Wednesday, March 16, 2022

And Then He Died

The new deck is built.  That lady took apart one and built the other in two days.  It was truly a marvel.  The wood is expensive marine grade pressure treated wood, so it should never rot.  So they say.  I will still need to stain or paint it.  Paint is not what caused the damage to the old deck.  Not at all.  Some of the wood just was not pressure treated, or so it seemed.  No matter.  I can sit out on the deck with the mosquitoes in the late afternoon again.  The neighbors all came over to marvel at both the beauty and the speed with which it happened.  

I am fairly relieved.  

Another friend of mine died.  I have to use the word "friend" loosely, for we were no longer.  He was too difficult, really.  At one time, he wanted me to help him write a book about his wrestling career and the life surrounding it.  He was at one time the highest paid professional wrestler in the world.  I met him when he was just a kid who moved to my own hometown.  He and his buddy had played basketball at a junior college in Maryland and had moved here following another guy they knew.  I met them all at the notorious and oldest gym in the country once owned by the infamous German Strong Man turned professional wrestling promoter.  In the early days it was a wrestling gym run by the father of some really tough kids I knew.  By the time I got there, though, the gym had changed hands and had become a gym for lifters and body builders.  As I've reported before, it was the strangest lot of people you could imagine, and somehow, I guess, I fit in.  I'd been there for years and was "established" when my buddy and his friend moved to town.  He wanted to be as big as Arnold, he said, but he was determined to to it without using steroids.  

Of course, that was impossible.  

Like many others there, he became a bouncer.  He worked nights and trained days.  He was a good looking kid, a heartbreaker, really, muscular and lean, but in order to get bigger, he started eating ten times a day.  He wasn't the only one.  There was a race between three guys to see who could get to three hundred pounds first.  By this time, he was using 'roids.  Over the weeks and months, he became massive, and he was the first one to hit the three hundred pound mark.  He had ruined his looks, I thought.  He was hideous.  

But when he went back to a normal eating routine, the fat came off.  He ended up with a good 260 pounds on his 6'6" frame.  

He met a dancer and fell for her.  Trouble was. . . she was married to a half-wit junkie biker named Rodney.  Rodney didn't like it and my friend was truly worried.  One night, outside the club, Rodney confronted him with a gun.  There was a struggle.  The gun went and Rodney lost half of his head.  They arrested my friend.  He called the gym from his cell.  I answered.  We talked for what seemed a long time. 

"I haven't been able to sleep," he said.  "Every time I close my eyes, I see the gun go off and Rodney's brains go flying."  

Nobody gave a shit about Rodney and my buddy had a friend who said he saw what happened.  Since it was Rodney's gun, charges were dropped.  

Only a few people knew what really happened.  

Rodney's wife had been smart enough to take out a big life insurance policy on him, and because it was an accidental death, it paid double indemnity.  She married my friend and made his dreams come true.  

She sent him to wrestling school.  

That was the only way to become a pro wrestler.  My friend went to the school run by Hiro Matsuda.  He had been a pro wrestler when I was a kid, a big Japanese bad guy.  He had trained many of the popular wresters at his school including Hulk Hogan.  When my buddy finished, he began his pro career.  

Big Scott Hall.  

I could keep writing this story for days.  For weeks.  For months.  That is what Scott wanted me to do.  He wrestled in the Midwest and won a championship under the name Spaceship Cody.  Somehow, I saw one of his matches on t.v.  He looked stiff.  He was big, but he didn't have an act.  He was what they call "a baby face."  

He went on to wrestle for a while in Japan.  And he wrestled in Puerto Rico.  

"Sometimes they give you your money after the match, sometime they give you part of it.  One guy complained too much about it and the promoter shot him to death in the locker room.  They left the blood stains on the floor to remind people what happens.  It's crazy down there." 

He wanted me to help him develop a wrestling persona, an act, a character.  We talked about different things, and he started mimicking some of the stranger weirdos in the gym.  But when he watched "Scarface," that was what he wanted to do.  He couldn't speak a word of Spanish, but he decided that he would play a bad guy Cuban.  His accent was terrible, but it didn't seem to matter.  He signed with the biggest wrestling alliance in the world, the WWE, and his career took off as Razor Ramon.  

But things weren't going so well.  He told me that the Ghost of Rodney never left them alone.  He said he had seen it in a hotel room in Germany when he was sleeping with his wife.  She had seen it, too.  It followed them, he said, always.  

Scott had built a big house on the outskirts of town where he lived with his wife and two kids.  When she divorced him, she took the kids and a lot of the money.  Scott stayed in the house "for the kids," he said.  When I went over, the place looked hollow.  He kept all of his clippings and paraphernalia as a kind of shrine to himself.  

"Do you wanna ride the ATVs?"

After the divorce, his ex-wife sold lots of stories to the National Enquirer.  Scott began to go downhill.  He was arrested numerous times.  He started dating the lady who sold hot dogs from a cart at night around the clubs downtown.  Things got really weird.  

The last real fight I got into was with him at a rodeo bar where they rode live bulls.  I was with him and another fellow from the gym who had once been a wrestling champion himself.  Stormy and I were playing pool when Scott came over to the table.  He'd been at the bar talking to the barmaid who he used to date.  Three fellows didn't like it and started giving him shit.  

"C'mon," he said.  "I told them, guess what, there are three of us, too."

We went with him and the other guys began to talk shit.  

"It's gonna be a smackdown, motherfucker," said the guy I was standing in front of.  He was psyching himself up, jerking and moving from side to side.  I put my hands on his waist and told him to settle down.  I had put them inside his own so that I could block his arm when he threw a punch.  That was the theory, anyway.  But it was Stormy who threw the first punch, and it was at my guy, and then fist flew for a second before the bouncers broke it up.  

I was the only one who got hit.  

Scott was pissed at me.  

"You talk too much," he said.  

"I was trying to calm things down."

"I'd already paid off the bouncers.  I was going to hit him once and then they were going to grab him." 

Indeed, the bouncers had removed the other guys from the bar.  I thought we would be leaving, but Scott asked me, "Why?"  Everyone, it seemed, wanted his autograph.  He was lapping it up.  

Just as a strange aside, at midnight, the music switched from country to rap.  I've never seen such a weird thing happen again in my life.  The crowd was pretty much all wearing brand new tight jeans, cowboy boots, cowboy shirts, and cowboy hats.  But when the music switched, all the girls started booty dancing and backing that shit up.  I swear, to this day, I wonder if I was just taking drugs and hallucinated the whole thing.  

Now I need to wrap this up.  Scott loved cocaine.  First his heart went bad.  Then he had a small stroke.  His pro wrestling career was ending.  The money was running out.  He and I fell out over something and the gym closed, and I never saw him again except in the tabloids and on YouTube.  Vince McMann paid for Scott to have open heart surgery, I read.  Scott would show up drunk to events after that and make a scene.  His son grew up to be an even bigger man than Scott and went into professional wrestling.  

Now?  Well you can read the story if you like.  It's a bit different than mine (link).

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