We cut backstage to Kohime Mori. Freshly showered and dressed in a t-shirt and baggy sweatpants, she holds a shiny red gift bag close to her chest as she walks. She cranes her neck to the left, then to the right, searching. Mori shifts the bag to her left arm solely while her right hand dives into her pocket. She makes a few taps with her thumb, an expression of mild concern beginning to take hold on her face.
As if the god or goddess of serendipity or kismetedness were pulling the strings, at that moment, Mortimer Knightingale is walking down the hallway, a look of impending doom across his face as Tony Gamble crony, Frank Pastore “escorts” him, that is, until he sees Kohime Mori. A bright, genuine smile crosses his face and he turns to Pastore and says something inaudible.
Mortimer Knightingale approaches Mori, giving her a nervous wave, as Pastore watches from a fair distance.
Mortimer Knightingale: Mori, uh, hi, no, wait, I’ve been practicin’….Ko-Nee-Cha-Wee.
The masked wrestler proceeds to give Mori a slight bow before looking proudly into her eyes. She could correct him… But not right now. Let this be a lesson, children. When it comes to friends like Kohime, the effort is more important than the result. She smiles exuberantly, a slight giggle coming from her person. She returns Mortimer’s bow.
Kohime Mori: You’re close! We’ll work on it. I appreciate that you went to such lengths regardless!
This was a pleasant surprise. One so pleasant that Kohime almost forgets the bag she’s holding. She twitches, as if her brain’s been struck by lightning. Mori hurriedly holds the bag out in front of her, taking a far deeper bow than necessary.
Kohime Mori: I wanted to show you my appreciation for your kindness. Please accept this gift!
Mortimer takes the bag, a slight gasp followed by a chuckle escapes him as he does so.
Mortimer Knightingale: You shouldn’t….thank you.
Mortimer opens the bag, an almost giddy feeling coming over him, like a child on Christmas morning, the anticipation building as he reaches into the bag and pulls out a black box, the words “L’Homme” followed by “Yves Saint Laurent”. He looks at the box.
Mortimer Knightingale: La Homey. I think Damon Wayans endorses this.
As Komi looks on, Mortimer fumbles with the box while handling the bag until he opens it revealing the bottle. He uncaps it and spritzes it in the air, the woody scent with a touch of citrus hits his nostrils.
Mortimer Knightingale: That’s nice.
Mortimer places the cologne back into the box and into the bag when he notices another package, a long thin rectangular box with a Macy’s logo. Did he mention to Mori his previous job as a sales associate at Macy’s? He must have. He opens the box revealing a black satin tie. He looks up at Mori.
Mortimer Knightingale: I, uh….
Thoughts race through Kohime’s mind at Knightingale’s reaction. Was it too formal? Maybe he doesn’t like the color black? What if he’s more of a bow tie kind of chap? There’s only one course of action here that makes sense… Panic and babble.
Kohime Mori: I’m sorry! I thought it looked nice and everyone could use a tie! Well, maybe not pastors. They wear those white collar things… I’m Buddhist, so I don’t know what they’re called. Some women probably also wouldn’t want a tie, but there’s some women that look really snazzy in a suit. Clowns might not need ties either, but why would they show up to a formal occasion in their clown attire?
The plot? Kohime lost that somewhere along the way of her rambling. She bows again, this one different from the previous one.
Kohime Mori: I’m sorry… I was hoping you’d like it…
The young woman does her best to keep her voice from trembling. She should have waited, gotten to know Mortimer better. Embarrassment. Sadness. These weren’t new feelings for her. There was just hope on her part that she wouldn’t screw this up.
Mortimer Knightingale: No! It’s…beautif…I can’t….
Mortimer Knightingale stumbles over his words. There are no words that he can come up with at this moment to express how he feels. He looks at Mori and expresses himself in the best way he can think of…..
Mortimer Knightingale: Lookin’ in your eyes, I see a paradise. This world that I found is too good to be true. (singing) Standin’ here beside you, want so much to give you, this love in my heart that I’m feelin’ for you…..
Mortimer places the bag on the ground, turns from Mori before spinning back, continuing to sing, this time with more feeling and emotion.
Mortimer Knightingale (singing): Let’em say we’re crazy! I don’t care about that…. Put your hand in my hand….
Mortimer Knightingale reaches out and takes Mori by her hand.
Mortimer Knightingale (singing): Baby don’t ever look back! Let the world around us, Just fall apart! Baby we can make it if we’re heart…..
Mortimer brings Mori’s hand to his chest.
Mortimer Knightingale (singing): ….to heart….
Mortimer gently places his hand on Mori’s sternum, careful not to make contact with her chestal region yet maintaining eye contact, his tone softer, the melody slowing.
Mortimer Knightingale (singing): And we can build this dream together, standin’ strong forever, Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us….Nothin’s Gonna Stop Us Now…..
Kohime Mori’s ring gear is rose gold in color. Kohime Mori’s face is now rose gold in color. Was this romantic? Was it just an emotional outburst of friendship? Was it profoundly embarrassing? Maybe a little bit of all three. The Moé Monster looks down at the floor, taken hold of by bashfulness.
Kohime Mori: Um…
The pause is brief, but there regardless. Mori is now the one having to find the right words. She could certainly talk, no doubt about that. This was a delicate situation, though. One wrong move could set off a landmine. Kaboom, your friendship has been brutally murdered via exploding dinner plate. Steps must be taken carefully… Or she could just blurt something out to break the silence.
Kohime Mori: You have a beautiful singing voice!
In some cases, such words could be taken as a false compliment. This is Kohime we’re talking about, though. Lying isn’t a thing she’s really built to do. If she said something, she meant it. Maybe she laid it on too thick, but it’s better to be too nice than not nice enough.
Mortimer Knightingale: You’re beautiful.
The words linger in the air. There is an awkwardness in the silence as both Mortimer and Mori look at each other, both looking flush. Mortimer feels a twinge of panic, did he overplay his hand? Did he go too far? Did he just get caught up in the emotion of the moment? Mortimer breaks the gaze by reaching down and pulling out the tie. He proceeds to tear off the tag and adorns the tie over the teal and white track suit he is donning, forming a perfect Windsor knot.
Mortimer Knightingale: Whaddya think?
The knot work is certainly impressive. The tie-tracksuit combo though? Tacky. Pointless. Gaudy. The list could go on and on. Kohime, for her part, giggles at the visual. It looks ridiculous. But it’s the best kind of ridiculous, the kind you share with close friends. Her wonderful smile returns in force.
Kohime Mori: I think it looks amazing!
Remember, this woman can’t lie. Is it the absurd sight causing her smile? Maybe it’s more seeing her friend enjoying the gift she had gotten for him. It’s nice to get a gift. As you grow older and more mature, giving a gift someone appreciates can be even better. Which is it? Both, probably.
Mortimer resists the urge to respond with “Not as amazin’ as you.”. She has a way of turning him back into the gawky, awkward lad who rang up Alfani shirts at Macy’s more than twenty years ago. It’s an uncomfortable, yet exhilarating feeling. He smiles in response and plays with the knot slightly. The sound of a large Tony Gamble mook clearing his throat, however, kills the moment (or, perhaps, provides the perfect excuse for Morty to leave before he says something to torpedo what he and Mori have).
Mortimer Knightingale: I gotta go.
Kohime’s expression sags. Of all the friends she’s had, Mort was the most unique. It was like he didn’t or wouldn’t let life beat him down. His energy was something she wasn’t used to. RAIKO would keep things grounded, serious. Even if she allowed Mori to get a bit goofy, the teacher didn’t join in herself. Knightingale didn’t seem to have any such reservations. Mori sighs and nods.
Kohime Mori: Okay… I look forward to hanging out some more.
The words weren’t exactly poetry, but it would have to do. Kohime did her best to sneak a tricky glance Pastore’s way. There was something about that man that bothers her. She didn’t want Mortimer to get in trouble. Trouble with a potential mobster? That rarely went well. She offers a polite bow Mortimer’s way.
Kohime Mori: Let’s meet again soon.
Mortimer beams at her statement and offers a polite bow of his own. A little light in what has been an otherwise dreary PRIME existence rejuvenates him, she makes him, as Frank once crooned “Feel So Young” and every second he is on her presence, he feels like is closer to becoming a better version of himself.
Mortimer Knightingale: Sayonara.
Mortimer flashes her one last smile before taking a deep sigh knowing that this moment with Mori ending and now he must be “escorted” to Lord Shitpants, Tony Gamble. He turns and heads towards the waiting Frank Pastore. He turns his head for one last glimpse at Mori and smiles. Kohime beams at him, giving Morty a hyperactive wave before he turns and takes his leave.