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Stymie Magazine

Autumn & Winter ‘11

sweater, your cheeks all red. And you just looked so happy. I could see the way I loved you, and the way I thought you loved me. And you lifted your arms. You were spinning out in the snow. You looked so happy.” Half the guys across the room cheered. They swapped dollar bills, the arm wrestling match over. “So I’ve got moments like that.” Penelope didn’t say anything. When I got the nerve to look at her again, she didn’t show any of that happiness I was telling her about. Her eyes were a blur where they should have been wide and blue. “Anyways—” “I don’t,” she cut me off. “I don’t want to lead you on, Jim.” “Lead me on?” She tossed the cotton swab in a trash can and sat down by me. “I like spending time with you—I really do. You look after me, take care of me. And you treat me good.” “That’s all I ever—” “But I don’t see you like a boyfriend,” she went on. “That’s what I was figuring out when I left you. I think I see you more like a brother or something. And I love you like that, Jim. But I don’t see you like you see me.” I swallowed. “But you see Barry like that?” I shook my head. “That’s all you ever see yourself being—eye candy on the boss man’s arm?” “It’s OK for now. But it’s not forever. See, that’s where you and Derek and Barry— that’s where you all have it wrong. You probably dream about running off with me to wrestle for one of the big companies.” “So what? I ain’t supposed to have goals?” “Dream all you want. But this business is bullshit. You guys get caught up in it until you don’t even know what’s real from what’s fake.” She sighed. “And that’s fine. But don’t expect me to play along. I’m here for a paycheck. When the next thing comes along, I won’t look back.” I wanted to say something, to stand up for the business. But the business had me

smacking her with a chair in one week. I pulled on my t-shirt and picked up my duffel bag. The strap ran over the bandage, over the real cut. Real pain. * An hour before pay-per-view, Barry changed the end of our match. Not only would I hit Penelope with a chair—I would do it after I overcame her interference, and pinned Derek in the middle of the ring. “It’s gonna launch a whole new character angle.” Barry said. “Houston, give me some sign you’re listening.” Derek lifted his eyebrows. “Jim lays me out for the pin. I sell it like I’m dead until they’re carting Penny out.” “You can have a little enthusiasm about it. You’re gonna be a part of history.” He straightened his sports coat. “I’ve gotta do one last check on the mics. Everybody get ready.” He half-skipped on his way out the door. The locker room came alive with chatter, guys talking about their matches, talking about the buy rates on pay-per-view, talking about the size of the live crowd. Seemed like everyone talked, until Derek stood up and overturned his bench. The wood slammed against the concrete floor, and everyone fell quiet, turning to him the way they had to Barry seconds before. “This is bullshit!” Derek kicked the bench, hard enough so the boards buckled on impact. “Every week the same guys go over. And it’s never the young guys.” “Derek, it’s not like that,” I said. “The hell it isn’t. You’re gonna hit her with the chair, and that’s what everyone is gonna remember. But not only that, you’ve got to pin me along the way.” “You think I want to hit Penelope?” I kept my eyes on him. “That’s a sacrifice.” “Yeah, well counting the house lights while I lie down for you is a sacrifice too. Maybe you don’t remember what that’s like.” I had felt that anger. “I remember getting embarrassed, jobbing out night after night. But that’s growing up.”

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Stymie - Autumn & Winter 2011  

The Autumn & Winter edition of Stymie Magazine featuring work from Curtis Smith, Corey Mesler, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Carol Gloor, Nick Ripatraz...

Stymie - Autumn & Winter 2011  

The Autumn & Winter edition of Stymie Magazine featuring work from Curtis Smith, Corey Mesler, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Carol Gloor, Nick Ripatraz...

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