FICTION

Just Like a Son

Mrs. Pitts' son, Cyclone, rated top billing as a gorilla; to Myrtle he was just the world's prize sap

B. B. FOWLER August 1 1938
FICTION

Just Like a Son

Mrs. Pitts' son, Cyclone, rated top billing as a gorilla; to Myrtle he was just the world's prize sap

B. B. FOWLER August 1 1938

Just Like a Son

Mrs. Pitts' son, Cyclone, rated top billing as a gorilla; to Myrtle he was just the world's prize sap

B. B. FOWLER

I’M WRITING all this on account of Myrtle says it's time I gave my side of the story. She says it’s time I put myself on record, and straightened out the stories the newspapers have been running about me.

To begin with, I want everybody to know that there ain’t any truth in the story that I beat up my manager, Hammerhead Hogan. The whole story about that was just a pack of lies. The only one hit him was Myrtle. And she just gave him a little slap. When he got hurt was when he fell over the two front rows of seats, and hit his head on a chair and knocked himself out. I oughta know. I was up in the ring and saw it all. Why, Hammerhead Hogan always said I was just like a son. I’ve heard him say that to the same guys that have been writing all these lies about me.

Also it was Myrtle that decided I had to grow whiskers and change my name from Cyclone Pitts to Paul Bunyan. Hammerhead never would have thought out anything like that. I didn’t like it at first because they used to itch something fiercethe whiskers, I mean. But Myrtle decided the whiskers would give me color, like the yell I hafta give when I throw a guy for the deciding fall.

None of it would have happened, maybe, if Hammerhead hadn't been all the time trying to keep me from talking to the newspaper guys myself. Hammerhead had funny ideas about me and newspaper guys. Like, now, this press-row business. When I met the first coupla guys, after Hammerhead found me out West and started me wrastling for money, 1 didn’t know much about the rules. I’m the best-

natured guy in the world, hut those guys got me sore and I gave them each a little push when they started kicking me in the slats. Both of them went out through the ropes and wrecked a couple of newspaper guys.

Hammerhead told me then that these newspaper guvs are hard to get, and

that they have to stand a lot of wear and tear in the run of their business, and that if I started throwing guys through the ropes and busting up the press row. I’m apt to cause some kind of a shortage in the business. Well, that sounded sensible to me. Most of these newspaper guys look kinda peaked, as if it wouldn’t take much more to finish them off. So I agreed to stop pushing guys through the ropes on them.

What’s more, Hammerhead is the biggest-hearted guy I ever see. Why, many’s the night, before I went into the ring, Hammerhead would come to me with tears in his eyes and tell me about the poor guy I was wrastling who maybe had his old mother coming all the way from Vancouver to see him wrastle, and how it would break her heart to see him licked, so would I let the guy win the match? Or, maybe it would be that the guy is in wrong with the promoter who runs the show and is likely to lose his job altogether if he loses again, and then maybe his old grandmother in King City will starve to death on account of the guy not being able to send her any more money.

All this talk about me being paid to lay down is the baloney. I wouldn’t do that. Hammerhead asked me to do it when I first started wrastling for him. But me, I don’t believe in fooling the public. So he didn’t ask me again, except in cases like I told you where some poor guy is in terrible trouble and had to win the match. And you’d be surprised at how many guys are in trouble in this business. There ain’t hardly a week that some guy didn’t have his old father or mother or somebody at the ringside to see him win. It was lucky for them that I’m a soft-hearted guy and understand how they feel.

Also, the newspaper guys are all wet about me being a hero. The two guys I put in the hospital might have heen very tough lugs with a reward on one of them. But I didn’t know that. I don’t suppose I oughta kick about that because Myrtle says we got a million dollars worth of publicity out of it and are still cashing in.

Myrtle just looks over my shoulder and tells me to ;ut out the personal stuff and get down to brass tacks on he story. What Myrtle says goes with me. So I guess I’d belter begin.

IT ALL started when Hammerhead chased me outa our hotel room on account of there's a newspaper guv coming to get a story about me. As I goes out I hears Hammerhead say to the guy. “That’s all baloney. Cyclone ain’t no throwback. It’s just that he loves wrestling and gets excited sometimes.”

I know then that the newspaper guy is referring to the night before when I wrestled Tarzan O’Hara. Tarzan used too many hammerlocks. After awhile he hurt me and I got sore. But I didn’t lose my temper and slam him through the ropes like I coulda done. No, sir. I just gave him a little push. It was hitting the ring post that busted his ribs.

I could hear Hammerhead saying, “Why, I love that big lunk like a son, just like a son.”

That was Hammerhead all over. He didn’t look it, him having a pan that looked like somebody slapped him with a spade one time. But he had a heart as big as a water bucket, and was always thinking about some poor guy that was in trouble and always wanting me to help him get the guy outa his jam.

Being as I was hungry. I started out from the hotel looking for a place to eat. I coulda gone into the hotel grill but they sock you too much. Why, I remember one

hotel where they socked me four dollars for a snack of six tiny, weeny lamb chops with a few mashed potatoes and some peas and a quart of milk.

It was the principle of the thing I didn’t like. I make plenty of money. Every time I wrestle. Hammerhead usta give me forty or fifty dollars. And. wrestling every night the way I do, it adds up to plenty. Every week I could send twenty-five bucks home to the folks and put some in the bank. I coulda put more in the bank only every once in a while Hammerhead has to take back fifty dollars or so, on account of some wrestler is in the hospital dying and is going to be put out if the doctor ain’t paid. Or. maybe, it's on account of Hammerhead lost the railroad tickets and has got to buy more. Or else the guy what booked us went broke and Hammerhead couldn’t get our money.

Ever since Myrtle started to . . . But. there, that’s getting ahead of my story. Now, lemme see, where was I? Oh, yeah. I started cut to look for a place to get a snack. I walked down the street until I see a little place on the corner with kinda red-checkered curtains in the window like ma used to put on our windows out West. There is a sign that says, “Cozy Corner Eatery. All the hamburger you can eat for fifty cents.”

I had to duck away down low to get through the door, on account of the door is no more than six feet high. It is dim inside and. after walking in the bright sunlight, I can’t see a thing for a minute.

It’s while I am blinking to get the dazzle outa my eyes that I hear someone sing out, “All hands below to shift ballast to the after hold. We’ve got cargo coming aboard forward.”

After I get rid of the dazzle I could see the girl behind the counter. I didn’t know that they had dames like her in the East. She is pretty as a picture with a lot of yellow hair piled up on her head. And her cheeks are red without none of that rouge like most dolls use. She is quite tall, maybe six feet or a little over. I hadn’t seen a shape like hers since I left sister Annabelle on the station platform back home.

She puts her hands on the counter and her eyes go kinda wide as she says, “Well, say something, or else get down on all four legs so I’ll know you are a trick elephant.”

I GRINS, because Hammerhead tells me I gotta all the time, on account of he says my face is enough to scare women and children.

This one ain’t scared at all. She just says, “Ah, it smiles. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe it ain’t escaped from the zoo.” I says, “About that sign you got up. You know, the one that says all the hamburger ...”

She puts both hands to her head and starts to kinda rock and moan. Finally she says, “Oh, oh ! 1 shoulda knowed that sooner or later that sign would turn around and slap me in the face. How much hamburger you think you can eat?”

But she is grinning even while she moans. I can see that here is the kinda dame I like, g(xxi-natured. like ma and sister Annabelle. Then she says, “It’s the tail end of a busy day, so I haven’t got but eight or nine pounds of hamburger in the refrigerator.”

So I says, "Aw, I ain’t very hungry. I just want a snack. About a couple of pounds maybe, with some onions.”

She shakes her head and says. “He ain’t very hungry. What a break for me. He just wants to nibble at a side of beef with a crate of onions on the side. Okay, you get maybe a couple of pounds. I'm a woman of my word. Stick up a sign and stick with it, that’s my motto. I’ve got no one to blame but myself.”

While she is frying the hamburger she asks me questions about myself. When she hears that I’m a wrestler, she says, “I should have knowed that too. NofxxJy could be like that and be anything else.” Then she asks me do I know a muscle-bender by the name of Kicker Olsen.

“Why, yes,” I tells her. “Why, that’s the guy I’m going to wrestle next Monday. They say he is a very tough baby indeed.”

“Ah, yes,” she says with a sigh, “it is me that should know it. Kicker Olsen, known to me as Oscar, is indeed a very tough baby. I have seen how very tough he can be.” That strikes me kinda funny, as this dame don’t look like no kinda one who would be going to wrastling shows.

When I say something like that, she says. “I never have to go to no w'rastling show to see little Oscar work out. Oh, no, indeed. Oscar is my baby brother; the dear, playful little fellow.”

She leans over the counter and asks, “Will you do me a favor?”

When I say, “Sure,” she picks up a long loaf of bread and twists it in two with her hands and says, “Just like that with little Oscar. You do that and I will give you all the hamburger you can eat for nothing. It would be w'orth it even if you run me into bankruptcy.”

By the time I am finished with the hamburger with a plateful of onions and a few' rolls, we are having a swell time. I tell her all about my six brothers and ma and sister Annabelle and pa, who is sixty-six and works in the sawmill.

“How much cheaper he must be than a derrick.” she says to me. “I can just see dear old papa tossing logs up to the saws. Ah, me.”

That’s just kidding. Nobody could do that. I tell her that it is all pa can do to lift one end of a big log w'hile two or three guys lift the other end.

“Just a dreamer, that’s me,” she says with a sigh. “Always building up dream pictures of real he-men only to have my dreams busted. You didn’t by any chance make a mistake about your name. Your papa now wouldn't maybe be Paul Bunyan?"

1 just laugh at her then. That's one thing I do know. I’d heard the lumberjacks tell about Paul Bunyan. So I tells her that he ain’t nothing but a guy that other guys has made up in stories.

She shook her head and looked at me very sadly. "There you go, busting up all my girlish dreams. Have a heart, mister, and leave me believe that your old man is Paul Bunyan.”

I am just going to tell her that you can’t believe no lies when you know they are only lies, when a couple of guys come into the restaurant. They’re mean-looking bozos. One is a little runt, less'n six feet tall. The other one is bigger. I could see he’s been a wrestler once because he had a thick ear.

I don’t pay much attention to them until the: little runt yanks out an automatic and says, “This a stick-up, sister. Just stay where you are and everything will be lovely.”

THERE IS something in their voices that tell me they mean it, so I sit tight. But when they are taking the cash out of the register. I feel myself getting mad. Anybody who is swell enough to give all the hamburger you can eat for fifty cents, can’t make a fortune and don’t deserve no bad break like this.

As the two guys back out slowly, the dame says, “There goes the profits for a month. One hundred and fifty bucks in that register waiting for the landlord to come and collect.”

That makes me real mad. I stands up and looks. There’s a car at the curb with a guy at the wheel and the motor running. One of the guys is starting to open the door. The other one turns and starts to jump for the car.

There’s just one thing to do. So I does it. I takes hold of the stool I’m sitting on and yanks it up. It was only held down by three bolts so it doesn't take much of a yank to bust it loose.

I steps to the ckxjr and Hang the stool. It hit the big guy in the back and lifts him right olT his feet and slams him into the other guy. who whams into the car with a bang that sounds like his head is going right through. The guy at the wheel yelps, throws in the clutch and is away from there in a cloud of dust.

The girl leans over the counter and hx>ks, first at the guys laying in the gutter, then at the three holes in the floor where I’d pulled the tx>lts loose and says. “'1 he mountain fell right on Mahomet. Now, if I was a womanly woman, I’d faint. As it is. first I get back my money, then I call for some law and a flock of ambulances.

She gets the money, all right. But she doesn’t have to call the law because the cop up the street comes running down, blowing a whistle. She just says to the cop, “Take those ginzoes away from here and do what you like with them. The boy friend is through playing with them.”

She comes back inside and says, “How about another two or three pounds of hamburger, Paul Bunyan?”

I tells her, no, because my dinner time is a couple of hours off and I don’t want to HJXJÍI my appetite.

“Yes,” she says. “I can see how it is. When anybody has an appetite like yours, they’ve got to coddle it. You’re right, big lx>y, you keep right on denying yourself that way and you’ll live forever.”

Then I remembers that maybe Hammerhead would be sore if I got myself into any jams. So, while the cop is down at the corner ringing for the wagon, I says g;xxi-by to the girl. She tells me then that her name is Myrtle Olsen, and the Kicker is her stepbrother, and she hopes I’ll make him my stepbrother by stepping on his face. She sure has a dandy sense of humor.

TT DIDN’T make sense to me, because when I get back I 1 ask Hammerhead about Kicker Olsen and he tells me that he is a boy with a great deal of trouble in his life. It seems that he is married to a woman and they have five children, three of which are very, very sick, and the other two are poorly. And now. it seems, Kicker’s wife has to go to the hospital.

I ask him if he ever hears about Kicker having a sister or anything like that and he says. “Why. yes, I did hear something like that. It seems that she is coming to see him wrestle, and it will grieve her no end if she sees her little brother, on top of all his other trouble, get his face pushed into the resin.”

Considering what Myrtle says, this don’t make sense. So I tries to tell Hammerhead about Myrtle. But he only gets mad and says, “Your love life don't mean a thing to me, Muscles. All I ask is that you step into the ring ready to go, and leave all the worrying to me. I only know what Kicker tells me when he come to me with the tears running down his cheeks. You do like I tell you and everything will Continued on page 23

Continued from page 15—Starts on page 14

be okey dokey. If you don’t want to do that, you go look for another manager.”

I says, “Now, Hammerhead, you know I don’t want any other manager. You and me get along swell. If this Kicker Olsen is in all the trouble you say he is, I guess he needs a break. And nobody can say that I never give a guy a break when he needed it.”

“That’s the old stuff, Cyclone,” Hammerhead says, slapping me on the back. “You just leave the brain work to me, and we’ll show these guys who is the champion of the world.”

Now that is something I’ve been wondering about for a long time, seeing as how there are at least six other guys claiming to be champion of the world. But I figure that is just one of them things that Hammerhead has to worry about. And when I mentions it to him he thinks so too, so I lets it ride.

Every day after that I goes down to the Cozy Corner Eatery and talks to Myrtle while I have a snack of hamburger. The more I see of her the more I think what a swell girl she is. I figure that ma will like her swell too, in spite of she is kinda undersized compared to ma and sister Annabelle.

I bring up the question of Kicker Olsen once, but when I mentions him Myrtle only says, “Ah, yes, dear little brother Oscar. You know, Paul Bunyan, I’m beginning to wonder about that boy. I am, indeed.” And she has a kind of faraway look in her eye as she says it, and I think that after ail she was just kidding about her stepbrother that other day.

So I drops all mention of him, on account of I want to stand in right with Myrtle. After I sees her a few times I get a picture of her on a farm out West, pushing a cultivator in the garden, or maybe plowing the lower meadow the way ma used to do when pa is working in the sawmill, with five or six kids following her up and down the furrows.

So we do not talk about brother Oscar any more, but just about ourselves and the things we like. And I find that Myrtle has been raised on a farm and has got ideas about getting her feet back in the soil again. And that’s swell. Because I figure that if I keep going a few years more and Hammerhead keeps on giving me forty or fifty dollars every time I wrastle, I’ll be able to buy that farm.

I didn’t say a word about her coming to the fight either. Because I figure it might only embarrass her on account of Hammerhead already telling me that she is coming to see her brother Oscar win the fight. I know that if I see her there I’ll just have to let the Kicker take the bout to make her happy, to say nothing about the five sick kids and the wife in the hospital.

So that is how it is riding on the night of the fight. In the dressing room Hammerhead reminds me again of poor Kicker’s trouble. Hammerhead tells me that Kicker has just had a call from the hospital to tell him that his dear wife is very sick indeed and will only pull through if she gets some good news, like she will get if she hears her dear husband has won his match with me. Also, Hammerhead adds, Kicker’s sister will be there at the ringside praying for her brother.

Sure enough, I see Myrtle a few rows back from the ring when I climbs through the ropes. She waves to me and I take it that she is worried about Oscar. I figures, too, that she must be sorry for the way she kidded about her brother the first day I meet her. So I waves back and smiles, to let her know that everything is okey dokey and that I will let this match be decided by Kicker’s very hard luck.

THEN Kicker come into the ring and I am amazed by the expression on his pan, which is not at all that of a man who

is in such deep and terrible trouble. This Kicker Olsen has got such a face as you would expect to see on a guy who, if his wife is in a hospital, must have sent her there when he beat her up.

When I look across the ring at him he scowls at me, and his teeth look yellow like a cat’s. And his eyes, what you can see of them where the hair sprouts down from his forehead, have no tears in them. In fact I can hardly imagine any guy who looks like Kicker Olsen crying over anything. But I figures then that I don’t know everything and that I gotta leave such things to Hammerhead, who knows more about such things than I do.

Hammerhead climbs into the ring and goes over to Kicker’s comer, where he examines Kicker’s hands and the bandage on his wrist, and all the time he is talking to Kicker very quietly. I figure then that he is telling Kicker how sorry he is about all his terrible trouble.

Then everybody got out of the ring except me and Kicker and the referee. We shake hands, and when Kicker leaves go my hand he slaps me across the puss. And I say to myself, “What a heck of a way to treat a guy who is doing you such a good turn, you big palooka.” But then I remembers about his wife in the hospital and his five sick children and I say further, “It must be that all his trouble has got him so upset that he hardly knows what he is doing.”

Well, we wrastle for fifteen or twenty minutes, and I find that Kicker Olsen really has something on the ball. He is very strong for a guy who don’t weigh more than two hundred. In fact I have never wrastled with any guy who had much more stuff than Kicker. When I don’t put on much pressure, he can do quite a job of hauling me around.

At the end of twenty minutes, while we are tugging in a referee’s hold, Kicker suddenly lets go me and 1 see then why he is called Kicker. He slams me in the stomach with a foot like a satchel and knocks all the wind outa me, and I go flat on my back with Kicker on top of me and my shoulders are pinned to the canvas.

Of course I do not worry about losing that fall on account of I’d already promised Hammerhead to let Kicker win that one. But it just struck me that Kicker was not being very considerate, kicking me in the slats in return for me and Hammerhead being so big-hearted.

When I get onto my feet, Kicker was crawling through the ropes and the crowd is booing. I figure they are booing Kicker for his dirty work, but when I stand up they are booing me. But I just tell myself that I gotta put up with it and not let them see it bothered me, and let Kicker go ahead and win because of his sick wife and children, not to speak of Myrtle, who has come to see him win.

When I get to the dressing room for my ten-minute rest between falls, Hammerhead tells me that I have done very nicely indeed, and that I am surely the great guy that he always thinks I am, and that I am to take the next fall to make the bout look good, and then Kicker will win the third fall and everybody will be most happy, including me. For, Hammerhead tells me, the promoter is feeling so good about such a big crowd that my share for the match will be as much as seventy-five dollars.

I tell Hammerhead then that maybe we oughta let that extra twenty-five smackers go to Kicker, who must be in great need of extra money just now. But Hammerhead just give me a funny look and says, “Don’t let your big heart carry you too far. Muscles. The promoter is already taking care of Kicker. He is going to slip him a hundred dollars to help him pay the hospital bill.”

I think then that this is most kind of the promoter, who don’t kx>k to me at all like a guy who would think of kind things to do. Indeed, I have heard it said that this promoter, whose name is Jim Kiskos, would sell his mother up the river for a nickel. Which goes to show that you can never tell about guys.

When the ten minutes are up, I start back for the ring, with Hammerhead coming along behind me somewheres. I am no sooner through the door into the aisle when somebody grabs me and says, “You big false alarm, you. you would kid a poor country girl, wouldn’t you? You, who were going to do a job on little Oscar for me. If that’s the best you can do, you needn’t ever come around to the Cozy Comer again on account of my hamburger is honest meat and I've got scruples about ivho eats it.’’

SURE enough it is Myrtle, and her attitude surprises me very much after all the things that Hammerhead has told me. I looks around for Hammerhead, but he has not come through the door yet, so I see that I have to talk to Myrtle myself.

So I says to her, “Now, Myrtle, listen. I am doing just what Hammerhead told me you wanted. Aw\ Myrtle, I wouldn’t want to disappoint you.”

“Not much, you wouldn’t,” she says very nastily. “You let me spend three bucks on a ringside scat and work myself into the jitters just to see that rat of an Oscar kick you in the stomach. Oh. no, you wouldn’t want to see me disappointed.” She stops for a minute, and her eyes are all red and her face is red. She goes on: “You come down to the Cozy Corner Eatery and I will slip you a couple of ounces of cyanide in your hamburger and see can you laugh that off, you big lug.”

It takes me quite a while to get a word in edgeways. Myrtle is very angry, and when Myrtle is angry there is very little chance for anyone in the vicinity to do much talking. But after a while I manages to tell her how badly I feel about all Kicker’s troubles.

When she asks me what trouble, I tell her what Hammerhead has told me, about Kicker's five children and his wife in the hospital who will probably pass out if she gets bad news like Kicker’s losing his bout. And I tell her how Hammerhead tells me alx>ut Kicker’s sister coming to see her brother win.

Myrtle puts her hand on her chin and stares at me like she’d never seen me lx fore. Finally she sighed and says, "I

suppose it is possible. But if anyone had ever told me, I would have laughed out loud. Paul Bunyan, you may be a legend to some people. But, to me you are just the world’s prize sap. Oh, the depth and mystery of life! When you was born, nature was just fixing up a little joke to spring on me. And now that it is sprung, I hardly know how to take it. Honest, Paul Bunyan, you hadn’t oughta be left out alone. Now, you listen to me.”

She then tells me that Kicker didn’t have any wife . . . Also, that he is so nasty and ornery that no woman in her right senses would let him remain in the same city block with her, and that the five children were, the way she put it, such stuff as dreams is made of. And, further, that she personally had come to the arena to see Kicker pushed through the floor and then dragged up in the most painful manner possible. Also, and still further, that she had paid three bucks to witness such happenings because Kicker had made her life very miserable indeed when she was a little girl.

All this bewildered me very much. I could not imagine how Kicker had been able to fool Hammerhead with such stories. I was just wondering about it, being more and more puzzled all the time when I hear Hammerhead’s voice.

He is standing at my elbow saying, “Well, what is this anyways? Have you taken to holding your little trysts in the aisles of the arena? Or is it that you have forgotten you have an immediate date over there where the lights are shining and the referee is waiting?”

I say to Hammerhead, “This is Myrtle, Kicker's stepsister. She is just telling me that she wants to see Kicker go through a meat grinder, and that Kicker hasn’t got any children, nor wife either, anywhere, let alone in a hospital.”

Hammerhead just says, “Oh. oh!” and starts to duck. But he was not fast enough. Myrtle hit him a slap with one hand, and Hammerhead, being a little guy who don’t weigh more than one hundred and sixty, bounced right into the lap of a large party in an aisle seat, who immediately bounced Hammerhead right out into the aisle again.

Then Myrtle takes me by the arm and talks to me in a very earnest manner. She says, “You climb into that ring and do a general average on that piece of bad news. When the bout is over there is going to be some more news spread around. But I don’t want it sprung on little Oscar until he has had his face scrambled.”

AS I CRAWLS into the ring, verymuch bewildered with all that I have heard, Hammerhead comes running up the aisle, yelling, “Wait a minute. Cyclone! Wait a minute!” And his ace is very' red where Myrtle hits him. and he seems very excited.

It was then that Myrtle hits him again. But this time she whangs him real hard and he goes over two rows of seats, hits his head on the iron arm of a chair and goes out cold. I can see he is cold because his feet are up over the back of the seat and they kind of tremble.

Maybe it might have looked like I hit him. But that’s the truth. It was Myrtle. And it all goes to show just what I am trying to tell you, that you can’t believe all you see in the papers on account of these newspaper guys getting excited and writing down what they think they see.

There is great excitement about the ring. But after a while the cops come running in and get things under control, and finally the referee gives the word and we start wrastling.

Kicker makes a jump for me, feet first, trying to drive them into my stomach, a trick for which he is famous. But I fool him. I just crouch a little and take them on the chest where it don’t hurt at all. And I have braced myself so he does not knock me over. And then I get a foot in each hand and put some pressure into a leg spread, and Kicker yells. And the crowd yells. And Myrtle has got her head under the ropes and is yelling also, so that it is all very exciting.

When I let Kicker go he limps a little on both feet. He sees Myrtle and makes a kick at her face. Then I get really mad and go to work. I try all the holds I know, which are very many, until I have Kicker very weak and wobbly. While he is in this condition, I pick him up over my head and slam him to the canvas. I slam him so hard that a lot of dust flies up and gets in my eyes and I cannot see very well.

When my eyes are clear again, I find that the ring is full of cops. I think that they are going to pinch me for being too rough with Kicker. Then I hear Jim Kiskos making a speech. And it is all to the effect that I am now a great hero, having singlehanded and unarmed captured two armed and desperate characters.

The crowd cheered so much that Jim never did get his speech finished. But I finally gets it all, and am very much surprised that they make so much fuss about the two guys I hit with the lunchcounter stool. I am more surprised when

the cops pick up Kicker Olsen and cart him away. For it seems that Kicker has planned the whole thing, knowing that his stepsister has a hundred and fifty bucks to pay the landlord, and tipping off the three tough boys to stick up her joint.

It seems, further, that when the two guys finally come to in the hospital, they are softened up to such an extent that they tell the whole story. And now I am told that the little runt with the gun is known as “Hoppy” Flynn and is wanted here and there for various reasons.

It is all so confusing that I look for Hammerhead to explain it all to me. But there is no Hammerhead to be seen. Afterward I find out that Hammerhead has disappeared completely because of several tough citizens who are looking for him, figuring that he has double-crossed them when the Kicker loses.

This is the real story, which is not the one the newspaper guys got. It is all of it, except that Myrtle and me got married and closed up the Cozy Corner Eatery. Myrtle is now my manager, and when I ask her if she misses her old business she only says, “How could I, Paul Bunyan? Ain’t I still dealing in hamburger, only it is much rawer than the way I used to serve it.”

I might add that Myrtle doesn’t hand me out forty or fifty bucks every time I wrastle. She keeps it all and only gives me what I need for pocket money. It seems that I am very fortunate in this, because we have been travelling together for less than a year and Myrtle tells me that she has enough money for a couple of farms out West and that as far as she is concerned the grunt and groan racket can fold up any time.

I am now Champion of the World in two provinces and six states. When I ask Myrtle about the other places, she only says, “To heck with them as long as we are champion in the places with the biggest arenas.” And maybe there is something in what she says.

But sometimes I wonder about Hammerhead. I wonder where he is and how come he is so foolish as not to make money like Myrtle does when he manages me and I am just like a son to him.

I also wonder how it is that there are so few guys with terrible troubles like there used to be in the old days. But Myrtle tells me that this is indeed the case, and that it is a much, much happier world for wrastlers than it used to be. And I know that Myrtle knows what she is talking about all the time.