As he paced around a small apartment, surprisingly neat and tidy, Rick Dickulous spoke quickly seemingly to nobody.
“When do you land, bud? I gotta make sure I can be there to get you!”
He walked back and forth in front of a couch that clearly belonged in an old folks’ home, the embroidered red flowers and green stems somehow blended beautifully with the mustard yellow fabric. A large square, glass topped coffee table cluttered with dishes (some still with sauce dried to the surface), papers, and various other items took up the majority of the floorspace in the living room, a large TV hanging from the opposite wall on a multidirectional bracket, a Brian Hollywood match plays on screen with the volume barely audible.
“Matty, you’re gonna love it here, guy! I swear, HOW and DPW? Bud, we’ve got it made! We’ll be collecting two paycheques…we can afford all the Denny’s you want!”
Another voice erupts from an unseen speaker, filling the room.
“I trust you, buddy. You’ve never been wrong before. I’ll be landing in a few hours. Turbulence plus Poutine plus Lactose Intolerance is not a good formula. Anyway, I was beginning to worry a bit when I haven’t heard from ya for awhile. I knew you were up to something big for us. I just didn’t know it would be THIS big,” the voice says in return.
“I gotta admit. I’m nervous and excited here! When I went to visit my folks up in London, they were wondering how I’d find time to eat and do my laundry between splitting time with HOW and DPW and all the gym time in between there. This will be no sweat, right buddy?”
Rick stops pacing for a second, looking upwards in thought. His voice boomed, full of confidence:
“Fuckin’ eh, bud! We got this shit.”
“Look, you know what we can do, and so do I – hell, so does everybody else we’ve ever faced. Matty, we got this. I promise you that – just like I promised you when we signed with DPW: this is what we need to do if we wanna shine; if we wanna be all that we can be…”
He trails off, lost in thought, his smile audible in his voice.
“Yes…YESS! We can win if we DARE, buddy!!!” the voice on the other line says excitedly in as we hear a loud thud on the line.
“S…sorry, ma’am. I forgot your seat was reclined back. Let me pay for your headphones…no…no…I insist! Rick buddy? Hold on a sec,” the voice on the other line continues.
“Let’s see, where’s that mute button…there it is. Now, where was I ma’am?” the voice continues, unaware that we can still hear the man talk.
“Oh yes, let me pay for your headphones for this trip. It’s the very least I can do for you, and for all these good people on our flight. ‘Cause you see, when we touch down and we step through those gates, I’ll be stepping into a new terminal of opportunity. A chance to show all you nice people what my buddy Rick and I can do as the Turn-It-Up Express. A chance to show all you nice folks what we can do as a team!” the voice says in a confident, gruff tone.
“A chance to show you…excuse me…? Oh, they’re free? Sorry, ma’am. I’ll sit down. In the meantime, why don’t you give everyone here a soda on me! It’s the least I can do for y’all. No no, don’t need to thank me. It’s the least I can do. Thank you folks!!!” the voice says happily as we hear the sounds of someone sitting down and adjusting themselves on a leather seat.
“Lessee, the mute button is…oh? It already knows that I was done. Wow, these really are smart phones,” the voice says in a more subdued tone.
“So hey, buddy? Where was I? Oh yeah, I’ll be landing in another 2 or 3 hours, I think. Can’t wait, pal,” the voice says as he tries to stifle his excitement.
Rick sits down on the couch with a thump and reaches for a glass of water from the coffee table and takes a long sip, swallowing with a grunt of satisfaction.
“Ok, so, you’ll be at the airport in a few hours, I’m gonna make sure the guest bed is made,” Rick slaps the couch, “and maybe go get some groceries…I mean, I have a shit ton of condiments, but, y’know.”
“Actually, bud, how ’bout we go grab something from a restaurant…your choice…it’ll give you something to do until you land. I’ll be there to get you…what gate?”
“You sure, buddy? I mean, I think you know the area better than I do. But I can sure go for a Denny’s All-American Slam right about now. Maybe even a Lumberjack Slam. Anyways, I’ll be at Gate D25.”
“Ok, bud…I’ll see you in a few hours! If you’re as Canadian as usual, you won’t even have a problem at Customs. Be safe, Matty!”
“I will, buddy. I’ll see you then!!!”
Rick picks his phone up from the table, sliding the screen, the speaker clicking to signify the call was disconnected. He slammed back the last of the water in his glass and set it back on the table, his phone alongside it, and lounges back a little with his head hanging backwards slightly.
He begins chuckling, erupting into a full on belly laugh for a moment before drawing in a large breath and exhaling sharply. As he sits back up he rummages around for a second on the table before producing a set of keys and a remote, pointing the latter at the television and clicking a button. The television switches off and Rick Tosses the remote back onto the table with a clatter.
Whirling them around on his finger he rises, retrieving his phone, and walks towards the door. He fumbles through his keys and finally finds his apartment key, letting the rest of them dangle freely before opening the door and sliding the key into the lock.
He turned off a light switch by the door, dimming the room slightly as the windows didn’t allow for direct sunlight, and gently closed the door. The lock made a metal on metal scraping as it slid into place with a click, and the key withdrawn from the cylinder leaving the apartment in silence.
Rick stood patiently waiting in the lobby outside the gate at the airport, checking his watch, growing concerned. Three groups of passengers had already walked by; what seemed to be nigh one hundred passengers, all with their luggage, but not a single masked wrestler.
He checked his phone again and huffed at the lack of notifications, clearly frustrated. The clock on the phone read 7:30pm, and Matt Klazzic’s flight was due to land 2 hours ago.
Rick checked the boards again, but no flights from Toronto had been listed in over an hour.
“Rick…RICK!!! Where are you buddy?!? I finally cleared customs!!!”
Rick turns towards the hallway leading to gates D20-25 and spots Matt Klazzic, who wears a mustard brown Members Only jacket over a black sweatshirt with the logo of the London Knights in the front and looking one size too small around his chest and stomach area as it’s so tight, it resembles a tight shirt more than a sweatshirt. Matt stops and looks down as he wipes something off his jeans. Once he finishes wiping his jeans clean, he reaches back and tightens up the back of his luchadore mask, which is green in color with gold trim around the eyes, nose, and mouth openings.
“Oh buddy! Have I got something for you? So I…?”
“Did you bring Jenny’s brownies, guy? Is THAT what took so long in Customs?”
“The brownies? You bet. I have a tin in my bag here. Boy those guys in Customs are something else. So anyway, I get up to the desk and they ask if I had anything to declare. I said, ‘I sure do. I don’t know what was in that poutine, but it made me sicker than a Corona!’ Next thing I know, they pull me out of the line and I’m in this separate room with all these medical people. They’re checking everything. My temperature, my throat. They wanted to check my ears and I told them ‘that would require taking off my mask and would require you to see a proctologist to get that examiner’s light out afterwards.’ So, after, I dunno, another hour or so, they tell me I’m clear and that I’m free to go. Then they got really stern, warning me about making false threats and all that stuff. I didn’t even think I was making a threat to them, unless they’re not fans of poutine. So, anyway, to make it up to them, I gave the staff there one of Jenny’s brownie tins and they were diving into that batch as I was leaving. Man, you should have seen it!!!”
As Matt is telling his story, Rick listens on, palming his face right around “Corona.” His hand doesn’t move as his shoulders jerk, clearly failing at trying not to laugh.
“Matt…have you not heard about the Corona Virus? The Wuhan Virus?”
“The what? I’ve been trying this new smartphone out and it’s not telling me any news. Just something about needing a connection. I don’t know anybody who made the phone, so I couldn’t help it out. This thing sure is smart though! I muted you earlier while I was on the flight and when I Iooked back down, it unmuted!!! Isn’t that something?!?”
Rick nods and pats Matt on the shoulder, his face full of forced sympathy.
“You sure did bud. I didn’t hear anything about free headphones, or rounds of soda…”
His face breaks into a smile, unable to hold the sympathetic look. He laughs as he gestures towards the main lobby.
“Come on, bud…let’s head out to the car – I had to run back out and pay the night maximum because I didn’t know how long you were gonna be.”
“Oh all right. You see? I told you this iPhone X may have been a little too advanced for me. I should’ve gotten an iPhone 10, but I’m getting better with all this new fangled tech stuff, right?”
As they begin to walk towards the main lobby, Rick takes Matt’s suitcase and carries it, his massive hand barely fitting into the handle.
“We’ll get you up to speed, guy. I’ll sit you down with one of the tech guys with HOW – they’ve all been good to me, I’m sure they’ll help you out too if you give them Jenny’s “special brownies.” Speaking of which…how many tins of those did she send?”
“Let’s see, there’s the one in my bag, the one I gave to those nice folks in Customs, and the one I gave to that nice lady on the flight as a peace offering for accidentally kicking her while she had her seat reclined.”
He pauses as he looks up and strokes his mask around the chin.
“OH!! I almost forgot the three in my other gym bag. We need to go to the Baggage Claim, I think it was Carousel 2. It’s not hard to miss. It’s neon green and pink and it has our TIU Express logo on the side!!!”
Rick laughs as he slaps his partner on the shoulder.
“Matty, let’s go – you figure out where we’re eatin’ yet? I’ve been waiting for awhile, and I haven’t eaten in…oh, about 6 hours…I think it’s time to turn it up to eleven at a buffet.”
“Now you’re talking my language! It’s good to be back together again, buddy! Let’s hit it!!”