No answer. I shake my head, I know I fucked up. I push “END” to hang up the phone. This was my fifth try, he isn’t picking up. I put the phone back in the side pocket of my basketball shorts as I make it to my Chevy Cobalt. Throughout the process of entering the car, starting the ignition, and putting on my seat belt, I contemplate trying just one more time.
I push a few buttons on the steering wheel and the phone starts ringing via the car’s speakers.
“Kev!” she says. I know she’s happy to hear from me. It’s the first time all week.
“Have you talked to Murdock?” I ask, rubbing my eyes fiercely with my thumb and index finger.
“He’s fine,” she begins again. I can tell she’s being sincere by her tone. “He knows where your heart is.”
I nod my head slowly, “Good…I finally took my ass to the gym. Just getting out.”
“That’s good! Great, actually.”
“Yeah,” I stare blankly at the windshield in complete silence. The silence is probably making Cindy uncomfortable.
“Yeah…” she remarks back after several seconds of the awkward pause. “I’m sure Murdock will be happy to know that you went to the gym. I think he’s just letting you process this World Title opportunity on your own. Let you work out the kinks in peace, ya know?”
“What about you?”
“Me?” She asks, startled. “You know I’m here if you need to bend someone’s ear. Shoot.”
I need more than that. But I’ll take it.
“Well, aside from being the HOW World Champion, Conor Fuse is an avid gamer. I don’t know much about gaming, but I do know that once you beat a game, what then? You’ve beaten it. You’ve reached the mountaintop. It’s done. Over. Time to get another video game. Turns out, I’m wrong. I was talking to this kid just the other day, while trying to register what the big fuss is with video games for Conor. Well, this kid put me on to what he does. He plays games to ‘platinum’ them. Now, it’s supposed to be a Playstation thing and I have no earthly clue if Conor Fuse only plays Mario Bros. or what, I’m more concerned with his wrestling ability, but this made sense to me. I’m –”
“Wait, what’s it mean to ‘platinum’ a game?” Cindy asks, more confused than I was when I originally had the same question myself.
“To ‘platinum’ a game means to unlock every trophy it has.”
“They get trophies?”
“Apparently so,” I respond with an empty smile on my face. I’m not really amused. “I can’t believe I know this now…There are three basic types of trophies you can get, Bronze<Silver<Gold, depending on how difficult the challenge is to achieve them.”
“Trophies? Platinum? Why does any of this matter? And what does this have to do with wrestling, Kevin?”
“Cindy, Conor Fuse is the High Octane Wrestling World Champion and for a reason. This man lives on video games and wrestling and it’s worked for him. He accomplished something few ever will, doing it his way. I’m facing this guy for his belt, it’s important I understand his psyche.”
Cindy’s quiet. I’m sure she’s shrugging her shoulders but getting my point.
“Cindy, once you unlock every trophy in a game, you are rewarded with a Platinum trophy, signifying your total completion of the game and all of its challenges.”
More dead silence from Cindy.
“At this point in my HOW career, you get a Bronze trophy for beating me.”
“Keeevin,” she finally says in a consoling manner.
“Here me out, it’s fine. Because here’s the thing Cindy…Conor Fuse became World Champion and in a Nintendo world that would mean he’d have accomplished everything there was to accomplish. There would be nothing left to play for. You beat King Koopa and the game is done. Like I said before though, the gaming world doesn’t work that way. I’ve often thought, lately, that facing me for the World Title is nothing but a chore for Conor. In many respects, I’m sure it is for him. But in order for gamers to ‘platinum’ a game they have to get those little Bronze trophies no matter how mundane the task.”
“Why are you selling yourself so short, Kev?” Cindy asks. I can almost visualize her shaking her head in disappointment. The New York was about to come out of her soon, I know it. “I mean, wow. You’re resigning yourself to what you believe is the fact that you're an insignificant piece to a puzzle for Conor Fuse to bust his video game nut.”
See, I knew it. She knew that would hurt. I take a moment to breathe. It’s not Cindy’s comment that’s making me take a breath. It’s what I’m about to say next.
“I’ve never won a World Title. Anywhere. I don’t know if I can do it.”
“Murdock asked me what’s the difference between beating a former World Champion and a current World Champion. Other than the obvious reasons, there’s the fact that I’ve beaten my share of former World Champions before including Cancer Jiles, but I’ve never been able to beat the World Champion and become Champion myself. It’s alway eluded me, Cindy.”
“So that’s why you spazzed out on Murdock.”
I can tell Cindy wants to say something else, but she doesn’t know what else to say. I don’t either…