Chapter Eighteen

Well, let me tell you - that were the happiest reunion of my life. Jenny is cryin an huggin me an I'm doin the same an everbody else in re-treads is standin there wonderin what is goin on. Jenny say she is off work in bout three hours, an for me an Dan to go over to this little tavern across the street an have a beer or somethin an wait for her. Then she will take us to her place.


We go to the tavern an Dan is drinkin some Ripple wine on account of they got no Red Dagger, but he say Ripple is better anyhow cause it got a nicer "bouquet."

Bunch of other fellers is in there too, playin darts an drinkin an arm rasslin each other at a table. One big ole guy seem to be the bes arm rassler of the tavern, an ever once in a wile some feller would come up an try to beat him but couldn't. They be bettin on it too, five an ten dollars a whack.

After a little bit, Dan whisper over to me, "Forrest, you think you could beat that big bozo over there at arm rasslin?" An I say I dunno, an Dan say, "Well, here's five bucks, cause I'm bettin you can."

So I go up an say to the feller, "Would you mine if I set down an arm rassle with you?"

-- Advertisement --

He look up at me, smilin, an say, "Long as you got money, you is welcome to try."

So I set down an we grapped each other's hans an somebody say, "Go!" an the rassle is on. Other feller be gruntin an strainin like a dog tryin to shit a peach seed, but in about ten secons I had smushed his arm down on the table an whipped him at arm rasslin. All the other fellers had come gatherin aroun the table an were goin "oooh" an "ahh" an I could hear ole Dan shoutin an cheerin.

Well, the other feller ain't none too happy but he paid me five dollars an got up from the table.

"My elbow slipped," he say, "but nex time you come back here I want to have a go at you again, hear?" I nodded an went back to the table Dan was at an give him the money.

"Forrest," he say, "we may have foun a easy way to make ourselfs some bread." I axed Dan if I could have a quarter to git me a pickled egg from the jar on the counter, an he han me a dollar an say, "You git anything you want, Forrest. We is now got a way to earn a livelyhood."

After work, Jenny come over to the tavern an take us to her place. She is livin in a little apartment not too far from the Temperer Tire Company an has got it all fixed up nice with things like stuffed animals an strings of colored beads hangin from the bedroom door. We went out to a grocery an bought some chicken an Jenny cooked supper for Dan an me an I tole her all that had happened since I seen her last.

Mostly, she is curious about Major Fritch, but when I say she run off with a cannibal, Jenny seemed more relaxed bout it. She say life has not exactly been a bowl of cherries for her either durin the past few years.

After she lef The Cracked Eggs, Jenny done gone to Chicago with this girl she met in the peace movement. They had demonstrated in the streets an got thowed in jail a bunch of times an Jenny say she is finally gettin tired of havin to appear in court an besides, she is concerned that she is developin a long police record.

Anyhow, she is livin in this house with about fifteen people an she says they is not exactly her type of persons. Didn't wear no underwear or nothin, an nobody flushed the toilets. She an this guy decided to take an apartment together, cause he didn't like where they was livin neither, but that didn't work out.

"You know, Forrest," she say, "I even tried to fall in love with him, but I jus couldn't because I was thinkin of you."

She had wrote to her mama an axed her to get in touch with my mama to try an find out where I was bein kept, but her mama write her back sayin our house done burnt up an my mama is now livin in the po house, but by the time the letter get to Jenny, Mama done already run off with the protestant.

Anyhow, Jenny said she didn't have no money an so she heard they is hirin people at the tire company an she come down to Indianapolis to get a job. Bout that time she seen on the television that I am bout to be launched into space, but they is no time for her to get down to Houston. She say she watched, "with horror," as my spaceship crashed, an she give me up for dead. Ever since, she jus been puttin in her time makin re-treads.

I took her an hole her in my arms an we stayed like that for a wile. Dan rolled hissef into the bathroom, say he's got to take a pee. When he's in there, Jenny axe how he gonna do that, an don't he need hep? an I say, "No, I seen him do it before. He can manage."

She shake her head an say, "This is where the Vietnam War have got us."

There ain't much disputin that either. It is a sad an sorry spectacle when a no-legged man have got to pee in his hat an then dump it over into the toilet.

The three of us settle into Jenny's little apartment after that. Jenny fixed up Dan a place in a corner of the livin room with a little mattress an she kep a jar on the bathroom floor so he wouldn't have to use his hat. Ever mornin she'd go off to the tire company an Dan an me would set aroun the house an talk an then go down to the little tavern near where Jenny worked to wait till she got off.

First week we started doin that, the guy I beat arm rasslin wanted a chance to git back his five bucks an I gave it to him. He tried two or three times more an in the end lost bout twenty-five dollars an after that he didn't come back no more. But they was always some other feller wanted to try his luck an after a month or two they was guys comin from all over town an from other little towns too. Dan an me, we is pullin in bout a hundrit fifty or two hundrit dollars a week, which weren't bad, let me tell you. An the owner of the tavern, he is sayin he gonna hole a national contest, an git the tv there an everthing. But before that happen, another thing come along that changed my life for sure.

One day a feller come into the tavern that was wearin a white suit an a Hiwaian shirt an a lot of gold jewelry aroun his neck. He set up at the bar wile I was finishin off some guy at arm rasslin an then he come an set down at our table.

"Name's Mike," he say, "an I have heard bout you."

Dan axed what has he heard, an Mike say, "That this feller here is the strongest man in the world."

"What of it?" Dan says, an the feller say, "I think I got a idea how you can make a hell of a lot more money than this nickel an dime shit you're doin here."

"How's that?" Dan say.

"Rasslin," says Mike, "but not this piss-ant stuff - I mean the real thing. In a ring with hundrits of thousands of payin customers."

"Rasslin who?" Dan axed.

"Whoever," says Mike. "They is a circuit of professional rasslers - The Masked Marvel, The Incredible Hulk, Georgeous George, Filthy McSwine - you name em. The top guys make a hundrit, two hundrit thousand dollars a year. We's start your boy here off slow. Teach him some of the holds, show him the ropes. Why, I bet in no time he'd be a big star - make everybody a pile of money."

Dan look at me, say, "What you think, Forrest?"

"I dunno," I says. "I was kinda thinkin bout goin back home an startin a little srimp bidness."

"Shrimp!" says Mike. "Why boy, you can make fifty times more money doing this than shrimpin! Don't have to do it all your life - just a few years, then you'll have something to fall back on, money in the bank, a nest egg."

"Maybe I ought to axe Jenny," I say.

"Look," Mike say, "I come here to offer you a chance of a lifetime. You don't want it, jus say so, an I'll be on my way."

"No, no," Dan say. Then he turn to me. "Listen, Forrest, some of what this feller say make sense. I mean, how else you gonna earn enough money to start a srimp bidness?"

"Tell you what," Mike say, "you can even take your buddy here with you. He can be your manager. Anytime you want to quit, you're free to do it. What do you say?"

I thought bout it for a minute or so. Sounded pretty good, but usually they is some catch. Nevertheless, I open my big mouth an say the fatal word: "Yes."

Well, that's how I become a professional rassler. Mike had his office in a gymnasium in downtown Indianapolis an ever day me an Dan would catch the bus down there so's I could get taught the proper way to rassle.

In a nutshell, it was this: nobody is sposed to get hurt, but it sposed to look like they do.

They be teachin me all sorts of things - half-nelsons, the airplane spin, the Boston crab, the pile driver, hammerlocks an all such as that. Also, they taught Dan how to yell an scream at the referee, so as to cause the greatest commotion.

Jenny is not too keen on the rasslin bidness on account of she say I might git hurt, an when I say nobody gits hurt cause it's all put-on, she say, "Then what's the point of it?" It is a good question that I cannot rightly answer, but I am lookin foward to makin us some money anyhow.

One day they is tryin to show me somethin called "the belly flop," where I is sposed to go flyin thru the air to lan on top of somebody but at the last minute he rolls away. But somehow, I keep screwin it up, an two or three times I lan right on the feller afore he gits a chance to move out the way. Finally Mike come up into the ring an say, "Jesus, Forrest - you some kind of idiot or somethin! You could hurt somebody that way, a big ole moose like you!"

An I says, "Yep - I am a idiot," an Mike say, "What you mean?" an then Dan, he say for Mike to come over to him for a secont an he splain somethin to him, an Mike say, "Good God! Is you kiddin?" an Dan shake his head. Mike look at me an shrug his shoulders an say, "Well, I guess it takes all kinds."

Anyway, bout a hour later Mike come runnin out of his office up to the ring where Dan an me is.

"I've got it!" he shoutin.

"Got what?" Dan axed.

"His name! We have to give Forrest a name to rassle under. It just came to me what it is."

"What might that be?" Dan say.

"The Dunce!" says Mike. "We will dress him up in diapers an put a big ole dunce cap on his head. The crowd will love it!"

Dan think for a minute. "I dunno," he says, "I don't much like it. Sounds like you are tryin to make a fool out of him."

"It's only for the crowd," Mike say. "He has to have a gimmick of some sort. All the big stars do it. What could be better than The Dunce!"

"How about callin him The Spaceman?" say Dan. "That would be appropriate. He could wear a plastic helmet and some antennas."

"They already got somebody called The Spaceman," Mike says.

"I still don't like it," Dan say. He looks at me, an axed, "What you think, Forrest?"

"I don't really give a shit," I says.

Well, that was the way it was. After all them months of trainin I am finally bout to make my debut as a rassler. Mike come in to the gym the day before the big match an he has a box with my diaper an a big ole black dunce cap. He say to be back at the gym at noon tomorrow so he can drive us to my first rasslin match which is in Muncie.

That night when Jenny get home I gone into the bathroom an put on the diaper an the dunce cap an come out into the livin room. Dan is settin on his little platform cart watchin tv an Jenny is readin a book. Both of them look up when I walk thru the door.

"Forrest, what on earth?" Jenny says.

"It's his costume," say Dan.

"It makes you look like a fool," she say.

"Look at it this way," Dan says. "It's like he is in a play or somethin."

"He still looks like a fool," says Jenny. "I can't believe it! You'd let them dress him up like that an go out in public?"

"It's only to make money," Dan say. "They got one guy called 'The Vegetable' that wears turnip greens for a jockstrap an puts a hollowed-out watermelon over his head with little eyes cut out for him to see thru. Another guy calls himself 'The Fairy,' an has wings on his back an carries a wand. Sumbitch probly weighs three hundred pounds - you oughta see him."

"I don't care what the rest of them do," Jenny says, "I don't like this one bit. Forrest, you go an get out of that outfit."

I gone on back to the bathroom an took off the costume. Maybe Jenny is right, I'm thinkin - but a feller's got to make a livin. Anyhow, it ain't near as bad as the guy I got to rassle tomorrow night in Muncie. He calls hissef "The Turd," an dresses in a big ole body stockin that is painted to look like a piece of shit. Lord knows what he gonna smell like.


-- Advertisement --