rooney’s shield punch. Don’t matter. His visual processing systems are jacked up, too.

Rooney’s buckler catches me in my hamstring. The carbon fibre titanium there takes the brunt of it. Still, I go arse over tit.

Shit.

***

The world didn’t slow down for me until after my twelfth experience with the Indigo.

What’s tripped out about that is I’ve lost just as many years. I think I spent them on their ship. Put a gun to my head and tell me to remember that chunk of my life, and I’d tell you to shoot.

Wouldn’t do much damage, though. There’s a big-ass hole in there. Not much in there to hold memories.

One day, I was five and three-quarters years old and on a plane to Hawaii. The next day, I was playing for the Fire. And I was damn good.

Had two hat tricks in four games. Scored five goals at the Bunker against the Reds. I could bend it into the box like nobody’s business. The Gunners wanted me on loan.

Tremendous respect for the Indigo came with the quickness after that. Thing is, they’d mistaken it for love. Don’t judge. Most sentient beings take whatever they can get.

Either way, the Indigo had given me what I’d wanted. Ever since I was that little boy with ‘Gunners for Life’ tattooed in Gothic script on his stomach.

And now, I’ve given the Indigo what they've always wanted. Ever since Levis Brosseau in 1929.

***

My only option is the bicycle kick. I’m set up perfectly for it.

But Smalling ain’t having it.

He slashes my left arm. My back. My ribs. His sword sings of bloodlust and deflected strikes. Sparks fly again.

And then, I hear a horrible, awful Wilhelm scream. With an accent. Coarse, dark hairs feather my left cheek.

It’s the Dutchman. Someone got under his armor.

He falls to his knees. Raises his jersey.  Removes his half-latched chestplate. Looks at his half-furred six-pack.

A swath of the dark, curled carpet has been shorn away from his stomach. Manscaped. I think most of it got in my mouth.

I turn my head and spit. Never liked him, anyway.

Focus, I tell myself.

I look back to the incoming corner. My right boot and the ball touch. A soft caress of kanga-lite and micro-textured casing. Until I snap-kick my leg.

It’s a clean strike as I volley the ball goalwards. De Gea’s left-hand post. He’s out of position. He dives too late to tip the ball over the bar.

Goal. Top corner. 91’ Remy Lamers.

Gunners 1, Red Devils nil.

***

Post-match interview:

Jimmy Falafel: That was a brilliant goal you smashed to the back post in the ninety-first minute. Take us through that set-piece.

Remy Lamers: First, I’d like to thank the Indigo, the head of my life, who, without Their devices and procedures, I wouldn’t be here today.

Worship is a lot like love. The public declaration of it makes it true.

***

Fire licks the frame of my bed. The wavy cutout headboard. The crown moulding where the rope lights should be.

We are illuminated against the walls by yellow-orange-blue flames. They curl and spike and crest in the darkness. There is no harm in their slow-motion movement. Only thrall and excitement.

Just like the fit bird on top of me.

Her name is Ruth. She’s from Dublin. She lives near Phoenix Park. She likes the Viking cemetery there. When she blinks, she blings. Diamond-encrusted eyelashes.

My Bonaldo Glove super king size bed is by Giuseppe Vigano. The flames won’t damage its Emery leather frame. It’s thick. It’s not bonded leather.

Neither will the fire twist and warp the white gloss of the headboard. It’s Italian.

Which means it’s expensive.

These are the thoughts that make me last longer. These are the thoughts that make the world slower.

You ready to get started now, luv?

In four seconds, Ruth will realize we’ve already started. Tomorrow, we will go find a Spanish villa. The next day, my Ferrari. The day after, more diamond-encrusted eyelashes.
This is my life now. Gunners for life.

I just hope it isn’t swallowed up by the hole in my head.
 



Malon Edwards was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, but now lives in Mississauga, Ontario, where he was lured by his beautiful Canadian wife. Many of his short stories are set in an alternate Chicago and feature people of color. Currently, he serves as managing director and grants administrator for the Speculative Literature Foundation, which provides a number of grants for writers of speculative literature.

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