STRONK AND SHELLEY’S HOUSE
SOMEWHERE IN MINNESOTA
MAY 2, 2022
The doorbell rings. Inside the house, STRONK performs weighted Hindu squats—he’s up to fifteen hundred—while Shelley lounges on the carpeted floor (because they still don’t have any furniture, and probably never will) ‘reading’ hentai.
Greene: Oh! I wonder if that’s the guy!
STRONK: WHO IS ‘THE GUY?’
Standing up and moving quickly toward the front door, Shelley responds in mid-stride.
Greene: I called a plumber. I know you said the toilet is beyond repair, but this guy comes really well referred. They call him the ‘Porcelain God,’ I’m told. Also a slew of other strange nicknames and pseudonyms, but yeah, he’s supposed to be the best. The last guy I called took one look at the picture I texted him and left me on read. Then straight-up blocked me. Can you believe that?
STRONK: YES. THE SHITTER IS A CRIME SCENE.
STRONK follows Greene to the front door.
Shelley opens the door.
A slightly out-of-shape, grizzled, homeless-looking man stands on their doorstep in shit-stained coveralls and a hat that reads ‘Joe’s Plumbing Services Co.’ He’s white, but his skin is so sunbaked and dirty he could pass for any ethnicity really. More monster or troll in appearance than human being.
The man removes his hat. His hair is brown, shoulder-length, and majorly thinning at the crown. In the daylight there even appears to be small bugs crawling around inside the matted, tangled mess. The man combs back his greasy bangs with a gnarled, calloused hand, revealing a forehead that looks like if Abdullah the Butcher gave even less of a fuck about his appearance: deep, ragged scars, some vertical, some horizontal. There is a small, subtle dent in the man’s skull.
The man sticks out his hand, which Shelley reluctantly shakes (and then discretely wipes his hand off on his pant leg).
Plumber: Name’s Ol’ Joe! Heard y’all got a busted shitter that needs Ol’ Joe’s magic touch!
Greene: Uh, yeah, there was an… incident.
STRONK: STRONK OBLITERATED IT.
The plumber looks STRONK up and down.
Plumber: I betcha did, hoss! Look at the size of ya, ya probably dropped a fuckin’ Hiroshima on that bitch! But Ol’ Joe’s known a shitter to take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’! Resilient little fuckers, they are! You just need to know how to tickle that fucker’s bonch just so! I bet ya’ll a steak dinner and some crack money Ol’ Joe gets it workin’ like old times! Ol’ Joe ain’t met a crapper that wouldn’t go to bed after he finished puttin’ the boots to ‘er—and that’s a fact, Jack!
STRONK: YOU ARE A STRANGE HUMAN MAN. AND STRONK’S NAME IS STRONK, NOT JACK.
The plumber puts back on his hat, tamping it down hard. He beams a (mostly) toothless, maniacal smile.
Plumber: Ya don’t know the half of it, honkey! Ol’ Joe’s been in the sewers, figgerin’ out where it all goes, y’know? Mappin’ those damn pipes and the flow of it all. Like one’a them old-timey mapmakers. Fightin’ off rats, other sewer people, dark thoughts ‘n shit. Bathin’ in the muck and the waste. Buildin’ that tolerance. Disease don’t come anywhere near Ol’ Joe ‘cuz it knows if it does Ol’ Joe’ll trap it, right? Trap it between his thighs, snug against his balls and his taint, and give ‘er the what-fer, y’know? Ol’ Joe thought he had Ebola once—turns out Ebola had Ol’ Joe. Cleared that shit right up. No more spread. ‘Murica’s got Ol’ Joe to thank for wrangling that bitch to the ground. But Ol’ Joe digresses… let’s see what we’re workin’ with ‘ere. Let’s see if the picture does this sumbitch justice—‘cuz if it does? Daaaamnnn, son, Ol’ Joe’s hanger gon’ be diamonds. Ol’ Joe loves a challenge.
Greene shoots GODSON an uncomfortable look, wondering if this man is, in fact, mentally stable enough to be walking around amongst civilized people, let alone lucid enough to be an effective plumber. At the end of the day, though, toilets are expensive, and they have been doing their dirty, sinful business in a large hole in the backyard for the past week. Neighbours have already complained, not just once, but several times. Not that STRONK or Shelley cared, but it was unsightly, and with the weather heating up, it could very quickly become a liability. They have to trust that the plumber standing on their doorstep can get the job done.
Greene: Alright then, well, come on inside, let’s show you what you’re up against…
Armed with only a plunger and a wrench—and now fully unclothed, except for a pair of yellowed tighty-‘whities’—the plumber stands in front of the toilet. We don’t see what it looks like—going to spare you the gory details, just imagine the worst thing you’ve ever laid eyes upon and then magnify it by, like, a multiple of twelve—with a look of unadulterated joy and excitement etched into his grotesque visage. STRONK and Shelley flank him on each side; Greene is trying to keep himself from vomiting, but the contents of his stomach keep Yoyo-ing up and down his esophagus.
The plumber runs a hand through his hair, spits a wad of chewing tobacco into a small jar he keeps in his pocket, and assesses the damage.
Plumber: Bah gawd, that’s one frigged-up shitter, boys! You did a fuckin’ number on that sumbitch!
Shelley continues to try not to look at it, but it’s like a bad car accident—it’s a challenge to keep from sneaking short glimpses. Every few seconds he wretches and looks on the verge of spilling his guts.
Greene: So, can you fix it?
Plumber: Don’t insult Ol’ Joe. He’s got a flawless track record with just this sorta thing. But it’ll take some doin’. Ohhhh yeah, she’ll take some doin’, arright! Y’all may want to go somewhere else for a bit—this ain’t for the weak. Fuckin’ horror show is what this is. Ol’ Joe’s wheelhouse.
Hours later, the job is done. The procedure was a resounding success. It took every ounce of strength and fortitude and creative problem-solving ability in the plumber’s body, but when he hit the flusher, the sound of water draining from the tank and swirling around the bowl was indeed the sound of triumph. His track record remains without a single blemish—unlike his face… which is riddled with ‘em.
Sitting down in a semicircle on the floor, STRONK, Shelley, and the plumber chomp away at the steak dinner that was promised upon successful completion of the job. Still not a scrap of furniture to be found in the place.
Plumber: Y’know, this steak ain’t the best Ol’ Joe’s had—usually like my shit tough and chewy with little bits of shotgun shell in it—but it ain’t terrible! Dunno about the flavour, of course; Ol’ Joe ain’t tasted shit in years!
Greene: So, how long have you been a plumber?
The plumber digs at his bloody gums with a chicken bone he pulls from his pocket.
Plumber: All my life! Ol’ Joe got interested in fixin’ shitters when he was just a wee boy! But a bunch’a years ago, maybe ten or somethin’, Ol’ Joe got all tangled up in the wrastlin’ business. Did that for a few years, won some belts, got paid shittily, got my brains bashed in and my neck jacked up, and bled every single fuckin’ night. It was good times. But the docs said Ol’ Joe’s brain was all kinds’a fucked up, wouldn’t clear him… And so Ol’ Joe went back to his one true passion.
GODSON hasn’t engaged much with the plumber; he finds him strange and off-putting. And on more than one occasion remarked that he probably ‘has quite the piece on him.’ Thus, he lets Shelley lead the conversation, while he sits there, biting into the steak while holding it with his bare hands.
Greene: And where’d you wrestle? What was your name?
Plumber: This place called… uhhh… think it was New Frontier Wrestling… ran by this little shithead named Eddie Mayfield. Name was Joe The Plumber. Still is! That’s Ol’ Joe’s fuckin’ name! But shit happens and when you start blackin’ out and actin’ out from all the brain damage, they gotta step in and be bitches about it. And they said they got tired of Ol’ Joe smokin’ crack and drinkin’ ‘shine in the back before his matches. Whatever! No loss to Ol’ Joe! Don’t even miss it none!
The plumber saws through the strip of fat on the steak, twirls it on his fork with the aid of his knife, then pops that bad boy in his carnival funhouse of a mouth.
Greene: Funny enough, we’re in the wrestling biz, ourselves. STRONK debuted earlier this year and is already a champ. And he’s going to be fighting in a cage match in June. Things are poppin’ off for us.
The plumber, upon hearing the words ‘cage match,’ cocks an unruly eyebrow.
Plumber: Cage match, eh? And y’all ain’t never been in one before?
Greene: That’s right.
Plumber: How ‘bout… y’all ever muck about with that barbed wire shit, maybe some glass? How ‘bout thumbtacks? Big hoss, you ever swallow a bunch of tacks just to say you did it on national TV? Fuckin’… uhhh… you ever get your head split open with the wrong end of a chair and start scrapin’ at the exposed bone in your forehead with your fingernail, like, shit, I didn’t know bone was so damn gritty? Any of that? Or are you one’a those pussy mat guys who wanna tug on Ol’ Joe’s cock and ask him politely to submit?
STRONK: STRONK HAS NEVER DONE ANY OF THAT. NOR DOES STRONK WANT TO DO ANY OF THAT.
Plumber: Sure, sure, no one does! Nobody wants to get brain damaged and forget how to piss standing up. But when you stick your nose into the ultra-violent realm, some’a these things are gonna be there waitin’ for ya… and they might just try and cut that damn nose of yours clean off your face! Ol’ Joe’s seen’z it! So… be ready.
Greene: Interesting… So I guess the question is… how do we get ready?
Plumber: Ain’t a physical thing. It’s a mental thing. You gotta learn to like the pain a little bit.
STRONK: STRONK LIKES MAKING OTHER HUMANS FEEL PAIN.
Plumber: And that’s good—means you ain’t a pussy. But in a cage match? That chain link’ll cut you to ribbons. You will bleed and you’ll bleed a lot.
Greene: Any advice?
Plumber: Everyday when you drag your big ass outta bed, look yourself in the mirror. Imagine those cheeks’a yours all sliced up like a Thanksgiving turkey. Think about your dang teeth. You like havin’ ‘em right? Makes talkin’ and eatin’ better, right?
STRONK looks at Joe, then at Shelley. Was that even a question you need to ask?
Plumber: Accept ya may hafta leave one or two or three dead soldiers on the field of battle. Look at Ol’ Joe; he’s got three good teeth left. Don’t mean Ol’ Joe’s only got three teeth sittin’ there in his mouth. Got a few more than that—not many, but a few more. But outside of those three good’uns, they’s all on the verge of fallin’ out. If the Tooth Fairy were real, that mangy cunt’d be lurkin’ outside Ol’ Joe’s shack, checkin’ her watch every five minutes, like hurry the frig up!
STRONK nods silently.
Plumber: Basically, what I’m tryna say is this… teeth’s for fallin’ out, blood’s for spillin’, and scars are fuckin’ cool to look at when you’re dangerously high and tryna dig the worms out your face. Don’t be scared—be prepared. Shit’ll change you.
Greene: Did it change you?
The plumber laughs.
Plumber: Ol’ Joe? Naaaawwwww… Ol’ Joe’s always been sewer handsome. Always liked the pain. But if you weren’t born a greasy fuckin’ goblin, a gristly fuckin’ beast, you gotta adapt. That’s Ol’ Joe’s advice. And with that, I shall take my leave. Gots a big-butted lady with bipolar disorder and a shit ton of backne waitin’ at my hovel and she wants to smoke some crank and play find the walnut with Ol’ Joe, so I best be on my way! Thanks for the grub!
STRONK AND SHELLEY’S HOUSE
SOMEWHERE IN MINNESOTA
MAY 5, 2022
We fade into a dark room. There are candles lit and placed on shelves, bookcases, bedside tables. Dangerous stuff, really. The window is wide open and there’s a stiff breeze blowing through. There’s a box of tissues adjacent to literally every candle. Every single one of them. Makes no sense, but they’re there.
Shelley Greene sits in a camping chair, dressed in a powder blue leisure suit he bought secondhand about a week ago. He experimented with magenta being his colour—didn’t work. But powder blue? Brings out his squirrelly, drug-addled eyes. And he drives a powder blue Cadillac Deville, so, you know… brand consistency.
Greene: When I was a teenager, all I ever wanted was a cool car, a pair of Oakleys, and a hot chick by my side. But the good Lord above did not see fit to bless me with those things—that’s what my guidance councilor told me when I was in tenth grade. You just aren’t one of the chosen few that gets what they want in life, he said. He was a moronic, underachieving Jesus freak, and I frequently fantasized about boiling him in acid. I drew him a picture of Christ being gangraped by a pack of polar bears; he did not like that picture.
Shelley takes a long drag off his American Spirit, blowing it toward the open window, hoping the smell does not squirm its way underneath his bedroom door, travel down the hallway, and seep into STRONK’s sleeping chambers.
Greene: But he was right, of course—I wasn’t one of the chosen few. Chosen last for dodgeball, sure. But every aspect of my life was made needlessly difficult for reasons beyond my control. Car? Nope. Can’t pass the road test; thank you, crippling anxiety. Oakleys? Bought a pair, wore them proudly for a day, then some seniors callously ripped them off my face and broke them in two before my very own non-shaded eyes. … And hot chicks? I accidentally brushed the back of my hand up against the elderly school nurse’s droopy rack once—that’s about the extent of my success as far as the ladies went back then.
Shelley butts out the cigarette in an empty ice cream container sitting in the camping chair’s cupholder.
Greene: I was a nameless, faceless, underweight loser who on a good day faded into the background, and on a bad day earned a five-on-one beatdown for standing out too much. There was no middle ground; it was either one or the other. I spent many a free period playing YuGiOh alone with the janitor. And I suffered many a concussion and had my jaw wired shut more than once over a three year period. High school was not a good time for your pal Shelley Greene. Oh no it was not.
He pauses to take a breath and think about what he wants to say next.
Greene: The past is the past. But I do not forgive and I do not forget. Ten years ago, STRONK would not be my BFF. He would likely have been the type of guy to stuff me in a locker, piss in my backpack, give me noogies until my scalp was rubbed raw and a permanent bald spot had formed. He probably would have regarded me as a lesser-than. And that’s alright. I get it. There is a social hierarchy; a pecking order. And I was unfortunately at the very bottom of it for much of my life. I’ve got the mental and physical scars to prove it. If you could stare into my soul—figuratively, I don’t actually believe that voodoo bullshit—it would look very much like the forehead of that deranged plumber we had over here a few days ago.
It’s true; so much of his adolescence was spent hiding from bullies, daydreaming vengeance to be exacted one day in the future, and crying himself to sleep at night. The trauma inflicted upon him no doubt led him to experimenting with drugs in his late teens and early twenties, as they provided a much needed escape from reality. A vacation… from himself. And thankfully he was a bonafide genius when it came to math and science, so he could make his own shit. Being a reliable, unintimidating plug was the only social capital he had in college, but it got him invited to the odd party, though his luck with the ladies remained as nonexistent as it had always been.
Greene: But times change, people change, and good things come to those who wait. Well, I waited. I waited a long fucking time. And for those of you who think the Stronk Daddy is my first attempt at breaking into the wrestling business, think again. I had this one guy I found standing in line at a soup kitchen. He was really… out there. I dressed him in an all-black morph suit and had him carry a steel chair around with him. I called him Steel Chair Ghost. His matches consisted of him braining motherfuckers and getting away with it because, well, he was the chair. Can’t be a foreign object if you are the object, in question. But the gimmick took hold of him and he started not being able to differentiate fantasy from reality, and last I heard he was wandering from city to city trying to get people to sit on him. I wonder whatever came of Greg…
He looks off into the distance, remembering the three months he spent traveling the indy circuit with that crazy bastard. It was short-lived, but memorable.
Greene: And then along came STRONK. He entered my life right at the point I was ready to call it quits. This big, strong meathead who just needed a bit of brains to compliment his ample brawn. Now, three months later, Stronk Daddy is on a five match win streak. He’s got the HOTv Championship and defended in a few times now. And he’s going to walk into War Games in June the heavy favourite to win it all. And I, Shelley Greene, will be there to share in his glory.
Shelley pulls another America Spirit out and lights it up. Because he’s a chainsmoker that doesn’t value his health and loves a good nicotine high.
Greene: This Sunday, STRONK defends his title yet again, this time against a man by the name of Murphy Doyle Maher. MDM. Murphy, you’re missing a much needed ‘A’ at the end of your initials if you want me to be in any way interested in you. But I don’t need to be interested in you. Because you, like all the others that have stood in STRONK’s warpath, are a simple one-and-done. We roll into Refueled, beat the shit out of you, and leave with the belt and a paycheck. At this stage in the game, we are looking for hitters. We want to fight the best of the best. And you, Murphy Doyle Maher, are so far from being the best of the best, the top of the pack, it’s a challenge to stay motivated. Me? I think you’re going to be an easy win. I don’t think you offer anything with respect to an interesting or novel challenge. You’re just another body; another notch in our win column. But thankfully it’s not me that needs to remain motivated. That’s the Stronk Man. And rest assured that man is centrally focused on your destruction this Sunday. STRONK is going to beat you black and blue, and then lock you in the Body Dysmorphia, and we’ll all watch as the life drains from your body and you tap out like the bitch we all know that you are.
He butts out his cigarette, then lights yet another. He holds it between pursed lips, sucking away at the toxins, and digs in his suit jacket pocket for something. After rummaging around for a few seconds, he pulls out a pair of panties. The same panties that a fine young lady hurled at STRONK as they made their way to the ring last Sunday. STRONK paid it no attention, but Shelley snatched them up like a vulture and stuffed them in his pocket.
Greene: See these? I call it the STRONK Runoff. Smells like peppermint and sweat and something else I can’t put my finger on. And I, as STRONK’s manager, advisor, and hetero lifemate, get to catch the drippings; I get to scrape the sides of the bowl when the big man is done feasting. Right now the residuals are minimal. But in due time there will be more than enough to go around. One step at a time. I will be viewed as just as important to the success of Stronk Enterprises LLC as the Stronk Man himself, and then all of those assholes who tormented and degraded me years ago will look upon their TV set and realize how very wrong they were. They will know that Shelley Greene is not a loser. Shelley Greene is a winner.
He tosses the panties somewhere offscreen.
Greene: But for that to happen, we need to keep on winning and building our resume. MDM, you will be win number six. Just a number. And once we’re done with you, hopefully Michael Lee Best gets off his ass and does what is best for business, and delivers STRONK’s lucrative new contract. It’s loooooooooooooong overdue! Give us what we deserve! Pay us what we’re worth, damnit! Shelley wants a custom-made powder blue fit! This is fine for now, but eventually a champion’s manager needs to look the part! So we’ll be waiting, Mr. Best. Do what’s right. And hurry the hell up already!
Just as Shelley is about to end the recording, the door to his bedroom bursts open, and in stomps STRONK. Shelley panics, trying to waft away the cigarette smoke that has collected in the air around him.
Greene: These aren’t smokes, big man! They’re… uhhh… medicinal muscle-building inhalant sticks that I, uhh… just imported from Malaysia! Just testing them out to make sure they’re not harmful in any way before I add them to your daily regiment! And, uhhhh… they’re not good. I think they may just be cigarettes. Damn Malaysia, always scamming! Ripped me off again!
STRONK looks at the cigarette package, which reads American Spirits, then back at Greene.
STRONK: CALL THE PLUMBER BACK. STRONK DID IT AGAIN.
Fade to black.