MJF: This is the shit, man.
Warwick, New York. Night. The sky is clear and you can see the moon and a scattering of stars. A slight breeze is blowing, rustling the trees. Out the french doors at the back of the house there is a hand built wooden deck and patio with steps leading down into the backyard. The High Octane LSD Champion is sitting on the bottom step. Her elbows are on her knees, a glass (spoiler alert: filled with vodka) gripped by both her hands.
Eli Flair: What’s the shit, kiddo?
MJ Flair’s father, professional wrestling legend ‘Total Elimination’ Eli Flair, sits on the top step. A bottle of dark beer is between his boots-clad feet, and his graying black hair blows almost absent – mindedly in the breeze.
MJF: This, Daddy.
She puts her glass down and holds up her hands, mostly obscured by long sleeves.
MJF: It’s finally hoodie weather!
MJ is wearing a plain black hooded sweatshirt, zippered all the way up. It’s a bit chilly out in upstate New York – fifty five degrees. Not cold, but certainly no longer summer.
Angel: Give it another month, hon. This is nothing compared to September in the midwest.
Dramatis Personae: Angel. The Gothic Diva.
MJ Flair’s mother is short, slight, and pale. At five foot two and barely a hundred pounds, you could be forgiven for mistaking her for a quiet and submissive woman, especially when compared to her six foot nine, three hundred pound husband. Until you look into her steel blue eyes and see the fire and fury behind them. Plus, as the lead singer and co-founder of platinum selling industrial goth band Valerian’s Garden, Angel has had to be strong, and she’s done her best to pass her strength to her only child.
She’s also drinking – a large glass of red wine. Her bare feet are in her husband’s lap and he’s gently massaging them, pausing only to take occasional sips of beer. Her black hair is pulled back tightly in a ponytail but the breeze rustles her skirt.
MJF: Naaah, Mommy. This is plenty cold enough for me.
Eli Flair: So when do you need to leave for your jam?
MJ slides over; instead of having her back to her parents looking up, she now has her back against the railing and can look directly at her mom without turning her head.
MJF: Like… three days, I think? My phone is in my room, I don’t remember which.
Eli Flair: You and Harmen talk shit yet?
Her father shakes his head. While he and Jack Harmen were never what you’d call enemies, they’ve been opponents on a dozen or more occasions with a pretty even split between them.
Eli Flair: Bruh, that’s fuckin’ crucial. You guys had yourself some experience with War Games but when it’s two on two, ya need t’make sure ya both know what’cha can do. Call him tomorrow, yes?
Appreciating the gravity of his words, but still feeling a bit goofy, MJ salutes her father.
MJF: Aye aye, Cap.
Angel: More importantly, hun? Are we gonna finally meet your boy this break?
This is a question that MJ should have anticipated, but didn’t. She freezes.
Eli Flair: It’s the perfect opportunity, kiddo. I’m here until the weekend, your mom isn’t working until the boys are done with the music… it’s the perfect opportunity.
She rolls this around in her head for a few seconds.
MJF: I’ll see what I can do, man.
A sudden beeping cuts the air. Angel reaches behind herself and picks up her phone.
Angel: Okay, fam – the boys need me. I’ll be back.
Eli lets go of her feet as Angel stands up, kisses her daughter on the top of the head and her husband on the lips, and reenters the house. After a moment, and the draining of her glass, MJ stands up to do the same. She hugs her father around the neck and turns the latch on the french doors.
Eli Flair: Hey. Kiddo.
She stops, and turns around. They look into each others’ eyes.
Eli Flair: You been lucky so far, kid. Hittin’ strength to strength to strength. I know what’chu can do and I know what Jack can do. This match is yours t’lose but if y’don’t give your opponents the respect they deserve, y’will end up losin’ it.
MJF: What d’ya suggest, Daddy?
Eli Flair: You and Jack need t’be a unit. That’s fuckin’ all, kid.
He doesn’t look back at her. She continues to look at him for several seconds.
And the LSD Champion smiles.
FADEIN on some nice siding. Literally. The side of a house. It’s night time.
MJ Flair is leaning on the house, clad in dark gray jeans, a plain black hooded sweatshirt, and heavy black boots.
Got it? Good. Ready. Go.
“I honestly don’t know Mike’s motivations in this one.”
“He’s got me in a tag match with three’a my four Rock opponents. Either because he expects ‘em ta’ gang up ‘n soften me up before we hit Alcatraz, or because he expects ‘em to soften each other up before we hit Alcatraz.”
“Saul Goodman, either way.”
“But this ish has a whole lotta subtext in it. One one level, there’s me, and there’s this.”
She unzips the hoodie to reveal the LSD Championship strapped around her waist.
“There’s Jack Harmen, MAXXXXXXXKAELjr, and Evan Ward, all high level contenders to my Championship. There’s a natural inclination ta wanna feel each other out beforehand. I get it.”
“I also see really fuck clear that there’s still a mystery opponent waitin’ ta be added to Rumble at the Rock.”
“Something tells me that the fifth opponent’s gonna be revealed before Chaos Three is all over.”
“On another level, there’s the clear bromance between Jack Harmen, MAXXXXKAEL jr, and Harold the Herald. They’ve been dancin’ for weeks now, and this is just their second date.”
“I know Harmen wants another piece. There’s his motivation.”
“And of course, Evan Ward is currently the top ranked contender for the LSD Championship.”
She unhooks the belt and drapes it over her shoulder.
“That ranking says something about’cha, Evan. More than it says about the dudebro with the pornstache that we all assumed was the leader’a Ground Zero.”
“Be more impressive please, Evan.”
“It’s good, though. Unlike Jack and MAXKAEL jr – those two are on the way ta’ pickin’ out matching towels – this is just our first date. It’s a gettin’ ta’ know you moment.”
“The tease before the consummation at Rumble at the Rock.”
“Does that make this a double date?”
“Does that mean Harold the Herald needs ta’ be the chaperone?”
“And Max. MAX. MAXXXXXXXXXKAEL jr. Whatever your name is.”
“We’ve both got it, man. Second generation wrestlers with famous former World Champions for dads, either literally or metaphorically. They expect big things from us, man.”
“The difference is, I’ve managed ta’ produce the big things already. And I know you’re very new and all you’ve really done‘a note so far is flirt with Jack, but man?”
“Bein’ the son’a the former Champ isn’t a job qualification, dude.”
“This match is ya chance ta prove ya deserve it. Don’t fuck it up.”
It’s late. Darkness bleeds in through the windows. It’s so late, there’s not even any conversation happening MJ Flair sits in front of a laptop computer, watching old Evan Ward matches on mute.
MAXXXKAELjr matches are all fresh in her memory.
However, she’s holding her phone in her hand and pacing her bedroom with purpose, as if she has a Very Important Conversation in front of her.
MJF: Hey. Jack? It’s MJ.
“Jack? So sorry, wrong number. Want pizza? Who Jack?”
She recognizes his voice.
MJF: You, man. Jack Harmen. Daddy gave me your number.
There is perhaps a bit more silence than either of them may like.
Jack Harmen: Didn’t buy it, huh? So, wassabi? Whatta I owe this almost booty call time of day telephone conversation to?
MJF (Nonplussed): Hey, man. It’s me, MJ.
Jack Harmen: Yeah. You said. MJ Flair I assume. I also didn’t say it was a booty call. I’m just gonna stop saying booty call.
Jack Harmen: Booty-
MJF: Well we got a tag team match comin’ up, and I wanted ta’ make sure we were all well, man.
Jack Harmen: Are we all well?
MJF: …I mean, I was asking–
Jack Harmen: But I mean, are we?
Jack Harmen: …
MJF: Like… what?
Jack Harmen: Existential crisis. Don’t bother. What are you talking about?
MJF: I’m askin, man, if you think we’re good enough t’beat the losers next week.
There’s a pause and a deep sigh on the other end.
Jack Harmen: That ain’t the question. Yeah? See, I’ve got years of experience tag teaming in that ring, you’ve been studyin’ it longer than you could breathe, of course we’re good enough… but we ain’t ever done the dance together. And you should remember, nobody’s a loser til that hand hits the mat three times, and that can happen in any way, shape or size. Hell, there may be some miscommunication. I may zig when you think I zag. You know, growing pains. Nothing we can solve in a week. But I’m pretty sure we can win, if we make no mistakes and cooperate. Can we?
MJF: I… I guess so?
Jack Harmen: Can we?
MJF: I’m sure we can.
Jack Harmen: Can we?
MJF: We can.
Jack Harmen: Good. Glad you see things the right way.
MJF: Your way?
Jack Harmen: Usually one in the same. SO! I have this idea where I just tilt-a-whirl swing you into a backflip dropkick so I catch you on my shoulders and then fireman’s carry you over the top onto the recovering opponent on the outside. Then there’s this idea I had that involves knives. How do you feel about cutlery? Sharp cutlery specifically…
MJ sits down, somewhat speechless.
Jack Harmen: I mean, it can be dull if you need it to be, but I wasn’t sure how sadistic you were comfortable being yet.
MJ covers her mouth to stifle a laugh, then quickly mutes the phone and turns her head towards the door.
MJF: Hey, Daddy?
Eli Flair (Faint): Yeah?
MJF: Ya told me, but, ya know… ya could’a told me!
“A tag team match would be anticipated. Two members of The Industry against a representative’a Ground Zero and Harold the Herald’s number one boy. We’d expect a hard fought battle with all four of us pullin’ out all the stops ta shine. And we’d expect ta see our mystery fifth come on in and make his or her presence known.”
“But we don’t have that, do we?”
She shakes her head.
“We’ve got a tornado tag. It’s a mislabeled match, man.”
“Ain’t no tags.”
“By that nature, because we could see two on one, or three on one once MAXXXXKAEL jr falls for Jack, the standard rules for a tag match fall out the window.”
“By that nature, this is gonna look more like the Rumble at the Rock match than a tag match. So it’s like I said before.”
“Call it what’cha will.”
“I tell ya somethin’ though, Evan. I got a lot more respect for ya, and for Ground Zero, than I’ve got for any member’a The Order.”
“Least you guys have a common goal and a statement’a purpose. Ya didn’t join up cause ya felt left out.”
“From everything I can tell, man, ya seem humble and confident. That’s cool, I dig it.”
“We’re gonna need ta be the counterweight to the hallmark card’a Jack and MAXXXXXXXXXXXXKAEL Jr.”
“I hear Jack doesn’t kiss nice.”
Eli Flair pulls at his neck.
Eli Flair: I ain’t gonna make it with this shit.
He loosens the tie around his neck; it is unsettling to see the T-shirt and shorts King of Extreme wearing a suit, but sacrifices are made for the sake of his daughter.
Angel: Awwwh, sweetie. You look handsome.
Typically, Angel dresses nicely. She is not normally a jeans woman these days. However, she is still doing something unprecedented on an average day: she is wearing shoes. Fancy ankle boots, to be specific – and her three-quarters-sleeve dress is actually a dark purple as opposed to black.
Sacrifices are made for the sake of her daughter.
MJF: You do, Daddy. I appreciate you.
Sitting in the back seat, MJ Flair’s foot has been bouncing for over an hour, ever since the car left Warwick. She’s also dressed against type: while the High Octane LSD Champion can glam it up when needed, she spends ninety percent of her time in athletic gear. At the moment, a sleeveless top, flowing mid – length skirt, spiderweb design stockings and knee-high boots complete her ensemble, but she’s somehow even more uncomfortable than her father.
Angel: Oh, shit – grab it, grab it!
Eli expertly parks his blood red Tracker on the street, and the trio exit the car.
Angel: Is he meeting us outside, or inside, or what’s the deal, hun?
MJ doesn’t immediately answer; she is tap-tap-tapping away on her phone.
Eli Flair: Kid?
MJF: Ah, sorry. Yeah he’s already got the table, he’s ordered, ooooh, Mommy. He’s got a Château Doisy-Daëne 2011 Bordeaux.
Eli Flair: Great; a drunk.
Eli Flair: After that last idiot, can ya blame me?
He takes his wife by the hand, and they walk down the sidewalk towards Rebelle, a French restaurant on Bowery.
Angel: Listen, be good, okay? This is important to her.
Eli Flair: What’d I say? Why can’t I be Dad here?
Angel: Because you look like you’ve killed a man, hun.
Eli Flair: That’s probably a good thing for him to think.
Even while laughing, Eli braces against the punch that his wife – eighteen inches and nearly two hundred pounds smaller than he is – lands on his bicep.
Eli Flair: Relax, kiddo. It’s my job to bust this guy’s chops.
On reaching the restaurant, Eli opens the door for his wife and daughter and all three step inside, and they look around. MJ waves at her boyfriend Kevin, sitting at a table at the far end.
Hostess: Hi, welcome to Rebelle; is it just the three of you?
MJF: Actually, we’re – Yeah, that’s him.
The hostess looks back at Kevin who has stood up, and she smiles. Handing the trio a menu each, she steps out of the way. MJ takes the lead and jumps into his arms. He’s a good five inches taller than her, but thin and wiry – however he’s able to carry her muscle mass. After a good hearty hug, he puts he down and she takes him by the hand to her parents.
MJF: Guys, this is Kevin LaCroix. Babe, this is my mom, Angel, and my dad Eli.
He offers his hand and heartily shakes Eli’s, and delicately shakes Angel’s.
Kevin: Wonderful to meet you both. MJ speaks of you with warmth and affection.
He pulls out MJ’s chair while Eli does the same for Angel, and the four sit. Kevin pours wine for three of them, ignoring MJ’s face when he skips her.
Eli Flair: So, Kevin… MJ tells us you’re a cook?
MJF: Chef, Daddy.
Eli Flair: My mistake. What’s the difference?
Kevin: No, it’s cool. So, both are actually accurate.
He’s cut off by the waiter walking over and taking their order; the prices are insane and MJ notices Kevin’s eyes bulge, but she nudges his foot with her own, trying to relax him. The waiter quickly returns with a sparkling water and lime for MJ, and Eli gestures to him to continue.
Kevin: For all intents and purposes, I’m just a line cook. I didn’t really get any special training, so I’m a cog in the kitchen. But – my executive chef has seen that I have some creativity and organizational skills so I’ve filled in as his sous chef on an as-needed basis.
MJF: Means he’s second in command of his kitchen.
Kevin: It’s a definite boon in the restaurant business. MJ says you were a wrestler as well?
He looks at Eli, who looks at Angel, who looks at MJ.
Angel: Wow. I see why you like him.
MJ looks mortified. Kevin looks confused.
Eli Flair: You could say, that, man. Did it up for nineteen years, won a few titles. Happily retired and runnin’ a bar now.
A look of understanding washes over Kevin’s face, and he does a nonchalant ‘finger gun’ towards him.
Kevin: Oh, right. Duh. I’ve been there, you’ve got a nice place. What’s her name, Cally? She really keeps the energy up.
All three of the others smile at that.
Angel: Yeah, Cally is…
MJF: …a character.
They all enjoy a brief drink as their appetizers arrive.
Kevin: I mean, I was never really a wrestling fan growing up, so please excuse my question but were you as good at it as her?
He gestures to MJ, whole both ladies immediately burst out laughing. Eli looks at him, dead – eyed. Kevin looks like he just fucked up and he knows it.
Eli Flair: What’s that s’posed’ta mean?
Kevin: I–I’m sorry. I–
MJF: Stop it, Daddy.
That causes Eli to break character as well, and he laughs quietly to himself. He spears a scallop off his plate and points it at Kevin before eating it.
Eli Flair: I appreciate the fact that you put her first. Have you seen her do her thing?
Kevin looks at MJ to his left, then back at Eli. He smirks.
Kevin: I have, sir. It’s literally the only wrestling show I’ve ever gone to.
He nudges her slightly.
Kevin: And she was amazing.
MJF: Babe. You’re gonna give me an ego.
She looks down at her charcuterie and picks up a piece of prosciutto.
MJF: Keep goin’, man.
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