The Monster Wrestler by Josh Bugosh
Synopsis: Legends and Myths are born of Men and Monsters; here is one to thrill and chill your Sunday.
About the Author: Josh Bugosh is a full-time graphic artist with a passion for prose. He writes short stories in a variety of genres, from the thrilling to the comic. So far, Josh has written well over a dozen short stories. He has been previously published in Death Head Grin, Fictitious Magazine, and Liquid Imagination. He also writes short film screenplays for Lobsterdance Productions (www.vimeo.com/lobsterdance). Samples of his writing and his graphics pieces can be seen on his deviantArt page at mondoboss.deviantart.com
In this urban legend, Maynard proves his might against the multiple monsters and wins over his friends yet again.
The cheap red and white bobber hit the river’s surface with a humble plop and drifted in the easy current. Maynard reeled in some line and stood at attention behind the railing of the bridge, dutifully awaiting a bite. The sun gleamed on his black skin and summoned glistening rivulets of sweat down his dark brow.
He did not wince in the heat. His eyes were calmly focused on the water.
Behind him, Frank, Bill, and Shep lounged around a huge cooler. All three of them were squirming under the sun like giant grub worms, seared pink in the sun. Their fishing rods were propped up on the rail, and Shep, the oldest, relaxed permanently in a fold-out chair.
“Sure is hot,” Frank marveled. “Beers all around?”
Bill and Shep both grunted, which meant “Hell yeah, I’ll have a beer.” As Frank rummaged through the cooler, he looked up at Maynard, who was still studying the waters.
“Hey Maynard, you wan’ a beer?”
Maynard answered without averting his gaze.
“Nope, I believe I am just fine.”
His response was short and to-the-point, but Maynard was not being rude. His concentration was ten-fold that of the others. Even now, a smile grew on his rugged, leathery face, a sure sign that he was about to make a catch. Bill walked over, beer in hand.
A couple of feet away from Maynard’s bobber, a muddy shadow hovered closer and closer.
“Keep leadin’ it along, Maynard, you got it.”
A smile was the old black man’s only answer. Just a little closer…
A shadow more than ten times the size of the fish floated into view, and the lesser of the two darted away as the bumpy head of an alligator poked up.
“Aw, dammit,” Maynard spat, his smile gone. “Goddamn Wally, ruined my chance!”
Bill groaned, his gravely voice belting out his sympathy.
“You were so close, pardner, Damn gators keep comin’ back. Might as well pack it up.”
Maynard leaned his rod against the railing and bent down to pick up a small rock.
“Muthafuckin’ gatah!” he cursed, and tossed the stone into the water. It landed close to the reptile’s face, and the creature darted back into the depths.
Bill leaned back. “Well, hell, they were gone for a bit, but not long enough. Whaddaya say we pack up? I’m dyin’ out here anyway.”
Maynard’s face twisted into a frown of determination.
“Nah, not just yet. I’m not quite ready.”
“Concurred,” called Shep from his chair, holding up his Budweiser.
Frank stood up and walked over to the rail. Below, the gator rose out of the murk.
“Shit, I think he’s gunnin’ for your fish!” he exclaimed, looking up at Maynard.
“He ain’t gonna get it. Muthafuckin’ gatah.”
“They’ll eat their fill if we stop scarin’ ‘em off,” Shep said wisely. Then, “If you think fishin’ with gators is a pain in the ass, well, you obviously haven’t had your boat turned over by Big Mumbo.”
“Big Mumbo…” Bill muttered. “He stole my bait when I was eight. Pulled my Fisher Price rod right out of my hands.”
“Son,” Shep said, narrowing his gaze. “Big Mumbo was dead by the time you could bathe yourself, let alone go fishing. You met one of his kids.
“He had kids?” Bill took a long swig of beer and sloshed it around in his mouth, then added, “That explains why people keep seein’ him all up and down the river.”
“I heard he ate a kid down at Biscayne Bay,” Frank said.
“Yup,” Shep confirmed. “That one is true. I was there, watched the kid get pulled under in a snap. Just like in Jaws.”
Bill took another gulp of Budweiser and looked at the old man suspiciously.
“Shep, since when didja ever go to the bay?”
“I was there then.”
“I don’t buy that.”
Shep’s can of Bud hit Bill square on the forehead with a sharp thwack.
“Don’t disrespect your elders, kid. Now get me another beer.”
Down below, two more alligators joined their friend.
“Shit…” Maynard grumbled, and he spat into the river. His loogie landed smack dab on one of the gator’s heads and it exploded into a brief fury. A spray of river water reached the top of the bridge.
Maynard chuckled like a dirty old man and reached into a vest pocket.
“How’d ol’ Big Mumbo die, anyway? Old age?” Bill asked as he popped the tab on a fresh beer and handed it to Shep.
“I reckon,” Shep wondered, his eyes drifting up to the ocean-blue sky. “He was pretty ancient.”
Frank, who was watching the gators, spun around and beamed at Shep.
“Hell naw, old Maynard here killed him, that’s what happened. Pulled his guts out through his mouth. Didn’t ya, Maynard?”
Maynard pulled a wriggling earthworm out of his bait box as he answered matter-of-factly.
“That would be correct.”
“Hmph,” Shep spat. “I’ve heard that story before. Heard a lot of tall tales, actually, but there’s one I don’t believe.”
“Aw, Shep, it’s true!” Frank stammered. “I’ve always heard that, and Maynard here confirmed it himself. Isn’t that right, Maynard?”
Bill put in his word.
“You know, people keep telling’ me ‘bout this shit. Seems every night when I’m at The Rowdy Raven, there’s some drunk fool telling stories about the great ‘Maynard Wallace, Monster Slayer,’ but I ain’t never talked to one person who’s actually seen him wrestle as much as a goldfish.”
Shep grunted in agreement.
“Aw Bill,” Frank whined. “You too? You believe in Big Mumbo. Why’s Maynard’s monster killin’ all that different? He’s been wrestlin’ monsters since he was five! Haven’t you, Maynard?”
“Yessiree,” he said as he baited his hook.
“Look,” Bill said. “You’ve been around Maynard more than us. Have you ever seen him take on a monster?”
Frank shifted his feet and looked at the ground.
“Have you even seen a real monster?”
“Well yeah, I was fishing up the river a year ago and saw this giant snake lift up outta the swamp.”
“You’re makin’ that up.”
Frank couldn’t muster up a response.
Maynard finished baiting his hook and stepped up to the rail. At least five gators drifted in the water below.
“Hey Maynard, you’re not thinkin’ of castin’ out and catchin’ a gator, are yah?” Shep shouted.
“Nope, just getting’ ready. Damn gatahs can’t lounge around forever.”
Bill sighed and walked over to the cooler to fetch a beer for himself.
“Say, why don’t you just whip them critters and send them packin’? They’re nothin’ compared to Big Mumbo,” Bill said, with a hint of sarcasm.
“Wouldn’t be sensible to do that,” Maynard said, watching the alligators. “They’re just doin’ their thing. They ain’t evil like Big Mumbo.”
Bill shrugged, pulled out a Budweiser, and tipped it back.
A thunderous splash rose up and one of the gators vanished underwater.
“God damn it!” Maynard screamed.
The other gators had already darted away as a brilliant plume of red gushed up out of the water.
Maynard threw his fishing rod aside with a clatter.
“I am tired of y’all messin’ up my fishin’, dammit!”
He began to roll up his sleeves.
“Hey bud, watcha doin’?” Shep said, sitting up in his chair for the first time that afternoon.
Maynard grasped the railing with both hands and hoisted himself up and over the edge.
“Shit!” Bill yelled, rushing in.
Maynard hit the water and a furious ballet of splashing immediately ensued.
Frank rushed over to Bill’s side to see. Even Shep shuffled towards them to get a view.
Below, Maynard thrashed wildly in the river, spraying his spectators. In between explosions of water, his face was seen clenched in divine anger.
“See! I told ya!” Frank hollered. “A monster done arrived, and there’s Maynard, doin’ his thing!”
Bill and Shep watched, slack-jawed. At first, they couldn’t see what Maynard was struggling with. But then he lunged partially underwater and emerged with a slimy, slippery black monstrosity in his grasp.
He spun around in the water as the monster jerked back and forth like a struggling trout.
“That there’s a big damn fish.” Bill observed.
“It’s Big Mumbo Junior!” Frank yelled.
With a violent pull, the creature slipped out of the bear hug and disappeared. Maynard surveyed the water, hands out, ready for his next move. A huge diagonal slash in his shirt revealed a ragged wound. His blood seeped into the water and mixed with the vanished gator’s.
Everyone watched with stunned silence. Nobody dared to break Maynard’s concentration, not even Frank.
The water exploded behind Maynard and a black torpedo shot towards him. Maynard turned around fast enough to see the giant mass coming down on him. In an instant, both combatants vanished underwater.
“Maynaaaaard!” Frank screamed, and he whipped around to run down to the river’s edge.
Bill grabbed his shoulder and they locked eyes for a moment.
The surface lay calm, with drifting gator blood as the only sign of the carnage just witnessed.
“Shit. That there’s another Big Mumbo story for the books,” Shep said, taking a swig of beer.
“No…” Frank urged, gripping the railing fiercely. “Maynard’s not gonna be beat by a Little Mumbo.”
He paused, looking out at the water.
“He’s too tough.”
They stared at the river, the water drifting by lazily. A full minute passed.
“Reckon he can breathe underwater?” Bill asked, the sarcasm now gone.
“Oh sure, and he’s strong underwater.” Frank said.
“Hmph,” Shep grunted.
Bill simply stared ahead.
Another minute passed. The water drifted lazily. Frank stood motionless, his fist clenched white-knuckled around the railing of the bridge.
Bill stood beside him, at a loss for words.
“Shit,” he said. “I don’t think he made it, bud.”
Frank didn’t respond, but his eyes drew wider.
Something dark slowly broke the surface.
First a rounded dome, then a stern face, then muscular shoulders. Maynard waded to the shore, bare-chested. Water-thinned blood streamed down his abdomen.
“Way to go, Maynard!” Frank called.
“Did he run away?” Bill shouted next.
Maynard stopped and looked up at them.
Frank, Bill, and Shep exchanged confused glances.
“Would one of you guys go to the truck and fetch my knife? It’s the big one.”
Frank turned and rushed away wordlessly. A moment later, Bill called after him.
“Hey Frank! Get the camera, too!”
All four men gathered on the shore. Bill set his camera on a huge rock and pressed a button. Quickly, he hopped over next to the others, who stood side-by-side with ten feet of catfish in front of them.
“Alright, let’s grab this sucker,” Bill said as he grasped the open maw of the giant catfish. He slowly lifted it up.
“Grnnn, this boy’s heavy. How’d you ever survive him landing on you?”
Frank wrapped both of his arms around the tail and hoisted it up.
Shep and Maynard stood in the center, and Maynard spread his arm out in a pose, proud of his defeated foe’s grandeur.
“Shoot, I take back everything I said, Maynard.” Bill conceded.
“All is forgiven,” said Maynard, staring ahead for his picture, arms frozen outstretched.
“Shh, snap it shut.” Shep commanded. “Say cheese, boys.”
Each man put on a proud macho face as the camera’s timer went off and the flash lit the scene of a perfect picture. Three men, attesting to the legendary strength of one Maynard Wallace.
That picture still hangs in The Rowdy Raven to this day.
**** THE END ****
Copyright Josh Bugosh 2012
Image Courtesy: Top 5 Bizzare Fights between Humans and Animals