Since March to Glory had passed, life had been quite pleasant for the Gold Standard. His mission to rocket himself and Jatt to the moon with the Tag titles was well on its way after their victory over the Bruvs. He’d spent the short break after the pay per view mostly relaxing in his home in Florida, spending some time on his boat and trying his best to have a mental rest. The anxiety soon began to bubble back up inside as a solo match with Teddy Palmer was on the horizon. This match comes with pressure. Lee had once again tasked him with the role of hitman to knock the confidence of the LSD number one contender before his anticipated match with Jatt. Not only that, but he was piling his own personal pressure on the situation, determined to get back to winning ways in singles competition.
With only a few days until the Wargames period begins, Sektor and the rest of the Best Alliance had agreed to meet up in Chicago and spend a couple of days together. Two new faces in the shape of Steve Harrison and Hughie Freeman had recently joined the ranks, so it was important, in Sektor’s mind, that they all broke the ice together. It didn’t matter if they liked each other, he just needed to know he could stomach being in the same room as them.
The five members of the Alliance have hired out the basement of a well known bar in Chicago, compliments of all the money Lee was throwing their way as a perk for being one of his henchmen. Not only that, but Sektor, Solex, Harrison and Lee had a little gambling racket going on the side and had been cleaning up. That is, when Harrison isn’t throwing money away on basketball and hockey.
The five men are sitting around a round table, which has been laden with a green felt surface. Piles of cash are sat at the side of each man and in the middle of the table is a smaller pile of cash. They’d decided to have themselves a poker tournament before hitting the town and chasing tail. Each man was dressed in their own version of smart clothing. Sektor is sporting a white shirt with tan pants, a typical Cuban look that he likes to adopt which is accessorised by a gold chain around his neck and a matching Rolex. Solex has a tight t-shirt and black jeans and Harrison is wearing a white muscle top, flaunting his best features. Highie Freeman is donning his usual trilby with black shirt whilst Jatt is, as usual, dressed like someone’s Dad, sporting a short sleeved shirt with pictures of parrots on it. They all seem to be on the whiskey as crystal whiskey glasses sit in front of each of them, except for Jatt, of course, who seems to be drinking a bloody Mary.
“All’s I’m saying is that it’s like herding fucking cat’s with you guys sometimes,” Sekor groans, casting his eyes over the middle of the table as Solex deals third cards known as the ‘flop.’
Sektor seems to aim this statement towards Solex and Harrison. Solex, being the tough guy that he is, keeps a steely poker face whilst Harrison just awkwardly peeks his own cards. The Gold Standard lets out a sigh as he takes a sip of his whiskey. Sektor again looks at the flop which has a three of hearts, a two of hearts and a Jack of clubs. He peeks his own hand again to see that he has an ace of spades and a five of diamonds.
Nothing seems to be happening so Sektor looks up to notice Solex, Freeman and Harrison all staring at Jatt who is stirring his bloody Mary with a stick of celery and seems to be in his own little World.
“Jatt?” Sektor calls, arousing Jatt’s attention. “Make your move, hermano.”
Jatt stares at Sektor for a moment before looking at the cards on the table and then at his own.
“Uhm, go fish?” he eventually replies, hoping that’s the right answer.
They all groan and Solex even pounds his fist on the table. It’s clear that they’ve all been putting up with Jatt’s lack of poker knowledge for a while.
“Jatt, you either check, bet or fold..”.”
“Fold, what? This napkin?” he asks, holding up the napkin his cocktail was on.
Sektor rakes a frustrated hand through his hair. “No, just sit out this round if you don’t want to play.”
“Of course I want to play, why else would I be sat here?” he laughs, picking up fifty dollars worth of notes.
“No, only if you think you..” begins Sektor, unable to finish his sentence as Jatt had already thrown in the fifty dollars.
He just shrugs, not really caring if Jatt is blowing his money or not. After all, that was the assumption when they asked him if he wanted to play.
“I call,” Sektor says, being to Jatt’s left and throwing in his own fifty.
Hughie doesn’t say a word, he merely throws his cards down away from him, signalling that he’s folding. Harrison is next and throws some cash down.
“Call,” he merely utters.
“Call,” Solex adds, throwing in his money and then turning over a fourth card known as the turn, which happens to be a four of clubs.
Sektor tries to hide his delight, keeping a steely gaze as he glances around at the others, studying their facial expressions and body language, meticulously, for ‘tells.’
“It’s my go again, right?” Jatt asks, looking at Sektor.
“Right,” Sektor grunts, somewhat impatiently.
“What’s that thing we do where we knock on the table again?”
“No, Jesus esta idiota, it’s check! It means you don’t want to bet but you’d like to check to see what the next card is. So long as no one else bets you can get to the river card without gambling more money. Fuck, how are you not getting this?” Sektor snaps, as though poker was the easiest game in the world.
“Pah, and I thought Magic the Gathering was hard!” Jatt replies, before smiling and knocking on the table.
“Right. I’m gonna bet a hundred. Who’s got balls?”
Harrison tosses his cards down whilst Solex begins counting from his stack of papers, tossing it onto the pile.
“Okay, Jatt. A hundred if you wanna play, or you can raise? Or just fold, you should probably just fold,” advises Sektor, as though trying to save his partner from making a mistake.
Jatt merely scolds him with a look before tossing some money on the pile. Solex chuckles to himself as he turns over the last card, the river. It’s a Queen of hearts, which is no use to Sektor but in his mind he’s on a winner with his straight.
“A hundred!” Jatt yells excitedly, throwing another hundred bucks on the pile before Sektor can react.
“Woah, you know what you’re doing?” Sektor asks, looking at his partner with concern.
“It’s my go, right? Last round you said it was a hundred..”
Sektor buries his face in his hands. “You don’t have to..you know what? Never mind, I’ll let you take that back if you don’t want to bet.”
“Fuck that!” Solex barks. “He’s made his bet, John. Now make yours!”
The authority in the veterans tone is enough to silence Sektor from pursuing the discussion any further. He picks up a hundred dollars in bills and adds it to the pile and watches as Solex deliberates for a second. Eventually Solex throws some money down. Harrison and Hughie are watching excitedly.
“Alright gentlemen, show’em!” instructs the war vet.
“You first, hermano,” replies Sektor, gently gesturing for him to reveal his hand.
Solex regards him with a single raised brow before eventually shrugging. “Very well. Three Jacks. JACK!” he says confidently, throwing down a pair of Jacks which join the Jack on the flop to forge a three of a kind.
Sektor, using his best acting skills pretends to be disappointed before slowly revealing a smirk. The color drains from Solex’s face as he see’s this and watches apprehensive as Sektor lays down his hand.
“SHIT!” Solex snaps, banging his hand on the table in frustration.
Sektor begins to reach forward to claim his winnings.
“Woah, woah, woah. What about Jatt?” Harrison interrupts, stopping Sektor in his tracks.
The Gold Standard looks to his left and realises that Jatt is still yet to play his hand.
“Shit, I forgot. Well come on, hermano, show us what you got.”
Jatt proudly lays down his hand, his back straight as an arrow as though cock sure that he’s won the pot.
“Wait, wha? For the last time, Jatt, we’re not playing Gin!” Sektor barks, letting out a deep sigh.
“Wait, my man’s won!” Hughie pipes up, pointing at Jatt’s hand.
Sektor frowns with confusion before turning to look at Jatt’s hand which happens to be a seven of hearts and a nine of hearts.
“Holy shit, Sek,” Harrison laughs. “He got ya with a flush!”
“Damn!” sighs Solex.
“No fucking way!” Sektor gasps, his jaw dangling loosely from his moustache.
“I won?” Jatt asks, looking as surprised as anybody.
“Yes, dickhead. You won,” Solex snaps, pushing Jatt’s winnings towards him. “I need a fucking refill after that bullshit,” he continues, clicking his hands.
A brunette walks up to the table wearing nothing but a green g-string and a bra that barely covers her nipples. In her hands is a bottle of whiskey from a decanter, which she carefully begins to pour into his glass.
“This is so cool, I never win anything. Well, I did once win the twelfth best prize in the tombola at Gilda’s summer fundraiser but,” Jatt begins, falling silent as he watches in disgust as Solex gropes the bare ass of the brunette.
“Hey, we’re not supposed to touch, right?”
Sektor smirks as he notices what Jatt is referencing and casually turns to his partner.
“Mi amigo, when you pour as much cash into this place as we have? You can do whatever the fuck you want,” he says smugly, giving the brunette a firm but not too hard a smack on the ass as she tops his glass up. She giggles playfully but Jatt can tell that on the inside she’s not cool with it. “We’re fucking kings!”
“Aye. Gotta say, lads. I’m all about this BA life. Not gonna lie,” Freeman replies, sipping his whiskey as he stares down the rim of the glass at the girl as she retreats to her chair in the corner of the room. “We gonna get fucked up tonight then lads or wha?”
“Yo, unlike you fuckers I have a match to prepare for, so I can’t get too fucking crazy,” Sektor replies, lifting the lid on a box of Cubans and taking one out to sniff before passing the box around.
“Indeed you do, brother. You’re gonna soften up old Teddy Suckspin before I successfully retains my LSD championship against him,” Jatt explains, giving his partner a hearty pat on the shoulder.
“Yeah, something we wouldn’t have to worry about if somebody had done what was asked of them at March to Glory,” Scoffs Solex, aiming his words like venom in the direction of Hughie Freeman.
“Ay! I’ve only been back five fookin minutes, give me a break!” snaps Freeman.
“Yeah, chill Solex. Besides that’s pretty fucking rich coming from the guy who got his ass handed to him by Lindsee fucking Troi!” Sektor snaps back, giving the new recruit a bit of backup.
Solex scolds Sektor with a look before turning to Harrison who is chuckling to himself.
“The fuck you laughing at?”
Harrison fades his laughter into a throat clearing sound as he makes a bid to change the topic of conversation.
“Hey, yo, speaking of those two,” he begins, looking around at the group as he takes a cigar and places it in his mouth. “You heard that they’re banging?”
Sektor frowns as he places a cigar in his own mouth, snapping his fingers as the g-string clad stripper leans over his shoulder to light it.
“Who? Lindzy and Palmer?” ask’s Hughie.
Harrison merely nods whilst Solex pulls a face of disgust, as though he just smelled something putrid. Sektor runs his thumb and finger up and down the handlebars of his moustache, as though contemplating this.
“Really? So Teddy’s stirring Mike’s old porridge,” Sektor says, pondering this. “Hmm. Good for him!”
“Are you fucking serious?” Solex gasps.
“What? She’s pretty hot. You can’t tell me you didn’t get a boner once or twice when you were rolling around with her?” Sektor suggests, smirking from ear to ear as he enjoys the visible discomfort on Solex’s face.
“Fuck off, man! You’d seriously hit that?”
“Bro. You’re talking to the guy that used to stick his dick into Kirsta Lewis on a regular basis. Poling it into Linzi would be like sleeping in the Plaza in comparison,” he jokes, puffing on his cigar.
“Still fucked up though. She’s literally working her way through the locker room,” Harrison laughs. “Anyway. What you need us to do for this match, man?” he asks, looking towards Sektor.
“Absolutely nothing, amigo,” Sektor replies, calmly and in a matter of fact manner.
“For real? I mean I respect that, but..”
“But what?” he barks back, burning a hole through Harrisons head. “What, because I’m 0 for fucking two that I can’t handle this shit on my own?”
“Hey, man, chill! Aint nobody saying that. I, of all people, know just how capable you are of dealing with Palmer on your own.”
“Yeah, whatever. I know you all think I’m a fucking flop,”Sektor growls, angrily flicking his ash onto the floor to his right.
“Nobody thinks that, John,” Jatt says, placing a hand on his shoulder which Sektor quickly shrugs off.
“Get off! I mean it, boys. Lee has, yet again, called upon his ‘Hitman’ to kill Teddy’s momentum before he gets to Jatt. I need this dub on my own. Plus, you heard Lee at March to Glory. We’re supposed to be the fucking elite. We don’t need to be getting cheap wins and shit, what’s that going to prove? Nah, I do this on my own. I don’t want any of you out there. Except maybe you, Jatt. If you want to scout him or whatever,” he adds, nonchalantly.
The other four men just nod, as though none of them really give a fuck anyway. There’s an awkward silence for a moment as they all puff on their cigars and drink before Solex finally shuffles the deck of cards and hands it to Jatt.
“We playing poker or what?”
Sektor throws twenty bucks down as the small blind whilst Freeman throws fourty. Jatt awkwardly begins to deal out the cards. Harrison takes one look at his and tosses them down and Solex does the same. Jatt, peeking at his, starts to study the pot as if trying to figure out what the ante is. Eventually he throws down fifty and takes ten back. Sektor, having two kings in his hand, tosses down his twenty and Freeman checks.
The flop provided Sektor with more joy as out came another king, along with an ace of diamonds and a three of clubs. Jatt knocks on the table, as do Sektor and Freeman. This carries on all the way to the river as a nine of hearts and seven of clubs follows. Jatt checks but this time Sektor picks up his whole stack of cash in both hands and throws it into the middle of the table.
“I’m all in!”
Solex and Harrison murmur as they hear this and Freeman instantly folds. Jatt, again, looks confused.
“By all in, you mean..”
“I mean I’m gambling every fucking cent on this hand now are you in or not?” Sektor snaps impatiently.
“That seems rather risky, don’t you think?” Jatt suggests, rather innocently.
“Yah. That’s why they call it gambling, genius!”
“So you want me to risk all my money?”
“You don’t have to. You can fold if you like?”
“But then I’ll lose the money I just put down,” Jatt replies, stating the obvious and looking as though he’s in agony with confusion.
“Dude, sometimes you have to cut your losses,” Harrison explains, suddenly halted by Solex bringing an arm across him as though to hold him back.
“Hey, don’t help him. His dumb ass decided he wanted to play, let him figure it out,” he coldly instructs.
Jatt lets out a deep sigh before scooping up all his money and laying it down in the middle of the table. Every man, save for Jatt, is smirking from ear to ear at this point.
“Okay, Johnny boy, let’s see what ya got,” Jatt suggests.
Sektor, with a flicker of the eyebrows turns over his cards to reveal his pocket kings.
“Three kings!” he says proudly, fanning them down in front of him.
Sektor lets out a deflated sigh as he sees this.
“Damn, you got me,” he says.
Sektor laughs and goes to reach for the pot.
“All I had was three ones,” continues Jatt, turning over his card to reveal a pair of pocket aces.
Every man at the table is stunned into silence. None more than Sektor, who literally looks as though his blood is beginning to fizz beneath the surface of his skin.
“That’s comedy. My man just did you again!” Hughie laughs, clearly becoming a little merry from the alcohol.
“FACK!” Sektor yells, jumping up from his seat and grabbing his jacket off the back of his chair before kicking it over.
“What?” Jatt asks innocently, looking around at the group to see what he has done wrong.
“You won JATT!” he yells, heading towards the door. “And I fucking lost, AGAIN!”
With that he blasts his way through the door and out of sight as Solex glares at Jatt.
“What?” Jatt asks, looking to Solex for answers.
“I don’t know how many fucking times we have to tell you? ACES ARE HIGH!”
An hour or so later…
Upstairs in the main bar of the stripclub, Sektor is sat in front of the main stage, enjoying a three girl pole dancing shoe as he rests on his elbows and jiggles the whiskey in his glass. The place is fairly quiet, with just a handful or so of businessmen types sat around tables and the stage, laughing into one another’s ears as they ogle the naked women dancing in front of them.
Suddenly a pat on the back startles the Gold Standard as he looks over his shoulder to see Jatt standing glumly behind him. He turns and gives him the same downtrodden expression. To his surprise, Jatt suddenly develops a shit eating grin as he pulls both hands out from behind his back to reveal two wads of cash in each hand.
“You did it?” Sektor gasps in disbelief?
“Of course,” Jatt huffs with an air of arrogance.
Sektor leaps up from his stool to embrace his partner in a firm and manly hug before snatching his half of the winnings from his hand. He fans his fingers through the wad of cash as his eyes light up.
“I taught you well. Those dumb mother fuckers don’t even know a hustle when it’s staring them in the face,” he laughs, before quickly looking around and shoving the cash in the inside pocket of his jacket.
“Like taking candy from a baby.”
“Where are they now?” Sektor asks, looking around the club.
“Heh, still sulking downstairs,” explains his partner, pulling up a stool next to him.
Sektor grabs a half naked girl by the wrist to stop her in her tracks.
“Hey mamma, go bring us two tequilas,” he instructs as she nods her head.
“It’s good to see you smiling again.”
Sektor raises an eyebrow as he scowls at his partner.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” he growls.
“Nah, it’s just you seemed to turn into a bit of a Debby-Downer before, you know?”
“Ahh man, It’s just this fucking anxiety shit. I swear the stress is turning my blood into poison,” he explains, lifting his glass to his lips with a trembling hand.
“You’re not really sweating Teddy are ya,” Jatt asks, sounding genuinely surprised.
“Kinda, yeah. I just can’t handle another L, man. I lost to Zeb for fuck’s sake. Palmer is going to be tough, dude. And if I lose to him he’s going to be riding high on confidence when it comes to taking you on for the LSD title.”
“Oh pogwash, the loss to Zeb was a fluke. You were distracted..”
“Quit making excuses for me. You’re not helping with that shit. I shouldn’t be losing like that, ever!”
There’s a genuine look of concern growing from Jatt as he studies his partner nervously downing the rest of his whiskey.
“I think this anxiety thing of yours has gone on long another, brother. Maybe you should speak to the doc?”
Sektor scoffs out a laugh. “He’s fucking useless. What’s he gonna do?”
“Well, he may be able to give you something to take the edge off. This aint you, Sek. Where’s the cold hearted wrestling machine that fears no one? The John Sektor I know wouldn’t be sat here sweating Teddy Palmer. He’d be nailing one of these strippers whilst looking at himself in the mirror!”
Sektor just stares down at his empty glass with a pathetic and defeated demeanor about him.
“You just need to stay calm, stay focussed and you’ll breeze through this match. Get this monkey off your back and you’ll be riding high heading into War Games,” Jatt says, reassuringly.
“Jatt, the last time I got this stressed I ended up dressing like a woman,” he says, looking at his partner with genuine fear in his eyes. “Please don’t let me do that again.”
Jatt swallows hard.
“No, don’t fucking try. If I so much as look at a pair of heels I want you to beat me unconscious with them. I’m a serious man, my reputation is going down the shitter here!”
Jatt places a hand on his shoulder.
“Alright, man,” he says, feeling genuine empathy for his team mate. “Alright..”