Fight or Flight is a funny thing.
They say that’s when you see someone’s true colors.
Well let’s see who shows up with clenched fists and who disappears with wings spread wide.
Lunchbox Larry, one who by all accounts would be expected to grow feathers in this metaphor, didn’t just show up…
He showed up early.
Counting the hours down to MAWA, the bright orange hoodie almost glows in the twilight of this morning’s dusk. The taxi he just exited takes off behind him. Larry, both hands in the front pocket of the hoodie, stares up at the simple beauty of the Beaumont Civic Center. He takes out his hands, only to lift the hood over his head, then reinserts them and takes in a breath that would impress Superman. A long, slow exhale precludes his march to the entrance.
With each step toward the venue where he would continue his journey to obtain the Fans Wrestling Organization World Championship, Lunchbox thinks about how he got here...
Just over a month ago he was driving a big rig, hauling logs to mills around Maine. Then he saw an opportunity to follow his dreams of becoming a professional wrestler when a new federation opened its doors for applications. His only experience in this field? Classic backyard “events” if you want to call them that. Safe to say, as Larry continued to grow into the 6’4” mountain of muscle that he is now, well… only the real crazies stuck around to take him on.
He reaches the front door of the center. He thinks about all the borderline insane, Maine fucks who would give The Raging Dead nightmares.
And he fed them Knuckle Sandwiches ‘til they couldn’t get up for more.
He opens the door.
He recalls that familiar smell when Kenneth Williams blew the smoke cloud in his face. If Ken thinks his HiiiiiiPower weed is going to save him pain, he’s got a rude awakening ahead of him. Lunchbox chuckles to himself as he recalls the battles against opioid addicted assholes from the County. Those crazy rednecks felt no pain. Had to knock them out to secure the three count.
He steps through.
Chad Chaos was the first pinfall of his professional wrestling career. Larry never thought he’d win his first match, but damn did it feel right. He remembers the nerves. He relives the rush. It baffles him still, that no matter how hard he tries, he can’t recall the crowd even being there. He walks down the busy hall. Maintenance and setup crew are scurrying about with equipment and props alike. Orange and black everywhere the eye can see.
The FWF is in town, baby!
Larry, with the hood already over his head, trudges along focusing on his black Reebok sneakers with bright orange trim.
He shoots a quick glance over his right shoulder. The fleeting thought of being followed, or watched, brings with it memories of his second match and victory over Stalker.
Lunchbox: Stalking for GOOD? What a weirdo…
He mutters to himself, shaking his head while cracking a smile.
He thinks about drawing Kenneth Williams.
Why not Jace Wheeler?
I knew a snail named Jace once.
Sorry, mate, you’re just straight fucked. If you can even make it past the White Faced Whatever, you’ll be so broken you’ll won’t survive one Knuckle Sandwich.
Larry makes it to gorilla. Nodding at setup crew as they pass him, he cautiously steps through to the top of the ramp. A deep inhale as he surveys the stands.
Lunchbox: Only three seats out there, Larry. One belongs to everyone who likes ya, one to the jerks who don’t, and one for everyone who doesn’t give two hoots my about ya…
He slowly nods, helping to convince himself.
Lunchbox: You get everyone to care, at least one way or another, and now we’re down to two. Then you just need to win the one that doesn’t like you over. Keep fighting. Show ‘em what you’re made of. Show them heart. Now we’re back to one.
Larry heads down the ramp. Fully focused on the ring, as if he were staring down another entrance-less opponent, he breaks into a sprint and dives inside. A quick push-up helps him jump to his feet. He circles the ring, never looking so determined. He climbs up the nearest turnbuckle and raises up a clenched fist that usually grips his lunchbox. He jumps back down and walks to the center of the mat. He kneels down, putting the once clenched hand down to the mat as if he was placing an object down. He “opens” said object and picks up something else imaginary out of it.
A smart man would figure he had his lunchbox in spirit… and, as always, he was carrying a microphone inside.
Yep. That’s what’s always been there… a mic, for the worst MC on the roster.
This mic, again, is imaginary… but Larry brings it up to his mouth as if he truly believes otherwise.
He smiles from ear to ear before one last, deep breath.
Lunchbox: Helllllllllloooooo-ooooooo Beau-MONT, TexAAAAAAAAAS!
He lowers the mic, still smiling, and circles around the ring in order to give the imaginary fans time to get the cheap pop out of the way.
Lunchbox: First and foremost, I want to thank YOU, MY CROWD, for uniting together as ONE!
An index finger shoots into the air. He gives another couple seconds for the cheering in his head to die down.
Lunchbox: Now, before I address my finals opponent, I’d also like to take a moment to thank Ken Williams.
The smile turns into a devilish smirk. It looks unnatural on Larry’s face.
Lunchbox: You definitely had fight in you. I could feel, and smell, the HiiiiiiiiPOWER!
Larry gives Ken’s fake fans a moment to calm down.
Only takes a moment because they’re all baked.
Lunchbox: You gave it your all. And we gave these great fans ONE wicked good show! Don’t you agree, Eff-Double, YOU - EFF!
Another cheap pop.
Lunchbox: But now onto my final opponent. Would it be Jace Wheeler or Raging Dead?
Larry stops, raising his hands in question, then brings the fake mic back.
Lunchbox: I’m sorry, Jace. You seem like a good dude, really. You just don’t seem like you’ve got what it takes to survive whatever it is you wanna call your opponent. He… bites people…
Larry shakes his arms out as if spiders were crawling over him.
Lunchbox: So I feel obligated to focus on the ONE, true opponent in my path here tonight… The Walking Who’s-a-ma-jigga… The Ned I Dread… The Only Dude with Balls Big Enough to Enter A Show Called Making America Wrestle Again Dressed In White Face… THE…
Larry pumps up his arms, then brings the invisible mic back.
Another pump or five…
He leaves a moment or two for the boos to subside.
Lunchbox: Look… I don’t know who, or what, you are or pretend to be… but I do know one thing…
Larry lowers his fake mic, only to dramatically bring it back.
With the return, his smile complete disappears. He looks, intensely, into the void.
His blue eyes blaze like Kenneth Williams on a Friday.
Lunchbox: You deserve the belt.
Larry drops his invisible mic.
He heads toward the ropes to exit the ring, then he stops.
He realizes he forgot his lunchbox.
He turns back, and lifts his head…
The stands are filled.
People of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Holding up sizes for and against and indifferent.
There were so many of them…
And Larry began to swirl…
As they blurred, he thought…
“Hope they’re hungry…”
A voice from a crewman hits the recording.
“He, uh… he passed out in the ring again…”
A different voice.
“How many nights in a row this been?
It doesn’t take long for the other to respond.
“Every night since we got here and set up that fuckin’ ring.”
The other proposes,
“Wanna just put a tarp over ‘im this time and call it good? Fucker’s heavy… wouldn’t wanna go toe to toe with this dumb fuck…”
A chuckle before his counterpart retorts.
“Got just the thing right here… guess he’ll have home ring advantage, right?”
The joke falls…
I did say he got there early...