Day Fourteen: The Thoughts of a Dying Roman Slave Right Before Being Consumed by a Hungry Lion or: A Short Story About the Pun-Friendly Word “Pride”
by Tom Noonan
Our lives vary in worth. This is a very real truth that I began to accept while cleaning dried shit from the webbings between my toes. Some of it was my own, some of it came from the criminals before me, but none of that seems particularly important right now because I’m face to face with a fucking lion.
I wasn’t always headed here. For a while, I was content to be a slave, stacking stones as I was instructed and watching in awe as they formed impressive structures. It was a helpless feeling, building something so immense with such little control or idea of what exactly I was doing. Eventually, I couldn’t take it. I hated living in the shadows of these buildings, so I ran towards the sun. I wanted to create something on my own.
I couldn’t outrun them, though. The shadows extend well beyond Rome and into the jungles where I found women with mutilated ears. I was brought back, thrown into a cage, and told to live like the animals that would soon tear me apart. I began to growl at the guards who laughed while they threw food onto my shit-caked cell floor.
It’s less of a statement, the whole criminal-consumed-by-lions thing, than it is a distraction, something for the spotless white robes to watch. They’re not too concerned with telling people to follow the law. The robes usually let crucifixions do that. This type of execution was like introductory serial-killer theater. Most parents worry that their kid’s fucked up if he occasionally tortures cats, but these people love watching cats murder, and then consume parts of, humans. Everything is backwards. Rome isn’t a bunch of fucked up kids torturing cats. It’s a bunch of fucked up kids watching the other fucked up kids getting tortured by cats. This is why they even bothered giving me a sword. It just wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have hope or, at the very least, an implied sense of hope.
It’s a fixed fight, though. Shit like this was always fixed. A lot of the criminals, most of them Christian, talk about Daniel getting fed to the lions. They say God will protect those who believe in him from the evils of man and beast. So far, God hasn’t fully committed to this slogan.
So now I have a sword that’s about as long as my foot. It’s more of a knife. It seems like one last joke the robes couldn’t resist: “Yeah, the lions’ll mercilessly tear him apart in front of everyone, but let’s also insinuate that he has a small dick.” It’s a comedy, and I’m the punch-line.
When the Gladiators fight the lions, they at least get shields and spears (or other things that are both long and sufficiently sharp). Their lion encounters are something close to a fight. Now, looking across the way at this lion, I realize I’m here to fight, and he’s just here to eat. Anything I do is just a minor inconvenience, like bad service at an otherwise delightful restaurant.
I’ve decided that I’m not going to fuck up his day. He doesn’t even belong here, in the shadow of this coliseum. I’m all he has to look forward to, a little bit of sport during his own serfdom. I’ll play my role and let the robes indulge in their weird, border-line sociopathic entertainment. But I’m going to do it completely naked, with my dick out. They can watch me die, even squeal as my torso is ripped in half by the jaws of this lion, but they will know that I have a big dick. They will always remember that I have a big dick.