It Doesn’t Matter

I haven’t even opened my eyes, and I can already feel the pain in my back settling in. It’s hard getting old, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. When your body has the miles on it that mine does, you can triple the pain that comes with age. But I need the money, so I need to roll my ass out of bed and I do. My feet hit the ground as I sit up, lean over and grab the half-smoked cigarette from the ash tray on my night stand. I light it up and take in a deep drag of the stale tobacco. I push my hands into my thighs and let out a groan as I get to my feet. My left knee pops, and my back fails to straighten fully before I take a few steps and stretch it out. I can hear her in the kitchen. She’s cooking breakfast, she always does. I walk down the hall and spot in front of the stove, one hand gripping the pan and the other stirring with a spatula. The boxer shorts she’s wearing barely cover her ass, and the wife beater she has on is titled up at the bottom, showing just enough skin to make my heart skip a couple beats…or maybe it’s another palpitation. Fuck it. Either way, she’s still one bad betty. She looks over at me and seductively smiles, biting her bottom lip. She tucks her hair behind her here.

“Put that shit out,” she says waving the spatula toward the cigarette pressed between my two fingers. “You’ve gotta’ training.” She turns away and continues stirring the food in the pan. I walk over to the sink and toss the butt into the drain. “That’s where that goes?” She asks, the attitude in her tone is enough to get me to reach in, pull the cigarette out and toss it in the trash under the sink.

“Whatcha’ cookin?”

“Eggs.”

“That it?”

“Yep, just protein this morning.”

I haven’t had a decent meal in years. While I’ve been lucky enough to have this smokin’ hot woman in my life, we haven’t had the money we’ve needed to live properly in years. We need this HOW money. We need it more than you can imagine. She turns the knob and the stove and it clicks off. I walk over to the decrepit table in the center of the kitchen, and take a seat. She walks over, with a paper plate full of scrambled eggs and drops it in front of me.

“Can I get a fork?” I ask.

She walks over, grabs a fork from the drawer and puts it on my plate. She rubs my head and smiles. “We need this baby,” she says in a soft voice. “I know,” I respond with a mouth full of eggs. I finish my plate, and toss it in the trash. “Go get in the shower, you have work to do.” She’s just trying to take care of me. I need to remember that. Being told what to do isn’t what I like. But she’s right…I do have work to do. I walk back to the room, throw on some shorts and a shirt. I reach into the night stand drawer and grab out my lifting gloves. They still smell like they did five years ago. I head for the front door. She chases me down and kisses my cheek. She whispers into my ear that she loves me. I crack a smile and reach for the door. The doorbell rings, and starts me a bit. I reach for my chest and pain shoots in from my left arm.

“You okay baby?” She asks, rubbing her hand up and down my back. I grunt and swing the door open. A familiar face.

“Jack, what the fuck are you doing here?” I ask. It’s my agent, the guy is always coming around at the wrong time. It’s a wonder why he stays with me. I haven’t collected a decent pay check in years, and because of that…neither has he.

“You’re my whole clientele Steve,” he says with that shit-eatin’ grin of his plastered on his face.

“You Jerry McGuire now?” That’s a 90’s joke, you new millennium fucks.

He laughs and walks past me into the house. “No AC?” The AC’s been out for months, and we can’t afford to fix it. Got no freakin’ money. “Nah, Jack. We enjoy sitting around with swamp ass all summer.”

“I’ll call my guy,” he says. He means well, but he’s got no “guy.” He’s all talk when it comes to shit like this.

“Listen, Steve.” Here we go. Here comes the pitch. My wife rolls her eyes, nearly into the back of her head. You can sense her disdain as she walks into the bedroom. “You’ve got to get started. There’s not a lot of time left, and you got this new kid in a couple of weeks.” I know, yet he always feels the need to remind me of these dumbass facts.

“Look, Jack. We’ve been doing this for years, I don’t need to be reminded,” I say, gritting my teeth. I know what he’s gonna say, and I might just push him in the teeth if he says it.

“But you haven’t.”

There it is. This little worm always trying to get me started. I open the front door back up and walk out in the 102 degree oven we’re calling “outside” these days. I pull the keys to my 77 Chevy 1500 from my pocket. The trucks doesn’t have an AC either, fuck this day already.

Jack bolts out the front door and down the front steps after me. “Where are you going?” I stop dead in my tracks, look down at the gloves in my hand and look back at him. “The gym? That’s what I’m talkin’ about Steve. It’s time to get bad again!” Bad again? What the…

“Baby! Don’t forget your shake!” She runs outside holding a protein shake up in the hair. Three kids on their bikes stop and stare as she bounces out to me. She kisses me on the cheek again. “Good luck,” she says with a smile.

I get into the truck and stick the keys in the ignition. My gut presses up against the steering wheel as it takes me three turns to get this pile of rust started. The engine squeals as it turns over. It still hums like it did brand new when you get past the noise.

I’m alone with my thoughts as I drive down Pacific Coast Highway. I love California, and I’ll never leave. I’ll be homeless before I leave this place. The way Cali is lookin’ these days, that’s a real possibility. I see the tent communities every day. We’re the homeless capital of the United States. The only way I don’t end up another number on some politician’s body count is by earning some of that fuck you HOW money, and to do that I’ve got to get in the ring a few more times. Austin Bishop is the first, of hopefully many, opponents I’ll have in HOW. I’ve never heard of this kid, and I don’t care to learn. I’ve heard of this so-called manager of his, Dick Fury. Another porn star wanna-be. Another one who couldn’t make it himself, so he’ll try and ride the coat tail of others. I really couldn’t give two shits about either of them. At this point, it’s trivial. I need money for my wife and I. We need rent money, good food, and weed. Weed is the only thing that takes away the pain in my knees and eases my blood pressure to a manageable point. But that’s beside the point. I need to take care of myself…and her.

This isn’t a one-off for me. I need to restart my career and get things back to normal. I don’t mind the piece of shit truck, or the fucked up house. But we got to pay for it all somehow. The truck doesn’t run without gas, and you can’t buy gas with a smile. So, here I am. It’s all about the money for me. The rest of it…the rest of it doesn’t matter.

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