A Wrestling Tale: The Miracle

“What do you mean?”

“Sir, I’m sorry.”

“Oh, you’re sorry? I’m stuck in this damn hole in the ground of a city on Christmas and you’re sorry?”

“Sir, the storm is just you’re very big, sir.”

“YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT I’M BIG!”

“Sir, I don’t want to call security, but ”

“PIE IN YOUR FACE!”

“Pie in my what?”

William Darnton walked away from the attendant at the ticket counter with a half smile on his face. Sure, he was stuck in Canton? Louisville? Where the hell was he again? Dayton. He was in Dayton for Christmas. Jesus. Still, he had managed to say “pie in your face” to a random stranger which meant another point for him. He was now only 6 points behind Dustin, but Dustin had no self control outside the ring. For no good reason he’d walked up to a nun and screamed, “PIE IN YOUR FACE!” William liked his pie jobs to fit in to the conversation a little.

But Dayton! Jesus. William was headed to Jersey (which granted isn’t much better than Ohio) to spend Christmas with his brother’s family. Adam’s family was the closest thing William had to a real family. Always on the road, never time to JESUS! His rental car! William turned in his damn rental car! And he had no hotel room! And all of these other sad sacks were leaving the airport with the same damn sad looks on their faces but unlike William they didn’t stick around to complain. William started running towards the exit as disappointed would-be travelers moved out of the professional wrestler’s way. A mark said something to him. There could still be a rental car, a hotel room

Well, there was a hotel lobby. The good folks at the Day’s Inn had decided that they would offer blankets and cots in their lobby to those unable to get out of Dayton because of the storm. William looked at the tiny cot and figured he’d either sleep on the floor or try to wrangle two cots. Some guy said something to him, but William didn’t feel like dealing with the marks and walked toward the crowded bar. He just wanted a cup of coffee and the mark was following him. He looked a little old to be a mark. Maybe William had left his rental car lights he didn’t have a rental car. He turned towards the mark.

“Sir, Mr. Darnton, if you’ll just stop ignoring me for ”

“Who do I make the autograph out to?”

The mark was round and short. He was balding. He had a mustache and a briefcase. He wore a red and green Christmas sweater with the letters OWF emblazoned across the chest. He looked surprised to hear William speak as William turned from him and kept walking to the bar. The mark followed.

“Mr. Darnton, I don’t want I mean, an autograph would be great for my son but that’s not why ”

“Uh huh. Do you have a pen? I don’t carry around a pen with me.”

“I don’t have a pen.”

“Pie in your face. One coffee!”

“Pie in my Mr. Darnton, my name is Elliot Sugarman. I’m an accountant over at well, you probably don’t know Dayton much, but Sugarman and White is a very prestigious firm.”

“One coffee! Look, I have representation in the field of accounting.”

“Sir, Mr. Darnton, my son Billy is a big fan of yours.”

“That’s great. Who do I make out the autograph to? Billy? ONE COFFEE! DAYTON! JESUS!”

“Um, my son would like that but I’d like you to wrestle tonight.”

William stopped finding the conversation slightly amusing. Shockingly his coffee came. He took out a dollar and slammed it on the counter, then turned and walked back to his cot. The mark was following him, saying something. William tuned him out. He thought about his pseudo family he didn’t belong with Adam anyway. His three year old niece was terrified of William because William was so big. Mom and dad were staying in Florida. Every time William saw his sister-in-law he couldn’t help but be insanely jealous. He deserved to spend Christmas the way he lived his life. Alone. In Dayton. Dayton. Jesus. The mark was still stammering. William had enough and cocked his head towards the mark.

“You want to wrestle me? Are you nuts?”

“Sir, Mr. Darnton, are you listening to me?”

“What’s that?”

“Mr. Darnton, the crowd is going to kill us.”

“Yeah, that’s a pretty big problem with crowds Sugarplum. One second they’re on your side and the next second they’ve got torches and are chasing you back to your castle. Crowds.”

“My name is Sugarman. Mr. Darnton, please help us.”

William sighed. He looked over at the fake Christmas tree next to the electric menorah and figured he could listen to this guy for a minute. What else could he do in Dayton? Jesus.

“Okay pal. From the beginning.”

“Thank you. As I’ve said a few times, my son, Billy, he’s a huge wrestling fan. Every year for Christmas he wants the shirts and the dolls. Anyway, a benefit show is being held for him tonight at the fairgrounds.”

“You’re having a show at the fair grounds? It’s snowing. It’s storming.”

“There’s an indoor area. Anyway, it’s being held by the OWF, and we got Sting to show up.”

William perked up at this news. He had always wanted to wrestle Sting, and the bosses wouldn’t find out because it would held in a barn.

“You want me to wrestle Sting?”

Elliot Sugarman’s face dropped. “Oh no sir. See, the problem is that we promised everyone Sting. We promised Billy Sting. The problem is that because of the storm, Sting wasn’t able to make it out here. That’s why I was at the airport, I mean, sir. I saw you and recognized you and I followed you. With Christmas tomorrow, I mean, we held it tonight because we figured that people would rally around the spirit of giving and help Billy, sir, Sting isn’t coming. I don’t know if he ever really meant to come.”

“Sting doesn’t bitch out on his obligations. Look, no pay to wrestle in a barn on Christmas Eve when?”

“It’s not a barn. Sort of. An hour and a half.”

“In an hour and a half is a good deal, one that I’m strongly considering, but I think instead I’m going to buy a round for the hotel lobby here and sleep with whoever is the least repulsive woman in the bunch.”

“Sir, my son ”

“How old is he?”

“Billy is 9.”

“He’s still growing. He’ll be fine.”

“YOU DON’T OUTGROW H.I.V.!”

Great. Now William felt like a jerk and the entire lobby was staring at them. William hesitated for a moment as he looked at the mark, tears streaming from the mark’s eyes. Some employee of the Day’s Inn was informing people that the holiday feast special would no longer be all you can eat due to the overcrowding. William sighed and picked up his suitcase.

“You have a car Sugarman?”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Let’s go. I’m not going to wrestle, but I’ll do the smile and wave.”

“Fine.”

They opened the door and some idiot informed them that there was no reentry due to the overcrowding. The blizzard was horrible and it didn’t help that the mark’s car was parked down the street and William didn’t have boots. His feet were soaking wet by the time they got to the truck. William was a little too pissed and a little too ashamed to say anything as they began to drive to the fairgrounds. It was Mr. Sugarman who spoke to break the silence.

“I didn’t mean to embarrass you in there.”

“I understand. Don’t worry about it.”

“I do. Thank you very much for doing this.”

“Does your wife have AIDS?”

“No. She committed suicide when she found out that Billy was sick.”

“Wow. That’s wow.”

“It was a blood transfusion. He fell off a bike and he woke up with H.I.V.”

“Man. I can’t imagine insurance isn’t helping?”

“We’ve been fighting them every step of the way. There’s a new treatment now, but it’s experimental and it costs a lot of money. That’s why we’re having this show. The people at OWF have been so good to us. I mean, they’re putting on a show on Christmas Eve! Everyone is going to be so surprised to see you.”

“Hey, I’m sorry about the way I mean, man.”

“No need for apologies. I think you’re one of Billy’s favorites.”

“Now that’s just a lie. I’m mid-card. I have no real fans.”

“Well you have at least two real fans now.”

They were silent for the rest of the ride to the fair grounds except when the car slipped on the ice and almost killed them both. There was then plenty of yelling for a minute or two. They reached the fair grounds and William laughed.

“It’s a barn.”

“Yes. I’m sorry. But we converted it. It sits 300.”

“That’s okay. Barns are cool. I wrestled in lots of barns before I made the big time.”

The parking lot was shockingly full. These Ohio idiots were lined up, there had to be more than 300 of them, but they were lined up in this blizzard from hell to see Indy wrestling on Christmas Eve. Dayton. Jesus.

They stopped the car and Elliot Sugarman grabbed a blanket from the backseat. “Here, put this over your head. I want people to be surprised.”

“You want people to think I’m Sting.”

“No! Maybe a little. They’ll be thrilled when they see you.”

The blanket obscuring his vision, walking through a foot and a half of snow, it was all William could do but hold on to the tiny accountant’s belt to keep from falling. The people on line started to clap and yell, “STING! WE LOVE YOU STING!” There was no security, but the people on line never broke from the line. No rush for Sting. It started to occur to William that maybe this wasn’t about Sting.

Then he got inside, took off the towel and saw the flyers promising STING! There, in big bold letters, STING! There was a line about it being a charity show at the bottom, but these people were there for STING! STING! William had a passing thought, that maybe if he found a blonde wig and some white face paint

And then William was beset by professional wrestlers. They came at him from all sides. Sure, there was the occasional “where’s Sting” but for the most part all of these kids and untalented veteran were thrilled to see him. William shook hands and laughed at jokes and feigned interest before his mind wandered to Jersey. Adam was probably carving up the goose or turkey or Turducken as he was standing in the barn surrounded by strangers to help keep a kid alive who could never have children. William was snapped back to reality by Randy.

“HI PAL, I’M RANDY!”

“A little loud, Randy.”

“SORRY, sorry William. I get a little excited and I speak loudly. I am so honored to be working with you tonight.”

“You got some bad info, Randy.”

“I was working with Sting. It’s for the kid. Right?”

“Pie in you right. Okay. I just have shorts.”

Randy was really excited and kept talking loudly until William pretended his cell phone rang and walked away. He was fighting some goober in a barn in front of 300 people on Christmas Eve for some kid who was staring right at him. William didn’t know how he knew he was looking at Billy. It had to be the eyes. No matter how a 9 year old is usually feeling their eyes give off a look of innocence. Not Billy’s. Billy’s eyes were wracked with the pain that only comes from suffering great loss. Hell, the kid was smiling at the moment because he saw William and his eyes still made him look like he was a war survivor.

Billy had a large legion on his neck, and as William approached Billy he wondered if he should make a joke about it. Lighten the mood. Nah.

“Hi Billy.”

“You’re William Darnton. I didn’t know you were coming.”

“Sting couldn’t make it, so he sent me.”

“You guys wrestled last night at The Palace?”

“Yeah. Were you there?”

“Sorry. I couldn’t make it. Sting didn’t send you. You got snowed in.”

“Yeah. You’re a smart kid.”

“I’m not so smart that my own body isn’t TRYING TO KILL ME!”

William was shocked. An apologetic look came across Billy’s face.

“I’m sorry. I like doing that to people. Everyone treats me so carefully, you know?”

“Yeah. Pie in your face. I gotcha.”

“You sure like saying yeah a lot, huh?”

“Yeah.”

Billy smiled at the wrestler and stuck out his hand. William had been taught all about H.I.V. The movies were on everyday. He knew you couldn’t get it by touching the infected, so it made William feel that much more disgusted with himself when he hesitated. He could see the disappointment in the war weary eyes of Billy Sugarman. Without thinking about it too much William picked up Billy and placed Billy on his shoulders. Billy laughed.

“Don’t drop me!”

William began to run around the backstage area, generally getting laughs from the other wrestlers. Elliot Sugarman was crying. He looked up at the face of his son, and even if for just a second, he saw innocence in Billy’s eyes.

The night progressed. The crowd was not too happy to hear about Sting not being there but they did explode when William Darnton came out. A few times during the show a couple of fans started to sing a dirty Christmas carol and a bunch of other fans would join in using the real words and soon the whole barn was singing together. It seemed to corny to William to make him feel so good inside. In the end, they had raised $4,500 dollars. Elliot Sugarman was so busy thanking the crowd that he didn’t see William sneak off to the back of the barn where he found Elliot Sugarman’s briefcase. As a bachelor with a job that made him wealthy, William Darnton always had a little bit of extra money to spend. It was no big deal for him to double the donations of the good people of Dayton. Dayton. What a bunch of Dayton. William wrote out a check for $9,000 dollars and left it on the briefcase. He was ready to do his act of kindness and then leave when he realized he had nowhere to go. He’d go to the the airport? Yeah, the airport. One of the marks would drive him. William was headed towards the exit when he felt breathing on his leg. He looked down and there was Billy holding the check.

“Thanks to your generous donation of $9,000 I get to live an extra five minutes.”

Billy smiled at William and William laughed out loud. Maybe it was the fact that the kid was 9 years old but that was the funniest thing William ever heard. The kid spoke again.

“Do you like turkey?”

“Why? Are you going to call me a jive turkey Mr. Comedian?”

“I don’t know what one of those is. Actually, I was wondering if you’d like to come to our house for dinner tonight. I know it’s late, but we have turkey and Diet Coke.”

“Any stuffing?”

“Anything is possible.”

William looked at Billy. This kid wasn’t a make a wish kid. He lived a tough life that would only get tougher but he didn’t need or want pity. He was a special there were probably a lot of kids out there like him, but William didn’t know any of them. He only knew Billy, and Billy was some kind of special angel. William felt stupid for even thinking that, but then he looked at Billy’s pleading war weary eyes and thought it again. This time he felt less stupid. He thought of his brother and his niece. Billy would make a decent nephew not in law.

“Let’s have turkey.”

And so they did. Mr. Sugarman was so grateful for the $9,000 dollars that he offered William a warm bed whenever he passed through Dayton. Billy’s life did not get any easier but he had a new friend to help him through the tough patches. As for William, well, William discovered the beauty of Dayton and moved his home there, a home which was soon completed with a family of his own. William’s son and daughter still consider Billy their big brother.

God bless us, everyone!

Just a few quick links. Hanukah was sort of cancelled for my family this year due to a family emergency. I’d like to give my brothers and my mom and dad a pretty nice surprise when everything goes back to normal and they realize that we missed the holiday season. Just some gifts to surprise them. Nothing too special. My Amazon wish list is here. Thanks. My Black Diary! Godism, my living diary and Jack and the prostitute fill my weeks with adventure! Check that out too.

Have a merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Peace on Earth.