C. Mortgomery Byrnes
He stared at the news story on the screen in front of him for what seemed like hours but were probably mere minutes. Reports that Kohime Mori’s contract had expired and she had been injured at the hands of Arthur Pleasant. Montgomery Byrnes had no idea who this Arthur Pleasant character was….but the knowledge that he had somehow harmed Kohime to the point where she was not medically cleared to compete instilled him with a simmering rage that left unchecked would boil over. Arthur Pleasant had hurt the one person that helped Morty get a glimpse of the type of person he could have been (had other choices been made). Deep down, the ALIAS Champion had hoped that he could swallow his pride enough to walk up to Kohime at some event and make amends.
Apparently, he had been robbed of that. An opportunity ripped away from him by Arthur Pleasant. He clenched the black satin tie around his hand as he clicked over to the the profile of the man who had pissed him off.
The door to the conference room swung open, ending Morty’s revenge fantasy before it could even get started. He swiveled in his chair towards the door to witness the entrance of Domingo Cruz and Frank Pastore. They each took a seat across from one another at the conference table. Morty noticed the absence of one key member of the Gamble Adoration Syndicate.
MORTY BYRNES: Where’s Tony?
DOMINGO CRUZ: He said he’s going to be late,
FRANK PASTORE: He got stuck. Car trouble or something.
MORTY BYRNES: But he called this meetin’, It’s his meetin’.
DOMINGO CRUZ: Yeah.
MORTY BYRNES: I got a text. Ten o’clock. Don’t be late. It’s after ten. He’s late. Late to his own fuckin’ meetin’.
DOMINGO CRUZ: Life happens. What’re you going to do?
MORTY BYRNES: How is he late? You guys follow him all over the place half the time. Don’t one of you drive him places?
FRANK PASTORE: Occasionally.
DOMINGO CRUZ: Not all the time.
FRANKIE PASTORE: He uses a service sometimes.
DOMINGO CRUZ: He likes what’s-his-name?
FRANK PASTORE: The guy with the mole on his face.
DOMINGO CRUZ: Not him. Tony hates him. The other guy.
FRANK PASTORE: Ponytail?
DOMINGO CRUZ: Yeah, him! What’s his name?
FRANK PASTORE: Paolo?
DOMINGO CRUZ: Pedro?
MORTY BYRNES: Shut the fuck up! He called me….us….here to discuss Eddie Fuckin’ Cross and he ain’t even here! What? Are we supposed to just stand around with our dicks in our hands while we’re waitin’? What the fuck!
Morty could easily state that the reason for his anger could be the result of the inconsideration of Tony Gamble, but it was not. Arthur Pleasant. But soon that would not be the only name that would draw his ire. As Morty turned back towards the computer screen, the door swung open again. Was it Tony Gamble with apologies and apology bagels? No. It was the pale, blonde G.A.S. intern interviewer, Johnnie Newsman, full of exuberance and he spoke with that indecipherable accent of his. He stopped and read the room
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: Hey buddies! Why the glums chums?
FRANK PASTORE: Morty’s pissed because Tony hasn’t shown.
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: Don’t worry, he’ll be here. He’s Tony Gamble. He loves the grand entrance. Like Cher.
MORTY BYRNES: I don’t think Tony is much of a Cher fan.
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: Fine, the Miley Cyrus then.
MORTY BYRNES: The fuck you doin’ here anyway?
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: I love the “Variety”. I heard they were making this new historical reimagination of the Pol Pot called “Pol Pot Smokin’ and Tokin’”. It is the cross between “The Big Lebowski” and “The Last King of Scotland”.
MORTY BYRNES: So fuckin’ what?
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: So, I was flipping through and I caught the story about the Netflicks….Not that one, the other one….and it sounds like, if the rumors are true, “All That Racquet” is going to be picked up for a ten episode run. They’re calling it the next “Fuller House”.
MORTY BYRNES: So what?
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: Isn’t that the Abe Lipschitz show?
MORTY BYRNES: Wait….
The news that his “Tropical Turmoil” opponent not only was starring on television but there was a chance that it would be picked up, the simmering anger was beginning to erupt into a volcanic fury. But rumors in Hollywood are just that, rumors. After all, how many times had he heard George Clooney was attached to a project that ultimately went to Chris Kattan? Unfortunately, with the size of the streaming landscape, networks and streaming services are always looking for programming no matter how bad it would be. But Abe Lipschitz?! Arthur Pleasant’s reported injuring of Kohime Mori was one thing but Abe Lipschitz as an actor, that was downright offensive to Mortgomery Byrnes.
MORTY BYRNES: That douchebag prick is gettin’ a show?
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: Rumored.
MORTY BYRNES: Who the fuck is he to get a fuckin’ show? He’s no actor! HAs he been classically trained?! Does he know what “stage left” is? Huh? Does he? He’s no thespian, he’s a fuckin’ media whore lookin’ for whatever attention he can! He doesn’t give two shits about the craft! I’ve done eight pilots, eight or nine plays dependin’ on whether or not you count dinner theatre, four features—-
DOMINGO CRUZ: That include the porno?
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: You did a pornography movie?
MORTY BYRNES; It was an independent art film about the seriousness of sexual addiction!
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: Did it involve scene where TV repairman comes to fix lonely hosewife’s pipes? If so, it is definitely pornography movie.
MORTY BYRNES: Not the fuckin’ point! Abe Shit-Lips bein’ an actor, it is a bastardization of the craft of which I had trained, I was even waitlisted at the New York Conservatory for the Dramatic Arts! They don’t just waitlist anybody!
Montgomery Byrnes remembered when he got waitlisted. There was a level of accomplishment. He was not rejected. They saw enough in him that would gladly welcome him to the conservatory if someone had dropped out. He wondered for a split-second where he would be today if he had allowed his Uncle Frank to make one of those students disappear. His thoughts went from a small victory to his television failures.
MORTY BYRNES: My pilots weren’t picked up. “Control-Alt-Mel”? “Apples and Cranberries”? “Space Ninja X Force Six”? “First Things Third”? “Jack Offiigan P.I.”? Nothin’! This walkin’ tampon lucks himself into an ALIAS Title shot and then lucks himself into a TV gig? Fuck that prick!
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: Quite obvs, you are definitely more talented than that shit-turd.
MORTY BYRNES: I did Mamet! Did Abe do Mamet?! Fuck no! He probably doesn’t even know who David Mamet is!
FRANK PASTORE: “Always Be Closing”!
MORTY BYRNES: Very good, Frank. Shakespeare in the park! Did Abe Fuckin’ Shit-Lips play the Second Murderer in the Scottish Tragedy in the rain in front of one hundred and twenty-five people? Fuck no!
DOMINGO CRUZ: Which one was that one? Hamlet?
FRANK PASTORE: No, it’s Mac-something.
DOMINGO CRUZ; Mac and Me?
FRANK PASTORE: No, it’s, uhhhh….MacGyver?
DOMINGO CRUZ: No! McLovin!
FRANK PASTORE: Oh! That was a good flick!
MORTY BYRNES: Macbeth! Macbeth!
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: Shit. You are really dog screwed now.
Mortgomery Byrnes stared at Johnnie who took three subconscious steps backwards, away from the masked man. Morty blinked not once, not twice, but thrice before it had dawned on him. Morty had made the thespian’s cardinal sin, uttering “MacBeth” before a performance. He might as well had conjured the vengeful spirit of Blood Mary by uttering her name in a mirror at midnight on Halloween.
MORTY BYRNES: Fuck.
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: It’s okay, man. It’s just superstition, right? In my village, it was very bad luck to kill dove on first day of spring. My pa did it once but he was aiming for swallow, shot an arrow, and “Whiiiick”, dove well to ground.
MORTY BYRNES: And he was fine, right?
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: He was killed in massive bloodbath during political rebellion two days later but I’m sure it was just coincidence.
MORTY BYRNES: FUUUUUUUCK!!!! Why would you tell me that story???
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: I thought it might help but I see that might not have been best story.
MORTY BYRNES; Ya think??? Now I’m fucked! I might as well say good-bye to my Alias Championship!
DOMINGO CRUZ: It’s a week away.
FRANK PASTORE: If you believe in superstitions.
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: Yeah. Don’t go blowing a gasket. It could wear off by then.
FRANK PASTORE: If you believe in curses and such. If you don’t believe in it, then nothing will happen.
Frank’s logic was sound. If Morty decided to believe that the hex was complete nonsense, then it would hold no power over him. Just like “All That Racquet”. If no one believed the show was any good, no one would watch it. An idea popped in his head and Mortgomery Byrnes grinned like the Grinch on Christmas Eve. He eyed the three other men in the room.
FRANK PASTORE: What?
MORTY BYRNES: Let us partake in a hypertheoretical scenario. This bullshit show that Abe Licks-Shits has somehow found himself in, what if the show was shit? I’m talkin’ some real vile shit here.
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: It would have to be shit mountain bad. Have you seen some of these shows being made?
DOMINGO CRUZ: They made a show based off a Hallmark movie. Twenty-two episodes of a single marketing exec who needs to go home to save the family Christmas Tree farm where she meets the hunky man of her dreams who happens to be a lumberjack employed by her father who has cancer. It sucks.
MORTY BYRNES; Okay? Look, we review bomb this show. We go the big site, the Decomposin’ Taters, the Google, the Tweet Tocks, we just go motherfuckin’ nuclear on it! Shit on everythin’! The actin’! The directin’! The fuckin’ costime design!
FRANK PASTORE: Question!
MORTY BYRNES: What?
FRANK PASTORE: We haven’t even seen this show. How can we dump on it when we don’t know how or what we should be dumping on?
MORTY BYRNES: Make it up! If you are concerned with the specifocity of the details of which to criticize then keep it vague. Ensurin’ this show does not see the light of day is of the utmost accord as we cannot allow Abe Licks-Shits gain any amount of famousness or infamousness in any capacitory measure. So, everyone pull out the phones and drop an atom bomb full of negative shit, that motherless fuck sinks so deep into his own depression, no amount of Prozac will get him outta it. Capice?
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: If I can make slight suggestion?
MORTY BYRNES: What?
JOHNNIE NEWSMAN: Maybe don’t go full nuclear. We want the show to fail not become some underground campy cult hit.
FRANK PASTORE: Even bad press is free press, Mort.
MORTY BYRNES: Just fuckin’ do it! Bomb the shit outta this bullshit show until Tony gets here. And when you’re done, we find out what scumfucks produced that shit and we make’em pay.
Mortgomery Byrnes ignored whatever protesting his compatriots were about to give him as he glanced at the ALIAS Championship on the table in front of him. The symbol of his 2023 dominance. Dominance that has gone unheralded. Deep down, he knew had he chosen Kohime Mori, he would not be as overlooked as he felt he had been over the last couple of weeks. But then again, had he sided with her, who is to say that he would even be the Alias Champion now?
He turned back to the screen and stared at Arthur Pleasant for a moment before hitting the cursor, skimming past the time traveling trollup Anna Daniels, past Adam Ellis, and stopping on Abe Lipschitz. Yes, Arthur Pleasant’s time would come. He would get his comeuppance. But, in the meantime, Morty knew his focus should lie on retaining the Alias Championship and humiliating the media whore. Abe Lipschitz will get his shot at the Alias Title but this will be his one and only shot…..