So this is the downside of fame, I suppose. The heartbreak of a tough loss that all tip tier wrestlers face. I look at my face in the mirror of this establishment, and I can see the disappointment in my eyes at being robbed of a debut victory. It’s not fair, but I tell myself that life’s not fair, and I can muster the strength to go on.
“Uhhh, can I get you something?” asked the bartender, walking towards me.
I have two choices now – drown my sorrows with some cheap hooch, or turn my attention to my next victim, Sulter Kael. Kael. Where do they come up with this shit? I go from a cowboy to a salad’s middle aged and bitter yoga obsessed aunt.
“Yeah, I’ll take a double whiskey, whatever’s the cheapest,” said Lester Moregrimes. He adjusts his seat on the stool, still in obvious discomfort from the quick and decisive match he had against Clay Byrd. The bartender continues to stare, but he walks away to pour the drink.
It’s clear where I’m lacking right now. These wrestlers are straight out of Days of Our Lives, with decades of fighting with each other, arguing with each other, and sleeping with each other. They get deep, they get serious, and they get way up each other’s asses with stupid shit nobody cares about. But the fans seem to care, so if that’s what it takes to get the wins I’m owed, I can get deep. I can get deep as shit.
The bartender returned, and put the glass down in front of Lester. “You wanna start a tab?”
“Yeah,” replied Lester, “keep ‘em coming.”
He handed over a card, and downed half the drink in one gulp.
“So what’s with the setup?” asked the bartender.
Sensing that this is a discussion nobody can win, the bartender backs off.
“Two more, please,” said Lester.
This is where I can find the grit to carry on despite the overwhelming odds fighting against me. Real salt of the earth people, the bottom layer of crud stuck in your oil pan. The fact is, much like the High Octane roster, I’m better than all these people but I need to stay in their midst to truly understand what makes them tick.
“All right, I need to know,” said the bartender again.He stopped in front of Lester, dropped two glasses in front of him as Lester finished the first, and the rookie wrestler trades out, “What’s going on here?”
Lester pushed the second glass in front of the man sitting next to him at the bar, who drinks it in one gulp even while he kept the phone trained on him, the video never stopping.
“Him?” asked Lester, “I’m a pro wrestler.”
“Yeah, I gathered that,” replied the bartender, looking Lester over with as much skepticism as you can imagine (and probably a little more, “What the hell are you doin’?”
Lester shrugged. He drank his drink, and pushed the glass toward the bartender again. “I’ve got a big match this week against some vegetable man and I need to cut a promo.”
Two more whiskeys are poured, and the bartender took a deep breath. “This guy, though – you’re trusting him with a phone? He spends most of his days sitting out front of my bar begging for change.”
It’s true, the erstwhile cameraman smells… ripe. And his clothes have seen better days.
“He said he’ll pay me two hundred dollars for a night’s work,” said the cameraman, “That’s worth it to me.”
One shot is all I need. One well – deserved win will–
“Hey!” said Lester, standing up with a start as the bartender hits the STOP button on the boom box.
The bartender rolls his eyes. “What are you doing with that?”
“Ever heard of a monologue? Pour us another round and let us do our art.”
Normally, that level of attitude would get him kicked out of the bar, but it was past one in the morning on a Wednesday, nobody else was in the bar to either witness it or back him up, and this man, Lester, was likely unhinged and, at the very least, wasn’t otherwise bothering him. He put his hands up in peace, and got another round of drinks.
Lester, for his part, rewound his tape.
is all I need. One well – deserved win will put me on top of the world where I deserve to be. All I need is a little slice of justice. And I deserve that, don’t I?
Both Lester and his cameraman finish their drinks, and Lester stands up, gesturing that it was time for them to leave.
“Be right back,” he says to the bartender, as he picks up the boom box and walks out, the camera trailing behind him. The bartender nods, cleaning up the empty glasses.
Just outside the door, the street is mostly silent. A few people are walking to and fro, but they move with the energy of the ‘done.’ They’re clearly on their way back to their final stop of the night, home or a hotel or something of the sort. The cameraman stops just outside, pulling a single cigarette out of his pocket and lights it up.
“You coming?” asked Lester, as he continues to walk down the street.
“Wait,” replied the cameraman, “What about your tab?”
“…What about your card?”
Lester shrugged. “Wasn’t mine.
Almost half a block away from him by now, the cameraman quickly picks up the pace.
I figured this would be simple, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Becoming the next great professional wrestler will need me to have my opponents stop cheating by hitting me when I’m not ready. Becoming the next great professional wrestler is going to be the result of my talent, my passion, and my refusal to give up. I will never give up.
Tenacity is the only currency that matters in this sport. Resilience is the only character trait that brings the top of the heap to the top of the heap. This sport is in desperate need of a new hero and the only name that matters is mine.
He stopped walking. He looked up into the night sky.
“Well, this is where we part ways,” he said. “What’s your name again?”
“Carl,” said the cameraman, turning off the phone and handing it back to Lester.
“Carl,” repeated Lester, “You did good work tonight. The next time I’m through here I’ll look you up and get you some more work. Have you handled a camera before?”
He shook his head no. “I just felt like I knew exactly what you wanted,” said Carl, “and I’d be happy to work with you again, Mr. Anderson.”
Carl held his hand out to shake, but Lester intercepted with an envelope instead.
“I’ll have my people call your people,” he said, pressing some buttons on the phone and then wiping it off on his shirt. “Or I’ll just come see you at your office outside the dive.”
“That’ll–” and Carl stopped. The bartender recognized him, and he would likely not be able to go back to the same place with an unpaid bill. But Lester was already walking away from him, so he let the moment pass as he started to open the envelope to count his…
“Mr. Anderson!” shouted Carl, though Lester didn’t stop walking. “This is a check!”
“Yeah,” said Lester. “You’re probably gonna want to cash that as soon as possible.”
Carl stared at it for another few seconds, in disbelief.
Just before Lester turned the corner, Carl started to walk after him. “You told me your name was Robert Anderson! Who the hell is Mint Ross?”
He broke out into a full run, but the only thing he could see was a taxi accelerating away. Carl tried to chase for a few steps, and quickly realized the futility. Besides, the whiskey was starting to take its toll.
Yes. Yes he did.