Thursday, 26 April 2012

Please welcome to my blog, Stephen Osborne, who will be eating cheesecake and letting us in on a snippet of his new novel, Wrestling with Jesus.

So I shall sit back, pick up my spoon and hand over the reins to Stephen...

The character of Kyle Temple is based in part on a real person. Several years ago I was, as unbelievable as it sounds to anyone who knows me, a part-time professional wrestler. Mostly I just did it for fun, although I did make a little money at it. As I had a boyish face and was thin, I was what is known as a jobber. A jobber, for those of you who don't know, is the poor sod who the crowd loves but gets the crap beat out of him by the mean "heel." I was also an actor at the time, so I "sold" the pain pretty well, if I do say so myself! Anyway, I had many bouts with a guy whose name was Kyle (last name NOT Temple). Physically, he is the model for the character in the book. Kyle wasn't huge by professional wrestling standards, but he was a heck of a lot bigger than me, so it made sense that he always beat the snot out of me. I'd get a few licks in, but I always ended up in a heap in the middle of the ring. Kyle was pretty studly, I must say. Nice body. Shoulder length brown hair that flew all over when he stomped me. Neatly trimmed beard and mustache. Unlike the Kyle in Wrestling With Jesus, though, this guy wasn't mentally stunted.
THAT aspect of the character comes from a guy I once dated. Perry was gorgeous, but not bright. I was appearing in a production of Torch Song Trilogy at the time and, no matter how many times I told him it was a stage play, Perry always referred to it as "that movie I was in." For Perry, if it involved acting, it must be a movie. Not one of the world's greatest thinkers, but he made up for it in other areas...
Bookstore owner Randy Stone is smitten. His new boyfriend, Kyle Temple, is sweet, hot, attentive, and great in bed. But introducing Kyle to his family takes courage, because Randy’s parents can be a little judgmental, and Kyle is ten years younger than Randy, a small-time pro wrestler, and dumber than the proverbial sack of hammers. Needless to say, Randy’s parents aren’t exactly thrilled, and even his best friend is skeptical.

Despite the challenges, Randy is determined to tough it out for Kyle. After all, enduring a few scornful comments from his mother is nothing compared to what Kyle’s going through trying to quit smoking for Randy. When a hypnotherapy session designed to help with Kyle's cravings leaves him quoting Jesus Christ—in Aramaic—Randy’s parents are suddenly the least of their problems. Once word gets out, their privacy is destroyed. News crews follow them everywhere, and everyone who knows Kyle seems determined to make a buck. It’s a mess that could make Kyle’s dreams of wrestling in the UWE come true—but what about his dream of being with Randy?

THE folded chair hit the back of Kyle’s head with a resounding thud that could be heard at the top of the bleachers. Kyle flew forward, hitting the ropes. His opponent, a rather good-looking Hispanic kid who went by the unlikely name of El Toro, swung again and slammed the chair into the center of Kyle’s back. Kyle collapsed to the canvas, seemingly dead to the world, as the crowd cheered.

Randy Stone, sitting far up in the bleachers in an attempt to distance himself from the more rabid wrestling fans in attendance, winced in sympathy. “I don’t care what he says. That’s got to hurt like a son of a bitch.”

Randy’s companion, a raven-haired beauty and card-carrying fag hag named Debbie Jacobs, munched on her popcorn. “I can’t see what attracts you to the guy. If you ask me, he’s got a hot body, but that’s about it. He’s got the brains of a split pea.”

“You haven’t even met him yet,” Randy replied, the tension in his stomach mounting to Huge Fucking Butterfly levels. He’d been worried that Debbie would be skeptical about his blossoming romance with a professional wrestler, but he’d hoped she wouldn’t start off with quite such an openly negative attitude.

“He just got hit by a chair. Twice. And he let the guy do it. Believe me, he’s got the brains of a split pea, and that’s being insulting to split peas. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure this Kyle guy is fine for a quick fling, but you’ve been acting like he’s The One, and I just can’t see that.”

“He’s sweet,” Randy replied. “He’s just a really nice guy, and he treats me like I’m Einstein.”

“Compared to him, you are.”

“I admit, at first it was his hot bod that attracted me, but it’s developed beyond that. I’m really falling for the guy.”

“Seems like you might fall quite literally. I’m betting he’ll want to body slam you before sex or something like that. He looks like he’s got that gorilla mentality.” Debbie chewed more popcorn. “How on earth did you ever meet up with this guy? Didn’t you say he was a closet case? You didn’t meet up at a club, then. And I’m pretty sure he isn’t a customer at your bookstore. That guy never progressed beyond Hop on Pop.” She found a kernel that hadn’t popped and spit it back into the bag.

“Would you give him a chance?” Randy pleaded. “I really like this guy, Debbie. I want the two of you to get along.”

An older gentleman near them was staring not at the ring but at Debbie, or more precisely at Debbie’s chest. She caught him and flashed the guy an angry glare. “Hey, Gomer, the action is down there in the ring.” The man flushed and shifted his gaze back to the middle of the gym.

In the ring, the tide of events had turned. Kyle Temple had managed to kick El Toro in the genitals without the referee catching him. After several punches to El Toro’s face that would, in a real fight, have resulted in the Hispanic boy suddenly sporting at the very least a bloody nose but instead simply gave El Toro a stunned look, Kyle leaped up and dropkicked the handsome kid right out of the ring.

“So violent,” Debbie muttered.

“It’s not real,” Randy reminded her.

“Well, duh. That poor little bastard would have been wheeled out of here on a cart minutes ago if these blows were actually landing full force.”

“It’s like playacting,” Randy continued, picking up on Debbie’s condescending attitude toward his new beau’s chosen profession. “They’re enjoying themselves and entertaining the crowd. What’s wrong with that?”

A grimy teen seated in front of Randy turned around, a sneer on his pimpled face. “You can’t fake that shit, dude. Say that any louder and Kyle Temple will come up here and pound the fuck out of you.”

Randy shrugged. “He pounded the fuck out of me pretty good last night, actually.”

Debbie laughed, nearly choking on her popcorn.

The teen frowned in confusion before turning back to watch the action in the ring.

Sweat was making Kyle’s long light-brown hair stick to his face and neck. He took a second to pull some strands out of his eyes before hoisting El Toro over his shoulders for the Torture Rack finisher. El Toro screamed his submission, and the referee quickly called for the bell to ring.

“I don’t suppose he did that last night,” Debbie said as Kyle unceremoniously dumped his opponent’s body onto the canvas.

“Can’t say he did. But then, I wasn’t putting up much of a fight, either.”

The referee held up Kyle’s hand in triumph as the crowd booed loudly. El Toro was lying at Kyle’s feet, curled up in a fetal position. For good measure, Kyle kicked the beaten wrestler in the stomach before climbing out of the ring.

Debbie shook her head. “I don’t get it. He won. Why is everyone booing?”

“Kyle’s the heel. He’s the bad guy. The crowd is supposed to hate him. If they cheered he’d actually be upset, since that would mean he wasn’t presenting his character correctly.”

Narrowing her eyes at Randy, Debbie said, “It worries me that you know all this. This is a side of you I’ve never seen before. You didn’t grow up putting your friends in headlocks and half nelsons, did you?”

Randy helped himself to a small handful of her popcorn. “Kyle’s been explaining it all to me. It’s really quite fascinating. It’s a world unto its own, kind of like a circus in a way. And yes, I grew up putting my friends in headlocks and half nelsons. It was the only way I knew to get some body contact with them.”

The announcer climbed into the ring as Kyle and, more slowly, El Toro made their way out of the gym. With the usual announcer gusto, he introduced the next bout. Two more wrestlers entered the ring, climbing in at their appropriate corners.

“I see what you mean,” Debbie said, staring forward. “About it being like the circus. Oh. My. God. They’re midgets.”

Randy’s cheeks reddened. “Yeah, I guess they are. Although isn’t the current politically correct term vertically challenged individuals?”

“They’re midget wrestlers.”

“I’m sure they—”

“Your new boyfriend works with midgets. Midgets who wrestle. Do you see what I’m saying here?”

“Debbie,” Randy said, giving her his best puppy dog look, “I really want you to like Kyle. I want you guys to get along. It’s important to me.”

Debbie’s glare melted somewhat. “I’ll try,” she promised, “but it’s not going to be easy. I mean, look at the people watching this shit. That kid”—she indicated the dirt-streaked teen in front of Randy—“hasn’t had a bath this century, and the last book he cracked open had things pop back up at him.”

The kid in question turned. “Hey, fuck you, lady. I had a bath last week.”

The look Debbie returned was stony. “I stand corrected.”

Randy grabbed her elbow. “Come on. We don’t have to stick around for the rest of the show. We can go find Kyle and go out and get something to eat.” Randy wasn’t actually eager to get his best friend and his new boyfriend face to face, but he knew Debbie’s penchant for picking fights, and he wanted to get her away from the teenager as quickly as possible.

Debbie stood, brushing popcorn remains off her blouse. “I guess we can get something to eat. This Kyle does eat something other than squirrel, doesn’t he?”

As they passed the teen on their way down the bleachers, he looked at Randy challengingly. “Hey, mister. Were you serious? Is Kyle Temple a fag? Did he really fuck you last night?”

Randy stopped in his tracks. He hadn’t actually paid much attention to what he’d been saying, having spent most of his life blurting out whatever was on his mind regardless of who was present. Remembering Kyle’s closeted status, he looked around to make sure no one but the kid could hear his reply. “Yeah. Yeah he is, and yeah, he did.”

The teen looked thoughtful. “Next time he plows your ass,” he said, “can you ask him for an autograph for me?”

 Being an avid WWE fan (and yes I have a humongous crush on Jean-Paul Le'Vesque - Triple H to you uneducated people out there), I cannot wait to read this book.  Thank you for sharing with us Stephen and I wish you many sales!  I know you've sold me!

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