Len Kuntz

    Boy Wonder

The 1969 Inland Empire “War of the Worlds” took place this weekend and Mother’s friend, the professional wrestler, was staying with us until then. 

His stage name was Boy Wonder.  He had a chest as broad as a wheel barrow, biceps as big as frozen hams and hair dyed a queer yellow shade.  As part of his act, he wore a man diaper on stage. 

Dad was in Pendleton fixing somebody’s broke-down Peterbuilt and wasn’t going to be back for a few days.

Even though the bedroom was at the far end of the house, we could hear them going at it.  I wondered if he was as rough with sex as he was in the ring.

Because I’d broken the television’s sound button, Kyle went over and turned on the radio. The new Three Dog Night song came on, the tune about one being the loneliest number but two being as sad as one.  “I hate that stupid song,” I said.  “It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Who says they have to?”

We went to The Old Country Buffet for dinner.  I had fried imitation calamari and imitation crab.  I ate four platefuls.  I wanted to make myself sick.  Boy Wonder kept staring at me, his eyes bluer than sky.  Mother ate one-handed, the other beneath the table, as if I was blind as well as dumb.

That night he showed us some moves, a fireman’s carry and a three-quarter nelson, stuff we already knew.  He explained about everything being fake--even the blood was just exploding ketchup packets.  He shared how strategy was exchanged during headlocks and how one wrestler always slammed a boot on the matt at the same time he faux-struck his opponent, thereby creating diversionary sound effects.  Winners and Losers—it was all predetermined.

“Then why do it?” I asked.  “That’s idiotic.”

Mother slapped me on the hand.  “Don’t get smart.”

Back at the trailer we watched Apollo 10 land on the moon for the hundredth time since it’d happened the week prior.

“When’s Dad get home?” I asked.

Mother pursed her lips and breathed hot through her flared nostrils.  She was sitting on the edge of the love seat, a knee touching Boy Wonder.  “Do you have to ruin everything?”

“Who’s to say this moon business is real anyway?” I said.  If I was going to spoil things, I wanted to spoil them good.  “Those astronauts could be bouncing around any old desert.”

Kyle stood up before Mom or Boy could.  He punched me in the gut harder than I’ve ever been hit.  I heard mother gasp but saw her smile.  Wonder grinned, too.

That night Kyle and I lay in our bunks watching the wood paneling shudder, as if our trailer had the chills.  We couldn’t hear them, but we could feel the effects of their actions.

One more night and Wonder would be gone.

“I hit you because I didn’t want him or her touching you,” Kyle said.

“I know.”

Len Kuntz lives on a lake in rural Washington State with an eagle and several pesky beavers.  His short fiction appears in over twenty lit journals and he’s presently half way through a dark and confessional novel.  He's appeared previously on Left Hand Waving. Len sometimes blogs at the world’s lamest (no kidding) site:lenkuntz.blogspot.com

And Len Kuntz Will Now Answer The Questions.