It’s spooky. Getting in the car in the dark before sunrise to drive to the riverside to sit. Right here. Spooky cause well, being the end of July so far down south, and after yesterday being hot as hell, then last night so windy and pouring down rain, and now the sunrise is hidden behind dark clouds with fog and the air too thick. I can’t help but break a sweat.
Yet, it’s cool.
July, July, July. I can’t say enough good about it. Mainly, as I’ve learned, it’s my strongest month- in mind, body and spirit. Which means my only plan is to ENJOY it. Now. And it’s out here, I’ve learned, I wear it well.
“Are you swearing off men completely?”
Barton’s pulse quickened with relief. Vince had unwittingly offered Barton a way to refuse him without resorting to ridicule. “None of us should be hooking up right now.”
“We’d relapse together.”
Our last encounter was at Mike’s funeral.
“I hope you’ll agree to meet with me Joe,” she wrote, as the letter wound down. “Much time has passed and you need to know the truth.”
It would be an unhappy, but necessary reunion. I wanted her explanation of what happened, as well as the chance to express my feelings.
If God gave people the ability to build a best buddy, Mike Arnold would have been my creation.
Four months, no shame in that. Barton hadn’t intended to fall once more into its vicious and familiar embrace. When he clutched the tiny bag, however, no sacrifice seemed too great and no punishment too severe. He was on the tricky side of forty, his liver near collapse, his mother and teenage son distant as a star. Every line of crushed crystals barreling through the clipped straw brought him closer to the life otherwise only possible after death. Four months—no shame, no shame at all. Goof and Sister Pussy, eyes sparkling like coins at the bottom of a well, sat across the coffee table from Barton. Goof’s fingers massaged the shaved wonder between her thighs.
After three years of caddying, I’d received the promotion every summertime employee at the Kitzbuhel Country Club in the Austrian village of that name dreamed of. I was now a lifeguard. I envisioned a long summer of watching beautiful, rich, bikini-clad, Alpine women morph from fair-skinned to bronzed and, of course, earning a bigger paycheck to help finance a down payment on that new, red Volkswagen Tiquan I just had to be behind the wheel of. What I didn’t expect was an unfortunate lesson in history learned on my very first day of work.
I sat at a plain, white table near the indoor entrance to the Olympic size pool a number of our nation’s swimmers used to train for international competitions.
Nervously playing with her hair, Annie pulled up his quiet, mountain drive. On the passenger seat next to her sat three grocery bags, cans rattling within until the car stopped. Sweet Annie opened the door of her like-new car and delicately grabbed the food as Uncle Eddie sat predictably unmoved, at ease on the front porch picking his banjo.
Like always, she approached his house, smiling, let herself in, and put everything away. The music rolled towards her, and closing her eyes briefly, she slowly, deeply inhaled. She reappeared and took the seat next to him.
“All Gays should be shot.” Silence fell around us. Did they hear me, hear what I just said? I didn’t think so, so I said it again. This time, they heard me.
It was 1996. We were hanging out at Carl’s Diner in New Jersey. It was late, and I don’t know how this conversation steered in that direction. I was lost in thought, and then someone said something that dragged me back to reality.
After another minute of walking, Dewey departed from the pebble-strewn road and lumbered up the steps to a mobile home. He was tempted to glance over his shoulder and make sure Christopher hadn’t bolted. His guest, however, clomped up the stairs behind him. Dewey assured himself this man would allow Dewey to please him. I am not a freak, he told himself. I can attract a worthy man. Mama’s wrong about me. She’s wrong about everything.
“I’m gonna need to smoke a bowl or two to stay in this shithole,” Christopher announced, following Dewey into the empty mobile home.
Marilyn rarely slept much anymore. She would catch maybe a couple of hours, if she was lucky, but that would be about it. Maybe that’s why she woke with a start from the dead sleep; her internal clock had realized that she’d been unconscious for four hours, had known that was a mistake, and had woken her up with a tap on the shoulder. Even before she floated all the way through the black peacefulness of sleep, she knew she was alone. That brought her fully awake in seconds, not out of fear, but out of a deep, angry sadness.
She lay there quietly, listening to the sounds of the apartment, listening for Luke’s blundering around in the kitchen, or in the bathroom.
The Vreckless Vrestlers series is a comic tribute to pop culture of the ’80s and ’90s – wrestling, toys, cartoons, comics and games of these times. Things which still give me lots of joy and will forever remain a great inspiration. For me, one of most important things about my comics is that I am doing everything myself, except translations. Script, design, drawing, preparing files for digital and print, promotion – I do it all without crowd funding or sponsors. 100% DIY. Of course, I have support from my wife and friends!
Issue #0 introduces the main players in this time-defying universe.