November 30th, 2018

I followed three friends into the warehouse, lit with a mixture of dying fluorescents and flickering sodium vapor lamps. The place reeked of cigarettes and body odor. Hundreds upon hundreds of sweaty onlookers were crammed into the space, circling like vultures around the cage in the middle of the room. 

In the back, a local metal band wearing Twisted Sister shirts started strumming their first power chords. They'd cranked the amps up past 11. The speaker cones were disintegrating.


A roid-raging man circled the cage, beating his chest. A few swift punches. Blood stringing from noses.

Men hoisted themselves onto folding chairs and roared. Women named Tammy screamed for their favored fighters.


A triumphant power chord from Twisted Sister.

I know how it felt to attend the gladiatorial arena, because I was at one. The differences? One was held in a Roman coliseum - and the other a warehouse in Arkansas.