Ahhhh, I remember like it was yesterday.
Standing on the edge of the bank, a broken-billed Red Sox cap on my head, a Superman t-shirt on the ground next to me, hands anxiously gripping the fishing rod, leaning out over the water in anticipation…
“One’s gotta bite soon. And as soon as it does, you just yank up, okay?”
My friend might have been a year or two younger than me, but he knew his stuff. This is all he did, anyway. Every single day. Throwing out the bait. Just waiting for a hit.
“And we’ll throw it back after? Dad always says if you’re not gonna eat it, you gotta throw it back.”
I remember my buddies’ smile to this very day.
“Yeah, ‘course we will!”
Then it happened. Out of nowhere – sending jolts of electricity up my short spine.
Before I could even finish reeling, my skinnier counterpart snagged the fish with his quick, little fingers and pulled the hook out of its mouth.
My smile quickly vanished, however, and my eyes popped out as I saw my friend – still holding the fish – pull out a handful of tiny firecrackers.
“What’re those fo- why aren’t you throwing him back? You said we’d throw him back! He can’t breathe up here!”
Then something strange happened. The fight in me vanished. Curiosity pushed it away as I watched the little devil fill the fish’s mouth and eyes with his poppers.
I couldn’t move.
Paralyzed by something I couldn’t explain, I looked on as my pal reached into his shorts and pulled out a small lighter.
Mesmerizing was the light of the flame as it neared the wicks of the miniature explosives.
Don’t get excited, John.
The sight of that fish, half of it’s head in tact, burned into my brain at that very moment.
I was so caught up, I can’t recall if I thought or said aloud,
“What if he was a dad?”
Maybe I’m jaded, because now I just smile and think of a Fight Club reference…
His name was Scott.
Thanks for taking the bait, Data.
Date: 4/25 @ 5:00am
Location: Some gym in Tampa
~They’re Pinky and The Brain~
~Yes, Pinky and The Brain~
~One is a geniu-~
The theme to an oldy, but a goody is cut off as High Octane Wrestling’s 46 year old wrestler-in-a-wheelchair taps his screen to send the incoming phone call to speaker.
“Sup, Dude?” Doozer manages to grunt out the greeting in the middle of curling a gigantic dumbell.
Looks like he’s at a local gym first thing this morning. The other early-birds, quite few in number, can’t help but steal looks at the backwards Red Sox cap, Superman logo’d tank top wearing monster of a man as he continues to bust out bicep curls while strapped in his chair.
#NoDaysOff – right, Bill?
“Got you on speaker, fyi.” The Dooze, as considerate as always, tacts on to his greeting as soon as he had enough breath to do so. “At the gym.”
“Yeah, great.” Replies The Dude, from the other end of the phone, a little more dismissively than you’d expect a long time friend and manager to do so given the current circumstances. “Well while you’ve been busy messing arou-”
The weight drops.
Like John Sektor on a binge week.
“I’ve been what?” Glaring furiously at his cell, he taps off the speaker and lifts it to the side of his head. “I’m spending countless hours at this shithole gym-”
Doozer straightens up in his seat quick and shoots an apologetic hand wave, head bow combo gesture to his fellow fitness freaks. He clears his throat before continuing.
“I’m working out in every possible way I can, as much as I can, hoping that someday something will click… and you-”
“And I cracked the case.” Says Sherlock Dude quite matter-of-factly, at it again apparently.
“I cracked the case, Dooze!”
The Dream Wrestling Hall of Famer rolls his eyes while shaking his head, “What’re you even talking about, man?”
“You’re not Doozer. You were. But not anymore.” The voice on the phone pauses for a moment, almost as if Dude could see Doozer trying to digest that comment. “You’re… you’re the Doozer who didn’t…”
Fucking Data Stevens was right.
The Dooze has that what-the-actual-fuck look going on…
You know the look. You were probably wearing it when you saw Darin Zion get pushed over Jiles AND Dane, too.
“You’re a Fraggle, Dooze…” Confusion ensues. “Err- I mean… You’re a Fraggle, Fraggle.”
A defeated moan escapes from The Dooze. He takes a good second or two to rub his eyes with his free hand before responding.
“Dude, it’s great and all that Jiles is still teaching you new words. It really-”
“I learned this myself!” The phone barks back into Doozer’s ear. “I did some research in my libary earlier today.”
That’s no typo, either.
A smile crosses Doozer’s face.
“You can’t call a walk-in closet with a bookshelf a library, Dude.”
On the other hand, One-eyed Willy is God… MPlow is his son… some weird looking fuck is the Devil… and the luckiest man on Earth is Job…
“On second thought, fuck it, what’d you learn in your library?”
Dude’s voice amps up in excitement, “I thought you’d never ask!”
“You see, I was perusing the historical section-
Hope you said “Hi” to Data Stevens.
“And I came across a legend… The Legend…”
Doozer sighs impatiently, “Get on with it, man. Don’t got all day.”
You can hear The Dude’s _harrumph_ over the phone.
“It’s the Legend of the Doozer Who Didn’t.” Believe it or not, the man’s tone is 100% serious. “Basically, it’s a tale about a Doozer. That’s you.”
That one got a good eye roll.
“And that Doozer… again-”
“Glad you’re following, yes” Dude clears his throat. “Well, you stop working… therefore violating the fundamental aspects of what being a Doozer is all about… which, in turn, morphs you into a fat, hairy goober called a Fraggle.”
At this point, Doozer’s face says it all. It’s that, I-don’t-know-why-I-even type expression.
“Dude, can I get back to lifting now?”
The voice on the other end of the phone turns frantic.
“You don’t get it, do you Fra-”
“Don’t call me that.”
“I can’t not! You’re not Doozer anymore. Even Scott Stevens said it, you haven’t shown up anywhere you go… not since Dream, at least.”
There’s that lobster red complexion covering Doozerman’s face again.
“Look. You can tell that history buff that he didn’t dig deep enough.” Calling Doozer’s voice stern would be an understatement. “After I spent years barely getting a challenge worth training over, after I met up with Jiles, yeah… maybe I spread myself too thin. Maybe, like a lot of the young and dumb out there, I felt like I was invincible… so I took on too much.”
Silence from the other end. The Dude’s never heard such words from his friend before.
“And maybe I burnt out.” Doozer’s face starts flushing out the red. “Maybe that’s why my legs just decided to stop working that night… but you know what, Dude?”
Still silent, but I think even Dude knew this one was rhetorical.
He just wouldn’t know the word for it.
“My first thought, when I realized I couldn’t get out of that bed… wasn’t me wondering if I’d ever walk again. It was if I’d ever wrestle again.”
The entire gym has fallen into silence.
“That’s why I threw away my pride. That’s why I reached out to Lee. The will to walk wasn’t going to get me up. I had to fight. Like I‘ve always fought. To get hit with the hardest punch and ask for another. To know, when the final bell rings, I didn’t just throw in the towel like some baby and let time take me away.”
Doozer lifts the phone up a foot in front of his face.
“So yeah, if all you’ve seen is High Octane or Defiance… Stevens was right… but where he was wrong, is when I do show up.” His fingers turn white as he grips his phone so tight it’s suprising it doesn’t crack. “As HOW will find out, when I do show up, I win matches. When I do show up, I collect titles. When I do show up, I make Hall of Fames.”
For a split second, The Dooze smiles.
“And you know what else you can tell ‘em, Duder?”
He raises the phone up, tilting his head back.
Old school Dooze incoming…
“I’M GONNA DOOZE YOU, THEN ABUSE YOU!”
The wheelchair-ridden wrestler spikes his phone to the ground and promptly resumes busting out his reps. The scene fades out to the visual of pure determination, with what sounds like gunshots in the far distance…
Or maybe, firecrackers.