Garry no longer tucks in his XXXL polo shirts. He’s a doomsday prepper so maybe he’s given up on both his diet and civilization. He keeps his personal feelings to himself but is unabashed in his praise and endorsement of neo-conservative, Christian-centered public policies that respect the right to bear arms so who knows what’s going on his head, heart and soul. It’d be too easy to say there’s little tangible proof the last third of that triumvirate exists but maybe his head and heart are so burdened under that taunt canvas of coral, navy blue and white with white and black stripes polos he rotates in his clothing cycle hoping no one notices the dearth of big man’s business casual he can afford what with a new wife and two teenage step-sons he never bargained for living under the roof of his mid-60’s ranch-style? He gets winded walking to the vending machine for a bag of chicharones.
He speaks in hushed tones when the boss is around and speaks out loud when he isn’t. He’s obsequious when engaging superiors and steadfast in his ignorance when seeking validation of the impending socio-economic apocalypse. In short, he’s one unhappy, fat son of a bitch vetting potential co-conspirators with dead-end logic and a Southern drawl. But one time long ago, when God was in Heaven and Jesus Died For Oour Sins he was merely “husky,” the world, or least a small arena crowded with professional wrestling fanatics, watched and cheered him.
Wasn’t it just yesterday on that morning long ago he had woken up in the rec room to the cries of his baby sister “Stop it! Stop it! Make them stop, Garry!”. But he just rolled onto his side and stared into the backs of his eyes and said, “ Hush up, baby girl. It’s just ‘’rasslin’. It ain’t real.” His father wouldn’t let him sleep in his bed upstairs because the night before he had stood up for his mother. Worse yet his mother told him to keep out of their business when she brought the pillow and afghan. “May as well just keep these down here,” she said throwing the afghan across his broad back as he faced the wall in silence. He smelled her cooking bacon and eggs in the kitchen right off the rec room. Bacon and eggs he’d never taste as penance for his transgressions. He heard the toast pop up. He’d have to kill the whole day hanging around the firehouse on an empty stomach.
Dave showed up so they threw the Nerf and cleaned some trucks until the Old-Timer approached.
Hey Kid, wanna work the show tonight down there at the arena? Asked the old-timer.
I don’t think so. He couldn’t be that close to his heroes and concentrate on doing his job if needed.
Nah don’t worry about it, they’re all coked up. Just stay out of there way and escort em to the locker room.
He looked at Dave who never said much, was even quieter than Garry, who just kind of shook his head yes.
Ok, I’ll put yous two down for it. Be there at 7 and don’t ditch. Oh and don’t wear a good hat you might get a lot of Pepsi thrown at yas.
That old boy talks funny, where’s he from?
They went and it was a blast. Wearing their “dress whites” they just told the security who they were and they got right in. The promoter’s daughter, Carla or Darla, a flustered sort ran through their responsibilities with them but really it all went in one ear and out the other. They were only to go the ring when Carla or Darla waved them to go. Now they were in the arena. On the floor. Looking up at the rafters. Garry had seen the minor league hockey games and minor league monster truck shows here but always from the cheap seats. He took a deep breath and punched Dave in his shoulder. Carla (Dave had told Garry he had remembered her name using a “pneumatic device” by recalling her breast size – They’re definitely a C cup) showed them to their folding chairs at the mouth of long corridor to the dressing room entrance. Dave punched Garry’s shoulder.
Fake or not it was a blast. There were midgets and The Famous Nola even showed up. She’s so old she owes Jesus five bucks he told his buddy borrowing a line from his dad. Danny The Little Bull Torres danced the mariachi around a supine Baron Miguel DeLuna. Gregor The Latvian Mistake stunned Chris Kowalski with some foreign object from his boot and Carl The Beast De Ranged was DQ’d after pile-driving an anonymous greenhorn unconscious the then eating the stuffings out of a turnbuckle. Garry and Dave were so enthralled by the spectacle they were late getting the stretcher to the ring only to have the greenhorn wave them off. When Miyagi the Samurai turned Good Guy (for the time being) and blew his sacred Divine Powder in the face of his manager Colonel Parker then dropped him with a karate chop to the neck rather than leave his tag-team partner behind pummelled and bloodied in the squared circle Garry had a brief, warm sense that Right was right and just might always prevail…God he wished his dad was there. He was the one he who would watch all the matches with him on TV in the first place.
In between they ate hot dogs, Carla got them one free each, drank Cheerwine and sat in awe. She slipped Garry an extra dog every now again patting his stomach and shoulder furtively complimenting him on being a growing boy.I think she likes me Garry told Dave. Naw, she’s a dyke said Dave. My cousin’s one up in Asheville. I know.
Then the arena grew dark and the national anthem began to play before it scratched to a sickening silent halt as if someone had dragged the needle across the record’s grooves and the lights cut back on and there was Ivan Nokyablokov standing in the ring waving a CCCP flag as a somnolent brown bear lolled at his feet while llicking peanut butter out of its muzzle. He jerked the microphone hanging from the rafters and the whole damn arena threatened to collapse like a circus tent tragedy. He sang the Soviet National Anthem a Capella.
Dick Dare emerged from the hallway right past Garry trailing Hi Karate and Camel Lights running like a wild-eyed unbreakable horse about to step in a gopher hole all sweat, spittle and barbiturates. Sure, he was arrogant, sure he bent the rules and his integrity was questionable but his patriotism was beyond reproach. Garry rose to his feet with all the others and regretted telling his little sister it was fake.
Dick “Double” Dare would work his opponents until they were dead on their feet then bitch slap them to their knees and finally face down before begging them to get up, double dare them to get up and then place a boot on the defeated’s neck and count to three with the referee saying That’s what I thought…
This one had all the makings of a classic battle that would stand the test of time until the next match.Then it happened. Ivan stormed from his corner like the old high school tackle he was and drove head-first into Dick’s solar plexus. The floor shook, the lights flickered like all the air driven out of Dare’s lungs was blowing out a thousand candles. They fell in slo-motion in some quasi homoerotic act as Dare landed sitting upright against the turnbuckles dazed and Noklablokov aka Lars Turgidson from Bemidji Minnesota, landed face down growling into Dick Dare’s crotch. The Red Menace then did a push-up, dragged the pre-cancerous orange skinned blonde Dare away from the corner by his right leg, lifted it, surveyed the now silent crowd then rolled the American onto his left side, the side with the two cracked ribs, and ran his opponent’s right fibula into the six inch diameter steel post with a sudden sickening crack whose pain was so intense Dare went unconscious.
It was over in a flash and his world was never the same. Then Ivan was slapping Dick, using his own move on him. He was even gesturing to the crowd, Vatch me. I vill slap dick. You like? You like to vatch me slapping dick? You decadent capilist peeegs. Garry couldn’t tell if Dick was in on it or not but there was bone. He knew that. Bone.
Get his ass the fuck outta there yelled Carla to Garry and Dave as the veins bulged in her neck and the medical bills piled up and the box office dwindled in her mind. Fucking Turgidson going off-script…
See, said Dave, Told you she’s a dyke. Fuck this he said an headed back to the dressing room I don’t work for no carpet munchers.
Garry stood on the apron. C’mon, kid, hit me You’ll get you more ass than a toilet seat . Promise. Scout’s honor he whispered but Garry walked away. Like he had learned about MLK and Ghandi doing. Even though he knew it was fake. Well, except for the compound fracture of Dick Dare’s right fibula. He didn’t eat fried chicken for two years afterwards. He walked away because at that time fear and evil seemed more like an idea, more of a thought than a manifestation of flesh and blood. Despite the crowd and the andenalin The spectacle seemed contrary to all he heard on Sunday mornings and in endless rants from his meemaw about the doom and perfidy that awaited the unsaved. Was good and evil just an act? Or was it real? He learned to walk away because how do you kill an idea? A feeling? A fear? I mean really kill it for like good? It only died when you did.
Garry walked back down the long corridor and wished he could have crawled into a hole.
See? He cowert like Double Dick go run avay little cowert!!!!!Hide Hide in your bomb shelters from the Russian Bear And he knew…he knew…this was joe blow from the windy city but he walked away and as he did Ivan wiped the sweat off his brpwn and flung it at Garry. Garry felt it on his neck. Just a drop or two.
You lost face…….its ok…we’re not all cut out for this life said Mr. Kawabata in perfect whiskey-soaked English.
When he got home that night the afghan and pillow was waiting for him. The dog howled outside scratchiing at the door to get in. Shut up he yelled at Toby. Goddamned dog.
And now he was shopping on ebay stocking up on pillows and blankets. Oh and a food dehydrator. He couldn’t forget that. Sharon, his new wife loved Teriyaki jerky. After all the years of being unhappy and finally finding someone, the one, his soulmmate he called her and she would just bat her eyes and put her head on his chest, he felt like responsibilities never ended. But at this point, disappointing her, was one thought he just couldn’t stand to think about. There was no way in Hell he could or would want to survive Armegeddon without her by his side. He may as well be dead.