“Oh yeah, that’s the bar run by the irishmen. You wanna go down a ways and find yourself on main street. He’s in the old He,Me,We building. Wuh fihtee main. Freshly painted it not long ‘go. From blue to a nice green. Awning ain’t in yet on account of the printer getting the flu. Does good work tho if yeh patient. Hell most of this town requires patience. Now listen, If you make it down past Hanks Off, you gone tew far. Would you mind giving me a ride on down, ashully? On my way there ‘swell. The cranky mic might be loud but he tells good story.”
Kalvin Wolf allowed the old man into the front seat of his jeep for two reasons. One, the man never stopped talking long enough for him to say ‘no, stop, do not get into my car.’ and also because who the fuck knows what ‘down a ways’ stands for in actual miles. Kal figured it would be good to have an actual guide on this mission, rather than just wandering down however long Main street was. Kal did not take into effect two very important factors.
1 – this man had no intention of being silent enough to give directions, which is why Kal drove past main twice, once in each direction.
And 2- Main street, despite it’s misleading name, was nothing more than a series of 5 or 6 stores, several boats, and a lot of parked pickup trucks. Parking directly in front of the bar which had been painted a fresh green color, Kal stood in disbelief as he watched the old man stagger inside and join the ohter 7 people inside.
If you were to google The Irish Tiger pub, you’d probably see results for the Celtic Tiger in Chesapeake bay, or the Blind Tiger in Ny. But you would not get any information on the Irish Tiger pub, as the owner and sole bartender not only didn’t know how to create a website, he couldn’t even afford the internet he would need to do so. And 7 patrons on a friday night was not going to get him closer to that ability any time soon.
Standing outside, Kalvin looked in through the windows at the small but joyful crowd. This wasn’t a ‘happening’ place. It wasn’t party central for the small but tiny town. It was nothing more than a local watering hole. A place where guys went to have a few beers, a few laughs, and maybe a few arguments. Kal, who had owned quite a few places like this, could tell it wasn’t bringing in a lot of income. It probably wasn’t even bringing in enough. He exhaled sadly at the life the owner must be leading, and put his hand on the door handle to enter, when a voice called out abruptly.
“Oi, pretty sure dey don’t allow guys like yew in places like that.” he said, standing by the door to the basement, a case of Pabst positioned on his shoulder. Kal chuckled and looked at him, skinnier than he was the last time he saw him, but in a leaner, and meaner way. His pants were dirty, and torn, and revealed the mismatched socks sticking out of his old and untied boots. His t-shirt was too big and too short, but that might have been by design. Hell, all of this might have been by design, Kal thought. Murphy was irish, but he was also sort of a hipster.
“They only let people like me in places like this.”
Murphy stepped up to his mentor / friend / surrogate brother, gave him a solid pound. Murphy took a breath and then nodded to the half a fence on the right side of the building, making his way toward it backward but slowly.
“Come inside. I gotta get these arseholes drunk enough to go home.”
Kal followed in through the backdoor and was far more depressed by the sight of the backroom than he though he would be. A hot plate set upon a stool that was now a table. A small beer fridge that contained eggs and a bag of baby carrots exclusively, and a cot that was obviously not for a full grown adult.
“Jesus Christ, Murph. What the fuck is this?”
“What? It’s me humble abode. I got all the wants and needs a man could ask. Got a bed. Got a way to heat up the beans. What, I need an indoor swimming pool?”
“How about a fucking indoor toilet?”
“I got one o’ dem out in the bar! Even has a shower.”
“Nah. You’d be surprised what yeh get used to. So, what’s the visit fer?”
“…I think you need to go back to work.”
Murphy got quiet. He stopped loading the cans out of the 24 pack box and into the plastic bin he used to hide the fact that he bought beer for the same price they did, and upcharged them. “Maybe it’s been a minute since you saw it, but am working, Kal. Currently. Right before yeh eyes. Thought yeh’d be able to tell.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Kal, I got a good life going here. Shannon and I got a good father-daughter thing goin. I’m gonna go on and ruin it for that? Nah.”
“Kinda fucking hard to have a good relationship when she’s in Germany, no?” Kal said, looking at the back of Murph’s head, waiting for the realization that he knew more than Murph wanted him to know. “Yeah, they called. They might be in germany, but they know you been fucking fighting with every mother fucker that gives you reason.”
“I ain’t doing it, Kal. I left that part behind.”
“The only thing left behind is you, dick. I love you like a brother, but you been kicked while you’re down, over and fucking over. Dane turned his back to get pussy, and Sarah had to go and get all fucking insane, and now, the only people you had are fucking gone to the other side of the world. You gotta quit this sulking shit, mo. It’s gonna kill you if you don’t.”
“So what, I just go back to grapplin’ and I’ll be all hunky dory again? How’s that work, eh?”
“I don’t know how. I just know it does. I wouldn’t be here if it didn’t.” Kal said here with emphasis that told he didn’t just mean minnesota, but being alive as well.
“Sorry, Irons. I got meself a business, and I ain’t in that business anymore. I’m happy here.”
“Are you? Or are you just used to being misera…Whatever. I need a drink.”
“Well ‘ts a good ting yeh in a bar den, ain’t it? Come on, let’s show these old men how to drink a beer.”
And that was the last they talked about it that night. Instead they discussed Kal’s kids, and his wife, and all of the happenings Murphy had missed since shunning himself away in the back room of an 12 seat bar. And then Kal did what Kal does.
“So at least you live in a place with good people.”
“Wait. Back up. What place is this? Denial? These people are muppets, Kal. Each and every one.”
“What? These guys seem awesome.”
“They’re fucking muppets. Don’t make me repeat meself. See Joe? Drives a Honda Ridgeline that he refers to exclusively as ‘my truck.’ ‘s not a truck. Is a minivan with a chunk cut off. Is a fucking tall car without the trunk. And then Steve? He’s an electrician, so I’m nice to him. But he’s twat. Refers to everything by it’s prim and proper fucking name. Can’t just eat an orange. Eats a fucking ‘cara cara’ orange. Like teh fruit is gonna be insulted at the lack of familiarity. And Dan, Dan used to wear a hat with a Q on it until I got him so wasted that I got it off him and burnt it. Yea, real good group of cunts, sure.”
“Fuck. I’d go nuts here.”
“You think if there was a hotbed of mental health ‘round here you’d find me in the middle of it? I hate each and every moment of my life here, boyoh. I just got used to it. You’d be surprised what you can get used to.”
“You know, I’ve heard that.”
“Besides, I’m cold product, right? I left New York and never looked back. No ones gonna touch me.”
“Let me worry about that?”
“Tell me why you give half a shite why I’m not fighting? I’m a success, boyoh! Got me own Pub!”
“Because you could have been something, Murph. You had all the right boxes checked. And I promised your grandfather, the only fucking father figure I ever had that I’d look out for you. And leaving you in some shithole to sling warm beer to 3 farmers isn’t my idea of looking out for you.”
“Or is it that you feel bad your sister broke me heart and left me a shell of a man?”
“…six of one..”
It’s been a few weeks and as the new bartender/manager gets familiar with the bar, Murphy looks at the duffle bag at his feet. His ring gear, his towels, his lotions, balms, salves and ointments, and the like. It’s been a long time since he’s packed so much to travel so far for a job he wanted so very little. But Kal was right. His life was going to pass him by if he didn’t do something. Anything. To try to reclaim it.
Murphy went over the finer details of selling one can of beer an hour with Jeb, the guy who once operated the sign company down the road, and who was now Murphy’s first, and only, employee. He told the man he’d be back by Monday, but he wasn’t sure he would be. Maybe he’d come back later. Or never at all.
Murphy stepped outside, and waved to a few of the townsfolk standing outside the Evansville Arts Center two doors down. Most of the time it’s just a bunch of 4th graders in there, showing each other pictures of the sticks they found and the like. But it was a nice idea. It was things like that which would maybe bring him back.
And as Murphy began to smile, a horn honked and killed the movement of his mouth right then and there. Looking up, Murphy saw Joe with leaning over the seat of his Honda Ridgeline, and peering out the passenger window.
“You leaving soon? My truck but fits in only few spots.”
“…not a truck.”
“IT AINT A FUCKING TRUCK!”
“It’s got a bed, Murphy!”
“You could put roller skates on yeh hands and feet and wear a pair of cargo pants and be more like a truck than that fucking’ t’ing! It’s a car with a big arse!”
“I don’t think I appreciate your tone.”
“I don’t appreciate yeh fat assed car!”
Joe drove away fast (for a ridgeline) and Murphy was suddenly very much aware that he’d only been back in the active world of wrestling for about two weeks, and already he was itching for a fight. And the first one to have the chance to give it to him was Eli Dresden.
Eli Dresden, who has yet to secure her first singles victory since joining HOW. Eli Dresden who was a tiny thing with a big personality and the confidence to go with it. Eli Dresden, who Murphy was poised to either hand their very first singles victory or loss. Eli Dresden, who upon googling them, Murphy had thought was a man.
“Greetings Eliza Dresden, or shall you have been referred to upon the message boards of reddit, ‘Brian Hollywood’s Pocket Badussy.’ I’d like to introduce meself proper, let you know who it is yeh gonna be standing against. But here’s the t’ing. Can’t. Don’t right know meself. Could be the Murphy who took EWA by sterm, with his laxed attitude, handsomeness and incredible wit. Or it could be teh one that joined FIGHT nyc, with a fuckin chip on his shoulder and a hatchet teh bury. Or maybe it’s somebody new. Maybe it’s two somebodies new. Been a lot of cases of BPD going about in the world of wrasslin. ‘Rybody and they ma’s got a secret voice tooling around in their head, tellin’ ‘em to do dis or dat. Some people even go so far as teh fucking name ‘em. Fixer. Murder. Pariah. Whathaveya. Wanna know a secret, Eliza? I got one, too. But it ain’t for violence, or teh spillin’ of blood. It’s tellin’ me not to take shit seriously. And boy, is it yelling at me here and now.”
“It ain’t because of yeh height. There are many people in this business who have to stand on their tippy toes to reach the bottom shelf. Usually they work ‘clusively in Mexico, but every now and ‘en one of ‘em wanders up to the states. Usually it’s due to a swift breeze, or they fall into an open suitcase and they’re wee little voices can’t be heard from within. But obviously, this one has made it’s way to the side of slime brilliant bastard who named himself Bobby Hollywood. Bobby, who I have teh believe is the brawn of that team, as if he was the brains he’d have found another partner. But as they pickings seem to be slim ‘round these parts, I can’t say I blame him for picking you as a partner. I can blame him for keeping you ‘live though. As if he’d let nature take it’s right course, I wouldn’t have to be fighting someone of little to no worthy qualities. I could be fighting someone like…Ok so anyone I mention won’t have worked here and thus doesn’t matter, but at least I’d be a little higher up on the totem.”
“See, while people in this business may not get me, understand me, or have even the slightest idea on how to tolerate me. The fans? They love me. They flock to my shows, they buy me merch, and they scream my name. Why? Because, ya female dwarf, I’m entertaining. I’m not wandering around about like you, screaming about the king under the mountain. I bring the god damn funneh. And there is nothing funnier than what am ‘bout to do to you.”
“And what that is, Is not make you a laughing stock. Nah, anyone who knows yeh is gonna come running teh me, ‘ohh yeh should nae have done it. She bound to be mad.’ Like I gives a shit. I want you mad. I want you so mad you make as many mistakes as your parents made up until giving yeh life. I want yeh so enraged yeh can’t see straight. I want yeh to feel so disrespected, so undermined, that you come out to that ring, wearing your child sized hallowee costume, and you do physically what am doing verbally.”
“I want yeh to underestimate me. I want yeh to look at me like am a joke. A fucking jester for yeh god damn amusement. I want yeh to look at me like how I look it yeh. Sure, yeh prolly think yeh deserve better. That yeh deserve to be feared er loved, er whatever yeh people who live in trees cherish. But yeh won’t be. Not by me. And If I has me way, not by anyone else.”
“So take all your expectations, all the hopes and such yeh had for a singles career here in HOW and put them all in a single bucket, for easy transporation. But there’s a hole in that bucket, Dear Liza, and all of them hopes and dreams are about to leak out. ‘Cause this ain’t the HOW no more.This is the HOM. Home of The Murphy.”
”But don’t worry too much. You’ll be surprised what yeh get used to.”