JUST THE YOU OF US
Elsewhere in the Capital One Arena, there is respite for at least one man. He’s framed by the camera, in front of a door that conveniently has his name on it.
The people approve.
The Model Citizen is in his typical Southern California tuxedo of athleisure head to foot. He opens the door to his locker room.
Chandler Tsonda: Finally, some peace and fucking quiet.
Sure, there’s a camera over his shoulder, but that’s what passes for tranquility in the world of PRIME. He flicks the light on, and a pretty standard green room cum locker room is illuminated.
Tsonda tosses his bag down, and flops onto the couch.
Chandler Tsonda: (exhales) Home sweet h—FREEZE AND REACH FOR THE SKY, PERVERT!
He has not only bolted upright, but assumed a Jean Claude Van Damme style martial arts pose with both fists up. The camera pans right to show, lurking in the threshold of the locker room’s adjoined bathroom…
“Oh hey. Twinsies.”
It’s the same face, or damn close to it. Even a similar (although more budget-conscious) version of the head-to-toe athleisure. It’s like seeing…doppel.
Doppeltsonda: Damn, dude. You show up hella late for these shows. You know it started like forty-five minutes ago, right?
Chandler Tsonda: No, no, no, no. You’re not supposed to be here.
Doppeltsonda: You could thank me. I did my part to make people think Chandler Tsonda shows up in a timely fashion, instead of being a real Johnny come lately.
Chandler Tsonda: You are not Chand—I’M CHANDLER TSONDA, YOU DICK.
The body double flops onto the couch, in much the same way that the original version just tried to. He looks nice and comfortable.
Doppeltsonda: Ok, so bad news: I’m not getting paid to pretend to be you, ever since that Bobby Dean guy and I got found out as being in cahoots.
Chandler Tsonda: I know. I was the one paying you. I’m the one who found you both out.
Doppeltsonda: It’s too bad, too. I was really starting to inhabit the character. I could feel his motivations, you know? The lack of love from his father driving a maniacal drive to be the world’s greatest wrestler in order to leave a legacy so big that his father couldn’t ignore it like he ignored Chandler as a child, only to find that achieving this goal could only happen through becoming the same alienated, insular, and broken type of man who’s ironically destined to die alone just like, you guessed it: his father.
Chandler Tsonda: Does it count as self-harm if I strangle you to death?
The actor does a convincing Tsonda impression, holding up both hands as if to say he means no harm.
Doppeltsonda: Whoa, whoa. I haven’t gotten to the good news.
Chandler Tsonda: You got cast on NCIS: Guam and you fly out immediately?
Doppeltsonda: I wish. No, the good news is that I’m sticking around.
Chandler Tsonda: …what.
Doppeltsonda: Yeah, I found a, whadyacallit, a patron.
The Sultan of Style grabs his double by the ear.
Chandler Tsonda: Who?!
Doppeltsonda: (trying to fidget out of Tsonda’s grasp) I don’t get paid if I tell you.
Chandler Tsonda: (through gritted teeth) How about I pay you with the gift of your family not flying out here for a closed casket funeral?
Doppeltsonda: Dude, grim.
Chandler Tsonda: Tell me who your sugar daddy is, leech.
Chandler Tsonda: I can and will kick in the structural integrity of your face.
Doppeltsonda: Ok, so it’s kind of funny. The person who paid me also got me these temporary credentials for backstage. (he flashes an official-looking lanyard) And I checked, but those credentials make me, like, a sort-of non-combatant here. And I double checked, and it says none of the wrestlers are allowed to hurt me unless I hit them first.
Chandler Tsonda: You are truly my Frankenstein.
Doppeltsonda: Aren’t I more like your Frankenstein’s monster? Like, you the fanatical but wayward creator, and me the creation built from—hey wait, what are you doing?
The Viet Viper picks up his duffel bag.
Chandler Tsonda: I’m not booked, and you won’t tell me who’s bankroling you. So, I’m gonna enjoy myself in D.C. the old fashioned way: find Krysten Sinema’s apartment and fixing the glaring problem of it not having enough eggs thrown at the windows.
Doppeltsonda: What am I supposed to do?
Chandler Tsonda: Weren’t you paid to come annoy me?
Chandler Tsonda: Mission accomplished. Take the rest of the night off. Enjoy catering. Vandalize Tony Gamble’s car. Go crazy. And Jake?
The body double looks a bit sheepish at Chandler using his real name, and at the fiery look in the former champion’s eyes. Pleased to get the final word, Tsonda unleashes his finest Cheshire cat smile.
Chandler Tsonda: I don’t like people toying with me. You tell whoever paid you that if you show up at ReV 32, they should be willing to pay not just your day rate, but your hospital bills. Toodles!
And then there was only one (guy who can pass for Chandler Tsonda).