Stuck in the Middle

 

Houston, TX
The home of Dan Ryan
-Dan’s private gym

“So just like that…”

Exhale.

“We walk through the door….”

Exhale.

“And we’re the Best Alliance?”

Exhale. Clang. Dan Ryan racks the barbell that he’d just been bench-pressing as if it were a toy. Eric Dane had been “spotting” the Ego Buster, in that he was standing there not doing a fucking thing because Dan Ryan is a goddamned beast of a human being and this might as well be easy to him. The End Boss retorts.

Eric Dane:
I mean, yeah? In terms of alliances presently represented in the HOW we’re easily the best one, doesn’t take a genius to figure that out.

Dane hands his contemporary a dry towel, Ryan dabs at his forehead as if he had broken a sweat in the first place.

Dan Ryan:
And the corporate sponsorship?

Eric shrugs.

Eric Dane:
A means to an end. Plus it proves a point to the morons.

Dan Ryan:
What it does is it gives the morons something to bitch about.

The Only Star eyeballs The Ego Buster.

Eric Dane:
Is it your position that the morons aren’t gonna bitch anyway just to hear their own voices? I mean, is that the hill you wanna die defending?

The Texan Titan furls an eyebrow.

Dan Ryan: [deadpan]
No. I’m just saying. We’re calling ourselves The Best Alliance?

Dane nods, his grin ever-widening.

Eric Dane:
We have been christened.

Dan Ryan:
And then we’re going to WarGames?

Eric nods.

Dan Ryan:
These people have no idea what they’re getting themselves into, do they?

Eric Dane:
Not even the slightest.

Ryan pulls two fifty-pound plates from either side of the bar that he’d only just reracked. There are still three-hundred pounds there ready to be pushed. Eric Dane visibly scoffs.

Dan Ryan:
Whatever you say, Big Shooter, you’re up.

Eric Dane:
Yer fuckin’ killin’ me, Smalls.

~~~

New Orleans, LA
Windsor Court Hotel
-James J. Coleman Presidential Suite

“Fuck’s sake, Jiles.”

You can feel The Only Star’s eyes rolling back in his head.

“If I didn’t know you any better, I might just think you weren’t taking this seriously.”

Momentarily the silence is deafening. Eric stares off into the distance from the comfort of one of the two secluded terraces afforded to him by this particular suite. Beyond and below him the Mississippi River takes precedence over every other bit of scenery.

“Who the fuck knows with you anymore, though? Right? I mean a decade ago I thought you were on your way to being hot shit, but any more all I get out of you are jokes that nobody gets and egg references that again, nobody gets.”

If The Only Star were still a smoker, this is where he’d light that cigarette. Unfortunately, I need a new plot device because nobody smokes anymore in 2019 and vaping is for douche-bros. So, I guess imagine a deep breath or whatever.

“And don’t even get me started on that Dan Ryan cardboard cutout bullshit. What the actual fuck, Jiles? Get a fucking producer, pay them more money than you’re worth to write this shit for you before you get in front of a camera, and then maybe take five minutes to give half a fuck about your career for once in this fucking decade.”

Eyes go wide in exasperation.

“Please?”

The Antagonist mimes a faux pleading gesture.

“Or you know what? Don’t. Fuck it, if you don’t care why in the fuck should I? I tried to push you way back when in the WfWA and you fucked that up. I gave you the fuckin’ strap in DEFIANCE and you fucked that up too. I’ve been trying for weeks to give you the benefit of the doubt in HOW but all the fuck you have is this bullshit weak sauce wannabe Egg Bandit reunion with Doozer resuming his duties as guy who sometimes comes to the ring with Jiles and does things or whatever but nobody can actually pinpoint a single thing that he’s ever done.

Eric rolls his eyes again.

“Oh yeah, and he wears a backward red hat like Fred fuckin’ Durst.”

Beat.

“In 2019.”

“Seriously. The fuck?”

The End Boss buries his face into his palm.

“I need a goddamned drink.”

~~~

Interlude.

Elsewhere in the suite that Eric Dane presently calls home is a fully stocked private lounge, complete with concierge services and daily offerings from award-winning chefs from around the world. So, of course, there are eight or nine pizza boxes littering the place and a giggling Bobby Dean hammering away at his iPhone.

Er, I mean, Mr. Robert Dean.

Whatever.

MRD:
I can’t believe I forgot about Twitter!

More tappity-tapping.

MRD:
IT’S SO MUCH FUN~! Hey! That’s the face I make when I diddle the clit too!

Yeah, about that Mr. Robert Dean stuff, this looks more like a regression back into the Beautiful Bobby Dean persona that people actually sort of like. Eric Dane strolls in, takes in the disaster that can be no less than twenty minutes old as he was just in the room himself, and then lets his gaze rest on the giggling Bobby Dean.

Eric Dane:
Are you being for real right now?

MRD:
Holy poop! I actually remembered I have this thing!

Rage flashes across Dane’s face.

MRD:
And mai frand Cancer Jiles has been sliding into my DM’s all morning-

If looks could kill, Mr. Robert Dean would be a dead man. He’s completely oblivious, of course, but The Boss closes the space between them instantaneously and snatches the device right out of Dean’s sausage-like fingers.

MRD:
Hey!

SMACK!

MRD:
HEY!

Bobby rubs at the fresh hand-print just deposited on one side of his chubby cheek. He looks up at The Only Star with the hate of an embarrassed toddler in his eyes. The returned scowl is almost enough to send Bobby running away screaming like a little girl.

Eric Dane:
Have you forgotten who in the fuck you are?

MRD:
I’m Bob-

He hesitates, then looks down at his feet before answering.

MRD:
I mean, Mr. Robert Dean!

Eric Dane:
And who do you represent?

MRD: [sheepishly]
You.

Eric Dane: [chastizing]
Who?!

Bobby stammers.

MRD:
ERIC DANE! THE ONLY STAR!

The Boss smirks.

Eric Dane:
And where exactly were those two egg-fucking goofs when you were rotting away in a Waffle House somewhere dead in the middle of Texas?

MRD:
I mean… I don’t… I can’t…

Eric Dane:
They were fuckin’ nowhere, Bobby! Because they’re nobodies who only ever used you for the fat jokes and the gaga! Come on, man, you were on the way to being a bonafide STAR until you fell in with those idiots! And you came out the other side a fat flop of shit begging for handjobs at the Pick ‘N Pay!

Bobby juts out a pouting lip. His eyes find the floor.

MRD: [mumbling]
Yeah. Sorry.

Tension lingers in the air for a moment…

Eric Dane:
Don’t be sorry, Bobby, be better.

The fat assistant nods.

Eric Dane:
And get this shit cleaned up, Bobby, fuck.

Bobby nods.

Eric Dane:
When you’re done bring me a fuckin’ drink, will ya?

~~~

Back on the terrace.

“It never fuckin’ ends.”

He smirks.

“I’ve got morons to the left of me, assholes to the right…”

Said smirk widens into a full-blown grin.

“Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”

A wink polishes off the mockery.

“That would be you, Jiles. And Doozer I guess, though I can’t really see him being too big a factor in this whole she-bang. I mean, he’ll probably take the pinfall for you because somehow out of you and Dooz you’re the goddamned attraction, right?”

The Only Star chuckles.

“That face. Those T-Shades. That stupid fuckin’ haircut, am I right? There’s a reason that I banned you from any and all egg-related activity back in DEFIANCE, dude, and it’s the same reason that you didn’t even put up a fight! It’s because deep down underneath all of that dollar store hair gel and behind the half-gallon of Axe Body Spray that you wear to cover up all those egg farts you good and well goddamned know that you’re a one-trick pony who didn’t even have the courtesy to bring his one fuckin’ trick to the party half the time!”

Just as The Boss starts to heat up again the sliding door behind him opens and out scrambles Mr. Robert Dean with a filled rocks-glass in one hand and a determined look plastered across his cherubic face.

MRD:
I’M HERE AND I GOT YOUR DRINK! TRIPLE-SHOT OF BOURBON NEAT!

Eagerly, Bobby hands it over. The Only Star takes a sip but before he can shoo Bobby off the 2018 Employee of the Year at the Waffle House makes a big deal out of whispering into Dane’s ear. He fails to whisper, but he still makes a big deal out of it.

MRD:
ARE YOU DOING A PROMO? CAN I HELP?

Dane glares at him, tight-lipped and somewhat wide-eyed, but curious enough to let him go on despite having just screamed directly into his brain from half an inch away.

Eric Dane:
You got something you want to say to the Jiles and Doozer?

Bobby nods, two of his chins jiggle. Intrigued, Eric steps aside and takes a long swill of his tasty beverage.

MRD:
Cancer, Cancer, Cancer. I have to say I find it unfathomable…

Dane cocks an eyebrow at Mr. Robert Dean with a slightly surprised look in his eye.

MRD:
That after all this time I’ve been away, you and Dooze have repped the Bandits soooooo poorly. If I remember correctly, when I was leading the Bandits, we had the folks of High Octane constantly looking over their shoulders in fear of when we would strike next. eGG cartons in hand, mischief at our fingertips, this place was filled with fear!

MRD:
Now, look at the two of you. No longer feared. No longer a threat. Simply two dang fools trying to make a buck or two off of a half-assed chuckle from the few idiots out there who are still waiting for ol’ Bee-Bee-Dee here to retake the reigns of our once beautiful trio.

Bobby shrugs.

MRD:
But Eric Dane here has shown me that chuckles will only take a man so far. He has done everything in his power to show me a better way. “Beautiful” Bobby Dean is no more. Mister Robert Dean is here. And Mister Robert Dean doesn’t have the time nor the inclination to throw eGG in your face when it’s SO MUCH MORE SATISFYING to just throw these meat hooks at your face until you stupid mouth doesn’t work anymore and your eyes are so black they’ll make those stupid T-Shades look like reading glasses!

Bobby nods and looks to Eric Dane for encouragement.

MRD:
How did I do boss? Think they’ll take me a little more serious now?

The Antagonist retorts.

Eric Dane:
Maybe if you lost two-hundred pounds.

A tear starts to form in the corner of Bobby’s eye.

Eric Dane:
Ah, fuck, YAAAAAAS Bobby! Hell, I didn’t even know you could string three sentences together, let alone cut a half decent promo anymore! Good show, old boy, now if you don’t mind, go get me another fuckin’ drink, would ya? Let the professional wrap this one on up, ‘kay?

Mister Robert Dean nods enthusiastically as he takes the glass back from The Boss. He lingers, though, sheepishly eyeballing the once and future champion.

Eric Dane:
What, Bobby?

MRD:
Do ya think maybe I can have my phone back?

Dane jabs a hand into a pocket and produces said smart device.

Eric Dane:
You mean this one?

More nodding from the bulbous grapple-man.

Eric Dane:
Nope.

Without a second thought, he tosses the iPhone over his shoulder and down into the Mississippi River below. Horrified, Mr. Robert Dean barely keeps himself together.

Eric Dane:
Buy a fuckin’ android like a grown-up, Bobby. iPhones are for trust-fund babies! Now SCRAM!

With that Mr. Robert Dean makes his way out of the scene with as much dexterity as he can manage with his all the way overweight frame. Dane shakes his head, taking a moment to re-center himself before turning back to the business at hand.

Eric Dane:
There you have it, Jiles, straight from the mouths of babes, am I right? You’re an asshole. A bullshit artist at best and a low-rent hustler on average. You’ve never amounted to a thing anywhere outside of fifteen minutes in DREAM fifteen years ago, and so long as you continue being the lowest common denominator in High Octane Wrestling you’re also gonna keep on keepin’ on losing every other match you get and being left out in the cold when it comes to the big money matches like WarGames…

The Only Star gives one final smirk.

“Don’t make me say it again, Jiles.”

And a wink.

“You know.

Fade.

~~~

Deep in the Heart of Texas
Somewhere in Dan Ryan’s palatial estate
-Dan Ryan’s house is Texas, just saying.

“So, what about Lindz?”

The voice belongs to Eric Dane.

It’s later in the same afternoon. Dane and Dan Ryan have completed a 100% Ego Buster certified workout and the boys are now enjoying a cold drink poolside at one of Dan’s Olympic sized pools. To be specific, this is the one on the third floor next to the city of Austin.

Dan Ryan’s house is fucking huge. He takes a swig from a glass of water bottled by a Viking living on a glacier somewhere in Sweeden or Norway or wherever. It’s crystalline, expensive, and fucking tasty as hell.

Dan Ryan:
What about her?

The Only Star is exasperated as he sips on his glass of scotch on the rocks.

Eric Dane:
Is she on the team or what?

Dan Ryan:
Are we still doing this?

Eric Dane:
She thinks I’m gonna knee her in the face!

Dan Ryan:
You said you were gonna knee her in the face!

Eric Dane:
THAT’S BESIDE THE GODDAMN MOTHERFUCKING POINT!

The Ego Buster gives Dane a castigating stare. For his part, Eric reels it back in about eighty percent and lowers his voice like back into the adult decibel range before his much larger compadre has to even say anything.

Eric Dane:
Sorry. I get riled.

Dan Ryan:
I know. It’s mildly annoying.

Eric Dane:
I know. Whatever. Point being, I just want to make double sure that she’s got my back before this shit gets serious. And it will, sooner than later. WarGames is two months out and we haven’t been making too many friends-

Dan Ryan: [interupting]
You mean you haven’t been making too many friends.

The Only Star shrugs.

Eric Dane:
Do I ever? Besides, you were the one that jacked Farthington’s jaw. All I did was prance around in his belt while he laid their drooling on the mat.

The Ego Buster is incredulous.

Dan Ryan:
Do you wanna know what I think?

Eric nods.

Dan Ryan:
I think you should call Lindsay and ask her yourself.

Dan drains his bottle of water, stands up, and without another word walks over to the pool and dives in. Eric polishes off his own drink and contemplates the advice given. A moment passes before he retrieves a phone from a nearby table and begins scrolling through his contact list.

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