Friday, 5/6/2022 – MGM Grand Arena Las Vegas; Revival 7
Rey arándano, El Temblor remembers your treachery. Hoy pagas tu deuda.
The early days of Lucha Libre were populated by some notable figures. The Anglo Luchadore is always talking about them. This story is about two men that were intrinsically tied to one another. One, an aging luchadore, one a man who wears a mask but claims he is not a luchadore. Above all, though, this is a story of men, challenges, redemption, and respect.
Timo Bolamba, the Senior Official of PRIME and his business partner, El Temblor, were waiting patiently for a moment to arrive. Survivor’s food challenge had come and gone, but there was still one thing left to do before the aging luchadore from Mexico City had to get on a plane and head back to Motor City.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” asks the Samoan Silencer.
“Si,” replies Temblor. “He estado pensando en esto durante semanas.”
“Okay, if you are sure,” Timo nods, “then I am good with it, too. I trust your judgment, Carlos.”
El Temblor shot a crusty look up at his Samoan compatriot. All five feet and eight inches of him bristles at his real name being used, but he allowed a few to do so and Timo was one of them.
Carlos Gabriel de la Luna was born sixty years ago in a poor section of Mexico City. He and his Papá Mateo often watched El Santo on the television as a kid and in time they even went to Arena Mexico to see the high flying artists in person. Mateo would explain that Lucha Libre, Free Fight, is beyond compare in the world. The true legends filled the ring with grace, speed, power. The heroes of his youth such as Blue Demon, Rey Mendoza, Karloff Lagarde, and more built a bed of dreams that Carlos never stopped sleeping in.
Carlos was enamored enough to begin training at the age of fourteen and donned his first mask by sixteen. Enmascardo, they called it. Being a man of small stature, he often competed peso wélter; or welterweight. In his early years he was a técnico, the good guy.
He wrestled for many years by the name “Pájaro Negro”. It lasted into his early twenties when he came home one night as his Madre, Mariana, wept at the kitchen table. His Papá had been out working his second job at the cannery and had been the victim of a terrible accident involving a section of storage racking that was not properly secured.
The storm before the storm…
“Debería haber estado aquí ahora,” the smaller man hops down off the stack of pallets he had been sitting on. He paces back and forth carrying a small crudely wrapped parcel that he seemed prepared to guard with his own life.
Timo looks at his old friend and sighs.
“Look who is nervous!” the Samoan chides.
“No, nunca!” El Temblor shoots back rapidly. “Tal vez un poco.”
The younger Samoan referee leans back on his hastily assumed storage bin pressed to the wall that doubled as a chair. He had known El Temblor for about fifteen years now, and recognized him from the early days of long dead organizations like LTL Wrestling.
“I don’t get it though. What is it about Sykes?” Timo asks.
Temblor looks into the distance, seemingly remembering a day long past and he grasps his parcel a little tighter.
“No sé. Supongo que me recuerda a mí.
“I can see that. You know he isn’t a Lucha though right?”
Thursday, 9/19/1985 AM – Mexico City
Carlos cried through his feather embroidered mask. He wailed. He broke inside. His heart was rent. The hero of his short life had been cut down well before his time. Surely his Papá had been meant for a more noble end than this. Surely he had tried to spin or fly from the great rolling thunder that collapsed down upon him as deftly as El Santo would have.
He ran out the door, thrashing through the streets blindly. He knocked over the Santiago’s flower pots and frightened the local alley cats nearly out of their skin while he howled as El Lobo did in the hills…alone, mournful, chilling. He ran on bare feet, dust choked, rage shredding his reason.
He stopped on a hillside and stared at the monstrosity of bricks and dead dreams. Cannery Row. Where the great rich men paid little to the small man and couldn’t even be bothered to properly secure their racking. He had been running so long he hadn’t even noticed that the sun was just now coming up.
The first tremors of the magnificent calamity had begun below his feet, but he did not feel them yet. Carlos seared inside such as a chasm of a volcano were being ripped apart by the shifting of the earth. Through blurry eyes he saw the signs hanging over the alleyway shaking, the windows on the local shops shuddered and screamed in agony until they began to crack under cataclysmic force.
A young técnico felt breath well in his lungs deep below his diaphragm and he roared defiantly at the Men of Always as Medellín’s Paisa Robin Hood had called the rich and powerful in a news program he saw just a few years earlier. The ground roared back in response, dust billowing from clay and brick buildings, foundations snapping like dried kindling. The dried bed of Lake Texcoco heaved and sundered the foolish tooth-like buildings that protruded from the earth five or ten stories in height.
A din unlike anything he had ever heard filled his ears. Screams saturated the dry Mexican atmosphere. Carlos Gabriel de la Luna tore off his mask and began to rip the feathers from the hand stitching that his Madré had painstakingly crafted.
When he was done, he put the mask back on. It was plain, angry, dark, imperfect. So was he.
A Rudos that took his name from the death and destruction that would collapse over four-hundred buildings and damage thousands more stood in the street wake and rubble.
Backstage once again…
A jovial voice echoes down the hallway and Temblor turns to see PRIME veteran and a victor on the night, Dusk. He walks past the duo and nods to Timo briefly before he continues on to the locker-room. Tembler curses under his breath.
“Patience, friend,” Timo encourages. “He will come soon enough.”
“Estoy nerviosa,” El Temblor spoke plainly. “¿Qué pasa si dice que no?”
“He won’t. Jared is a lot of things, but being truly ungrateful isn’t one of them” the referee replies.
A calamity reserved for trickster Gods and a cacophony like that of a flock of blackbirds fills the hall. Suddenly and with haste that could only be described as chaotic, King Blueberry turns the corner and groans as he sees Timo sitting on his improvised throne and El Temblor pacing back and forth.
“Well shit; hope he forgot the treachery,” Sykes thinks as he approaches the duo. “Oh, hey guys. Meant to say, the weird corn stuff? Not so bad. Kinda creeped me out at first, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the thing that wrecked me.”
“Rey Arándano,” El Temblor’s voice is soft and clearly full of trepidation.
“Ok, good talk,” King Blueberry claps Temblor on the shoulder and starts to walk past. Timo harrumphs loudly and gives him a Samoan flavored death glare. The boisterous Berry turns and smiles his most genuine fake smile. “You’re still there! I thought maybe there was a ghost of some Aztec warrior or something you had to talk to.”
“That’s Tom,” says Timo dryly.
Temblor steps up quickly and locks eyes with King Blueberry.
“Rey Arándano, El Temblor remembers yo…”
“My treachery. I know. I screwed up, and it’s my fault the machine is broken, so I’ll totally pay to have it fixed, or replaced, or whatever.” Jared spits out rapidly.
Timo rolls his eyes. “Would you let him finish? This is important and the way I see it you have two options. Let my buddy talk or I’m going to tell my team to make sure to look the other way every time Ria stabs you.”
“Technically that happened outside the ring,” he blusters. “And I guess she did kinda warn me beforehand.”
Finally, El Temblor has had enough and steps forward. He casts his hand through the air as if to make a sweeping proclamation and shouts “Rey Arándano! El Temblor remembers your Bravery!”
He pushes out his hands and inside there is a small package that is hastily wrapped in a brown paper bag.
It’s from a history of childhood pranks gone wrong that Jared hesitates. After all, he was responsible for the destruction of a rather expensive piece of gym equipment. But with the eyes of both men upon him it’s only a matter of seconds before he opens the bag.
When he slides his hand into the bag and withdraws a mask – dark blue in color, with stitching that looks to be handsewn – the surprise is palpable. Eyes dart from man to man searching for an answer.
“Okay, I’m confused.”
El Temblor speaks first. “Mi madre hizo esto para ti.”
Timo pipes up to translate “He says his mother made it for you. He has told me that he is quite impressed with your spirit as it pertains to the ladder challenge.”
El Temblor looks excited and nods to King Blueberry. “¡Sí, nunca te quitaste la máscara!” and he points at Jared’s Blueberry mask.
“I wish I had a more noble reason for keeping it on, but…” There’s a surge of emotion that Jared fights to contain. Despite a career spanning over twenty years, moments like this, the ones of respect, are few and far between. “Man, I really don’t know what to say. Feels like ‘thank you’ isn’t enough.”
The aging luchadore reaches up behind his head and pulls at the drawstrings of his mask. Timo reaches out slowly and gently touches his shoulder asking him once again, “Are you sure?”
He removes his mask and smiles at King Blueberry not as El Temblor, but as Carlos Gabriel de la Luna. He is a withered shell of the youth Mateo brought to Arena Mexico; white haired with hardened lines eroded through his face. He labors to speak in broken English. “Rey…King Blueberry, you remind me of a young man before El Temblor.”
“Hopefully you had less mannequins to deal with when you were young.” Jared laughs. His smile, for the first time in months, is radiant. “I can’t begin to tell you how much I appreciate this, but I can promise it’ll have a place of honor at home.” Just as he prepares to leave, The Samoan Silencer slides down off his makeshift seat to stand face to face with Blueberry.
“Oh, and just a personal note Jared,” the Samoan added in knowing that he was holding up a man who probably was ready for a bit of relaxation after the night’s events, “Don’t worry about the machine. You’re welcome any time at my gym. You earned it.” Timo reaches out his hand to King Blueberry and nods.
“I appreciate that, too. Though maybe next time we go easy on the Crisco.”
They shake hands and King Blueberry, smiling genuinely, saunters down the hall, a pop in his step and a jaunty tune in his head. Timo turns to his long time friend El Temblor and sighs.
“So I suppose that things are different now?” Timo asks, genuinely wondering if the old Rudos had turned over a new leaf.
El Temblor laughed heartily. “No, Silenciador Samoano. El Temblor STILL remembers your treachery.”
“That was like seven years ago!” Timo protests as the pair walk away, their voices slowly fading.
And like that, Jared Sykes, aka King Blueberry, became worthy in the eyes of El Temblor. It would not be forgotten.
(Special Thanks to Matt for joining me in this RP and writing the parts of King Blueberry, I am honored.)