Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Dark Passages: "Eye Gouge"

Extreme Championship Wrestling meets E.C. Comics in Del James's "Eye Gouge," a short story that stages a zombie battle royal for its audience.  The piece is a biting satire of the American appetite for blood sport, and while the writing won't be mistaken for Shakespeare (just as wrestling will never be confused with ballet), it is wickedly vivid.  Here's a highlight from the story's macabre main event:

The back door opened and with much strain the zombie wranglers [the undead as livestock] let another contestant into the ring.  But this was no ordinary zombie.  He barely fit through the door.  The massive Bulldozer was in all likelihood someone who had eaten his way to an early heart attack.  No Richard Simmons Deal-A-Meal cards [pop culture invoked parodically throughout the narrative] could've stopped this man from doing what he loved most.
The Bulldozer saw his next meal.
There was a loud groan [zombie-like behavior] in the crowd as the massive, hairy bulk [emphasis on grotesquerie] who wore nothing but gray sweatpants and engineer boots waddled across the ring.  He moved like a rubber-suited monster set upon wreaking havoc and destruction on Tokyo in a low-budget monster movie [a foreshadowing of the climactic carnage when the action spills outside the caged ring?].  With each step the ring shook a little.  The Bulldozer had pasty breasts the size and texture of hams [flesh as food] and his gut was a barrel of stretched girth.  He shoved the Masked Enforcer halfway across the ring and stalked the Convict.  A large hand shot out and grabbed the hanging eyeball.  With one yank, the Bulldozer ripped it free, shoving the eye in his mouth like an olive [garish variation on a martini garnish], but when he bit down the eye shot out of his mouth like a superball [a grim but whimsical image that perfectly captures the story's playfulness].  (358-59)

Work Cited

James, Del.  "Eye Gouge."  Mondo Zombie.  Ed. John Skipp.  Baltimore: Cemetery Dance, 2006.

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