Nick Carz (top left), is a fixture at Louie’s, The Ditch, Moxies and the Air Conditioned City. He never misses a junket to Horseman’s Park and is fiercely proud of his daughter, Amber “Da Bammer” Carz (third from the left) who just pummeled her way to the state wrestling championships.
To look at him, you’d say Nick is the happiest guy in the world. But Nick had a rough time of it in his early years. Nick grew up on the back roads of Graphite Corners when the “Corners” was little more than a cluster of weathered shanties (similar to the way it is today). His mom, “Crazy Janie” Carz (bottom right) ran the only bar in the area, Louie’s Rogue Club, and his oft-absent dad worked sporadically as a con man or bouncer at strip clubs in Stateline, but never really provided for the family.
Nick’s wife of fourteen years, Maggie (second from the left), tends bar at Bradshaw’s Tavern. Everyone knows her. Everyone loves her, including the owner, Mitch Bradshaw (Elmer’s son) who’s been after her from the beginning. But Maggie is true blue. Sure Nick tests her patience at times, showing up drunk at the bar, demanding cash from the till, suggesting they pimp out their two daughters or bringing home gangsters in the middle of the night. But she loves him.
Just like the rest of us.
Nick’s eldest daughter, Amber “Da Bammer” (third from the left), is the pride of his life… and the entire town! She’s single-handedly done what no other sports team or player has done for Flubug in fifty years (with the possible exception of Abcess): she got us into the state wrestling finals.
Amber however, does have her quirks. She’s…well…sort of high strung. She recently attacked a waitress at Moxie’s. She sent a man twice her weight to the hospital for talking “s**t” about her dad, and has landed more wrestlers in traction than any other player in Down County history. But mention the word “steroids” and you might be next.
Her dad says he lends her his inhaler.
“Swat” (top right) is Nick’s youngest daughter and the complete opposite of her star-struck sister. Born Genevieve Carz, the mentally-challenged toddler was quickly given the name Swat when she grew attached to a kitchen spatula and refused to release it. Since then, she’s used the utensil without mercy on anything that moves (or gets within range). A fixture at Amber events, Swat can often be found in the front row swatting flies, audience members and even her sister’s competitors. She was recently asked by city officials (in confidence) to help stem the tide of killer mosquitos in the Flubug reservoir. If she succeeds, she’ll bring even further glory to a family heaped with kudos.
“Crazy Janie” Carz (bottom right) is no longer with us, though memory of the Carz family matriarch lives on in the hearts (and scars) of her competitors. Janie was Flubug’s uncontested Roller Derby Queen for more than seventeen years. Known for her sly tactics and callous disregard for the rules, fans came from miles around to watch her trip, stomp and taunt her opponents into submission. She was given to beating referees who disagreed with her assessments or hauling fans into the ring for cheering her opponents. She also stood accused of packing her elbow pads with lead shot. She was convicted of manslaughter in 1936 after a playoff match with Stateline and committed suicide shortly thereafter in the isolation ward at Brackwater State Correctional Institution by strangling herself with a pair of shoelaces.
Her memory lives on in the dozens of autographed photos that line her old haunt, Louis’ Rogue Club (or as it’s known to locals, “Louis the 14th”).
The Flubug Bugle’s own Spice Reilly recently caught up with Nick in that old railroad-car-turned-car and he consented to give this rare interview:
Spice: “Nick, everyone knows you’re the guy in town who can get practically anything for next to nothing. If you were to describe yourself in two words, what would they be?”
Nick: “Below wholesale.”
Spice: “Are you refering to your well-honed skills as a negotiator or your superior business connections?”
Nick: “A little of both. I got quite a few friends around town and you might say my business takes me places other people might not go… from Quagmire to Shilltown to Stateline…and we all know the kind of deals you can get in Stateline.. if you know the right people. I’m also a pretty fair negotiator. In my twenty five years in the “biz” I’ve never once used my own cash.”
Spice: “I couldn’t help noticing a cache of bootleg perfumes, counterfeit lottery tickets, unstamped cigarettes and handguns in the back of your car when I arrived. Would it be fair to say you’re a thief?”
Nick: “Hey, whoa! I’m no thief! I’m more of a, say… wholesale technician. I never use violence. Don’t believe in it. And I’ve never done time. I’m just in the business of finding things that other people might have trouble finding for themselves…at prices that blow the competition away… literally.”
Spice: “How much would you say for the pack of Salems?”
Nick: “Eight bucks.”
Spice: “That’s a bit steep, don’t you think?”
Nick: “Tell ya what..” He reached into his jacket and pulled out a black billfold. “How ’bout I give you your wallet back and just keep a ten?”