Bernie sat cross-legged on the harsh, loose gravelled carpark surface. His posture one of slumped resignation, his downward stare a confirmation of his defeat. 30 minuets before this he had been a champion that would swear black and blue that there was not a man alive that could de-throne him from his self declared kingship. He examined his knuckles, they were torn and bloody and his opponents front tooth had embedded itself firmly in his right index knuckle. His wrists torn to shreds from grappling hard on the pavement, his his left knee swelling with a warm feeling letting him know that something had defiantly been smashed.
The bars outdoor lights flickered across the carpark allowing scattered visons of old and beaten cars, a adequate analogy for the broken old men that encircled Bernie and the man that had defeated him. The flickering lights allowed Bernie to see this man in a different light, where before he saw just another boy, someone who was yet to grasped the natural order of things, that amongst this group of men Bernie had the last say, Bernie drank first and to challenge Bernie was to upset the natural order. The circle of men watching all cheered the new kid, they were all steel workers, cries of approval streamed forth from their blackened faces and they beat their chests drunkenly with their calloused fists, for them this was a reprieve from their slow and monotonous 24 hour, 7 day a week , 365 days a year existence. What more is there for men like these that inhabit jobs and lives that most would pity, they choose no partner, they have few friends, their job is dead end, but instead they ply themselves with drink and fill the cracks of society and create a pecking order, it was at the top of this order that Bernie sat for years unquestioned. The boy drunkenly bumped hi at the bar and when Bernie asked for an apology he was met with fierce aggression, Bernie, cold and tired from work did what his cohorts expected and offered to take this matter outside and settle it as "men", a offer that was eagerly obliged.
The two men faced in the parking lot encircled by a court of howling and raving men eager to see the blood. On one side stood Bernie, large and self-sure, on the other a boy no older then 20 but with eyes filled with rage and a longing for approval. The titans wasted no time, the fight was brutal, primal. The aggression streaming out of the young man smashed against Bernie like waves battering a ship in a storm and as any good sailor knows, even the largest and most well built ships will eventually give in to the tenacity of the ocean, and just like a well built battle ship, Bernie had succumbed to the relentless onslaught of the storm.
He stood up slowly , the crowd barely noticing him stagger to his feet. His knee throbbing violently as the pressure of his overweight frame bore down on it, he glanced up and caught the boys eyes. Where once flickered rage now sat a calmness and a air of sorrow, the boy gave a nod and turned back to the crowed which had now grabbed beers and thrust them into his hands the same way victorious gladiators where bathed in wine in ancient Rome, times had changed but the love of spectacle had not. the group had forgotten Bernie, the rambled on away as he slumped against his broken car.
He pulled a bent cigarette from a crumpled and stained packet that he kept in his pocket. He stared up at the skies as he took a long draw from the cigarette, Bernie understood his time was comming to an end. Like the alpha lion of a herd he had grown old, reaching his peak years ago he was in decline but never acknowledged it, now a younger lion had taken his place.
Bernie pondered long into the night, long into the beer he drank to dull the pain when he got home. He had been bested, physically, finally, but did this mean that he was now relegated to a lower tier of something? Was this even a question worth examining?. He looked around his apartment, monuments to a life lived in a single direction looked back at him. Not one thing here could he lean on, not one aspect of this hovel could fuel him now. The piss yellow coloured stains on his torn wallpaper mocked him, his empty broken fridge a laughing reminder of his lack of foresight. Bernie's eyes grew heavy, he prided himself on a lie men throughout the millenniums have told to themselves, that they are everlasting, that their time in the sun is important and will never end, yet time stands waiting to pull them deep into the abyss of reality. What now?, what is there for Bernie now?
A long stare, a long cold stare through his apartment window into a ever expanding world that seemed to have forgotten him. Bernie, with a sunken heart, but a fire growing inside him, left the house.