“Blue River Blues” is a story featuring Steve Costigan, a rough-and-tumble sailor with a penchant for boxing, and his unexpected adventure in the small, rowdy lumber town of Blue River. The tale begins with Steve receiving a letter from Joey Garfinkle, also known as the Schenectady Muskrat, offering him a fight against a character known as the Terrible Dmitri, the Russian Walrus, for four hundred dollars plus expenses. Despite his mistrust of Joey and his own financial woes, Steve, driven by necessity, accepts the offer and sets off for Blue River with an unexpected companion, Hansel Jermstad, a naive and hopeful fighter.

First published in French in Steve Costigan Le Champion, (Nouvelles Editions Oswald, March 1987). First published in English in The Last of the Trunk Och Brev I Urval (Paradox Entertainment, March 2007).

“Blue River Blues” is a tale of mistrust, mishap, and mayhem, showcasing Steve Costigan’s enduring toughness and resilience amidst the unpredictable and often treacherous world of early 20th-century boxing and wrestling.


Steve, already suspicious of Joey Garfinkle’s intentions, finds himself in Blue River, a town notorious for its roughness and lawlessness. Despite his misgivings, the allure of the prize money convinces him to proceed. Steve’s journey to the fight is marked by the addition of Jermstad, who seeks his own glory in the ring. Upon arriving, the chaotic and violent nature of Blue River becomes apparent, with a tumultuous crowd eagerly awaiting the fight.

The event itself devolves into a farce, with the fight quickly turning from boxing to an all-out brawl involving wrestlers’ tactics, the audience, and even the referee. The supposed boxing match loses all semblance of sport, becoming a wild melee that spreads from the ring to engulf the spectators and the venue itself.

In the end, the fight’s proceeds are stolen by John Gower’s men, leaving Joey Garfinkle, Steve, and their associates without their anticipated earnings. Realizing the perilous situation and the likelihood of being blamed for the theft, Steve and Oslof decide to flee Blue River, embarking on a desperate escape from the chaos and violence they leave behind.


  • Steve Costigan: The protagonist, a seasoned boxer who is known for his strength and fighting skill, but finds himself in financial trouble.
  • Joey Garfinkle (the Schenectady Muskrat): The organizer of the fight in Blue River, known for his dubious methods and connections in the wrestling and boxing world.
  • Hansel Jermstad: A large, naive fighter who becomes Steve’s travel companion to Blue River. He hopes to fight in the event’s preliminaries and is convinced of his own prowess in wrestling and making “rasslin’ faces.”
  • Terrible Dmitri, the Russian Walrus: Steve’s intended opponent, described as a formidable and rough fighter with a reputation in both wrestling and boxing.
  • Oslof: An associate of Joey Garfinkle tasked with collecting admission money at the fight, who ends up being overpowered and robbed by a rival group.
  • John Gower: A rival promoter in Blue River who orchestrates a scheme to steal the fight’s admission money.
  • Abdul the Turk, Gustaf the Hideous Hungarian, Dingan the Zulu Bonecrusher, and Abraham Cohn: Dmitri’s corner men, adding to the international and menacing flavor of the event.
  • Mr. Leary: A local backer of Joey Garfinkle’s event, involved in the organization and security of the fight.

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