Rocky de Leon
FREER, Texas – “Well,” Stu sat in a metal folding chair with his arms crossed and he looked Rocky over, “You’re not dead, and you appear to still be in mostly one piece.”
“Psht,” Rocky, leaning against the doorframe to the office, dismissed Stu’s clearly misplaced concern. “Better than fine. I was kicking ass out there!”
“You did exceed my expectations regarding energy conservation. Honestly, I’m impressed that you managed to keep up your level of aggression for as long as you did. It’s a shame that aggression is what cost you victory.” Stu looked at our flying friend with the face of a disappointed tutor.
Rocky’s shoulders slumped a little bit, “Yeah. I can’t believe I eliminated myself with that stupid dive at Avalon. What a way to go.”
“Made fer great TV, though!” Cindy said with a big smile. “You were a lot of fun to watch, Rock. I dare say they’ll be bookin’ ya again real soon!”
“Certainly,” Rocky’s manager handed him a piece of paper, “Quite soon – ReVival 26. It’s not a battle royale, but you’ll be taking on another two-headed dragon.”
“I think they’re trying to kill me,” Rocky looked at the match card, “they’re going to keep putting me in the ring over and over until I die.”
Donnie, who up til now drank his coffee in silence in his corner of the office, spoke nearly emotionlessly as he sipped, “Well, if you’d stop doing so well they’d stop booking you. So, I suppose if you want a break you can let the gamer and the love convoy fuckhead kick yer ass,” His eyes never lifted from the copy of the Houston Chronicle in his hands. Squeaking pierced the air as he reclined and propped his feet upon his desk. “…or maybe you could rough up one’a them old ladies what keep ogglin’ ya at Green as it Gets. That’ll get you off the ticket real fast.”
“Thank you, Donnie, for the excellent career advice,” the FDP turned back to his manager, “I need moves. The Diving Dino went over well, but my repertoire is still quite limited and I fear it makes me predictable. I’ve had the element of surprise, of a sort, until now, but there’s enough tape on me that I think Cross and Heart-Shorts are gonna have a field day if I can’t bring something new.”
“I don’t think so,” Stu turned to his laptop and pulled open his dossier on Rocky. “You’re not quite proficient enough in the moves you have to be looking for new repertoire. I think we should focus on mastery before adding breadth.”
“Come on, man, you saw me out there. You know I was kicking ass and taking names. I just got a little carried away-”
“Sloppy. You got sloppy. Which is exactly the problem. Fix sloppy. Tighten up what we know, then expand.” Stu typed away with cadence and intensity. Rocky knew the conversation was over.
Rocky sighed and turned to leave the office. Before he made it out the door, Cindy gently grabbed his right bicep, “Sugah, we all know you wanna get in on some high flyin’ fun, but Stu knows what he’s doin’ ok? Trust the man. He can get you where you wanna be, Ah promise.”
“Yeah,” the Sultan of Skree patted her hand with his left hand. “Thanks, Cindy. I’m gonna go work on some fundamentals.”
Rocky returned to his sanctuary, the ring in the opposite corner of the gym, far from the aggressive machine gun keyboard. The dummy in the center of the ring raised no objection to taking his sets of elbow strikes, kicks, and various chokes and holds. It was happy to provide a source of catharsis, as such was the dummy’s purpose.
After about an hour, he took the towel he’d left on the top rope to wipe his brow and began to step through the ropes to leave the ring. Before his feet hit the ground, he heard a whisper. “Hey… hey, man. I, uh, I heard you’re lookin’ ta learn some new moves.” The voice carried a faint hispanic accent.
Rocky looked around, but he did not see who was speaking. The voice continued, “Don’t be so goddamned obvious, man. Damn, man, it’s like you’ve never had a secret conversation before. What kind of journalist are you, man?” The statement was followed by the swishing of a mop. Rocky saw a janitor with a hat pulled down, the brim covering his face, mopping the floors around the ring.
“…maybe I am. What of it… Raul?” Rocky attempted to read the name badge on the janitor’s outfit.
The janitor kept his eyes on the floor. “It says Paul, man. My name’s Pablo, though; Donnie just thinks he’s funny, man. F’real, tho, man, you gotta go talk to Angel, man. He’s the man, man. Got just what you need, man. Have you flippin’ from the top ropes in no time, man.”
“Let’s say,” Rocky responded quietly as he wiped down the gym dummy and went through the motions of packing and cleaning up, “that I did want to talk to Angel. Where would I find him?”
“Angel finds you, man,” the janitor dipped his mop back in its bucket for fresh water. “Nah, I’m just kidding, man. You gotta go to Little Mexico, man. He’s there every Tuesday for Lucha Lunch, man. It ain’t called that officially, but if you know you know, man. They’re all there, man.”
“The Lucha League, man.”
“Are you just making shit up, now?”
“Nah, man, that name’s f’real, man. Lucha League Lunch is every Tuesday at Little Mexico.” Pablo dropped a wadded piece of paper on the floor and kicked it over to Rocky. Rocky unfolded it and saw an address scribbled on the scrap. “They think the stereotyping is funny or some shit, man. Go eat a taquito, ask for Angel, man. Embrace the Lucha, man. And seriously, man, get the taquitos. S’good shit, man.”
“Thanks, Pablo.” Rocky turned to discreetly shake the man’s hand, but he had moved on, swishing his mop to previously dry areas of floor.
— 🦖 —
The FDP looked again at the paper and verified that he was, in fact, at the correct address for Little Mexico. It appeared to be an abandoned rib joint. He could still smell the remnants of hickory smoke from when the place was in operation. “I swear to god, if someone shanks me or takes my kidney…” Rocky approached the door. There was a rectangular hole cut into it, and something appeared to be blocking the hole from behind. He knocked.
The hole block was removed and replaced by a pair of eyes. “Password.”
“The… uh… what?”
“Password. What’s the password, pendejo?”
Our favorite prehistoric reptile wracked his brain for the potential answer when it donned on him. “…taquitos?”
The doorman giggled. “Pablo said you was smart, man. Come on in. Quickly, ándale! The show is about to start.”
The door thrust open, and Rocky felt the gatekeeper grab his hand and lead him to a chair in a dark space. It was dimly lit, but he estimated there were 50 other people (likely men by the shape of the silhouettes) on similar metal folding chairs all in front of a small makeshift stage with curtains drawn. A flood light beamed on and focused as best it could upon the stage.
“THE LEGEND OF THE LUCHA! PART 37!”
The crowd finished their chant, and the curtains drew back.
“What the fu-”
Rocky hushed and watched the stage. From the bottom of stage left, a single white sock puppet appeared. The sock puppet wore a luchador mask. The mask was also white with some gold accents.
“And it was on that day that the Lucha learned humility!” A voice emanated from seemingly all around them, though Rocky saw no speakers. A second sock puppet, a black sock, entered from lower stage right. It was adorned in a devilish mask of black and red. It appeared to have pipe cleaners for hair. “La Lucha Negra appeared and she did tempt the Lucha!”
“Si. Si. She charmed him with her wiles, convinced him that he was the most beautiful-”
“- the most powerful -”
“The most talented and capable of all the Lucha! No! All the wrestlers!”
“She told him that if he would bed her, make her his, and allow her to bear his child, she would make him even more powerful.”
AI YAI YAI YAAAAI!
“But she lied. Bed the lucha she did, but she led him not to power… but to… but to…” The stage light appeared to be drifting. “SANTIAGO, FOCUS!”
The light returned to its proper location. “…but to ruin. And next week, in Part 38, you shall learn about the eeeeevil child support order.”
Ayeee, poor luchaaaaa
The curtains closed. The spotlight turned off, and the house lights turned on. Rocky sat staring in the general direction of the puppet stage, still uncertain if he was experiencing a fever dream. “What the ever loving fuck did I just watch?”
The gatekeeper, sitting next to Rocky, munched on popcorn that Rocky did not see him acquire. “Oh man, The Legend of the Lucha is the best. You should have seen Part 17. See, that’s where the Lucha gets his…”
“That’s great, um, I’m actually looking to meet Angel?”
The population of the metal chairs silenced. The house lights went out.
The crowd clapped with alacrity and rhythm then stopped suddenly as the spotlight again hit the stage. Simultaneously, a Luchador of staggering five foot six inch height, a mere 37% body fat, and glistening bronze skin straight out of the tanning spray booth stepped into the light, thrusting his chest forward. He wore white pants, boots, and mask, all with gold stitching, and a pair of wings upon his back. Also, a gold codpiece.
“Who seeks my guidance?”
Rocky recognized his cue to pipe up, “I take it you are Angel?”
Rocky had almost become accustomed to the chanting audience. “Yeah, Angel. Anyway, I was led to believe you could help me learn some new moves. I’ve got a big match coming up, and I feel like I need to expand my repertoire.”
The best moves!
He NEEDS the MOOOOOOVES, ANGEL!
“Lights!” The flood light turned off, and the house lights turned on. Behind Angel the stage was gone, and in its place a wrestling ring. “Tell me, FDP…”
“You know who I am?”
“Of course we know who you are. I know all the Lucha!”
Angel silenced the crowd with a wave. “Also, Pablo said you were coming. So, Fully Dicked One, what is your purpose?”
“What is the glorious purpose for which I should deign to give you new moves? What honor shall you bring to the Lucha?” Angel made grandiose gestures, his arms pleading for an answer.
Everyone’s favorite wrestling reptile began to regret his decision to show up in Little Mexico. “I will elevate the Lucha by eliminating two… uh… powerful adversaries in a triple threat match.”
“Aaaaaah, si, si, a noble purpose indeed. Tell me, Horse Cocked Horatio, who are these most noble adversaries?!” Angel climbed into the ring and stood upon the ropes in a corner facing the audience. He seemed to have some difficulty getting there.
“I face the mighty Jonathan Christopher Hall! The most powerful of the love convoy!”
Angel waved for silence with both arms. “We are unimpressed. For though he claims to fight for love, he does not know it. The very cause he claims to champion escapes him. His shorts also look incredibly stupid.”
Ayyyyy muy stuuuuuuupido!
“Who is your other opponent?”
Rocky cleared his throat, “I also must defeat Eddie Cross.”
A hush fell over the audience. Angel momentarily stilled. With shocking grace for his rotundness he alighted to the top rope and performed a flawless back flip to the ground, turned 180 degrees to face Rocky, and slid on one knee in a lunge all the way to Rocky’s chair. They came face to face. Er, mask to face. “…you are to fight the Son of Bolamba?”
The FDP knew how to read a room, and he knew this was the time for puffery. “I do. I fight the heir of Bolamba. I fight to show that no Lucha will bow before Samoa!” Angel stood. The energy in the room was practically tangible. The air was thick. Metaphors were insufficient to describe the atmosphere.
“…I will give you moves.”
A cheer burst forth from the audience – a deafening roar comprised of “LUCHA!” “MOVES!” “ANGEEEEEEL!” and other indistinguishable cries.
Rocky’s shoulders and chest fell with relief as he let out the breath he had been holding. “Oh my god, fantastic. So I’m thinking we really need to flesh out some of the high flying stuff. I mean, if I’m going to be a luchador, and a pterodactyl avatar, I really ought to fly more, you know? So I figured if we started with some kicks…”
“Two moves.” Angel walked back toward the ring.
“I’m sorry?” Rocky’s energy faded almost as quickly as it had come.
“I will grant you two moves. One move per opponent.” Angel began to climb into the ring, his stomach caught on the side of the stage, slowing progress.
Rocky walked toward the ring. “I appreciate the gesture, but I mean, I’m trying to be less predictable here and I don’t know that two moves-”
“If you cannot defeat a man in his boxers and the Son of Bolamba with the moves I provide you here today… you will not deserve the full repertoire. You will not deserve your mask. You will not deserve… the LUCHA.”
“If you win… perhaps you get more. Get in the ring.”
“For the Son of Bolamba, it is not merely enough to hurt him. You must vex him!” Angel wiped his brow with a towel that was sitting on a stool in the corner and took a sip of water. “You must break his concentration such that he begins to perform… improperly. For this, I give you… the bunny hop.”
HOP HOP HOP
Angel began at one corner of the ring and bounded three times across to the opposite corner. There appeared a training dummy in the corner. Rocky really wanted to know how shit just kept appearing, but he decided to hold that question for another time. After the third hop, Angel leapt into the air in what appeared to be a sort of land-based triple axle, and on the third rotation lashed his foot toward the head of the dummy with such ferocity that the dummy flew out of the ring.
“It is critical when performing this move that you say its name.” Three of the audience lucha fetched the dummy at Angel’s commanding gesture. They returned it to the center of the ring.
“Angel, I don’t mean to doubt you, but this isn’t an anime.” The crowd went silent, and Angel quietly padded across the ring to Rocky. He poked his finger in Rocky’s chest, which was about the same height as the Lucha Chonk’s head.
“Did I come to your house for advice, señor? Did I distract from the accolades of your puppet show to ask for moves?”
“…no. No you did not.”
Angel backed away and walked toward the dummy. “Then perhaps you should question less and listen more. Open your mind to the way of the Lucha. Everything has a purpose. You say the name of the move because Cross will piss his little gamer pants. Nobody bunny hops anymore, not since, like, CounterStrike beta 0.6 or something. He’s going to be straight up insulted that you’re using outdated move names on him. Trust me, it’ll do the trick. Now then, for JC Hall…” Angel kicked the dummy flat on its back and began to walk to the middle of the ropes.
“Once you have Hall on his back and the Son of Bolamba out of the ring, you must quickly alight to the top rope!”
“This is perhaps a move of my greatest design. In truth, it may be wasted on one of Hall’s ilk, but nonetheless it shall serve you well if you employ it properly. It is called… Flying Consent!”
At this, Angel faced away from the ring and used the top rope as a springboard. He launched himself into the air with his arms above his head, hands together in a point. After completing a quick 360, with his front facing the ceiling lights, he thrust his arms to his sides and puffed out his chest. To Rocky, time seemed to slow. It was as if Angel was hovering in space, majestically floating through the air. Then time resumed its normal pace, and Angel completed a backflip into a belly flop position which culminated with his crotch landing directly on the head of the dummy.
Ay yai yai!
Buy him dinner first, man!
He twisted his body to cover the dummy, with his codpiece remaining on the dummy’s head and his head facing what would be the dummy’s groin if it had one.
“STUNT LEGS!” Angel yelled. A lucha from the audience came to take the place of the dummy. He grimaced as the codpiece rubbed against his face. “Immediately after you land, you must make your decision – pin or submit. If you pin, you must grab your opponent’s legs and wrap him up such that he cannot possibly get his shoulders off the ground. If, however, you elect to make him submit…”
Angel headbutted the Stunt Legs in the crotch.
He grabbed the Stunt Legs’ ankles by his opposite hands and began to twist them, contorting the Stunt Legs’ body before replacing his codpiece with a foot to Stunt Legs’ throat, and placing as much weight as he could on Stunt Legs’ twisted knees. Stunt Legs had never slapped anything as fast and hard as he did that mat. Angel relinquished his position and helped Stunt Legs up. Stunt Legs looked genuinely grateful to have been chosen, if not also in severe pain.
“If Hall gets back up after that… you don’t deserve your mask.”
At this, the lights shut off. Rocky felt hands on his shoulders, arms, and legs. He was lifted into the air, and he could tell he was moving quickly. The door opened, and the harsh light of day fell upon his face. The hands tossed him into the street. The grass upon which he fell was soft, but the earth beneath it was not. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
— 🦖 —
Our hero returned to the gym. He changed in the locker room, then went to the ring in the dark corner opposite the office. He nodded at Pablo who did not return the gesture, but simply kept mopping. As he was setting up a training dummy in a corner of the ring, he heard a polite but firm attention grabbing cough.
“You might as well show me what you learned, since you’ve seen fit to ignore my advice.” Stu set out a metal folding chair at ringside and pulled out his laptop.
Rocky experienced a brief moment of embarrassment at the realization he had fooled noone, then nodded at Stu with determination. He positioned himself in the corner opposite the dummy. He bounded.
He spun into a triple axle that beautifully answered the age old question, “What would Brian Boitano do?” and with his left leg viciously struck the dummy. The angular momentum of the spin combined with the muscular mass of the FDP was a deadly combo for the inanimate object which was quickly relieved of its fake head. Said head flew across the gym all the way into the office, whereupon it landed on Cindy’s desk. She stood up, grabbed the head, walked to the door, glared out at Rocky and Stu, threw the head into the gym, shut the office door, and went back to watching a YouTube video on which shade of platinum blonde is best.
Stu packed up his laptop, and picked up his folding chair. “Good. That’ll do. But Rocky?”
“Do you really have to shout the name as you do it?”
“Yes. It’s part of the process. Just wait til you see Flying Consent!” Rocky grinned with pride.
Stu stared at Rocky a moment, then turned and walked away. He sighed. “It’s like he thinks it’s all a goddamned anime…”
Rocky turned to face his inanimate opponent and to train once more.
Eddie, get ready to be bounced out of the ring. Hall, you’ll know the meaning of love when Flying Consent hits you in the face.