On the breezeway next to the gymnasium, Bud crushed his last cigarette into the sidewalk. He had told Matt he’d buy him a beer after the meet, so he waited even though he wasn’t interested in the other matches. For seven agonizing minutes, a green-toothed, pimple-faced Nazi from Bergin College had whupped Matt’s ass before finally pinning him to the mat. The guy looked like he weighed 200, minimum—Bud wasn’t buying he was 184.
Over in the parking lot, three college students drank beers and pestered some girl who looked like she enjoyed being pestered.
“Ready, Bud.” Matt tried to sound upbeat, though clearly he was bummed out, sporting a black eye, some swelling—roughed up, he looked sexier than he had at Dilly’s.
Bud wanted to say “good match” or something, and even though he thought Matt had wrestled well, though outmaneuvered and overpowered, he didn’t want to sound phony or backhanded. So he said nothing at all.
Matt asked whether they could just pick up some beers somewhere, instead of going to Dilly’s or anywhere they might be seen. Bud said all right. They could stop by the 7-11 and then go to his place.
As Bud pulled his van past the four students in the college parking lot, he spotted a jade-green Camaro with a Redwood Auto Mart plate. Somebody was inside smoking a cigarette—Bud could see the orange glow of the lit end against the black silhouette of the man’s head and shoulders.
At home, Bud pulled the tabs off two Busch beers and handed one to Matt. Bud turned on the TV for background noise—Good Times. They didn’t talk much about the match, though Bud shared his reservations about the true weight of Matt’s opponent.
Matt looked Hispanic, probably Cuban. He spread himself out comfortably on the sofa next to Bud. Team T-shirt, dark green gym shorts, sneakers without socks. Strong arms, smooth, veiny forearms, big hands, with a gold class ring and a red stone. Sinewy calves and firm, well-defined thighs. Bud wanted to touch that muscle, but restrained himself.
After a couple hours of chatting the chit, tossing back beers, and crushing the cans in one hand for effect, Matt asked to be taken home. Bud grabbed the keys to the van, and then Matt stopped him in the door.
“Look, Bud, practice doesn’t start for two months. I know you haven’t wrestled in a few years, but it’d be fun if you and me wrestled sometime, not at the gym or anything, but, like, here, maybe. Just horsing around, but working out, too. I’d like that, anyway.”
(To be continued)