LATEST FIGHT CARD TITLE DROPS A PRO-WRESTLER IN BUSINESS INTRIGUE
Bowie V. Ibarra
Our Fight Card entry this month comes from Nathan Walpow, author of the popular Joe Portugal mystery series (www.walpow.com). Fight Card: Push takes us behind the scenes and behind the hoopla of the world of professional wrestling.
FIGHT CARD: PUSH
You’re a ‘jobber’. You make your living by losing in the wrestling ring. You’re a good wrestler, but promoters don’t think you have what it takes to become a superstar. Then Thumper shows up. Big and strong, with a bunny-rabbit gimmick and fans eating out of his hand. His finishing move is called The Thump, and most guys don’t get up from it on their own.
One night, Thumper puts his opponent in the hospital. Not a big deal. Sure, the outcome of a wrestling match is fake. But the ‘bumps’ in the ring can be all too real. Sometimes you get hurt. Part of the territory.
Then it happens again. Only this time, the guy who got ‘thumped’ is tossed into a car like a sack of potatoes. Lou Boone, the promoter who runs Central States Wrestling with an iron fist, knows you saw something and offers you a ‘push’ if you keep your mouth shut.
A push. Every jobber’s dream. To get to win some matches, to get to be on the big cards in the big arenas. You want it more than anything. You begin thinking you imagined the sack-of-potatoes guy – until it happens again.
Now, you have to choose between wrestling fame and doing the right thing. Before this is over, someone else will be dead. And you don’t want it to be you…
Based on the short story “Push Comes to Shove,” selected by Lawrence Block for the Best American Mystery Stories series.
Amazon Link: http://tinyurl.com/lbn2mrx
Here's a preview of the first two chapters of the title
FIGHT CARD TALE
FIGHT CARD: PUSH
e-Book Edition – First Published August 2014
Copyright © 2014 Nathan Walpow
Cover by David Foster © 2014
This is a work of fiction. Characters, corporations, institutions and organizations mentioned in this novel are either the product of the author's imagination or, if real, used fictitiously without any intent to describe actual conduct.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission from the publisher.
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FIGHT CARD: PUSH
BAKER CITY, OREGON, 1993
I was lying on the canvas in a run-down ring in a run-down auditorium in Baker City. Though maybe lying isn’t the best word for it. I was plastered face first, right in front of one of the ring posts, with my butt up in the air. The crowd of a couple of hundred was yelling at Olaf Olafsen, the Swedish Strongman, to pick me up and hurt me.
He came over and grabbed me by the hair and hauled me up. When a guy grabs you by the hair, you have to match how fast you get up with how fast he’s pulling on you, so it doesn’t hurt as much as you’re trying to make it look like it does. I didn’t do a real good job, so it felt as if Olaf was yanking my scalp off.
He got me to my feet and delivered a forearm smash. That one we pulled off just fine. Olaf stomped his foot when he hit me. You’d think the fans would understand the foot stomp that always goes with a forearm smash doesn’t do anything, it’s just to make noise so the smash sounds like it has some force behind it. Maybe they did understand, but if they did, they didn’t mind.
I sold it really well, falling backward into the ring post, and sliding down onto my butt. Olaf hauled me up again, again by my hair, and this time I got it right. He pulled me to him and whispered, “Time for some shots,” and I twisted around and made a V with my fingers and poked him in the eyes.
Of all the dirty tricks a heel can do to a babyface, that’s one of the worst. It just makes you seem, well, evil. It’s as much against the rules as anything can be, but no ref in wrestling history has ever disqualified anyone for an eye poke. I hated to do the poke, because there’s always the chance one of the fingers is actually going to do some damage.
But I did it anyway, because it’s what the fans expect from the heel. One finger hit just below his eye and the other never touched anything. But Olaf sold it really well. He stumbled around, holding his arm in the air, palm forward, just like the fans expect. Of course, all the damage he’d done to me immediately stopped hurting. I rushed over to him and kicked him in the leg, once, twice, three times, until he went down to one knee.
I went around back and clamped on something that was supposed to look like a choke hold. I’d never figured out exactly how that was supposed to go, but I knew it had something to do with putting one forearm under the other guy’s chin and grabbing it with the other hand, so I put it on and shook and howled and yelled, “Who’s tough now?”
At which point Olaf stood straight up, and I ended up riding on his back. Any normal person in that situation would just let go. But wrestlers never do, especially dumb heel jobbers like I was in this match. So I hung on, feet hanging in mid-air, and then Olaf reached back and tossed me over his head. I flew through the air and made that ring post’s acquaintance again.
Everyone was stamping their feet, and yelling “Moose!” The name for Olaf’s finishing move. He picked me up again and held me upside down and climbed to the bottom rope, facing into the ring, and as he jumped off he tossed me forward, so I took another swan dive toward the canvas and head-first. I went limp, like I’d had all the fight taken out of me. Olaf came over and turned me over and hooked the leg and one, two, three, it was over.
The ref came and held Olaf’s hand up and the announcer told the crowd what they’d just seen, and I magically recovered enough to roll out of the ring and make my way back to the dressing room.
There were thirteen matches that day, enough to supply the local TV stations for a couple of weeks. I was in three of them. In the first, I was up against Man Mountain Beazel, which made me the good guy. Which meant the white trunks. Then there was Olaf, who was a babyface, so I got moosed in the black trunks, with matching tights. Now, Olaf wasn’t any more Swedish than I was. His name was really Ted Perkins, and he was from Ohio. But he was a superstar, and it was 1993, the time when they were starting to give all of the superstars’ gimmicks, so Ted became Olaf and talked on camera with about the worst Swedish accent you’ll ever hear.
I had one more match to go, against Tino Terranova, who the company had flipped from being a face to being a heel at the last pay-per-view by having him attack his tag team partner, Rick The Trick Finnegan, during an interview. So, back to the white. But there were a couple of matches in between, so I grabbed a Coke and sat down to watch on a monitor.
I was about the only jobber they’d let be a good guy sometimes and a bad guy sometimes. There were guys like Tyrone Banks, who always played the heel, and ones like Sam Masterson, who was always the babyface. But there was something about me that, even though they always announced me by my real name, the fans were fine with me being the always-play-fair innocent victim of Man Mountain and an hour later be evil enough to poke Olaf in the eye.
Ted – outside the ring, I was able to ditch the kayfabe names and think of them with their real ones – came into the dressing room with Harvey Higgins, one of the refs. Harvey was really good at always seeing when a face did something a teeny bit illegal and always missing bad guys hitting people over the head with chairs. The two of them were laughing about some girl in the first row. I’d seen her too, with her boobs hanging out all over the place. There was one in every town, hot to hook up with one of the superstars, though only Silky Morgan ever owned up to having gotten together with one of them. However, if he was to be believed, he’d gotten together with all of them.
I was standing there with my Coke, when Ted came over and said, “Good job out there.”
“Thanks. Means a lot when you say that.”
“I mean it. You sold that moose really good.”
“Really, I think…” He looked around. Dropped his voice. “Some of these other jobbers, that’s all they’ll ever be. But you, you got something. I think they ought to give you a push.”
“I wish Lou thought so.” I said. Lou Boone was the promoter and just about everything else that counted in the Central States Wrestling Federation.
“Yeah, well, maybe I’ll put a bug in his ear. Not that he ever listens to me. Or anyone else.”
He clapped me on the shoulder and headed for the showers. I drained my Coke and tossed it and sat down to watch the next match on the monitor. Then Thumper came into the dressing room.
I’d heard about him, of course. He was the next big thing. His gimmick was about the stupidest I’d ever seen, but the fans loved it, and they loved him.
He dressed up like a giant rabbit. He had furry tights and furry boots and furry trunks. He had a pair of rabbit ears he attached to his head before matches. He had this finishing move called The Thump. It started out like a power slam, but then he would twirl the other guy around so he’d go face-first into the mat. Then the poor guy would just lie there and they'd get a stretcher and carry him off.
I’d seen him on TV, from a taping I’d missed because Sue’s cousin was getting married and we had to go to Akron. But in person, holy maloney. He must've been six foot six. Real buff, not bodybuilder buff, but enough to know he hit the gym regular and lifted a lot. He was nowhere near the 380 pounds they announced him at, but a solid 300 at least. His face didn’t look like it belonged with the rest of him. It was real pink, one of those faces that looked like he never had to shave.
I’m a pretty friendly guy. I used to be shy until I joined the Toastmasters Junior in high school, and now I can talk to anyone. And there’s a certain amount of, I don’t know, call it team spirit, going on in the dressing room. There are guys who hate each other, sure, but in general we’re just workers on a job together. The guy you were up against wasn’t your enemy. He was just someone you were supposed to entertain the fans with.
So, after Thumper stopped in front of a locker and opened it and dropped his Army green duffel bag, I walked up to him and told him my name and held out my hand.
Thumper looked at it. But he didn’t shake it. It wasn’t like he thought he was too good for me. It was more like he didn’t know what he was supposed to do.
Then he looked in my general direction and said, “I’m Thumper.”
“I get it,” I said. “But what do your friends call you?”
“Got no friends.”
He turned my way. I looked at his face. Then I thought better about the whole thing, and backed away to where I’d been sitting by the monitor.
The look on Thumper’s face...it wasn’t like he was mean. Not a tough guy. Not a jerk. It was like he was like some kind of space alien or something. Like his eyes weren’t attached to the rest of his face, but just sat there in the sockets and sent what they saw to his brain by radio waves. It was the weirdest vibe I’d ever gotten off anybody, and I’d been in Desert Storm and had seen my share of crazy vibes.
My stomach was twitching. My breakfast, which had been nice and peaceful for three or four hours already, was threatening to come back for a visit. I closed my eyes and focused and opened them again. I looked over at Thumper.
He was taking his furry outfit out of his duffel bag and tossing it into his locker. His back was to me. Without those eyes he seemed like just another guy. Maybe the eye thing had been some sort of psych-out. Getting in my head so he could get me distracted and...
Except why would he want to psych me out? I wasn’t going to wrestle him, and even if I was, he would for sure beat me. I was a jobber, he was on his way to superstardom. There was no psych needed. If I ever wrestled him, it’d go pretty much as it always did when I was the bad guy. Thumper would fight clean for a couple of minutes, until I did something like poke him in the eye like I did Olaf. Then he’d beat the crap out of me for a couple of minutes, then thump me. And that would be all she wrote.
Some of the guys were weird, sure. Some had their superstitions and crazy routines and, yeah, mind games they liked to play. But my interaction with Thumper was the creepiest minute I’d ever had since I started in pro wrestling.
“How you doing?”
I looked up, and there was Lou Boone. He had on one of those crazy checked jackets he always wore, and a tie with the biggest knot I’d ever seen.
I stood up. I always stood up around Lou. I gave him a bad smile and tried to look him in the eye. Best I could do was the top of his bald head, where three drops of sweat sat. “Hey, Lou.”
“You meet Thumper?”
“What’d you think?”
What was I going to say? That the guy’s eyes made me want to run and hide?
“No. Not really. I haven’t seen him wrestle, except on TV.”
“He’s the best thing that’s come by in a long time.”
“Glad to hear it, Lou.”
“You got one more match, right?”
“Throw in a little more stuff. I told Tino to let you. I want to see some more of your moves.”
He turned away and went over to Thumper. I didn’t hear a word of what they said, but Thumper nodded a lot.
The next match came and went, and then it was Thumper’s turn. He was against Farley Reilly, a nice kid from Arkansas. Farley had a build on him, but he was real stiff in the ring, and I had a feeling he wouldn’t be around long. The whole time I’d been back in the dressing room, he’d been over in a corner reading a Bible.
He put down his Bible and checked his boots. He ran a finger inside the waist of his trunks, making sure they weren’t bunched up anywhere. Wrestlers don’t like to have to un-bunch their trunks during a match.
He pounded his fists on his chest a few times and headed for the ring. I found myself following him. I took a spot away from any of the camera angles and let myself soak in some of the stuff that always got by me when I was actually in a match – the hum of the crowd, the yells from the vendors hawking peanuts and pop, the squeaks from the PA system.
I watched Farley walk up to the ring, acting real confident. This place didn’t have the metal stairs they sometimes used to climb into the ring, so he reached up and grabbed the ropes and hauled himself in. He looked around to wave at the fans, but he couldn’t find a single one looking at him. So he did a couple of deep knee bends and waited.
Not for long. The curtain opened again and out came Thumper. He had on his furry trunks and tights and boots and his rabbit ears. The second the crowd spotted him, they came to life. They yelled and howled and clapped. Thumper jumped straight up in the air, and then he ran to the ring. Then he jumped right up onto the ring apron, and stepped over the top rope, and there they were.
“In this corner,” said the announcer, some skinny guy in a tuxedo. “Weighing in at two hundred and forty pounds, from Reed River, Arkansas, Farley Reilly!”
Farley may have been built, but he was short, and I didn’t think he’d ever come close to 240 in his life. Maybe 220, soaking wet. But they always blew up the weights. Farley tried to act like he had 240 to throw around, but it just looked stupid. Maybe five people clapped for him, maybe three times each. He went back to his corner.
“And from Green Meadow, Nebraska, weighing in at three hundred and eighty pounds...Thumper!”
The crowd got into it again, twice as loud as when Thumper came out in the first place, making Farley’s lousy welcome look even worse. Most guys had paid their dues like Farley, but I wasn’t sure Thumper had. I just couldn’t see him ever coming to the ring without the fans going crazy.
The ref called them into the center of the ring. Thumper was looking at Farley with those space alien eyes. Farley tried to stare back, but his eyes ended up somewhere around Thumper’s collarbone.
The ref went into his routine. It was always something like, “I want a clean match, no teeth, no eye gouging, nothing like that. When I tell you to break, break. You got it?”
“Sure,” Farley said.
Thumper just nodded, then turned and handed his ears to…Lou? Was that really Lou? Lou never appeared at ringside.
The ref pointed at the timekeeper and the guy hit the bell.
Collar-and-elbow tie-up. Farley tried to hip-toss Thumper. That got nowhere. Thumper hip-tossed Farley. Cheers from the crowd.
Thumper put Farley into a headlock. Farley pushed him off, and they went into a crisscross, bouncing off ropes at right angles to each other and somehow never colliding, until finally they met in the middle and again.
Thumper hip-tossed Farley again. There are hip-tosses and there are hip-tosses, and this one put Farley all the way across the ring. He kneeled down in the corner, waiting for Thumper to come for him, and when Thumper reached for him, Farley punched him in the stomach. Then, just like I’d done to Ted earlier on, he poked him in the eyes.
Only Thumper didn’t sell it like Ted did. Thumper acted as if he hadn’t even felt it. But now Farley had done something illegal, which mad him fair game for a babyface like Thumper.
First Thumper smashed into him. Just ran at him from across the ring and squashed him into the ropes. Then, before Farley had a chance to react, Thumper picked him up over his head and threw him out of the ring. Sort of clean-and-jerked him and held him over his head and tossed him over the ring ropes like he was a sack of potatoes.
Over the top rope. Flying through the air. Smashing into the floor.
This made the crowd very happy. A lot of them were on their feet, and some of them were smashing the seats of their chairs up and down, and people were yelling, “Thump him! Thump him!”
Farley may have been musclebound, but he still knew how to fall. When he was lying there on the concrete floor, he was selling the throw. I could see he wasn’t really hurt.
There was a kid in front of him, yelling, “Get up, you loser! Get up!” No more than eight, with a really scary look on his face.
Then Thumper was on the apron outside the ring, and then he was jumping to the floor, and then he was striding over to Farley. He grabbed him by the hair and pulled him up. He threw him onto his shoulder. He marched back to the ring and hoisted him straight up over his head and tossed him over the top rope.
Inside me, a voice said, holy maloney! It was my Uncle Charlie’s voice, and that was what he said whenever somebody did something amazing in one of the matches.
Up, then down. Usually, you lift a guy and throw him, he’s pretty much going straight out, then down. Farley went up first. Jesus, Thumper was strong.
Farley hadn’t handled this new fall all that well. Maybe he was busy being amazed by the flight he’d just had. He stumbled to his feet, looking like he was ready to call it a day.
Then he looked over at Thumper. The big man was climbing back over the top rope.
And Farley must have realized how things were going for him. Not in the match – that was all set in cement beforehand – but in his wrestling career. He must have known if he was ever going to show Lou and the other people who ran things anything, it was going to have to be right then.
So, he waited until Thumper was near enough, and then he bounced off the ropes and launched a flying dropkick. It was a damn good one, and coming from a lunk like Farley, it was a hell of a surprise.
He bounced off the ropes and launched his feet off the floor and swiveled his middle and everything looked perfect. Thumper was turning toward him in just the right way, like he was going to take it and sell it and let Farley get in a shot. It would be a damn good shot, and Lou and the others would like it and Farley would be on his…
Thumper swatted Farley out of the air.
I’d never seen anything like it. One second Farley’s feet were headed right toward Thumper’s pecs, and the next Thumper had raised his arm up under Farley’s lower legs and shoved up, and those legs shot straight up. Which meant his head shot straight down. It hit the canvas maybe a foot from Thumper’s furry boot. Then his shoulder hit, and it looked to me like it got dislocated.
Thumper walked away.
For just a little fraction of a second, I thought something weird had happened. Like maybe the ref had disqualified Thumper. That was the only way a jobber ever beat a star, and it did happen sometimes. They’d decided to change the ending and…
“Is it Thumpin’ Time?” howled Thumper.
Right. This was how Thumper ended his matches. While his opponent was lying on the canvas, beat all to crap, he’d go to a corner and climb up so his feet were on the second rope and ask the crowd if it was Thumpin’ Time. There’d be a big pop from the crowd, and then he’d get down and go to another corner and ask the same thing. This time the pop would be louder. He’d go to the third corner, and then the last one, and each time there’d be more of a pop until on the last corner you couldn’t hear yourself think.
Thumper was somewhere between the second and third corners when Farley started trying to crawl out of the ring. He wasn’t trying to sell anything. He really just wanted to get the hell out of there. I’d seen it before. Some kid all excited about the glory of wrestling realizing, even if you did make it, your body took an awful load of punishment, and you’d never get free of the pain. A dislocated shoulder can do a lot of convincing.
He’d almost reached the ropes when Thumper finished his routine. Then there was a hand on Farley’s ankle dragging him back to the center of the ring, and then it was Thumpin’ Time.
Thumper hauled him up, more or less into a fireman’s carry. He went over to one corner, like he was going to power slam the kid. But there was more to it.
Thumper ran forward, and then Farley was being turned around on Thumper’s shoulder. Then Thumper left his feet, and Farley was flying, flying like a bird, headed face first for the canvas.
He hit it.
He didn’t move.
There’s not moving and there’s not moving. One is kayfabe and the other’s real.
This was real.
I ran to the ring and up onto the canvas, and even while the announcer was announcing Thumper’s latest victory I was kneeling by Farley. But only for a second. Because now I was sure, and I jumped up and grabbed the mic from the announcer, and I hollered, “Is there a doctor in the house?”
Every single person in the arena thought it was part of the act.
I finally got through to the ref that I was serious. Then a doctor did come out of the stands. And before you could say Bruno Sammartino they had a stretcher out. Then Farley was on it, and they were headed to the parking lot.
I didn’t know if Thumper knew that this time he’d really hurt the guy. But he did like he always did. He walked along with the stretcher and acted real sorry. Then, just like he always did, he turned back before they went through the curtain and ran back to the ring. Lou handed him his damned rabbit ears. Thumper put them on, and he got a huge pop from the crowd.
I didn’t see any of this. The noise told me what was happening.
Then the ambulance came.
I was going to go to the hospital with Farley. But suddenly Lou was right there by my shoulder. He said, “You still got a match left.”
I should at least have thought about it harder. Instead, I gave him a little nod, and headed back inside.
Most of the time, if they hung out together at all, the stars hung with the stars and the jobbers with the jobbers. Tino Terranova and I broke that rule. There was a time right near when I started when Sue came to see me and Tino’s wife Diana came to see him, and somehow we ended up going out to dinner together after. Tino had started out as a jobber, and we compared notes on how things were now with how they were eleven or twelve years back, just before he got his push and started winning matches and making some money.
Tino said the main difference was there weren’t so many gimmicks. Wrestlers would have fake names, just like they always did – I mean, nobody was really ever named Gorilla Monsoon – but they mostly wore something that more or less looked like wrestling tights. Except for the ones who were supposed to be hillbillies, like Haystacks Calhoun, who wore overalls.
One thing led to another, and before I knew it Sue and Diana were trading phone numbers, and afterward, every couple of months if we were anywhere near each other, we’d get together. Tino won and lost the tag team championship with Rick Finnegan twice. I never managed more than a one-count.
But Tino was looking out for me. He couldn’t break kayfabe, of course, but he’d talk me up to people on the inside who understood how good a wrestler someone was didn’t have much to do with how often they won. It never did any good, because the only opinion which mattered was Lou’s, and Lou never listened to anyone.
Still, the couple of times I’d wrestled Tino, he tried to make me look good. Which I really appreciated, because when you’re a jobber you don’t get to look good very often.
But that night in Baker City, my match against Tino was a drag. My heart wasn’t in it, and I took a couple of really poor bumps. I’d been getting the crap knocked out of me for three or four minutes when Tino threw me into the corner, then ran at me and squished me into the turnbuckles. You know how that works. If the guy in the corner is a star, sometimes he moves, and the guy who’s running at him crashes his chest into the turnbuckles. This is always played as if it hurts like hell, so the guy who smacks himself in the corner loses the upper hand to the one who moved out of the way.
But when it’s a jobber like me in the corner, he always takes the hit. So Tino smashed me and backed off a step and I fell face-first to the canvas, and then he went to pick me up and said, real low, “Lou said you were supposed to get something going.”
“Right. I forgot.”
“Might be time to start.”
So I punched him in the stomach. Then again, and a third time. He sold it really well, and I was able to stand up and give him one to the jaw. And down went Tino.
The crowd started to wake up. They do anytime a face jobber starts to get some shots in on a heel star.
That woke me up too. I looked at the crowd, and I nodded slowly, as if asking, you want to see some more? They did, judging from the cheers, so I waited until Tino got to his feet and I gave him one of the kicks Stephan taught me when I was a teenager. Stand on one foot, point your side at the guy, shoot the leg up and then out, and pow. Tino went down again. I went for the pin.
It scared the crap out of me. Tino let the ref get to two before he kicked out, and for a second I thought he’d go to three and both Tino and I would be in big trouble. But Tino kicked out in time, and then when I went to dish out more punishment, he pulled my legs out from under me, and gave me his signature Senor Suplex move, and that was that.
“It’s not so bad,” I told Sue.
“How bad is it?”
It was a couple of hours later. I was on a pay phone at the arena, and Sue was at home. She was my girlfriend. I figured she’d be my wife someday, if we ever got around to it. I’d headed to the hospital right after the match with Tino. Just threw my street clothes over my wrestling duds. I’d made a nuisance of myself until I was sure Farley was going to be okay, then came back to shower and stuff.
“They popped his shoulder back in,” I said. “It hurts like hell, but no permanent damage. The concussion is the main thing. They’re keeping him overnight.”
“Does he have anybody there with him?”
“Yeah, his wife and kids. He’s just a kid himself, but he’s got three of his own.”
The operator came on, asking for more money. I found a bunch of change and shoved it in.
“How’d you do today?” Sue said.
“Not good. My timing was off or something. And you know what? Lou asked me to show my stuff during the last match, and I was so shook about Farley that I nearly forgot. Tino had to remind me.”
“How is Tino?”
“Good. Diana had another kid. I didn’t even know she was pregnant. She didn’t look pregnant last time we saw them. Jeez, everybody’s having kids.”
Which led to a real nice silence. Because it was about the only thing Sue and I disagreed on. She was older than me, almost thirty-seven, and she wanted a couple. Kept saying her safe baby-making years were almost over, which she heard in a play at the community theater, where she liked to work on the sets sometimes.
As for me, let’s just say I wasn’t crazy about the world, and didn’t know how I felt about bringing kids into it. Blame Desert Storm, if you want. Sue’s mother did.
Finally, Sue said, “So you didn’t get to get in any moves?”
“One of my kicks. It went over really well. I got a two-count out of it.”
“Really? Your first two-count. How exciting! I’m going to tell Charlie.”
You’re probably thinking Sue was making fun of me. But she wasn’t. She understood where I stood as a jobber, and how my dream was to get a push and wrestle during all the house shows.
Charlie’s my uncle. A wrestler himself, a while back, and the guy who did most of my upbringing. Sometimes, he came with me to my matches, but this time around they were having a big sale at his Ford dealership and he couldn’t get away. He used his wrestling in a lot of his ads. He’d come on TV wearing one of those singlets like Andre the Giant and say stuff like, “Wrestle down some big savings.”
“One away from the big time,” I said. “Hey, Sue? You mind if I hang here and come home in the morning?”
“You meet one of those front-row chicks with the big boobs?”
“Yours are plenty big enough for me. No, it’s late and I’m tired and I don’t know that I want to drive five hours in the dark. I’m gonna see if I can get another night in the motel.”
“Okay. I’ll keep your side of the bed warm.”
“You better. I’ll call you in the morning before I leave.”
I went back to the locker room. Most everyone had cleared out a long time ago. Just Barry Silver was there. He was watching basketball on the monitor. He didn’t have much of a life.
What he did have was a gimmick, and he was one of the only jobbers who did. They didn’t play it up a lot, but he was known as the Jewish wrestler. He had a Jewish star on his robe. He was working his way up to jobber-to-the-stars. The guy who won a match once in a while, so when some new guy came along and they were giving him a push, he could beat Barry and it was a little more impressive than beating someone like Farley…or me.
And Barry was one of the first guys who Thumper had wrestled.
I went over, sat down on a bench. Said, “Who’s winning?”
He looked up at the screen. Then over at me. “You care?”
“So, what’s up?”
“I wanted to ask you about Thumper.”
“What’s about him?”
“You were up against him once, right?”
“Twice. Springfield and, I think, Arlington.”
“What do you think of him?”
“Gonna go places.”
“Why do you say that?”
“He’s just got it, is all.”
“Yeah.” I let a few seconds go by. “I know what you mean.”
“Son of a bitch is strong as hell. You see how he threw Farley over the top rope from the floor?”
“Yeah. Is he a good worker? He know how to sell stuff?”
“He doesn’t have to sell stuff. The guy against him has to sell stuff.”
“Did he hurt you any?”
“No more than anybody else. What’s this about?”
“You ever look in his eyes?”
He held back just a whit. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I think you know.”
Barry didn’t want to answer. Too bad.
“Come on, tell me.”
A shrug, and then he said, “Guy’s eyes are spooky.”
I waited for more. There wasn’t any. I said, “See you,” and picked up my gear, and got the hell out of there.
Want to see how it plays out? Pick up Push today on Amazon HERE.
And if you like outstanding fight stories, then ZBFbooks.com has some picks for you. Pick up your copy of the 'Pit Fighters' series today in paperback or kindle. Follow the adventures of the fighters in the south Texas fight stable, San Uvalde International, in 'Baptism by Fire' and 'Double Cross'. Get them HERE. The stories feature a Scottish boxer trying to make a name for himself again.
Check out the trailers and the book covers for both books below.
TRAILER: PIT FIGHTERS - BAPTISM BY FIRE
BOOK TRAILER: PIT FIGHTERS - DOUBLE CROSS
BOWIE V. IBARRA is the author of the acclaimed 'Down the Road' zombie horror series from Permuted Press. He earned a BFA in Acting and a MA in Theatre History from Texas State University. His latest titles explore superhero themes, including 'Codename: La Lechusa', 'Room 26 and the Army of Xulhutdul', and 'Tejano Star and the Vengeance of Chaplain Skull'.
Network with Bowie at his official website, ZBFbooks.com, the leader in Tex-Mexploitation literature.