The Champ is Here
By Nathan Dragon - May 21, 2018
He’d never seen one of those ones before, one of the classic ones.
The ones that the cartoons take after.
In real life, though, it was pretty big and ugly in a prehistoric way. Scaly. A classic woodpecker.
He saw it one day when he pulled into the driveway, caught a quick glimpse of a some red and black bobbing its way up the tree then out of sight into branches and glare.
There was a pile of bark and woodchips at the foot of the big old scraggly pine and there were holes, in no particular pattern, going up the trunk.
Man, he thought. A classic woodpecker.
He wanted to tell someone right away and badly.
Show them the pile underneath the tree he parked in front of every day.
Man, he thought. Like the cartoon. Never seen one like that before. He’d never seen a classic woodpecker in real life in his life.
Reminded him of a different kind he saw once—one that had sat dead in the grass a few days. The familiarity just shy of being able to tell how it reminded him—like the lotion smell that reminded him of music instead of the fruit it says it smells like.
He felt like he learned something when he saw the real life classic woodpecker. It was something out of nature programming. Pulling into his driveway and seeing the woodpecker through the windshield.
He’d see it there as soon as he turned onto his street—his house was the first house on his street, the tree was right there.
And when he’d see it he’d slow the car down, you know, drove softly. Stopped and watched it. Best seat in the world.
He took pride that this woodpecker, a Pileated woodpecker, he did his research, chose the pine tree in front of his house and not a tree in front of anyone else’s house in town. He hoped he could come home to it every day.
The woodpecker and the feeling.
Man, he hoped he could come home to it every day.
Something about a sort of pride.
It had become his pride.
When it stopped coming he started looking out the back and side windows.
He’d had something special there. Lifted his spirits even for a day or two after the classic woodpecker stopped coming. And even sometimes when he thinks about the classic woodpecker, like how he hadn’t heard it make a sound, had never heard it pecking or whatever else.
But he did see it, its profile and the way it moved. Even saw it out the kitchen window once, flying off somewhere, and he thought about boxers. That boxers could really take lessons from the classic Pileated woodpecker. The way its head bobbed. How the bird seemed swifter than a featherweight, jabbing, moving.
Bob and weave.
Stick and move.
Nobody fights like that anymore, he’d said aloud.
When he stopped seeing it at first he worried. Then he wondered where it went and pictured himself fighting the homeowner somewhere in town, the homeowner that had the pine tree on their property that the woodpecker went to now.
Jab and move, baby.
Stick and move.
Bob and weave.
He’d knock on the door and say, The Champ is here. Maybe spit.
There had to be something he could do to make it last or to make it come back and stay. Maybe he should’ve parked up the street to not bother it.
All he could’ve done so that it would’ve stayed.
And not have gone to somebody else’s pine tree, probably.
Most things were like that. How it always happened, happened before and will happen again.
Something to react to.
And most things.
ARTWORK BY RAEGAN BIRD