”You’ve got a choice in this sport: you can have a successful career, or you can have a successful personal life. There’s no in-between.”
“The Fans Wrestling Organization World Champion, Kodiak Vic Creed, told my dad that in the summer of two thousand and three, as Daddy was ramping up his first shot at the FWO World Title. In a way, he was right - because Daddy lost their match and he wouldn’t have another shot (albeit a successful one) for over a year.”
“But he was also wrong. Me and Mommy were there for both matches, and, while Championship reigns were scarce during that time, I think he had the absolute best matches of his career after that point, and I would argue some of the best matches in the history of the sport.”
“Daddy likes to say he spent the first six years of his career building his legacy, and the last twelve justifying it. I think that’s a fair assessment.”
“Me? I might have a few years under my belt, and speaking of belts, I’ve worn ‘em five separate times.”
“See what I did there?”
“But I’m also still not old enough to buy beer. I’m in the legacy-building phase’a my career. Much unlike Jarvis King, who - by his own admission - is not. Multiple time World Champion, CWF Hall’a Famer, Grand Slam Champ. He’s tryin’ ta justify his legacy.”
“Besides, my personal life is a mess. I’m a shoo-in to win.”
“That’s how it goes, right?”
MJF: One should not be this sore, when one did not have a match.
She exits the taxi first, followed in short order (no pun intended) by her business manager, Adrian Evans. Adrian pays the driver while MJ retrieves two bags from the trunk, and the taxi drives away quickly, leaving them on the curb in the middle of the night.
Adrian Evans: Well, that’s what you get when you make enemies.
MJF: Wow, man. He’ll get his.
While Adrian has no doubt that Jarvis King will, in fact, ‘get his,’ he’s also aware of the fact that his client is equally likely to get herself disqualified, and thus, tossed out of Golden Intentions on a technicality. The swelling that remains on the side of her head and around her left eye are physical reminder of the damage she took solely because she wasn’t expecting an attack ‘all the time.’ He has no doubt that MJ will move past this and get her head back in the game.
As long as she isn’t distracted.
MJF: I just need a drink right now.
Adrian Evans: Do you really think you’ll be served?
They are standing in front of TC’s Pub. While the dive bar typically serves everyone, Adrian brings the elephant on the street to the forefront: will the owner’s daughter be served or not?
Usually it’s a 50/50 toss up.
Regardless, MJ pushes open the door and walks into the familiar room, the music from the jukebox filling her senses. Behind the bar, Cally sees her enter and she steps over the bar itself to intercept.
MJF: Please tell me you’ll give me a double shot’a Stoli.
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. MJ is technically not old enough to buy a drink so she is at the mercy of the people who work for her parents, but Cally will typically get her back.
Cally: Dude. Man. Chickadee. Small Fry. Where ya been?
MJ looks at her with a bit of confusion. Behind her, Adrian steps up to the bar to speak to one of the other tenders and get his own drink, post-haste.
MJF: I… just doing the stuff, man. What’s up?
As she responds,Cally gets a pair of shotglasses and fills them both with Stoli. She puts one in front of MJ and drains the other before the former CWF World Champion can react.
Cally: Hottie Mc Hotface has been here for like two weeks. Where have you been?
She gestures to the back door, where MJ can see a man pacing, on his phone, drink in hand. She recognizes him as Kevin, the cook that she has been hanging out with at a different bar the past few weeks.
MJF: Did he see Evo?
Cally: Please, chickadoo. We don’t have cable. You’re still all of the anonymous.
MJF: Good, good. Can I get a drink?
And now, Cally laughs.
Cally: Two more years and I’ll consider it, small fry. Ginger ale, however, is iminent.
While Cally’s moral compass remains frustratingly locked, MJ waits for the promised ginger ale. MJ does enjoy the occasional double shot but has never asked anyone working for her father to break the law.
She takes the glass of ginger ale that Cally offers her and walks out the back door: it’s a place where people having a few at TC’s can go outside to smoke or use their phone, etc, without having to leave their drink behind. It appears that Kevin is texting like a fiend, his beer in a pint glass next to him almost forgotten.
Until now. He looks up suddenly, and puts his phone away.
Ice broken; personality now required. MJ isn’t sure where to take it.
MJF: Busy tonight?
Kevin: Not even a little. No worry, though. Was able to close down the kitchen early and head on over.
He drinks from his pint, and he stands up, a little unsteady. Evidently it isn’t his first pint tonight.
Kevin:You okay? What happened?
MJ waits a moment as he asks,but quickly realizes what he’s referring to and she gently remove his hand from her eye and cheek.
MJF: Yeah, I’m good. No worry, man.
They stare at each other for a moment with an uncomfortable silence lingering,
Kevin: Anyways, Rose said you were here every now and then; I might be kind of a loser but I wanted to see you again and ask if you wanted to do something; movie, dinner, something like that.
The anticipation, coupled with the bald-faced question and request catch MJ by surprise. She smiles at Kevin, all the while taking his pint glass and draining about half the beer in it.
MJF: Absolutely, man. I’m home for a few days, so I’m down for whatever.
She takes his hand and pulls a pen from her bag, writing ten numbers on his right palm.
MJF: Please call me.
”I don’t care about you, Jarvis.”
“You don’t matter to me. You’re a means to an end. You’re a guy that I can wrestle to obtain the final slot in Golden Intentions. But you’re not a person that matters in the vein of ‘this guy can fuck up my day.’”
“The fact is, Jarvis, you haven’t mattered to me for quite a while. The problem is that you’re talking like you’re The Man - like you’re an athlete that I have to be aware of and need t’make sure I don’t undersell as I’m walkin’ into New Orleans.”
“But even as you’re tellin’ me how I’m outta my depth, as you’re tellin’ me that I’m not good enough t’get past Jarvis King… you’re talkin’ outta the other side’a your mouth.”
“I might be the only one that noticed.”
“You’re talkin’ me down, Jarvis… but you’re talkin’ from a position’a total weakness.”
“Just as you’re tellin’ me that you’re the man that’ll beat me, finally, and close out the dance that we’ve been dancin’ together for the past six weeks or so… do ya really believe it?”
“You couldn’t beat me on Evolution. You couldn’t beat me at Twilight of the Gods. Ya got pinned in the tag match.”
“Ya tried ta tell me that beating ya in that tag would be a sign that I couldn’t win another one on one match. Fact is, I’ve had your ass in the palm’a my hand since the moment the bell first rang, and you’ve been playin’ catch-up ever since.”
“You are a representative of the CWF’s past. A good rep, no doubt… but you’re yesterday’s hero.”
“Today and tomorrow are about the future’a this company. And that means MJ Flair.”
“Amongst others. But those others don’t include you. You had your day.”
“Please don’t make me regret respecting your Hall of Fameness.”
We’re way past last call, and MJ sits at the bar at TC’s Pub, eating a plate of buffalo wings, drinking a root beer.
Cally: Good night, thanks!
By dribs and drabs, people are leaving the bar. Cally continues to clean up while MJ eats, and the bartender maintains a hovering vigil around her boss’s child.
Cally: So you’re gonna call him, right?
MJF: Dude. Really?
Her hands and mouth are covered with sauce. MJ wipes her hands on a napkin and drinks from her cup of water.
MJF: I probably will? But that’s not my focus right now.
Cally: So serious. You need to remember that wrestling isn’t the end-all, be all.
MJF: Like you and RK?
Cally: Hey now, he gets all wrestley-serious sometimes, but I don’t let it affect me.
Adrian Evans: That’s because you two have a life outside the sport.
Both women turn their attention to the diminutive man at the other end of the bar.
MJF: You sayin’ I don’t, man?
Adrian looks at her, smirking.
Adrian Evans: Have you been anywhere the past ten weeks, other than an arena, your hotel room, or a box?
‘A box’ refers to CrossFit. MJ has been dropping in on various CrossFits across the country since she and Jarvis King wrestled at Twilight of the Gods.
Adrian Evans: Thank you. Ms. Flair, you’re fighting for respect but you have no idea what to do with it.
MJF: You’re wrong, man. I beat Jarvis, I get into the Golden Intentions match at the end, I make it to Wrestlefest for the second year in a row.
Adrian Evans: Sure you are.
It’s so matter-of-fact that MJ can’t respond. Cally refills her water glass, and MJ takes a large sip, spitting the icy liquid out at her business manager in an act of faux-defiance.
Adrian laughs, which does lessen the blow a bit. He’s clearly not abandoning her.
”I know your ego, Jarvis.”
“You’re lookin’ at this like the Match of the Night, which it very well may be - but it’s also a means to an end. This match will determine which of us is the representative’a the legacy of the CWF, but it’ll also determine which’a the two of us will enter the Golden Intentions match itself at number thirty.”
“I’m not a fool, Jarvis.”
“I know entering at thirty doesn’t really give an advantage. I know it stacks the deck in our favor in the slightest possible way.”
“I am not counting on beating you to give myself an advantage in Golden Intentions. I’m counting on beating you ta’ make sure that the more talented wrestler wins.”
“Ya don’t like that, change my mind.”
The lights are on, the jukebox is cranked up, and everyone but Cally, her subordinate Valerie, MJ Flair, and Adrian Evans, have left the bar. Even Kevin, after talking to MJ for nearly an hour, left the place for his own apartment and a chance to get some sleep, confident in the fact that MJ now has his number and an open invitation to see him.
MJF: Dude. I’m tired.
Adrian Evans: Again, I’m not surprised. You really need to sack out upstairs, Ms. Flair.
The bar’s ’upstairs’ is a very simple loft - a bed and a bathroom. Cally usually sleeps there if she is working the next day, otherwise she takes the subway two stops to her own home. Lately, it’s been a place for MJ to relax in the midst of her sort-of-not-really retreat from public life.
MJF: Is that okay, Adrian? Can I crash for a few hours and do some press tomorrow?
Adding to MJ’s predilection for sleeping above the bar, as well as her reluctance to be the celebrity that she is, Adrian nods his assent.
Adrian Evans: You have Ms .Robinson at your house at 4 PM tomorrow; please don’t forget.
MJF: No doubt, man.
With that, Adrian leaves several bills on the bar and walks out. Cally watches MJ as she picks it up, separates the bills, and drops them into the tip jar behind her.
Cally: Nobody left but us chickens, small fry. You need to do anything?
MJ smiles despite the swelling on the side of her face, and she looks outside.
MJF: Fire it up, chickadee… let’s see if I’ve got anything in the tank.
”I think the worst part’a this for Jarvis King is that he’s not the end boss. He’s the means to an end. Win or lose, he and I are gonna face off, get ourselves a finish that matters, and we’re gonna probably face off all the same in the Battle Royal.”
“Because as much as I’m focused on Jarvis, I have Golden Intentions on the mind.”
“Because a year ago I came up just short, and I needed to win a series of convoluted matches to make my way into the main event of Wrestlefest.”
“Because this is my home; more than it’s Jarvis King’s, the CWF is where I belong.”
“This is more than just me and Jarvis, however. This match features the best of the CWF, plus the best free agents that money can buy.”
“Except that this year, Stewart’s money can’t buy a winner.”
“This match will be won by a CWF homegrown, and with that in mind - why not me?”
“The fact is, I live and breathe this company.”
“The fact is, the company hasn’t been able to figure out what to do with me.”
“Sure, they’re publicizing the free agents. Lots’a confidence wrapped up in an insecure lil’ blanket.”
“Exhibit A: Jacob McKail. No matter what he says, he’s never gonna be considered better than my dad, which makes him the Bronx’s second favorite son at best.”
“None of the rest are locals, so they don’t matter.”
“This is simple, though. I beat Jarvis King, I walk into the Golden Intentions match at number thirty.”
“I win the match, I face off with Zach van Owen at Wrestlefest.”
“All is where it belongs.”
“Fact is, it’s not right to say this. In fact, it’s presumptuous.”
“But I have to.”
“Dan Ryan and Duce Jones get title shots and title shot rematches out the ass. A year ago, Amber Ryan was gettin’ the same.”
“Meanwhile, I was actually carrying this company and the only title shots I was considered good enough to receive were at the tail end’a the darkest period in this company.”
“The fact is, my legacy is still being built, and my legacy requires that I defeat Jarvis King and go on to win Golden Intentions.”
“Anything else will be a waste of space.”
“And that’s not my intention. Not even a little.”