America 2-Night

America 2-Night

Posted on July 3, 2024 at 10:59 pm by Drew Mitchell

As if a time machine suddenly transported the world back to 1978…

The schmaltzy strains of a brassy theme song performed by Happy Kyne and the Mirth Makers filled the airwaves as Jerry Hubbard’s voice boomed with all the warmth and overstated enthusiasm of an infomercial host. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to America 2-Night on the UBS Network! This evening, we have a fantastic lineup for you- The Honorable Marshall Petty, Mobile Home daredevil supreme Virgil Simms, and the man who throws opponents around the ring like rag dolls, Drew Mitchell, and his manager, Sunny O’Callahan!”

As the garish red velvet curtains parted, revealing a set that was a mélange of patriotic kitsch and second-hand furniture store finds, Barth Gimble, the epitome of suave dishevelment in his Hawaiian shirt-clad leisure suit, lounged in his chair like a king surveying his court.  He removed the gum from inside his mouth and stuck it to the side of a lamp on the nearby table.

“Good evening, and welcome to America 2-Night,” Barth drawled, a playful twinkle in his eye. With the timing of a seasoned comedian who had delivered more punchlines than a prizefighter, Barth gestured toward the empty spot beside him. “Come join me in this hallowed seat of hilarity, Jerry.”

Jerry Hubbard shuffled over with the gait of a man who’d walked straight out of a time capsule from the ’70s, his bell bottoms swishing with every step. His eyes sparkled with the innocent glee of a child in a candy store as he sank into the adjacent chair, beaming like he’d just won the lottery.

After Jerry settled in next to the host, Barth continued his opening monologue, “Now, I know you’ve been losing sleep, tossing and turning on your avocado green couches, wondering just what the ‘U’ stands for in UBS. Well, folks, after our show is over that mystery will be unraveled in a scintillating 90-minute homage to General Donald Ungerwitter, the tyrant of coin-operated refreshments and our network’s illustrious founder.”

“Isn’t it exciting, Barth? I mean, who wouldn’t want to know about good ol’ General Ungerwitter? He was the meanest son of a bitch in the vending machine business!” Jerry exclaimed, echoing Barth’s earlier sentiment with a tone so reverent one might think they were speaking of a saint.

“Indeed, Jerry, indeed,” Barth replied, barely suppressing a smirk. “We’ll crack open that can of worms after the show.”

***

The studio lights dimmed to a soft glow, casting dramatic shadows across the avocado-green couch as Barth Gimble turned his attention to his next guest. “Ladies and gentlemen, our next guest comes to us from the wide world of professional wrestling.  Brace yourselves for the man whose ear has seen more action than a payphone in a love story,” he quipped, signaling toward the wings with a flourish. “Please welcome… High Octane Wrestling’s Drew Mitchell and his lovely manager… Sunny O’Callahan.

As dour bandleader Happy Kyne and his Mirth Makers played Drew’s entrance music, Drew strode onto the set with the swagger of a man who once the bell rang believed he owned the wrestling ring. The audience erupted in cheers, but it was impossible to ignore the stark white bandage wrapped around his head – a souvenir from his latest bout at War Games. He plopped down on the couch next to Barth, the leather squeaking under his muscular frame.

“Welcome to America 2-Night, Drew,” Barth greeted him, eyes focused on Drew’s bandaged ear. “Holy smokes.  That ear of yours looks like it’s been through a war indeed.”

Drew nodded in agreement.  “Oi.  That it has, Barth… that it has.”

“Now, who did that?”

“Evan Ward.  He’s a fooking wanker.”

The crowd laughed at Drew’s joke… which really wasn’t a joke.  Deep down Drew held Evan Ward with the deepest contempt possible… but Drew played along with the light-heartedness of the evening.

“Tell us, how deep does your dislike for Evan Ward run after that… shall we say, unfortunate biting incident?” Barth leaned in, his eyes twinkling with mischief.

“Deeper than the Mariana Trench, Barth,” Drew replied, his British accent lending an exotic touch to the conversation. “Ward’s got a bite worse than his bark, and trust me, his bark resonances like a toy poodle in heat.”

Jerry Hubbard, ever the eager sidekick, chimed in with a chuckle. “Sounds like he gave you a real earful, eh Drew?” His grin was wide, clearly pleased with his pun.

Barth’s face contorted into a look of discomfort that suggested he’d swallowed a lemon whole. “Jerry, your humor is, as always, uniquely… auditory.”

Jerry didn’t mess a step.  “I’ve been told my voice does carry quite well inside an auditory.”

Barth’s eyebrows raised and quickly moved forward before awkward silence set in.  “Right.  Drew, let’s move on to your upcoming match,” he continued, eager to shift gears. “You’re going up against the likes of Noah Hanson, Brian Hollywood, and Silent Witness at HOW’s Chaos 67. Now, I’ve got to ask- does Noah Hanson actually own KFC?”

Drew scratched his chin, feigning contemplation. “Can’t say for sure, but if he does, maybe he’ll throw in some chicken wings for me other ear.”

“Speaking of Hollywood,” Jerry piped up, oblivious to the eye roll Barth shot him, “do you think Brian lives in Hollywood? Like, the real one?”

“Jerry, I have no fooking clue, mate.” Drew shrugged dismissively, a wry smile playing on his lips.

“And what about Silent Witness?” Jerry persisted, leaning forward with genuine curiosity. “Is he actually silent… and a witness?”

Barth’s expression froze in a rictus of polite incredulity, while Drew blinked, his charm momentarily faltering as he tried to parse the absurdity. “Well, Jerry, I reckon he gonna witness the inside of his eyelids… silently… quite well when I’m done with him in the ring,” Drew finally said, layering on the British charm thickly enough to spread on toast.

The audience roared with laughter, and even Barth couldn’t help but crack a smile at the wrestler’s quick recovery. It seemed, for all his brawn, Drew Mitchell could dance verbally as well as he grappled physically—an entertainer through and through.

The camera panned back to Barth, who glanced around the set with a puzzled expression before leaning slightly forward in his chair. “Seems we’re missing one shining star tonight,” he mused aloud, a teasing lilt to his voice. “Drew, care to enlighten us on where Sunny has scampered off to?”

“Ah, I don’t know.  I thought she was right behind me,” Drew replied, stretching an arm along the back of the couch, his casual demeanor a stark contrast to his imposing frame. “Something about getting ready for her big debut.” His lips quirked in a barely-there smirk.

Just then, Sunny O’Callahan stumbled into view, her blonde curls a halo of disarray around her head as she gripped a bottle of Southern Comfort like a life preserver, dressed in the guise of a background singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd.

“There she is,” Gimble exclaimed.  “Sunny O’Callahan, everyone.”

Flopping onto the cushion beside Drew, she took a swig and scowled. “What kind of sick joke is this?” Her voice wavered between a growl and a whine, her Irish-tinged accent thickening with her annoyance.

“Whoa, whoa, slow down,” said Barth, holding up a hand as if to physically restrain the tension in the air. “What seems to be the problem, Sunny?”

“What’s the problem?  I was all set to come out here and show the world a different side to me.  Sunny O’Callahan…,” Sunny took another drink before finishing her thought. “…sock puppeteer extraordinaire.”

“Sock puppeteer extraordinaire?” questioned Barth.

“Yes.  I’ve always had a love for sock puppeteering.  I thought tonight would be a great opportunity to show the world that Sunny O’Callahan is more than just a pro wrestling manager.”  Sunny threw her free hand in the air dramatically. “But when I turned my back for just a second, poof! The sock puppet vanished!”

Barth leaned back, concern knitting his brows. “Vanished? You sure it didn’t just fall behind the couch or something?”

“Believe me, Barth, I looked!” Sunny’s frustration bubbled over, “It’s nowhere to be found.”

“Perhaps the little fella got cold feet,” Jerry suggested helpfully, though his words only seemed to fan the flames as Sunny shot a withering glare at him.

“Or maybe cold toes, considering it’s a sock?” Barth added with a sympathetic grimace.

Sunny shot them both a glare that could curdle milk, prompting a snort from Drew. He couldn’t help himself; the image of a sock puppet fleeing in terror was too much.

“Drew! Not helping, mate!” Sunny snapped, whacking Drew’s shoulder with enough force to make him wince.  “I feel stupid enough as it is.”

“Sorry, sorry,” Drew managed between suppressed chuckles, his face reddening as he tried to regain composure.

Barth shook his head slowly, his eyes darting between the pair. “This is terrible. You feel stupid,” he gestured to Sunny, “he,” a nod toward Jerry, “is stupid- and I don’t know where I stand.” His tone was one of mock despair, but his eyes twinkled with the absurdity of the situation.

“Maybe the sock went off looking for a shoe?” Jerry pondered aloud, earning a groan from Barth and a thump on the arm from Sunny.

“Alright, let’s not unravel at the seams here,” Barth said, aiming for a steadying note. “We’ll find your sock puppet, Sunny, even if we have to turn this set upside down.”

“Or shake out every last boot in the building,” Drew cracked, resulting in another smack on the shoulder from Sunny.

Drew glanced down at Sunny’s bottle, thinking to himself that perhaps a bit of liquid courage might be the best solution after all to get through this crisis as the set of “America 2-Night” buzzed with the kind of energy that only live television can muster, and it had just gotten a major shot of adrenaline right straight to the heart.

A tech guy, harried and slightly out of breath from sprinting backstage, emerged onto the kitschy set carrying an envelope.

“Miss O’Callahan,” he panted, thrusting the paper into Sunny’s hands. She eyed it suspiciously before unfolding it, her frizzy blonde locks bouncing with every movement.

“What is it?” Sunny said to him, taking the paper in hand and reading through it.  “You’ve got to be kidding me.  A ransom note?”

“Good Lord, not a ransom note!” Barth exclaimed, peering over her shoulder with mock seriousness.

“What the f-,“ Sunny exclaimed, catching herself before she added more gasoline to the fire by dropping an F-bomb on television. The studio audience… amused already by Sunny’s near outburst… erupted in laughter when Sunny read the note aloud. “‘We have your sock puppet. Do not call the police. We will call with instructions for ransom.'” Her Irish-tinged voice carried a mix of amusement and exasperation.

“Oi.  Who in their right mind would snatch a sock puppet and hold it for ransom?” Drew mused, rubbing his bandaged ear.

“Maybe it’s being held hostage by a disgruntled laundry machine,” Jerry chimed in, eliciting a snicker from the crowd and a comically exaggerated facepalm from Barth.

“Or perhaps the sock’s seeking asylum from a life of foot odor,” Drew added, his British charm shining through despite the absurdity of the situation.

*SMACK*

Before anyone could offer another ludicrous theory, the shrill ring of the phone cut through the air.

“Wow,” Jerry said, “what is this?”

Barth reached out to the prop telephone on a nearby table, the garish pattern of his Hawaiian shirt practically vibrating under the stage lights. “Not now, Jerry.”

“Well, what is this?”

“Hello?” Barth answered.

Sunny O’Callahan?”

“Hello?” Barth repeated.

Is Sunny O’Callahan there, eh?”

“Hello?”

Is this Sunny O’Callahan?”

Barth’s eyebrows raised as he listened to the distinctly Canadian ‘ehs’ on the other end. “No, this isn’t Sunny O’Callahan. This is Barth Gimble, the host of America 2-Night.” He flashed a showman’s grin at the camera, then passed the receiver to Sunny.

“I think it’s a wrong number,” he quipped, drawing laughs from the audience once more.

“Hello,” an incredibly annoyed Sunny spat into the receiver.

Is this Sunny?

“Yes, it is.”

I was down there today and I snuck in and took your sock puppet.”

“You stole my sock puppet?” Sunny’s voice dripped with incredulity, the Southern Comfort she sipped doing nothing to mask her feigned irritation.

Yeah, eh. I’ve got it right here in my hand. And I was thinking, I’d like to make some money off of this deal, eh?

Sunny’s widening eyes told the story. “Wait.  You stole my sock puppet and now you want to make some money off this?”

Drew leaned back on the couch, arms crossed, a smirk tugging at his lips. “Just give him a couple quid?” he joked, nudging Sunny playfully with his elbow.

The audience roared with laughter, the script forgotten as the spontaneous comedy unfolded.

“Hey, hey, let me give it a shot,” Jerry interjected, reaching for the receiver with the eagerness of a child at a candy store.

Reluctantly, Sunny handed it over, her brows knitting together in bemusement.

“Okay pal, listen up,” Jerry began, his voice a blend of bravado and bluster. “If you really got the sock, let’s hear it say something so we know it’s okay. Put it on the phone!”

There was a pause, then a snort from the other side.

What are you, an idiot?”

Barth couldn’t help but smirk, the corners of his mouth twitching upwards as he gazed into the camera before he slowly turned to face Jerry, who looked momentarily flustered, while the crowd broke up in laughter.

“Uh, he recognized my voice,” Jerry stammered and swiftly passed the handset back to Sunny as laughter continued to bubble up from the studio audience.

“I think he recognized more than that, Jerry,” Barth deadpanned, his eyes twinkling with mirth.

Refocusing, Sunny reclaimed the phone, her tone shifting gears. “Look, that sock means a lot to me. Let’s talk numbers.”

Five hundred grand.”

“Five hundred grand?” Sunny scoffed, her disbelief echoing across the set. “For an old sweatsock with googly eyes and a glued-on smile? How about ten bucks?”

The absurdity of the negotiation played out like a comedic tennis match, the ransom bouncing back and forth between outrageous and laughable until finally landing at a price both ridiculous and oddly specific.

“Twelve dollars and fifty cents,” Sunny declared triumphantly, her Irish lilt dancing through the words.

Done,” came the grudging acceptance.

With the ‘crisis’ averted, Barth leaned forward, the seasoned ringmaster ready to usher in a reprieve. “Well, folks,” he said with a flourish, “we’ll be right back with Happy Kyne and the Mirth-Makers after these messages.”

Drew finally burst into laughter and then doubled over on the couch.

*WHAP*

Sunny’s right hand again smacked him on the shoulder as the cameras zoomed out as the set dissolved into commercials, the sound of the audience’s laughter escorting them into the break.

**RIP Martin Mull**

Monday July 1st – Missouri Bluffs Golf Club- St. Charles, Missouri
On the fourteenth tee of the Missouri Bluffs Golf Club in St. Charles, Missouri… the home golf course of Brinsley Decker and her father… Drew Mitchell relaxed and reclined inside a golf cart, watching Brinsley take a few practice swings before teeing up her ball and preparing for her drive.  The sun glinted off the non-engagement ring adorning Brinsley’s ring finger… a symbol of Drew’s unspoken commitment to her… as she took one last look down the fairway and ginned herself to hit the shot.

Drew’s muscular arm rested on the wheel of the golf cart, a casual display of relaxed power while Brinsley brought her driver back and powered through the ball… sending it rocketing off the clubface, streaking down the fairway with an assured zip that only Brinsley Decker could impart.

“Nice form, love,” he praised, his voice carrying over the gentle rustle of leaves. With a smirk that knew no boundaries, Drew’s blue eyes danced with mischief while surveying Brinsley’s silhouette against the verdant backdrop.

She pivoted smoothly on her heel to face Drew, her posture all statuesque elegance amidst the undulating green. Her gaze locked onto his, a cocktail of amusement and razor-sharp focus simmering in her eyes.

The HOTv camera loomed to their side, its red eye unblinking and eager for a show. Drew turned towards it, that rogueish wrestler’s charm dialed up to ten. “Just like that, precision and focus. That’s how you win golf tournaments.” He gestured with a flourish that seemed to draw an invisible line from her poised stance to the broader strategies of combat within the squared circle.

“And pro wrestling matches,” Brinsley sparred right back.  “So Drew, what’s your strategy for Chaos 67, then?” The dry humor in her voice was as finely tuned as her swing.

Drew leaned into the moment, a sly smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Lass, it’s like choosing the right club.  In wrestling parlance… it’s coming up the right move, depending on the situation,” he said, the playfulness in his tone masking the steely intent behind his words.

With a casual swagger, he shifted forward, elbows finding purchase on his knees. The camera lens feasted on his every move, capturing the raw charisma that had come to define Drew Mitchell in the ring. “Against Hanson, I’ll be the driver- powerful, direct.” He pantomimed a swing, his arm muscles flexing beneath the fabric of his tee. “I’ll overpower him with me snazzy wrestling form and set up for the Tenchi Crash.

“I see,” Brinsley said, nodding back as Drew spoke and accelerating the golf cart in search for her perfect tee shot some 225 yards down range.

“Then there’s Silent Witness,” he continued, his voice dropping to a conspiratorial whisper, as if sharing a secret with the entire world. “He’ll taste the iron, strategic strikes to keep him off balance before I end his night with the Tenchi Crash.”

Brinsley brought the cart to a stop as Drew’s eyes gleamed with the reflection of a plan well-crafted. “And Hollywood?” A chuckle escaped him, rich with challenge. “Well, he’s the tricky putt. Gotta read the green, anticipate his moves.” His hand gestured deftly, a mime of reading an invisible terrain before him.  “Hollywood’s experienced but I’ll solve the riddle and end his evening with the Tenchi Crash.”

“Not bad,” Brinsley commented.  She pulled out a three-wood from her bag and calmly walked up to her ball… hunched over… swung through… and launched it another 200 yards down the fairway.  “Not bad at all.”  Brinsley arched one finely shaped eyebrow, her gaze glancing off the soaring golf ball before landing back on Drew with a playful skepticism. “Sounds like you’ve got it all planned out,” she remarked, the light breeze ruffling her brunette locks as she rested the club over her shoulder, her competitive edge sharpening the air between them.

“Course I do,” Drew shot back, pushing himself up from the golf cart with an ease that belied the strength it took to maneuver his muscular frame. He rose, stretching his arms toward the clear blue sky in a display reminiscent of his ring entrances, his fitted tee stretching across the broad expanse of his chest. The confidence he wielded was as tangible as the weight of the championship belt he aspired to claim.

“Well mister,” Brinsley said, again driving the golf cart down the fairway in search of her ball, “In wrestling, like golf, you’ve got to know the terrain, play to your strengths, and always, always keep your eye on the prize.”

His piercing blue eyes locked onto hers, the intensity within them a mirror to the ambition that fueled his every action.

“You do realize there’s a title shot on the line,” Brinsley reminded him.

“Aye… and I’d be chuffed to wrap another belt around me waist… especially this early in me HOW career,” replied Drew.

“Well, let’s look at your opponents,” Brinsley continued. “Silent Witness.  He’s an old school HOW guy.  He’s dangerous but his time has passed, hasn’t it?  Brian Hollywood… he hasn’t been the same ever since Halitosis beat him for the World Title in 2019.  Noah Hanson… meh.  He should go back to movies.  No, Drew… you need to demonstrate to Silent Witness, Brian Hollywood, and Noah Hanson that Drew Mitchell is the present and future… that this is the time of Drew Mitchell… that this is the moment of Drew Mitchell.”

“Oi.  The other three need to budge up and give way.   They need to sod off,” Drew said.

“You’re damn right they do,” Brinsley exclaimed.

Drew nodded.  “I learned a lot from me War Games experience.  Me ear will heal.  But me wrestling knowledge continues to grow and I will continue to improve with every match.”

“Absolutely.”

The camera continued to roll, capturing Brinsley Decker’s approach shot to the fourteenth green where she left herself a tidy ten-foot putt for birdie.  The camera also captured the raw magnetism of Drew Mitchell- a man who knew his power and how to wield it—whether with a microphone in hand or a championship on the line. Drew squared his shoulders and pressed them back against the passenger seat of the golf cart, the late afternoon sunlight casting a golden halo around his imposing silhouette. With the confidence of a man who has never known defeat, he fixed his gaze on the HOTv camera, its lens a silent witness to his declaration.

“Watch me at Chaos 67,” he commanded, each word ringing with the same intensity that fueled his relentless drive in the ring. The air around him seemed to charge with anticipation, the quiet fairway momentarily transformed into an arena where every eye was fixed on him alone.  I’ll be climbing that ladder, rung by calculated rung… until the title opportunity is mine.” His hands clenched and unclenched at his sides, a physical manifestation of the determination that pulsed through his veins.

Brinsley, always composed, leaned against her putter, relaxed in posture but sharp-eyed as she lined up her birdie putt. “Or until you fall flat on your face,” she retorted. Her voice was light and casual, but the quick flash of concern in her piercing blue eyes revealed a depth of emotion she rarely let show.

Drew’s grin was all bravado and challenge, a fearless showman ready to conquer or crash with equal gusto. “Either way, love,” he said with a charismatic flash of teeth, “It’ll make for great telly.”

The camera zoomed in for a final shot, capturing Brinsley as she rolled in her ten-footer for birdie.

“That it will, Drew.”