It’s another late night in a quiet suburb on the East side of Madrid. You can’t hear a sound. It feels like the whole city is asleep and they probably are. Beside us, Cristiano Ronaldo is lurking in a large bush, holding a sack filled with rancid cat food. He’s wearing his ankle length velvet robe with the hood down for better view.
”Rancid works best,” the star claims, “they can smell it farther off. Soon they’ll start to arrive. I can feel it. They have to.”
His eyes look desperate, pleading.
”It started back in Manchester. I couldn’t catch a break, everyone hated me. Commentators, fans. I’d never scored and was thought a luxurious waste. Then on the way home from training I accidentally ran over a cat. In some ways I wish it had never happened.”
He hushes is with a wave of his sacrificial syringe. Across the street an old looking tabby has tentatively begun to approach our bush. And then, in an instant, Ronaldo is up and the pursuit has begun. It’s tricky following an athlete of this caliber but thanks to the long trailing ribbons covered in tiny bells, his scepter filled with incense, the fireworks and his high pitched ceremonial incantations, we soon track him to two streets over. He’s already subdued the animal, nailing its paws to the concrete and is slowly force feeding it peanut butter through its nose.
Every player has their superstitions, their rituals. Paul Ince never put on his shirt till he was on the pitch. When you reach the heights of the game Cristiano Ronaldo has things get more complicated.
“I must sacrifice a cat to the Sumerian torture demon baaal in an intricate 7 hour ceremony based on capturing and distilling its fluids to a breathable gaseous form before bursting it open with expired peanut butter and creating a sigil with its powdered bones.”
”People think I’ve hit this great life. They say I party between matches. They believe the lies on instagram.” Cristiano pauses to drink a phial of fermented rat semen, dancing around the cat corpse backward and slapping himself in the face.
Every waking hour of the Portuguese star’s life is consumed by dedication to Baal. But he insists it’s all worth it.
“When you shit, you have to sit backward on the toilet, head thrown back so you face the ceiling directly, and scream Sumerian obscenities at the sky eating locks of random hair you collect from the street. It takes a lot of work to incorporate things like this into a working marriage but she can see the results. After a while it just becomes as routine as brushing ones teeth. I mean it’s tough eating out but nobody said life was easy. I’m not even 100% Baal exists really. But I’ve been doing all this so long with these results it’s impossible to imagine anything else. Besides. Would you take the chance?”
After a moment of silence between us a large smile breaks out across Ronaldo’s face and he chuckles to himself.
“You really believed all that didn’t you? You fell for it all. The toilet thing and the peanut butter?” We laugh together for the longest time.
“No all of that was a joke. I mean I’m not crazy. I only have to poison them.”