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Authors: Jim Provenzano

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Pins: A Novel

BOOK: Pins: A Novel
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a novel


Jim Provenzano



copyright 1999-2012 Jim Provenzano

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form or in any media without the written permission of the publisher.


Published in the United States by Myrmidude Press


Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 99-90529

PINS / Jim Provenzano p. 288
ISBN 0-9672382-0-X (pbk.)

1. Fiction 2. Sports 3. Gay Interest 4. Young Adult
5. Wrestling

Provenzano, Jim

Kindle Edition 2011


This is a work of fiction. Any real names, characters, places and teams are used fictitiously.
Mention of actual people, places or teams is in no way intended to imply anything. Any similarity between persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.





for Julio Rivera




“Listen to my muscle memory.” – Tool, “Forty-six & 2”






A defense attorney for one of five San Jose boys accused of torturing a 13-year-old classmate downplayed the incident, saying it may have stemmed from a shared enthusiasm for professional wrestling.

“All of these boys are very enamored apparently of the World Wrestling Federation ... and we all know what goes on at the World Wrestling Federation,” attorney John Finkle said in a court hearing Monday.

The victim told investigators that the five boys had lowered his pants and thrown him to the ground before taking him to one of their homes. There, he said, he was handcuffed, beaten, kicked, forced to drink toilet water and shot in the torso with a pellet gun. The boys also stripped him.

The alleged assailants are charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault with a deadly weapon, torture and committing a lewd act on a child.


A fifteen-year-old boy involved in an accident at a wresting clinic has been flown to a private hospital in New Jersey after being
mistakenly pronounced dead by emergency medical technicians.

According to one of three boys who witnessed the accident, the student was injured while an instructor demonstrated pins. “We could hear his spine snap,” said fourteen-year-old Raul Klein of Little Falls. Klein and other boys claim that “insulting” words were exchanged between the injured boy and the instructor, and are calling his survival “a miracle.”

Coaches at the clinic denied any intentional wrongdoing. Students at the clinic noted how safely it was run. The instructor involved in the accident refused comment, except to confirm statistics that wrestling injuries of this nature rarely occur.

Organizers of the clinic said that they were glad the boy survived. “Our prayers are with his family,” said one coach.

The attorney for the parents of the injured boy offered no comment, pending an insurance settlement.




The boy’s buzz cut swirled out like a tiny universe whose only limits were two stubby ears.
For weeks Joey had been trying to stir up the bravery to say something to him, until his math teacher asked what was so distracting.

New school, new town, new home, new league. Pick one, lady.

“Wrestling, Ma’am. Tryouts start today.”

The buzz cut turned around, smiled slyly, sized Joey up, whispered, “Whaddayou weigh?”


A month later, Joey got his first pin on his new team, the Little Falls Colts. He jumped in the air and Donnie, the buzz cut, who went by Dink, caught all one-hundred-twenty-six pounds of him just like at the Olympics, except it was just an exhibition match with only about forty people watching, including all the other wrestlers, coaches, the ref, the Mat Maids, the janitor.

Nobody among the few dozen people in the stands wasn’t somebody’s family, which included Joey’s father and brother.

By the next Monday, which was the day after Halloween, his win was just history. Other guys had won. No big deal.
Besides, it wasn’t about wins, but the dailiness, the belonging, the posse. He’d chosen his group, or it had chosen him.

By the next Monday, which was All Saint’s Day, Joey’s leftover Halloween candy hangover continued to dull his senses.

While Joey Nicci the wrestler was a winner, Joey the boy hadn’t done so much as a push-up since his victory. He’d basked in it all weekend; eating, lounging, getting phone calls from Grandmama and Aunt Lilla back in Newark, helping Sophia the angel grow wings and Mike the werewolf his fangs. Between hauling the kids around the neighborhood, his mom even made his favorite dinner on Sunday, lasagna.

He felt every extra pound when all the guys at practice, on some invisible cue he never saw, swooped around him in a circle.

Two of them grabbed him by the ankles. He nearly bit his tongue while being dragged to the center of the mat before he found himself suspended upside down like a newborn. Passed around from one guy to the next, hand over hand, one leg at a time, his crew of doctors seemed unsure what to do with such a big baby, until somebody dropped him. Dink fell on him, four more guys on top of them, then everybody else piled up on them, amid a flood of growls, roars, giggles, snorts.

Under it all, in a reddish darkness of the mound of boys, Joey felt Dink being smashed atop him, but pressing up, pushing them back protectively, his chin stubble chafing Joey’s neck.

His hands flattened by some other body, his arms pressed down by someone’s fuzzy legs, he felt Dink hovering over him, humping him in a playful way. Joey let him. Dink was doing him a favor, taking more of the weight, after all.
He opened his hips in the tiny crevice of space under the dogpile and let Dink cop a feel.

He grabbed for his shorts as someone else yanked. He wanted to thrash out, but remembered why they had all piled up on Dink a few weeks before.

He was the best in his weight class. He was in.




Joey rolled to his back, panting, disheveled, as the boys dispersed, playfully punched him, high-fived, howled, barked. Dink trotted off as if nothing had happened.


Joey lay on the mat, gazing up at Bennie, grabbed his ankle, pretending to knock him down. Bennie yanked his heel like a horse absentmindedly swatting a fly.

Bennie and Hunter hovered over him, the team’s two biggest guys, not counting Mario “Buddha” Martinez, the heavyweight, who wasn’t tall, just wide. Bennie and Hunter were full-time jocks. Wrestling just kept them busy after football, where both had been powerful linemen, and before spring, track for Bennie (pole vault, sprints, relays), baseball for Hunter (third base).

They did a lot of playing around in the locker room, had bodies that curved, bulged. Hunter was a little on the chunky side. Bennie was hairier than most other guys on the team, even the coaches. Joey’d noticed that. Being a smaller wrestler, he noticed other guys, where he fit; skinnier than most, but stronger than others his size.

In his impeccable Data voice, Hunter jerked his neck slightly, postulated, “I believe, Sir, sensors are accurate in verifying his state of varsitosity.”

Bennie dropped his voice low, Worf-like. “It would appear the transformation is complete.” They hovered over the spud, checking phasers.


A warm padded cell, moist, guy-scented, soft on the floor, walls, the last bastion for boys who cannot stop playing around, tubes of extra mats for matches lay on the side, rolled up like huge cushions in the practice room with no windows, not much ventilation. Sounds were muffled from outside. From the looks of kids who happened by the door, when open, it seemed to mystify them. Joey had never been asked what went on at practice. He did not make friends outside the team. Those that weren’t in it didn’t want to know, or were afraid to know. Joey was comfortable with that.

“I don’t like Mondays,” Dink grunted as they did neck-ups, bridging up on their heads and toes. Their eyes met as they rolled on the soft mat.

“You’re uglier upside down,” Joey said, as Dink counted off, his face blushing a weird pink.

“You’re uglier,” Dink blurted.

Joey tried not to laugh.

A lot of the guys ended up on the JV squad, including Joey, at first. Others started dropping out after they couldn’t take the soreness, the exhaustion, the drills. For some, just the shock of regular bruises scared them off. Joey watched the departing novices, seeing failure in their eyes, unlike Jeff and Brett Shiver, who’d been telling tales about their summer week-long trip to in Iowa where they actually wrestled with John Smith. Jeff and Brett’s name was pronounced Shy-ver, Joey learned, shortly after announcing a little too loudly, that no, his name was not pronounced Nitchey, but Nee-Chee, after which he was dubbed Neech.

After an hour watching videos from the previous week’s match, Assistant Coach Fiasole paused on a shot of Joey’s defense, how he waited as bottom man for the right opportunity to grab his opponent, instead of wasting energy.

Joey hadn’t remembered it that way. On tape he didn’t recognize himself, couldn’t remember a thing, except that long part where nothing happened, then Joey got thrown.
He definitely remembered that.


Assistant Coach Fiasole had Bennie Skaal sprawl out on the mat, told everyone to watch, as the hulking senior marked different arm and leg moves in Basic Defense Position. Joey enjoyed watching Bennie’s technique, but also his glutes, which one JV inadvertently described as “cushy.”
The JV was thereafter dubbed Cushy, until he quit wrestling.

Dink muttered the word sarcastically, although everyone in the room acknowledged Bennie’s amazing body. How they appreciated or accused each other of loving each other’s bodies, was the source of tension, constantly broken by small faked punches, blurted words, or in Dink’s case, popped open by induced giggles.

Assistant Coach Fiasole looked up. “You gentlemen bored?”

Half a dozen “No sir”s, then silence.

“All right. Now, as I was saying, the spaces for your arms and legs are like hours. You gotta pick which hour to strike, you see?”

Below him, Bennie moved hands and legs like a four-handed clock composed of heaps of muscle. Fiasole hovered, lightly pressing against Bennie’s back, while he grabbed at Bennie’s hands. Joey and the others watched as they dodged, swatted each other’s hands. While his coach explained, Bennie shifted his hips like a soldier burrowing down.

Above him, Fiasole rode Bennie, just surfed on his backside, occasionally spiking his hands down in a faked crossface, which Bennie dodged, then reached up behind himself, which was considered a weak defense, except that he flipped Fiasole, pinned him.

When being shown a move by an instructor, a wrestler is not supposed to do that.
Bennie was hotdogging.

Fiasole recovered well, smiling, said, “And that’s the defense!”

Everybody laughed, except Bennie.

“Mister Skaal, why don’t you show the upper weights.
I’ll take the little guys.”

Bennie turned away, spreading his arms wide.
“Pair up, brothers, the time is now.”


“Congratulations, Joseph.” Anthony jogged beside him as they finished their last laps of the day.

Joey panted, “Thanks,” started slowing to keep pace. He’d wanted to sprint the last two laps, but that could wait.

“You should be very happy.”

“You know, if you work at it, you could improve, you know.”

“Don’t flatter me.”

“Huh?” Anthony was always talking like that, Joey thought: snotty. The truth was, Anthony hadn’t been doing very well, even if he was smart. He didn’t get the fact that Joey didn’t want to be friends with him anymore, at least not best buds, like Dink, who was starting to pay attention, finally.

“I was just tryn’ to be nice,” Joey muttered.

“Were you, really?”

Joey didn’t know what to do about Anthony. Some survival instinct told him to stay away. He ran another two laps of sprints, scooped up his gear.

Amid the hiss of showers, the hoots, hollers, frank discussions of bodily functions with his toweled teammates passing by, after checking for zits, finger-combing his tight brown ringlets, stroking the newly buzz cut sections up the back of his neck, admiring the wisp of a mustache that almost needed shaving, he smiled for the mirror, beamed, muttered to no one in particular, “You fag.”

BOOK: Pins: A Novel
10.32Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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