Johnny America


100 Miles From Memphis


Some­where be­tween St. Louis and Dal­las the bus pulls off and parks in front of a Star­bucks. The bus dri­ver, a small man dwarfed by the hu­la hoop steer­ing wheel, says, “Five min­utes,” and the am­a­teur-cir­cuit wrestlers file out. Kel­ly watch­es them from be­hind the counter. The wrestlers ad­just their span­dex and cod­pieces as they spread out, stretch­ing their legs in the lob­by. A few stand in con­tem­pla­tion by the spe­cials board, fists propped against their chins. Kel­ly is amazed at their soft-spo­ken­ness. She can still make out Sh­eryl Crow loop­ing the cho­rus of “100 Miles From Mem­phis” over their ban­ter. There are maybe twen­ty of them, all var­i­ous col­ors with sim­i­lar top-heavy builds. Kel­ly imag­ines bulky ac­tion fig­ures as­sem­bled for a high school reunion.

The guy in the neon-green span­dex and the light­ning bolt over his crotch is first to or­der. He asks can he please have a scone and an iced chai lat­te. Kel­ly rings it up and he pulls a ten from his head­band. He’s small­er than the oth­ers and has ex­pres­sive brown eyes. He says thanks and slides the change in Kelly’s tip jar.

When his drink comes up he whis­pers thank you again. He then clears his throat, takes a step back, and musters a yell: “You call this a chai lat­te?” He rais­es an eye­brow for ef­fect. Kel­ly stops. The oth­er wrestlers go silent. They flex every mus­cle in their bod­ies and watch.

“Ex­cuse me?” Kel­ly asks, and Light­en­ing Crotch los­es fo­cus. He seems flus­tered, like he’s ner­vous hav­ing his peers watch. He turns and tags a team­mate, the one with the pre-torn tights and no shirt. The one fin­ger­ing the enor­mous gold medal mount­ed on the belt that’s slung over his shoul­der. He rais­es his free hand like he’s hoist­ing up Ex­cal­ibur and screams, “In what uni­verse is this a chai latte?”

Kel­ly is un­sure if this is rhetor­i­cal, but an­swers any­way. “In this one?” she says.

“Nay!” the champ says, this time look­ing right at Kel­ly. She looks for the man­ag­er, but he’s on a smoke break. The champ takes a sip from the big green straw and winces. He holds his hand just in front of Kel­ly’s face. His fin­gers trem­ble, part­ed slight­ly like he’s telling her you’re this close.

This much sug­ar” he fi­nal­ly de­mands. “And where is the cin­na­mon?” The champ turns to the oth­er wrestlers and pumps his arms. “Does no­body use fresh gin­ger these days?” he yells.

Light­en­ing Crotch is riled up by this, gain­ing con­fi­dence. A guy in red has to hold him back. The oth­er wrestlers are bang­ing around chairs and stand­ing on flim­sy ta­bles. They roar and look at their own re­flec­tions in the win­dows. Mean­while, the champ leans over the counter and whis­pers to Kel­ly that this is the part where she is sup­posed to bring forth the man­ag­er. Then comes the bit where Light­en­ing Crotch, af­ter the man­ag­er so rude­ly feigns an apol­o­gy, scores re­venge by break­ing a chair over his head. The champ slips a five in Kelly’s tip jar. This is be­com­ing a very good day for Kel­ly. She says thanks and runs off to the back to find the manager.

Out front, the dri­ver leans against the front of the bus. He sees them all riled up again. In­side, the champ is slap­ping the faces of the oth­er wrestlers and tweak­ing their nip­ples. Every­where has be­come a train­ing ground. They’ll nev­er make it to Dal­las at this rate. The dri­ver sighs and checks his sports watch. He tells him­self it’s okay, that pulling in­to Dal­las in the dark of night means at least you see less of it.

Filed under Fiction on February 11th, 2011

Care to Share?

Reader Comments

Greg Davis wrote:

I al­ways sus­pect­ed pro­fes­sion­al wrestlers would be up­tight about their cof­fee or­ders at Star­bucks. I love that dude has a light­ning bolt above the crotch on his wrestling uni­form. Hilarious.

Grady wrote:

Nice sto­ry! You got me chuck­ling by the end. I was rel­ish­ing the thought of these guys cre­at­ing a new dra­ma, play, or street the­atre scene every­where they go.

Grady wrote:

Oh, and I lis­tened to 100 miles from Mem­phis while read­ing, which added to the over­all effect.

Consider posting a note of comment on this item:


Previous Post


Next Post


Join our Irregular Mailing List

For very occasional ramblings, word about new print ephemera, and of course exciting investment opportunities.