Tacoma International Airport
23rd January, 2019
Nathan Paradine is sitting at a flimsy table-and-chair set in the middle of Tacoma International Airport, sniffing suspiciously at a particularly cheap, greasy-looking burger in his hands. Slowly he raises the burger to his mouth and extends his tongue, carefully flicking the tip against the patty and smacking his lips thoughtfully. He places the burger down in the paper wrapping and rubs his chin thoughtfully.
Paradine: "This needs something..."
He lifts the top bun of the burger and pokes his finger through the garnishes; poking aside lettuce and tomato, prodding a melted slice of cheese and flicking away bits of pickle and onion. As he does this, he is approached by a clean-cut man in a suit, probably in his mid fifties, his graying hair slicked back in a style reminiscent of Paradine's. He watches the Australian Submission Machine dissect his burger with distaste before taking a seat, brushing stray bits of lettuce from the table top to bring a leather briefcase into view. This is Leigh Boetticher, the latest in a long string of long-suffering lawyers that have attempted to assist Paradine.
Boetticher: "Jesus, Nathan, do you have to spill that mess everywhere?"
Paradine: "Sorry, m'bad-"
Paradine is halfway through a mouthful of french fries. He swallows, and hastily takes a gulp from a paper shake emblazoned with a yellow logo proclaiming it to be a "GOOD DRINK!". He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and regards Boetticher with his complete attention.
Paradine: "Shoot. What do you have for me, mate?"
Boetticher: "Good news, thankfully. You're not looking at any charges for that incident at the zoo, they're happy to let it slide if you make a modest donation to their red panda conservation efforts. I have already done so, on your behalf."
Paradine: "Those little panda bastards-"
Boetticher: "It's done, Nathan. Moving on from that, however; couldn't you have picked a better place to meet than a goddamn airport?"
Paradine shrugs and takes another sip from his GOOD DRINK!.
Paradine: "I wasn't planning on staying. I need to fly back to Melbourne and tie up some loose ends. Sign some stuff to sell my house, that sort of thing. But apparently, we're the only people working an actual job around here."
He indicates widely with his arms, gesturing towards the nearby security gates.
Paradine: "Government shutdown is a real bummer for these guys, huh? I left Australia for this?"
Boetticher: "You're a foreign pro wrestler, Nathan. You shouldn't think too hard about complex political issues you don't understand."
Paradine: "Build a wall to keep the pro wrestlers out, hey? You're wrong about one thing though Leigh. It isn't that I don't understand these issues, it's more that I just don't really give a shit. I have an apathy for America and her people, most of the time."
He takes a bite from a french fry and chuckles, before giving Leigh a good-natured slap on the arm.
Paradine: "Ease up cobba! There are exceptions! I like you, I like my tag team partner Tobias... I saw a couple of girls out for drinks when I was checking in to my hotel the other night, I like them too. There are exceptions to everything, you mark my words."
Boetticher: "Yeah, I'll try to bear that in mind "mate"".
Paradine cringes and waves his hand quickly.
Paradine: "Don't do that, it doesnt work."
Boetticher: "I have some bad news for you as well. I've been doing a little bit of looking into your Hostility contract and I found something that could pose a few, uh, problems. Your contract with Hostility is exclusive."
Paradine: "Yeah sure, exclusive to Hostility, which is a part of the CWF. What's the issue?"
Boetticher: "No, it's exclusive to Hostility the brand. You're breaking the terms of your contract just by competing in this... Modern Warfare, was it called? This tournament thing you're in."
Paradine: "You're joking, right?"
Boetticher: "I'm afraid not."
Paradine lifts his burger to his mouth, blinks, and then drops his hands back down onto the table in disbelief. A moment passes while he considers this new bit of information; is he really breaking the rules of his contract by competing in Modern Warfare?
Paradine: "Well, fuck. I'm a tag team champion in the CWF, Leigh! I wrestled a fucking panda bear man-thing last night! I have another match in a week! What the fuck do you mean I'm breaking my contract!? It's all the same goddamn company!"
Boetticher: "Look, I'm going to do a bit of looking into it and see what I can do, alright? It just might be a better idea, from a legal standpoint, if you maybe didn't wrestle this week-"
Paradine: "Oh no, oh fuck no mate. I'm wrestling, you can be certain of that. I'm winning this second round, and I'm moving on. You'd be silly to think otherwise."
Boetticher: "As your lawyer, I really can't condone you risking your career to wrestle... who is it, again?"
Paradine: "His name... is Impulse."
Boetticher blinks, then makes a poor attempt to stifle a laugh.
Boetticher: "Impulse, huh? And what makes this guy so special?"
Paradine: "Well, nothing really from what I've seen. But-"
Paradine grabs his burger and begins to pull it apart, leaving the bun, patty and salads in three distinct piles in front of him.
Paradine: "I saw this guy wrestle last night. Now he's good, don't get me wrong! But it doesnt take much to be a simple, good wrestler. Take any of these three piles in front of me. The bun, the meat, the salad, each one would taste alright on its own. One or the other might be better suited for certain people with certain tastes, right? For this analogy, Impulse is my beef patty here. Pretty nasty, but I mean it'll taste alright. It's passable."
Paradine tears off a chunk of burger patty and pops it into his mouth, chewing as he talks.
Paradine: "Impulse can wrestle. But he lacks a certain sort of flair, a determination to actually, properly compete in that ring. He can put on a brave face, and he can talk the talk, but he's wrapped up in a safe, secure little burger bun that masks his flaws. He won't make that final push to win against all odds. I mean, I don't enjoy cheating, or bending the rules, but I'll do it if that's what it takes to win. If it meant winning this match against Impulse? Hell yes I'd do it. I don't think any less of him for having a code of honor, I just think it's a bit silly for him to tout it like it's something to be proud of."
Paradine begins to reassemble the rest of his burger, adding salads back to the top of the patty. He eyes the pickle with distaste however and flicks the forlorn bits of vegetable off the table and onto the floor.
Paradine: "Then you add in a few other little things... the fancy move lettuce, the tomato of grim determination... it adds up to something, doesn't it? And it might sound dangerous, but when it comes down to it a burger is a burger. And I eat burgers like this one all the time. It's nothing new for me. I'll eat one today, maybe another in a few days. I've been eating burgers for twenty five years, and I know all the culinary tricks in the book. And it's the exact same when it comes to wrestling. I have absolutely nothing to worry about from Impulse."
Finally, Paradine raises his burger and takes a huge mouthful, chewing furiously. He swallows, and almost immediatelly drops the burger to the ground. He coughs loudly before starting to whack his chest with a fist. He does this three times in succession, his face turning red and his eyes watering, before he hacks up a wad of half-chewed burger onto the table. He wheezes in a lungful of air and points at the soggy mess in front of him.
Paradine: "That being said... it probably wouldn't hurt... to remember that sometimes, the fucking burger can bite back. Jesus..."
The scene comes to an end as Boetticher attempts to help Paradine find a napkin to clean up his half eaten, half regurgitated meal. With the second round of the Modern Warfare tournament soon to be underway, will Paradine pull out a second win or will Impulse prove to be too much for "The Nomad" to handle?