The Liars Bunch was sitting around on their bench one day when Charlie Overcoat started a ruckus over that other sport of kings, the one known as Professional Wrestling.
“I think ol’ Lou Thesz was the best rassler I ever seed,” opined Cap Anslinger.
“Naw, man, it was the Bruiser!” growled Fred Jack Hatres.
“Bruno Sammartino coulda wiped the floor with all your Cactus Jackin’ Stoned Cold Hulkin’ Rocks combined,” Harry Whelp maintained.
“I’m kinda partial to the Hit Man,” said Zeke Pascal, but since he was the youngest by several decades everybody ignored him.
“I’m afraid I must disagree with you, chums,” said a polite fellow with a rather well used face. He was known to sit on the bench occasionally but he never said much. “The true heroes in wrestling are often not your big stars but the ones who put them over, traveling from town to town to perform for small crowds in school cafeterias and at county fairs.”
“How do you know so much?” Cap’s eyes narrowed with suspicion.
“Well, you could say I was close to the business for a few years.”
“I smell a story coming on,” Zeke Pascal sighed.
“It was in April of ’85 and there’s nary a man alive, who remembers that fateful day and year,” he said, making like Doris Kearns on a cloudy day.
“What do you mean by that? We was all alive in ’85.”
“They were tag team partners,” he continued, ignoring them. “They called themselves the ‘Axis of Evil,’ Good Eye/Bad Eye and his partner Ben Hurcules.
OPTIMIST: Someone who runs a green light without looking both ways first.
“Now Good Eye/Bad Eye had one of the sweetest gimmicks in professional wrestling. He wore an eyepatch, you see, and whichever eye was uncovered was the eye in control. When it was his good eye everything was sweetness and light but if it was the bad eye then you were in trouble deep because the bad eye was out of control. The trouble was that his eyepatch was loose and sometimes in a match it would slide over and cover the other eye. So the guy who was stomping the living goulash out of you one minute might be helping you off the mat the next. And the guy who might be your tag team partner one minute could be giving you a native-american burn the next.
“Ben Hurcules was a strong man, muscles like big rounds of gouda cheese. He got his name by trying to invoke the legacies of Ben Hur and Hercules at the same time, you see?
“Invariably, some smart guy would tell Ben, ‘Don’t you know that you spelled Hercules wrong? . . .’ and Ben would give him that hard stare, the kind that could give you a chillin’ on a July afternoon, and reply, ‘You got some problem with the way I spell my name?’ That was usually enough. If they persisted he would give them an autograph spelled the way they wanted it.
“‘Ya see,’ he’d tell Good Eye/Bad Eye as they drove to the next gig. ‘It ain’t worth nothing spelled that way because no one will believe it’s mine since that ain’t the way I spell my name.’
“‘It’s not worth nothing anyway,’ Good Eye/Bad Eye would observe dryly.
“‘Aw, it will be someday.’ Ben always believed that.
“Anyway, they got into an argument one day at an IHOP and decided to end the association. That evening they staged an argument in the ring and Ben Hurcules ripped the eyepatch completely off Good Eye/Bad Eye’s head. Both eyes were exposed. He crossed his eyes, so they could get a good look at each other, then stumbled about the ring having an loud argument with himself. Then he slapped himself with his right hand. After an astonished pause he slapped himself with his left hand. A personal donnybrook erupted and Good Eye/Bad Eye tossed himself around the ring, off the top rope, onto the ring apron. He gave himself a Bulldog, and even tried a Boston Crab. Finally Good Eye subdued Bad Eye with a sleeper hold. Then Ben Hurcules carried him into the back. The crowd went wild.
“The angle was so successful that instead of going their own ways afterwards they continued to wrestle each other for the next three years. They really grew to loath one another, but what could they do? You don’t abandon an angle when it works. It was the best money they’d ever made.
“Then they were called up to the big time, the WWeF, where they changed Good Eye/Bad Eye’s name to ‘Patch.’ The fans never took to Patch and after three months he was back in the minor leagues. The WWeF also changed Ben Hurcules’s name—to Ben Her and he/she became a big star. You may have seen him in the remake of Ben Hur, where he plays Pontius Pilate.”
“What happened to GoodEye/Bad Eye?”
“Well, he kept wresting until he was too beat up to go on. Now, he’s sitting on a bench somewhere, I suppose, thinking about the way things used to be.” The fellow looked at the Liars Bunch with his one good eye twinkling in the sun.