“Sir, I am going to have to call security ”
The man in the green jacket turned around and saw the Woman walking towards them. He knew who she was. He was a fan. He was a fan of them both, actually. That’s why he had been so hesitant to call security when the Stud had wandered back into the hotel obviously drunk and still drinking. He had cursed at the man in the green jacket, told him he was in love with the man in the green jacket’s wife and that it was all over. The man in the green jacket was single and realized that the Stud must have mistaken him for somebody else. He had personally volunteered to escort the man in the green jacket back to his room and everything had been going fine until the Stud stopped to get some ice. The man in the green jacket had seen that much vomit come out of another man once before, but it had been a long time ago. All of a sudden the Stud started raving and swinging his arms. The man in the green jacket didn’t want to call security but he couldn’t deal with this guy. He was relieved to see the Woman come out of her room.
“No, stop! I can take care of him.”
“Are you sure Miss? He’s had an awful lot to drink.”
“IT’S OVER! I’M NOT DRUNK! IT’S OVER!”
The Woman walked over to the Stud and put her hand on his arm. As he spoke, his tone and look turned from that of drunken rage to drunken sadness.
“NO! DON’T TOUCH ME! IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! YOU! YOU EVIL I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! WHY? Why? Why are you still touching me? Stop. Please. It’s over. There’s nothing. I’m nothing anymore. Oh God. I’m finished. I should just put a bullet in brain. It’s done. It’s all done.” The Stud broke down crying and hugged the Woman. She stroked his hair and whispered that everything would be okay. It would all be okay. She turned to the man in the green jacket.
“Thank you very much. I’ll take him into my room. We’ll pay for any damages in the morning.” She began to walk towards her room, the Stud’s arms wrapped around her neck and his head on her shoulder. She was glad that she was wearing an old oversized tee shirt, because the Stud’s tears and the traces of vomit still around his mouth were going to ruin it. Suddenly, she felt a tap on her other shoulder. She turned around to see the man in the green jacket still standing there. He spoke in such a way that she knew he was a fan.
“Don’t worry about the damages. We’ll get housekeeping right up here, they’ll take care of everything. Look, I know you’re busy right now, but my name is Tom. I’d be thrilled if tomorrow morning you left your autograph for me at the desk. That’s it. Thank you very much.” He turned around and began to walk towards the elevator. He stopped, turned around again and said, “It was very nice to meet the both of you.” He pressed a button and was gone. The Woman mentally reminded herself to get every wrestler in the hotel to sign a tee shirt for the man in the green jacket, Tom, and helped the Stud into her room.
She sat him down on the bed and took the bottle from his hand. She opened the bag and found a half-finished bottle of Bacardi 151. Jesus! Immediately, she went to the mini-fridge and pulled out one of those bottled waters. She told the Stud to drink it, and to her surprise he did. She took out another one, and he drank that too. She went to the bathroom and took one of the wash cloths the hotel supplied. She soaked it in hot water and returned to the weeping Stud. She gently began to wipe the vomit away from his face. He made no attempt to stop her. She then noticed that his shirt was covered in vomit. How did she miss that?
She asked him, “Hon, you want to take that shirt off?”
The Stud did. Oh wow, he was really sexy. She’d seen him without his shirt in the ring, hell she’d seen him wearing no shirt and spandex tights! There was something different about this. Oh God. What was she thinking? She was married and he was drunk. Trying very hard not to touch any of the vomit, she folded the shirt up and put it in the bathroom. Her shirt had vomit on it also. She removed her oversized tee shirt and just threw it on the floor. She’d throw it out tomorrow anyway. She put on the silk, pink robe that she always took with her and went back out to the Stud.
“You need anything else, darling?”
She called him darling and honey and stuff. The Veteran thought it would help them live the gimmick if they called each other that.
“Yeah. I do need something else. Do you have a piece of gum or a tic-tac? That’s not what I need. My breath stinks, and you’re helping me, and it’s all over. I need to talk.” The Woman went to her purse, took out a box of wintergreen tic-tac’s and gave one to the Stud. He thanked her and started crying again.
“What is it? What do you want to talk about?”
The Woman wiped the Stud’s tears away and he looked at her. “It’s over. It’s all over.”
“I called her today to tell her I wasn’t going to be able to make it on Thursday cause of Malenko’s birthday party. She started screaming at me. Just screaming and screaming. She said I didn’t care about her and I didn’t love her. I DIDN’T LOVE HER! I’m sorry. I’ll calm down.”
“It’s all right, honey. Go on.”
“I told her I did love her and I wanted to see her. I was sorry. It’s Malenko! I love Malenko! He’s like my best friend in the world, you know?”
“So anyway, I said I wanted to be with her and not the other wrestlers and then she said, ‘What about her?’ And I said, ‘Her who’? And she said you. She meant you. And I said, ‘No! Come on! We’ve talked about this! We’re just performing.’ And she said, ‘I saw you kiss her on television. I see the way you look at her afterwards. You’re in love with her.’ And I started to say, ‘No, I’m not.’ But I only said, ‘No.’ Then there was silence, and then I said, ‘Maybe, but it’s only because of the angle. It’s fake love.’ Then she said, ‘Fake love? What the hell do you mean, fake love?’ And I couldn’t answer. So she said, ‘You love this Woman. You are in love with another Woman.’ May I have another tic-tac?”
A little stunned, her hand shaking, the Woman opened up the box and gave the Stud another tic-tac.
“Where was I?”
“You are in love with another Woman.”
“Right. So then I said, ‘I love you. I want to be with you. She means a lot to me, but you’re my whole world.’ And then she said, ‘You’re lying. I can hear it in your voice that you’re lying. She means more to you then I ever did, doesn’t she?’ She sounded so hurt. No. She sounded like she was trying very hard not to sound so hurt. That’s the worst, when you can hear them holding back their pain. And I paused, and then I knew the truth. I nodded my head because I couldn’t answer. She couldn’t hear me nod my head, so she only heard silence. Then she said, ‘I hope you and your married friend have a very nice life together.’ Then she hung up the phone. I didn’t call her back. I got good and drunk instead. See? It’s over! I might as well die!”
“No. Don’t say that. Just because this relationship is over doesn’t mean that your whole life is over.”
The Stud got up and stumbled to the mini-fridge. He put both hands on it and used it to support his weight. Looking away from the Woman he said, “No. Nobody loves me. I gave up a nice girl because I fell in love with a married woman. You don’t love me. Even if you did, I couldn’t tell you I loved you or let you do anything. I’m only telling you now cause I’m drunk. You’re married! I left someone who I didn’t really love for someone who I really truly loved but couldn’t. Even if I could, I like your husband! I couldn’t do this to him. I’m a screw up! I’m done! Nobody will ever love me again.”
The Woman did not know what to say or do. All she knew was that every impulse in her body screamed to tell the Stud that she loved him too and to get up and kiss him. She loved him more then she loved the Veteran. She loved the Veteran also but it was different now. This Stud had filled her with a passion she could never remember having. It wasn’t lust. It wasn’t about sex. She loved this Stud who would love her and need her and take care of her and treat her better then any other man in the whole world would. She wanted to be with him so badly, but she couldn’t. He was drunk. She was married. It was ridiculous.
Suddenly, the Stud turned around, a look of anger in his eyes. The Woman became frightened as he shouted:
“THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! WHY DID YOU DO THIS TO ME? YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND! WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BE SO BEAUTIFUL? WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BE SO NICE? WHY DID YOU HAVE TO BE SO FUN AND MAKE ME FEEL SPECIAL EVERY TIME WE WENT OUT TOGETHER? WHY DO YOU HAVE TO BE EVERYTHING I COULD EVER WANT IN A WOMAN? WHY? WHY?” He paused. “Why do you have to be married? I would do anything if I could be with you. I love you. Why do you have to be ”
The Stud wasn’t able to finish his thought. The Woman cut him off with a kiss.
It had been a year since the business lunch and the cheese fries and the Veteran had never been more satisfied professional and more unsatisfied privately. Once the Promoter had been fired he had been made one of the heads of the creative team. While some said the company was suffering creatively because of this decision, the Veteran was doing what he always dreamed he would. Sure, the focus was more on the Veterans then on the up and comers, but they got their fair share also. The Veteran truly believed that he, Ric and Dusty were doing more then a good job, the masses be damned.
Where was the Woman? Where was the Stud? They were late.
The Woman was late. Oh God, she was late. This could not be happening. She could not be late.
The Veteran knew that those two would be there at any minute. The angle had not played out the way he had planned. The crowd had never accepted the Veteran as a face. That was okay. The Veteran had always been a better heel anyway. So, they kept going, the Stud and the Woman hurting and teasing and mocking the Veteran, and the Veteran fighting back and losing. The crowd probably would have gotten sick of it by now if not for the amazing matches the Veteran and the Stud put together. That kid had to be one of the top workers of all time. Not only that, but he was a good student. The Stud had really taken the Veteran’s advice about living the gimmick. He was holding the Woman’s hand in the locker room. He was taking her out almost every night. The Veteran heard from people in the locker room that they were even taking his advice about sleeping in the same hotel room. This was great. This was just what he wanted.
Where were they? Why weren’t they here? What were the two of them doing now? The Veteran thought it would be no more then 6 months of this. Of not being able to kiss his wife. Of not being able to tell her he loved her, and love her he did. Still, he couldn’t just stop living the gimmick. If he did that, his whole belief system would fall apart. The others wouldn’t respect him as much. He was the boss now and if the others lost respect for him he’d be finished. Where were they?
“I’m late. I’m very, very late.”
The Stud stared at the Woman. He ran his hands through his hair and responded.
“No you’re not. We’re late.”
The Woman began crying softly. The Stud took her in his arms and held her close to him. She was so beautiful, so lovely. Her skin felt as soft as the day her husband made him feel it. They would get through this together. They were late, but it would be okay.
“Come on. We’re late. We need to get the coliseum.”
Where were they? Where the hell were they? This had been happening more and more frequently. When the Veteran and the Woman had first started dating he found himself winding up at the arena late also. Sometimes they’d get a bite to eat. Sometimes they’d go bowling or do something completely romantic on the spur of the moment. Mostly they’d have a session of pre-show sex. Oh no. No. The Stud wouldn’t even consider it. He wouldn’t dream of it. The Stud must’ve known that the Veteran was now the boss. If they were having an affair, he wouldn’t fire the Stud. He’d bury him. He would never rise above the mid-card. He’d be stuck in mindless, ridiculous feuds for the rest of his career. And the Woman? She’d be off television. She’d be fired, divorced, and left alone. She wouldn’t be able to go back to their home, and he doubted the Stud would ask her to move in with him up north. No way. He was too young to settle down. She’d be what she was before he found her; a kind of pretty ring rat.
Why was he even thinking this way?
Oh, he knew why.
He could trust them. He could at least trust his wife, couldn’t he?
It was all over. He had done it to himself. That stupid philosophy.
He did not know this for a fact.
Everybody knew they were having sex. It was ludicrous for him to deny it.
He did NOT know this for a fact. He did not. Where were they?
He let his professional and private life mix. He didn’t mix them; he intertwined the two. He gave her to him. He gave the Woman to the Stud on a platter. His wife. His love. The only person he ever needed and the only person besides his brother who ever needed him. He had let her go because of a performance. A show. A GODDAMNED SHOW! WHERE THE HELL WERE THEY? WHAT THEY HELL WERE THEY DOING?
Oh. There they were. Well, they weren’t going to get off easy! No matter who they were, they were late! Besides, this tardiness could be used as an excuse to punish them by ending the gimmick. He might take some flack for it backstage, but it had to be done. There was still a chance he could win her back. He could end it now. He had to end it now.
“Just where the hell have you two been? Huh? Do you think you can show up whenever you want? Do you think you’re special? You are no more special then anyone else back here! Everyone else showed up an hour ago. Every single person you see before you showed up for work on time! This is the fourth time in a month that the two of you have been late! What’s your explanation, huh? I’d love to hear this!”
The Woman looked down at her feet. The Stud began to say something, but she shook her head no at him. He was silent. She took her husband by the arm and pulled him out of the dressing room. She beckoned for the Stud to follow her, and he did. Outside of the dressing room, she informed the Veteran that this was not the fourth time this month that she was late. It was the fifth.
“What do you mean, it’s the fifth time? You’ve only been late for four shows.” The Woman could not say anymore, so the Stud did. He explained exactly what she meant. He explained the whole damned thing. He never meant for it to happen, it just did. Not that it would be any consolation, but it was an accident. The condom must have broken. They always practiced safe sex. Also, he was sorry. Man oh man was he sorry. How many times had he said he was sorry? The Veteran wasn’t counting, but maybe fifty, forty times. The Veteran tried to put on some kind of snide smile but it just wasn’t working. At one point he tried to hit the Stud but his arm just didn’t want to do it. No, the Veteran listened to every word the Stud said and did nothing. He just stood there taking it all in. It was his fault. He knew that. He would punish the Stud and his soon to be ex-wife, but as of right now it was time to take his punishment like a man. The Stud sounded like he was about to finish it up. The Veteran began to search in his head for the proper reply.
“We’re in love. You’ve got to believe me I did not plan on being a father. I did not plan on stealing her from you. I’m sorry. I don’t believe I stole her from you. I believe we found each other. I believe we were meant to be together. I want to marry her. I’m going to marry her. I love her so much. I’m sorry this had to happen to you. You’re a good person. You deserve so much better. Once again, I apologize.”
Silence. The Veteran wanted to rip the eyes out of the Stud’s head and piss in his skull. He wanted to wrap his hands around his wife’s throat and squeeze until her beautiful eyes saw nothing ever again. He wanted to get into his car and drive into a busload of people. Just pick them off, one by one by one until he was the only person left alive on the planet. He wanted to leap off the Empire State Building onto a baby’s carriage. He wanted to eat glass. He wanted to slowly hammer nails into his tongue.
But instead he shook his head and said, “Good job kid. You lived the gimmick. I’m proud of you. You have the night off. Go celebrate your good fortune. It’ll be the last thing you celebrate for a good long while.”
And with that, the Veteran turned around and walked back into the locker room.
It had been seven years since the business lunch and the cheese fries, and here he was. He didn’t have to accept his ex-wife’s invitation but here he was anyway. Late, but here anyway. He was at the diner where it had all happened, where it all started. He had given away the love of his life at this diner. He had given away the Woman who meant everything to him because of a gimmick.
Well, it had all worked out in the end, hadn’t it? I mean, things had just perked right up for him. He fired his ex-wife and decided that he would feud with the Stud for a couple of more months. Their matches weren’t as good as the previous ones. They were better. So many stiff shots. So much real hatred. Over the years, the Veteran lost his backstage creative power, regained it, lost it and gained it again. Every time he had even an ounce of control over the story lines he would kill the Stud’s push. He would just crush it. Everybody else believed that the kid deserved a main event push, but the Veteran would end that as soon as he got the chance. It was his fault that the Stud and three of his friends jumped ship. The Stud had won the world title the night the Veteran was given full creative control. The Veteran promised that he would not sabotage the Stud’s career this time all the while planning how to sabotage the Stud’s career. The Stud didn’t buy it and left the promotion to go to the WWF. He was a main event wrestler there almost immediately. Meanwhile, the Veteran and his booking team destroyed the promotion creatively. It was an absolute mess. The promotion, so rich in history, so long in standing, went under. Vince snatched it up for 4.3 million dollars. The Veteran tried to get a job with them, failed, and was now working the indies from time to time.
Maybe if he hadn’t been so hard on the Stud. Maybe those four could have saved the promotion. Well, not Malenko, or Saturn, but Guerrero was talented. So was the Stud. He made a mistake all right, but so did the Stud. The Stud should have known better. If the Veteran had to suffer the consequences of his actions, so did the Stud. That was all that was left of him. A little anger, but mostly sadness and self-righteousness he knew was false. The Veteran opened the door to the diner and walked inside. He knew exactly where they’d be sitting, the booth in the corner, and there they were.
He was injured but the Stud still looked to be in incredible shape. While the seven years and a second pregnancy had not left his wife, his ex-wife, unchanged she looked as beautiful as ever in the Veteran’s opinion. The Woman and the Stud were sharing a plate of cheese fries. That was sweet. That was sickeningly sweet. He raised his head and began to walk to the table when he heard the voice.
“Mommy, I need to go to the bathroom!”
The child was loud. That was okay, because the Woman had been loud. The five-year-old crawled out from under the table and began pulling on his mother’s leg.
“Mommy! I need to go the bathroom now!”
There he was. That was all because of the Veteran’s mistake. That little boy would not exist if the Veteran had not suggested the gimmick and then insisted that they all live it. He accepted the invitation because he had blame to hand out. He had a story of woe to tell about his now empty life. As he saw the child that existed because of him tug on his mother’s leg, a peace and a calm came over him that he had not felt for seven years. Everything happened for a reason. They did belong together. He turned around to leave the diner.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Stud looking at him. The Woman was gone. She must have taken the boy to the bathroom. The Stud said nothing, but nodded his head at the Veteran. The Veteran, his eyes sad and a smile on his face, mouthed the words, “Live the gimmick.” He then walked out the door of the diner to finish living his gimmick.