As the rain patters on the roof, rain water drips from the crack in the ceiling, a crack surrounded by an ugly shade of brown from months of water damage. Mortimer, clutching his mask inside his fist, sits cross legged on the shag carpeted floor of his double wide trailer at 1:47 in the morning. Yes, the shag carpet, which adds just another level of torture and anxiety whenever he flicks a light switch. Will he get shocked? Won’t he? If he does and stands barefoot on wet carpeting, how electrocuted would he get?
Whomever designed this home was clearly a masochist.
However, there is something soothing watching the drops of rainwater hitting the bucket in the middle of his hallway, how the water ripples….
It almost helps him forget.
It almost helps him forget that in his first televised match (or is it streamed?), he lost. Freddy B. Irvine, the only human being who ever visits him (and those visits are by no means personal), is probably happy as a clam. A loss keeps Mortimer “underexposed”. But to Mortimer Kjedelig, he lost to a “fuckin’ deadbeat who is a cross between the bassist of a glam rock cover band that only knows one song and Richard Simmons”. Which is the same way he would describe his biological father….only hairier.
It almost helps him forget the reason why he has insomnia. Anything to keep his mind from drifting into the ugliness. And when he does sleep, more often than not, he awakens a sweat, his heart racing.
It’s that scream.
It’s those eyes.
Those pleading, helpless eyes.
It almost helps him forget Linda Lambey. And that one moment…..
That one moment…..
The one moment that Anna Daniels refuses to change.
Mortimer feels the ugliness returning. That intense feeling of his stomach acids boiling, his neck getting hotter and hotter, the uncontrollable shaking, the quick, shallow breaths….
Two years ago, there would be a constructive way to work through his anger. Some of it involved alcohol and some of it involved debt collecting. Either way, he had someplace to go. Here? It is just him with his thoughts.
And his two best friends….Jim Beam and Jack Daniels.
How many days or nights has stared at himself in the mirror, pinpointing every single flaw, yelling obscenities at himself, deriding that ugly, worthless face in the mirror for every single mistake he has ever made. Every poor choice. Every questionable decision. Every action, every inaction.
He looks at the empty Jim Beam bottle on the floor for what seems like an hour but was about ten seconds. He slowly rises, almost falling back down on his ass but somehow manages to keep his balance. “Catlike reflexes” he thinks to himself.
Mortimer, comfortably dressed in gray lounge pants and a plain black t-shirt staggers towards the bathroom, haphazardly putting his mask back on his head. He walks into the wall as…..
….the drops from the ceiling continue to fall in the bucket as he enters the bathroom and flips the switch. The pale yellow bathroom with fluorescent lighting. Looking in the mirror, the combination of color and lighting give Mortimer an almost “Dawn of the Dead” zombie quality.
As he stares at himself, disgusted and revolted by what he sees, two words keep repeating themselves in his head in a constant loop.
He grabs the open bottle of Jack Daniels and takes one long swig as he watches himself in the mirror revolted at the sight.
That’s when everything went black…..
:::::Mortimer comes to, he forces his eyelids open, almost hearing them scrape against his arid eyes. He feels parched, his throat dryer than a skeleton in the middle of the Gobi. His head is pounding as if Gallagher has mistaken it for a watermelon. It takes a moment to realize that his mouth, arms, and legs have been duct taped to a chair. He looks around wildly at his unfamiliar surroundings.
From the smell of oil and the large doors, he surmises that he is in a garage. There is a faint lingering stench of cigarette smoke. Clearly a fire hazard. He hears footsteps from behind him getting closer and closer.
Have they found him?
Panic sets in and he begins struggling to get free from the chair without success.
The figure stands in front of him. A wiry gentleman wearing a red tropical shirt with palm trees, khakis, a baseball cap with a red pepper on it, and Timberland work boots. The man looks at Mortimer through his reflective aviator sunglasses. He begins speaking with a southern drawl.
Not a paisan. But hired killers come in all forms.::::::
MAN: There is no use struggling. The packaging says that tape is strong enough to attach an elephant to an air-o-plane. Though I do not know why you would want to.
::::Mortimer glares at the man. He becomes increasingly concerned, whatever moisture he has left escapes his body, he can feel the sweat permeating through his black nylon mask.::::
MAN: I know who you are.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Mmmsphmurmumameph.
MAN: I do not understand your strange code. Therefore, Mister Kee-Jed-Eeleg, I will remove the tape from your mouth. It will be painful.
::::The Man grabs the tape and yanks it off Mortimer’s face, probably taking bits of his beard that he has been working on for the past three days. The pain is an intense, burning sensation. Did he develop an adhesive allergy? Mortimer responds in the most articulate way he can.:::::
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: MOOOOOOOTHERFUCKIN’ DICK FUCK!!!!!
MAN: I do not approve of the words but I approve of your right to say them.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Whatever it is, it wasn’t me! This is a case of mistaken identity! Like “The Big Lebowski”.
MAN: I do not know him.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Who sent you? Uncle Frank? Johnny Sandwiches? Jimmy the Tool?
MAN: I do not know them either. And who I am and who sent me, all will be revealed.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: What?
MAN: Mister Kee-Jed-Eeleg, you and I have a common enemy.
::::The Man walks behind Mortimer, he hears a ‘click’ and jerks. What was it? The cocking of the gun? No. A lighter. The hacking, phlegming coughs and the fresh stench of tobacco indicates the Man has lit up a Marlboro or Winston or whatever the hell he smokes. He comes back, a lit cancer stick between his fingers in his right hand and he shoves a photo of a black man into Mortimer’s face with his right.:::::
MAN: This is your target!
::::Mortimer squints a bit as he attempts to make out the features on the photograph, which is a Polaroid picture of the Prime Wrestling roster page. Image is that of….::::
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I thought he was called “The Flamburglar”.
MAN: You have been misinformed.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Let me get this straight, you kidnapped me because I have a match against Flambe Barge?
::::The Man takes a long drag off his cigarette, the tip burning a bright orange, and then exhales it out in front of Mortimer, who coughs.::::
MAN: But, otherwise, correct.
::::Mortimer busts out a relieved mixture of laughter and coughing, paying no attention of the intense pain in his head. The Man, looking as stoic as a fully clothed Michaelangelo’s David, looks none too impressed.::::
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: That’s a relief! I thought you were gonna kill me!
MAN: I am confused by your amusement. This is very serious.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Yeah, yeah, now, if you don’t mind? I’ve got a poundin’ headache and I’m likely to more than likely to throw up all over the place within one to thirty minutes dependin’ on pain levels. I’m bettin’ on sooner than later. In other words, get me the fuck outta here.
MAN: You have yet to hear my presentation.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I hear what you have to say and then I can leave?
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Promise?
MAN: On my mother’s grave.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Is your mother even dead?
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I guess I don’t have much of a choice, now do I? Let’s get this over with.
MAN: Flamber-Gee is a pawn for the French Food Industry. For years, they have been taking credit for American made foods. French’s mustard? French’s Ketchup? French’s Fried Onions? Made in America. French dip? Made in America. French dressing? Made in America. Creole? New Orleans, in other words, Made in America. French fries? Made in Belgium. Which is where you come in.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Oh yeah?
MAN: As Flamber-Gee is being used by the French to promote their American made goods to the uninformed masses, you will be our instrument in crushing Flamber-Gee and the French conspirators who are using their name on American products! Naturally, they would assume we would choose an All-American ath-a-lete like Hayes Hanlon or Impulse. No one expects the Belgians.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Belgian? Me?
MAN: “Kee-Jed-Eeleg” sounds like a popular Belgian name to me. And I am seldom wrong. We need you to take down Flamber-Gee for the sake of American food.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: You know how oobatz that sounds, don’t you?
MAN: I assume “oobatz” is Belgian for “deathly serious”, in which case, I do.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I know, in my current predicament, I probably should be noddin’ my head, but, ehhhhh…I can’t fake that level of interestedness and believability. I’m no….what’s his name, the guy from that movie….you know what I’m talkin’ about? The movie with the chimp.
MAN: I do not watch movies that exploit monkeys, apes, and other primates. Unless it is “Too Cute”. Those kittens and puppies are adorable.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Whatever, this whole thing sounds bit….farfetched. I’m not buyin’ it.
MAN: We do not expect you to because it has been covered up by the Son of the Sons of the Illuminati. An extremist fringe faction of the Children of the Blood Moon.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Never heard of ‘em.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Just, ya know, spittin’ this out there, bein’ the guy strapped to the chair and all, but would it not make more sense for them to be, I dunno, part of the Illuminati.
MAN: That’s exactly what they want you to think.
::::Mortimer Kjeldelig cannot help but let out an exacerbated sigh and roll his eyes (although he feels like they are about to explode from his head as he does so). The Man drops the cigarette butt on the floor and smooshes it underneath his foot.::::
MAN: Now, Mister Kee-Jed-E-Leg, I could go through the entire plot and subsequent coverups that that have happened and will happen courtesy of the French Food Industry, however, we do not have the time to do so and I left my binder detailing the conspiracy in my other car….my alleged other car, that is, if such a car exists. Time is short, and I know you will want to get down to the “nitty gritty” of it. You defeat Flamber-Gee and we will pay you eight thousand dollars.
::::”Cha-Ching”, the bell goes off in Mortimer Kjedelig’s head and he perks up as if he had down a triple espresso after a line of cocaine.::::
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: So, you take me hostage—-
MAN: I prefer to consider you a captive audience. That is a joke.
MORTIMIER KJEDELIG: Yeah, so, you’re gonna give me eight large to beat some guy in a wrestlin’ match, somethin’ I’m already gettin’ paid to do because he’s French and mayhaps could or possibly is a part of a larger conspiratorial coup against the American food industry?
MAN: In a word, “yes”. Does this mean you are accepting our offer?
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Where do I get my tinfoil hat?
MAN: Do not make a mockery of this. Everyone knows that only works on extraterrestrial mind control devices.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I meant no disrespect. You want to pay me to kick Flamberge’s ass so hard that he shits when he sneezes, that’s your percognitive, who am I to say no? Let one thing be known, when I have a job to do, rest assured, that job will be accomplished to the utmost of my abilities. I have sent more people to a hospital in the last ten years than fuckin’ polio. However, Flamberge is gonna be a challenge, I can’t just go up to the prick and clock him with a Louisville slugger. Therefore, I will need an advance on that payment, in, you know, good faith. To show the seriousness you have for such a dangerous and important endeavor.
MAN: We will offer you two thousand now and six thousand once the mission has been completed.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: You gotta deal.
::::The scrawny food conspiracy theorist once again disappears behind Mortimer who figures at worst, two thousand simoleons in his pocket on top of his base pay with Prime will be a pretty decent payday. It almost makes him forget about the jackhammer going off in his head. But to get the big money, he wants to show these whack jobs flitting the bill, so he will need to be aggressive. He will need to take all that rage that he has building up inside of him from Anna Fuckin’ Daniels “nothing personaling” him and unleash it on Flamberge.
The Man walks back and shows him an envelope. He counts twenty one hundred dollar bills, places them inside the envelope, and tosses it in his lap. It’s almost nostalgic for Mortimer.::::
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: So….now what?
:::The Man reaches into his back pocket and retrieves a box cutter. As the Man crouches down, Mortimer notices the rust on the blade and has a brief worry that a tetanus shot will be in his future. The Man begins cutting away the bindings.::::
MAN: We take you back to your home and tell no one of this.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I could use a glass of water.
MAN: We cannot allow you to see our secret headquarters.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: That seems—
::::From behind he feels a gloved hand grab his head and feels a prick in his head. There was a second, unseen individual hidden in the shadows behind him, clearly the thin, sunglass wearing man is not some lone nut. He is one of two or more. Mortimer struggles a brief moment but then feels his body go limp and passes out.:::::
Mortimer Kjedelig awakens hours later on the comfort of his shag carpeting next to his bucket filled two-thirds to the top with rain water. He wonders, did he dream the kidnapping? The envelope laying on his chest clears that question up.
Mortimer opens the envelope and counts the money inside. Two thousand dollars. His lips slightly curl into a smile as he places the envelope on the floor next to him and removes the mask.
He feels his muscles tighten as he gets up and heads over to the kitchen. He opens the fridge….:::::
MORTIMER KJEDLIG: FUCK!
:::::….the pop and stinging pain of static electricity hits his hand as he touches the handle of the refrigerator. He retrieves a bottle of water from the fridge. The generic brand. He unscrews the top and downs the sixteen ounces like a man wandering the desert for days. He places the bottle on the counter and ponders….
Mortimer plans on going out, what to do with his newfound wealth? A new suit? (Unlikely, since this area lacks the fine tailoring of an Arturo) An expensive dinner? (Doubtful, the most expensive restaurant in the area is a Bonefish Grill, not exactly Rao’s). Celebrate at the local dive bar? He has not decided, but the dive bar is the frontrunner.
But then he goes to work — watching previous matches of his French foe, jog a mile or two down the road to build cardio (and hope none of his neighbors, whom he has happily never met, does not stop him), and use the weights that are currently in the guest bedroom/gym which has not used since moving in.
But one thing is for sure, he has done far worse than what he plans on doing to Flamberge at “Revival” for far less.
In other words, Flamberge is fucked. END SCENE::::