They say you always remember your first fight.
Your first fight and your first fuck.
I sure-as-shit remember mine. I was at the carnival, watching the kootch show, when Alvin Lupus broke his right wrist and four fingers on his right hand trying to shatter my jaw. I didn’t blame him – he had just found out that I had fingered his older sister up against the Crippled Civilians’ clothing donation box the previous Saturday night.
I was only 14 at the time.
The carnies dragged him off and beat him with cut-down baseball bats in the woodland behind the wrestling tent. A few people said that they murdered him, and buried him in a shallow grave along with a couple of rabid dogs, but I later found out that he had hitched down to Mexico in search of a wrestling promoter with deep pockets and lax moral standards.
Most guys I knew who fought in Mexico came home in a box or in a wheelchair, but Alvin was different. He came back tougher, meaner. Every time he got suspended, for some infraction or other, he wound up down south: dick-deep in senoritas and wrestling like his life depended on it. His hook-up down there was a fighter known as Gringo Starr – an old juicehead who liked to get drunk and slash faces like some men slash tyres. Those two boys were tighter than a nun's pussy.
On my 17th birthday Shriek Watson told my father that I was too short to be a wrestler, so Daddy bought me a crate of imported Metandienone for my birthday, and had me chopping logs and digging drainage ditches for a full year. I don’t know if the ‘roids helped, but by the time I was 18 I was as tall as any boy in Testament.
Shriek still wouldn’t train me, but by that point I didn’t give two shits – I was earning real coin fighting men twice my age in parking lots and abandoned factories.
I didn’t cross paths with Alvin again until we met in prison. He had been convicted of a stabbing and a shooting, although nobody died. I was just passing through jail on a vagrancy collar. By 1989 I was back fighting, and got my big break in the Deep South Wrestling Association, fighting under the name Tiny Diamonds. I was a big man, obese, but not morbidly so, and I still knew my way around the canvas.
When Alvin got out of the Big House he looked me up. He was meaty with prison muscle, and looked fucking dangerous. My weight had ballooned by this point – underactive thyroid, my physician said – so I was grateful for a tag-team partner who was willing to work up a sweat on my behalf. We had a good run, even picked up a couple of belts along the way. We earned a reputation as men who would go the extra yard for a promoter. Blading was commonplace, and by the end of our first summer working together, Alvin’s face looked like a roadmap of hell.
Not long after, we joined the Testament Wrestling Alliance – as a result of a hostile takeover. When people ask me what a hostile takeover is, I tell them it is just like a regular takeover, but the guy signing the papers has a sawn-off shotgun barrel between his teeth. Our new boss was a guy named Fingerfuck Flanagan. Never liked the man, personally – he walked like his balls were too big for his fucking pants.
I was mostly used as a jobber, but Alvin was a headline draw. By this point he was using the name The Jazz Butcher, and Fingerfuck had him wearing more make-up than a deformed hooker. Alvin hated gimmicks, hated costumes, and he especially hated wearing face-paint. One evening – shortly before he was due to fight Freddie Regal in a Punjabi Prison Match – he put on his duffel coat and walked right out of the auditorium, past the ticket-taker, past the queue of fans, and drove away in his shit-coloured jalopy.
Fingerfuck called me into his office. He was twitching – sweating like a rent boy in church. I thought he was having a heart attack, until I saw a cut-price hooker under his desk, working him with her misshapen mouth. I was worried that he was going to ask me to fill in for Alvin in the Punjabi Prison Match, but he had other plans for me.
“Tiny, you will never eat lunch in my canteen again, unless you track down that creepy bastard Lupus, and bring him back to Testament.”
I spent a month trawling carnivals and bareknuckle fights, slaughterhouses and dive-bars. I drove as far north as Hellbelly, as far south as Crooked Timber. When I eventually tracked him down he was working as a bouncer at Short & Sweet, a midget strip club in a shit-hole town called Small Pond.
The alleyway behind the strip club was piled high with discarded appliances. Alvin was sat atop a rusted A/C unit, wearing a bomber jacket and a bolo tie. His lank hair had been scraped back with its own grease. He grunted when he saw me, and flicked his half-smoked cigarette toward my face.
“I’m not going back, Tiny. I fuckin’ like it here.”
A couple of the midget strippers were watching from the fire exit, cigarettes dangling from their tiny painted mouths.
I rolled my shoulders, and Alvin was all over me like a cheap leotard. He reached between my legs, hoisting me into a powerslam, and upended me onto a pile of rubble.
I felt something give way inside of me, and a brief bubble of pain evaporated on my chalky lips.
The midgets started to applaud, and Alvin took a bow.
I looked down at the jagged shard of metal embedded in my fat gut as my shirt started to turn crimson.
Lousy fuckin’ Alvin. He always was a Goddamn crowd pleaser…