You’re a jobber. You make your living by losing in the wrestling ring. You’re a good wrestler, but promoters don&Ssquo;t think you have what it takes to become a superstar. Then Thumper shows up. Big and strong, with a bunny-rabbit gimmick and fans eating out of his hand. His finishing move is called The Thump, and most guys don’t get up from it on their own.
One night, Thumper puts his opponent in the hospital. Not a big deal. Sure, the outcome of a wrestling match is fake. But the bumps in the ring can be all too real. Sometimes you get hurt. Part of the territory.
Then it happens again. Only this time, the guy who got Thumped is tossed into a car like a sack of potatoes. Lou Boone, the promoter who runs Central States Wrestling with an iron fist, knows you saw something and offers you a push if you keep your mouth shut.
A push. Every jobber’s dream. To get to win some matches, to get to be on the big cards in the big arenas. You want it more than anything. You begin thinking you imagined the sack-of-potatoes guy—until it happens again.
Now, you have to choose between wrestling fame and doing the right thing. Before this is over, someone else will be dead. And you don’t want it to be you …
Expanded to novella length from the short story “Push Comes to Shove,” selected by Lawrence Block for the Best American Mystery Stories series.
PUSH is available from Amazon.
Nathan Walpow’s Joe Portugal mystery series includes four novels. His most recent print story, “A Good Day’s Work,” appeared in Orange County Noir; his recent electronic publications include “Logan’s Young Guns” from Stark Raving Group. Nathan is a past president of the Southern California chapter of Mystery Writers of America and a five-time Jeopardy! champion. Visit his website at www.walpow.com.