FIVE CARD STUD
Part of the magic of a place like Las Vegas is that you never know just who you’ll end up at a table with. It could even be a celebrity in the middle of a bender. Or it could just be all set up in a cubicle in the middle of the backstage halls of the MGM Grand Arena.
Grady Patrick: Fold.
Alexander Redding: How many black cats did you cross? Or was it a broken mirror type of day?
The usual boisterous trash talk that echoes against the grey felt of Red & Ted’s inconveniently positioned workplace is the first confirmation of the players at the table, including the discarded hand in front of Mr. Patrick. More curiously would be the other two sat around the table.
Enemigo IV: …
The fourth player is 2022’s very own, regular Garbage Bag Johnny. Neither his future counterpart nor his tag team partner nor his tag team partner’s future counterpart are around. It’s not clear what Garbage Bag Johnny’s doing here outside of enjoying a game of poker with some old colleagues from GCW. It’s clear that he is not sure…no rest of sentence necessary.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Hit me.
As he holds the cards, Redding smirks toward Johnny, and slides two more his way. He casts a glance at the Enemigo, though would be hard pressed to see much as the bottom of the mask is pulled to take a draw from the tall boy can of Moosehead Lager.
Alexander Redding: Can never really get a read on those guys. But, speaking of. John, I know you said that wasn’t technically you out there last show trying to cost me the spot as this place’s 5 Star Czar.. Wait, that’s been used before…
From the ultra plush office chair embossed with Teddy Palmer’s name across the headrest, IV tosses a small stack of chips into the pot.
Alexander Redding: Can I really blame you, if that was truly a future version? It’s a Minority Report situation, and I never really liked that movie to begin with.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Not yet. I suppose it will be me one day, but hey, they did a number on me, and it was a lot worse than getting choked with a few butterscotch hard candies.
GBJ peeks under his new set of cards, and he doesn’t like those either, so he just tosses them over his shoulder.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Anyway, that’s all water under the bridge. I’m cool with Future Me, now, and I’m sure you guys would like him if you gave him a chance. But that’s besides the point. I’m sure you didn’t just invite me here to give away your money.
After shaking the thought of being beaten over the head with the colostomy bag by the Future version of the other half of the Future of Wrestling, Grady Patrick peaks his head up to see under the bowler cap.
Grady Patrick: Actually, there was one question.
Alexander Redding: As nice as it is to catch up on the good old days before Caldera went non-extradition… Say, he end up on the same island as Frosty? Nevermind. Ted, he got popped on a test.
Scratching his chin, the vague awareness of a suspended star and general understanding that it wasn’t Ted under the mask sitting to his right, Johnny shows a look of sympathy.
Alexander Redding: So let me ask, just how many times they checking you? As a man known for certain habits.
Garbage Bag Johnny: I’m clean as a bean, but they haven’t made me piss in a cup yet.
Grady Patrick: See, I knew it was all bullshit. They are refusing to tell us even what it is Ted pissed hot for.
Alexander Redding: Troy just fucking with us, and we hardly kicked up that much of a fuss to this point. You remember when you were running the show in GCW? Those were the days. No piss tests there.
Garbage Bag Johnny: Except on Shaman’s toothbrush.
Alexander Redding slaps Johnny on the back and laughs.
Alexander Redding: Ah yeah, I remember that. Say, you remember when you won the Dual Halo as an outsider? That was awesome. What’d you ever use that Golden Ticket on?
GBJ looks a little flustered, but he tries to keep his poker face as it pertains to everything but the card game.
Garbage Bag Johnny: I, uh, actually never got to cash that in. They took it from me when I got released. I think they wrote me a check for it, but that wasn’t my choice.
Alexander Redding: Sounds like an unfair shake to me.
Garbage Bag Johnny: It’s in the past, man. Best for me not to dwell on it.
Redding focuses back on his cards, grinning at his hand.
Alexander Redding: Anyway, Johnny, what you got?
Without touching his cards, GBJ immediately peels off his shirt (which is just a t-shirt printed to look like a half open bathrobe) and tosses it on the table. Red, Grady, and the Enemigo all look at Johnny with expected confusion.
Garbage Bag Johnny: A whole lot of nothing. How’d you guys tell I was bluffing?
In unison of expression, if not all voice, the other three fourths of the table roll back some on the leather-backed office furniture.
Alexander Redding and Grady Patrick: This is not strip poker, man.
Garbage Bag Johnny: I know. This is strip blackjack, right?
Grady Patrick: For the love of all things Holy, we’re four guys.
With a shrug, Johnny is joined by everyone else reaching for the chilled beverage, some praying this awkward beat would pass. Awkward, however, is exactly what they’ll continue to get.
Hayes Hanlon: Remember boys, you can’t stack +4’s. It’s very clear in the Uno rulebook.
From stage left rolls in The Five Star Champ, Hayes Hanlon, holding his belt in place against his shoulder before reaching down to retrieve GBJ’s robe-shirt.
Hayes Hanlon: (Dropping the shirt on Johnny’s lap.) I’d bet money that you’re supposed to have this on. (Turning to Redding) And what’s up, Red? Still got my nose?
Returning the passive aggressive smile, Redding drops the deck back to the center of the table.
Alexander Redding: You know, I’ve got to hand it to you kid: that was one Hell of a fight we put on.
Hayes Hanlon: It was something, that’s for sure. That a new suit, Grady? I hope it is, I swear I saw “Nova” beat you over the head with a colostomy bag toward the end.
Having again been reminded of the countless showers he took after the show two weeks ago, Grady just shoots a well earned sneer to the Event Horizon.
Alexander Redding: Johnny, your boy sure can talk shit. I was wrong, he was even smart enough to try to weasel out of it all with that double countout ruse. Could just be championship material after all.
Hayes Hanlon: (shrugging and patting his belt) I’m figuring it out, and seem to be doing okay so far.
Hanlon turns to Johnny, clapping him on the shoulder.
Hayes Hanlon: Anyway, Nova is looking for you. He was wondering if you had any connections to dudes with old pirate treasure maps. Thought it might be helpful for the scavenger hunt.
Alexander Redding: Yeah, hey, good luck with that fool’s errand business, Johnny.
With tee in hand, the details have found Garbage Bag Johnny, complete with matching ‘Ah-ha’ sound fx. A man on a mission to find a pirate, Johnny walks back in the same direction Hanlon entered the shot from. Hanlon turns to Red before following Johnny out.
Hayes Hanlon: See you in a couple weeks, Red. Oh, and be ready for Cecilia. She’s really, REALLY mean.
Standing to his feet, Red’s drawn Enemigo IV to do the same, sensing the tension.
Alexander Redding: Ryan’s brat kid, I know. You can relax, IV, the kid and I are just talking. You (to Hanlon) just be ready, because I am coming for more than your nose, next time.
Hayes Hanlon: (pointing to his ‘stache with faux-surprise) Is it this? I’m sorry if I’ve been sending mixed-signals, but mustache rides aren’t free for everybody.
Stepping forward to tap a knuckle against the faceplate of the prize on the line at ReVival 9, Red matches grins.
Alexander Redding: Just remember;a triple threat means there’ll be no rookie referees to save you should I feel inclined to color outside of the lines. And, I really don’t think that thing living above your lip is sanitary.
At the encouragement of the masked security official, Hanlon parts with a confident, if teasing, grin, his lip and ‘stache curling with an upward nod before strolling away alongside Johnny.
Alexander Redding: The kid has moxie. And just like that, I might be in the mood to hound down Troy for answers.
Exiting the felt castle, Red walks with intent in the opposite direction, Grady Patrick in tow.
…but before the camera completely cuts somewhere else, Garbage Bag Johnny shuffles slowly back and grabs his abandoned beer, just before he’s pulled back out of camera shot by what appears to be Hanlon’s arm.