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lived in the tent cities. The fringe was a sad, crazy, violent place of deep bitterness and general mental disorder. It took Coco and the brothers —and all their friends—months to pull Maxim out of there. He finally began to train again—this time as a spearman. A year later he returned to the sport with his brothers along side the new sensation Big-E White, the youngest son of old Buster White, who had been a top Lion-Fighter back in the day. When Maxim returned, he was wearing his now famous titanium leg with seven encrusted jewels. He was on the cover of Sports Photo-Journalism and all over world media. In the ten years that followed, he collected more single-spear lion hearts then any man before him. Big-E would bat the lion’s head, slash their throats and Maxim would pierce their hearts while the other three Le Muffett brothers held off the rest of the pride with razor-tipped spears equipped with laser eye-blind technology. Together they had captured the World Cup for ten years running. In living rooms and sports bars throughout the world people would chant: “Out in three with Max & Big-E!”. They had posted so many “single-triples” as it was called in the sport, that it was widely accepted that no other team would ever break the Le Muffett record. In the sports world, they were considered even greater then the 1717 Giantsox in baseball. And now Maxim considered the end of it all. The retirement of Big-E White would close the entire era in Lion-Fighting. Samoan Lanai would clean up everything that was left until some of the new guys began to catch the public fancy. “Well” Maxim muttered, “I guess it’s like the Indian poet Hari said, ‘all things must pass’”. Big-E nodded quietly. Then Maxim posed his next question. “This have anything to do with the Little B incident?” He asked this cautiously. He was nervous about bringing the subject up. Big-E White winced and his brother-in-law studied him with a pained looked of his own. “You sure there are no copies of that tape?” He frantically asked Maxim. It was a thought from deep down that bothered him for weeks. “Come on Big-E. We all oafies. Nobody in the crew would’ve done anything but kill that record of what went down out there.” It had happened in the final match of the previous season and the two men hadn’t really talked in depth about it since. As the Le Muffett team had wrapped up their tenth-straight World Cup two matches before, there was no pay-per-view. It was to be shown tape delay on a later date. When they didn’t turn the backup drive into the league office—citing technical equipment failure—the match was called a Lion Victory. It was only the second loss on their ten-year record which also included four draws. Gossip swirled that they hadn’t even done the lion fight. Some stories circulated that Big-E had been mauled. He had to go on the news live at the beach wearing only Tight &Tiny shorts to dispel that one. Other stories went around that Maxim was drinking again and it had caused them to forfeit the last match. That story had been harder to put down. Maxim had to go on all the sports shows and explain that it was just a case of a failed backup drive and nothing more. He told people it had been a regular match—just another “punk lion” who gotten smashed, slashed and speared by him and Big-E and the boys. Nothing more, or less. But for the Le Muffett crew it had been the match they would never forget. One they now referred to as “the Little B incident”. With footage of the event destroyed nobody would ever believe such a thing. It was too strange. For the first time in twelve years of professional Lion-Fighting, Big-E White had lost his balance in the middle of a “death zone”. He’d jumped down to a flat piece of granite to drop a gravity-aided, over-hand pinwheel smack to the Lion’s head. Big-E was already planning to flip around onto its back and slit the Lion’s throat when the beast froze up after the hit. But he had slipped on the granite coming down and did the splits. The lion swung and knocked him five feet into a corner and then just hovered above him for a long moment with what Big-E called, “smiling eyes”. He told everyone; “it’s the same kind of smiling eyes we all get when Coco brings a big platter of her famous lion heart fajitas into the room”,. The lion had all of the leverage. Big-E White knew he was a dead man. It was his throat that was going to be laid into! Then suddenly the lion’s eyes stopped glittering and rolled up toward the top of its sockets. It let out a wild roar and careened forward on top of Big-E. Blood began to puddle from underneath as it turned off him onto it’s back. He pounded its chest with his blade. Then he saw what had happened—just why the lion had collapsed and the puddle of blood came spilling out from underneath. One of the lion’s
testicles had been savagely ripped off! He looked up and saw Little B, thirty feet down the trail trotting off with his little butt wiggling. The other lions quickly fled and the crew coalesced around Big-E. He blurted out what had happened and what he had seen. When the men came upon Little B, Coco’s tiny poodle dog was sitting off in a patch of shade around some flat ground rock. He was picking away at the last of the lion testicule—just like he would at home, surrounding the crystal plate with a mound of Poodle Feast Coco always served him on his little mat in the kitchen. He looked up at the men with the same sweet, innocent look that was always on his face. The only difference was that the fur around his mouth was stained with the lion’s blood. “Then he decide to fall asleep on my lap for four hours as we driving back!” said Maxim. He pointed his chin down and slowly shook his head. “And…his little belly is all puffed up with the lion nut.” Big-E, who had driven them in the van back, laughed. He hadn’t heard that. But Maxim didn’t think of it as funny. He now regarded Coco’s dog as “freakish”. While they waited for Little B to be cleaned up at the Poodle Parlor he had told Big-E and his brothers that they should just get rid of him and tell Coco he got snagged by a coyote. The crew erupted as one in protest. “He saved Big-E’s life Max!” said Ronnie, the youngest of the Le Muffett siblings. “And he most likely saved a couple mo of us as well. We was getting whacked by them cats, Oafie!” He couldn’t believe his oldest brother had said what he said. Maxim made his case to them in a clenched voice he held just above a whisper: “Do you want yo kids around that dog? You know how the little ones be pulling on his tail. He gonna turn on one. Ronnie, you wanna give that dog a chance to chew your boy’s nuts off?” Once again they all protested, saying that Little B was part of the family. “He was just protectin’ Big-E”, Ronnie said emphatically. “He only gonna protect the kids if he get a chance…if you don’t have him whacked!” With that Maxim had flicked out both his hands in an annoyed gesture of resignation. He could feel the wave of disgust rising up against him. “U’all do what you want” he said as a last word. “I’m keepin’ my kids away from Little B!” “Yeah, right” said Big-E. “And what are going to say to Coco?” Maxim thought for a moment as a different question had come into his mind. “The real question is, how are we gonna stop Randi from spreading the story to Robert? He tell Coco everything!” That was the real problem for the Le Muffett crew. They had had to bring Little B to Randi at his Poodle Parlor salon. They hadn’t yet thought about how to aquire his confidentiality. Robert was Coco’s personal assistant. Randi and him had become involved in a torrent love affair and were on the verge entering first level marrige. Randi had Little B cleaned, freshly clipped, and slightly scented with the “hint of jasmine” perfume that Coco always loved. He brought him out to the crew of Lion-Fighters, holding him close and with a raised eyebrow. “I would like to hear the story now Big-E”, he said almost parentally. When first presented with the blood stained-poodle dog, he had gathered him up in his arms and swept him away into his work area without a word.
Big-E was considered to be among the greatest of bullshiters. He’d picked this up from his dad old Buster—who could spin a tale faster then a birthday clown balloon artist could have a group of kids smiling at his fresh creations. For years, Buster had been in great demand as a Lion Fighting color commentator. After pondering the situation for a moment, Big-E decided the truth would be the best story in this particular situation. “Randi, you’re not really into Lion-fighting are you?” “No Big-E, I certainly am not. I’ll tell you straight up that I think it’s gruesome.” “…And that’s cool. About half the world feels that way. It’s a lot like boxing or football, not everybody appreciates it.” “Or Bullfighting” added Maxim thoughtfully with the special gravitas he brought to conversations of this type where Big-E and him had to work someone like this.
“I’d say it’s worst then all three of them put together” replied Randi. He didn’t feel it was really possible to overstate just how gruesome a sport Lion-Fighting
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