”The order of the day is disorder.”
“Right, Ciara? Isn’t that what you’re peddling these days?”
“At least, when you’re playing your role.”
“Y’see, we’ve got a lot in common. We’re both second generation wrestlers that wanna make our legendary fathers proud. We’ve both got mothers that’d prefer we go to college instead’a step into the ring.”
“But there’s one thing, amongst thousands, that sticks out as a difference.”
“I’ve got a mother that loves me back.”
“Naaah, kiddo. Never worked with Zeek Williams or Savannah Richards. Honestly can’t say I’ve ever heard of ‘em.”
MJ Flair sits in her living room, chewing the meat off a sparerib. She has two plates in front of her: one filled with a half rack slathered in dry rub and barbecue sauce, and the other, filled with stripped-clean bones. On the opposite side of the couch, her father, legendary wrestler of the 1990s and 2000s, Eli Flair sits, foot up on the table, brace on the knee, beer in hand. His hair hangs loose but pushed out of his face, showing more and more gray in it as he inches closer to fifty.
MJF: I figured as much. Bitch claims New York as her hometown, I assumed she was lying.
Eli holds a finger up away from his beer as he studies a sheet of paper in his other hand.
ELI: Don’t be too quick to judge, kiddo. Don’t forget, as much as I claimed the city as home, I never really worked for any’a the promotions that did. CSWA was based outta Greensboro, FWO was based outta Seattle, NFW was based outta Baltimore, and the rest’a the places I worked wasn’t big enough t’count. Only thing I can say fer shure is that they never worked for Coop.
Terry Cooper was a legendary hooker in the 1930s - 1950s, a peer of athletes such as Lou Thesz and Ad Santell, but he never rose to the same levels of fame in the national scene. He eventually settled down in the Bronx, where he opened a gym and ultimately, his claim to fame was introducing ‘The King of Extreme ‘Eli Flair and ‘The Marathon Man’ Impulse, Randall Knox, to the sport. He promoted local wrestling events to give ‘his kids’ some work experience, but never rose (and never wanted to rise) above a neighborhood promotion.
Having passed away more than a dozen years ago, the site of his gym is now TC’s Pub, co-owned by Eli Flair himself and his former manager and closest friend, MJ’s aunt, Ivy McGinnis. His specter, however, looms over them all.
ELI: Besides, lookin’ at this runsheet? You don’t need ta worry about this bitch in the slightest.
He drops the sheet of paper on the table next to MJ’s plate.
MJF: Y’think so?
ELI: Check her vitals. Five five, a buck twelve?
MJ hadn’t even considered it. In fairness, she hadn’t considered much of anything these days, as her career has been bouncing from the injured list to a series with Mia Rayne/Loki Synn, to the doomed Hostility and back again, and she’s been preoccupied with Jarvis King since her full time return.
MJF: Seriously? How has she done… like… anything?
ELI: Don’t disregard the power’a luck, kiddo. This chick might have the skills t’do a 720 off the top rope but she’s got no muscle tone or core conditioning. Literally one punch should do the shit.
MJ starts to laugh, and nearly chokes on her rib. An avid crossfitter, she isn’t the underweight waif that most insecure nineteen year old girls are. At five feet seven inches and a solid one hundred thirty five pounds, she is both light enough to fly around the ring as needed and has enough core strength to outlast most opponents.
MJF: I’ll be sure to tell her to stand still, Daddy.
And she inherited her deadpan delivery from her father. He shakes his head.
ELI: I told ya, kiddo. She’s nothing. But she’s got a quartet’a losers around her.
He picks up the television remote and starts clicking buttons. The ESEN network clicks off and the Youtube button highlights, but does not click on. MJ reaches for the remote once. Twice.
Both times he declines, but after another twenty or so fruitless seconds of attempting to start it up, he hands the remote over. MJ chuckles to herself as she opens Youtube, and looks at him.
ELI: Evo 49.
ELI: ...Ciara Kennedy.
MJ smiles, and she clicks the appropriate link. Apparently someone had helped her technophobic dad watch this earlier, as it starts to play in the middle of the promo.
”We don’t care about wins and losses. We don’t care about being champions. We don’t care about being in the main event. We only care about one thing and one thing only. The destruction of CWF and everyone that chooses to align themselves with the status quo.”
And he gestures to her to pause it.
ELI: The Disorder is a bunch’a fuckin’ idiots that knows what they’re against, but no idea what they’re for. Anything they might get in the short term is gonna be tempered against the fact that professional wrestlers with no long term goals… they ain’t long for the world.
He looks at her.
ELI: You can take this bitch, kiddo. You can take any’a these bitches, I think. But if they jump ya, five to one--
“One in five. No one here gets out alive now.”
Both MJ and Eli look out into the hall: MJ looks to her right while Eli turns around completely. The cellar door has opened, the privacy light is off, and MJ’s mother Angel stands there holding the door open while a series of young, faceless, nameless musicians walk out.
MJF: You get yours, mama!
Angel: I’ll get mine.
She walks into the room and sits on her husband’s lap.
ELI: Gonna make it, bay-beh, if we try.
They kiss, while MJ rolls her eyes.
ELI: Shush your face, offspring.
Angel taps Eli on the forehead with her index finger.
Angel: Careful, babe. She’ll be takin’ care of us someday.
MJF: Don’t count on it.
Eli raises an eyebrow while staring at her, and MJ returns the raised eyebrow.
All at once, they both start to laugh. Angel looks at the TV screen and stands up.
Angel: This your opponent?
Angel: Wow. She’s tiny.
She walks out of the room and hangs a left towards the kitchen.
MJF: Says the stick.
ELI: You’re in trouble…
MJ pretends to cover her face to avoid eye contact, all the while smirking. While she’s not wrong - Angel is about five feet tall and barely over a hundred pounds - her mother has a presence about her that can be intimidating to the uninitiated.
Angel: You ever get hit with a stick, sweetie?
It’s an empty threat, neither Angel nor Eli has ever hit their daughter, though they’ve made plenty of tongue - in - cheek threats. Fortunately, she’s been more or less a model daughter and has not really given them cause.
MJF: Not since my last match, Mommy.
Angel gives her a thousand yard stare. Eli facepalms.
Clearly, MJ still enjoys stirring the pot.
”Here’s the thing, Ciara. You and your Disorderly boys… you made a big splash at the start. You talked big. Johnny Graves won a title and swang his dick around.”
“What else have ya done?”
“You’re the Oreo Bros for a new era, Ciara. For all intents ‘n purposes, ya told us that we need ta’ fear you five. Ya five then wrestled in such a way as that none’a the CWF roster has a single reason t’do so.”
“Sure, Johnny Graves is the current Paramount Champion.”
“He’s done fuck all since winning it, and the rest’a you losers have done fuck all since ya showed up here.”
“A month ago, I told Jon Stewart I wanted a challenge. I wanted t’wrestle the best wrestlers he could find and put against me. He succeeded… twice.”
“Once against Jarvis King in an abortion of a match that’s spawned my wanting t’wait outside and smack ‘em in the face with a brick, and once against actual quality athletes in Caledonia and Mia Rayne, where Jarvis King potentially literally cost me the win.”
“None of the people that I consider quality opponents are named Ciara Kennedy. This is not a coincidence.”
Unable to sleep, MJ pushes the covers off her body and rolls to a sitting position. She bows her head and stands up, still half - asleep, and grabs a T-shirt from the desk chair a few feet away.
A quick look at the clock on the wall tells her it’s nearly three in the morning, but this doesn’t mean much to her in and of itself; the basement houses Spyder Studios and is functionally always open, which means there could be anywhere from three to twenty people still awake and working in the house.
She pulls the shirt over her head and opens her bedroom door, pulling the cloth over her body as she walks. MJ waits, momentarily, listening for any movement, but nothing is there, so she walks with more confidence to the staircase.
It’s her home, but strangers occasionally have the run of the place, which can make it awkward to wander the house in just a shirt and a pair of boyshorts. However, the only movement she can make out is her cat, Isis, chasing like mad after some sort of invisible foe.
Her bare feet step soundlessly through the hallways and down the stairs, the late hour and MJ’s prior experience telling her to ignore the fact that the kitchen light is on.
It was more likely that nobody was in the kitchen, than somebody was in the kitchen. This is why MJ stops and freezes at the sight of Ash Evans, lead singer of the metal band Trifectum.
Ash’s band is still recording and mixing their album in the basement. Some weeks back, he and MJ had a moment in her room, and he asked her out on a date. A few more dates after the fact, he seemed unable to handle her own celebrity and they had a public (but civil) disagreement about it.
It was a bad breakup, if not a vicious one. MJ holds no real grudges but still feels awkward standing in front of Ash in just a T-shirt and a pair of undies.
Ash: The guys killed the chicken, so if you were lookin’ for some leftovers…
MJ waves him off.
Almost nobody that enters this house knows how to cook, so the refrigerator is typically filled with takeout leftovers and the like. Because of the homey atmosphere, the rock bottom prices, and the fact that musicians are often allowed to sleep here while recording, it is understood that any food saved is fair game unless otherwise noted.
MJF: Just thirsty, man.
She walks past him, ignoring him as she grabs a glass and fills it up in the water filter. He’s cutting up a small pile of vegetables - MJ recognizes carrot, bell pepper, and celery on the cutting board - and doing his best to ignore her as well, though she catches him staring at her ass out of the corner of her eye as she walks past him.
Ash: I just wanted--
They both stop, and gesture to the other to continue.
MJF: No, man - you’re good.
Ash: It’s your house, MJ.
Silence. She takes a breath and nods.
MJF: I wanted to apologize for blowing up on you the other night, man. You invited me out, it was kind of a dick move ta’ take over.
Ash shakes his head.
Ash: Naaaah, girl. Ain’t your fault or my problem that you know everyone. Why should you pretend that you don’t?
He opens his arms and she hugs him, but quickly realizes the moment and backs off.
MJF: Listen, man… this ain’t gonna work.
Ash doesn’t agree, nor does he disagree.
MJF: Not a good or a bad thing, dude. Just… ya know, I don’t need you.
She shrugs. Ash looks hurt for a moment, but she touches his chest.
MJF: Ain’t nothing you’re doin’ wrong or not doin’ - just, I don’t need you, and I think you need t’be with a girl that does. Make sense?
Ash: …… Yeah, sweetie. It does.
He opens his arms again and hugs her again.
Ash: I do need to be the man, and this is tough because you are the man.
Ash backs her off a bit and kisses her on the mouth. She returns the kiss with equal passion, and they break it off at the same time.
MJF: I ever stop bein’ the man, I’ll call you, ok? In the interim--
Ash: I’ll go.
He looks hopeful.
MJF: Your record is fuckin’ awesome, man. Don’t change anything.
She steps back, a smirk on her face, and touches her index finger to his lips. MJ turns and walks away, feeling a good deal of stress lift off her shoulders.
Today’s disorder has been ordered.
“Here’s the thing, Ciara.”
“You’re all about being against the system.”
“That’s cool, man. But what are you for?”
“If you’re against something but not for anything, you’re just a contrarian lil’ bitch. And ya’ no use to me.”
“I have one current need: for a serious opponent.”
“You are not a serious opponent.”
“You’re a daddy’s girl who chose her career to piss off her mom and chose her boyfriend to piss off her dad. Take a minute and ask yourself, why d’ya really wanna be a wrestler? Why d’ya really wanna be with Johnny Gravedigger?”
“Can you answer either’a those things?”
“No. No you can’t.”
“This is why you lose.”