“What the fuck, Jarvis?!”
24th of August, 2018
For a man so concerned with propriety, so enamoured with decorum, so anxious about keeping couth, my brother Ian was making one hell of a scene that night.
“C’mon, Ian,” I said, “we haven’t even celebrated my birthday. There’s gotta be a bar open somewhere.”
“FUCK the bar, Jarvis,” he spat. He was fuming in a way that I hadn’t seen in years. He was angry, not just at me, or at the situation that he found himself in, but at the very world itself. “What the hell were you thinking?”
I shook my head, smiling to myself. What the hell had I been thinking? As if it was a difficult choice to make. As if I had toiled, struggling to come to some sort of reckoning with myself and my own morals in order to come to a hard, but ultimately correct, decision.
It was easy, after all. It was simply a matter of preparation. Le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés. Chance only favours the prepared mind.
“You know what,” I said, ignoring him and turning suddenly at the door to my room. “I can just have a drink from the mini-bar in my room!”
I tried, and failed, to swipe the card and gain entry on the first go. Those goddamn cards are always the worst. I mean, you’d think after however-many-days-a-year on the road that I’d get the hang of it, but…lo and behold…
Ian snatched the card from my hand and popped it in and out of the slot in the door with ease, making the little red light turn green as if it wasn’t some sort of rigged carnival game. I pushed past him as I opened the door and tossed my bag on the near, unoccupied, bed before sitting on one of the – confusingly numerous – chairs.
Side-note – why do hotel rooms have so many chairs. Like, this room had two wing-backs, three bar-style stools sitting at a little counter, a desk chair and an ottoman that could probably seat two in a pinch, and that doesn’t even take into account the two beds.
Like, do hotels assume I’m going to be entertaining? Am I supposed to have 8 of my best friends over to hang out and watch The Emoji Movie on pay per view, as if Netflix wasn’t a thing?
…anyhow, there were too many chairs in this hotel room. And frankly too many occupants as well.
I kicked open the mini-fridge that sat next to my chair and reached in to grab one of the over-priced bottles of liquor as Ian followed me into the room and sat at the desk chair, staring at me pointedly. I quickly spun the top off of the bottle, took a sip, and grimaced.
Gin. I should have read the label.
“Jarvis,” Ian began, as I sipped away at my poorly chosen libation. “You know how this works – you’re supposed to discuss any and all professional partnerships with your management team to ensure that you’re not making the…well…”
“The same mistakes of the past?” I said absently, not looking at him. I was just now staring at the bottle, reading the label and trying to figure out how some idiot in the middle ages figured that flavouring mash liquor with juniper berries was a good idea, and struggling to understand how it caught on.
“Exactly,” Ian said, rising. He was pacing, which meant that he was on a bit of a tear. He would be rambling and ranting for a few minutes, I thought to myself. Plenty of time to read more about Hendrick’s Gin – Established 1886.
“You’ve stepped down this road before, Jarvis,” he continued. “Think back to The Entourage – think to the Enterprise…think back to the Cyndicate.”
Did you know that Hendrick’s Gin is distilled in batches of just 450 litres, which gives their master distiller the greatest possible control of the so-called artistry of their gin?
“Mace and Carlton are off doing their own thing…Mace tried to break your neck,” he continued, trying his damnedest to get through to me.
It may surprise you to learn that Hendrick’s bouquet comes from a secret recipe which contains traditional botanicals like juniper, coriander, and citrus peel.
“How many times has the Rishel family screwed you, exactly? Fuck, now Jaiden’s off running around with Mace too…”
Handcrafted, small batch gin is one thing, boyo, but when you add in that ever-so-shocking combination of rose petals and cucumber, you get a gin that is iconoclastic. Apparently. Can a spirit be iconoclastic?
“And I don’t think I need to tell you about Chaolin Sahn. Or do I need to remind you about what happened when things went sour with him?”
I mean, really – how does a gin buck the system? Is adding a hint of rosewater and cucumber to gin really an attack on our fundamental social mores? Is making the gin a little bit different really an assault on cherished beliefs or institutions?
“All of them turned their backs on you Jarvis. Think of Shane.”
‘Fuck,’ I thought. ‘I’m out of bottle to read. I’m going to have to engage…’
The two of us sat in silence for a moment. Ian, no doubt, thinking that the gravity of his speech was hitting me. He had stopped pacing and was boring a hole in the middle of my skull with his eyes. I took the last swig of my gin and set the bottle down on top of the mini-bar fridge before I kicked open the door one more time and made a note of the price; $30.00 for a little bit more than an airplane bottle of booze. I shook my head and exhaled a silent chuckle to myself. You don’t have to like it, but I’ll be damned if hotel rooms don’t have the racket down pat.
I got to my feet, and met Ian’s eyes. “This is different,” I said to him, slowly, confidently. “With all of those guys – Mace, Carlton, Rishel…Sahn, even Shane – I entered into an agreement, a partnership, with the understanding that not only was there strength in numbers, but instead that there was also a bond – a brotherhood, if you like. It was an arrangement entered into with the understanding that there was honour amongst knaves, Ian; that there was a code of ethics to be upheld.” I snorted out a silent laugh again. “There isn’t, of course, Ian. We both know that now. All of those guys, from day one, were silently counting down the day until they were going to betray me. They may not have known it, Ian, but it was the way that it was going to go.”
“So you align yourself with three guys who you know are unscrupulous?” Ian said, flabbergasted. His eyes were widened with a mixture of exhaustion and disbelief.
I reached into my back pocket and grabbed my wallet, leafing through a modest amount of cash that I happened to have on me. $30.00 for a tiny bottle of booze. I should’ve gotten in on the hotel business.
“No, Ian,” I said. “I aligned myself with three guys who I know are immaculate businessmen. Three guys who I know share a vision for the future of this business, and for the future of the CWF. Three guys who understand the value of keeping their personal lives away from their business. Three guys who I need to start emulating.”
A knock came at the door. Ian stood dumbfounded, so I went to answer it. After all, I knew who it was. I had invited her.
I’ve had my fair share – hell, why be modest? I’ve had more than my fair share of beautiful women in my life. I mean, let’s face it – I’m a fucking sexy beast, and I’m the best wrestler in the fucking world. Women want me. It’s not a surprise.
I don’t say this to brag (although, brag I could), but instead to illustrate a point. When I say that the woman who greeted me at the door is perhaps the most drop-dead gorgeous, the most stunningly beautiful, the absolute hottest woman I’ve ever laid eyes on, you get the sense of what’s up.
She entered the room, her shapely frame filling out her suit like it was sewn onto her, and surveyed the scene. Ian was still standing, thunderstruck and speechless. She tutted a bit and rooted around in her briefcase as she spoke.
“Mr. King,” she said. “I’m afraid there’s been a change of plans.”
“Oh, this is rich,” said Ian, finding his voice at long last. “How long did that business relationship last, Jarvis?” He glanced down at his watch, laughing to himself frantically. “All of three hours and those Glass Ceiling bozos send along some lacky lawyer to tell you it’s all done? Come on!”
“Ian…” I began. Contrary to what you might think, this wasn’t easy.
“I’m sorry,” interrupted the woman in a curt, professional tone. “I’m not a lawyer, Mr. King…My name is Elizabeth Bates, and I am a talent manager, and the change in circumstances isn’t to do with Jarvis King’s involvement with the group known as The Glass Ceiling.” Elizabeth found what she had been looking for – a large, manila envelope – and handed it to Ian. “The change is in your involvement in Jarvis King’s career.”
Ian went from dumbstruck to heartbroken as he opened the envelope and started thumbing through the documents, contracts, and finally, a severance cheque.
“You’ll find a travel itinerary for your flight back to Halifax, Mr. King,” she said to Ian before turning to me. “The limo is waiting downstairs.”
I took $30.00 out of my wallet and placed it on the top of the fridge, next to the empty bottle of Hendrick’s. “The room is paid up except for that,” I said. I grabbed my bag from the bed and extended the telescopic handle. “I’ll let you know when I’m back in town.”
Elizabeth and I turned to leave, and Ian weakly called out after me. “Jarvis,” he said. “Why?”
There was that question again. The question I kept on getting. The question whose answer never changed, no matter how many times it was asked, and in however many permutations.
Like I said, I took no pleasure in this moment of my life. It was not easy. I didn’t like leaving my brother in that hotel room that night, and if circumstances were different, I would have made a different choice. But I had to make the choice that I made. It was the only thing that made sense. It was a safeguard against the very thing that Ian feared that I was leaving myself open to.
Le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.
“It’s just business, Ian.”
7th of September, 2018
SportsNewsNet Studios – Time Square, Manhattan
“I think it’s fair to say that I’ll be accompanying you to ringside from now on,” said Elizabeth as I was having my television makeup applied. I grunted an agreement. She was right – it made all the more sense to have a ringside manager, and Elizabeth was one of the best. That said, I was still a bit sore – more emotionally than physically – from the previous week’s main event, and my mood was not any more buoyed by the task ahead of me.
Being in a major market for a show the size of WrestleFest has its upsides, no doubt - better hotels, more impressive service, not having to drink spirits that attack the very foundation of society – but the thing about my job is that there’s always something creeping around the corner that you’d rather not be doing.
Elizabeth, the absolute professional that she is, read the temperature of my silence and spoke up. “Jarvis, not even I could get you out of this. It’s one area that your previous management –“ I had instructed her to refer to Ian no other way “- wasn’t completely inept. This directive is from on high.”
I grunted again, and Elizabeth dropped the subject. I knew that she was right; after all, I had seen the same documents that she had. ‘The CWF has a right to use the talent for media appearances, subject to need and market demand.’ It was there, in cold black ink, on page whatever-the-fuck of my talent contract.
A few moments later, it was time to rip the band-aid off.
“We’re live in five…four…three…”
The one nice thing was I didn’t have to make annoying small-talk with Cathy. I could tell she was seething at the sight of Elizabeth. Good; let her think that something’s happening there. Let her stew in the same feelings I had when she was working with Kurt Fuckin’ Patterson.
The musical sting played, and Cathy looked up from her notes as the red light on camera one lit up. “We are just mere days away from Championship Wrestling Federation’s biggest event of the year, emanating from the World’s Most Famous arena and live on Pay Per View – WrestleFest. As you well know, my guest is the Paramount Champion,” I slung the title onto my shoulder, “and the newest member of a controversial group calling themselves The Glass Ceiling. I’m Cathy Daniels…”
“And I’m Jarvis J. King. You’re welcome,” I said, grinning at the camera.
“And this,” said Cathy, barely masking her irritation, “is Daniels vs. King.”
The bell sound effect clearly followed us from Uniondale, and Cathy launched right in. “Jarvis, it has been a few weeks since we last had you here. They’ve been active weeks. I know you’ve made some public statements, but I know that there still exists a lot of questions. You’ve said that you joined The Glass Ceiling because it made business sense. I can understand that is your reason, but I think that the thinking behind that reason is what still eludes many of your fans.”
“My fans?” I said, interrupting her. “You mean the people who didn’t so much as make a peep when I nearly had my neck broken last fall? You mean the people who didn’t demand retribution when a madman tried to take out one of my eyes earlier this year? The people who watched with their thumbs up their asses when I had my title stolen from me on two separate occasions?”
“Jarvis, I’m just asking…”
“No, I got it from here,” I said, dismissing her. “You want me to answer the same question in a different way, and I get it. I keep hearing it – why, Jarvis, why? – and I keep answering it the same damn way. It’s just business. See, it took me a long time to realize that this business doesn’t owe me a goddamn thing. The wrestling business is a vampire, Cathy. It’ll drain every inch of you and won’t give you a damn thing in return.”
“So why? Why did I join up with The Glass Ceiling? Because they’re guys who understood from day one what this business was about. They’re aligned with me on a vision of this business, a vision for this company, and a vision for the future.”
“And what is that vision?” Cathy said, managing to get a word in edgewise.
I laughed. “Come on, Cathy…is it that hard to figure out? It’s a vision for the future. Our future. A future where those who aren’t worthy of lacing our boots don’t get themselves in lofty positions of grandeur where they don’t belong. Take the World Title situation – we’ve still got a vacant champion, because the guy who was champion didn’t belong there, and now we’ve got a carpetbagger versus a woman who’s coasting on her family’s legacy rather than a pair of CWF greats doing battle in the main event of the biggest event of the year!”
“Do you think you belong in the main event?”
“Do I think I belong in the main event?!” I parroted in a mocking, sing-song voice. “Of course I fucking do, Cathy. I am the goddamn main event. I’m Excellence, personified, and now I’m stuck defending my title against another parachuting-in old man – some fifty-one year old never-was that’s trying to convince himself that his best years were behind him ten years ago.”
“Well, you do defend the Paramount title against The Accelerator, Harley Hodge at WrestleFest, and…”
“And what exactly has he done to deserve that title shot, Cathy? Completed rehab? What, is this supposed to be some sort of feel-good redemption story? Does he think this is Holyfield vs. Foreman? Newsflash, Cathy – it’s not. This isn’t Rocky vs. Drago. This is Drago vs. Creed. This is the biggest mistake of Hodge’s life. This WrestleFest is where he realizes that he doesn’t have it, he never had it, and he’s meeting his better in the middle of the ring. Because I’m The Icon, Cathy. I’m East Coast Excellence. I’m Jarvis King. And he will bow down.”