Jackie Fargo, The Assassin, and a Stray Puppy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Humor  |  House: Booksie Classic
It’s not wrestling, it’s wrastlin’. There is a difference.

Submitted: August 12, 2017

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Submitted: August 12, 2017



Hiking the Space Walk Trail was a right of passage for any teenage boy in Lily Flagg during the 1960s.  Everyone had to do the eleven mile stretch to prove their impending manhood.  My posse made the trek at least once each summer.


The trail started at Ditto Landing on the Tennessee River and wound north along a ridge to Huntsville and Monte Sano Mountain State Park.  It had been built by local Boy Scouts as a place to train for hiking.  A scout that completed the journey earned a Space Walk Trail patch.  


The name derived from the proximity to the Marshall Space Flight Center, a few miles to the west.  Where Werner von Braun and some other folks designed the Saturn V, the engine that powered the Apollo spacecraft to the Moon.  When I was young, I thought everyone’s dad was either a rocket scientist or a cotton farmer.


It was a hot July afternoon and we’d made it to the State Park.  We were a little over a mile from the end of the trail.  That was when Alvie Branch stuffed a handful of leaves down the back of my shirt.  Everyone knew I was allergic to grass and things like that.  By the time I’d pulled of my shirt and got it all off me, I was already itching.


I must have telegraphed the punch I aimed at Alvie’s chin.  He stepped to the side and everyone laughed as I stumbled forward to regain my balance.  I was officially pissed off.


“Screw you guys.  I’m taking the West trail.  I’ll be waiting for you in the parking lot.”


We were on the East trail.  It was well worn and had gentle switchbacks as it made its way to the main park area.  The West trail was shorter but required climbing and a lot more attention.  We’d just passed where the trails diverged.  I backtracked, then headed up the other way.

I was wiry and athletic and I’d been on the West trail before.  This time, I was angry, in a hurry, and itching like crazy.  I navigated through a patch of football sized rocks too fast.  My foot slipped and I felt a pop in my ankle.


It hurt and immediately began to swell.  This was bad.  I was alone in the woods, my back was covered with welts, and I had a sprained ankle.


After forcing myself to take a few steps, I knew I couldn’t make it up the trail.  The pain was too intense.  Then I heard an automobile engine.  I realized, I was only about 100 yards from Monte Sano Boulevard.  Unfortunately, it was almost a vertical climb.


I considered my options.  I could sit and wait for my posse to get to the parking lot.  When they realized I wasn’t there they would come looking for me.  I’ve never been good at waiting.  There was no way I could continue on the trail.  Walking requires two good ankles.


Climbing, however, can be done with the assistance of your arms.  I decided my best bet was to go straight up the hill to the road.


Progress was slow.  It was steep, the brush was thick, and I was sweating like a pig.  The ankle throbbed with every movement.


The next disaster struck when my good foot slipped and I slid backwards.  Before I stopped, a low hanging branch poked me in the eye.  I teared up and tried to brush out the debris.  Now, I could barely see.


A panic welled inside me.  This was too much.  People react differently when they find themselves in what appears to be a hopeless situation.  I curled up in a fetal position on the ground, and fell asleep.


When I woke it was almost dark.  As I was clearing the cobwebs from my head, I heard another car go by.  I was closer to the road than I’d thought.  Adrenalin surged as I made a final push up the hill.


Light from a full moon reflected off the asphalt as I got to the shoulder of the road.  I waved frantically at an approaching car.  It pulled over.  The window rolled down and the driver spoke.


“Hey, are you that kid everyone is looking for?  It’s all over the radio.”


I couldn’t believe it.  I recognized the man.  He was The Assassin.  The meanest, most vicious professional wrestler ever.  Live Studio Wrestling was broadcast from the WHNT-TV studio just up the road. 


Words wouldn’t come out of my mouth so I nodded my head.  I got really confused when the man in the passenger seat spoke.  “Get in the back, kid, we’ll take you to the TV station and call the police.”


I knew that gravelly voice.  It was Jackie Fargo.  The Assassin’s arch enemy.  What were they doing in the same car?  The Assassin always wore a mask.  The only reason I knew what he looked like was that Fargo had beaten the crap out of him last week and unmasked him.


Now was no time for asking questions.  The Assassin noticed me limping when I climbed into the back seat. 


“You got a bum leg, young man?”


“Yes sir, I think I sprained my ankle.”


“I’ll ask Grady to look at it when we get to the studio.  He’s been taping up busted body parts since before I got in the business.”


That was Grady Reeves, the announcer for the matches.  He was a local celebrity and as famous as any of the wrestlers.


The car stopped in the station parking lot.  I tried to walk but wasn’t doing a good job of it.  The Assassin said, “Hold on a second, we’ve got this.”


He crouched while the other man picked me up and placed me on his back.  They worked together with the precision of professional athletes who’d spent years refining their craft.  My 98 pounds did not slow the giant of a man as he carried me into the studio.


Mr. Reeves called the police, then inspected my ankle.  Mr. Fargo brought me a Grape Nehi and I sipped while my ankle got wrapped with adhesive tape.  


The police showed up, then my parents.  My adventure ended.  I never set foot on the Space Walk Trail again.


That was more than 40 years ago.  Grady Reeves died in 1991.  Jackie Fargo was 76 when he wrastled for the last time.  He passed in 2013.  Nobody knows what happened to The Assassin.  He probably spent his last days at home in Parts Unknown.


If there is justice in the world, it is this:  Alvie Branch turns 60 this year and he still lives with his mother.  That part of the story is actually true.

© Copyright 2019 Serge Wlodarski. All rights reserved.

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