Chapter Twenty One
Friday September 24th, 2010. Early Morning:
Kolleen had been standing behind the register, as she always has every time they worked. She was twirling her hair between her fingers while Randy continued sweeping the floors. He knew that Mrs. Jones wanted the floors swept before mopping, just so he wasn’t spreading the dirt around. He stopped for a little while, resting his hands on the end of the broom. “What’s the matter?” Kolleen asked him. There were aisles of food separating them, but it felt like an ocean was between them. “Nothing, I’m just thinking.” He replied. Kolleen checked the clock and yelled back to him, “It’s seven a.m. Randy, make sure you get the floors done before the boss gets here.”
“I hear you, I’m almost done sweeping.” Kolleen had no clue what was going on deep in Randy’s mind. That night he was going to go back to what his passion was, wrestling. He would be able to strap on his ring boots and perform like his older generations have done. Something was different about this night though; he felt a different feeling than normal. It was a mixture of excitement as well as nerves, which made his stomach feel sick.
He finally put the broom away in the back closet and withdrew a mop and bucket. When he turned the water on, his mind began to buzz. Hearing the squeak of the faucet brought him back to an earlier day. He leaned against the doorframe, rubbing his temples as the memories rushed through his brain. A loud ring sounded out of nowhere; when Randy’s eyes opened he was standing in the doorway of a dimly lit shower room. The walls were covered in chipped white tiles, and there were multiple shower heads running along them. Someone had just dropped a pipe outside the bathroom, which sounded like it hit something metal. That explains the ringing. Randy thought.
He felt scared at the moment, as if he were extremely nervous about something. Then a tall man arrived, and leaned against the opposite side of the door. “You new here?” He asked in a very low and thick accented voice. “Y-yeah, this is my first night in the school.” Randy replied. “Yeah, same here bro. I’m new here as well, but it’s the first for my family. My father and grandfather were boxers over in Russia. I was different from them though. They were so disappointed in me when I said I wanted to join the wrestling league and become a professional. My father was so angry that he threw me out of the house.”
The man took in a huge breath, which felt like an eternity to Randy. The man was so huge that his lungs were probably the size of beach balls. “What happened? If you don’t mind me asking.” Randy replied. Just then a raspy voice came out from behind them. “GORGON STREINHOLME?!” he yelled out. Randy jumped out of his skin, feeling his heart beating hard in his chest.
They both turned around to get a look at him. The man was very short, even shorter than Randy. His hair was wiry but he had a huge bald patch on the top of his head. The hair itself was dark brown but had a lot of white and gray hairs running through it. His face was chubby and his nose was long and hooked. He had a blind right eye and his left was light blue. He was wearing a white muscle shirt that displayed his white chest hair as well as his thick arms. The pants were stretch pants, which clearly helped him since he was an overweight man. One dominate feature that Randy remembered the most was the dimples in the man’s cheeks. Whenever he did smile, it was unique.
“Are you Gorgon Streinholme?” He asked. So, his name’s Gorgon? A man his size is scared of a short dude like that?! Randy thought. He looked up at Gorgon who nodded profusely. “Alright, you’re wanted down at the medical area of the building so you can weigh in and get your measurements. You can take your shower later.” He said. “Right, I’ll go there straight away.” Gorgon replied. The old man nodded at him and watched until he disappeared around the right corner. The hallway that they stood in was one long hall, with it ending in a two way turn on the right side. The left side led off to the arena.
The man turned back towards Randy and flipped through his clipboard, taking in a deep exasperated breath as he did so. “Are you alright sir?” Randy asked him. To be honest, he felt somewhat scared of the man. He waved him off, “I’m fine, I just found your name and it’s raising a lot of questions in my brain.” He looked up at him and something about the blind eye scared Randy a bit. “Sir, if you don’t mind me asking; what happened to…” Again, the man waved at him, interrupting the question. “It’s nothing, I was in Nam and some soldier slashed a knife across my face. You can put together the rest.”
Randy pictured the incident as if he were right there beside him. He shuddered and rubbed his arms as a chill came over him. “I’m sorry sir, I did not mean to intrude.” Randy replied. He was still in a towel that was wrapped around his waist. The coldness of the shower room seemed so unstoppable at that time. Mixing with the old man’s disturbing story, Randy didn’t know if he was ever going to feel warm again. “Alright, I knew I recognized your name! You’re Robert’s kid, aren’t ya?” The man asked. Randy nodded at him, still crossing his arms. “There’s no need to feel shy my boy, you’re family line is legendary. Come with me, I have something to show you. Don’t worry, you can get your shower going after you’re measured and weighed in.”
The man walked down the right side of the hall, keeping his fingertips on the old sheetrock. He followed the man to the end of the hall, passing under a dozen dimly lit light bulbs. They took a left; Gorgon had to take the right which led off to the medical center. “May I ask where we’re going?” Randy asked. The man had a smile on his face; Randy wasn’t able to see it.
“My office is the fifth door to the right, down this hallway.” He said. As they kept walking, they passed an assortment of pictures, all of which displayed random wrestlers of the past. One was of a tall young man, who was black and had a small afro at the time. Underneath it was a plack, which read: Chris ‘Crackin’ Jackson. Randy immediately recognized him as one of his favorite wrestlers from the DWL. “Are you coming boy?” The man called out. “Y-yes sir, I was just taken aback by this photo over here. It’s of a wrestler who’s in the DWL now.” The man laughed and continued to walk down the hallway.
Each side of the hall was perfectly symmetrical, the first set of doors were the bathrooms. The guys were on the right and girls, on the left. The next set belonged to changing rooms, again; guys on the right and girls on the left. There was only one door following this which was the janitor’s closet. The fourth set of doors were solid steel, and had gold plates bolted to them. The right door read: CSWS Men’s Records Safe. The same was done for the women’s records. As the man said, the fifth door on the right was an old wooden door with a fogged glass window. Painted on with chipped letters was the name: Eric Maximus and was stretched across the bottom of the window.
Randy watched as he opened his door, and then it squeaked loudly. It was so piercing, that his ears began to ring from the high pitch noise. Just then everything around him glowed bright and then faded away. He closed his eyes for a moment and when he reopened them, he was face down on a tiled floor. He was hunched over, and it felt like he’d been that way for a while. When he stood back up, his back cracked in a few different places. “I’m sorry, I dropped the bathroom key holder.” Kolleen exclaimed. Randy stepped out of the closet slowly and saw the small clothesline pipe laying on the floor near the front register. “Are you alright?” She asked when she saw the pale look on his face.
He shook his head, and made his way over to the closest table and sat down. The room felt like it was spinning rapidly. He rested his face into the palm of his hand. For a few minutes he tried to slow his breathing so his brain could get the right amount of oxygen. Then he felt something familiar caressing his open hand. A warm touch that he felt so many times before this; Randy opened his eyes to a bright smile. Kolleen had her face just a few inches from his and warmth just seemed to pour off of her. She caressed his arm until her hand met his chin..
He fought back the shudder rising up his spine and waited with anticipation. Kolleen’s eyes were closed and her lips were beginning to close in on his. The electricity that Randy felt at that moment was shooting between them as their faces grew closer. Just when their lips were ready to touch, the door clanged. Both Kolleen and Randy jerked back and stood up as fast as possible. Randy cleared his throat, while Kolleen straightened her shirt and hair. The woman who entered was Mrs. Jones. Today she was wearing blue pants and a red flannel shirt. “Don’t let me interrupt you two.” She said, laughing afterwards. Randy’s heart finally released its tension; he was afraid she was going to be upset with them.
“Is it eight already?” he asked as he walked to the closet to shut the door. “No, it’s only seven fifteen, but I think you two deserve a break. I mean you don’t work tomorrow, but well; Kolleen has classes to attend and you have your wrestling show tonight. You need the sleep, so go get it.” She replied. “Thank you so much Mrs. Jones, we really do appreciate it!” Randy exclaimed as he got to the front of the station. Kolleen was already punching her number into the machine when he got up to her. She pretended to have her free hand dangling so Randy would grab it.
He didn’t notice, but Kolleen’s cheeks were turning red. Mrs. Jones saw it and smiled as she went to count the money from the register. Kolleen punched in her number then let Randy clock himself out. When Randy was putting in his numbers, Kolleen placed her arms around his waist. The right side of his mouth spread into a half grin, as he pressed enter. “Alright Mrs. Jones, we’ll see you Sunday night!” Randy replied. They both left the gas station, holding hands as they walked towards Kolleen’s car. Being the gentleman that he is, Randy opened Kolleen’s door to let her in. He finally felt like he had the girl of his dreams, and God only knew what would happen that night.