C. Mortgomery Byrnes
Tony Gamble’s office. Mortgomery Byrnes had spent more time in the Grin’s outer office than a delinquent high schooler with a penchant for bullying, smoking, and graffiti. Frank Pastore and Domingo Cruz flanked his office door with their arms across their shoulders, staring intently at the former ALIAS Champion. He had been sitting the uncomfortable ergonomic chair for what seemed like an hour but was, in actuality, fifteen minutes when Frank gave him the nod.
Morty rose from his chair and entered the office. He saw Tony Gamble was sitting behind his desk polishing his ALIAS Championship. Tony Gamble, without looking up from his prize, welcomed Morty.
TONY GAMBLE: Have a seat.
Morty obliged. Tony Gamble placed the polishing cloth off to the side and looked up.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Congratulations.
TONY GAMBLE: Don’t start kissing my ass. We’ve got a problem, my friend.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Thinkin’ about what stipulation you wanna go with? Personally, I found mine to be particularly creative. This way, that Abe Licks-Shits asshole don’t get another shot.
TONY GAMBLE: No. That kid you assaulted? Myron Whatever-his-name-is? There’s talk that he’s threatening to sue.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Fuckin’ baby.
TONY GAMBLE: Yeah, well, from what I hear, you did quite the number on him. Multiple fractures and contusions. Poor schmuck’s got some hearing loss. My attorney’s hear that he wants you gone. If PRIME terminates your contract, he’ll settle.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: WHOA! He fuckin’ slipped! I’m gettin’ canned because this prick is a fuckin’ clutz?!
Tony Gamble almost leapt out of his chair upon hearing Morty’s defense.
TONY GAMBLE: STOP!!! DON’T YOU EVEN!!! YOU SHOVED—-
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Look! No one saw what happened but me. Domingo and Frank—
TONY GAMBLE: Fake Frank and Fake Domingo? The two morons who bribed a security guard? A less than discreet security guard, mind you?
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Whatever. Point is, let us assume that I allegedly did what this prick is allegin’ that I did, would even wanna fuckin’ know about it? Presumable deniability. Not that it matters because I didn’t do it.
TONY GAMBLE: Morty, I had big plans for you. The ALIAS Championship was the first step but you messed it all up. It’s that anger, Mort. It’s both your biggest strength and biggest weakness.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: You’re just gonna believe this fuckin’ shitstain over me???
TONY GAMBLE: It doesn’t matter what I believe. It’s all about optics.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Fuck opticals!
TONY GAMBLE: You got three choices here: Wait it out and maybe you get fired and maybe you don’t. Make a public apology, claim some form of mental duress or alcoholism or some other nonsense people claim in situations like this and check yourself into a medical facility, rehab, anger management for thirty days, you get discharged good as new.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Apologize to that fuckin’ weasel? Fuck that! I might as well lick Arthur Pleasant’s ass and tell him it tastes like cherry sorbet!
TONY GAMBLE: Last option? Quit. Walk away. Claim no wrongdoing and after a few months, after everything dies down, come back.
Morty slumped back into his chair. Morty knew what happened in that room. He bashed Myron Rightway’s head in with a bat and shoved that restraining order down his throat. He was lucky he did not shove it up his ass. Arthur Pleasant or someone working on behalf of that fanged freak had the balls to deliver a restraining order to him after he was essentially publicly electrocuted to the point where he may or may not have had a small excremental evacuation in the middle of the ring. Not only did Arthur Pleasant assault and humiliate him, but now he was making sure Morty lost his job on top of everything else.
TONY GAMBLE: At least there’s no criminal charges.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: There’s nothin’ the can be done?
TONY GAMBLE: Off the top of my head? No. We really don’t want to rock the boat.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: After all this, choosin’ “G.A.S.”, choosin’ you over Kohime Mori—
TONY GAMBLE: “G.A.S.” will be fine without you. Don’t worry. I have my eye on some other talent. There’s this Hugo Scorpio character I’m hearing a lot about. There’s some talent here that intrigues me. We’ll be okay.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: No my point. You’re just gonna toss me aside like a fuckin’ snotty tissue.
TONY GAMBLE: Take some time for yourself. Scuba dive, climb a mountain, bike ride in Venice, whatever. Don’t think your loyalty these past few weeks have gone unnoticed. You’ll be welcomed back with open arms. Here….
Tony Gamble opened a desk drawer and placed a stuffed fanny pack in front of Mortgomery Byrnes. Morty leaned forward and grabbed the envelope. He unzipped it and reviewed the contents. The largest being a wad of cash.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: How much?
TONY GAMBLE: In the neighborhood of thirty grand. Consider this your severance package.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Revival?
TONY GAMBLE: It’ll be your last appearance. If, that is, you are choosing to resign.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: My contract?
TONY GAMBLE: Least of your worries. They won’t do a damn thing.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: This is how I go out. This is how I get treated after everythin’ I’ve done.
TONY GAMBLE: Don’t act all “Woe is me.” No matter what, no one’s going to lose any sleep over it, I assure you. Remember, it’s nothing personal, it’s just business.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Feels pretty fuckin’ personal to me.
TONY GAMBLE: Yeah, so, my attorneys will handle the unceremonious exit from PRIME. After your match against Scott Hunter, there will be some paperwork for you to sign and that will be that.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: “Fade away.”
Those two words hung in the air like an invisible dagger about to be plunged into his heart. All that he had worked for, all of those losses, and when someone thinks about Mortgomery Byrnes and his previous aliases, all they will remember is some fucking loser who did not have what it took to succeed in PRIME.
TONY GAMBLE: That’s it. If something else comes up, I will be sure to let you know. Good luck on your match with Scott Hunter. You can leave now. Close the door on your way out.
Mortimer could not help but feel the lump in his throat grow as he reached for the fanny pack. Part of him was hoping that the Grin would suddenly scream “GOTCHA!” at the top of his lungs, the climactic conclusion of a rather cruel prank. Alas, that was not to be as Mortimer slowly rose from his chair and headed towards the door. He looked behind him hoping to find Tony stifling some laughter, instead the Grin was focused on his hard won ALIAS Championship.
Mortimer opened the door to find Fake Frank and Doppelganger Domingo waiting for him.
FRANK: Sorry, brother.
DOMINGO: This sucks.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: You guys could….
FRANK: Don’t make this….
DOMINGO: …any more embarrassing.
FRANK: For us.
DOMINGO: Being embarrassed for you.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Right, of course.
FRANK: Hey, at least you could, you know….
DOMINGO: Leave on a high note.
FRANK: With a victory.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Thanks. Ever so helpful, as always. Somethin’ tells me, considerin’ the events of which that have transpired and my personal history of basically shittin’ all over the wrestlin’ ring, that might not be the case.
FRANK: Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.
MORTGOMERY BYRNES: Never underestimate the power of foot up your fuckin’ ass, you fuckin’ idiot. Get the fuck outta my way, you’re just pissin’ me off.
Mortgomery Byrnes shoved past Fake Frank and Doppelganger Domingo to escape the office. He could feel his chest starting to tighten, the breathing start to become labored. There was no fucking way in hell he was going to let the B-Squad Frank and Domingo see him in the throes of a panic attack. He powered out of the outer office and into the clinging and clanging and the bleeping and blooping of slot machines in the casino. Mortgomery found an empty slot machine in the corner and took a seat in front of it.
Morty looked at the flashing lights on the digital slot machine in front of him. The sounds and the lights coupled with the anxiety that was mounting, he was becoming more and more disoriented. He despised all forms of gambling. He had seen too many lives ruined, too many lives lost while some degenerate attempted to chase “it”.
But in that particular moment…..
The slot machine flashed and beeped at him….
It was telling him that he had nothing else to lose. Kohime was gone, seemingly vanished from the face of the earth. He lost the ALIAS Championship, he could not obtain the Intense Championship. He was beng forced out of his job. His wins, were they flukes? Was he good enough? Or just lucky?
The slot machine called to him…..
He has to be due for a win, right?
Maybe just one time….
What could that hurt?