The 1 Tuff Roundup (Part I)
The first name on my checklist happened to be the Sports Dude, the longest tenured member of the 1 Tuff staff. Back when 1 Tuff was but a tadpole Sports Dude was misspelling words and churning out unreadable passage after passage. One would think that his perpetual status as a student would enable him to continually produce this typical embarrassing workflow, but talks of format change and a worsening case of priapism drew the Dude underground. He wouldn’t respond to my phone calls or telegraphs. A birthday card I sent was returned with a fecal stain and the letters “F-U” scrawled on the envelope.
I could tell that his angst had returned so I hopped the first boxcar I spotted heading due south. The hobos I shared the space with were very accommodating, one even offering me his ragged top hat to use as a chamber pot. Despite the hygiene concerns and the stench it left on the poor man I chose to use it rather than do my business off the side of the moving train (which was a little too Contra spread gun for my likes). On that boxcar, seated on bales of hay I was regaled with tales of high adventure on the road and ate some of the best in canned bean products on the market. In return, I informed them of the internet and air conditioning, iPods and Pay-Per-View pornography…blew their bearded minds.
After a few uncomfortable nights spooning with a hobo named Wall-Eyed Willie I arrived at my destination, Gatorville, Florida. I quickly set out on my search for the Sports Dude. With a photo of his head photoshopped onto a black woman’s body I asked around town if they’d seen him or a white man resembling this black chick. Most shopkeepers merely gestured towards the door, some collardragged me out to the sidewalk and one even bangcocked me to the ground and spat on my shoes. Apparently the Dude had done something to sully his once-pristine reputation. Images of a wiffle ball performance-enhancing drug scandal flashed in my eyes.
As it turned out I wasn’t that far off. The Sports Dude’s latest escapades involved coaching an undergrad women’s intramural softball team. The thought being that these impressionable coeds would be drawn to an older man in a position of authority. A reasonable assumption, had these been soccer, field hockey or tennis players, but the Dude was facing off against a bunch of tobacco-spitting, homerun hitting lesbo sluggers. As the court papers indicate, the girls tolerated the Dude’s near-daily advances, the bra snappings, helmet rubs and batting glove sniffings. But once the self-proclaimed “King of Hugs” began and ended each practice with locker room group hugs and “secret” handshakes the team responded. As is well known in most circles, the Dude of Sports is particularly sensitive about his head piece. So after a few days of being repeatedly plunked in the dome by a barrage of water bottles, softballs and well worn strap-ons (lesbos, remember) the Dude snapped. With all that previously untapped angst returning to the surface he became a mop-topped madman.
I don’t need to rehash the headlines and survivors’ affidavits, but let’s just say that when armed with some female-inspired angst and an unending supply of desk chairs the Dude becomes a dangerous little man. And so I found him, living above a Chinese takeout restaurant, a hermit the neighborhood kids would talk about at campfires and when buying egg rolls. Mr. Sang, the Wonton purveyor, informed me that “the Sport Man” had taken up residence a few months back when the controversy of the trial finally died down. Prior to that he’d been hiding out in one of the swamps to the south of town with an alligator rancher known only as Bayou Billy. Sang told me the Dude had paid him in full to cover six month’s rent in exchange for him never asking questions or bothering him. That was four months ago and the shopkeep hadn’t seen him since. I carried this all with me as I ascended the dilapidated steps to the Dude’s apartment. Had he finally given up after too many fruitless seasons of New York sport mongering? If so, how much of a sadist was I to actually want him back in the fray, dropping stale jokes and overused prejudicial references?
At the top of the steps sat one of those indestructible US Postal mail boxes (not a mailbox, but a box into which mail is often carried). Judging by the emptiness of the box it appeared that the Dude’s fans had long since stopped writing. It took a tumbleweed blowing across my path to realize I was entering a ghost town, a dangerous Boo Radleyian place where dark secrets festered.
I opened the door with a good shoulder’s worth of leverage. The hinges creaked with the rust collected over a four month state of inactivity. I crossed the threshold squinting to make out detail from the dark shapes sparsely decorating the room before me. Dusty rags strewn over the windows drew all the color out of the place, hard shadows and gray highlights were all one could discern. I expected to find the Dude filling out a seductive red dress with a cigarette holder pursed between his lips. Unfortunately (or fortunately, having now visualized that horrific scene), I instead found him seated on the floor beside a sheetless bed. On the exposed floorboards by his feet lay an uneaten loaf of whitebread and a monkey wrench (perhaps it hadn’t been Mr. Green after all?). Sidestepping the occasional urine puddle I soon found myself staring into his empty eyes. He sat there shaking, arms wrapped tightly around his knees…a perfect 10 tuck position.
Over the cacophony of the traffic outside and the tinny whistle of a bedside electric fan I could hear the repetitive murmurings coming from the fully bearded Dude. “Sports…sports…sports…”
What had once been a confident call to arms was now reduced to a lunatic’s lament. I tried in vain to break his trance, waving a hand in his face, imitating the TRex Dance, even telling him the Mets were an out away from winning the World Series. Nothing would rattle him. Then, acting on a whim, I picked up the last can of Bush’s Baked Beans out of my hobo sack and gently tossed it in his direction, a child trying to win a goldfish at a trashy carnival. It bounced off his shoulder. “Sports…sports…sports…”
Ready to retreat (and confident that 1 Tuff would be better without the Dude anyways) I stood to leave his ramshackle residence. Feeling something resting against my foot I looked down to find the can of beans had rolled back to me. Looking down at that can as it teetered from side to side I came to an epiphany. I remembered how much guff I’d taken for the Sports Dude’s literary diarrhea…the same shameless material I had willfully commissioned and forced down the 1 Tuff reading public’s collective sphincters…how few times he’d actually made me laugh in his years of 1 Tuff servitude…he thought he was the shining star of this enterprise…so self-referential…territorial when Iss first came on, they’d been rivals…I had to broker a sit-down. I remembered all of this just as I remembered his one soft spot. In a sudden burst of rage and genius I hurled the can at the Sports Dude. It screamed through the air colliding with his forehead at full tilt. A cloud of dust and filth billowed up from his shaggy head as a slight trickle of blood started from the point of impact.
Suddenly the muttering stopped. His eyes widened. In a split second he’d straightened up and was staring me down. He ripped the fan from off the nearby end table and winged it at me. The cord tore out of its socket as the fan smashed to bits on the wall behind my head. After assessing the damage I turned to face him, finding he was already closing in me. Screaming a soul piercing war cry he swiftly punched me in the dick and tied my shoes together. I felt a surge of force come from his tiny frame as he pushed me over onto my back, falling like the sack of potatoes many suggest I’m made of. The Dude jumped on me, pressing me against the cold, dank floor and raising the homoerotic level in the room threefold. Now simply a ball of fur and flame he sank his teeth into my shoulder and spat a chunk of flesh back into my face. I began crying like a schoolgirl not knowing whether he was going to kill or fuck me. At that instant, with blood and tears staining my frightened visage, the Dude released his tight grasp on my skull. “McDude?” he said with a hint of compassion returning to his gravelly tone.
He rolled off me, his trembling hands wiping the blood from his lips. He looked from his hands to me on the ground, realizing the violent act that he’d perpetrated on his editor/publisher/inspiration. His sobbing replaced mine as I lay increasingly cold and tired on the floor. I rolled over onto my good shoulder as the room darkened all around me. Highlights and shadows melding into one I soon slipped away into a state of shock. Ghastly visions of Siamese twins, centaurs and queer boxers clouded my dreams…some real sick shit.
When I came to I’d all but forgotten the psychotic rodent-man who’d mauled me just minutes prior. I found my shoulder cleanly dressed as I lay in a brightly lit room. Fresh plants hung in the windows, stained glass trinkets filled the room with color, the smell of baking bundt cake floated in from the kitchen. “Oh, you’re awake,” said an uppity dressed fellow in oven mitts.
The argyled man crossed in front of my bed revealing himself to be none other than the Artist Formerly Known as Sports Dude. Gone were the beard and bed sores…the boat shoes and chinos were back! The only holdover was the mop that topped his everbalding head. I figured that look had crossover appeal in both homeless and harmless communities. “Where am I?” I asked as he poured me a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade.
“My place,” he replied, taking off the oven mitts as he sat cross-legged by my bedside. “Again, allow me to apologize for my behavior earlier. I don’t know what ever came over me.”
“You fucking bit me,” I declared, my strength returning as I remembered getting my ass kicked by the Dude. Let alone was it the first fight he’d ever engaged in, but he’d gotten the best of me, his superior. Truly embarrassing…worth hanging up the gloves over, had I ever been the glove wearing type (and if I had I’d imagine they’d be those crazy fingerless ones like Glen Danzig wears).
“Yeah…well, that’s all in the past. I’m a changed man. I spiffed myself up, cleaned up the apartment, resumed respectable lavatory behavior. The Dude’s back!”
“How long have I been out?” I asked, assuming weeks, months, several millennia (if so, maybe we’d walk outside…no, float outside and see Mulatto children riding Google Space Elevators to Mars and beyond!).
“Ten, maybe fifteen minutes.”
As you can see, when we at 1 Tuff have an idea we’re some serious gogetters. It’s just getting that idea that takes some time (as this lapse in productivity clearly indicates). Unfortunately, my visions of a come-from-behind montage was dashed before we could even have a race on the beach. There would be no snappy pop song heard while I had the Dude try on a multitude of flashy designer clothes, shaking my head no until we found just the right fit. He needed just that push over the edge, that can to the head to get him back on his feet. This was no time for me to revel in self-congratulatory Hollywood conventions.
That evening the Dude and I played enough games of Roger Cedeno to intoxicate a small band of Cockney street urchins. With a mean drunk on we set out to bring further balance to the Holy 1 Tuff Parallelogram. We walked off into the sunset two hetero writing partners on a mission to save the species. And whenever extinction is at hand a punching bag can often be of use. So off to the Rockies we were to dig up a frozen caveman named Ben Gets Punched.
Stay tuned for the next installment in the 1 Tuff Roundup.