Red and Ted. The modern day odd couple.
I like to believe that if Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon were alive, they’d get a real kick out of the two of us. I bet they’d appreciate the complexities of our dynamic and revel in our shenanigans. Who knows, maybe they’d both have that sparkle of pride in their eye a father has for his son. That’d be something, eh? I’d totally be Matthau’s kid.
The two of us reside on opposite ends of the spectrum, but give each other the balance we need. It’s been that way since we met as eight year old classmates. I’ve always been the outgoing, creative type, whereas Red is naturally a reserved, analytical individual. But what happens when you slap those two personalities together? A lifelong friendship and unbreakable bond, that’s what. And toss the right environment into that blender? Fucking magic, baby.
But that’s not to say we see eye to eye on every situation or person.
For example, when I dabbled in the adult film industry under the moniker Sexton Hardon. In particular, he claimed hosting a VIP screening of ‘Morning Wood’ at a church hall was ‘distasteful.’ Even more so because our 82 year old Grade Three teacher was in attendance.
Personally, I think he was just being a prude about the whole situation.
For the sake of this tale though, I’m not discussing a when or what, but rather a who: Nikolas Suchocki. Sock for short. Just don’t call him short, whatever you do.
Now, I’ve associated with my share of unsavoury characters, but this unhinged bastard takes the cake. He tested positive for HGH, which shut down his University’s Football program. After being handed a four year University Athletic ban, he pursued a boxing career. After a handful of amateur fights, he grew tired of the ‘confinement of rules’ and embarked on a career as ‘messenger’ for a feared group of Russians. After accumulating a small fortune, he invested those pennies into opening his own boxing studio. He trains some of the top fighters coming out of Montreal, but his real moneymaker is a particular demographic: lonely housewives. These women absolutely rave about his ‘cardio’ regiment.
If you can’t decipher what I mean by cardio, it means he fucks them. All of them.
And Red can’t stand him.
Whenever I bring the guy around, Red keeps him at arm’s length. Credit to my boy though, he’s always cordial for my sake, as Sock and I have been friends for fifteen plus years. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t keeping close tabs on the naughty boy like Santa running a fine tooth comb through his list. And you know damn well he’s checking that thing twice.
And you know what’s ironic about the whole situation? Red sits me down now and then for story time, telling the cautionary tales about what horrors are born out of such friendships. And who was it he introduced me to over a decade ago? Grady friggin’ Patrick, the king of all hoodwinks and everything sleazy.
But when you strip away all those ‘horrors’, Sock is a decent dude. He is someone I’m glad to say is my friend. He is someone who has helped me more than I can ever repay him for. He is my trusted trainer, and if we’re being honest here, his results speak for themselves.
Let’s just say that his methods can be a little unconventional…
February 13th, 2020
Mad Hatter Pub
“Yeah you might have been some king stud dick in some butt fuck fed that is as useless as a bag of dicks without a handle.”
Tapping on the phone screen, the video pauses on Chris Kostoff’s mean mug. Beside the phone on the bar top, my whiskey sits, condensation running down the side of the glass. Grabbing onto the moist glass, I down the remainder of its contents. Looking to my right, Sock is perched atop his stool, staring back at me.
“What in the fuck was that?” I ask.
“Mental Warfare.” Sock replies.
“Did Kostoff allude to owning a bag of dildos?”
“I believe so.”
“And it was super weird he mentioned butt fucking in the same sentence, right?”
“Is Kostoff…is he going to…well, you know?”
“Attempt to butt fuck you?”
“I mean, his match with that Rodriguez kid was untelevised. I think he might’ve raped him.”
“I think it’s safe to assume that’s what happened.”
Pressing the lock screen on my phone, the all knowing grin of Kostoff disappears. I have no desire to listen to the sadistic ramblings any further. I mean, what could be worse than butt fucking and dildos?
And why the fuck is the dildo bag handleless?
“Whiskey.” I ask of the tender as he passes by behind the bar.
Sock does the two finger lift to indicate he’ll have the same. Looking over at me, he simply asks “Nervous?”
“Well I am now. Shit just got real. Why would management allow such a thing? Has Crash joined the me too movement? CrashTag MeToo. What a PR nightmare…”
“Forget that shit.” Sock says sternly, clearly done with the sexual assault jokes. “Kostoff ended the kid in less than three minutes. Toyed with him for the most part.”
The bartender places our drinks in front of us. The bar is loud, but a silence between the two of us floats in the air. Taking a sip of my all too familiar companion Jameson, I let the warmth envelop me before letting out a deep exhale.
“Two minutes and thirty one seconds.” I reply, trying to avoid obsessing about numbers this time around. “Quickest fight here at HOW in quite some time.”
“Right. And you know what that means?” Sock asks.
“He busted nut in record time?” I reply in jest but am cut off as I do.
“Not a fucking thing!” Sock interjects, his tone aggressive, his voice elevating. “Fuck that guy, fuck his prison yard tattoos, fuck his fake ass gangster bullshit.”
“Gangster? I wasn’t getting that vibe…”
“This dipshit fought a guy who didn’t want to be there. Instead of seeing that match for the sideshow it was, he let it double hand stroke that ego of his. What a fucking joke.”
Gangster? I’m still caught up on that one. Are we thinking of the same guy? And why is he getting so intense? He usually saves his preaching for the gym.
“Is everything okay there buddy?”
“Me? Is everything okay with you?” He doesn’t ask so much as demands.
“Yes…it…is?” My inner Ron Burgundy replies.
“Ted, you have to get your mind right. No three in the morning voicemails about 11:12, or 2:31, or whatever you’re manifesting up there.”
“That was different.”
“Religion! You know it freaks me out.”
Sock shakes his head, taking another drink. His eyes dart around the room, and have been for the entirety of our conversation. I try to follow his sight line, but without knowledge of his search criteria, it’s a fruitless venture.
A.) The cute blonde in the corner? Possibly his next conquest?
B.) The trio of beefcakes in the booth? Do they owe his Russian friends money?
C.) The guy in the grey tracksuit who’s one step behind everyone? A drug dealer with his ‘enhancements’?
Who knows with this guy.
“And you got to get that body right too.” He slices through our silence, startling me. “You need to get in fighting shape. Build some calluses for the war you’re about to embark on.”
Woah there. Do the calluses from my battles with Mamba and Deacon mean nothing to this man?
“Then why’d you have me meet you here? Why are we drinking instead of training?”
I notice the three previously mentioned beefcakes exit their booth. Of the three, there is a clear alpha, who is obviously the beefiest. The other two are no slouches, but you can tell they know their role. As the walk towards the back exit, Sock hops off his stool, pointing in their direction.
“That’s why.” He says, giving follow.
So option B it is.
Downing what’s left in my glass, I slam the it on the bar top. Sliding off the stool, I pull out my wallet, tossing a few of the multicoloured Canadian bills towards the bartender. Sock is methodically making his way towards the exit, waving me on to follow.
“What are we doing?” I ask, not sure I want the answer but deep down know what it is.
“Building some calluses.”
“I was afraid you’d say that…”
To be clear, not afraid of a fight or potential outnumbered beat down. No. Afraid of the list of ramifications that could stem from such an incident. Especially when it comes to that brand new, ink still wet on the signature contract.
“Heard these fuckers would be here tonight. Just been biding my time, waiting for this moment…”
The three men make their way through the back door, one by one. Having frequented the Mad Hatter Pub, I’m familiar with its geography and know said door leads into a back alleyway. Before the door can fully retract shit, Sock grabs onto the handle, pulling it back open.
The two of us breaking that threshold within seconds of the trio is enough to garner their attention. They know Sock, their expressions say as much. They also know why he has tracked them down. The one on the right shifts his focus to me, squinting and doing a slight head tilt.
“Ain’t you Teddy Palmer?” He says pointing.
“Nope, definitely not. Get that alot though.”
“Nah nah, I’m pretty sure you are.” The one on the right says.
“Guys, I’d know if I was him. And I’m not. The name’s Todd…”
“Who you got, Ted?” Sock says.
“Bro…” I say in disbelief of his (what I’m hoping is unintentional) sellout.
“You brought a tight wearing fruitcake as your backup?” Alpha beef snickers, followed by laughter from his flanks.
“I guess I got middle…”
The blue and reds flash from behind. The siren rips through the cold Montreal night. As the vehicle gets closer, those lights grow brighter, the siren louder. The ‘whoosh’ pounds against the side of the vehicle as the cruiser whips by.
Seated in the front passenger Ford Explorer, I stare at the tops of my hands. The skin over the knuckles is torn. The blood has begun to dry and crust, but droplets still fall from the tips of a few digits. The right middle knuckle is swollen, quite possibly broken.
“Where did that come from?” Sock asks.
I can feel that my beard is littered with colour. My moustache is heavy, having absorbed the steady flow from my nose. The hair on my chin holds the blood on the surface, not absorbing, yet not falling. I wipe the excess with the sleeve to my jacket.
My heart is pounding. A bit of nerves. A dash of excitement. An abundance of unknowns. Where did that come from? Why didn’t I stop? Why didn’t I want to stop? I just wish he’d be quiet…
“TED!” Sock shouts.
“What?” I reply, not moving, not looking.
“That was…excessive.” Sock quips, a smile overtaking his face. “Ever thought about switching careers?”
Tapping onto the breast pocket of my jacket, I find the bulge I’m looking for. Reaching in, I pull out a prescription pill bottle. Shaking it, no sound emits for it is empty. I toss it onto the centre console, letting out a deep exhale.
“Clozapine?” Sock reads from the bottles label, in the form of a question.
“What’s closer? A bar or a pharmacy?”
“It’s Rue Crescent. Only bars on this strip.”
Closing my eyes, I just breathe. In and Out. In and Out.