Foosball—the small-town hero’s favorite pastime, a game famous around the world for coining the phrase ‘sure, why not.’
We are in Saint Petersburg, Russia. My brother, Nikita, and I meet a designer couple, L & K, at a bar—not a designed couple, designer—art design to be exact. Though someone may have designed them.
I don’t ask.
L asks, “do you want to go to another bar and play kicker?”
“What?” I ask.
“Kicker,” she repeats, then mimes the game of foosball.
We get it. “Ah, foosball.”
“Yes, foosball, do you want to go to another bar and play foosball?” she asks.
“sure, why not,” my brother says. So, and so on.
It is a beer bar. In the back, there are two foosball tables and a glass door that says NO SMOKING and NO SPITTING in Russian.
We take up one of the tables, the ball is cork. The game is on. L& K are better than us. The last time I played, I was in a bar in Beijing and an English man yelled at me and said, “STOP SPINNING,” but I didn’t and so he tried to throw his beer at me. It was a scene.
I try not to spin too much but you know, kids and cookies and jars. I find myself getting worked up as the ball rolls past one of my defensemen.
The little plastic D-man looks up at me and says, “well do it yourself then you fat old shit.”
And the next time the ball went his way he kicked backward and sent it rolling into our own little box.
I gave him the finger, but it was no use, we lost.
“I am going to grab another beer,” I say.
I start walking toward the bar, but as I do, the air between the NO SMOKING door and the foosball table split opens and two men appear. One of them is two meters tall, he wears a suit of white armor and a crown made of light. His eyes are a violent purple, the man beside him is short, his head shaven, he wears a shirt that just says, ‘THE KING OF BEER’
The armored man raises his arms and his voice reverberates around the room.
I AM THE OVERLORD AND YOU HAVE CHOSEN THE FINAL CHALLENGE IN THE BATTLE FOR THE FATE OF HUMANITY! FOOOOOOOSBALL! TAKE YOUR POSITION, MORTAL.
THE KING OF BEER circles to the other side of the table, he empties his pockets and pulls out a small orange ball. He kisses it, slaps his own face with his other hand until it is red, and drops the ball straight onto the center of the table. THE OVERLORD positions himself across, he stretches his back, and two new arms made of pure light grow from his midsection. They take their position. There is a flash as the ball travels beyond what my eyes can catch.
“Bitch-fuck!” THE KING OF BEER cries as he kicks the wall beside the table.
I turn to K. “I didn’t even see that go in,” I tell him.
“How can someone care this much about foosball?”
K shrugs, “this is what happens in countries with no guns.”
There is a flash of lightning. The back door blows open. The two opponents move faster and faster as the room grows dark and nothing moves but wrists and eyes. It is like watching a dancing couple grow old in a time-lapse. It is mesmerizing and beautiful and then there is a CRACK as time takes on its usual gait.
Everything goes silent, then THE OVERLORD stumbles back.
NO, he cries. NO-NO-NOOOOOOOO!
He explodes in a blast that sends effervescent white goo all over the room. THE KING OF BEER smiles. He turns and then from the blown-out back door a young woman runs through, her clothes are ripped, and she throws herself into the arms of THE KING OF BEER.
“You did it! You saved us all!” she says. They kiss, and he scoops her up in his arms and carries her out of the bar.
I look around from my brother to Nikita to the designer couple. L looks at the table, too wet with goo to play, she sighs.
“Maybe we shouldn’t come to this place on Mondays,” she says.
We all agree and move on to the next bar.
Benjamin Davis is an American writer living somewhere outside of America. His short works can be found in Maudlin House, Star 82 Review, Cease Cows, 5X5, Defenestration, Three Drops Press and elsewhere.