Friday, December 26, 2008

F.F.F. - Midget Wrestling Part 2

I feel compelled to say, the only thing I wanted more than anything for Christmas I got. Lakers over Celtics on Christmas day couldn't be any sweeter. Oh, and the only thing I have to add to Encina's tribute to Phil is, "Phil, wherever you are, I hope you enjoyed last night's game."

I didn't know Phil at all other than as the guy who watched over LG like one of his children. But as a loyalist to the best Lakers site on the net, I appreciate all he did for the sake of us silly fans.

Now for the second half of my short fiction piece (I'm sure you've all been counting the days since I left off with last weeks cliff-hanger).

Midget Wrestling Part 2

In my new job, I’m required to travel. Not that travel is the main focus, I’m actually nothing more than a glorified messenger boy, but it’s something they mentioned when they hired me, and desperate for whatever kind of decent work I could find, I didn’t think twice about it. Part of me has reservations about this, but another part of me is totally looking forward to the time I get to spend on the road. It’s a pretty sweet set-up actually; company car, company credit card, a few specific tasks to accomplish, which at first glance don’t seem too terribly challenging.

I search my inner feelings, something I’ve been working on lately, to see if I can figure out where any hesitations I might have regarding this are coming from. It doesn’t take long before I follow the trail, which, of course, leads back to Jade.

The big question, though, is what part of my relationship would make me feel this way?

I start to answer with the obvious. I worry that something will happen to her while I’m gone, or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe she’ll worry about something happening to me while I’m on the road. Maybe she’ll get upset that I’m off having a good time without her, despite the fact that making the trip is my job, and nothing more.

I really should know better. There’s nothing obvious about our relationship.

The old man and I — now there was an obvious relationship. It was obvious I hated him and just as obvious he wished I were someone different.

When we hit the road back in 1965 and headed to Georgia, the chill developing inside the ’62 Ford wagon had nothing to do with it being winter. In fact, I’m sure I remember the weather being unseasonably warm, although after so many years, I couldn’t swear to it. The old man, however, was swearing up a storm.

“That fucking bitch of a mother of yours is giving me so much shit I can’t hardly fucking believe it,” he said, quite pleased with his ability to alienate his wife and force me into one of his crazy ventures all in one single act of madness.

Six hours into the trip I decided I could stand it no more. Collecting my pee in an old orange juice bottle and eating sunflower seeds to stave off starvation wasn’t much my idea of an adventure. The scenery from the highway was nondescript and uninteresting, and the occasional radio stations we could pick up were dominated by the old man’s affection for bad country music.

“There’s a Waffle House, Dad. Can’t we stop and get something decent to eat?”

I have to add here, that back then I had no hesitations eating at an establishment willing to name itself after a popular breakfast food.

“Think I’m fucking made out of money? Look, I got just enough to pay for motel rooms and gas. We eat what I brought in that bag back there.”

I looked in the paper grocery bag and saw a case of PBR.

“Not that one, the duffel on the seat behind you. Climb on back and grab me a Hershey’s, will you?”

Like he needed more caffeine and sugar in his system. The old man already looked like he was about to explode. Where would that leave me, I wondered, if he dropped dead from a stroke or a heart attack.

Jade’s packing up stuff for me to take on the trip I’m making for work. My assignment is to pick up a package in Tempe, then stop overnight in Santa Fe to meet with someone named James. With the major credit card my new boss handed me, I can pretty much stay at any hotel I want, so I choose The Hacienda at Hotel Santa Fe, where I used to work. I’ve had dreams about this — being a guest at the very place I once played host. Now I can be the one that’s waited on, although I swore to myself that if ever the opportunity arose, I wouldn’t be one of those pain in the ass types who seemed to thrill at the idea of having someone fall all over themselves just for the prospect of a lousy tip.

At the motels the old man and I stayed at on our trip back in ’65, tipping or not tipping the hired help didn’t come into play as an option. Apparently desk clerks at these establishments, the ones that aren’t listed in the AAA tourbooks, were less inclined to provide customer service than they were to afford the underage locals a place to party. Not that the old man minded any. His idea of luxury accommodations went about as far as a magic fingers box on the bed that actually didn’t steal your quarters.

As for inappropriate noises coming from the other rooms, that was pretty much taken care of in the same way as anything else that might have cast a cloud over his parade — beer.

I tried it. I didn’t like it. But I did find its effects worth suffering through the bitter aftertaste and a brief bout of puking. It gave me courage. It gave me inhibition. I saw God.

It also gave me the ability to tell my father, the man instrumental in giving me life, the man who might have loved me despite his actions to the contrary, the man who had just spent the better part of a day trapped in a car with a 12-year-old driving across three states all in the name of midget wrestling, to fuck off.

He just sat there, on the bed with the magic fingers, and stared at me.

I would have rather he hit me, or yelled at me, or packed up the car and just left me there to fend off the drug dealers and prostitutes on my own. Instead he sat and stared. Then he laughed. Then he threw me another beer.
I’d never hated him more.

Finally he spoke. “You know, son, I’ve never loved you more. Tomorrow I’m going to get to see one of the greatest spectacles in professional sports, and when that moment comes, there’s no one I’d rather have with me than you.”

Jade told me once, as we were getting ready to go out drinking with some of her artist friends, how happy she was that I was with her. That was before the fight we had later that night, probably the result of too many drinks and an encounter with her pompous ass of an ex-boyfriend.

I decide that I don’t want to leave her, even if it’s just for a weekend. “Why don’t you come with me?” I ask her.

“Are you sure?” she replied. “Nothing personal, but I was sort of looking forward to getting some things done I never seem to have time for.”

I’m speechless. How is it my fault she can’t get anything done while I’m around? “That’s fine,” I finally say, not finding the same type of bravado I had shown the old man all those years ago.

I wonder where the midgets are going to be this weekend.

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