The Piano Man

The Piano Man

Posted on June 21, 2024 at 12:10 am by Hugo Scorpio

Hugo Scorpio, not one to splurge on luxury, had decided to treat himself by staying in a four star hotel. He was not used to amenities such as bellhops, concierge services, and a restaurant inside the hotel. It seemed like an unnecessary extravagance, but damn it if he did not feel like he was sleeping on a cloud the night before.

Unfortunately, the time difference between New York and Edinburgh was staggering. He woke up at two in the afternoon. He missed breakfast, so he had to have lunch for breakfast and dinner for lunch, it was very disorienting.

What he did have going for him were plans.

Angus, the overly helpful concierge, provided him the name of a local piano bar within walking distance to the hotel. Blue Eyes was the name of it and Angus assured him that it was dimly lit and not very busy on Thursday nights.  The last thing the disfigured HOW wrestler wanted was to answer the same old question: “How did it happen?”

Hugo did not wish to be distracted from his sole reason for being in Scotland: Win War Games. It was his first one (and most assuredly it would be his only one). Not many people can say they won their one and only War Games.  Not Bobbinette Carey. Not Darin Zion. Not Scottywood. Not Evan Ward. Not even the great Mike Best. It would be an honor for the one time XPro Main Event to forever be referred to as “War Games Winner” Hugo Scorpio.

This evening, however, was not about dreaming about what might happen. It was about making a dream that seemed impossible just a few short months ago possible. It started with clearing his mind of all the negativity that had bubbled up over the past week.  Mother’s Day and Father’s Day tended to do that to him.  It infuriated him that there was a day celebrating the woman that left him in that hellhole and another day celebrating his tormentor. He needed to channel those past traumas productively and divert towards his competition at “War Games”.  He knew if he fought too emotionally, he would make a fatal error and that dream of his would shatter like fine china after going one on one with a bull.

Call it timing, call it serendipity, or call it just bad luck, he ran into a familiar face while walking through the lobby.  Jatt Starr.  The Ruler of Jattlantis was sporting his familiar black and red checkered suit and he was being accompanied by an attractive but pale looking young woman with what appeared to be small scars surrounding her mouth in a red cocktail dress.  Considering he was wearing a blue t-shirt, khakis, and a wrinkled black sportcoat, he felt underdressed by comparison.  He did not wish to engage in conversation with the Jattlantic City Idol so Hugo tried to fade into the background. Unfortunately, he was not, as one would say, very inconspicuous.

 

JATT STARR: As I live and breathe! Hugo Scorpio!

 

Hugo stopped in his tracks about six feet from the door and mumbled incoherent obscenities that one could misinterpret as speaking in tongues.  The Jattinum Standard approached him and clapped him on the back.

 

JATT STARR: Are you staying here too?

HUGO SCORPIO: Yeah.

JATT STARR: What are the odds?  Well, how the heck are you? What brings you to Scotland?

HUGO SCORPIO: “War Games”.  Same as you.

JATT STARR: Really….you are competing in “War Games”?

HUGO SCORPIO: Yeah.

JATT STARR: I guess Lee is just letting everyone compete. Who is next to show up? Chick Raynes? Neckbone Jones?

 

The Mayor of ManJattan let out a laugh, a laugh that pierced Hugo’s ears like a knitting needle. But even through the irritating banter, Hugo noticed something different about his former mentor. Hugo wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but there was some sort of underlying swagger he had about him that was missing the last time they interacted.

 

HUGO SCORPIO: You look good.  Different. You lose some weight? New haircut? Somethin’?

 

The Hero of Jattlanta glanced over towards his fair-skinned companion and then back to Hugo.  It was almost as if he had flinched.

 

JATT STARR: Maybe it is the new diet I am on. The Rembrandt of Wrestling has to cut down on the cholesterol.

 

A very obvious lie.

 

HUGO SCORPIO: Must be it.

 

Hugo flashed the Marquis of MadagaStarr the phoniest grin he could followed by the phoniest laugh he could.  He felt kind of dirty just humoring the lying sack of shit in front of him but he was not about to cause a scene and he wanted to get out of the situation as quickly as possible.

 

JATT STARR: Say, Hugo, old pal, have you met Ezster?

HUGO SCORPIO: Hey.

 

Ezster waved and leaned in to shake Hugo’s hand, but he was not having it.  Jatt Starr was a douchebag.  He was always a douchebag.  Today, he was a lying douchebag.  He was not going to shake hands with anyone associated with the douchebag especially if that somebody had any sort of carnal relations with said douchebag.  When denied a proper handshake, Jatt’s Girl Friday glared at Hugo for a second. It was as if she were trying to strike the larger man down with her mind.

 

EZSTER: Nice to meet you, Yugo.

HUGO SCORPIO: It’s Hugo. “H”.

EZSTER: Yes, Jatt made you make the piss in your pants.

JATT STARR: Years ago, Ezzie.  When he was green and wet behind the ears, before I molded him into the XPro Main Event you see before you.

 EZSTER: Jatt, we need to go.

JATT STARR: Just a moment, m’lady.  Hugo, my friend, we need to have a little chat.

 

Ezster scowled at Hugo before walking next to the door.  Jatt Starr gave Hugo a smile.  Hugo was shocked that Jatt Starr would bring up the Cleveland incident to someone else. Hugo wondered what happened to mentor-protege confidentiality.  Shocked and angry, angry that he would try to take credit for Hugo’s hardwork and the condescending way he said “XPro Main Event”, as if that was a moniker indicating someone lower than dirt.

 

HUGO SCORPIO: You fuckin’ told her about—

JATT STARR: Ancient history.  You—

 

The Baron of Boca Jatton seemed to elbow the air to his left.  Hugo cocked his eyebrow and looked suspiciously at Jatt Starr. The Grand Overlord of Jatturn began pointing at Hugo, as if to say that the elbow was intentional.

 

JATT STARR:  You need not worry about what I may or may not have told her. “War Games”, old sport, that is what needs discussion.  This is not a match that you can just go into thinking you are just going to steamroll the competition. Running into each other presents an opportunity.

HUGO SCORPIO: Yeah, I—

JATT STARR: Hold on…

 

The HOW Classic took a moment to contort his body much to the confusion of Hugo Scorpio.

 

HUGO SCORPIO: What are—

JATT STARR: I am wearing a diaper full of ice.  It keeps my arousals to a minimum but it is highly dis—

HUGO SCORPIO: What the fuck is this? Donahue?

JATT STARR: Right.  So, look, look….look!  Neither one of us will be walking out of Edinburgh the HOW World Champion.  We both know this. But I am positive that you and I both want to walk out “War Games” winners.  We need to look out for one another.  You watch the Starrson City Icon’s back and there will be reciprocation.

HUGO SCORPIO: And if me and you are not on the same team?

JATT STARR: Easy. You and the Sultan of SeaJattle, last two standing. Teacher versus Student. May the better man win.

 

Ezster loudly cleared her throat. Jatt Starr popped up a single finger.

 

JATT STARR:  Think about it. We do not need Christopher America winning a FOURTH “War Games”. We do not want Evan Ward and Mike Best to claim they won War Games, that they earned that World Championship.  We want those two cads to know, deep down, that the only reason they won the match is because of us.  And hey, maybe you can eek out an HOFC Championship while you are there.

HUGO SCORPIO: Except, uh, there’s a small fuckin’ flaw in what you said.  I’ve been doin’ my research, reviewin’ some old matches, includin’ last year’s “War Games” and, uh, didn’t STRONK win the World Championship last year?  And correct if I’m wrong here, wasn’t he on Team Solex?

JATT STARR: Valid point, that is all the more reason for someone as inexperienced and, for lack of a better word, goonish such as yourself to align with somebody, a vet, with a wealth of knowledge who happens to be the greatest TWO TIME HOW Hall of Famer that can help you get to the end to give you that shot you so desperately want?

HUGO SCORPIO: I think you fuckin’ need me more than I need you.

JATT STARR: Need? What “need”? I am merely suggesting that people consider that in order to win, there are huge threats that need to be eliminated.

HUGO SCORPIO: Threats….

JATT STARR: Huge threats.

HUGO SCORPIO: Yeah, I’ll keep it under, whaddyacallit, advisement.

JATT STARR:  Splendid! Catch you later, sport!

 

Jatt Starr clapped Hugo on the arm again before strutting back towards his lady friend.  It took all of two seconds to think about the Sovereign of Starrgentina’s proposal before deciding that there was no way in hell he would help that deceiving douchebag.  Hugo knew that Jatt Starr would turn on him the first chance he got, World Championship or not.  It was a logical proposal, sure, but Hugo would rather team with the Stevens Dynasty than the Savior of Starrkham.  The whole exchange just further irritated Hugo.  Fuck Jatt and Fuck that Ghoulish Bitch he was with.  Jatt Starr wanted to talk about threats?  Well, the so-called Ruler of Jattlantis just made number four on Hugo’s War Games hit list after Christopher America, Mike Best, and Drew Mitchell.  Yes, Jatt leapfrogged over Evan Ward (which could be a good thing for him).

Hugo waited several minutes and he left.

 

FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER……

 

Blue Eyes did not disappoint.  As advertised, at this time of day, there was one other patron in the piano bar.  The lighting was dim, the atmosphere was quiet and tranquil.  He approached the bar.  The bartender was young and cleancut, sporting a dress shirt and a black bowtie.  He asked the bartender for two things: a Scotch, neat and if he could sit at the piano.  The bartender gave the okay but under the condition that once Billy (the presumed pianist) arrived, he would need to stop playing.  Hugo agreed to the terms.

After taking a sip of Scotch, he sat at the piano.  He started to press down on the keys before starting to play “Never Gonna Give You Up” by Rick Astley.

About twenty seconds into the song, a woman of about thirty approached.  She gave no signs of inebriation.  Perhaps she just arrived at the establishment seeking a pint only to hear the melodious sound of Rick Astley. Perhaps.  She was tall, her brown hair was in a bun, and sported oversized eyeglasses. She spoke as if she were congested.

 

WOMAN: Oh my God! Are you “rickrolling” everyone?

 

When she said “God” it came out like “Gard”.  She had a non-Scottish accent that Hugo could not pick up on.  Hugo had intended for the music to guide his mind towards a sort of transcendental self-reflection wherein he could think of ways to eliminate that mole on his ass, Drew Mitchell.  He hated that motherfucker with a passion…on a professional level.  From a personal standpoint, he seemed like an okay “chap”, but that motherfucker always found a way to win in matches that involved Hugo. There was one thing Hugo could say, someone else always took the fall.  It still really grates on him, though.  Of course, here is this woman talking to him, so does he respond or act like Mike Best and be a massive dick about and tell her to fuck off?

 

HUGO SCORPIO: Not intentionally.

WOMAN (singing): …gonna run around and desert you/Never gonna make you cry/Never gonna say goodbye/Never gonna tell a lie and hurt….

HUGO SCORPIO: You have a good voice.

WOMAN: I better. My parents paid enough for the lessons.  Where did you learn to play?

HUGO SCORPIO: My mother.  This was the last song she taught me.

WOMAN: You’re not bad.

HUGO SCORPIO: Hold your applause. I only know five songs and one of ‘em is “Chopsticks” and the other is the “Twilight Zone” theme song.

 

The Woman chuckled as Hugo continued to play on.  There was something soothing about playing the piano.  It helped clear his mind.  He could feel his anger slowly dissipate with each stroke of a key.

 

HUGO SCORPIO: You’re not Scottish.

WOMAN:  Because I’m Australian.

HUGO SCORPIO: That’d explain everything.

WOMAN: You?

HUGO SCORPIO: American.

WOMAN: My name’s Kate.

HUGO SCORPIO: Hugo.

KATE: Well, Hugo from America, what brings you here?

HUGO SCORPIO: Work.

 

Kate cocked her head to the side and stared intently at Hugo’s face.  Hugo sighed, he had seen the look before, he knew what was coming.

 

KATE: Do you mind if I ask you a personal question? If it’s too personal, it’s okay, I’m just—

HUGO SCORPIO: Are you a Hare Krishna lookin’ for donations?

KATE: No.

HUGO SCORPIO: A Jehovah’s Witness lookin’ for converts?

KATE: No.

HUGO SCORPIO: Are you—

KATE: Am I about to ask you about your extended warranty? No.

HUGO SCORPIO: How did you know?

KATE: If you don’t mind, what happened?

HUGO SCORPIO: You talkin’ about my face?

KATE: Yes.

HUGO SCORPIO: Maybe I was involved in a tragic train accident.  Maybe it was an industrial accent.  Maybe I was playin’ too close to the fireworks when I was a kid.  Or was I savin’ some orphan on crutches from a burnin’ buildin’ and the ceilin’ collapsed on my head?

KATE: Was it any of those things?

HUGO SCORPIO: You want the truth?

KATE: I would prefer the truth.

HUGO SCORPIO: I did it to myself.

KATE: How?

HUGO SCORPIO: If I told you—-

KATE: You’d have to kill me? Were you involved in a spy mission with a nefarious supervillain with designs on taking over the world who captured you and attached to a bomb that you managed to escape using a secret pen laser up your sleeve seconds before it detonated?

HUGO SCORPIO: You watch too many movies.

KATE: So?

HUGO SCORPIO: Song’s over.

KATE: So you aren’t going to tell me?

HUGO SCORPIO: Nope. But if it makes you feel good, I’m gonna use your explanation next time someone asks. Very dramatical.

 

Hugo Scorpio rose from the piano and picked up his drink. He downed the remaining contents in one gulp. He had come to Blue Eyes for the ambiance and to be left alone. He got the ambiance, but Kate from Australia was interrupting his process.  He turned towards the bar.

 

KATE: If not an explanation, how about a drink?

 

Hugo let out an exasperated sigh. He did not know who this woman was or what she wanted, but she was not getting the hint. If it were any other day, any other circumstance, and if he did not have a “War Games” match to prepare for, he might have entertained Kate’s congeniality. But not today. He spun around, perhaps more dramatically than he had intended, and faced Kate.

 

HUGO: What the fuck do you want from me, Kate from Australia? I don’t got no money to throw around to buy drinks for people. I’m not tryin’ to be a dick, I’m really not.  But I’ve got this really important, whaddyacallit, business opportunity comin’ up and I can’t have any distractions.  You seem like a sweet girl and all, but I’ve had a rough few weeks and I just really need to be by myself.

 

Hugo immediately did an about face and power walked out of Blue Eyes.  He had no intention of sticking around to see what kind of reaction Kate from Australia had to his words.  He knew all too well how devastating words can be. He wanted to believe that Kate would just saunter up to the bar and order herself a drink, that his words would have rolled right off her back.  He had to believe that Kate from Australia was not a lonely gal, having a tough time, needing someone to talk to, someone to keep her company and get through one more night.

Belief and truth are two very different things.

The truth came down to two words: War Games.

There will be another dimly lit piano bar with a nice dark corner somewhere in which to hide as someone else plays some tune that Hugo knows but cannot figure out the name of it.  Another empty piano begging someone to play it.

A mind to clear.

Asses to kick.

War Games was coming.

And he needs to clear his head.