Los Angeles is one of my favorite places ever. I love the night life, the attitudes of the California natives, the rush you get from the business and nightlife atmosphere. Quick, swift results always motivate me. In business, making an impact means everything. First impressions are key. You never get that second chance as I’ve learned the hard way over my 15 year career. People don’t forget it. But tonight, that all felt different. Vengeance continued to boil through my veins as I sat in an all too familiar place. I spun around in an extravagant, leather, business chair, overlooking the Los Angeles skylines. Everything continued to blur as I spun around. My smile never was as big as tonight. My perfectly white teeth could be seen a mile away. I swear they could guide ships into shore. It was my Christmas Day. Placed in front of me, I looked down at the manilla envelope Mario Maurako provided me. The exact business opportunity to act out my revenge. It called out to me like a melodic song. It was time to show the world exactly how much of a ruthless bastard your Tyrant of the Territories can be when he needs to be. As I relaxed, I placed my feet on the stylish glass desk in front of me, sitting my expensive Kiton Wholecut Black Leather shoes in perfect sight as I laid back and basked in Mario’s plan. I looked around the boring, lifeless, old executive office with a wooden plaque holding a golden name plate of a name I despised deeply:
Chairman of the Board
If you hadn’t figured it out yet: I infiltrated Hollywood Enterprises. Yes it’s just as banal, droll and terrible as Brian Hollywood sees it. The droll corporate grey walls suck the life and inspiration from your soul. No fancy art works. No individualism. Just boring and droll like Hollywood himself. You could tell his own boring abode drove him to sleep like a Nyquil induced dream. I put my hands together as mischievous thoughts continue to swirl in my head. My grand master plan now begins. How did I get here? How did I break through all the security and top notch security Hollywood bragged about for many years?
10 Hours Earlier
The sun shines bright out of the LAX airport as I step out of the corridor from my flight. I could smell the fresh scent of the beach rampant in the air. I raise my Tom Ford sunglasses and rest them on my forehead. How I had forgotten the sun’s beams brighter in Hollywood! I dreamt of owning property here, living here one day. The warm sun rays slowly crisp my pale white skin adding tones of a tan to my complexion. I couldn’t wait to get outside to feel the cool beach air brisk across my skin. I wore business casual intentionally just to feel that experience I’d missed over the past 5 years when I first ventured to LA to help Hollywood against his bitter rival; the Chair.
As I walked up to claim my DIOR stylish metal suitcase, I held the manilla envelope underneath my arm. Mario’s contact specifically needed to see the seal. I concealed it in my carry-on in a hidden pouch for safe keeping. Got to protect what earns you money! Frantically reaching in the pockets of my shorts, I pull out my phone and text Mario Maurako:
“I’ve landed safely. The plan is in motion!”
No sooner had I grabbed my suitcase and stretched my sore back out, Mario’s ringtone rang through my Airpods. I knew he would want to quickly touch base when I arrived. I hit the button to accept the call. I answered: “Talk to me, Mario; who exactly is picking me up from the airport.”
Cold yet calculated he responded back: “Don’t worry; you’ll recognize my contact. Let’s just say you’ve interacted with him before today. He knows you’re coming. Make sure you follow through with the plan. We don’t want any unhappy accidents happening with your contract now right before your most important match in HOW to date, would we?”
“Like I’ve said a hundred times before, Mario…I’m committed to the…”
He wanted actions not words. He didn’t want me to repeat the same boring words like a Brian Hollywood promo over and over again like a broken record. He wanted to see my commitment to him, to HOW, to my growth. It was what was best for my career. It’s why I joined up with him in the first place. Mario protected me after I won the HOW ICON Championship in War Games a few years ago. He knew I would repay that trust and friendship tenfold with blind loyalty. He needed to see progress. Even if I went back to MVW to prove myself as a ruthless, terrible bastard willing to win no matter what means necessary. It didn’t matter. Everything Mario does for you comes at a price.it always did. I didn’t question this decision. Proving my loyalty could help me pull off the big win against Hollywood. I needed this win.It was for Meredith and her daughter, but more importantly; I needed vindication and validation. My contract price was high and I needed to prove my worth to HOW. It only benefited my needs! No matter what the price of the task could cost me; I was committed.
I scurried away from the baggage claim area quickly, I made it outside and rushed into the pick-up terminal in record time. I leaned against a steel pillar shoulder first, scorching my skin in the process. I adjusted around to lean back first, protecting the rest of my beautiful skin. It couldn’t be damaged as I made my glorious return at War Games. I needed to look picture perfect as I vanquished Brian Hollywood. I needed to look better than his ugly, pale ass on the…
That sound. It interrupted my thoughts. I know it! I popped my head up to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood Enterprise limousine. The custom paint job glimmered as it came up with the flashy logo plastered all over it. Why would it come for me? It must be the contact! I scratch my bare chin, studying the motions of it as it sat there for a moment, as the person in the car simply stared in complete astonishment. He/she didn’t expect to see me again. As the door flew open, the stature of the person struck me off guard. My jaw hit the floor; never in a million years would I expect my contact to be this person. He raised his sunglasses, adjusted his cuff lengths and gave me a warm, friendly smile, almost welcoming me home. His voice bellowed as his smile faded and changed to his usual scowl as he motioned me towards the car.
“Get in! We have to act fast. We’ve got 6 hours until I clear the entire building for ‘monthly maintenance. And my schedule for the rest of the day is tight.’ Get your ass in gear. I don’t have all day to play this game.”
I continued to gawk and celebrate this momentous occasion, the familiar man walked up to the desk. It almost felt like home to him. He looked differently at me, almost with respect. I flashed him a smile while he laid some groundwork and I laid out the documents across the former desk of Brian Hollywood’s in front of him. His sneer cockily displayed his true allegiance to the my cause that Mario sent me to complete, never in a million years would Hollywood expect it:
His allegiance was never in question from the first time I saw him at the airport. He filled me in that he provided the envelope for Mario to give me. He had grown tired of Hollywood running from his grandfather’s legacy, wanting him to embrace the roots. Miles put in all the work to make sure the operation succeeded. As he cracked his knuckles as he came to provide me with a status update. “First rounds are placed exactly where we detailed them: the server rooms. Where do you want me to set up the next part of this so-called maintenance plan?”
“RIGHT HERE! WHERE IT ALL BEGINS!”
I drove my finger on the desk to emphasize I wanted to hit Hollywood straight in the jewels, destroying his safe haven for these last 15 years. This is the place he felt protected. He felt invincible each time he stabbed me in the back and buried my name. He called me in here to build my trust and betrayed it all from here. The place where his grandfather ‘built’ to protect him. It’s like Superman’s Hall of Solitude. He cherished the legacy his grandfather built for him. He idolized it. It provided film to the ‘stars’, at least that’s what he wanted Hollywood to believe. He wanted his grandson to taste power and feel that same strength he had. He’d spent decades earning an honest living.
Except, he didn’t.
You want to know why Hollywood ran from his own company in a publicity stunt? It’s simple it’s a cover up for his grandfather’s legacy. It’s a front for the mafia. Grandpa Hollywood pulled the wool over his grandson’s eyes. Brian uncovered the legacy and ran and hid it trying to ‘kill the past.’ But the weight of guilt was too much to bare. As Niles continued to progress with our plans, I flicked the switch to a camera to film me. It was time to reveal it to him. To break Brian’s fragile heart. Triumphantly, the light behind Hollywood’s desk highlighted me well I walked towards the desk and sat back down at the fabled desk. I slam my fist hard down on the desk with my eyes burning fervently as I spoke, contemptuously clapping my hands together with a banner celebrating Hollywood’s return ‘home’.
“Welcome home, Mr. Executive. I’ve been waiting for this moment for 5 whole years. I’ve missed that sadistic, dark, ruthless tone that comes from a man that looks innocent as a purse dog. I’m sure you’re nibbling at the ankles wanting to punch and destroy my face after what I did to you. I’m sure you’ve got a box of Cuban Cigars hidden in this office of yours, aged a few years waiting to celebrate yet another successful promo that no one will turn into because everyone gave up hope in the Hollywood cause knowing how insincere your shit sounded.
You can’t let any sin go unpunished. I’ve invaded your domain. I’m sitting at your desk. Taking a load off, relaxing after a long hard day’s work.”
Clanking noises echo in the background while I reach into his desk and pull out one of his finest cigars: The King of Denmark. He saved these for big business deals. I set it into his Quad Stainless Steel table cutter and sliced off the end. I roll it against my nose. How rich is the smell of tobacco in this cigar! I take the gold plated lighter and ignite the end of it, exhaling plumes of smoke into the air, simply smirking as I continued to talk.
“I don’t have to see your face to know exactly what looks is plastered all over it now that I’ve invaded your sanctuary. I remember it vividly 15 years ago when we started in PWX together on our first tour after I broke your CD Player. I watched as all the color and emotions faded away from your face. You gave me this zombified look, almost mortified like I didn’t give a shit about your property as I destroyed it. It rocked you to the core like the little bitch you are. You didn’t speak to me for weeks. I just keep seeing that vein pop out of your forehead showing me your disgust and displeasure for the disrespect I showed you. I can only phantom it’s multiplied now.
They say a man’s home is his kingdom. He builds his memories here. You’ve spent the last 34 years of your life in this office as your grandfather spent time raising you. I bet you sat on his lap right here as he fed you candy while he told you innocent facades and fables about hard work, determination, dedication, and compassion.
It’s your home you’ve longed for and I promise you it will never be the same again.”
I take a long drag off this cigar, savoring this moment. I exhale large rings into the air while I reach for the Crystal Candy dish. Hollywood spent time sharing deep emotional memories with his grandfather over many summers at this office. It held Snickers, his favorite candy. I poured all of the candy straight where it belongs: the trash. I spent a few moments admiring my amazing complexion in the clear crystals of this prized dish before smashing it into millions of pieces. Slowly more memories surface about every story Hollywood ever told me in this office as I fumble around the left drawer. The WWII pendant he inherited from his grandfather! He’d gotten it from an enemy from war. His grandfather spent years sharing stories about it’s meaning. I pull it out and look at it as I continue my tirade.
“What was it your grandfather taught you? There was something. Something about an enemy he fought against and befriended? He learned something. What was it? Always have a side of compassion? Like you ever learned jack shit from that lesson when you broke me and destroyed all my hopes and dreams. Guess you showed Grandpa Thomas exactly what you thought of his lessons as you pissed away that ‘great’ legacy of his…”
I grab the stainless steel Cigar cutter and smash that worthless trinket into pieces and throw it into the ashtray. I flick my ashes from this awesome cigar on top of it as my smile faded. Sneering out of spite, my bottom lip twitches with anger. My eyes glaze over completely lost in a trance of anger. I hold back my laughter, letting the air I exhale make a loud noise as I bite my lip. I took a long drag as the end of the cigar burned bright and glowed with an intense orange light as smoke poured from my nose. My hatred grew as each memory plagued me.
“Compassion is for the weak, Brian James Thomas, I experienced that first hand. I showed you compassion when you didn’t deserve it. I stood by your side blindly for 15 years. I sat back and took the brunt end of your shitty ideas, rushing and going to bat for you especially when you failed. I made you look like the millions of dollars in your bank account. I respected your career and your name. You worked hard. I admired that about you. It pushed me to better myself every time. I dreamt of having your success. I listened to all the false stories your grandfather told you. My naivety believed all the fairy tales and fables you built your career on. Those stories fueled me that I had found the family I yearned to have. You took me in and showed some punk ass kid off the streets compassion at every turn when no one loved me, no one wanted me.
But squandered that respect. You stabbed me in the back. I watched every moment at locker room parties, radio shows, and the whole nine yards when you would step aside with all the talent and bury my name, treating me like some sort of charity case. You pointed and laughed at me, never believing in me. You stepped over me time and time again to further your career and sink mine. All the accomplishments you built that I looked up to and dreamed I could achieve: died in that moment as I watched on as Lee Best released my ass into the street. I had become dependent on you like it was a drug. And I left with nothing in return.
All those years, all those memories pissed away with lies around every turn, but you couldn’t help it. It was in your blood.”
I slam my hand down on the desk, reach down, and thrust a picture of Hollywood’s grandfather shaking hands with Angelo Polizzi, well-known Los Angeles crime family member with a briefcase filled with money. My smile twisted as the passion in my tone grew.
“Your family’s deepest darkest secret. Your grandfather came out of the war a drunkard with nothing to provide for his family. He squandered it away on cheap hookers and booze. He loved your grandmother so much he sold his soul to the Los Angeles devil to make ends meet to create an empire off the backs of local businessmen by crippling them. In turn, he paid a large amount of ‘insurance’ money to cover this operation up. It killed you inside to watch those fairy tales slowly burn away that you adopted your worthless father’s motto of killing the past because he wanted out of this lifestyle. You couldn’t take the pressure of all the lies so you fled from your past. Tried to earn an honest living like Papa Hollywood told you he did and kept wrestling all while letting the past eat away at your soul, hardening your heart. You never wanted anyone to find out because it embarrassed you. All the stories you shared with the boys in the locker room. You always had to please them, right? 60 years of lies buried further and further in your heart.”
I cackle as I lean into the camera’s view as I continue to lambast Hollywood.
“Fuck your feelings! Fuck compassion! Fuck everyone else.
That’s the attitude of the old Hollywood I wanted to be. And I learned it, I embraced it, I grew to accept it when I went to MVW. It all taught me how to become a ruthless bastard. I groomed myself into the Tyrant of the Territories, the High Prince of High Octane. It hardened my heart. I shed all those naive dreams I once held. And it taught me to seek success no matter the cost.
Friendship, reputation, you name it; I will throw it to the fire to further my brand as HOW’s most ruthless bastard.. You know very life lessons you taught me years ago to embrace. You’re not facing Zion with another coat of paint. You’re facing the real me at War Games. Those 15 years of pent up frustrations, bound and determined to prove myself. Why I’ve held 23 championships to your 18. Why I’m better than you and will do anything no matter the cost.
That’s right! I’m more Hollywood than you ever were. I’ve studied you. I’ve learned your true heart. I’ve become you. All while you lost your edge and became the shittier version of Darin Zion. And it’s quite sad to see the man I look up to become the Zion. I expect so much better out of an Executive like you. Watching you flounder around pandering to the crowd. It’s pathetic.
And look where it got me! I have my contract back. Mario respects me. I have family because of him. More family than you ever gave me. Mario gave me sanctuary. He promised me I would get respect. He didn’t belittle and berate me at any time. He handed me the keys to the kingdom, the tools to beat you, to get inside your mind. And to destroy your legacy. Your family legacy laced with my blood, my sweat, and my tears. One that built one of the toughest ruthless bastards in HOW to crown the new, better version of Hollywood.
It’s going to take more than a terrible mid-life crisis to put me down. That’s who you’ve become these days. I can hear the thoughts in your head now. ‘OH! SHOULD I KICK HIM? SHOULD I KICK HIM AND RUN? Or should I sit down in front of the TV and watch Basic Instinct while eating my feelings in 10 pounds of Haagen Dazs ice cream while I sit alone memorized by Sharon Stone’s tits. Obviously I can’t use the green streamers around my arms to hide freakishly large man nipples. They stick out so big on my roster page.’
God you’ve become pathetic. I’ve lost that compassion and respect I once had for you. I don’t give a shit about our 15 year friendship. I don’t give a shit about the fallacy of redemption you tell these fans because it’s a lie. I don’t even give a shit about the empire of greatness your family built on the lives of others. I only give a shit about me. My glory! My vindication! Something I never cast aside for your aspirations. All because I was soft.”
I motion towards Miles to finish the work as I stand up. The cold, calculated look Hollywood always gave when tearing me down, I flash at the camera as I straighten my tie, slick back my hair, and enjoy another puff from my cigar. I crack my knuckles as I stare off into the camera.
“Now, it’s time to apply those lessons you taught me: to kill the past. Take all your hopes, your dreams, and it all down as I prove my worth. As I take and destroy everything you held near and dear to your heart. Both in that ring and here in your fortress. As you always said, Mr. Brian James Thomas, mind games make the man.”
As Niles finishes his work off camera, he walks into the scene and shakes my hand, showing his loyalty to the family. He reaches out as I hand him a cigar and light it up to celebrate our emancipation from Hollywood right in front of his eyes.
“And I plan on leaving you like you left me: a hopeless shell of the legacy you once carved into HOW history as I prove exactly why I am The Tyrant of the Territories.”
One Hour Later
Niles and I had cleared the building and moved over a few blocks to a quaint Italian Restaurant to celebrate over some Canoli and Wine. As he reaches over to chug the wine over the day he’s had, I look at him with a new found respect. “What got you in with the family?” I asked him out of curiosity.
“Same reasons as you. No one respected my talents back home. Everyone bypassed me because I was the little brother of my family. I got sick of it and relocated out here.” He paused and slid me the bottle of wine as he continued on with his frustrations. I’ve honestly gotten tired of the grand kid not looking up to the legacy of what his grandfather did. He lost the passion. He let the guilt wrap him up. He showed more promise.”
I spoke very confidently as I smirked and pulled out my cell phone, sending Mario the completed text message. “In due time, Niles. First, we just have to give him a little nudge like the boss says. Once you’re family…”
Rumble! Rumble! Rumble!
As we hear the glass shatter and the ground shake from a mysterious explosion at Hollywood Enterprises; we both nod as we know how that ended. Both the sentence and the damage. Don’t forget to pay your insurance! Immediately my phone rings, as Mario checks in again. He flashes his face on FaceTime this time as his sinister smirk grows in size. “It’s about time you two finished up. Nice work. You proved me wrong kid. Didn’t think you had it in you to finish the job. I always thought your heart would stop ya. The video is heading to his email box. He should get the message now.”
I laugh as I respond to him questioning the price of the deed at hand.: “It’s all thanks to you. But I have another matter to address. With our…explosive night to say the least, I’ve sat back and wondered; I need an albeit. I never was near that building doing your dirty work.”
Mario’s smile turned into a scowl. He rubs his chin pausing for a moment doubting his congratulations. However, being the cold, manipulative man he is, he saw the business opportunity presented itself in front of him as he pointed straight at me. Something inside told me I had dug my grave, but I didn’t care. I needed power. I needed respect. I desperately crave that win at War Games no matter the cost. Even if it dug me a bigger grave, I could handle my problems. I could overcome anything! As he tone mellowed, his smile curved, knowing he had me in the palm of his hands. “Now you know this lifestyle. I give you something. You give me something in return. It will cost you another favor.”
Those words came out of his mouth and without hesitation I placed all my cards on the table. I was all in. My win meant everything to me. EVERYTHING! As long as I had the tools and as long as I had the power behind me, I would commit to it if it glorified me. I beamed my smile back at Mario with that cold, dark, desperate look in my eyes.
“Now Mario! I’ve shown my commitment. If it benefits my family. I’m in. As you always say, Don’t mess with the Family.”
He nods and jumps on the computer to work out the details of my request as I gave him my approval. He fades off the line as Niles and I continue our conversation getting to know each other for the betterment of goals we need to accomplish next as the scene fades to black.