Familiar Suspects

Familiar Suspects

Posted on April 14, 2020 at 10:35 pm by Teddy Palmer

April 14th, 2020

1:27 am – Toronto Police Service, 14th Division

…just think of the potential carnage it would cause if Andy Murray and Teddy Palmer had their numbers drawn to TEAM UP against the Hollywood Bruvs for the Tag Team Championships?

Somewhere in the distant past, twenty two year old Ted is creaming his jeans at the prospect of pursuing Tag Team Gold with ‘The Scottish King of Cool’. Present day Ted, however, would rather let every man and woman in the land of High Octane form a nice orderly line, and one by one practice their punting abilities with his nutsack. It’s not like I have a fuckin’ say in the matter, though. This hypothetical partnership and showdown is merely one of countless possible arranged marriages. Personally, I’ve got my fingers crossed hoping that divine intervention pairs me with the Son of God, and we throw down in fisticuffs over the prestigious ICON Championship. But maybe destiny intervenes and I find myself in that inevitable rubber match with the General of North Kaelrea, waging war over the LSD Championship. Or maybe, just maybe, fate will be a cruel bitch and I’ll find myself on the outside looking in, the number fourteen not being so lucky after all. 

Who fuckin’ knows what will happen?

Lee’s Lethal Lottery is upon us.

Assuming that fourteen won’t be a total dud, this lottery is an intriguing opportunity for me to dip my toes back in the competitive waters after the heartbreak that was March To Glory. Undone by a miscalculation, clubbing blows, and my elbow nearly being ripped out of joint, I was denied the crowning achievement every wrestler dreams of from the moment they lace up their boots: to be called World Champion. Instead of departing the Colosseum with 97Red tightly secured around my waist, I acquired a fancy new elbow brace (the bionic elbow II to be exact) and a new spot in the challengers line: the back. And rightfully so. But I also walked out of Rome shouldering much more than disappointment. I boarded my return flight with a burning desire and motivation to tear through every competitor standing in front of me in that line and earning my place as challenger once more.

So scratch referring to this lottery as an intriguing opportunity, that doesn’t accurately depict it at all. This lottery is the perfect fuckin’ way to hop back on the horse.

The gravity of this unique event isn’t lost on me, not one bit. That number of mine gets drawn, and a golden opportunity presents itself. Literally. Jumping back in that W column doesn’t just catapult me up that line, it brings with it an envious reward. One of three Championships or locking down a spot in the main event of War Games, where wouldn’t you fuckin’ guess it, the World Championship will be on the line.

Winning this lottery is more than just a dream: it’s a necessity.

The 14th Division of the Toronto Police Service isn’t anything special, most certainly nothing to write home about. The neglected precinct is in dire need of some TLC, be it it’s leaky ceilings, faulty electrical or other various building code violations. The city has deemed the half-assed structure, and for the sake of being transparent, the entire district, not to be of much importance in comparison to its counterparts. Nevertheless, it serves as the proud homebase of one, Sergeant Lawrence Palmer.

For those that don’t recognize the professional moniker, let me strip him down to his most basic of titles for you: Big Brother Larry. The very Larry who worked his magic, namely looping the surveillance system, so baby brother, moi, could make use of his dilapidated interrogation room for an evening’s worth of, well, interrogating.

Interrogation! Who you ask? A spy? A conman? I’m afraid the answer isn’t too exciting. Ready for it? Okay…it’s…me. That’s right, Ted interogatting Ted. Told you it wasn’t that exciting…

You see, this Lethal Lottery has brought about an anticipation of sorts. There is a buzz amongst everyone who decided to toss their name in the hat. The type of excitement a child would feel the night before their birthday, dreaming what type of present would appear after cake time. What shiny surprise hid beneath the colorful wrapping paper? Would it live up to the anticipation, buzz and excitement?

Here’s the thing I’ve quickly realized: whether or not the surprise lives up to all the hype, I need to be prepared. Sure, I can take the ‘I’m on a warpath’ approach and go in blindly, balls a blazing, but would it really be the smartest idea? Don’t get me wrong, I am on a fuckin’ warpath, but name me one victor that has ever won a war without proper intel, strategy and execution?

My point exactly.

So here I find myself, tucked away in the 14th Division’s interrogation room, questioning my knowledge of the entire High Octane roster. We’ve now entered hour six in this aggressive showdown of “What’s in the box?!”, and it turns out this study session has proven to be quite fruitful. It seems I’ve spent most of my time employed here occupied within a small circle of our contracted performers, which left me with plenty to learn about the bulk of my potential competition.

Take the eGG Bandits for example. It’s a book you can easily judge by giving its cover the once over. They toss eggs at people. No seriously. Like a bunch of teenagers on Devil’s Night, it’s their calling card. I witnessed it first hand when they returned to the company during that ladder match. Digging a little deeper, they’re currently embroiled in a ‘will they or won’t they break up’ soap opera, but when taking a quick glance at their win/loss, it’d be easy to not give a single, solitary fuck about this trio. I, and anyone else for that matter, would be mistaken in doing so.

Doozer, Cancer Jiles and Bobby Dean are employed at High Octane for a reason. They are talented men who deserve to be here, and it’s not beyond them to find their way, be it together or apart. Writing any of those three men off would be the same as writing me off after that abysmal performance (performance might be a bit of an exaggeration) I gave in that ladder match. I went on to win the LBI two weeks later, so who’s to say that one or multiple Bandits don’t use this Lottery to change their fortunes? 

I for one ain’t ignorant enough to say it.

How about MJ Flair and High Flyer? Talk about two wayward roster members whose value has plummeted quicker than the current stock market. That’s the obvious take at least. Beneath the recent knives in their backs and piled up losses, are two hungry, driven fighters. Both showed as much in their recent defeats, pushing Murray and Perfection to the brink. Not to mention they own a ‘to be redeemed at a later date’ opportunity at the Tag Team Championships. It’s not hard to imagine one or both walking away with a solo Championship or punching their ticket to the main event of War Games. The skill and will certainly exists. It’d also be one massive fuck you to Lindsay and Dan, which quite frankly I’d love to see.

So would it shock me to see this scenario play itself out? Not in the least bit.

The list here goes on and on. Most of this praise is painless to divvy out, the abundance of talent and skill easy to appreciate and admire.

Joe Bergman and Steven Solex: Their taste in beer is shit, but they’ve tapped into something special as PBR. 

Chris Kostoff: He might not be the same man who put together his Hall of Fame career, but he’ll still knock your fuckin’ block off. 

Zeb Martin: No idea what the fuck he’s trying to say, but what I do understand is he beat a former World Champion in his debut.

Then, of course, plenty of this kudos sucks balls to fork over. Same talent and skill, but it’s attached to complete wastes of skin.

Perfection: This douchenozzle christened himself with a label that reflects his inflated ego, but unfortunately is befitting of the title (for now).

Kendrix: The OG ‘Bruv’ has the personality of a fuckin’ doorknob, but what he lacks in charisma, he makes up for with his severely underrated technical abilities.

Dan Ryan: When this brick shithouse isn’t busy committing acts of treason and losing titles he never won, he’ll waste no time crushing your skull between his massive mits.

Regardless what end of the spectrum you look at, it’s the same unifying theme across the board: talent, talent, talent. But through all this intense interrogation in seek of answers, I discovered another common thread amongst this collective…

Not a single one of them will beat me.

That’s not cockiness seeping through. It’s certainly not a reckless assessment of my potential suitors. It’s simply the cold, hard truth. These men and women carry with them their own motivations, but I know none of them carry the same motivation I do.They all want to win the lottery.

I need to win the lottery…

PSSSSHTUH!

“PALMER!” I scream out in disgust.

The foreign substance that was instinctively projectiled from my mouth litters the table top in front of me, and everything resting atop it. I heave and spit repeatedly, trying to eliminate the thickness suffocating the saliva in my mouth. While doing so, I feverishly swipe away at my beard, trying to remove the overall grossness that clings to hairs on my chinny chin chin. As I act like a child whose mother forced vegetables upon him, the door to the room bursts open. Light cascades into the dim room from the hallway, but is cut in half by Larry’s large frame.

“Did you just call me Palmer?” He asks quizzically.

“What the fuck is this shit?!” I demand.

“Some sort of Caramel Frappe.” He replies, my eyes popping in shock. “Thought you might like it.”

“Trust me, you said. Trust me. Let me ask you this: Do I look like a teenage girl? Do I look like Mikey Unlikely?” I ask rhetorically. Standing up, the chair beneath my ass slides backwards, scraping along the concrete floor. “I am a full grown man, not some punk ass bitch.”

Walking over towards the trash bin in the corner of the room, I Gronk spike that plastic cup of filth. It explodes upon reaching the metal bottom, a mist of brown goo spraying upwards, decorating the wall behind it. Turning towards Larry, he looks unimpressed with my tantrum.

“You’re cleaning that shit up.” He says, pointing at me and the mess.

Running my hands through my hair, I walk back over to the table, nodding at big brother. Using the pile of napkins that came with the drink and sandwich, I wipe up what I can of the puddles, mostly focusing on my investigation journal. Opening its cover, I’m relieved to see the interior pages are unharmed.

“What’s that?” Larry asks as he approaches.

“An investigation journal.”

He snatches it from my hands and begins to rifle through the pages. He hums and haws, tilts his head to the left, then to the right, scrunches his eyes and purses his lips.

“An investigation journal?” He asks doubtfully.

“Yes. An investigation journal.” I reply, sure of myself.

“It’s literally just High Octane headshots and basic statistics.”

“I didn’t say it was a good one…” I reply sarcastically before leading into the real meat of it. “Consider that puppy a potential to-do list. Putting all the names in one place. The real bulk of my investigation is this bad boy…”

Walking over towards the television perched on the mobile cart, I slap my hand on it’s plastic casing proudly. Littered at the base of the flatscreen are numerous burnt dvds, each marked with an individual’s name. Larry walks over and picks up one of the discs. It reads ‘HATE’. He drops it and picks up another, this one with ‘Hollywood’ scribbled on it. He nods his head, and looks to be slightly impressed. His curiosity, however, brings him back to the table in the center of the room..

“And all this?”

“Evidence.”

“Evidence?” He asks, pulling the six pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon up from the pile of random items. “I thought you quit drinking?”

“I did.” I reply proudly, reaching for the beer only to have Larry swat my hand away.

“You can’t bring alcohol into the precinct.”

“I can if it’s evidence.”

“No you can’t.” He says sternly. “And explain to me how this is evidence.”

“To be honest, I’m still trying to figure that out myself. But it is. Trust me. And when I say trust me, I mean it…” I say, grabbing the bundle from the Sergeant who offers little resistance.

“And this?” He says, picking up the cricket bat, sticky from it’s recent coating of sugary syrup. “A wooden plank, Ted?”

“Don’t be fooled Larry. That cricket bat is a dangerous weapon. Just ask one Damien Ryan.”

Larry drops the bat on top of the table. He scours the rest of the collection, making a complete mess in doing so. He picks up the laser pointer, and when turning it on, I make sure to protect my eyes. He picks up the hunter’s knife looped with an official evidence tag that reads ‘backstabber’. He pinches the string of a black leather eye patch in between his index and thumb, lifting it off the table. I’m quick to snatch it from his dirty paws.

“Watch it there buddy.” I snap, shoving it into my front pocket. “This stuff is serious business, don’t need you breaking the chain of command.”

Larry shoots me a look I’m all too familiar with: one of concern. He can tell that this is important to me, so he tries to rearrange my evidence in a nice, neat fashion. When done doing so, he places his hand on my shoulder, and looks me dead in the eye.

“Ted…I think you’re losing it.” I swat his hand off my shoulder, offended. “Not to mention, your ‘journal’ is missing many notable faces. It’s actually a huge oversight on your part.”

Oh Silly Larry…

“Huge oversight, he says…”

Walking over towards the mirror on the wall, I place my hand on the lightswitch beside it. Flashing a knowing grin, I flick it, illuminating the lineup room behind said two way mirror. Standing neatly in a row, from tallest to shortest, are five mannequins. Each mannequin has a headshot plastered across its face. Starting in order of Tallest, we have: Andy Murray, Max Kael, Alex Redding, Mikey Unlikely and Mike Best.

The legs to Mike Best mannequin have been shaved down, the white figure standing just below the five foot six marker. You know, because jokes.

My smile has grown into a full head bob, impressed with my display, knowing full well Larry should be to.

He’s not.

“Where the fuck did you get five mannequins?”

“Given our current location and the fact you are on the clock, I’d rather not answer that question.”

“Ted…” He begins, walking towards me. This time he places a hand on each shoulder. He looks down his nose at me, trying to form a caring expression on his face. “You’ve fuckin’ lost it.”

“Fuck you.” Flies out as a defensive reflex.

Shoving my heavy set brother backwards, I don’t get much force out of my right arm. My elbow gives way, and an excruciating burning stream shoots both up and down my arm. I’m quick to cradle the limb, trying to hold back all vocalizations of the pain I’m experiencing.

“Look at you, man. You’re injured. Why are you rushing back to the ring?” He is quick to lecture, not asking so much as demanding.

“I’m fine.” I say, slowly releasing the joint, flicking it ever so gingerly. “Just a little sore still, that’s all.”

“That’s all eh? What did that doctor say?”

“That I’m day to day with an upper body injury…” I reply, honoring my hockey heritage.

“This isn’t a joke. Do you want the damn thing to be completely ripped in half? Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Why take the extra few weeks off now, when you can really fuck it up, need surgery, and miss God knows how long. Smart move.”

I drop my head. One deep exhale. Two deep exhales. Why the fuck not. Three deep exhales. Looking up at Larry, I drop all layers of sarcasm, assholishness and tomfoolery. Still extending and retracting the injured joint, it’s my turn to look big brother dead in the eye.

“Because I can’t afford to miss any time. Not a couple days. Not a couple weeks. Not a couple months.”

“Okay then…”

“No, just listen. Trust me when I say, it’s not terrible. It’s not good, but it’s not terrible. I’ve been fitted with the best brace there is for such an injury. It’s no substitute for time, which is ultimately the tool needed for this thing to heal, but it’s my only alternative. It’s my new reality.”

“This doesn’t clarify why you can’t take any time off.”

“Watch what I do at the this Lottery.” I say, briefly pausing. ‘You’ll see why.”

Larry’s head shakes, ‘no,’ as all big brothers should, but as we stand here man to man, his eyes glare forward with complete understanding, as reluctant as it may be. He looks into the lineup room, muffling a snicker under his breath. He looks around at the evidence I’ve collected and snorts. He turns to leave the room, and saunters towards the doorway, stopping before reaching it.

“Do what you gotta do.” He says, turning his attention towards the trash bin. “And the longer you leave that shit on the wall, the harder it’ll be to clean up.”

He goes to walk through the threshold, but I’m quick to blurt out, “Wait.”. He turns back as I lumber over towards the table. Grabbing the handheld camcorder tucked off to the side, I hold it up and ask “Mind giving me a hand with something?”

Our feed is scrambled, white noise littering the background. As our main image settles, silence overtakes our setting: A police lineup room. Five mannequins are equipped with their own unique face. These faces aren’t foreign, however. No, they are familiar to the viewers.

Andy Murray. Max Kael. Alex Redding. Mikey Unlikely. Mike Best.

Pacing back and forth in front of the unsettling row of inanimate beings, Teddy Palmer doesn’t care to make eye contact with the camera.

“We all do the same thing. We dream of winning the lottery. Whether it be the encore or the entire fuckin’ jackpot, we all do it. Well these men right here…”

He holds his right arm out, tapping each mannequin on its head as he walks by.

“Each one is a prize I want. Some for obvious reasons.” He says, the paper championships on three of the five highlighting his point. “Others, not so much…”

Ted’s pacing stops, and he finds himself beside ‘Red’. He drapes his arm over his buddies’ fiberglass shoulders.

“My boy Red here, it’s easy to assume I hope the stars align and we get our numbers linked to the Tag Team Championship. And yeah, that’d be fuckin’ great. But somethings been bugging me the past month…”

Ted’s arm drops, and he takes a step back from his partner in crime.

“You’ve never missed the ‘Red Dead’. Do I know you that well to be the first? Or were you gunshy? In our semi final clash, did you hesitate at the last second, opening a massive window of opportunity for me?”

Mannequin Red doesn’t offer a response.

“It’s a question I kind of want answered, because since that moment you’ve been trending downward. You’ve been in your head, and for the first time in our ten years in this business together, I see doubt in your eyes. It’s why I welcome the opportunity to knock that shit outta your fuckin’ head and get you back on track. But then again…”

Ted turns to the right side of the lineup, facing Unlikely.

“Those stars lining up would be a welcome opportunity as well.”

Ted removes the ‘Tag Team Championship’ from Unlikely’s waist. He looks at it for a brief moment before returning it to Mikey’s shoulder.

“Realistically though, the odds are stacked against the two of us being placed together. However, the odds are higher that I draw this Championship opportunity over the other two, partnered with some random.”

Ted slaps Unlikely on the back, his statuesque frame rocking back and forth.

“That’s okay though. I’ll still gladly take your fuckin’ Championship, with Red or not. Give me Kostoff. Give me Bergman. Fuck, give me Moise. Doesn’t matter. I’ll take it away from you as quickly as it was given to you.”

Ted darts his glare towards Murray.

“How do you feel about that big guy?”

Ted snickers, diverting his attention back to Mikey. He reaches up the bottom of Mikey’s headshot, and rips it off the mannequin revealing it’s white, blank face. He places his hand on the crown of the figures head, rustling an imaginary handful of hair.

“Don’t worry there Kendrix, I’m not overlooking you one bit buddy boy.” He says, facing the camera for the first time. “STRIPEES! Am I right Bruv?”

Reaching into his front pocket, he withdraws a handheld laser pointer. He fiddles with its button, projecting a bright red dot. Sauntering over towards Max, he does the unthinkable and turns the laser on his own eyes! He is facing uncertain doom until, well, Ted the rascal that he is, he closes his eyes.

“Huh. I think I discovered the perfect counter. Wait a minute.” Ted pauses, opening his eyes, but turning his head away from the red dot of destruction. “Yep, I just found another.”

Ted lets out a sarcastic sigh, letting the laser drop to the ground.

“You and me Max Kael, this matchup is destined to happen. Whether it’s this Saturday, well, we’ll let destiny decide that one. You won the Tag Title Match. I won the LBI Finals. I think a tie breaker is needed, wouldn’t you agree? That LSD Championship of yours would serve as an excellent prize to carry along with the bragging rights. Fingers crossed.”

Ted reaches down towards the ground, temporarily disappearing, only to reappear with a cricket bat in his hand. He smacks the smooth surface against his palm, impressed with the weight and power behind it.

“Murr, my how you’ve stumbled. I mean…”

Ted breaks his thought and swings upwards with vicious force, taking Murray’s head clear off, revealing the spike that held it in place.

“This is how we go about things now, right?” He says, giving the bat the once over. He purses his lips, shakes his head, and drops the wooden weapon. “Nah. Being a cowardly bitch ain’t for me.”

He locates the dismembered head, and props it back in place. The picture is torn, but you can still make out the legend’s face.

“You probably will watch this and let it stroke your ego. ‘I’m the starmaker! He wants my scalp! No today lad!’. That narrative couldn’t be further from the truth Murr. I actually want to do you a favour. I’d love the opportunity to put you out of your misery, and save you from shitting on your legacy any more than you already have.”

Ted begins to walk toward the diminutive Best, looking towards the camera briefly.

“I’m sure Cayle would thank me for it…”

Reaching the littlest of all the mannequins in the land, Ted can’t help but let his smile spread. He places his elbow on Best’s head, and leans into him.

“Now this boy right here? This is the fuckin’ jackpot. Well…’

Ted reaches down, removing his paper ‘ICON Championship’, a poorly depicted one at that.

“This is the actual jackpot. You just have to go through dickweed here to claim it.”

He slides his elbow off, resting his hand on the nearest shoulder.

“Now Mike, I can’t help but feel like you and me, we’ve been connected since the moment I arrived. You were the one who drove Max back into the arena during that ladder match. You were the one who placed big money on me in the LBI Finals. You were the one who announced my arrival in the Colosseum…”

Ted trails momentarily, Rome still weighing on his mind.

“Well here’s hoping for another connection. That vacant placeholder beside your name having the number fourteen drawn to it.”

Ted reaches up and grabs the crucifix that dangles on the golden chain resting around the mannequin’s neck.

“You call yourself the Son of God. Mike, if God just so happens to draw my name, well, history has chronicled something eerily similar. You see, there is this other God, who just so happened to have a Son.” Ted walks towards the camera, reaching a point where the only thing in frame is his face. “And given the opportunity…I’ll fuckin’ crucify you…”

He walks back towards the mannequins, shrinking within the image. He paces up and down the lineup, looking each mannequin over one more time. Turning towards the camera, he offers his final words.

“Lethal Lottery, I win the Lottery. Only one question remains: Which prize do I take? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”