THE VVINNER’S CIRCLE
We return from commercial to our commentators.
Nick Stuart: Did you get the chance to check out the city before the show, Rich?
Richard Parker: Sure did! Hit up every distillery in town! Light a match near my trunk right now, and it’d blow up a city block!
Nick Stuart: That’s… somewhat worrisome to know. In any case, earlier today, ladies and gentlemen, our own Simon Tillier went out on the town with a pair of members of the esteemed Vae Victis.
Richard Parker: Ooooh, the lucky dog! Those Vae Victis guys know how to party!
Nick Stuart: Without further adieu, let’s roll the tape and see what went down!
The feed fades to a midday exterior shot of the world famous Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby. The words “Earlier Today…” flash by the bottom of the screen on a chyron.
A moment later, we cut to three men who are casually walking through the backside stables. The aforementioned Tillier, in his dapper blue suit, is dwarfed in size by the forms of Kerry Kuroyama and Scott Hunter at his left and right.
Simon Tillier: Well Kerry, Scott… I would presume that by seeing the two of you here in each other’s company that there were no hard feelings following your grueling battle with one another two weeks ago.
Kerry nods. As always, he’s looking sleek and professional, adorned in a Mikado Atticus by Tom Ford.
The luxury men’s suit designer; not the handler. Strawbviously.
Kerry Kuroyama: No hard feelings at all, Simon. We in Vae Victis pride ourselves in keeping it professional. Even in the unfortunate circumstances where we find ourselves against one another.
Conversely, Scott is apparently channeling forth the spirit of Brian Bosworth with an effective nostalgic ensemble of acid-washed jeans, Pit Vipers, abrasively patterned silk button-up from Don Flash’s with a complimentary gold chain.
And yes… that mullet is flowing, and fucking glowing.
Scott Hunter: For your information, Simon, My feelings have never been softer. The truth is, I’m here learning from the best in the business week in and week out. What’s to be upset about? And have you seen my pit vipers? I have sunglasses made from bits of real snakes found in pits!
Tillier spends a moment pondering the logic of this statement before realizing that he’d probably give himself lasting brain damage if he thought about it too hard. Instead, he clears his throat and changes topics.
Simon Tillier: So then, how are the two of you enjoying your stay in Louisville?
Kerry Kuroyama: Beautiful city, Simon. A rare gem, in a state that is mostly known for producing coal and chronic emphysema. And bourbon… a piss-flavored style of whisky, made for rednecks, alcoholics, and other lowlifes.
Scott Hunter: (straight-faced) I saw a man eating a pigeon.
Kerry just stares at Scott. Scott stares at Simon, who blinks, confused.
Simon Tillier: Um, was it maybe fried chicken he was eating?
Scott Hunter: There could be a Colonel of truth to what you’re saying.
Simon lets out the first extended sigh of the evening. Then, his attention is perked by the whinny of a thoroughbred from one of the nearby pens.
Simon Tillier: And, I suppose it goes without saying, the city of Louisville is popularly known to be the Kentucky Derby.
Kerry Kuroyama holds his arms out wide, gesturing to the rows of pens that line the passageway.
Kerry Kuroyama: Here we are, Simon. The Run for the Roses. On the first Saturday of every May, for approximately two minutes, this place becomes the epicenter of the sports world. And here we are, among some of the absolute best contenders from another field of competition.
Kerry pats the nose of a blonde gelding hanging its head over the open dutch door of its stall.
Kerry Kuroyama: To think… any of one of these magnificent creatures could be the next Triple Crown winner.
Scott Hunter: Can you believe it?? Three crowns? I’m usually a little woozy after just two crowns. I’ve had to slow down on the hard stuff. (eyes furrowed in confusion) But Canadian whisky? I guess these horses are from Toronto or something.
Kerry suppresses the urge to groan, and continues his point.
Kerry Kuroyama: (ignoring Scott) The thing about winners, Simon, is that they aren’t simply chosen at random. Winners are made. From hard work and perseverance. A balanced combination of pedigree, training, conditioning…
He draws in a deep breath and rolls his neck.
Kerry Kuroyama: But in the field of professional wrestling, it may even take a bit more than that. Because wrestlers aren’t motivated to win by apples. In that ring, we are our own jockeys. We push ourselves to the finish line. We earn our own flowers. Because nothing in this world smells sweeter than victory.
The three of them halt the moment the squelch is heard. Kuroyama’s expression melts into the classic sour milk face. The trio of heads collectively tilt downward along with the camera…
…and discover Kerry’s right Christian Louboutin buried deep into a thick, wet pile of horse chips.
Simon Tillier: Oh my…
Kerry Kuroyama: Well, now… speaking of apples.
The Emerald Apex clears his throat and nods to his Vae Victis associate.
Kerry Kuroyama: Scott?
Scott Hunter: (pointing) There’s poop on your shoe.
Kerry Kuroyama: Yes, I know. If it’s no trouble, could you run to the car, and see if you can find something for this?
Scott Hunter: (holding up a finger before dashing off) Right-o!
A beat after Hunter has left the two of them, Kerry bends over and begins untying the laces. Simon looks mildly surprised.
Simon Tillier: For a minute there, I thought…
Kerry Kuroyama: What, that I was going to make him get down here and clean it?
Kerry Kuroyama: Even our gophers deserve at least a modicum of dignity, Simon. Scott has earned that much, at least.
The shoe slips off.
Kerry Kuroyama: Besides… he’d probably just ruin the finish.
He rises up, shit-encrusted shoe in hand. Tillier’s nose wrinkles as soon as the smell hits him. Kerry remains stone-faced, despite holding a seven-hundred dollar loafer stained with manure.
Kerry Kuroyama: I, however, am not afraid to get my hands dirty. Something that you–and all of PRIME–would do well to remember.
Scott Hunter reappears holding a plush squeaky horse toy. He offers it to Kerry Kuroyama, who takes it, then tosses it over his shoulder nonchalantly.
Scott Hunter: Sorry, I… checked the car but all I could find were my souvenirs from the gift shop. It was either this or a horse button that said ‘stop horsing around’ on it. Which… (stifles a chuckle) …is hilarious, sure, but not useful in wiping away the poopsies.
Beyond the smoke-tinted lenses of Kerry’s Bulgari sunglasses, an eye twitches with subdued rage.
Kerry Kuroyama: (through clenched teeth) …thank you, Scott. I have no idea what I’d do without you.
Kerry then spies something on the junior reporter’s person. Deftly, he snatches Simon’s handkerchief from the chest pocket of his dapper blue suit.
Kerry Kuroyama: Fortunately, this is nothing that can’t easily be scraped off.
Tillier opens his mouth to protest, but it comes out in a choke. He can do no more but watch helplessly as the Pacific Blitzkrieg wipes the offal clean from his shoe.
Kerry Kuroyama: Just the universe’s way of reminding me that I should be looking out with every step forward. Always on my guard. Out here, it’s just an unfortunate occurrence. But in the ring? One false step can either make or break a match. You can bet your ass I’ll be holding that truth close to the heart, the next time you see me standing between the ropes.
With the task completed, Kuroyama returns Simon’s hankie by stuffing it back into the chest pocket he pulled it from, earning an indignant glare from the junior reporter..
Kerry Kuroyama: I’ll handle the rest when we get back to the suite.
A deluxe at the Galt House, in case you were wondering. Beautiful view of the river.
The shoe returns to Kuroyama’s foot, and he continues walking. Tillier casts another annoyed look at the soiled rag in his suit, but nevertheless keeps the interview going.
Simon Tillier: Well then, speaking of the next step ahead of you…?
Kuroyama again takes in a deep breath of the heavy stable air.
Kerry Kuroyama: Rocky de Leon.
Simon Tillier: Indeed. Would you care to express your opinion on your next round opponent?
Kerry Kuroyama: Hmm… my opinion.
The Emerald Apex mulls it over for a beat, and comes to a stop.
Kerry Kuroyama: You want me… a stiff, hardened, no-nonsense wrestler’s wrestler… to give my opinion on the guy that dresses up like a dinosaur.
Kerry scratches his chin, lightly chuckling.
Kerry Kuroyama: Well, I think I’ll make that opinion known in due time, Simon. But for the time being…
Then looks to Vae Victis’s newest associate standing on the other side of the interviewer.
Kerry Kuroyama: Scott…?
Hunter, who is busy scratching the nose of a fine-looking chestnut colt, perks up when he hears his name being called.
Kerry Kuroyama: You’ve been around PRIME for a bit now. Gotten to know some names and faces, I imagine. So if you could, Scott, tell me what comes to that… beautifully unique mind of yours when you think of Mr. de Leon?
Scott takes off his sunglasses, pulls some black horn-rimmed glasses from his pocket and places them on his face, then pulls a folded piece of paper from his front jean pocket.
Scott Hunter: Yes, well, I have indeed spent some time doing research for just such a moment as this. Rocky De Leon, as we all know, is a name that comes from a Latin phrase, roughly translated as, “Short Italian Boxer of the Lion”. So clearly, what we are dealing with is a man who punches lions. I think it goes without saying that no one should trust a lion puncher, and furthermore, who even punches lions? Do the lions owe him money? Does he want to defeat the lions and become the new king of the jungle? Who knows?! No one knows! It’s a mystery. (Scott points at Simon) All I know is that when my man Kerry Kuroyama gets in the ring with Rocky of the lion this week, in the words of the immortal mathemetician Elton John, the lion sleeps tonight!!
Kuroyama nods. Understandably. As if every single word of this made sense. Simon, on the other hand, is left perpetually confused.
Kerry Kuroyama: Thank you, Scott. I’m not sure that could have been expressed any better. Or as appropriate, given who it is we’re talking about.
The timer of Kerry’s Omega Speedmaster begins to beep, pinging his attention. He pats the junior reporter on his shoulder.
Kerry Kuroyama: Unfortunately, Simon, the time for talk has come to an end, and Scott and I have other appointments to attend to. I do hope this conversation was as informative to you… as it was a genuine waste of time for me.
The pat becomes a forceful grip. Kuroyama now has Simon’s full attention.
Kerry Kuroyama: But hopefully, with the next statement I intend to make in the ring here in a couple weeks, you and the rest of this federation will come a step closer to figuring out just what the fuck I’m about here in PRIME.
Kerry releases his grip, and gestures his head to Scott toward the exit. The two begin walking back the way they came toward the exit, while Simon is left before the camera with a troubled expression.
Simon Tillier: …there you have it ladies and gentlemen.
A thoroughbred from a nearby stall brays.
Simon Tillier: Straight from the horse’s mouth, as it were.
We fade back to the live feed, with the back shot on Nick and Richard at commentary.
Richard Parker: Holy crap, Nick! Did you hear what Kerry said?
Nick Stuart: About making a statement in two weeks, in his next round match against Rocky de Leon?
Richard Parker: No! I mean what he said about BOURBON! Do you have any idea how much money I dropped on crappy whisky?!
Nick Stuart: You have my condolences, Rich. For now, let’s keep the show going.