Wednesday, the Sixth of May, Twenty-Twenty
Seventeen Minutes Past Four P.M.
An undisclosed location in the luxury area of Illinois known as Winnetka, famous for the one and only Home Alone house. But that’s not where we are at, no, we are in an even better home that is rather empty. That’s because James Witherhold has just purchased this property as a stay-over for the guys in 24k. All day tomorrow crews will be in and out furnishing the place to spec. Obviously, now’s the calmest time to use it for our brief chat.
The home though, is a great reminder of how the group known as 24k works. Travel in style, be in style, and stay in style. No need for hotels, check-ins, tipping bellhops that don’t even deserve to shine your shoes with their tongues, none of it.
James is more casual today than normal. Classic gold framed aviator sunglasses on his face. He’s dawning his new line of t-shirt. Black with “24k” in gold over the right pec, sleeves trim also in gold. A pretty great shirt! Also in a rare pair of faded blue jeans, black Adidas with, you guessed it, the three signature stripes gold.
He stands in the kitchen area, leaning against the island that takes most of the shot. Glass of whiskey (of course) on a marbled coaster to his right.
“You see this place? Lovely right? It’s 24k’s new digs. They’ll probably turn this into some kind of 24k museum or some shit like that after we finish making our mark here in Chicagoland. Until then, we own a piece of property to use when needed because honestly… traveling gets old. Limo to the airport, board the private plane, limo to the show, get treated like shit by Lee Best… limo to the airport, board the private… you get it.”
Perfection jumps up on the island counter sitting on it with his hands placed on his thighs.
“Efficiency, ladies and gentlemen! And not only that, this is just one part of the business 24k does better than anyone else. We’re like a working family, if you will. Actually, I’ll even admit it’s one of the few things Dan Ryan & Lindsay Troy also excel at- keeping themselves a cohesive ‘family’ unit.”
He lifts his glasses so we can see his eyes.
“I bet your own families don’t even like you… Ungratefuls.”
And lets them drop back to position.
“Don’t think I didn’t take notice how you treated ‘yours truly’ when he stepped foot from behind the curtain at Lethal Lottery! Acting like a bunch of unworthy ingrates! If it wasn’t because I have a bigger purpose this week I’d really give you something to bitch at! Maybe five minutes of fucking headlocks and a second added everytime you open your disgusting mouths!”
Perfection leans forward a bit. Turning in towards the left.
“Just because I can!”
Soft snicker to himself.
“I tried to play nice with you fucks. Tried to give you what you wanted- WRESTLING! But no, no, no. Clearly that doesn’t satisfy you. In fact, I don’t think there is a single thing I could do to make you pieces of shit appreciate the greatness in front of your very fucking eyes! I could find the cure for cancer and still be denounced by you pathetic lot.”
Witherhold waves it off.
“But that’s perfectly fine because as I said, this week is one of pure purpose.”
Easy and short lived finger point at the camera.
“Which brings us right to you, Mr. Steven Solex. Let’s be fair with each other for two… and I mean that… two minutes. You and I, Andy and Joe… this is just all a tad bit awkward now, right?”
Taking his time he returns to normal posture and for the next minute we catch some sincerity.
“It’s almost like you and I should tag team together… against our own tag team partners, just for the fun of it. You and Perfection… side by side, riding the glorious wave of tag team victory…”
He gives that idea some time to build.
“If only you were so lucky. Maybe in some alternate universe ‘yours truly’ does waste his God given talents tagging with you. Weird yet possible… albeit highly doubtful.”
Sincerity time is over with the shake of Perfection’s head.
“But no, Steven. In this timeline that actually matters, the ‘World’s Greatest Technician’ has zero interest in working with the ‘World’s Greatest Dad’. In fact, ‘yours truly’ feels a bit bitter over the entire bullshit that was the Lethal Lottery! Bitter isn’t even the goddamn word for it, Steven!”
The heat that was starting to grow in Witherhold’s tone begins to come down.
“What possibly could I be bitter about though? I had a hard fought victory over you, Solex. Not the easiest of tasks I’ve had lately. You put up a hell of a fight and I can appreciate that. Every week it seems the level of competition increases. Stevens, Mamba, Flyer, you. How the fuck does that song go that Mikey always quotes?”
James taps his chin. Hmmm.
“Ah right, that ‘Chance a Rapper’ loser or whatever, they all sound the same to me. Anyways, it goes: ‘started from the bottom now I’m here’. So, why the bitterness, Steven, as I make my slow and steady rise? Because your fuckhead of a partner, Joe Bergman, has the other half of OUR gold! Do you think we went out of our way to have custom made belts just to shelve them a few weeks later?!”
Didn’t take long for the heat to come back.
“Do you think that sort of manufacturing comes easy you fucks? Comes cheap?! Because of him our glorious, artisan fabricated, twenty-four-kay belts are being used as Frappe coasters! All due to Lee Best being too fucking lazy to do his job and wanting to pull names out of goddamn hat!”
James takes off his glasses and flings them to the other side of the room. Few seconds pass before we hear them crash to the floor with a thundering echo. Yeah. From glasses. That’s how big and empty the space is.
“And it’s certainly not Mikey’s fault! It’s not JFK’s fault. What were they meant to do? Pile on poor Andy? Go for his knee? Absolutely not. So, it is what it is. We have half and some dopey beta fucks have the other half. Actually, you know what…?
We can’t tell but James is biting his tongue. Literally.
“Fuck… guys, PBR is on the goddamn map!”
Slow mocking clap.
“You made it to the spotlight! The big time! Name in the marquee type shit and you’re fucking WELCOME! You should be sending us a gift basket to this new piece of prize I’m sitting in here in Winnetka, gentlemen! You should be catering our private suite with Gibson’s or Morton’s weekly for what WE’VE done for you!”
Perfection pops down from the counter and makes a slow walk to behind the island while talking. On the back of the shirt runs his personal signature “Perfection” in gold diagonally.
“Let me be crystal goddamn clear, boys. PBR holds half of the tag team gold because of 24k! The only reason that section of welfare cunts in two-one-four are even relevant to any conversation is because of 24k! And the only fucking reason you’ll keep that belt up among the commoners… for the time being… is because of 24k- period!”
He puts his hand up.
“Sadly, there is no avenue for me to take on Joe one on one for one half of the High Octane Tag Team Championships. No avenue to plant his ass firmly into the canvass and bring half of the belts back to where they TRULY belong, among MEN!”
Perfection gives is an ego filled smirk with a shrug of acceptance.
“High class men at that!”
There’s that grin you want to smack off with a wrecking ball.
“The fact is, Steven, while you are living your ordinary, mundane life I’m living in luxury. While you’re making Ballpark Franks for your inept son, 24k are eating the finest of cuisine. While you act like a little try-hard with your ridiculous attempts to recreate Mayberry, 24k are living fucking reality!”
Witherhold takes a small sip from the whiskey before looking up.
“Shoot. We ARE reality!”
Setting the glass down the tone changes darker from Perfection.
“And reality is, I don’t give a single flying fuck if I break your neck and leave you a paraplegic at Refueled, Steven. Seriously, I don’t. I don’t care if the only way your son can play catch after our match is bouncing a ball off your lifeless forehead.”
A shake of the head that carries zero fucks.
“I bet Little Jebidah wouldn’t even notice the difference.”
He folds his arms on the top and leans forward.
“In fact, I’d wager that while you’re playing “World’s Best Dad” to your dopey soy-boy son, Steve, he’s looking up to 24k, REAL men! He probably turned on that TV to Lethal Lottery and enjoyed watching a real life display of alpha male dominance by ‘yours fucking truly’.”
Perfection is enjoying every minute of this and we can see it in his face. Not only is he enjoying it, he probably even believes it.
“Take a good hard look next week how the ladies look at us, Steven. Like every second fixated on the ‘Golden Lads’ causes miniature explosions of their loins. We literally need security to keep them at bay! Even that lovely wife of yours, Karen, probably looks at us up and down every chance she gets! ’24k- mmm, mmm, mmm’. Poor bitch… probably hasn’t been fucked outside of missionary since her wedding day.”
A sly look comes across his face.
“Hey, Kare-bare, babe, if you want a great time instead of the walking ‘Roman’ ad, you swing your ass by our suite sometime. I’m more than sure you know where it is.”
Witherhold mouths ‘text me’ before giving us that trademark smile.
“Plain and simple, Steven, and to the point… I’m going to make a fucking example out of you Saturday. A message directed at your partner printed and stamped on your body. A message that will echo throughout the halls of the Allstate Arena:”
“Don’t fuck us over!”
“Believe me when I say that message is going to be made clear! No headlocks for you, Steven. No drop toe holds. None of it. Sorry, not sorry. So, Steven, at Refueled… when I drag you turnbuckle to turnbuckle by your stupid fucking mustache, when I start to twist and turn your joints to the point of snapping- you can thank Joe!”
Perfection lets the energy flow through as he spouts off.
“While I attempt to cave in your thick fucking skull with my beautifully handcrafted boot- you can thank Joe! Because all Joe had to do was lay down on the canvass and throw the match. That’s it. Everyone would have been happy. You two could have gone on and challenged us out right instead of playing Lee’s garbage games.”
Disappointment crosses Witherhold’s face.
“Hell, we may have even taken you out for beers afterwards. Found common ground. Instead of that, instead of breaking bread with the perceived ‘enemy of High Octane’… you, PBR, fucked us over. I don’t know how many times I have to say this… but again, for those like you, Steven, who lack in retention.”
It’s said with annoyance and every bit condescending.
“I. Hate. Being. FUCKED! Fucked out of matches, titles, especially money! Laying down for us would have been a smart thing for Bergman. Advising him to do so though… that would have been genius, Solex. Surely that would have been easier than what is going to happen at Refueled when I get my goddamn hands on you again!”
James now points at the camera.
“You think our War Games match we battled, a chance on a team that I might not even be selected for, motivated me, Steven? Honestly, ask yourself that fucking question! Do you think the Lethal Lottery, as a whole, got my blood pumping? I’ll answer as you process- no. It didn’t. I don’t enjoy things with zero guarantees. Not how I do business, buddy.”
Perfection turns his head just slightly.
“Do you know what is a guarantee though? Something I can promise, Steve?”
Tell us, James.
“I’m going to bend and break you in ways you can’t even fucking comprehend. I’m going to make you consider staying home with that dopey cunt of a wife, wondering if going back to the ring is worth not being able to play with your little boy.”
There it is! The hand up and ‘hold on’.
“And no one would think any different of you if you did. I surely wouldn’t. You’d be doing what you do best… existing.”