On Friday morning, just before dawn, Jan and Clio jogged down a quiet street. Clio took the lead, because Jan definitely wasn't going to take the lead, and seemed to have a destination in mind as she focused on the street signs and numbers passing by. Jan gave the universal signifier to pull to the side ("Rosy Cross I think I'm having a heart attack!") and, after spending a few minutes catching her breath, fetched her phone from her jacket pocket.
"Clio," she said, slumping onto a dew-and-probably-hobo-piss-damp bench, "I've got an idea. The last couple nights I've been cramming wrestling history, like, the highlights, the big names. I know you wanna, like, get a girlfriend this way, but have you considered, like, uh, getting a name for yourself?"
"I was born with a name, yeah." She was jogging in place as to not interrupt her morning workout.
"I mean a, what's it called, soubriquet rouge. If you make enemies in the ring and they actually do want to kick you ass outside of it then maybe it's a good idea to make up something for people to call you that isn't how you show up in the yellow pages. Right?"
"Huh, I guess. They still make the yellow pages?"
"Jeez, that's a horrible waste of paper."
"Probably." Jan let out a long sigh. Her lungs finally felt like they were made of over-stretched rubber instead of fire. Note to self: take the stairs more often.
"Are you done with that heart attack? Because I already have a name and now I just need another thing before I can be totally ready to wrestle." She was idly wall-jumping off the side of the deli Jan was reclining near.
Jan raised her hand.
"D... did you practice any?"
"I'm jogging now, that's my morning exer-thing."
"I thought you were gonna do, like, a Rocky thing and spend all day working on your fighting techniques. I was gonna help! I called in from work!" She pouted.
"Hey, you are gonna be my manager. You need a name, too, in case like you get a manager hate fight thing happening! We could have an adventure at the library reading up on the business! And I really just mean you because I have work and the thing I need probably ain't gonna be cheap."
"...What's the other thing you need?"
"Fake boobs. I kind of told them I was still a B-cup."
"Was kidnapping the Boob Fairy seriously just step one in an elaborate scheme to get a girlfriend who's as badass as you?"
"Clio, could you talk this over with me next time? This could all have been avoided with a ten minute trip to IWantAGirlfriendWhoCanKickMyAss.Kicks.Ass.netscape.edu.cx."
"That's a thing?"
"It's a thing."
"Ah, well." She picked Jan up in a bridal carry, Jan protesting with a small-dog-like scared yelp, and hiked back down the street. "At least it's not a mystery! And hey, it's a break from having to clean up after whatever Y and Sophie are doing. The hell are they doing, anyway?"
"I think they're out in Hawaii for some reason!" Jan said, latched onto Clio like a koala cub to a speeding koala mother.
"Weird month for it. Coffee, weed, or Spam sushi, what do you think?"
"I think those three things sorta feed into each other in a vicious cycle. ...Is... is that what we're going to?" She nodded her head--she didn't want to take her arms off of Clio (no homo)--at a swiftly-approaching store and its swiftly-approaching sign, JED 'N' JUD'S FAKE TITS TO WEAR.
"You see any other fake tit place around here?" Clio said.
"There's Falsies and Friends across the street," Jan said.
"I have a coupon here."
* * *
Saturday morning was chill and dark, the sun seeming to change its mind about rising in a Rock-a-Doodleian fashion. Nested in the darkness of Spindle Street was a small gym sporting a banner for LAW, advertising where to buy tickets and how to sign up if you were rising talent or interested, for whatever reason, in getting the hell beaten out of yourself by the finest female homosexual wrestlers in Pound's Field.
The interior reeked of cleaning fluid and hairspray and sweat. It sported two beat-up rings lit by flickering, ancient lights, a small selection of creaking and rusty old exercise equipment, and Blutowski and Gugenheim rapping to pass the time.
"Boon shika boon boon shik!" beatboxed Gugenheim.
"Yo yo yo, there's gonna be a fight goin' on, I bet you can't e'en show because you can't... can't get it on!" said Blutowski. "Try to show your dumb face and we'll lay down the LAW, mess with the lobster and you're gonna get the claw!"
"Expert rhyme, dude, didn't see it coming!" Gugenheim said. "Switchover!"
"Doot doom-a doom-doom doom-a doom-doom!"
"Yo, if you think you can make well I doubt that you can, gotta prove that you can, gotta be a lady-man! Not a dude can last against our girls with the attitude, 'know when to hold and then fold them' should be your watchword platit--"
"Hey, yo! I miss anything?" a mysterious voice said. Gugenheim and Blutowski lost all control of the funk and also Blutowski screamed and tripped over a towel somebody'd thrown out of the ring the day before. "Like, a little girl gettin' kidnapped?" The voice was attached to a skinny, androgynous woman of ambiguously brown coloration and vaguely Asian facial features. She'd styled her boy haircut into two cat's-ear points and was already wearing a Da-Glo unitard, leggings, and arm warmers. It was like the ghost of the 80s walking in on them.
"Uh--no! Nobody kidnapped. Hello, new person," Gugenheim said, skipping up to the lady. "Clio, right?"
"Hell yeah, it's Clio." She held out her hand. "Clio the Sensual Cat-Themed Wrestler."
"We're going to have to work on the name."
"No we don't. It's everything a name should be, mine and also telling people that I'm sensual and cat themed. Meow!"
"But it's not that snappy, is the thing!" Blutowski said, running up to Clio. "You gotta have a nice, concise name that people will remember. Like..." He snapped his fingers. "Flat Cat! Flat Cat works."
"I am not flat." Clio crossed her arms. "These are boobs that I have and they are proof positive."
"I mean, you're still a flyweight, goin' by your... being here right now and me estimating," Gugenheim said. "There's only so much to divide between your height and width and bones and your boobs, you know? So: Flat Cat!"
"Look--I won't be Flat Cat, but I also won't be the Sensual Cat-Themed Wrestler. Let's negotiate!" Clio said. "How about... Battlecat?"
"Mm--sorry, taken," Blutowski said.
"Clio de Nile? Get a Bast thing going?"
She snapped her fingers. "Gypsy Dang--wait, that one's taken too. Uh! Clio Catmaster!"
"Not taken, kind of dumb."
"Catwo... Cat Lady! No, wait, that's not sexy."
"The opposite of!" Gugenheim said.
This went on for a few minutes. They didn't even notice Jan* making her way in, nose buried in a thick book titled The Complete and Totally On The Level Book of Professional Wrestling, Digested For Young Minds By Tom Telescope.
*Let's be honest, they were going to find her name out soon enough, and calling her some weird epithet wouldn't help matters.
"--Ultimate Crack Smoking Warlock Jr.?" Clio said.
"We'd have to get Sr.'s permission," Gugenheim said.
"And he is scary and we don't want to ask him," Blutowski said.
"Eh, fair enough. You know, I'll come up with a name later! I gotta prove I kick ass first. That's what I'm here to do, right? Show you what I can do?"
"Oh, yeah." Gugenheim pulled out a whistle and gave it a bleat. A pair of wrestlers hiked out of the locker room on cue, a scrawny blonde in a white, angel-wing-print outfit, and a taller and twiggier brunette in leather pants and reinforced sports bra. "Say hi to Holly Heaven and the Licorice Whip."
"Hi-i-i~!" Holly Heaven said, twirling a blonde lock around her finger.
"'Ey, get yer ass ready," the Whip said. "'Cause you ain't gonna be sittin' for a week when I'm done with you!"
"So, these are the warmup?" Clio said. She climbed into the ring.
"Heh, you could say that!" Gugenheim said. He gestured for Blutowski to get the first aid kit. "Just remember, this is your first match, things could get ugly. Don't be afraid to throw in the towel if you're feeling in over your head!"
"But like label it or something!" Blutowski said, prying a well-worn and oft-restocked kit from the wall.
"Sure, whatever," Clio said, loosening up her joints.
Jan kept reading. In the ring, the two wrasslers circled Clio, sizing her up, planning an angle of attack. The two occasionally tag-teamed, and between the two of them they could all but fly around their targets. Gugenheim could see it in their eyes--Holly particularly, whom he usually called on to test new girls out. Testing new girls involved beating the hell out of them to keep up the illusion of kayfabe. Can't say wrestling isn't real if you really got your head handed to you by a girl who spent half her time jobbing, huh?
Gugenheim stood next to the bell, pulling out the little mallet from its socket. "Round one!" he declared.
Clio stood up on her toes and stooped over a bit. It was some kind of funky martial arts pose neither of the bookers recognized.
"Fight!" Gugenheim shouted, ringing the bell!
There was a flurry of motion, and then Clio had both ladies pinned and squealing in pain.
"Oh God oh God I don't think it's supposed to bend that waaaay!" Licorice Whip said on the topic of her spine.
"Hueeeeeehhhhhhk!" Holly Heaven said, as that was the most sound she could get out of her pinched larynx.
"It's three seconds to win, right?" Clio said. "It's been at least like ten getting all this dialog out!"
"Three!" Jan confirmed, holding up three fingers. "It is three! According to the official rulebook excerpt I just read."
"Uh..." Gugenheim unenthusiastically re-rang the bell. "Winner... Clio! The to-be-named. Congratulations."
"Woo!" Clio released her captives, bounced to her feet, and vaulted out of the ring, sticking a three-point landing in front of a flummoxed Blutowski. "So, when do I start?"
"Uh..." Blutowski said. "I'll--we'll get back to you."
"Actually, do you have any more back there? I could take on a few more. Like, at once. Bring 'em, yo."
"I'm sure we do! We might!" Blutowski said. Gugenheim was escorting the two lightweights back to the locker room to check on if they were in fact hideously wounded. "Ju-u-u-ust give us a minute!" He ran after Gugenheim.
"I think we got this in the bag!" Clio said, offering a fist to Jan. Jan returned the bump. "Though we're going to have to think harder about the name."
"We'll figure something," Jan said. "Did you know that there's been a couple undead monsters who wrestle? Crazy stuff!"
"Hope I can stare some of 'em down, those two were, like, nothin'."
* * *
"I think we might actually have to bust out the monster," Blutowski said.
"Is my spine still... doin' the spine thing?" the Whip said.
"I think you'll be alright!" Gugenheim said, cracking her hips back into place. "Knew that doctorate had to be good for something."
"--right. Yeah, we're gonna have to bring out the big guns."
A plan, thus, was hatched.