It was Veterans Day here in Miami, Florida and most people were hitting the road either to visit the grave sights of those of our troops that paid the ultimate price for this country. While others were just looking to enjoy a day off of work by doing some shopping or going out to eat. I was seated in the backyard of my home near the pool. I had a bottle of Jack Daniels seated beside me with a glass full of the liquor held in my right hand.
My friend Devin Skylar and his sister Samantha had invited themselves over for an impromptu Veterans Day cookout. Devin was working the grill with a beer in his hand while Samantha and Madison had decided to have fun in the pool. Carmen even decided to join us as she stood over Devin making sure he didn’t overcook our steaks. I let out a small sigh before taking a drink from my glass. I had my shirt off and my nose was still bandaged up from the brutal Infirmary match I had against Clay Byrd at RATR.
I was still feeling the effects of that match even after a week off from action. However, the alcohol was doing its job of numbing any pain I might have been feeling. Devin is finally frustrated with Carmen ordering him around and leaves her to do the cooking on the grill. Devin took a drink from his beer and then plopped down on the seat beside me.
“You haven’t said much over the past week. Are you sure you’re okay?” Devin asked with concern in his voice.
“Still trying to process everything that happened at Alcatraz and last week on Refueled.” I replied as I swirled around the liquid in my glass.
“I know it’s a tough match to have lost but at least you survived it. Now you have a chance to head into 2022 with a shot at a PPV main event.” Devin said, trying to boost my morale.
“It’s an interesting match that’s booked for me at ICONIC for sure but I’m not going to make the mistake of getting myself distracted with side heat and focus solely on Conor Fuse. Maybe then I can get myself out of this slump that I’ve fallen into.” I downed the rest of the Jack in my glass.
“It’s just weird how things have fallen into place.” Devin mused as he looked up at the sky.
“What do you mean?” I asked now that my interest had peaked.
“It’s just that Lee Best goes into Bottomline and let’s Mike knee his head off and leaves this longer than my dick contract, pretty much letting his son skip the line to a World Championship match.” I could sense the skepticism in Devin’s voice. “Then you and Sutler are given a #1 contenders match to be added to the main event and Mike’s bitch boy Farthington interferes and costs the both of you the match.”
“Mike’s just letting his God complex show now that his Father isn’t around.” I said dismissively.
“So, going into Rumble at the Rock you get pitted against Clay Byrd with a shot to main event ICONIC on the line. Clay only wins because the ghost of Max Kael or some dumb shit like that wills him onto victory. And that same night Mike miraculously survives Conor Fuse and becomes a ten time HOW World Champion.” Devin pauses to take a drink then continues. “Then we go to last week and once again bitch boy Farthington strikes and they break Clay’s arm after you softened him up.”
“That could have very well been me that had my arm broken last week if I had beaten Clay.” I said as I looked down at my forearm.
“Now, Mike is going to main event ICONIC against his bitch boy. A man who claims he’s not a professional wrestler anymore but a fighter, for the HOW World Championship just because they were supposed to fight for the HOFC title before that division curled up and died.” Devin finished his conspiracy theory as I poured myself another glass of Jack.
“Yeah, so what’s your point?” I questioned as I sat the bottle of Jack back down.
“It just seems all too coincidental to me that all of this has just fallen into place perfectly for Mike Best. He gets Sutler to peace out. He gets Conor out of the way. They injure Clay Byrd. And they’ve done everything in their power to make sure you don’t get a shot at the title.” Devin shakes his head before taking another drink. “I know it might sound crazy but I just want you to be careful out there, man. Things aren’t adding up the way they should be and I smell something fishy.”
“That’s just your upper lip that you smell.” I said jokingly which caused Devin to punch me in the arm.
“Speaking of fishy, what’s the deal with that Carmen Jennings girl?” Devin inquires as he bobs his head in Carmen’s direction.
“Carmen just thinks she can do anything better than anyone else. I wouldn’t take her harassing you about the grill personally.” I offered with a shrug.
“I’m not talking about that.” Devin hissed. “I know the fact that you got Madison staying here because you both are bumping uglies. So, why is Carmen staying here too? Are you tapping that also?”
“It’s nothing like that.” I said with a chuckle. “Carmen works as a masseuse for me and I just gave her a place to stay while she makes money.”
“So, basically you struck out.” Devin teased.
“I wouldn’t say that.” I tried to defend myself.
“Then what are you saying?” Devin raised his eyebrow.
“I’m just saying I’d probably have a better chance scoring with your sister.” Was my reply which got me another punch in the arm.
“Letting a girl stay under your roof without dropping her panties? You’re getting soft in your old age.” Devin laughed.
“You’re just jealous.” I protested.
“Jealous my ass. I bet you five grand you can’t get with her before I do.” Devin said confidently.
“Five grand? And all I gotta do is get her in bed?” I thought this was too good to be true.
“You think you still got it?” Devin nudged me.
“You’re on. That money is as good as mine.” I proclaimed proudly.
“Not if I have anything to say about it.” Devin interjected.
The two of us raised our drinks into the air and clinked them together before leaning back and enjoying the view in front of us.
Later that night after all the festivities were over and Devin took his sister Samantha home things had quieted down. I found myself in the bedroom with Madison as we were packing for the long flight to Glasgow for Refueled 79. Madison turned and looked over at me before breaking the silence.
“So, you got Jatt Starr this week. You’re both coming off of losses at Rumble at the Rock. You think you’re up for this?” Madison asked, putting her manager’s mindset to work.
“Jatt is a Hall of Famer for a reason. He isn’t going to take losing at the last second to Sektor like that laying down. I can’t walk into this match and underestimate him or his ability.” I answered while placing my wrestling gear into the suitcase.
“Jatt seems to be trying to turn over a new leaf or at least fix his outlook on things with the help of that guy in the bunny mask. Do you buy it?” Madison pondered.
“Well, Jatt’s always been a showman so I don’t think a different outlook is a bad thing for him now that the Best Alliance is no more. He’s just trying to find his way just like the rest of us here in HOW. The year is almost over and everyone wants to end it on a strong note.” I reached up and touched the bandages on my nose.
“Does it still hurt?” Madison seems concerned watching my touch the bandages.
“Nowhere near as much as it did. Just breathing through it is still a little difficult, that’s all.” I tried to reassure Madison.
“You should think about getting one of those protective masks that NBA players use when they get a facial injury.” Madison suggested.
“I don’t want to wrestle with one of those tupperware bowl looking things on my face. I’ve had my nose broken before in my career. I can deal with the pain of being punched in the face if it comes to that.” I moved my hand away from my nose and went back to packing.
“You think Jatt is going to care if push comes to shove in your match on Sunday?” Madison cut her eyes in my direction.
“If I couldn’t wrestle with this injury I wouldn’t be cleared to compete. Jatt is going to do whatever Jatt feels like doing. If that’s trying to re-break my nose during our match to get the win then I wouldn’t blame him.” I shrugged as Madison rolled her eyes.
“Seems like Jatt is a little conflicted when it comes to you. He doesn’t think that he has any friends and doesn’t know if you consider him a friend or not.” Madison scoffed.
“Jatt isn’t the most liked person in the locker room here in HOW, so I guess we both have that in common. We also made a pretty good team on the Go Home show before Rumble at the Rock. I guess out of everyone in the Best Alliance, he’s the one person I didn’t want to kick in the balls.” I replied with a half hearted chuckle.
“He thinks that you possibly have a grudge against him because he’s a Hall of Famer and you’re not.” Madison pointed out.
“Is that so?” I paused for a moment to gather my thoughts. “Jatt became a Hall of Famer long before I ever stumbled across HOW. How can I hold a grudge against a man that was inducted back in 2005 when I was still hopping from company to company back then? Jatt Starr is a lot of things and most of them are corny but I respect him as a professional wrestler.”
“So point blank, are you Jatt Starr’s friend?” Madison runs her hand through her purple hair.
I take a moment to mull over her question but before I could answer we are interrupted by Carmen Jennings who is leaning against the door frame of the bedroom with her arms folded across her chest.
“Just what do you two think you’re doing?” Carmen asks as she narrows her eyes.
“What does it look like we’re doing?” I gesture towards the luggage making the answer more than obvious.
“It looks like you’re both trying to head off to Europe while thinking of leaving me behind.” Carmen growled.
“Well, I can’t help that I was booked for a match in Glasgow.” I said feigning innocence.
“And I happen to be his manager.” Madison added in her two cents.
“I don’t give a flying fuck. I didn’t let you go to Japan without me, so I’m certainly not going to let you leave me here during the holidays while you travel all over the United Kingdom.” Carmen spouted in an authoritative tone.
“Not this again.” Madison shook her head.
“Last time I had to sneak you all the way to Japan aboard the USS Octane. And the only reason I did that is because you offered to work for me if I took you. So, now that you already work for me and live with me, just what are you planning to offer me this time?” I said actually entertaining her nonsense.
“I’ll work twice as hard for you.” Carmen negotiated.
“You had to work for me just to get to Tokyo. We’re talking about Glasgow, Belfast, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, and finally Christmas in London. So you’re going to have to come up with something a little better than you’ll work twice as hard for me.” I had a stern tone in my voice as I stared over at Carmen.
“Fine! What do you want?!” Carmen moved her hands from over her chest to her hips.
I had Carmen in the palm of my hand and all I had to do was make my move and I would be five grand richer thanks to Devin.
“I want you to go out on a date with me.” I said with a Cheshire cat-like grin.
Madison’s eyes nearly popped out of her sockets as she heard my request but knowing our situation she had no room to object. Carmen’s mouth hung open in shock before she started shaking her head viciously back and forth.
“Absolutely fucking not!” Carmen shouted.
“Have it your way then.” I said nonchalantly as I went back to packing. “Oh, by the way since we won’t be here you can’t stay here during the holidays either while we’re gone. You’re going to have to shack up with someone or spend the holidays alone in a hotel room.”
“You’re an absolute bastard!” Carmen screeched.
“Hey, I’m giving you the option of coming with us to Europe but you find the thought of one single date with me so unacceptable that you’d rather be all alone.” I shrugged my shoulders helplessly.
“No, no, no, no, no, FUCK no!” Carmen stood her ground.
“Then you best be off to your room to start packing and making arrangements for yourself since we’re leaving first thing in the morning.” I said with a shit eating grin on my face.
Carmen stands there chewing on the end of her thumb while weighing her options while trying to decide whether I am bluffing or not. The longer she stands there and thinks, the more Madison and I continue to pack until she finally breaks.
“Alright, fine! Actually, you know what? Fuck that!” Carmen goes back and forth.
“Suit yourself.” I say before loading the last few things into my suitcase and zipping it shut.
“UGH! Fine, you win! One date but I swear if you try anything funny I’ll rip your balls off and feed them to her.” Carmen threatens as she points to Madison.
“Calm down, it’s just one date, nothing more.” I placed my hand over my heart. “But like I said earlier we’re leaving first thing in the morning so you better go and pack.”
“Un-fucking-believable!” Carmen screams at the top of her lungs.
Carmen sighs then turns around and heads towards her bedroom.
Friend or Foe?
Jatt Starr you happen to be one of the longest tenured members of HOW. You’re a former HOW World Champion and a Hall of Famer to boot. I’d be dumb if I said I didn’t respect what you have accomplished inside of the ring. You have a one-of-a-kind personality and you’ve found ways to reinvent yourself over the years to remain relevant in the HOW landscape. Which, I know for a fact, isn’t an easy thing to do.
Sure, we were both members of the Best Alliance but as you already know I was more the lone wolf of that group. When we were booked together to face Clay Byrd and John Sektor a week before Rumble at the Rock, I honestly didn’t know what to think. I figured you would try to shove smoothies down my throat and go through the list of nicknames you have for yourself. Sure enough you did just that but when push came to shove you held your own weight out there in the ring on the Go Home show.
I find you confusing at times and sure I giggle every now and then when you come up with a word like Fopdoodle. But to call you a friend? That’s something that has to be taken into consideration. I don’t make friends in HOW. The last time I did it was Mike Best when we formed Project Ego but look at us now. Do I really want to go down that route with you Jatt? It would be easy for us to just go our separate ways and call ourselves acquaintances but I guess Devin was right.
Maybe I have become soft at my age.
Damnit, everything inside of me is screaming no but fuck it. Yes Jatt Starr you can consider me your friend. However, that causes a problem because we are booked to face each other in Glasgow this week. A match that I really can’t afford to lose. I’m still the #1 ranked wrestler in HOW and I need this win to keep a hot JJR at bay. I need to build momentum heading into my match against Conor Fuse at ICONIC. Speaking of which, you should absolutely make things good between the two of you. The kid looks up to you and I’m sure you can respect the fact that he shot himself to the pinnacle of HOW.
The point is Jatt I’m going to have to pin your shoulders down to the mat for three seconds. I’m going to have to dump you onto your head and then I’m going to have to make you Bend the Knee. It’s nothing personal Jatt but there is a fine line between friendship and business. Hopefully you can see that and don’t take what happens out in the ring personally. Hopefully we can have a good clean match and after it’s all said and done, you’ll shake my hand and tell me good job at being the better man on that night. Then after that maybe you’ll let me pick your brain over ways to beat Conor Fuse heading into ICONIC over a couple of banana mango smoothies.
Or we can do this the hard way, Jatt.
Maybe this whole friendship thing is a ploy for you to lull me into a false sense of security. Before you or one of your men pull something underhanded to pick up an easy win. I would advise against this Jatt. You don’t want things to get ugly out there between the two of us. I might be a little battered and beat up from the Infirmary match against Clay Byrd but don’t mistake that for weakness.
You can shake my hand or you can awaken a sleeping beast. The choice is totally yours Mr. Sparrow. Either way I’m leaving with my hand raised in victory.
What happens after that?
I guess we’ll see…friend.