Monday, the Twenty-Ninth of June, Twenty-Twenty
Forty-Eight Minutes Past Seven A.M.
“I thought we had an agreement about not leaving Chicago, Jim?”
The voice of Marshall Owens booms through the semi-empty day club that was once active and run by Witherhold less than a month ago. An exclusive venue visited by many and affordable to very few.
Now? Waiting for final paperwork to go through to switch ownership of the building and remaining assets inside. Just another prize in the Perfection collection to be part of a frantic firesale to keep his head above water with his looming financial issues.
James stands behind the main bar with a sole decanter of whiskey reaching near bottom and a glass quarter full in front of him. He can look out and see what was once the spot to visit, something alive and bustling for almost eighteen-years. The people who have walked on this floor, the celebrations that were had in the upper VIP area. It wasn’t a cash cow by any means but it definitely never made a loss. Much like James’ recent matches in High Octane it’s all but hollow. Fallen to the short-sighted nature of Witherhold and the relentless effort to value image and talking over true and honest production.
“Yeah, well. Thought I’d fly down here one last time and see this baby off.”
Witherhold sounds like complete shit and it’s a surprise that he’s barely holding himself up. That’s definitely not one or two bottles of whiskey he’s opened and poured into the decanter sitting on the bar counter.
“Jesus Christ, you look like hell, James.”
“See that corner right over there?”
Witherhold points off towards the distance before leaning himself forward, his forearms holding his upper body on the bar counter. Marshall crosses his arms in front of his chest not really in a mood for Witherhold’s narration.
“Pretty sure Lindsay Troy blew Rich Mahogany in that very spot. Or that’s what I was told.”
Probably never happened. More rumors circulated this joint than actual events. Witherhold once won $500k in a poker game in the back, it was really $425k. Everything was always bigger than life, even things of that nature or ones of a lesser degree.
“Is that your attempt to disregard our discussion about leaving Chicago? And you flew down here?! The Gulfstream is meant to be grounded and parked! Every mile you fly, dollar you spend, is going to be an incident of ‘if you can spend money to fly or party, you can pay your penalties’. You’re not making Greg’s job any easier.”
Witherhold doesn’t take that bit of advice well and it’s visibly showing. Greg’s the Tax Attorney, his problems aren’t James’ problems in Witherhold’s mind.
“And before you say it- yes; his problems are your problems, Jim.”
No one said Marshall Owens was dumb. He’s knows every stupid way Witherhold is going to rephrase, reword, or throw in alternative facts to better his position. Either way, Marshall’s right. Agents are more than likely combing every expense James has had over the last two years or more and private flights aren’t helping his case.
“Yeah, well, you’ll be happy to know the plane is still grounded in Illinois. I had to fly fucking charter.”
“Wow! Look at you, adulting. You’re making swift progress, Jim.”
“Don’t patronize me.”
The last thing James wants is any snark especially when it has to deal with his finances. He caught the sign that said ‘Brokefection’ while watching tape of the last show. It’s slowly been eating away at him too. The idea of the fans poking fun at him instead of the other way around certainly didn’t make the limo ride from Allstate to Winnetka pleasant for the others in 24K. A very focused bitch session about how ‘even if I lost one club and a plane I’d still have generational wealth’.
At this point, who knows except for maybe Hugh Morrison, the accountant.
The sound of Marshall’s ancient text message alert tone is more annoying than Bobby Dean’s voice.
“Well, that’s that. They’ll be at the Merchandise Mart offices to sign the paperwork later this afternoon. Someone else now owns ‘Perfetto’.”
The news drops Perfection’s head into his hands.
“This feels like the end of a chapter, Marshall.”
And it is one, that’s the end of Miami for Witherhold and one step closer to becoming nothing more than another schleprock like the ones he insults daily. To lose his business is the last thing James wanted.
“Maybe, but it’s the start of a new book, Jim.”
What a shitty book that would be to read. Made worse if Witherhold bugged everyone to buy it.
“Listen, I don’t want to get your hopes up but Greg… I know you don’t like him but hear me out. He’s working diligently, Jim. Just give him time to do his magic.”
“I don’t have time, Marshall.”
“We all have time. He just needs more of it. Trust me.”
“I don’t trust him. I don’t even like him! I don’t even know why I hired him.”
“Because of my recommendation. Jim… he thinks he might be able get you out of this without having to sell the plane. Greg’s solid, awkward and weird, but solid. You may have to get rid of other things but I know how much you love that plane.”
That made Witherhold eyes light up. That’s the best news he’s had in weeks. The one thing in his personal collection he didn’t want to give up was that stupid ass plane.
“Marshall… are… are you serious?”
“Yeah, I didn’t know this but apparently his buddy out of Boston College is in the same division going after you. Pays to have friends.”
Quickly Witherhold takes the glass of whiskey down and when the glass departs he’s left with nothing more than a giant smile.
“I love Greg! I’ve always said that.”
Quick shake of the head from Owens.
“We’re not doing the Bruvs thing, and no promises on the plane! Just know he’s closing in. Now, get your shit together and clean yourself up. You have to be back in Chicago this afternoon with our team to sign the closure and clear up Japan issues.”
James begins to stand up straight again. A sudden step that was lost for a moment regained, albeit drunkenly.
“This calls for a celebratory drink, Marshall.”
Marshall walks forward to grab the now empty glass before Witherhold has a chance to even think about pouring from the decanter into it. He then reaches over the bar counter and drops it down to the other side into a sink.
“No. We’re done here. Let’s go, Jim. We have a flight to catch.”
Perfection takes his last steps from behind the bar hesitantly, tailing closely behind Marshall who is headed towards the front entrance. Witherhold turns around and gives the old spot one last look back before shutting off the lights. With the flick of them going out it leaves only the brightness creeping in from the door Marshall holds open to illuminate the area. James exhales and then exits the building.
As he does the door shuts and so does his business in Miami.
EARLIER THAT MORNING
(BETWEEN TWO-THIRTY AND FOUR-FIFTEEN A.M.)
You know what? I’m not going to even risk it. I just finished a lecture of he, she, ze, they, ex, why, zee, whatever with Marshall over the phone yesterday. So, Minister it is, my man. You do you. I don’t mind calling people whatever they want to be called.
With that in mind, let me start off by saying that I need to give credit where credit is due. So, let me give credit to my boys in 24K who changed the face of High Octane forever with one simple announcement- The Bruvs will NOT Freebird the belts!
Not only did we deliver this company the best stable to ever grace the halls of the Allstate but we’ve changed High Octane history and policy for the foreseeable future with the best tag team in the industry!
Once again, Minister, we’ve broken the mold and set the standard around these parts, much like yourself to a degree. You’re smart, you’ve been around long enough to know almost every so-called stable that has held the High Octane Tag Team Championship has Freebirded them. Even when you were with GoD, Mike Best- surely without your permission, attempted to appease Dan and Lindsay by Freebirding them the belts shamefully.
Hell, even 24K decided to Freebird the first time. Not because we wanted to, I mean we did, who doesn’t like sharing especially with the best in the biz the Bruvs? But because that’s what we felt the standard was!
That’s something WE changed when the Bruvs secured a second opportunity to reign at the top of the division! Once again, High Octane, you’re welcome.
You know, people must be tired of hearing that.
Tired of ‘Yours Truly’ being gracious enough to accept their thanks before it’s even provided but I’m a humble man, Minister. I know deep down those dopes in the back appreciate all I do for them, all 24K does for them. Except maybe one or two.
People like Mike Best or that bleach blonde dopey douche canoe Jiles.
I watched Michael become literally unhinged last Saturday. I watched him ramble up and down from our glorious suite about how GoD is relevant in High Octane. I watched him scream to all who’d listen that we should praise them and be thankful for what we have in front of us. It was really a sight to see and the jokes about unhinged Michael still talking are pretty spot on.
We actually have an internal bet at the stay-over that he talks Lindsay Troy’s ear off in incoherent rants even while pumping her polluted womb.
Mike’s not just unhinged because the snatch he’s slinging is a slam-pig who’s been used more by the men of this industry than wrist tape!
He’s unhinged in part because of ‘Yours Truly’, Minister.
For weeks I’ve told Mike that the only man that matters in High Octane is Andy Murray. The only name people care about is Andy Murray. I told him God’s honest truth. I told him that the only brand people buy into is 24K, attributed in part because of one King Andy, solidified by the Hollywood Bruvs, brought to fruition by Perfection!
Honestly, Minister, imagine for a moment being Mike Best in this current moment of time; his best friend, you, decided to bail. His entire life dedicated to what he believed was or is his own personal goddamn playground… and then a King shows up and upends Mike’s life work in a few short months with a couple of pals.
Poor guy must be a goddamn wreck. No wonder he’s fucking Lindsay Troy, might as well do lines off her chonky ass while he’s spiraling emotionally out of control. I mean, first… we, 24K, took the tag belts away from him.
Then his ragtag group of legends became nothing more than Mike Best screaming about GoD with everyone, much like in real life, questioning if GoD actually exists. To be fair, I don’t blame Mike for coming out so heated and frantic last Refueled.
Becoming the new High Octane World Champ to a collective shrug of ‘okay?’ must have cut him deep.
I guarantee you it took him the whole flight home to realize the air being sucked out of the entirety of France wasn’t out of excitement or shock that he won the top belt; it was disappointment that Andy Murray hadn’t.
That’s why Mike has become completely and utterly unglued, Minister. Couple that with ‘Yours Truly’ telling him that exact message for multiple weeks and having it play out live?
You couldn’t write it out any better if you tried. It unnerved him so much that Mike said I don’t matter and no one listens to what I say. The only reason our little Lindsay Troy simp is saying that is because I do fucking matter and I do speak truth to power. Your flock, Minister, craves the most powerful message of all. Allow me this chance to shout it from the golden tipped mountain tops:
Mike Best is unhinged because no one believes in him or GoD.
Mike Best is unhinged because his ICON Championship stint will be overshadowed simply by the name Andy Murray proceeding his mediocre ‘fighting champion’ reign. Forever memorialized by the sweat drenched nerds as that time Mike Best couldn’t keep his promise but a King could.
Mike Best is most certainly unhinged because you don’t believe in him, Minister. You didn’t have faith and deserted to establish your own church.
That last one really had to hit home for him. How many times did you wait outside rehab after one of Mike’s coke stints, Minister? How long have you stood by his side? Been his pal? Taken his back? And even you decided to take a hike from the so-called man of GoD. I don’t blame you, the only reason that man stands with a belt is because Cecil wanted to be a martyr to a false prophet. The only reason you didn’t recapture the LSD Title, a belt cemented in your blood and legacy is because ‘Yours Truly’ didn’t give enough of a fuck to put in his full fledged effort.
It’s true, I didn’t and I’m not ashamed one damn bit to say it. Let me confess, dearest Minister, I’m tired of being fucked over by Mr. Lee Best.
Lethal Lottery, I get shoehorned into some match with Solex completely unprepared. Then I got an ICON title match thrown at me, again, unprepared. A match by the way I came a hair within winning, again, unprepared. We all know he and Mike worked that shit up.
I got announced for War Games uneventfully and then Lee expected me to win a match for who? For him!? After all that was done towards ‘Yours Truly’ someone expects me to go out there motivated to win him a match?!
Not how I operate. Not one single damn bit.
So, I partially apologize, Minister. I mean it’s not entirely my fault but I’m sure you’re just waiting anxiously to get your hands on me. I’m more than certain you’re ready to teach me a lesson and I don’t hold that against you. I’d be pretty livid too if somebody on my team did the equivalent of taking their ball and going home. The only reason I didn’t actually go home was because there was wasn’t a ramp for a clean exit- I was dropped off by a stupid boat!
Either way, the end result was the end result, pal.
We both failed, even MJF failed.
The only one on our team to succeed was Andy Murray. So, when I look back at War Games, I not only see ‘Yours Truly’ who showed up back home defeated but you as well, Minister. You, who put every single bit of him in that match and still ended up where I did- with nothing. Empty handed, my man. We’re equals in that extent only.
So, really. What was the point? Why should I have put as much effort in as you? Just to edge it out and give Lee Best a win? What was in it for me? Maybe walking out with a belt in a match stacked against me? So in reality, nothing? Pffft, keep it and you know what? Lee got what I got- NOTHING!
Fair is fair.
But you know what, Minister?
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe fair isn’t fair. I’ve been wrong once or twice before.
Let’s just lay it out there, I was wrong when I came to High Octane swinging my dick big and having a laugh. I was wrong to come in here disrespectful and thinking this was Dan Ryan’s Empire Pro or formerly Eric Dane’s Defiance. This is a different plateau entirely. Sure, I’ve run into success but I haven’t reached the top. I haven’t beaten the top, I haven’t beaten men like you, and since we’re being little truth talkers today let me hit you with another-
I am ‘the Greatest Technical Wrestler’ on this goddamn planet! Flat out. I proved that against Dan Ryan, go watch the tape. The problem? Mike Best was right again and you’re one of the living examples of it, Minister.
This is a place of killers.
I’ve mocked that statement almost as much as I’ve been mocking poor Greg hard at work to protect my assets. I’ve listened to these silly third grade tropes of ‘swimming with the sharks’ and ‘people have literally died’ from Mike Best. He’s right. I am swimming with the sharks and people have literally died in that ring. I’ve thought about that stupid shit long and hard. And at the end of all that thinking; the results were the same: I couldn’t get the job done with Mike for the ICON, fell short with Dan Ryan, and couldn’t have given a rat’s ass for War Games.
Now I have to face you, Minister?
I feel like I need to evaluate my entire High Octane existence, shit, my entire wrestling existence. Oddly enough the man with a wonky eye and an appetite for brutality has inspired me- feel honored. Weeks ago I said to Dan Ryan that I’ve never doubted myself and I don’t. I am questioning myself though and seem to have found faith. Like Saul I was blinded but now I fucking see.
Maybe being ‘the Greatest Technical Wrestler’- bar none, isn’t good enough. Maybe being able to outsmart my opponents at each turn won’t get me to the top. I’m missing something. That ruthless and savage aggression. Something you have and I’ve never considered dabbling in, Minister.
It’s true. I’ve sat in this empty fucking club for hours now. I’ve reflected on who I am, what I am. Did you know for my entire career I’ve not once been split open, Minister? My blood has never touched that canvass, any canvass for that matter. I can’t even recall drawing a person’s blood or being in a match that required more than just pure wrestling. Do you know why? I never believed in it. I’d stretch a man, break him up in that sense. Leave him sore and wondering if it was a good idea to step in that ring with me but to go out there and be a killer? To go out there and try and end someone? Never has crossed my mind.
Until I asked myself “why not?” and it’s a great question.
It’s not fear. It’s because of this code I’ve held. If you can even believe that, a silly code of morals for a man that holds almost none. I actually consider it the one bit that’s kept me a gentlemen instead of a fucking animal like the rest of the lot here. For over a decade I’ve held onto that belief. Sure, I skirt the rules and take advantage when I can, but I never have undermined the sanctity of our sport. Not participating in intentional violence was the only moral keeping me above the standard of depravity…
But desperate times call for desperate measures, Minister.
Oh…. and I’ve become a dedicated student of your teachings. I’ve watched, mauled over, and debated how far Perfection is willing to go to win based on how far the Minister has.
As far as I need to and further than you’ve gone, that’s how far.
Perfection isn’t the man of War Games, isn’t the man of Lethal Lottery, or March to Glory. Fuck around time is as dead as my patience. This world is collapsing around me, my life is becoming shambles, and if there’s one thing I’ll take solace in it’s knowing I’ve won. Not just by a metric of a pin count but how much blood I‘ve spilt, even if my own, in my fucking wake.
The Age of Greatness is dead.
The Era of Violence has begun.
And you’ll be the first to testify.