Wrestling Bruce

The small sign, alongside the road, caught his attention. “Wrestlers Wanted! Huge Cash Prizes! Take The Next Right!”

“Wrestlers,” he thought, “I wonder what that is about? Cash prizes? I wonder how much? I sure could use the money.”

Intrigued, he slowed down, made the turn, and watched for more signs. Ever since he got laid off money was hard to come by. He had done everything imaginable to survive. He had hauled trash, mowed yards, painted houses, and recycled scrap metal. Here, in the boondocks where he lived, the opportunities, for making money, were very scarce.

Following the signs, he turned onto a gravel driveway that followed the lay of the land, twisting and winding through the dense forest. Coming to a clearing, he found a handful of ramshackle buildings. One, being the largest, seemed to be the center of attention. There were fifteen to twenty cars parked beside it, and several people were milling about.

Parking his truck, he got out and noticed a sign over a door that said, “Wrestlers Enter Here.” Opening the door, he walked into a small office. Sitting behind the desk was a very obese man who looked up at him and smiled. He couldn’t help but grimace at the sight. The man’s teeth were horrible; rotten, three were missing, and he could smell the man’s breath from where he stood.

“Welcome, stranger, are you here to wrestle?"

“Maybe. The sign said something about a cash prize. Tell me about it. How much can I win?” he asked.

“$5.000 dollars is the prize,” the man said while scratching his belly.

“That’s a lot of money, I sure could use it,” he said while thinking about what he would do with the money.

“It is for this area. I’ve had several try to win it but nobody has yet. Bruce is undefeated. Have you ever wrestled before?”

“I was on the high school wrestling team. I had a winning record. I think I can take care of myself.”

“Do you want to try and beat Bruce? He’s a handful. I can assure you of that. You will have to sign a release saying that I am not responsible if you get hurt. Is that ok?”

He said that it was fine with him. He signed the release and handed it back to the man. The man studied it and handed it back to him.

“You didn’t fill in all of the blanks. I need you to fill in the Next Of Kin section.”

He thought that it was rather odd but went ahead and did so and handed it back to the promoter.

The man glanced approvingly at the release, “Well, Rod Jacobs, are you ready to meet your opponent?”

He nodded yes and asked a question, “Is it ok if I wrestle with what I have on? I had no idea I would be doing is.”

“Sure, no problem at all,” came the reply, “come with me.”

Rod followed through a door into an arena. There were less than a hundred people sitting on the bleachers that surrounded a walled dirt floor. They hooted, hollered, and cheered when they saw him.

“Where’s the wrestling mat,” he thought, “and where is the referee? This is strange. And where is Bruce?”

“Rod, I am going to go to the microphone so that I can introduce you and Bruce to the crowd,” the man said as he retreated through the door.

Rod could hear the door lock and what sounded like a board being placed across it for security.

“What have I got myself into?” he anxiously thought.

He glanced into the bleachers and watched the people. They were laughing, pointing their fingers at him, and a couple of older women had scarves that they were using for face masks. Again he wasn’t sure why he was feeling so uneasy, but he was going to tough it out. He needed the money too bad.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for coming today. We have a rare treat for you. We have someone who wants to wrestle Bruce. I would like to introduce Rod Jacobs. Give him a warm welcome, please.”

Rod stepped forward and raised his hand in acknowledgment.

“And now I would like to introduce you to Bruce. Let him in, please”

At the far corner, of the arena, a small door opened and from it, Bruce slowly made his entrance. The men, in the bleachers, immediately started looking for higher ground. The women screamed and fainted.”

Rod was petrified. What came out of that door was the biggest snake he had ever seen. It kept coming and coming out of that door. He guesstimated that it was at least 13 feet long. Taking one look, he went to the exit door to get out, but it was locked.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is Bruce, a boa constrictor of local renown. He has quite a reputation in these parts of the woods. He will eat almost anything he can catch. Boa constrictors usually eat once a month. They like rabbits, rats, squirrels, etcetera. Bruce hasn’t eaten for four months and I’m sure he’s hungry. I’ve kept him that way. His teeth are designed to hold on and not let go, and getting away from him is not easy. Rod, you win the money if you can elude the snake for twenty minutes. If Bruce gets you, we will see how good a wrestler you are.”

Rod watched in horror as Bruce lifted its head, and tested the air, by flicking its tongue repeatedly in every direction. Sensing there was prey, it started inching its way toward him.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the last opponent, that attempted to evade Bruce, was a brave soul. Bruce cornered him, wrapped itself around the man’s neck, squeezed until it had snuffed out his life, and had almost all of his arm swallowed before we could stop him. We had to take an ax and cut off the man’s arm, at the shoulder, and drag the corpse away. It was a mess. That was four months ago. Let’s see how Rod does.”  

Closer and closer it came, its beady eyes honing in on him, its tongue constantly probing the air. It knew that there was no escape and that it was just a matter of time until it got what it wanted.

Rod began screaming.

“Will anybody help me? Please help me get out of here? Anybody?”

There was pandemonium in the bleachers. The spectators thought it was going to be an actual wrestling match, not this. Women were screaming and trying to get out of there. The men tried to find a way for him to get out. The walls were too high to climb, and the snake was getting closer and closer.

Suddenly another man dropped into the pit and went to Rod’s side.

“I’ll help you. I never have liked snakes.”

More men jumped over the wall until there were a half dozen facing Bruce. Spreading out, they waited for the right time to attack. Confused, Bruce found a corner and warily watched them.

“Let’s get him!” Surely six of us can handle him,” Rod said as they lunged after Bruce.

The battle that ensued was a vicious one. Bruce was more than a handful. Being wary of his teeth, they finally subdued him.

“What are we going to do with him? I don’t want to let him go. This is one mean snake, just like its owner.”

“I’ve got an idea. Listen up.”

Going to the arena door, they stopped and Rod yelled, “Hey, we’re gonna kill it. One of us has a knife and we’re going to cut its head off.”

“No, please, don’t do that. I’ve got too much money invested in Bruce. Don’t kill my snake, please don’t.

“Open the door. Right now, open the door.”

They could hear the bar being taken off the door, and the key going into the lock. The door opened a crack and that was all it took. With a mighty shove they, and the snake they were holding, forced their way into the office, the force of the entry knocking the man to the floor behind his desk.

“Quick, one of you let go of Bruce, grab that bar, go into the arena and wedge the door shut.”

He did so, and in the process, the extra weight of Bruce forced them to drop him. As quick as the rest of them could, they bolted out the entry door and slammed it shut. Finding another board handy, they wedged it against the entry door.

They could hear the screams as Bruce found his next meal. The screams became less frequent and the volume rapidly decreased. In their minds they could see Bruce wrapped around him, squeezing and squeezing until he couldn’t breathe. At least he wouldn’t be eaten alive. It still made them shudder.

“Thanks, guys, you saved my life,” offered Rod, “should we notify the authorities?”

“Probably, but not today, let Bruce have a well-deserved meal.”

 January 28, 2022

Photograph Courtesy of Pixabay