Nice Guys Finish

Nice Guys Finish

Posted on July 29, 2021 at 10:14 pm by Mitch Quinlan

McAlister Field House
Charleston, SC
July 18, 12:05 AM

“Just what the fuck was that?” leapt from his mouth without waiting for any hello.

“Shady?” the decidedly patient response.

“Grady, yeah. But, that doesn’t answer it,” a thousand miles away, up in the Great White Smog, but snarky enough to be as if in-person. “Why did you lose like that?”

A silence from the other side to the onslaught might be a sign to most people, but then they didn’t have a stake in signing the next contract.

“She’s like a third of your weight! You’re telling me you couldn’t roll a shoulder?”

“She was,” is the start of rebuttal that would never get out of the starting blocks.

“Don’t you tell me this is some shite about not wanting to treat the ladies like they signed up for this. You? The guy that professes how awesome it was to be around kickers of ass like Desade, K-Wolf and Troy?”

Those names took the other side traipsing down memory lane, not that they would mean anything to anyone else backstage at the McAlister Field House than the highly probable reference to the recently released Lindsay Troy’s nether regions.

“That thigh kick!? You’ve brought guys twice your size crying to a knee with just that. A girl Dresden’s size? You might have launched her into the lower bowl,” called a chuckle from the elsewise surly Grady Patrick to imagine it.

“I could KO this entire roster with that kick; what’d that prove?” would sound like bragging if you’ve never been in the upper deck of a building and felt the reverberation of kick pad colliding with flesh and bone, or if this man would ever sell himself at value.

“What it would prove to Lee is that you are worth keeping around,” he always had the bigger picture in mind. “You know this little soiree of yours is dependent on winning, right? Best isn’t the type to suffer suckers for too long,” would be considered charitable to the proprietor of this fine establishment.

“This isn’t about the wins. It’s all about getting back in front of that crowd.”

“And when you inevitably burn this, your last bridge to getting to do this, in front of an adoring audience, don’t you dare blame this on me. Please tell me I didn’t burn a favour just to get a happy loser one more chance to look up at the lights.”

“Favour? You did your job,” Quinlan wouldn’t let himself be thought of as a charity, especially when Grady was happy to have 2.5% of the contract as a finder’s fee.

“Don’t get snippy with me, princess. I’m just the messenger telling ya that if you don’t start to turn in some wins along the way of your odyssey, you might as well pack a parka and head back to Russia. That’s how far you’d have to go to get a booking,” came without joy… or very little and well hidden, at least. “I know.”

A grumble and the sound of something being smacked was cause for Grady to stretch out in his office, safe on this side of the phone.

“Listen, listen,” he slowed his pace and faked compassion. “I also know that you can do this. Goddamn it, people would slay for what God’s given ya: North of six, built like a brick shithouse and moves like a cat… just can’t get what’s between the ears right. And I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, but I need you to not pull a runner on this.”

Quinlan’s career has been a tale of almosts and what-ifs, marred by the anxiety-fueled retreat. But was it a retreat if you went half around the world, and not home?

“Tell me if I’m wrong, but I thought you were a fighter. I thought I was talking to the guy that had killed two people and..”

“I did. Not. Kill. Them,” was barked back.

“Call it what you want, champ, but I know that twice you’ve had a gun pointed to your chest, and it was the other guy that walked away dead,” Grady had to know this was an uncomfortable conversation, but how many guys running that glory run with sawdust knees held up with bubble gum and duct tape would keep pushing because of wrongs they let pick at them, and Quinlan was only reaching his prime. “Give me that guy. That’s the guy that’d pop that little, blind prick’s prick.”

A second of empty voicewaves wasn’t going to do.

“Or, don’t. You know what they’re starting to call you, dontcha? The cure for losing streaks.”

The third voice, seconding Grady at the TO HQ, introduced himself with a wry laugh. “And they thought this dipshit could replace me?” spat Alex Redding, in his typical venomous tongue.

A creaking and clattering came from the South Carolinian end with no words.

“What was that?” Grady wanted play by play, not just sound FX.

Click.

Transcript from Pardon the Interruption
Originally aired July 21

Tony Kornheiser:
Welcome back, people. It’s time for a little game called What’s the Word where the producer over the loudspeaker asks us a question, and we fill in the blank. What’s first?

Producer:
The Suns should feel blank after their finals loss.

Kornheiser:
Okay, this comes up because of an interview Chris Paul had today as the Suns cleaned out their lockers. Wilbon, I’m going to let you have the first crack at this.

Michael Wilbon:
Alright, thanks, Tone. 

This is simple, and very much in line with how Chris Paul sounded stuck in front of those dopy reporters today; the Suns should feel disappointed. Now, don’t get me wrong, Tony, but guys like Paul know how hard it is to get to the top and fall off at that last rung. Yeah, it’s great for the young guys on the team to get the experience, but tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us, and just ask last year’s champs, the Lakers, about how easy it is to just get back to the dance.

No. 

And please, do not get me started on those fools that were talking about having a parade IN SPITE of the fact that they didn’t win! Tony, that’s just yuppies that need to be shut up, okay? 

Kornheiser:
I’m right there with you, Wilbon. That was veering a little too far towards participation trophies and, hello, these are professionals.

For me, my answer is motivated, the Suns SHOULD be motivated. Whether or not they are, well, that will tell us if they have the potential to be a great team, or not, now won’t it?

Wilbon:
Tony, it’s like our dear, dear friend Herm Edwards once said, ‘we play to,’ what Tone?

Kornheiser:
Win. We play to win the game. Alright, what’s next?

Our Lady Star of the Sea
North Myrtle Beach, SC
July 18, 10:40 AM

The bright day and sea breeze made the walk along the complex a pleasant one, even if it was against the traffic of all the church-goers exiting to the brunches and beaches. With the instilled perseverance of ex-Navy midshipman, Carmen Caufield pushed on, only to come to a stop at the doors, just settling down.

“Like I don’t have better things to do with my Sunday morning,” grumble, grumble.

Casting her eyes up to the spire atop the thirty year old building and decidedly un-Gothic in inspiration wondered how much this thing really cost, and what she’d do with the money instead. Even that thought passed as she didn’t want to be in mention with the Popoffs and ilk, she just stood waiting for him.

But got the man in the collar first.

“Excuse me, padre?” she wouldn’t even call her daddy father.

“Oh,” he first noticed the blond tapping a toe. “I’m sorry, you must have just missed it. Or you are really early for the twelve noon mass.”

“Oh,” Carmen wanted to be delicate in clearing up any confusion, “no, padre, I wasn’t here for the service. I was supposed to be meeting someone here. You might have noticed him during the mass: stranger, not from around here.”

With a knowing smile, Fr. Kevin replied, “We get a lot of visitors to our Parish. Can I ask for a little more detail?”

“You’d notice this one: Six foot something and built like a fridge,” Quinlan might even smile to hear himself described so.

“Ahh, yes.”

“Did you, uh, see him?”

“I had a brief conversation with him, yes. He told me he used to come to this place when he was a child on vacation with his parents,” the good Fr. referenced back to a time before he himself had taken vows, being a man of only forty.

“Was supposed to have a tee time with the guy in twenty,” explained the golf attire, though it isn’t that far off from the fashion around here at all times. “But, how’d he look? Like, in a professional opinion?” 

“He looked.. well. He looked peaceful and calm. Why do you ask?” the pastor wondered what he’d left sitting in his pews.

“It’s just, he’s been off. You know?” he surely didn’t.

“You’re welcome to go in and look for him,” he gestured to the doors, unlocked.

Trying to hide it, Carmen squirmed at the thought. “I’d rather not.”

“It’s pretty empty, just please be quiet and respectful of those in prayer.”

“It’s not that, padre. It’s just… “ did she really want to say it? “You know that last scene at the end of Raiders?” she brought the image of face-melting, not thinking of putting herself in the place of the Nazi.

“Oh?,” was an invitation not received.

“Yeah. And.. oh,” spying the side exit, “I think that’s him. Be good.”

“Yes,” a question. “God bless,” was already out of earshot.

“Quinlan!”

Turning around, the self professed Fool Saint offered a smile as reply.

“What is this place?” Caufield didn’t recognize the mortuary on campus.

“Well, you asked.”

“Never mind, let’s just go, can’t we?”

“Ha,” he hadn’t planned to tease her. “Alright, alright. Pretty peaceful though, isn’t it?” And when that didn’t get an answer, “Gator Hole is just a few blocks from here. We’ll be there with plenty of time.”

UPS Store
730 Main St
North Myrtle Beach, SC
July 25, 11 AM

It’d been a pretty easy Sunday morning. Only a handful of customers and none overstaying their welcome for the two man crew. Add to it the acoustic session playing on the rock radio station, you’d be forgiven for thinking themselves kings of this stripmall outlet.

Garrett got a kickstart on his lunch, nibbling away at a Kit Kat in the back as he overlooked the outgoing packages.

“Garrett, you’ve gotta see this!” parted through the swinging door.

“What is it?” he asked through the last bite, making toward Mac.

“This!” Mac was lucky to not swing the long piece of painted sheet metal into Garrett as he made the approach..

Carefully the two of them lay the ‘parcel’ on the counter, and examine the dings and the bend from when it was ripped off its hinges.

“That’s a locker door. Why?” was the first question, though any of the five Ws would suffice.

“I don’t know, this big guy just walks in and asks for something to ship this in.”

“And what’d you say?”

“What could I say, he paid in cash.”

“Dude, there’s a note taped to it,” Garrett pulled away the page.

“Yeah, hey, what does it say?”

Hey Boss,

I’m sorry, I couldn’t write to you in braille, but I hope you can still feel this.

I am sure the insurance on the building will cover a missing locker door, and it’s not like we were ever planning on running the McAlister Field House again…

I’m starting to get it. Even if I don’t like it. You don’t care for such lofty ideals as sportsmanship or integrity.  Hell, you’d barely even recognize dignity if you tripped over it. You want cutthroats to beat the piss from each other, and then just cast ‘em away when you don’t feel they got any more to give.

I’ve been told my time here is short, and shorter if I don’t start turning these perfect-but-for-three-seconds into simply perfect. I guess I can respect that. But I refuse to get right by breaking bad.

If I aimed those kicks just a half inch lower, I could send your entire roster on that six months vacation starting with a visit to Dr. Andrews in Alabama. Funny, I could make you have to learn how to wipe with the other hand with just a wrist lock, move a little further this way and listen to the tendons pop, pop, pop. I am not out here to injure anyone. I am here to fight, and bring a little hope to the faithful that walking right isn’t wasting time and talent.

Tell me what’s fun about taking food off another family’s table?

But don’t let me give the wrong impression, if pushed too far, I do push back. Yeah, I have a temper, but not like your little grandson when he gets caught giggling like a girl and people have to wonder if dear old Max didn’t take Bob Barker’s message to heart and have the bitch spayed. 

No, you hear guys talk about big temper and short fuse. I’ve gotten better on the fuse. I’m no longer the five year old sending ten year olds crying to mommy at the drop of a hat. Gold star I guess, right? If guys like to say they’re a powderkeg, pains me to say, but I’m the whole fucking magizine and God help Halifax Harbour if I decide to blow.

But I guess I will thank you. Even if you intend me to be ‘The Cure for the Losing Streak’ that Dizzy’s been on, I still appreciate the chance to fight with a legend in these parts. And unlike Dresden who was only half my size, or Bobby, who was only half his size, I get the feeling that I can go all out with the old timer.

Doozer, so we’re stuck in the pissbreak spot, huh? What do you say, flattop? One more time, with feeling? We can have Best choke on that damned pen when he hears the people in chorus.

So I am prepared, and resigned, I’ll keep the fight fair and legal, but don’t expect that means I won’t chop away your leg until that Charley Horse is ridden for days. You can tell me the Kingdom never does Come, but I’ll choke you out using your own arm all the same.

Or you are what you say, and won’t fall for anything I’ve shown. You’ll hubble on and up, every time. I’ve still got a trick to pull.

I’ve finally understood where I am: High Octane Wrestling, where that ring is an altar of violence and I’m game to serve, not be served upon.

Q