Gut, Pig & Stick

Gut, Pig & Stick
by Zalman Velvel

The five time champion came from Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn, where men ate with both hands. Guido DiBono, known as The Gut, wore the number 19 on his extra-extra-extra large jersey like a badge of honor.
 
The Gut stood six foot three, weighed 387 and swaggered because he could really eat. On contest day there was more than a hungry look in his eye, there was starvation oozing from every pore of his roly-poly body. If they didn't start the contest soon, The Gut looked like he would eat the tables and chairs, and then start snacking on small spectators.
 
"I'm going to chew up the competition," the 35 year old Gut told the Associated Press.
 
It was July 4th, Independence Day in the good ol' U.S. of A., and time for the International Hot Dog Eating Contest. There were nine contestants gathered at Harry's, the famous Coney Island restaurant. It was the first link in the golden chain that comprised one of America's most prominent wiener dynasties, Harry's Hot Dogs, the proud sponsor of the event.
 
First prize was $25,000. Along with it came a mustard yellow world championship belt. The belt was lengthened two times during The Gut's five year reign, and was now a size 62. If Jethro Pigott won, they were going to have to add a couple more feet.
 
Jethro Pigott was the most serious challenger. At almost seven feet tall, and 507 pounds, he towered over the rest of the herd. When he wasn't shoveling down a side of beef, or the equivalent in flanks of lamb, he was a forty year old Southern fundamentalist preacher with a traveling tent ministry. Gut called him The Pious Pig, then shortened it to just Pig. The name stuck like a chewy caramel.
 
"I shall be a glutton of the Lord," Pig was quoted in the Christian Science Monitor. "I love God, and then America, in that order," Pig continued. "And the greatest symbol of America is the hot dog. Sure, you can salute the flag, but can you feast on it like a frankfurter?"
 
The contest rules were simple – whoever ate the most hot dogs in twelve minutes won.
 
Why twelve minutes?
 
"Because it's an even dozen," responded the company president, Harry III.
 
Harry III was full of beans, as well as hot dogs. He gave his usual long-winded, boring opening speech. This grated on the crowd of two hundred that was packed into a restaurant where the air conditioning was non-existent. The media personnel, composed of three newspaper reporters, two tv camera people, and a radio announcer with a live feed, looked aggravated, too.
 
The Pig was in a state of spiritual ascension, kneeling by the table, praying silently.
 
"Give it up Pig. I'm gonna chew you straight to hell." Gut challenged.
 
Pig looked up and whispered, "Forgive him Father, he knows not what he eats."
 
Finally, Harry III finished his opening remarks. A plate of wieners was placed in front of every contestant, 25 of Harry's Finest Dogs on each one. The record was 19, set last year by The Gut.
 
Harry III raised the starter pistol.
 
"Eaters, take you mark. Get set. G-"
 
"Wait!"
 
A hush went through the restaurant as Hirotumi Fujiwatsu took his place as the tenth contestant. With a name like that, and a contest like this, it was reasonable to assume he would be a Sumo wrestler. Instead, Hirotumi was a gentle young man of 21, barely five feet five, and 135 pounds, if you included his thick glasses.
 
"Check out the joke from Japan," Gut quipped. "Hirotumi Fuji Whatsis? After I set a new world's record, I'm going to put that Hero in my tumi." Gut dubbed him Chopped Stick, then shortened it to The Stick. The name stuck.
 
Harry III shrugged, and then raised the starter pistol again.
 
"Eaters, take your mark. Get set. GO!"
 
The Gut stuck a whole hot dog into his mouth, bun and all, chewed furiously, and then forced it down his gullet. Thirty seconds later, he picked up a second dog, and repeated the procedure.
 
"The Gut is setting a torrid pace of 2 dogs a minute," the radio announcer explained. "If he can keep it up, we will have a new world's record!"
 
The Pig crossed himself before each dog, but other than that, he mimicked Gut's style.
 
The Stick took the hot dog out of the bun, stuck it in his mouth, chewed efficiently, and swallowed. Then he took the bun, squeezed the air out it, stuck it in his mouth, chewed efficiently, and swallowed it, too.
 
"FOUL!" Gut screamed, his eyes bulging out of his head. Actually, it was hard to distinguish exactly what Gut said, his mouth was so full. He could have either said 'foul', or 'no fair', or an expletive that began with the same letter.
 
The judges huddled and after a quick, heated legal discussion, allowed it. Though it was clearly un-American not to eat the dog and the bun together, this was now an International contest, and as such, had to take into account cultural differences.
 
At the five minute mark, Gut devoured ten hot dogs, Pig, nine and a half. The others were barely up to eight.
 
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we've now hit The Wall, " the radio announcer whispered into the microphone. The Wall was a full package of dogs. Eight. It was intended to feed an average family of four, but in this contest, it was only the halfway point, the point that separated the puppies from the wolves.
 
The Wall took its toll. By the ten minute mark, The Gut slowed down his pace and was at 17. Gut counted the dogs left on Pig's plate. Ten. He's two behind me and looks stuffed, Gut thought. He looked at the other plates. Most had 12 or more dogs on them. Gut grinned. Now it's just me and the world record.
 
Out of curiosity, Gut glanced down the table at The Stick. There were 8 dogs on Stick's plate!
 
"Folks, the champ and Hirotumi Fujiwatsu are tied, but the challenger is picking up the pace! He just shoved two hot dogs into his mouth at the same time!" The radio announcer wasn't whispering anymore.
 
This can't be happening, thought Gut. I'm running belly to belly with that little sushi eater?
 
Gut stuffed two dogs in his mouth. His jaw muscles were cramped, but he had the heart of a champion, clogged as it was with cholesterol.
 
At the eleven minute mark, The Stick was reaching for numbers 20 and 21, and the Gut was on the final mastications of numbers 18 and 19.
 
"Ladies and Gentlemen, we have less than 50 seconds left and there appears to be an upset in the offing." The radio announcer was shouting now, because half the crowd was yelling, "Stick it to 'em, Stick!", while the other half was screaming, "Go, Gut, Go!"
 
When the bell sounded, Gut managed to finish number 20. Pig was passed out on the floor, 8 dogs still on this plate.
 
The new world champion, Herotumi Fujiwatsu, The Stick, had stuffed down an incredible twenty-two hot dogs. He was mobbed by admiring fans and the media. The Stick smiled for the first time when he posed for a picture with Harry III handing him the $25,000 check.
 
The Gut graciously handed over his championship belt and shook Stick's hand. Stick wrapped the belt around his belly twice to keep it up. Then Stick begged everyone's pardon.
 
"Excuse please. I must go to rest room."
 
By the time Stick returned, the crowd and the media had dispersed, and the busboys were cleaning up. The Gut sat at a corner table, in the shadows.
 
"Mr. Gut, it would be my honor to drive you home." The Stick bowed his head.
 
The Gut nodded. At least he could save cab fare.
 
They did not talk during the ride. When The Stick pulled in front of Gut's apartment, the silence was broken.
 
"Okay, Stick, how'd you do it?"
 
"Mr. Gut, you are great champion."
 
"Yeah, right. I let down my neighborhood, I let down my country, and on the fourth of July, no less. Look at you and look at me. I got beat by a guy less than half my size."
 
"Size is not so important, Mr. Gut."
 
"Yeah, you orientals like saying that. Look, I ain't gettin' out this car until you do some explainin'."
 
Stick did not answer.
 
"Please." Gut had tears in his eyes. "You owe it to me, one champion to another."
 
"Okay, Mr. Gut. I explain." Stick put his hand on Gut's massive shoulder. "In Japan, I am vegetable person. I no eat meat."
 
"Yeah, so?"
 
"So hot dog … hmmm … how you say …. go right through me? I think you say … like something through a goose? Yes?"
 
"Yeah?" Gut still wasn't following.
 
"So I make special apparatus to catch and hide." Stick showed him a plastic prototype which was laying on the back seat.
 
"You sneaky son of a bitch!" The Gut slapped his huge thigh and laughed.
 
The Stick smiled.
 
"I win because …. I only person who … how you say … not full of crap?"
THE END
 
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Copyright 2012 by Zalman Velvel Inc.
You may print this story for yourself, but not make copies without author's permission.