The Anglo Luchador
“Wow, what a nice brunch that was,” remarked Timo Bolamba as he and The Anglo Luchador strolled out of a brunch eatery. Which brunch eatery, you might ask? Eh, it’s none of your concern.
“The chilauquiles weren’t as good as they are at Slice of Tlalocan,” the old luchador volleyed back, “but the circumstances were different, and the company was better received.”
The company to whom he referred was the duo who held PRIME’s Tag Team Championships – King Blueberry and Reina Raspberry, or at least their unmasked alter egos, Jared Sykes and Justine Calvin. The old luchador called it to smooth rising tensions between he and Blueberry that had been simmering on the company social media platform, Jabber. Timo and Cal just happened to tag along for a meal and perhaps some input of their own.
“I know!” exclaimed Timo. “I know I grew as a person and felt like I got to know Justine AND Jared a little better.”
“Yeah,” the luchador responded. “I get the feeling we all grew as people, and it’s something none of the four of us will ever forget. I mean, remember when Jared…”
Just as he was about to relay an amusing, possibly absurd anecdote, a car honked in the heavy traffic on a street whose location you don’t necessarily need known to you. Las Vegas, more than any other city except for New York on the East Coast, never sleeps, never slows down. When you’re the entertainment hub of the gaudiest and most bloated to the gills of excess nation in the history of planet Earth, you can’t afford to fall asleep. Some people are active on a Saturday afternoon to nurse hangovers. Some haven’t gone to sleep yet. Still others are natives who just like to eat brunch. The Anglo Luchador and Timo Bolamba were two guys on a work-related outing. Vegas does not discriminate. Vegas welcomes all, for better or for worse. The presence of one cult on the Board of Corrections and the smoldering ruins of another cult’s Learning Tree in the parched outskirts spoke to the negative with a bullhorn.
“This mission you have, making amends,” Timo filled the silence left in the wake of the annoyed driver who so rudely albeit unintentionally interrupted what would’ve been a warm retelling of a candid but authentic thing that totally happened during brunch, “I don’t know what brought it on, but the ‘Oops, All Enemies!’ look doesn’t suit you.”
“Trust me,” the Champ replied, “there are some people worth picking fights with. Jared’s not one of them. He seems like a dipshit on the surface, but, I mean…”
He trailed off for a second before finding courage inside him to continue his self-effacing.
“…so am I, right?”
Timo just shook his head. The self-deprecation was one of his least favorite qualities about his brother in arms, but even he realized it came with the territory.
The luchador continued, “He’s got a certain way about him sometimes. Just because you’re not accustomed to how someone acts doesn’t mean they’re bad. I’ve seen the way he is around kids, Justine, Jon, at least recently. Plus, the antics are amusing. No one has made me laugh more than him since getting back, and I’m almost certain at least half of it was on purpose.”
“Yeah, uce,” Timo replied. “There’s a good heart in there. I’ve been trying to tell you that.”
“Hey, uh, not to totally change the subject,” the luchador interjected with designs to completely change the subject, “Can we run to Target before going back to the hotel? I need shaving cream.”
“Trying to impress GREAT SCOTT?”
“Oh god, I didn’t even think about that, but no,” the Champ replied. “But no, I never correlated heroism with facial hair. If so, this great task I’ve been saddled with would be a lot easier.”
“You keep talking about a great task,” Timo prodded, “But you keep dancing around it when I ask for specifics.”
“Look, if I could tell anyone what I need to do, you’d be number two on the list after my wife. I just have seen way too much to write off things I’ve seen as fever dreams or CTE manifesting into hallucinations in heretofore unknown ways. And I don’t want to incur the wrath of any supernatural beings, especially ones so closely tied to lucha libre.”
“Right,” Timo said flat as a glass of tap water, “I get it. I believed you when you told me about the ghosts. But if you think telling me about this will jeopardize something important, I’ll stop.”
“Thanks, uce,” said as the luchador threw his arm around Timo’s shoulder. “It’ll all come to light after Ultraviolence, hopefully. And if not, I’ll be dead, so I’ll just haunt you.”
“Don’t talk like that, aye Tagaloa…”
Big box carry-it-all stores can hold imaginations captive for hours. The only items the luchador craved at the moment were shaving gel for sensitive skin and pizza rolls. He liked to pretend his palate was sophisticated, but sometimes, all his inner child demanded were dough shells filled with cheese, sauce, and Grade-J meat product. Timo, however, with near infinite buying power and an insatiable mind at work to improve the vibe of his gym or his flat or his business ventures, was the kind of guy who’d spend his time trawling the aisles from open to close.
“Ooh, look at these big mason jars!” he remarked to an exasperated luchador. “They’d be perfect for storing wheat germ behind the juice bar.”
“Timo, buddy, can we hurry this up? I wanna get outta here before the Fifth Sunset happens and they choose the next god to act as the Sun.”
“You’re so impatient,” the Silencer responded with the ever-so-slightest hint of patriarchal disappointment. “Not everyone knows what they want right off the bat. Perhaps you could stand to stop and smell the roses every once in a while?”
“I mean, I do,” he snapped back. “A store like this isn’t the kind of place I get lost in. Boutique hot sauce stores, the liquor and beer supermarket, in another life, record shops… passion inspires patience. Necessity inspires… I don’t fuckin’ know.”
“I’m going to help Calico Rose develop an app to an online swear jar,” Timo said using his best Cancer Jiles match voice. “I don’t care if you curse on principle, but it’s a Saturday afternoon. There could be children around.”
“Yeah yeah. Look, I don’t want to rush you. Let me go pay for my stuff, and I’ll wait for you at the Starbucks. I could use a cuppa, even though I hate their coffee.”
“Yeah, sure. I might be awhile. I thought I saw some good surround sound equipment over at the other section. It could really make the music in the gym pop, you know?”
Shave gel and supreme pizza rolls in tow, the luchador moved towards the checkout until he wasn’t moving any more. Something stopped him dead in his tracks. Was it Hoyt Williams with malice in his eyes and a pointy walking stick in his hands? Was it another lucha libre apparition, looking to dispense advice to him? Or was it the ghastly specter of sometimes friend, sometimes potential scammer Roderick McRatrick? No, it was something much more benign and yet personally terrifying to the old luchador.
A cardboard cutout of a mean-mugging Paxton Ray holding his ebulliently smiling daughter. The words “Target Supports Fighting For Nora!” emblazoned to the left of the picture of the Rays with a description of how the superchain would match any donation made at the register.
Obviously, the cutout didn’t instill feelings of spendthrift austerity in the luchador. He made several donations and was in the middle of organizing a huge cheesesteak cookout back home with proceeds benefitting the foundation. His laundry list of charitable donations was sizable and growing in the wake of the Supreme Court’s berserk turn towards Opus Dei-influenced theocracy. Truth be told though, he wasn’t always this generous. To paraphrase Tim Robinson from the “Baby Cries” sketch on I Think You Should Leave, he used to be a real piece of shit.
April 19, 2000, somewhere in South Philly
To millions of viewers, he was A1E Superstar Jerichoholic Anonymous, but to his friends at home, he was still Tommy. Living with four brothers afforded him little time to pay attention to anything but which one of his siblings were eating what snacks he had designs on or whose turn it was to play the video game consoles around the house. Going off to the big time allowed him a worldly education he was grateful for. Some of those lessons he kept with him until the present day. The Libertarian streak (capital L for a reason) was not one of them.
Heading back to his parents’ house from the bookstore with tomes from Thomas Sowell and Ludwig von Mises in tow, Tommy happened by a man huddled in rags and blankets on the sidewalk.
“Ugh, gross,” he muttered to himself under his breath.
The sound was enough to draw the man’s attention to him.
“Spare some change, young’un?” His voice was feeble from malnourishment and exposure.
If Tommy wasn’t going to give him any money, probably should have ignored the man. But the strain of fiscal conservatism with social liberalism in name only emboldened him to reply.
“Sorry, but you know you can earn much more money per hour than I can give you right now if you got a job, right?”
The homeless man looked befuddled.
“A job, you know what they are, right? You go and work and they give you money.”
“Uh,” the homeless guy responded, “had a job for 15 years. They laid me off, lost my house after my wife ran off with our kid’s music teacher.”
“That is rough,” he said faux-sympathetically before raising his voice again, “but what you need is to lift yourself up by your bootstraps! You can find work again. In the meantime, here’s some wisdom. I can buy another copy of this book.”
Tommy threw his copy of the Sowell book at the homeless guy. It bounced harmlessly to the pavement after hitting his thick barrier of blankets and rags.
“You don’t even have to thank me.”
He walked off. The homeless man looked at the book and shirked back.
“Sowell? Damn. Well, I could use some actual toilet paper.”
The old luchador shuddered as that memory intrusively barreled into his head. No sooner did it leave than another one barreled in.
December 19, 2011, outside the Wegman’s in Malvern, PA
“Saaaaalvation Army! Give today!”
“Where’s your Christmas cheer, hun?” Tamara asked knowing where the answer came from.
Her husband was still sweet and caring, and he’d traded in his uncaring bootstraps mentality for something a little kinder globally. The stark shift in political ideology came from years of touring Mexico and finally realizing that big L Libertarianism was ransacking a country he loved as much as the United States and his family’s ancestral home of Italy. Being a liberal colored his view on charity a little better too, although not all of it was good. The Salvation Army’s history of anti-gay activism and coercion did not sit well with the once and future luchador.
“Spare some change for the Salvation Army?”
The poor volunteer did not know what foul beast he had awakened.
“I’d rather touch the Grinch with a 39-foot or shorter pole, thanks.”
“But you’ll help so many people!”
“Unless they’re gay, right? Or if they’re transgender? Y’know, giving to people on grounds that they convert to your stupid, shitty view on Christianity isn’t really giving, and I know a thing or two about shitty views on Christianity. I was a Catholic for the first 27 years of my life.”
“Chill out man, I’m only a volunteer…”
“And another th…”
Before he could unload again, his saint of a wife grabbed him by his nearly frozen ear away from the guy ringing a bell and collecting for a charity, no matter how dubious it is.
“You really either need to get back into wrestling or pick up a downer habit,” she said, only half-joking.
“Eh, give me another ten years, give or take, and I might go kicking down some doors again. People like that just get my goat.”
“People like that poor volunteer?”
What she didn’t realize is that moment kicked off a journey of self-discovery, but I’m not telling the story of the radicalization of The Anglo Luchador.
“Well,” he said to himself, “I guess I should go pay for this stuff.”
He walks up to one of the checkout lines with an actual cashier manning the station. Shaving gel, $6.99. Pizza rolls, $5.29.
“Would you like to donate to Fighting For Nora?”
“Yeah, I would, but not through your point of sale. Here, take this hundred-dollar bill,” he said putting the bill in the cashier’s breast pocket, “and I’ll Venmo money to Jon Rhine directly in your name. What is it… Nemo?”
“Yeah, my parents were creative.”
“Nemo, okay, just take that hundo and go buy yourself something nice. They can’t be paying you much here, can they?”
“Sir, as kind as that is, I can’t accept it.”
“Just do it, okay?”
The luchador begins to walk off until he notices Nemo putting the money in the till. He storms back.
“What are you doing? I gave that money to you!”
“Yeah, and I’m going to put it in as a donation to Fighting For Nora. That way they get $300 out of it.”
“There’s a reason why I want to do this off the books,” the luchador plainly stated with a furrow forming on his brow. “Corporations like Target only do this sh…”
He noticed a little kid standing right behind him.
“Shtuff, stuff as a tax write-off. Intent matters, you know.”
“I mean, don’t you? Don’t you keep receipts and claim them on your year-end returns?”
“No! That defeats the purpose! Charity is supposed to be sacrifice! If I just give you money to have Target claim the donation, then what good is it? They’ll just use it to enrich their CEO and board even more and work you to the bone!”
“C’mon man,” said the mother of the young kid standing behind him, “It’s for a girl with cancer.”
“This guy’s on minimum wage, and you’re doing dialectics to him?” said another customer with a shopping cart full of melatonin and NyQuil.
The cardboard cut-out of Paxton Ray comes to life and points his finger at the luchador. “I knew I shoulda punched yer lights out at that dinner, coward.”
The senior US Senator from Vermont, you know, the one with the crazy white hair who looks like Larry David? He walked up to the luchador to say, “You disgust me.”
A cacophony of people shouting him down as he cowered with his hands covering his face…
…but then the cashier, whose name was decidedly not Nemo, cut through.
“I’m sorry, are you going to give to Fighting For Nora?”
The old luchador reached for his wallet in the back pocket of his khaki shorts. He opened it, pulling out several one-hundred-dollar bills, his emergency stash in case his brunch with the Berries required bottle service. What kind of brunch place has bottle service? The kind that doesn’t concern you, that’s what.
“Here, take a thousand.”
“That’s… that’s awfully generous of you, sir. I’m going to call my manager to…”
The old luchador reached out his hand to grab the cashier’s wrist to keep him from getting on his intercom.
“No,” he said. “It has to be anonymous. I don’t claim these donations. That’s not how I roll. I just… look, I hate seeing kids suffer. I hate seeing innocent people suffer.”
The transaction finished without incident. No sooner did the luchador grab his bag and head towards the Starbucks than did Timo finish his checkout. Just two bags, four big mason jars.
“Soundsystem not up to your standards?”
“No,” the Silencer said exasperatedly. “They only had the cheap brand left. You have to get top line.”
“Just take your private jet to a sound store in New York or LA,” the luchador replied half-jokingly. “Just make sure you do it under the cover of night so you don’t end up in Rumor Mills again.”
“I’m going to punch you again, you know that, right?” Timo said with a laugh. “Anyway, you look like you’ve seen a ghost.” He paused a beat. “You didn’t see a ghost, did you?”
“Nah. I just had to take some time in finding passion in the necessary, that’s all.”
“I won’t ask.”
The two walked out of the store towards Timo’s car, ready for whatever a sleepless city and a sleepless wrestling promotion had in the wings for them next.