:::SCENE: Tokyo, Japan. Early morning Tuesday, close to 3:45 am – Japan Standard Time, the sun has yet to appear in the Land of the Rising Sun. The interior of a taxi cab. The driver, a woman in her late twenties to early thirties, her raven black hair pulled back in a ponytail, sporting a tie, black vest, white gloves, and a white dress shirt with rainbow cuffs. Sitting in the backseat is Jatt Starr sporting khakis, a black t-shirt featuring Clay Byrd, a houndstooth sport coat, and his gray Adidas sneakers with red stripes. His StarrSek Industries duffel bag is on the seat next to him which contains his clothes, a couple of “”Far Side” books, some toiletries (soap, comb, toothbrush, mouthwash, facial cleanser, etc), a folder with eight sure thing, limited edition items for Steve Harrison to sell (in hopes to build a foundation for, at the very least, a civil working relationship), and the HOW Tag Team Championship.
The driver, Leiko, jarred the Champion of Jattanooga with her shockingly English accent. When questioned about the accent, sounding like she belonged in a Guy Ritchie file, she explained how she spent fifteen years in the United Kingdom, spending a couple of those years in the Royal Shakespeare Company, at some point while she was speaking, he tuned her out. He was just too tired to either listen or care. That will happen after a ten hour non-stop flight from Seattle to Tokyo with a child screaming nonstop for the last three and a half to four hours.
He may have gotten four hours of sleep on the flight.
After showing Leiko the name of the hotel he cannot pronounce, he entered the taxi and became overwhelmed with an assertive blend of odors, an almost cherry blossom, topical fruit, cotton candy blend. It was odd and not at all pleasant. Choose a scent and stick with it. No need to complicate it. It’s like cheffing up a grilled cheese. It’s a grilled freaking cheese!
After about ten minutes of congested traffic, Leiko looks at the passenger in her backseat. Jatt Starr looks haggard. He brings his hand to the side of face, his stubble feeling like sandpaper across his hand. The bags under his bloodshot eyes, so large, it’s surprising the airline did not charge a fee for them.
It’s War Games season. For the past week, he has been to five different cities – New York, Chicago, Des Moines, Tokyo fof Refueled, and then Seattle. It would have been six but screw Dallas.
Leiko finally breaks the silence.::::
LEIKO: Are you doing alright back there? You seem a little knackered.
JATT STARR: No, I’m just a little tired.
LEIKO: Rough flight?
JATT STARR: Rough week.
LEIKO: You wanna vent it out?
JATT STARR: Nah.
::::The Jattlantic City Idol looks out the window. The streets are surprisingly full of people considering the time with people (probably a fair number of tourists) walking to and fro (and in some cases stumbling) as there are vehicles on the road. Traffic is at a standstill in Kabukicho.::::
LEIKO: In my line of work, you pay for the ride but the ears are free.
JATT STARR: A prostitute said those exact words to me over fifteen years ago. She called me “Jim”. So, there is some skepticism.
JATT STARR: Well, she was a Vegas prostitute. And it was so long ago, I had two testicles. Besides, I was a different person back then. There was a certain image that I needed to portray. Not that it’s really any of your business, by the way.
LEIKO: People tend to like a little chit-chat with their drivers.
JATT STARR: Yeah? Well, I am not some nine-to-five schnook on vacation taking in the sites and looking for the nearest karaoke bar. I am Jatt Starr. HOW Hall of Famer. The Sovereign of Starrgentina, the Sultan of SeaJattle, the Saviour of Starrkham!
LEIKO: Are you telling me that I have an honest to goodness celebrity in my cab? Oh my God! My knickers are getting so soggy! Fancy a shag?
JATT STARR: Obviously, you already knew that.
LEIKO: Of course I did, you git. Do you think I’m some sort of daft twat? Your giant face is on a bloody billboard.
::::Jatt Starr leans forward and sees his face with a grin that does nothing to hide the malice behind next to the helmeted, gloriously moustached John Sektor. The Best Alliance (Sutler Kael) on display in Tokyo promoting “War Games”, which is just days away. The King of Grapple from the Big Apple leans back, almost slumping into the backseat.::::
JATT STARR: Do you always insult your passengers like this?
JATT STARR: I guess that means I’m special.
LEIKO: It’s just your face. I kind of want to punch it.
JATT STARR: Get in line.
::::The Hero of Jattlanta looks out the window again, the taxi begins to move. After driving about twenty feet, the taxi brakes. Jatt Starr feels the driver’s dark eyes on him through the rearview window.::::
LEIKO: Do you enjoy it?
JATT STARR: Wrestling?
JATT STARR: It’s a job. You have to take your bad days with the good. I mean, do you enjoy driving people around?
LEIKO: When I don’t have some wanker back there? I get to talk to people, I get to know them. I fucking hate most of them, but it’s good banter. So, why do you do it? If it’s such a job, why do it?
JATT STARR: The money, of course. That plays a big part of it. Why else am I flying back and forth right now between Seattle and Tokyo? Someone has to go on these local radio and television shows and promote “War Games”. The more people that subscribe means more money in my pocket.
LEIKO: Capitalism at its finest.
JATT STARR: It’s demeaning and exhausting. You fly into New York, stay in a hotel, the next morning you do a little press tour. Pop onto a couple of radio stations, go on a couple of local news shows, have some lunch somewhere in there. At least in New York, Long Island especially, you are almost guaranteed an excellent slice of pizza. Top notch, even. Next, you do a quick presser for the dying periodicals and internet magazines or podcasters or whatever. Have a quick dinner and then it’s off to Chicago, more radio spots, more television spots, more periodical pressers. Then the next city and the next city and the next and on and on it goes.
LEIKO: Why you? Why not somebody else?
JATT STARR: Like who? You can’t ask someone like Clay Byrd to deal with that poppycock. That would be like asking Picasso to doodle a stick figure kitty. Conor Fuse? Do you think for one New York second that he will put down his Cheetos and game controllers to speak to the press? Or maybe you are referring to Zeb Martin? He’s unintelligible. I don’t know what language he speaks but you sure as heck can’t find it on Rosetta Stone. Seriously, I could learn Dothraki in less time that it would take me to learn whatever the heck Zeb Martin speaks. The media wouldn’t know what the heck he is saying! And Teddy Palmer?
LEIKO: My brother likes him!
JATT STARR: Your brother sucks.
LEIKO: My brother is also a fan of yours.
JATT STARR: He still sucks. He just sucks slightly less now.
::::The car begins to move again, slowly, but the taxi is not stopping. The lights of Tokyo illuminate the taxi through the windows in flashes of different colors, yellow, red, pink, white, green.::::
LEIKO: It must be somewhat interesting going to all those cities.
JATT STARR: It’s a nightmare. About ninety percent of the time, they ask the same questions: “Is defending the HOW Tag Team Championships at War Games your shot at redemption?”, “Do you think the Best Alliance has what it takes to take down Teddy Palmer?”. AND about eighty percent of the time, these muckraking vultures somehow manage to work freaking Princess Angel and Graystone into the conversation. That crap happened like sixteen years ago. Does Hugh Grant still have to answer for that hooker he was caught with in the nineties?
LEIKO: Hugh Grant is fucking brilliant. You’re no Hugh Grant.
JATT STARR: Fine. But that stuff is ancient history! Oh, big laugh, Jatt Starr made out with a chick who turned out to be a dude. Lee Best had a good laugh there. It’s Twenty-Twenty-One. Move on! Why does that moment have to define me? No one asks about my LSD Championship win at ICONIC. No one asks me about my ridiculously long undefeated streak against Darkwing. Get this, one of these shock jocks in Des Moines had the balls ask me if my daughter was a virgin and began making inappropriate comments about her butt. I wanted to rip that headset off his bald head and beat him with it until his face was nothing more that ground up blood sausage.
::::The thought of “Danny Boy and the Tooth” disrespecting his daughter Thursday morning still makes the Starrcelona Icon upset, he feels the acids in stomach gurgling, his face getting flush, and his hands begin to shake. “War Games” should be the topic. B.A.T.T.L.E. should be the topic. Best Alliance dominance should be the topic. Not some weaselly little twerp who looks like Ichabod Crane with a meth addiction making lewd comments about his twenty-something daughter. The Ruler of Jattlantis takes a deep breath to calm himself down.::::
LEIKO: What happened?
JATT STARR: What could I do? I beat that fopdoodle into a pulp, I get arrested, detained, maybe I can’t leave the states, maybe Lee Best loses a crap ton of money and I get crapped on in some way. You just say “I don’t know, we don’t really talk about that” and “I would appreciate it if we could change the subject”. Gilda, that’s my daughter, she has had not the best of upbringings, to put it mildly. And the one comforting thing I can hold onto there is that if she were there and that turdnozzle said that while she was there, she would have wicked the ever living shit out him, pardon my language. But it’s true, she would have kicked him until he shat himself. Pardon my language again.
LEIKO: She sounds like a propa weapon, mate. I like her already.
JATT STARR: And they also love, love, LOOOOOOVE to bring up when my ex-wife got stabbed in the eye right in front of me.
LEIKO: I saw that. It was right diabolical, that’s what that was.
JATT STARR: They always focus on the negative. It’s no wonder why I have such a strong distaste for most people.
LEIKO: It doesn’t sound like you much enjoy it at all.
JATT STARR: Certainly not when it comes to dealing with the media. They seem to have this evasion to bringing up some of my more positive accomplishments. Like, for example, no one mentions that the Mayor of ManJattan is the forty-eighth most requested wrestler for Make-A-Wish kids in the month of April.
LEIKO: That must be rewarding.
JATT STARR: You would think so. But seeing this eight year old bald girl hooked up to more machines than Luke Skywalker after an encounter with the Wampa, it’s haunting. It’s depressing.
LEIKO: But you brought joy to that little girl.
JATT STARR: Yeah, well, after the first Make-A-Wish kid you visit dies a week after your visit and you don’t find out about it until three years later, it kind of puts a damper on the whole thing.
::::The Jattagonian Giant runs his hand through his already wildly disheveled hair, the result making him look like the front man of a cover band from the eighties minutes the keyboard necktie. He takes a deep breath. Maybe it’s the exhaustion, be hadn’t thought of her in months. Perhaps this cab driver is practicing voodoo, getting him to lower his defenses. Nah. He just needs sleep. He’s a cab ride away from checking in and his head hitting a soft, lush pilow. Leiko’s British accent tears his thoughts away from the comfortable bed back to his charitable contributions.:::::
LEIKO: How many have you visited?
JATT STARR: Hm? Oh! Um, In my career? Maybe eight? Not counting the ones that got disappointed that I was not Ryan Faze or El Nutso or David Black. David Black? Seriously? So, nowadays, I usually just send tickets, autographs, match used jerseys. It’s too much of an emotional toll to bond with some kid who may or may not get better.
LEIKO: Then why do it? Besides the money. The fans?
JATT STARR: Oh please. The fans are idiots.
JATT STARR: Sure, and you know what? I get it, the more fans we have, the more money I make. But they suck. If I am being perfectly honest, the fans and most of the wrestlers in the HOW suck. The Teddy Palmers, the Lindsay Troys, the Dan Zions. They are all fricking awful. I know I am not well liked but one thing I learned in AA is, I am the only one who can define myself. Other people’s definition of me is sometimes more about making themselves feel better.
LEIKO: Oh, so you’re a lush as well.
JATT STARR: Every day is a struggle. Hanging out with Sektor, it becomes more of a struggle. Don’t get me wrong, I love the guy like a brother but he can really get on my last nerve with his carouselling, the drugs, the philanthropy with coeds. Sometimes, when I want to hang out, I just want to pop in like “Commando” or a zombie movie.
LEIKO “Twenty-Eight Days Later”?
JATT STARR: I tried watching that, I couldn’t buy Sandra Bullock as a drunk.
LEIKO: No, it’s a—-, forget it. So, do your own bloody thing. It sounds like you two blokes are oil and water. Why not expand your horizons? Find some new boys to play with.
JATT STARR: First of all, I owe Sektor. I owe him a lot, actually….
::::The Jattinum Standard trails off a bit. For every morally reprehensible action Sektor does, actions that offend even Jatt Starr, the Hero of Jattlanta reminds himself of his obligation to the man. Sektor needs an opposing force to keep him grounded and….hinged. It is debatable that Jatt Starr cracking Sektor’s, what was it? Fiancee? Girlfriend?….in the head with the chair contributed to her death months later. But that “if” haunts Jatt Starr as much as Lisa, the leukemia kid. The fact that Sektor stepped up to defend the Jattlantic City Idol after he was left brutalized and his wife mutilated. That’s the Sektor he knows, that’s the Sektor that is lost. Jatt Starr will help him find his way back. With friendship and….suddenly, he shakes those thoughts away.:::::
JATT STARR: And secondly, it is not easy for me to make friends. Unless those “free ears” of yours are malfunctioning, I believe I made it clear that I am not very well liked.
LEIKO: What? You? I find that hard to believe. You must be fuckin’ with me. You aren’t well liked? Shocking!
::::The Jatti Master finds himself rolling his eyes like Sektor did when he told the Gold Standard about the cannibal showing late to the barbeque and ending up with the cold shoulder.::::
JATT STARR: Okay, okay….
LEIKO: With that punchable face of yours?
JATT STARR: There’s no need to be rude about it.
LEIKO: Sorry, I don’t get to take the piss very often while I’m working.
JATT STARR: Drink less water? Or is that a sexual thing….?
LEIKO: No, you pillock. I’m just having a laugh.
JATT STARR: Nice to know I am here for your amusement. I will keep that in mind when it comes time to tip you.
LEIKO: Lighten up.
JATT STARR: My point is, those that I consider my friends, including those who may do things that I do not condone nor agree with, I am fiercely loyal to. And those people are far and few between. There’s my daughter, Gilda, obviously. There’s Sektor, Mario Maurako, and Lee Best. That’s it. Sure, Lee doesn’t socialize much and Mario has been off the grid for months, but loyalty is a valuable commodity especially in the wrestling world. This upcoming “War Games” match, no one likes or respects anyone else on the team, I want to try and change that or at least minimize it. We have to win for the greater good. It will be challenging because I know I am disliked on my own team by everyone except my B.A.T.T.L.E. Bro, Sektor.
LEIKO: Same thing in the acting world. I know a few dirty scrubbers who’d give me a Columbian necktie just for a bit part in “Eastenders” regardless of my blinding personality…or because of it. Jealous twats.
JATT STARR: I’m sorry, when did this become about you?
LEIKO: I’m in the driver’s seat, so it’s all about me.
JATT STARR: Fine….
:::The Thane of Starrkarth folds his arms across his chest, his face contorts as child would after being introduced to broccoli. Defiant and offended, his bloodshot eyes dart downwards, looking at his lap, as if he is pouting..::::
JATT STARR: ….you know what? We can sit in silence. I don’t care.
LEIKO: Oh shut up! I was agreeing with you. Whether it’s wrestling or acting you need people you can count on. And I’m not just talking about agents and managers and such.
JATT STARR: How long before we get there?
LEIKO: Are you going to be a wanker about this?
JATT STARR: Yes. Here I was, opening up and somehow you made it about yourself. Now, how long until we reach the hotel?
LEIKO: Not much longer.
:::Leiko feels a twinge of guilt, although it is nothing that she has not felt before. She has done many a-shitty thing in her life even starting a savage rumor about someone’s sexual proclivities just to get a speaking role in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”. Cobweb only had one line, but it was hers, dammit. But still, Jatt Starr was someone her brother rooted for when he was younger. She started feeling bad until the Saviour of Starrkham started to sing.:::::
JATT STARR (singing): “If you like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain…..If you like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain….If you like pina coladas—-”
LEIKO: Do you know any of the other words?
JATT STARR: Nope.
LEIKO: Would it help if I apologized for saying you have a punchable face?
JATT STARR: Maybe.
LEIKO: Sorry, I can’t do that. How about I apologize for calling you a twat?
JATT STARR: You never called me that.
LEIKO: Oh. I must’ve just been thinking it then. I’m sorry I was thinking of calling you a twat. There.
JATT STARR: Is that the best I’m getting?
::::The Sultan of SeaJattle stares at the back of Leiko’s head and silently nods his “punchable head” in acceptance and turns looks out the window, his eyes begin to itch, causing tears to form. The cab slows as he turns back to Leiko, looking at her through the rearview mirror hoping she does not think he is weeping, but only catching a glimpse of her bangs.::::
JATT STARR: Look, I am just tired and a bit irritable….can we just….?
LEIKO: No worries, mate.
::::The Baron of Boca Jatton leans back in the backseat and continues to stare out the window. He will be snug in a bug and this terrible, terrible press tour will be over and he can focus less on the promotion of “War Games” and more the actual training and winning of it. He glances at the rearview mirror and catches Leiko’s dark eyes staring him. Maybe the trip wasn’t so bad. Leiko has got moxie. The Earl of GlouStarr likes moxie. He pushes that thought aside. “War Games” isn’t about him or his needs. It’s about honoring the HOW gods. It’s about Lee Best. It’s about redemption for StarrSek B.A.T.T.L.E.. And most importantly, it’s about restoring the order. As he learned in AA, “Winners do what they have to do. Losers do what they want to do.” The Best Alliance HAS to win…..by any means necessary.
But first, sleep. Until a text from someone named Jack invites him to a boat. It took another thirty minutes minutes before he arrived at his updated destination. Hopeful and curious to as what to expect…END SCENE.::::