IT’S BEER THIRTY, A HONKY TONK TIME
We cut backstage and… there’s a door.
It’s a door like any other door. It’s painted black. It opens inwards. It has hinges and a frame and someone has lined it with twinkling neon lights; half the bulbs are burnt out. From behind the door, we can hear the sound of hammering and blaring music (“Jack Daniels, If You Please” by David Allan Coe, in case you were curious). Occasionally, there’s a voice that shouts along with the lyrics in what can only be described as an off-pitch yodel.
As the camera draws closer to the door, we can see that someone has taped a sheet of paper to the door. Written on the paper in big, bold letters:
THE DIAMOND MINE
BAR AND GRILL
HONKY TONK SALOON
…and then the door swings open wide. It’s Daytona Diamonds, obviously. He’s wild eyed and smiling real big, grinding his teeth before he swipes at his nose, nostrils flaring and body vibrating with nervous, unspent energy.
Cocaine is a helluva drug.
Daytona Diamonds: Well, split my wig and call me Sally, I thought I heard someone sneakin’ ’round out here! How you doin’, Mr. Cameraman? C’mon now, don’t be lookin’ so scared, I ain’t gonna punch you or nothin’. I’m in a good mood, baby! I might not be wrasslin’ tonight, but I done went and done somethin’ way more important than all that. C’mon! Get in here! Welcome to The Diamond Mine Saloon!
Before the cameraman can back away, Daytona is reaching out and grabbing him by the shoulder, pulling him into the room. The camera shifts and shakes before it readjusts. We’re in a dimly lit room, fairy lights strung up on the ceiling, cardboard boxes lined up on the far side in a poor facsimile of a bartop, bottles of liquor stacked on a shelving unit that looks like it was probably found in a dumpster. There’s nowhere to sit other than a few foldout camp chairs gathered around a poker table with most of the felt ripped away, cards already laid out as if someone has been playing just before the cameraman arrived. There’s piles of Ivan Stanislav propaganda ripped away from the walls and tossed to the floor, replaced by pictures of Waylon Jennings and Clint Eastwood and, of course, Daytona himself. The music plays on and Daytona does nothing to turn down the volume. Instead, he shouts over it.
Daytona Diamonds: It done went and occurred to me that maybe the reason I’ve been so ornery lately is ’cause I ain’t got my own proper place backstage! You know how dogs see their crates as dens? Little safe spaces, I reckon! Same basic principle, ain’t it?! And Lord knows I got that dog in me!
As if on cue, Daytona starts cackling like a madman before howling like a dog, taking his cowboy hat off his head and spinning it above him like he just came in first place at the rodeo.
Daytona Diamonds: C’mon now! Lemme show you ’round! Let’s pull you up a seat and get you a drink from the ba–
All at once, Daytona stops talking. The smile on his face turns cold, eyes narrowing as he stares past the cameraman and towards the doorway. His hands ball into fists. His upper lip trembles. His eyes narrow. The camera spins around to see a figure standing at the threshold of The Diamond Mine, resplendent against the light of the hallway…
The Heir to the Throne and current BRAZEN Champion looks like he stepped out of the pages of GQ and into the Enterprise Center; his blazer and trousers are expertly tailored, Oxfords shiny and glinting in the lights, and a pair of sunglasses rest atop his thick, perfectly coiffed mane. He shoots the Rhinestone Cowboy an easy, affable grin as a wave of screams and swoons from the ladies in attendance is heard inside the arena proper.
A reaction that’d make his father, Tyler Rayne, proud.
Kaz Troy: Hey man, nice digs.
He saunters inside and holds out his hand to Daytona.
Kaz Troy: Thought I’d swing by and introduce myself before we face off in a couple weeks. I’m Kaz.
Daytona stares. He doesn’t say a word. He doesn’t extend his hand to meet Kaz’s. He doesn’t even blink. After a few seconds, the silence turns awkward until Daytona finally takes a long, deep breath.
Daytona Diamonds: Oh, I know who you are, boy. I looked your ass up as soon as I heard we was fightin’. Lindsay Troy’s very own pride and joy, huh? You tryna be cute? Catch me with my guard down? Clever as a bag of snakes, ain’tcha?
He sneers and takes a step closer to Kaz, pulling the cowboy hat from his head and tossing it across the room.
Daytona Diamonds: Well, you ain’t gettin’ one over on me, no siree. I reckon you best mosey your connivin’ ass on out of here and tell your mama she ain’t takin’ ol’ Daytona down this god dang easy. Ain’t happenin’, bucko!
Daytona’s in Kaz’s face now, snarling and spitting venom, full of piss, vinegar, and… well, misplaced anger, if we’re being honest here.
Daytona Diamonds: You understandin’ me, boy?
Kaz blinks, a little taken aback at how quickly this conversation took a turn for the worse.
Kaz Troy: Uhh…sure?
He wipes some spittle from his cheek, then rubs the nape of his neck and cocks an eyebrow.
Kaz Troy: You know the draw was random though, right? And besides, out of everyone in PRIME, I doubt I’d be my mom’s first choice to face you if she really had it out for you. Like, Kerry’s here now, and they’re in Vae Victis together, not to mention my Uncle Cecilworth and Brandon Youngblood are in this thing too.
Daytona’s face starts turning red, and it’s all Kaz can do to sheepishly shrug.
Kaz Troy: I’m just saying….there are some real killers here, y’know?
Daytona Diamonds: Ha! ‘Course that’s what you want me thinkin’! Makes the job easier for you, don’t it?! And now here you are, walkin’ into my fine establishment, actin’ all chummy-chummy and buddy-buddy. Boy, you must think I’m a god dang idiot! You and your mama are gonna get your comeuppance when I win this whole dang tournament, though! Ain’t no doubt about that!
Another sneer. Daytona’s voice has risen to shouting levels, echoing out of the ‘saloon’ and down the halls. His face has turned redder and redder, veins bulging in his forehead. And that’s when Daytona decides, for better or for worse, to shove Kaz Troy. Both hands. One push. Voice screaming the whole time.
Daytona Diamonds: NOW, GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY SALOON!
Kaz stumbles back a couple steps but manages to catch himself on one of the card chairs. He rights himself, steps back to Daytona, and gets nose to nose with the cowboy.
Kaz Troy: Make me.
At first, Daytona’s sour expression turns even more sour, fists balling tighter… but then that expression melts, replaced by a chuckle and a grin. He shakes his head as he looks away from Kaz, hands on his hips.
Daytona Diamonds: Heh. Man, oh man, oh man… can’t have nothin’ nice in this god dang company…
And just like that, Daytona Diamonds throws the first punch, trying to catch Kaz Troy by surprise. Unfortunately for him, Kaz dodges the shot, but catches him with a stiff Pancrase palm strike to the side of the head, which sends Daytona ass over tea kettle onto the flimsy card table. Chips and cards go flying, and the table gives out underneath the weight of the King of the Rodeo.
It takes Daytona a moment to get his bearings and pull himself to his feet. He sneers at Kaz, who is tossing his jacket and sunglasses away and uncuffing his shirt.
Daytona Diamonds: Why you little…
Like a steer charging from a pen, Daytona bolts back towards Kaz and tackles him to the ground. There’s nothing technical about it; a quick tackle, both men go tumbling to the floor, and start struggling on the ground in turn. The music swells from the shitty speakers, “Fist City” by Loretta Lynn starting to play as if to show the universe has a sense of humor. Speaking of fists…
Daytona manages to get a few clumsy punches in, cracking Kaz across the side of the face before he can get his guard up. The Heir Apparent responds in kind, kidney punching Daytona from the ground until the cowboy rolls off with an agonized look on his face. Kaz capitalizes as quick as he can, scrambling on the floor to cover Daytona, foregoing the palm strikes and switching to straight punches.
Daytona manages to squirm away from underneath Kaz, both men stumbling to their feet, but Kaz is quicker. Before Daytona can react, Kaz is rushing at him, a quick shove sending The Rhinestone Cowboy backwards. Losing his footing, Daytona crashes through the cardboard box bar, bottles of liquor and shot glasses clattering across the floor.
Before Kaz can move to strike again, he’s pulled backwards by three pairs of arms belonging to the Enemigos. The masked security team get between him and Daytona, who is now back on his feet and drenched in multiple variants of whiskey, vodka, beer, and tequila.
Daytona Diamonds: You lil’ shit! I’m gonna git you for this! Hey, git your hands offa me!
As the Enemigos hold Daytona back, Kaz grabs his clothes and glasses.
Kaz Troy: Whatever you say, partner.
The youngster throws his coat over his shoulder and saunters out of the room, leaving ol’ Daytona hoppin’ mad.