By: Michael Chin
Rey Mysterio, five-foot-six, professional wrestling’s littlest star, presses his masked forehead to the forehead of children in the crowd on his way to the ring. He whispered to each one variations on the same message.
Not words of confidence or inspiration.
A simple plea: I can’t do this alone. I need you with me.
And so the children share in his victories. Winning the World Championship at WrestleMania 22. Winning it again on a Monday night, five years later.
Leaping from the top rope.
Flipping through the air.
Springboard hurricanranas, diving splashes, tiger feint kicks, moonsaults, somersault seated sentons.
The children, they were with him. They were good. They were strong. They could fly.
But what of those other nights?
The night Chris Jericho stole his mask? The night Alberto Del Rio broke his arm? The night when seven-foot-tall Kevin Nash flung Rey, like a lawn dart, head first into the side of trailer? The night when the mighty Big Show had already pummeled Rey to unconsciousness, until he was loaded on a stretcher, and then lifted the little man, stretcher and all, and swung him like a baseball bat into the ring post.
Did the children feel their spines tingle? Their bodies fracture?
Surely, tears welled in their eyes for this little man, whose body they would outgrow.
Rey Mysterio wore his mask, so that he might never age. So that he might never fade or die or be forgotten. So that he might never be alone.
But these children—they must learn to stand on their own.
Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at Oregon State University. He won the $1,000 2014 Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction from the University of New Orleans and has previously published or has work forthcoming in over thirty journals including The Normal School, the Prairie Schooner online, Word Riot, Gravel, and Bayou Magazine. F