Who is Florence Kearsey?
Let’s get it out of the way, people pay me to fuck them.
The nylon stocking slides up the bare skin of an enviable thigh. She watches the sheer black rise up her tanned flesh. Beside her on the bed he stirs ever so gently.
“Shhhh, shhhh.” She whispers motherly, looking past her shoulder to admire his nude ankles and wrists splayed apart and tied to opposite bedposts by royal red nylon rope like some kinky crucifixion. Meet John. John is blindfolded, his mouth is stuffed full of a pair of pink panties you can just barely see peeking out from behind the neatly sliced piece of black tape that’s going to be a bitch to remove. She plucks the neatly folded set of hundred dollar bills off the nightstand and slips it between the nylon and her thigh and snaps her garter closed.
You wonder to yourself, ‘but Flo, why you wrestling for the big leagues if you’re just some whore? How much, by the way?
You couldn’t afford me, and, also, you can be other things than simply how you earn money, you bastard. You’re not your job… you’re not your house, etcetera.
Her cell phone buzzes with a text notification on the nightstand. John stirs with a grunt. She lifts the phone, her free hand giving John’s morning wood a loud slap with her palm.
She stares at the question thoughtfully. As he reaches a more coherent state of wakefulness, John seems to be struggling through his discomfort at still being tied up.
Slipping on the black minidress she wore to his apartment, Florence Kearsey, known as Aunty Flo to so many men and women who’ve all awoken to circumstances strikingly similar to the one our John currently finds himself in. She slips towards a bookshelf to see her face reflected off the pane of glass in a heart-shaped picture frame housing an image of our John with another woman. Flo’s smirk superimposes godlike over the tranquil newlywed bliss in the picture.
At first glance, it’s not exactly 1 to 1, is it? Whore to wrestler. Call Girl Wrestler? How’s this work, Flo? Since you’re not making the connection I’ll reframe it for you.
People’ in this particular context now refers to Lee Best and the corporate machinery behind him signing my checks; ‘them’ is an indefinite article signifying just about anyone set in front of me throughout the course of my trajectory through the HOW tournament, (Halitosis, then potentially David Black, and potentially, yet not exactly an odds-on favorite to happen, but whomever wins between Scottywood and whomever he faces… unpredictability is listed as a turn-on on my Tinder. Tht’s a lie, by the way.); and ‘fuck’ is a blanket statement for whatever I do to whomever the ‘them’ is till I’m satisfied and declared the winner in a physical context.
Live, Laugh, Love is stenciled onto the walls of the shared bedroom where former marital bliss resided. Flo takes the tour, fingering through John’s wife’s underwear drawer with disapproval. Grannies… gross… she plucks a set out and slides it up her thighs before hearing John give a pitiful little grunt. She slides into bed next to him.
“Poor baby.” She coos, sliding her thigh up his bare leg, her knee just beneath his arousal as she lifts the phone up to frame them both in the shot. She pouts with a hint of smugness in her eye as the cell phone camera clicks audibly. It’s a good reason, John surmises suddenly, to struggle hard against his bonds. This wasn’t an expected part of the transaction, truthfully it never is, and John grunts his displeasure. Flo smirks, snapping another with pouting duckface, ensuring John’s face is obvious in the frame. Click. More struggling. She fills a photo album. Another spank on softening dickflesh as her free hand loosens one of his bound wrists.
“Here let me help you.” But barely. Help is an operative term one might think a cat says sardonically to the mouse who’s leg its broken and refuses to kill quickly. He’ll have to work to free himself but it’s no longer impossible. The rope is tied with years of patient practice. “Not sure when she’ll be home. It’ll be like beat the clock?” Flo coos leaving a lipstick kiss on his cheek and heads for the door flicking off the light.
You’ll be calling me Aunty, too, HOW Wrestling.
Just you wait.
Downstairs, Dante Morrell waits in the Honda Civic impatiently. She sits into the seat beside him setting her frosted blonde hair into a bun. Without a word Dante sets the car into drive, out of the corner of his eye watching her slip the fold of bills from her stocking and unfolding it to count it. Dante doesn’t need both eyes to notice the sum.
“Isn’t that more than he offered?”
Flo smirks still counting, giving him just a glance in the affirmative.
“Shit. Left him like the others?”
A soft, conniving chuckle as Flo hands an eighth of her payment to Dante.
“Damn, girl.” He chuckled taking the money and sliding it into the breast pocket of his leather jacket.
Quit assuming shit, fucker.
“Okay, so now why you wanna do this wrestling thing, Flo? Gonna fuck yourself up. You got a good thing going here.” Dante’s made a pretty penny being a driver. This Civic’s brand new and well maintained. He barely has to work.
“Because I can.”
“Not an answer. This isn’t some tickle fight. They got you up against Halitosis in the first round. This ain’t just bad breath, girl. This guy’s a—“
“I know, Dante.”
“Do you? Cause let me tell you, it won’t get any easier if, by some stretch of the unthinkable, you make it past Hallitosis. These guys mean business. That tournament is the big time. You’re just, hate to say it, a real small fish in a big pond.”
“I fucking get it, Dante. Drive.” He shuts up with her glaring daggers at him. The Civic’s engine revs. “I know what I’m doing. I know who Hallitosis is. I know who Lee Best is. I know who Max Kael, and Mike Best, and Scottywood is. I’m not fucking stupid. This isn’t fucking amateur night.”
Dante looks scolded, staring straight ahead. He mutters, “funny thing cause you’re an amateur. gonna get your ass beat by bad breath. Just saying.”
“Just take me home, loser.” Say no more. What followed was an hour’s drive through light traffic in late night downtown Manhattan in relative silence. Periodically, his curiosity piqued, Dante glanced out of the corner of his eye to spy what Flo was looking at on her cell phone. New customers, marks, exploitable men and women was what he expected to find.
HOW tournament brackets.
That’s what he saw, instead. It made him frown.
She lived in a modest penthouse suite. Modest by Manhattan standards, anyway, afforded, so it said on tax returns, by an e-commerce business with a steady, high-end customer base. Dante had never been allowed up to her apartment until tonight; under the auspice of this new business venture he’d helped align for her and held serious reservations about.
He looked around at the sparsely decorated, barely lived in apartment and wondered where all her money went, of which there was a lot to be made in her line of work. Something caught his eye as she set the HOW contract down on the marble island in the kitchen and read it over carefully.
“You don’t have to sign that if you don’t want,” he murmured distractedly. “I mean there’s no shame in not following through with this. Lee Best and that crew probably thinks you won’t show anyway.”
In the reflection off a floor to ceiling mirror, Dante spied a punching bag hanging in an adjacent room. His frown grew. Flo was already signing as Dante took a step into the living room and craned his neck to get a better look into the room that connected to it.
It may as well have been a top secret room where Flo trained ninjas.
“What the hell…” Dante stood in the doorway looking wordlessly over the enviable assembly of workout machines, sparring equipment, a four-cornered boxing/wrestling ring all packed into a space where he surmised a bedroom ought to be.
“Are you some kinda super-villain?” He turned to glance at her but she’d stalked up beside him without him noticing, startling him further. In her hand was the signed contract for HOW. She hadn’t hesitated as he hoped she might.
“Something like that,” she smirked handing the contract back to him gingerly. Dante eyed her with fresh, carefully scrutinizing eyes.
“What else don’t I know about you, girl?”
They’d grown up together in less than stellar circumstances, both children of abused, single mothers who only began to separate them into their early teens after concerns for Flo’s virginity were voiced by her recently remarried mother who’d become increasingly overprotective of young Florence.
“I seen the way he looks at my Flo,” Her mother, Jackie, barked accusingly through the screen door at Dante and his mother all those years ago. “That boy’s trouble. All boy’s are trouble. He gonna keep his hands away from my Flo.” Of all the hands she should be worried about… behind her, Dante watched with a frown as Florence’s stepfather placed a set of far too familiar hands on either of young Florence’s shoulders and came to stand behind her as Dante was, not for the first time, shut out of her life.
Here in Florence’s apartment, so many years later he found himself on reasonably familiar footing, standing on the outside looking in at a woman at once so close and always so far away.
“This is some batman shit right here, Flo.” He clutched the contract from her hands
and folded it into the inside of his jacket pocket looking once more into the well-used gym. “What else do you not tell me, hmmm?” He sounded overeager. She smirked and silently stepped past him into the gym.
“Why do you hide so much from me, girl? All you had to do was say, ‘hey, Dante, I’m tired of this whole sex-for-money thing and I’m gonna try my hand at full contact sports—‘“
“You know I don’t give anything away for free, Dante.” She winked, closing the door gently behind her. Dante rolled his eyes.
“Alright, so, I’ll uh just get this document to the peeps at HOW and they’ll process it, or whatever the hell is supposed to happen next, and you’ll be well on your way to fighting stanky ass men and women for money.” He was talking to a door, hoping she’d open it and let him in just a little more.
She didn’t. Muffled through the door just before he turned to leave she called after him,
“Set me up with some promo time while you’re at it.”
Dante frowned, whispering hoarsely to himself, “What the fuck is… how do you know so damn much about all this…?”
It didn’t matter. Pretty much this was par for the Florence Kersey course. She wouldn’t answer, wouldn’t give him anymore than she felt he needed, and he’d accept it. He always did. He drove home silently that night thinking back to their ‘reunion’ of sorts some years after their rude separation, at her stepfather’s funeral way back when he stood beside her as her mother grieved loudly all by herself. Afterward, it was Dante who offered to drive Florence home. Flo sat stoically in the passenger seat beside him. She never cried, never reacted. Just stared blankly throughout the entire proceeding. Dante just assumed she was in shock.
“Sorry about your dad.”
“Wasn’t my dad.”
“Right. I just mean they’ll catch the guy that did it.”
“It wasn’t a–” She snapped before glaring out the window in smoldering silence.
“Everything’ll be alright.” His fingers gripped the wheel a little tighter. Good old dependable Dante, sticks his foot in his mouth once again.
“I’m sorry, Flo.”
Dante, now, driving home with that HOW contract in his pocket blinked at the reminiscence of that conversation and wondered at just what else about Florence Kearsey he would unearth in the coming days leading up to her first HOW appearance.
He shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he thought about it.
Official cause of death was blunt force trauma to the back of the head of Florence’s stepdad. Florence’s mother had found him at home after she returned from work one night. He had a plastic bag wrapped over his head and more blood than she’d ever seen in her life. What followed was a shaking, crying, exasperated 911 call from which operators gleaned only that someone had kicked the ever-loving shit out of the man and an ambulance was required. He was dead on arrival. The police never caught who did it.
Dante shifted once more and drove a little faster, unable to shake the recollection of the day the man with the extra friendly glances in Flo’s direction that always made Dante uncomfortable had died.
Who the fuck is Florence Kearsey?
After twenty some-odd years of drifting in and out of her life, now as more of a regular than he’d ever been, he was unsure of how to answer that.
Even worse, how do you promote her…?
March 17, 2019.
Her arms folded crossly, with a glare that made Dante look like he’d eaten something sour.
“College radio?” Dante found his arms out defensively.
“You said ‘promo’. This is how you promote artists. I know what I’m doing. I’ve promoted hundreds of people. Everyone starts somewhere, Flo.”
“I’m a fucking wrestler not a musical act.”
Dante shifted awkwardly, trying to dismiss the amateur decision he’d made which was gradually making itself more apparent the more he tried not to think about it.
“It’s no big deal, girl. Taking a page from your boy Halitosis’ playbook.” Dante rubbed his hands together proudly in an attempt to display confidence he was, in fact, rapidly losing. Flo was unimpressed.
“Halitosis was featured on a wrestling program, Dante. This is college radio.”
“It’s the same thing.” Dante said as Flo peeked into the booth at the two adolescent boys who were just a day or two past puberty’s latest growth spurts.
“They just started shaving.”
“Look, you’re not exactly a name brand, Flo. All right? You can’t have it both ways. Halitosis is a decorated champion. You’re not on anyone’s radar.” Flo’s eyes narrowed. “Yet.” Dante added carefully. “Everyone starts somewhere. They’ll enshrine this first appearance in a gold record or some shit.”
“This is a campus radio station. Who’s going to hear this?” More facts which assaulted Dante’s impervious optimism. Inside the booth, one of the young men waved Flo in.
Flo had caught stares the second she stepped reluctantly onto the quad, and now these two 17-somethigs stared eagerly at her as she stepped into their broadcast booth and put on a set of headphones.
“…listening to WVBR-FM, 93.5 FM on your dial, Ithaca’s Alternative. Joining us live in the studio is a local talent hoping to make it big in–” He glanced with a pause over his notes, “–High Octane Wrestling–” he kept reading the notes as he spoke, his frown growing, “–one of the big time ‘Cartoon Wrestler’ feds—“ He didn’t seem to be checking the words in his mind as he spoke them. Flo looked quizzically through the glass at Dante, who wrote this introduction for them, mouthed, ‘I saw it on twitter! It’s all good!’ and gave her the thumbs up.
The radio guy continued as Flo cringed, “… whose programming will be featured on HOE T.V.”
Flo blinked. The host’s partner, noting Flo’s akward clearing of her throat, leaned in to read.
“No no. I think it’s HOT v.”
“Why would it be HOT v? That’s nothing.”
They began sounding it out awkwardly between them.
“Ho… Hottie V. Hotty Tv. Hot.. V. Ho… Howtv…”
“I don’t think it really matters.” Flo chimed in, glaring at Dante’s who’s expression mirrored how quickly this first appearance was tanking.
“No. One second. We’ll get it. Hot. E. V. Ho—“
“It can’t be Ho. Why would it be Ho Tv? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“Can we say Ho on air?”
“I don’t think it’s ‘Ho TV’ I think it’s High Octane TV.”
“You’re probably right, but that’s not how it’s written—“
“How about you drop it?” Flo snapped, gathering hurt glances from the two fledgling radio hosts. Dante cringed.
“Okay…. Please welcome: Florence Kearsey, or Aunt Flo. Welcome Flo!”
“Thanks for having me,” she said with obvious insincerity oozing into the microphone. She kept her expression stone and staring daggers into Dante from where she sat.
“Now High Octane Wrestling is a pretty big deal, I’m assuming, so maybe you can tell us a little bit about what it’s all about, where fans can see the shows live if—“
“Actually they haven’t really disclosed that.” Radio guy, his name tag wasn’t worth Flo’s notice, stammered awkwardly.
“Anything you can tell us?”
“Do you guys not know anything about this?”
Awkward. They weren’t expecting a combative guest.
“Well… I mean you can tell us— I dunno, something about HOW, right? I mean. You have this How Championship tournament. That’s gotta be exciting, right?”
She glared quietly at the host, a silent few moments of dreaded dead air before Flo slipped the headphones from her head and stormed from the room. Dante caught her at the door.
“Flo! What are you doing, girl?”
“This is a joke. Nobody’s going to hear this shit.”
“Not anymore they won’t! Get back in there! Everyone starts somewhereAt least finish the interview. HOW gonna wanna see you doing something to promote this thing.”
Flo stepped past him and began walking down the hallway.
“At least do it for HO TV, bruh.” That one was tongue-in-cheek, admittedly. Dante cracked a smile as he watched Flo extend an arm, then a middle finger in his direction without glancing back.
“Well, damn.” He watched her back before it disappeared down the hallway.