Jimmy rushed into the ring to help his fallen hero, pitifully struggling to drag the wrestler back to his corner. Somehow, Hodges managed to crawl that direction and Jimmy helped him onto the stool, where he immediately began massaging his idol's pulverized chest and belly. In a dazed stupor, Hodges sat there gasping for air, while the audience watched, most of them figuring that he was finished - maybe not yet - but soon, because Round 3 would introduce a third opponent for him to deal with. Surely this daunting task would be too much. After all he had suffered, how could he possibly take on three at once?
Meanwhile, the TV announcers were in a quandary. Their producer was worried that the brutality of the match was getting too heavy, so they signaled the MC over and explained the situation to him. He in turn stepped into the ring to approach Bucksaw and Khan. "Get this over with quick. Just go ahead and pin him, because the TV people are getting nervous."
He decided to get the third man into the ring so that everybody would be ready to start as soon as the TV advertisements were over. Returning to the center of the mat, he announced the next wrestler.
"Ladies and gentleman, this is the third and deciding round. The loser of this round must leave Chicagoland forever! Presenting to you, weighing in at over 400 pounds, from the darkest depths of Africa, the immovable object, Mount Killer Manjaro!"
And what was this man's claim to fame? He was huge - not only huge, but also fat. He spoke no English. He wore only a brownish buckskin wrapping around his loins. Not one opponent had ever knocked him off of his big, nasty feet. Quite simply, he crushed people. If an opponent ever got trapped in a corner turnbuckle or flat on the mat, the outcome was inevitable - but that would never be enough, because this mammoth always brought a mysterious object with him that would be hidden in his loin wrapping. Placing this object into his enormous hand, he would pound the opponent's head until the victim was unconscious - and this always occurred after the match was over.
The audience was now subdued. They had no idea what would happen next, but they all stood to anticipate something exciting - something never before witnessed. The lights on the TV cameras came back on and the live broadcast was resumed, but as the bell sounded to begin Round 3, Dick Hodges collapsed off of his stool and onto the mat face up. Jimmy ran to kneel beside his fallen hero, massaging the chest in an attempt to rally him, but it was useless.
He turned to the referee and pleaded with him to stop the match. Jimmy tried to declare a forfeit, which would allow the three opponents to win, but at least prevent the man's body from further damage. This referee would have none of that, explaining that by rule only Hodges himself could forfeit the match. It was the first time throughout the entire ordeal that the rule book had actually been enforced, which only added to the insult and injustice of this absurd drama. The referee obviously had agreed to do everything in his power to help these three monsters and even though it was now clear that they no longer needed his help, he certainly had no intentions of stepping in to stop the massacre of this beaten down man.
Khan grabbed poor Jimmy by the throat and lifted him high into the air, then casually tossed him over the top rope and down to the floor, where he banged his head and lay unconscious.
By this time, Hodges had summoned enough strength to roll over and rise to his knees. Seeing Killer Manjaro approach with both arms raised, Hodges reached up in desparation to punch the beast in the groin with an uppercut. Manjaro bent over in pain, as Hodges moved his hand under the loin wrapping and grabbed the behemoth's bare testicles, crushing them in his powerful fist. For the first time in his career, Mount Killer Manjaro fell to the mat, uttering wild animal screams as he crashed down like a bullet-stricken hippo.
Dick Hodges' domination of Manjaro lasted but 15 seconds, however, because Khan and Bucksaw simultaneously pounced on him with kicks, fists and forearms, forcing him to release the crushing gonad grip. While Manjaro rolled around the mat in agony, Khan and Bucksaw played tag with Hodges' battered body.
Khan stood him up, then Bucksaw landed a fist to the forehead, turned the victim around and pushed him towards Khan. The giant greeted Hodges with a kick to the belly, which bent him over. Then Khan lifted his knee and planted it into the victim's jaw, causing him to crash onto the mat flat on his back. Now he picked the wrestler up and sent him staggering back to Bucksaw, who landed a devastating kick to the center of Hodges' chest.
The dazed wrestler stood there teetering on the brink of collapse, until Bucksaw grabbed the man's arm and slingshot him towards Khan, who leapt into the air and delivered a devastating side drop kick, one size 14 boot landing on Hodges' chest, the other into his gut. The hapless man staggered backwards and received another drop kick from Bucksaw directly to the middle of his back. Finally, they allowed Dick Hodges to collapse face first to the mat in the center of the ring.
By this time, Killer Manjaro had risen to his feet and was ready for revenge, so Kruil Li Khan rolled Hodges over onto his back, then grabbed the man by his wrists. Placing each of his boots onto Hodges' shoulders, he leaned back and fell to his seat on the mat, bringing the arms with him. Meanwhile, Bucksaw Jones spread the ankles three feet apart and pinned them to the mat with his enormous hands. Exposed face up in the center of the ring, Hodges began to moan as they pulled his limbs in opposite directions, torturing him in their make-shift stretch rack.
Bucksaw and Khan had no intentions of following the MC's instructions. They were consumed with anger at Dick Hodges' continued defiance of them and their only concern now was to punish this man, until he fought them no more.
Killer Manjaro approached. He leapt straight up into the air and came crashing down with both feet - 400 pounds landing onto Hodges' stretched middle section. Launching himself from the man's helpless body, the tub of lard jumped up and down, repeatedly crushing Hodges' already pulverized abdomen. The tortured man intermingled guttural grunts with sprays of saliva and blood, as the organs in his lower abdomen were brutally crushed. Continuing his leaps, the African landed with one foot in the pit of the stomach and the other on the chest, while Bucksaw and Khan relentlessly pulled Hodges apart.
As for the audience, the tide had turned. All thoughts of fair play had long ago disappeared and those few remaining purists who were disgusted by the injustice they were witnessing sat there in a daze, unwilling to believe their eyes. They saw no "sport" in the ruthless beating of a helpless man, but somehow could not bring themselves to look away or simply leave the arena. Surrounded by jubilant, screaming-for-more-punishment spectators, they knew the sport they loved was being replaced by something new - something they desired to see play out, regardless of how revolting the scenario might be to them.
Whether revolting, tragic or maybe even stimulating, the scene inside the ring was becoming more and more intense. The stomping had ended and as Manjaro stepped back to admire his work, a huge roar of approval came from the crowd. Dick Hodges gasped for air, his chest and belly rising and falling at a rapid pace, while Khan and Bucksaw continued his merciless stretching. The tortured man turned his head to gaze at the audience and what he saw nearly brought tears to him, because a large portion was now cheering and shouting their approval. How quickly they had turned against him. Already writhing in agony from the pounding his body had taken, now his spirit also was under attack. He had made a grave error in his judgment of these wrestling fans and at that moment he nearly gave up everything - his beliefs in what was right and what was wrong; his faith in the overall goodness of human kind - but just as he was ready to concede defeat and submit to his tormentors, his eyes locked onto those of a father and son about four rows back. Both were crying, as the father clutched the boy in his arms to protect him from the frenzied crowd surrounding them. Hodges could see the boy's lips screaming the words, "C'mon... fight'em, Dick," and with one uncontrolled burst of rage, Dick Hodges yanked both ankles and wrists free from the grips of his tormentors.
With cat-like swiftness, he swung the right leg up and kicked Bucksaw in the side of the head, then continued to roll and spring to an upright position with his arms. Another kick was delivered to the center of Khan's chest, which sent him rolling backwards towards the edge of the ring. Before Manjaro could react to what had happened, Hodges landed a solid right to the mammoth's jaw, then another and another, as he staggered backwards to bounce against the ropes and return to meet one last tremendous blow, which sent him crashing face down onto the mat.
Then, the sickening sound of metal striking bone echoed from the ring. It was the chair. This time, Khan had delivered the foul instrument onto the back of the man's head and he immediately fell to his knees with eyes cast to the ceiling, then collapsed once more onto his back, dazed and nearly unconscious.
It was the end. The father and son, as well as the remaining fans who loved Dick Hodges could take no more. They left the arena forever, unable to stomach the sight of this merciless mugging. He now was abandoned to the enraged mob who wanted to see Manjaro finish the "good guy" forever and throughout the arena there was a strange atmosphere of anticipation - of witnessing an unknown. The stage was set and a chant began to ring out from the back walls of the arena. "Crush, crush, crush, crush." The volume began to grow as more joined in. "Crush, crush, crush, crush!"
Killer Manjaro heard the buzz and had learned from previous matches what it meant. He had heard it before in all of his bouts, but never this loud. Hodges also heard. The fans wanted to see Manjoro's patented, crushing belly flop delivered to a helpless man being stretched before them. Happy to oblige, Khan and Bucksaw grabbed Hodges by the wrists and ankles to drag him towards the corner and once again stretch him on their rack. With the victim's body and the corner of the ring forming a triangle, Manjaro began to climb the ropes in preparation for his belly flop onto the helpless man.
As the fans continued their chant to "crush," Manjaro reached the top and stood facing them. He raised his hands high, but just as he was about to launch himself into the air and down onto the victim, someone shook the top rope, which caused the behemoth to lose balance. Unable to recover, he looked to the left and saw Jimmy, then swayed to the right and crashed down to the floor below. Manjaro writhed in agony from the impact of his own weight landing on the hard surface, while Khan and Bucksaw released Hodges from their grip and stalked the ringside assistant.
He leapt to the floor and ran to the other side of the ring. Bucksaw gave chase with Khan close behind him and they forced Jimmy to circle to the third side, then the fourth, where he was greeted by the hammering fist of Killer Manjaro. The blow sent him flying backwards and down flat on his back. Once again, Jimmy lay unconscious below the ring.
Seeing the frail and puny body of this young man flying through the air only further excited the crowd. They resumed their chant to "crush" and the three brutes returned to where they had been before the interruption. Hodges, still dazed from the blow to his head, was again ruthlessly stretched and presented to the African giant. Manjaro climbed the ropes, then leapt back from the turnbuckle and came crashing down onto the man's chest and abdomen with his own. A crimson plume of spit and blood spewed up from the victim's mouth as his vulnerable innards were crushed by the 400 pound belly flop.
The merciless fans continued to chant, as Manjaro again climbed the ropes. Hodges raised his head and shook it side to side, then pulled with all his strength to break out of the make-shift stretch rack, but it was useless. All he could do was helplessly watch as Manjaro launched himself from the top turnbuckle, this time crashing down with his greasy buttocks onto the chest of Dick Hodges. With another ungodly red fountain spraying upwards, the tortured man's spit now resembled the final, bloody exhale one sees coming from the blow hole of a harpooned whale - the macabre signal that death is eminent.
Wildly cheering their approval, the crowd urged Manjaro to climb again, but the MC approached ringside and frantically motioned to Khan and Bucksaw, while pointing at his watch. The TV time was about to run out.
The two men released Hodges from their stretch rack and dragged him back to the center of the ring, leaving him to lie motionless and spread eagled. Only the rise and fall of his chest and belly was seen, while tormented moans wafted from the blood-stained mouth. He was finished. The moment everyone was waiting for had finally arrived and the crowd stood in silence, fully prepared to see Dick Hodges pinned, defeated and banished forever from the National Guard Armory Arena.
Khan waved Killer Manjaro over to finish the deed and the 400 pounder planted one nasty foot onto Hodges' chest, the other onto his belly and the referee counted. One... two... ... but the count never reached three.
Dick Hodges lifted his knees and pushed upwards with his powerful calves, sending Manjaro tumbling to the mat. This amazing man had kicked out! Khan, Bucksaw and every person in the arena were stunned. How did this beaten down man find the strength to jettison 400 pounds off of his battered body?
For a few seconds, the arena was silent, as every person there marveled at the amazing resolve of this tortured man, but even though you might think that this display would perhaps win them back to his side, you would be sadly mistaken. Sure, there were a few who saw the heroic strength, the masculine defiance as a rallying cry. They began to cheer the fallen man, while coaxing others to join them, but these attempts fell on deaf ears. The mob was no longer interested in heros. They were only interested in seeing heros destroyed. Soon, little by little, the support for Hodges was drowned out by a new chant and as others joined in the volume increased, until the arena was filled with the deafening din of, "Kill, kill, kill !"
Nothing would satisfy their bloodlust. They demanded the three brutes continue pounding the poor man into submission - or worse. They wanted nothing less than his utter defeat and destruction, but at that moment the TV time expired. The producer signaled to the announcers, who alerted the MC, who in turn told the time keeper to ring the bell, bringing an official end to Round 3. Mass confusion swept over the arena. How could the match be over with each side claiming one round of victory? Soon the TV cameras went dark and the announcers started switching off their microphones. The Saturday night "Wrestling at the Armory" television program had come to an end.
next part in a week