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Baldy Muzzles The Tiger

By Jack Kofoed

Women Can Provide Complications for Manager
Simmons Even at an Army Wrestling Match

AS PRACTICALLY everyone knows Baldy Simmons gets his start in Miami Beach, back in the days when the boys are running bootleg stuff in from Bimini and such places. Naturally, he considers Miami Beach his home. Of course, in his business of managing and promoting wrestlers and prize fighters and lady bicycle riders and such, Mr. Simmons is on the wing most of the time, but whenever the opportunity presents itself, he returns to the vicinity of Biscayne Bay to bask in sunshine and memories.

The fact that the sands and cabanas have no small quota of lissome Judys in skimpy bathing suits no doubt has something to do with his visits, too, but, this is strictly beside the point. Like practically every other male in the world, Baldy likes to feast his eyes on lissome Judys in bathing suits, so no aspersions need be tossed at him for such a predilection.

It happens at this time that Mr. Simmons's principal breadwinner is a wrestler named "Cowboy" Padgett. The Cowboy is so muscular he makes Sandow look like an anaemic midget. No self- respecting cowpony carries such hunk of man far without caving in under the weight, and it is reliably reported that all the cows in Texas take a gander at Padgett, and practically strain their milk getting out of the neighborhood. Even if he is not such great shakes as a cowboy, Padgett is a good wrestler, indeed, and is such a drawing card that he makes his own and Baldy's bank balances look as though they needed reducing diets.

However, comes the fall of the year, Padgett decides to take a bit of a rest. This is all right with Mr. Simmons, who needs a bit of relaxation himself, and is yearning to toast himself in the sun, and feast his eyes on the lissome beauties, who spend practically all their lives on the beach. So, the Cowboy stays in New York and Baldy hies himself to Miami Beach.

But when Mr. Simmons gets to his favorite village he finds such changes as he never dreams of. The Army Air Forces move in there, and practically every man on the street is in uniform. This pleases the lissome beauties no end, because since there are at least fifty soldiers for every damsel, the least beautiful of the gals finds herself considered as practically making a bum out of the Queen of Sheba. It just goes to show that when the law of supply and demand goes to work, even a Judy with a figure like a flour sack tied in the middle gets none the worst of it.

Though Baldy is fat and hairless, and his arches are by no manner of means what they used to be, he feels the urge to get into a uniform, too. So he passes up the lissome beauties, and goes to have a talk with Colonel Nottingham Q. Knickerbocker, who is an old friend, and is in the army practically since the beginning of the Black Hawk War.

COLONEL KNICKERBOCKER is quite understanding, but he explains that if the army begins taking in people like Baldy Simmons there is bound to be much talk among the citizens of the Berlin and Tokio set-up. The opinion is generated that America indeed has her back against the wall when she is compelled to use people with such physiques as Baldy's in her armed services.

This is bad news, for Mr. Simmons means it when he asks for a gun to go hunting the Germans and the Japs. However, you cannot argue with the army, even when it is represented by such a kindly gentleman as Colonel Nottingham Q. Knickerbocker.

"But you can help us," says the colonel. "We intend to raise a large sum of money for the USO with a tremendous athletic carnival. In one of the squadrons here we have a soldier named Adolf Kloppenberg, who is pretty generally esteemed as the greatest wrestler in the army. If you bring Cowboy Padgett here to grapple with Private Kloppenberg, it makes the show a tremendous success from the start. We make more money than we can under any other conditions."

Now Baldy Simmons is a most patriotic gentleman. There is no doubt in his mind that Cowboy Padgett throws Adolf Kloppenberg when and how he chooses, but this circumstance does not enter into his calculations. The Cowboy is taking a rest, because he is suffering the pangs of unrequited love. There happens to be a Judy about whom he is completely nuts, but she refuses to give him a tumble. Her heart does not belong to some other daddy, but she insists that any man she marries must be in the armed services, and Padgett is turned down at the go-off by recruiting sergeants and draft boards because he has flat feet.

That won't go for him now any more, but in the meantime, he's waiting to get out of One-B. That turn-down, though, is bad for his ego as well as his heart, so he goes into temporary hiding. The rest stuff is strictly malarkey. Under the circumstances, there seems to be little to do. It is possible for Cowboy Padgett to bounce a two-hundred-and-fifty pound opponent around the ring, but he does not know how to get a hammerlock on a girl's heart.

Being a stubborn sort of person, the chances are he says no if Baldy asks him to come to Miami Beach and wrestle Private Kloppenberg. He is likely to ask why he spends his time making money for the army, if the army refuses to give him a chance to hit Hitler.

"And in this," says Baldy, "my boy's attitude is quite understandable. I see why you turn down an old hay-bag like me, but not such a man as Cowboy Padgett."

The colonel, it seems, does not study tactics and strategy for thirty years without learning a thing or two.

"Let us approach this problem in a different way," he says. "They say a way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but this is an idea thought up by nobody more important than a mess officer. The proper approach is through his pride. Who is the girl who fascinates. Cowboy Padgett?"

"Her name is Daphne Doolittle," says Baldy, "and her name is nothing less than libel, since she does considerable. She is a dancer, who gets a thousand dollars a week, but for a number of months she gives all her time to playing benefits for soldiers and sailors."

The colonel lights a cigar, and chews on it meditatively for a minute or two.

"Perhaps she is willing to string along with us by kidding the Cowboy into thinking she reconsiders her decision about him if he comes here to wrestle Private Kloppenberg."

"This is not a nice thing to do," says Baldy. "The Cowboy is really a nice lad, and does not deserve the kicking around he gets from Fate. Besides, it breaks his heart when he finds Daphne is running a sandy on him."

"I never heard of a two-hundred-and- twenty pound man's heart being broken," argues Colonel Knickerbocker, "and, besides, this is war time, and we need to put the show over. See if you are able to get the little lady on the phone."

SO BALDY reaches out, and calls long distance, and in two minutes is talking with Daphne Doolittle, who at that moment is munching on a chocolate, smoking a cigarette, and petting her chow dog, which indicates she is a most versatile damsel. Mr. Simmons explains the problem. Daphne swallows the chocolate, crushes out the cigarette, and pushes the chow away with her slippered foot.

"But Baldy," she says, "do you know what you ask?"

"Nothing you cannot do if you are not married."

"Silly," she says, "of course, I am not married. And for the sake of the army I do my best to kid the Cowboy into going to Miami Beach."

"Then what holds us up?"

"Adolf Kloppenberg," says the lady, surprisingly enough.

This is completely over Baldy's head, and he admits it at once. So far as he understands, Private Kloppenberg is a perfectly willing to wrestle Cowboy Padgett, and even if he isn't, a few words with Colonel Knickerbocker no doubt would make him change his mind. He explains all this carefully to Daphne Doolittle, but the lady cuts him off in the middle of the sentence.

"Cowboy Padgett thinks himself the best wrestler in the world, does he not?" she asks.

"Except for one man," Baldy admits, "though this admission gets into the papers only over my dead body. Padgett tells me he takes on anybody I sign for him except the Tiger of the Punjab, who tosses him in six seconds flat when they wrestle in Buda Pesth before the war."

"This is exactly what I mean," says Daphne Doolittle. "The Tiger of the Punjab is no more or less than Adolf Kloppenberg!"

For several seconds Baldy Simmons says nothing at all, because his tongue sticks to the roof of his mouth. While he is perfectly willing to do anything to help the army, he sees his meal ticket punched full of holes if Cowboy Padgett goes into the ring with the Tiger of the Punjab, because Padgett licks himself before the bell sounds. An athlete's frame of mind is quite as important as his physical condition, and so far as the frame of mind goes, the Cowboy's is nothing more or less than snafoo so far as the Tiger of the Punjab is concerned.

"Well," asks Colonel Knickerbocker impatiently, "what is the verdict?"

"Wait a minute," says Baldy. "Look, Daphne. They do not want me in the army, figuring it is practically an admission of defeat if they sign me up. So if I lose my best dollar earner to help the boys in the service it is the least I do. I know how the Cowboy feels. There is only one person in the world who talks Padgett into wrestling the Tiger. This person is you. How about it?"

Daphne sighs. "It means I make promises I do not care to make," she says. "But if I must, I must. I wire you the minute he says yes."

The telegram comes the next day, and the ballyhoo is on. Practically everybody, in uniform or out, is anxious to see Cowboy Padgett wrestle Private Adolf Kloppenberg, and the tickets go like hot cakes.

This is pleasing to Colonel Knickerbocker, and also to Baldy Simmons, but there are days when Baldy lies on the Beach and does not even look at the lissome Judys in the skimpy bathing suits, which means he has no little on his mind. As a matter of fact, he is trying to figure out a way to revive confidence in Cowboy Padgett's heart, and to soften the blow when his meal ticket finds out he is doublecrossed by a Judy. But, smart as he is, Mr. Simmons finds no answer to these problems.

A few days later Daphne Doolittle appears on the scene in person, and creates what may be described as a sensation among the soldiers. She is the most beautiful thing Miami Beach sees in a blue moon, but what bothers Baldy is that Daphne immediately contacts Adolf Kloppenberg, who, naturally enough, is given time off to get into condition for the great match. Colonel Knickerbocker gives her permission to watch him train, and in his hours off, Adolf frequently lolls on the beach, with Daphne beside him.

NOW this Adolf Kloppenberg is such a guy as the dolls fall for almost unanimously. He is big and good looking, and not weighed down with bunches of muscle like most wrestlers. Besides, he graduates from six universities in Europe, and speaks so many languages he is barely able to keep track of them.

It seems Daphne is fascinated by him. This is not at all surprising, and Baldy never figures she cares anything about Cowboy Padgett, anyway. Padgett is from Texas, and all he does outside of wrestling is play a guitar and sing things like "Home on the Range," which has little appeal to a dame who listens to all the singers from Tibbett to Crosby.

"But, look, honey," says Baldy to Daphne, when he catches her alone for a minute, "if you act like this when the Cowboy gets here, it tips your hand, and being a stubborn person, he is likely to walk out of the match."

"Not he," laughs Daphne. "Whom the gods destroy they first make mad, and this Padgett person is mad about me."

Well, arguing with a woman—particularly a beautiful woman—is about as sensible as trying to outfight a tommygun with a pea-shooter, so Baldy closes his yap, and says no more. But, he grows more worried as the days pass by, and no Cowboy Padgett appears on the scene. However, it appears that Daphne talks to the wrestler on the telephone several times—neglecting to mention her interest in Adolf Kloppenberg, no doubt—and Padgett promises he appears on the scene the day of the match.

The callousness of women gets Mr. Simmons no end down, though. Even in so good a cause, it is hard to see how Daphne Doolittle is able to pull on Cowboy Padgett's heart strings while she is carrying on with Adolf Kloppenberg. There is no doubt that Rudyard Kipling rings the bell when he says, "The female of the species is more deadly than the male."

That morning of the show Baldy gets a wire that the Cowboy comes in by plane at three o'clock. Mr. Simmons is not a superstitious person, but he has a premonition of evil. He feels this turns out

to be a pretty sad twenty-four hours for him, to say nothing of Cowboy Padgett. What happens when he starts out to meet the plane convinces him of it beyond any doubt.

Having many things to do, Baldy gets a late start, and in his hurry, takes a dolliver down the front steps of his hotel. It seems that his head and feet arrive on the sidewalk just about the same time. For the moment, this is the end of the story. The lights go out, and Baldy is floating down a stream in an orchid-decorated gondola, with Cowboy Padgett doing the paddling, and his oar is Adolf Kloppenberg.

When he comes to it is six o'clock in the evening, and he is in the hospital, with a bandage on his noggin, and another on his left ankle. The nurse tells him he has a couple of stitches in his dome, and a sprained ankle to boot. She does not care to entertain the idea of him going to the wrestling match.

"Look," says Baldy, "this is not the time to argue. Line up the whole Marine Corps in front of that door, and I battle my way through, leg or no leg. If ever in his life Cowboy Padgett needs me, he needs me tonight. Get my pants."

The nurse, seeing the gleam in the Simmons eye, gets the pants, but calls for the surgeon while so doing. It takes half an hour of fighting with the head man before they call a taxi, and cart him to Bayfront Park.

The chauffeur helps Baldy to the dressing room and, sitting on the rubbing table in his shorts and shoes, is Cowboy Padgett, grinning quite happily.

"For a man going to what practically amounts to the execution chamber," says Baldy, "you do not look in such bad shape."

"It's a pleasure," says the Cowboy. "After Daphne gives me a pep talk, I see where I am no more or less than silly in being afraid to meet the Tiger of the Punjab just because he was lucky enough to throw me before."

Whenever a guy flattens you in six seconds, the element of luck hardly enters at all. However, this is a proper attitude of mind and Baldy is glad to see his meal ticket has it. Padgett is really a tough man on the mat, and unless he is hypnotized into defeat before a match begins, there is really no reason why he does not have a chance with anybody in the world.

But Baldy's conscience bothers him. When the Cowboy finds out that his love plays him for a sucker he is bound to be low, and just because Colonel Knickerbocker never meets a two- hundred-and-twenty-pounder whose heart is broken, is no proof that a two-hundredand-twenty-pounder's heart is invulnerable. However, the first move is to beat Adolf Kloppenberg, and let the future take care of itself, which the future has a habit of doing, willy-nilly.

But all Baldy says is: "Atta boy, go in and slaughter the bum."

Then, because, in the shape he is in, he cannot second his man, so Baldy is helped down to a ringside seat.

The place is jammed. It is impossible to get an extra mosquito or a pair of sand flies in there by the time the rivals climb into the ring.

Private Kloppenberg gets the bigger hand, of course. His buddies stand up and yell their heads off the minute he comes in. This is perfectly natural and understandable. They want him to tear the head off Cowboy Padgett, and the sooner he does it, the better it pleases them. But they give the Cowboy a nice big hurrah, too, because, after all, he travels a long way to wrestle on the cuff for them, and they think this is pretty nice, which, after all, it is.

Baldy looks at the two men, and sees pretty clearly why Daphne Doolittle goes for Adolf Kloppenberg instead of Cowboy Padgett. The one is just too, too handsome and cultured, a guy who acts toward the ladies like a combination Clark Gable and Tyrone Power. The other is just a big, good-natured kid out of the Southwest, who will call the Duchess of Windsor "Babe" if he is introduced to her, which is not at all likely.

It's all right to talk about a diamond in the rough, but the gals like their stones and their men polished. And you cannot get any polish on the Cowboy if you use jeweler's rouge and a blitz cloth.

Daphne Doolittle is sitting at the ringside, and so far as the two clunks up there, in the ring go, you will think there is no one else in the place. They keep looking over at her, and bowing and smiling, and then they glare at each other, and scowl, and Baldy Simmons figures the bout is due to be the roughest match in history. The boys undoubtedly act like a whole family of Duseks when they lay hands on each other.

The referee calls them to the center of the ring, and they shake hands for the benefit of the cameramen.

"It is nice of you to come down here," says Adolf Kloppenberg, "considering that what I do to you in Buda Pesth is only a rehearsal of what you'll get."

"Buda Pesth is not Miami Beach," says Cowboy Padgett. "I aim to make your shoulder-blades ache because Daphne Doolittle asks me to do this as a personal favor to her."

Adolf Kloppenberg laughs out loud.

"You fall for that, do you?" he asks. "This is just part of the act to get you into the ring with me, everyone figuring you take a run-out powder when you find I am the Tiger of the Punjab."

"When this is over," says Cowboy Padgett, "you are no more or less than the Maltese kitten of Dade Boulevard. What are we waiting for?"

"Nothing," says Adolf Kloppenberg. "Let's go."

The bell sounds a moment later, and they rush at each other like a couple of General Grant tanks. Adolf tries a forearm smash, but the cowboy ducks under it, and does a Gus Sonnenberg flying block from a standing start that catches Adolf in the midriff, and knocks him flat. Padgett pounces on him, clamps on a wrist lock, and begins to twist. Baldy sees lots of wrestlers yell and moan and pretend they are suffering, but the yelp Adolf lets out is no part of an act. He manages to get out of the hold after a while, and hops up, his face twisted with pain. For the first time, he realizes he is in for real trouble.

Daphne Doolittle changes places with the man sitting beside Baldy.

"The show is a great success," she says. "Do you feel pleased with me?"

"Uh-huh," says Mr. Simmons. "In one way I am, and in another I am not. You are good, indeed, for the army, but not so good for the Cowboy. Even if he beats Kloppenberg, imagine how he feels after you doublecross him."

Daphne is watching with interested eyes. Padgett is giving the former Tiger of the Punjab a going over, and Adolf is beginning to puff.

"This is queer, indeed," says Baldy. "Colonel Knickerbocker tells me Private Kloppenberg is in excellent condition, but here the boys wrestle only five minutes and Adolf sounds like he is running out of gas."

"Yes, indeed," says Daphne Doolittle, a touch of excitement in her voice.

Cowboy Padgett, sitting on Adolf Kloppenberg's chest, and twisting one ankle till it seems it comes off in his hands, looks at Daphne, and smiles.

"See what I mean?" asks Baldy. "He is happy now, but think of his heart break afterwards."

"Nuts!" says Miss Doolittle, a bit inelegantly. "The Cowboy is doing all right for himself, not only with Adolf, but with me, too, so do not get all lathered up worrying about him. You mention that the Tiger of the Punjab is more short-winded than right."

Mr. Simmons nods.

"Give me an assist on this," says Daphne. "Those afternoons on the beach, I feed him chocolate creams and soda pop until it runs out of his ears."

At this moment, Adolf rears up like an enraged seal, and topples the Cowboy off. There is a terrific struggle, with the resin flying like a Dust Bowl storm. When it settles down for a moment, Padgett has a scissors hold around Kloppenberg's midriff, and a headlock, too.

"Do I gather from your statements," asks Baldy, "that you change your mind about Cowboy Padgett?"

"In spades," says Daphne Doolittle.

"But why? You say you cannot love a man who is not in uniform."

"I still say so."

Baldy keeps one eye on the action in the ring, but cocks the other at Daphne Doolittle.

"Break it to me gently," he says. "My nerves fall short of what they are twenty years ago. What about the Cowboy's flat feet?"

"They do not seem so flat to Colonel Knickerbocker," says Daphne Doolittle. "And you should know the army does not care about that any more. He gets a waiver from the medical department, and tomorrow the Cowboy is to be sworn in as a private in the army. This, naturally, removes whatever objection I have to marrying him."

By this time Adolf is beating the floor with both hands, but Padgett leans into the job, and does an added bit of squeezing. An expert in such matters, Baldy recognizes the fact that the match, to all intents and purposes, is just about over. He also recognizes that, while he has the greatest wrestler in the world under his management, that wrestler is going to work for Uncle Sam at fifty bucks a month, so there is no more profit to split up.

Baldy draws a long and happy sigh.

"Daphne," he says, "I do not remember when I am so joyful. The Cowboy deserves the best, and he gets it in you. And I may say at the same time you do not do so bad yourself. But there is one thing not quite clear in my mind."

"What is this?" asks Miss Doolittle.

Up in the ring Adolf Kloppenberg is worn out. The Cowboy switches his hold, spins the Tiger of the Punjab around on his

back, and falls on him like a ton of bricks. The referee stoops down, and begins to count.

"I watch young love for a good many years," says Baldy Simmons. "For some little while you are serious about Adolf Kloppenberg. What causes you to switch from him to Cowboy Padgett?"

Daphne smiles.

"For two reasons," she says. "In the first place a man who eats as many chocolates as Adolf does is bound to get fat—and I do not care much for fat men."

"And the second?"

"For a good many of my twenty-two years," the Judy says, "I deplore the fact that my name is Doolittle. When I think that for the rest of my life I may be known as Mrs. Adolf Kloppenberg, I realize that I desire more than ever to be Cowboy Padgett's ever-loving wife!"