Private: Shawn Warstein
The sounds of slot machines and the low drone of people gambling away money they can’t afford to lose. It’s all typical of Las Vegas, isn’t it? New York may be the city that never sleeps, Vegas is in a class of its own. You could sit there for hours on end and just watch. You can see true human nature on display. The ups and downs. The ebbs and flows. As everyone has the same thought. ‘I’m going to win and change my life’. Watch them go all-in. Basing their hopes and dreams on a chance. So many people forget the first rule of Vegas. No, not that one. It’s not the uber cliche of ‘What happens in Vegas’, hell I don’t even want to finish that statement for my own personal sanity. The saying that I’m referring towards is.
‘The house always wins’
No matter how much you have to lose, the house will take it and then some. They don’t care what you have to take care of when you get home after your weekend getaway with the ladies. Or the debauchery you and your Bros get into over at the Bunny Ranch. It’s sad really. It borders on pathetic, like my opponent, I’ll get to that later. So what does all of this have to do with me? Well…
The sound of the corded phone ringing inside the hotel room in the MGM Grand echoes. Constantly ringing with seemingly no one to answer. Suddenly a hand comes slamming down, dragging it off of the receiver and dragging it under the blankets.
“What?” A low gravelly voice can be heard, muffled only by the blankets.
A cheery chipper voice comes out of the handset. “Good Morning Mr. Kyle. This is your seven o’clock wakeup call.”
“Wh—” As I sat up from the bed, staring blankly at the wall directly across from the bed. “Who the—- Why the—-” I run my hand through my hair and scratch it. There’s a throbbing in my temple and my mouth is drier than the desert that surrounds Vegas. “Who asked—-you know what, never mind.”
The phone is hung up on the receiver as I slowly make my way out of the bed. Looking around the suite, it looks like there was a high school kegger thrown. Cushions on the couch were in disarray, mirrors were slanted and it was just generally a wreck. Shaking my throbbing head as I walk into the bathroom. Immediately turning on the faucet and splashing cold water over my face, when a groan is heard.
“Tha fuck was that?” I look around the bathroom and don’t notice anything. A quick shrug as I continue to attempt to wake myself up with the cold water.
“Ughhh..” The groan continues as I turn my attention towards the shower curtain. The sound echoes as I cautiously grasp the curtain and slide it aside. Much to my dismay there is a man half asleep, and fully hungover. He’s wearing a cheap sky blue suit and a pair of cockeyed shades. I quickly reach for the complimentary plunger next to the toilet and carefully poke the man in the cheek with the butt end.
He lets out a groan but doesn’t awaken. One more poke and it’s more of the same. Flipping the plunger around as it slowly approaches his face. “Oi….” A thick Australian accent pours from the man’s mouth. “That betta nat have been used.”
I pull the plunger away but still hold it out as if I was knighting him. “Who are you and why are you in my room?”
“Excuse me?” He runs his eyes and with a hand pushes the plunger from his face. “Check again mate, this is my room.”
Pausing for just a moment as I peek out into the main portion of the room. “Huh.” I drop the plunger and continue to stare out into the room with a hand on my hip. “It does look cheap.”
“Fucken exchange rate.” The man pulls himself up from the tub and pauses his way past me. Making haste for the coffee machine. “Me Dollarydoos aren’t as strong here as I had thought.”
“Yeah bro, those are killers.” I said as I walked deeper into the room. I pick up a couch cushion and place it down in place to sit down. “So your room, what the hell am I doing here? And why were you in the tub?”
“Yeah, nah, yeah mate. It was a wild night.” He sips from the coffee cup. “It’s a long story, but the bottom line…”
I cut him off abruptly. “I’ve got time.” I hold out a hand and roll it for him to elaborate.
“Okay mate.” He leans against the tiny kitchenette and drums his fingers on his coffee mug. “It all started….”
**Several Hours Earlier**
“Hit me.” I apparently sat at the blackjack table. A King of Spades and five of clubs already dealt. Large stack of chips in front of me and a much larger bet next to my cards. Almost seemingly shaming the rest of the table.
The dealer flips a five of diamonds. “Twenty.” I wave my hand over my cards and watch over the rest of the table. A few busts, a few holds, but there was one man at the end.
“Hit me Mate.” He hits and busts. The dealer pulls his chips away, leaving him with none. “Feck me.” He slaps the table and looks up at me. “Can’t always be me night.”
“Obviously. Most people don’t hit on nineteen.” I smiled and shook my head. He looks down at his cards and then begins to count on his fingers. “Trust me, the game is the same everywhere.”
“Fair dinkum. Have a good one.” He begins to get up from the table but before he does I slide him a stack of chips.
“Stay. Play some more.” I gestured for him to sit back down and he obliged.
“Thanks.” He puts a bet on to the table as the dealer begins to spread out the cards. “Name’s Donovan.”
“Chad. Chad Kyle” I smile and cough a little.
“Really? Even for a fake name that sounds lame as fuck.” Donovan rolls his eyes.
“It does, doesn’t it?” I lick my lips and clear my throat. “I’m Shawn Warstein.”
“Pleasure is all mine. So what brings you to the city of sin?” Donovan asks.
“Work.” I responded abruptly. “I’m a professional wrestler.”
“Dope.” He begins to shuffle the chips in his hand. “Any place I’ve ever heard of?”
I rub my chin for a few moments. “A few places I’d rather not talk about, but I’m here for PRIME.”
“Why’d you yell that? I’m right here mate.” He used his free hand and rubbed it in his ear using his pinkie finger.
“I didn’t, that’s just the way it is.” I smiled. “Yeah so I’m here for a tournament. Winner gets a shot at the big belt. Yadda Yadda Yadda.”
“Don’t things like that only happen in like newer places?” The cards are still going around.
“Well yeah.” I said curtly.
“Then how in the hell would I have ever heard of prime?” He pondered.
“PRIME.” I corrected him. “Well that’s because it’s reopening, and they were looking for talent. And let’s be honest I am one to toot my own horn… I’m like the best. Like really really good.”
“Suuuuuuure.” Donovan rolled his eyes. “So good that your sitting in the MGM Grand, playing blackjack and no one knows who you are.”
“Maybe you’re right. Or…” I point to a giant banner hanging on the wall behind him. It’s of me and my opponent John Kennedy Royko Jr. “You’re just blind as fuck.”
Donovan spins around and looks at the banner and then back to me. “That doesn’t look anything like you.”
“Camera angle was all off. Trust me.” I waved down a waitress and she quickly dropped off a bourbon on the rocks. “Listen, I just like fighting. It’s one of the few things I’m really good at in this world. I’ve been up and down the roads. All across the globe. I’ve won pretty much everywhere I go. So I saw an opportunity to fight.” I point to the banner again. “More so, I saw an opportunity to fight people I had never fought before. See it becomes tiresome and tedious for me, if I have to fight the same people over and over again. Especially when I’m the one that wins the majority of the time.” I take a sip from my glass as Donovan raises an eyebrow.
“You really do like to hear yourself talk don’t you?” He smiled, I smiled and the dealer smiled.
“Sure do.” As I finish my drink and set the glass down. “Like this John Kennedy Royko Jr guy. I have never heard of him before, but there he is fighting for the same opportunity that I am. And I’m going to be honest I don’t know much about him.” I take a deep breath. “And that’s what is exhilarating about it all. Going into the unknown balls first.”
“Think you mean feet first.”
“No. Balls first. They arrive wherever I go like ten minutes before I do. It’s a gift and a curse, but that’s not the point.” I raise a finger to compose myself. “The reality of everything is simply this, nothing matters right now. The only thing I’m focused on is going to the finals and getting my hand raised at the end. While all of them are out and about, I’m right here. In the venue. Waiting.”
“It is most of the time. But then there are times when I’m set for a match with a guy who used to be an NFL prospect. Someone who had all their hopes and dreams realized at such a young age. Then in the blink of an eye those dreams are torn away from them.” Another call to a waitress, and another hand dealt. “This guy blows out his knee, and thinks ANOTHER physical sport, one where it’s encouraged to go after limbs and tear them, that is the route to take. This guy has already had his dream shattered once worse than his knee, I’m looking forward to crushing another dream.”
Donovan looks around and notices that the table is losing players. “Looks like we are losing some people.”
“Yeah. Nature of the beast. Like in PRIME, their last show we saw some quality people get bounced out in the first round. It happens. Although I can’t say this is something different for me. Usually I’ll find a battle royal or something of that ilk and throw my name in there. This time, in this tournament, there are no such things as flukes. It will always be the better man that will win in the end. And as you already are aware Donovan….”
I hold my hand out towards him. “You usually win.” He quietly responds.
“RIGHT YOU ARE D!” I slam my hand on the table causing the chips to rattle and fall over. “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. I’ve done the look ahead. I’ve checked all the schedules. I have the opportunity to do something that very few in this business can claim.”
“What’s that?” Donovan asks while leaning forward with his elbows on the table.
“Spoilers.” I turn and look towards the camera and wink. Donovan takes his hand and waves it in front of my face. He snaps a few times before I come back to his attention. “Right. So that’s why I’m here in the MGM Grand. I don’t usually do interviews and press. So I just go to the venue or city early and hang out with people that are there. It gives the company a good name and I get to adventure around towns and go places I wouldn’t usually end up.”
“Except for Vegas?”
“Except for Vegas.” As I nodded and smiled. “So what do you do for work Donovan?”
He seemed standoffish and uneasy with the question. I repeated myself a few times before he answered. “I’m a blog writer.”
“Cool.” A quick nod. “About what?”
“Uhh—-” He once again paused before answering. “Professional Wrestling.”
“Gotcha.” I gave him some finger guns. “Looking for a story?”
“Something like that.” He lowered his head. “Just haven’t found anything or anyone willing to, ya know… talk.”
“Well Donovan…” I slam my drink down and then grab his. I quickly finish his drink and wipe my mouth with the back of my hand. “I’m gonna give you a story.”
**Back To Current Time**
“And that’s where we are now.” Donovan sipped his coffee as I felt a tingling in my forearm and began rubbing it. “Oh yeah. You got a tattoo last night. Pretty girl. That Kasey?”
I look down and see my arm wrapped up and some gauze. As I unwrap it her face is smiling back at me. “Yeah that’s her.”
“Where is she? Doesn’t she usually travel with you?” Donovan asked as he began pouring himself another coffee.
“Usually.” I run my hand over the fresh tattoo. “She’s been busy lately. I’ve been getting bored, not with her mind you. Just the lack of doing anything. Second main reason I’m in PRIME.”
“They really need to work on the name. Seems very forceful.” He smiled.
“They do, but I guess it stands out either way.” I lean back on the couch. Crossing my arms behind my head in the process. “So what else did we get into last night?”
“Well.” He hesitates.
“Ahh it doesn’t matter. I’ll read all about it on your blog.” With a quick shrug I smiled, as Donovan’s eyes went wide. “You didn’t think I wasn’t going to remember?”
He shakes his head. “Uhh—well—hrmm—-”
“Don’t worry D, I’ve had much much worse written about me. Your little blog isn’t going to change anyone’s opinion of me.” I stood up from the couch and stretched. “That’s my job to do in this tournament. One overly long name at a time.”
I make my way towards the door and before I walk out into the hallway I pause in the threshold. “Donovan. You and I are going to have one hell of a friendship. I’ll see you around.” He doesn’t have time to react or say anything as I shut the door behind me. As the camera Fades To Black.