Hours before Beamont Animal Care's Special Event... For more information, you can visit https://beaumonttexas.gov/beaumont-animal-care-is-hosting-a-black-tie-affair-and-star-wars-celebration/
“If you’ve never seen a six foot four inch baby Yoda sporting an all black suit and tie instead of the standard Jedi robe… well, you should stop by 1884 Pine Street in beautiful Beaumont, Texas!”
The voice, as any FWF fan could recognize, belongs to Lunchbox Larry. As we come into focus an excited, and much higher pitched, voice from behind a camera proclaims,
The energy from the short, stout old lady lights up Larry like a Christmas tree.
“Yeah! And you know what? If you don’t come to our Black Tie event slash Star Wars celebration extravaganza, and you decide not to adopt one of these furry black beauties we got down here this weekend… well…”
Larry reaches up, lifting the baby Yoda headpiece off his shoulders. His shiny, black hair is parted to the side as always. His blue eyes are beaming.
“Well, I sure hope you’re hungry… ‘cause I’m making Knuckle Sandwiches, WITH ALL YOUR NAMES ON ‘EM!”
Larry thrusts a clenched fist into the air as blood rushes to his face after delivering his favorite catch phrase.
A polite, yet cautious throat clear from a foot below him resets his energy and replaces it with confusion as he furrows his brow at the short woman below him. She smiles, almost apologetically, up at the big man and answers his unvoiced question.
“That last part was a little much, don’t you think dear? While we would love for all our little friends to get adopted this weekend and have homes for the holidays… we don’t need to threaten people who can’t, do we?”
Like the overgrown kid he tends to be, Larry’s inquiring expression turns into a pout as he drops his head in shame.
“No, ma’am… I didn’t me-”
The woman steps out from behind the camera and approaches the FWF star. She’s wearing veterinary scrubs and has her rough, gray hair tied up in a bun. A badge pinned to her chest reads, “Polly”. Her smile turns more affectionate as she reaches up to pat Larry’s back.
“Oh, don’t be so hard on yourself, hun. You did great. It’s just so nice to have a young man such as yourself so willing to help our cause this weekend.”
Larry began to turn his frown upside down, but turned almost emotionless at Polly’s words.
“Not sure where I’d be if I wasn’t…”
Larry’s eyes, becoming visibly moist, grow distant. Polly, eyes also beginning to water now, pulls the big lug in for a warm hug. Larry snaps out of it with a sudden head shake and clears his throat.
“So, uh… we cuttin’ that last part, right? Do you want me to redo the whole th-”
Polly shakes her head, releasing her arms from around Larry and waving them in front of her.
“No, no, no. I think we got all we need, dearie. Thank you, again. I think you’d best save all those… knuckle sandwiches?... of yours for all those bad guys you have to beat next week at your wrestle show. I heard the other day the civic center was sold out already! That’s got to be near five thousand folks in there to cheer you on!”
With each word that leaves her mouth, you can see Larry’s anxiety climbing.
“I just can’t imagine how exciting that must be for you!”
Her enthusiasm turns to concern as she notices Larry starting to sway as if losing his balance. She runs across the small lobby, grabs a wooden chair and returns to the clearly flustered wrestler in formal attire. She helps ensure he lands safely in a seated position on the chair.
“Y-you okay, there? Let me get you a cup of water.”
Larry, looking as if he was visited by the Ghost of Christmas past, slowly nods while staring blankly ahead. Polly returns as quickly as she left, now carefully carrying a small paper cup. She hands it to Larry, who takes a sip. He takes another, then looks at Polly.
“You don’t happen to know a Harry from Butte, Montana… do ya?”
Polly giggles, sure Larry was dealing with his traumatic episode using childish humor.
Larry, confused by her response, stands up.
“I gotta find Harry…”
Polly, despite barely reaching up to his chest, manages to push Larry back down onto the chair.
“You need to calm down, that’s what you need. There’s no way you’ll make it up to Montana and back in time to get ready for your big night.”
Larry lowers his head again, shaking it as if recognizing that Polly was right.
“Now what’s so special about this Harry, Butte fella, if you don’t mind my asking?”
Larry lifts his head and does that confused puppy dog head tilt. His eyes dart from right to left. It would appear he’s attempting to think… really, really hard.
“He, ahhhh… well, it’ll just sound dumb comin’ outta my mouth. Like everything else, probably. He was some philosophizer type; musta been. But I dunno… I guess he… I guess he had this theory, if ya wanna call it that. Nevermind, it’s stupid really…”
Larry slumps back down in the chair. Looking defeated despite being a week away from even stepping inside the squared circle with Kenneth Williams. He lets out a sigh. One of those oh-fuck-it sighs. He throws his hands up and lets them fall just as fast.
“Whatever. I’ll just tell ya. He pretty much had me convinced that the crowd was like… like one person, I guess. Made me feel better about heading into my last match verse that Stalker dude.”
Polly’s eyes seemed to grow with every word. Unable to make sense of most of it, her worldly experience in the professional care industry was all she needed here.
“Well, I sure hope you took care of the stalker. Nasty people, those type...”
Larry’s eyebrows crunch as he opens his mouth to clarify, but instead he just shrugs and closes his mouth before saying a word; letting old Polly continue onto her point.
“But you know, dear… your friend Harry… well, he was wrong about the crowd. It’s foolish to try and think the crowd is only one person.”
Larry places his elbows on his knees and buries his face in his hands. You can hear his muffled words escape through his fingers.
“I knew it! I’m so screwed at MAWA...”
Polly gently places a hand on Larry’s large left shoulder.
“But there are only three.”
Larry’s hands slowly migrate down his face, eventually falling off his chin / jawline. His eyes target Polly’s with new hope.
Obscure Star Wars reference, thank you very much.
“You see, the way I look at it… you got the folk who like you, the folk who don’t, and the folk who don’t care. Think about it, hun… who else in that crowd is there?”
Larry slowly nods. Once again, his blue eyes dart around in their sockets, indicating some level of concentration occurring.
“Ya know what, Miss P? I also got three other people left in the tournament I’m in… three’s not so bad, huh? Way less than when I started in the first round… and I was able to handle that just fine!”
The blue eyes on Larry’s face light up. He stands back up so fast Polly might’ve got whiplash.
Larry holds up his right hand and clenches a fist, then shoots out only his index finger.
“I really only have ONE opponent to start with, Polly. And that’s Kenneth Will-”
Polly’s proclamation at the mere mention of his semi-final opponent deflated Larry almost as fast as he inflated a moment ago. He plops back down onto the chair looking as glum as ever.
What a friggin’ roller coaster of emotions we’re on today, huh?
“Kenneth Williams, did you know he’s a fellow Texan?”
Larry’s face is back in his hands now. You can clearly see it shaking no, though.
“He is, and that so-called friendly, neighborhood stoner is all talk, I’ll let you know!”
Larry straightens back up, removing face from hands yet again. Polly continues.
“Just look, the proof is in the puddin’! That hooligan’s about the same age as you, right? Well from your accent, I’d venture a guess you came from New England… that stoner fella? He grew up just four hours from here!”
Larry’s eyes nearly pop out of his skull.
“To be honest, dearie… we tried getting him here before you came knockin’, but we never got a word back from the ingrate! So how is it, you tell me, that the friendly neighborhood guy can’t show up to lend a helping hand not far from his birthplace… but a fine gentlemen like yourself goes ahead and CALLS US to see if he can volunteer during the first time in his whole life he’s even been to our great state?!?”
Larry, eyes still popped, slowly shakes his head.
“I don’t even kno-”
Polly interrupts, getting heated as she goes.
“I’ll tell ya how! He’s a big faker, that’s all he is! Says he’s for the people and especially those near and dear, but he just wants the fame, I tell ya! I mean, gosh darn, you know how those stoner types are… the ones who’re smellin’ a skunk everytime you see ‘em! They aren’t high flyin’, fast movin’ types, bringing energy to every second they survive! They’re sittin’ on their couches playin’ vidya games or fantasising over who they could be if they weren’t puffing reefer all day long!”
Larry’s starting to get uneasy.
“Well I mean, he was pretty stinky in the bathroom at the preview show, but he wasn’t all that bad a gu-”
Polly interrupts again.
“Oh, you don’t even know, bless your dear soul. He faked that, too.”
Confusion overtakes the unease spreading across Larry’s face.
“Yeah, I watched that show. I watch all the wrasslin’ shows through that Fite streaming app my son set up for me. It’s the next best thing to my soaps, and to be honest, the soaps are gettin’ old.”
One of Larry’s eyebrows rises above the other.
“That Ken Williams said all that stuff to get you right where he got you when you showed up here. He got you scared again… fully knowing that’s his only chance of beating you, Lunchbox Larry!”
And we’re standing again. This time, Larry looks straight pumped. Polly, head back staring straight up at the tall man before her, smiles wide.
“We knew who you were. We wouldn’t go accepting anyone to market our big weekend here.”
She raises a hand, index finger pointed out, and presses up against Larry’s chest.
“That, right there… more than any of them muscles you got… that’s what’s going to win you your match against Ken. You got a pure one in there. Stay true to that. True to your fans. And true to yourself. You can’t go wrong, because it won’t let you. Now… get your focus back… and focus on ONE at a time… and know, there’s no more than THREE of anything out there. Three fans in the crowd, three possible opponents at your MAWA show.”
Larry, looking beside himself with joy, reaches out both of his gargantuan arms and scoops up little Polly in a bear hug. He twists around a couple 360s with her in tight grasps while she lets out some whoops and whoos, then he lets her back down. Realizing he got a bit away with himself there, he brushes off his suit and clears his throat.
“Sorry ‘bout that…”
A firm head shake from Polly.
“No sorries about it. You go now. Go Make America Wrestle Again!”
Larry smiles, raises a fist in solidarity, and heads for the door.
“Oh! And Larry!”
He stops just before exiting and turns toward Polly.
“Better make plenty of them knuckle sandwiches, too!”
She smiles. Larry returns one of his own, while nodding, and leaves.
"I am not that dragon and you are not that warrior."
- Wondrous Mental Dragon