Another week of hearing the critics talk about how I look more and more like the Tony Gamble that earned a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Truth be told, I doubt I’ll ever be that man again. Not because I don’t have it in me, because deep down inside I know that hunger to win and be a dominant force my opponents would fear stepping into the ring against is still there. No, I’ll never be that Tony Gamble again, because even though I knew then that my legacy was more than just a win-loss record. I was hit with the cold hard truth that you could lose everything in an instant, and when I did nothing else mattered.
While I may not be the threat that people remember, the loss against Adam Ellis really made me feel like a loser. Don’t get me wrong, Ellis was a hell of an opponent that really went out there and did his best to pull out that win.
Thing is, I took that loss harder than any other I’ve ever had, because I know that I didn’t give everything I could have and given Adam Ellis a truly competitive match. I didn’t give him the respect he deserved, and instead walked into this match unprepared and half assed it because I really didn’t think he had it in him to beat me.
I was wrong, and looked like an even bigger fool than I usually intend to. This was on me though, and I feel like this is the first time since my return that I lost a match.
I don’t intend to do that again.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure I’ll have a few losses… hell, I may have nothing but losses the rest of my run. It just won’t be because I didn’t go out there and give it everything I have, because guys like Youngblood, Colton, and even the Angry Luchador will tell you that beating me is not an easy task. If they are honest with themselves, they may even admit that they were a little worried that they would not win.
That may be because they were worried or threatened by who I used to be, but what people need to realize – what Mike McGee needs to realize – is that the man standing here now may be a far bigger threat than anyone expects. I may not be methodical and focused like Youngblood, big and menacing like Stanislav, or slick and cutthroat like Jiles. What I am though, is someone with nothing to lose and nothing to prove. What I am, is someone who doesn’t care who you think you are and what you think you deserve.
Who I am though, Mike… Now that is a whole different monster, and not the secret child type either. No, who I am, is a man that just lost a match because I didn’t give it my whole hearted attention, but you have that attention Mike. So when we step into the ring and that bell sounds, I hope you don’t think that you’re facing the joke of a man that got in the ring with Adam Ellis last Revival.
No, you’re stepping into the ring with the man that nearly toppled the Tower of Babel like he was a game of Jenga, the man that softened the Angry Luchador up for Paxton Ray…the man that has the number one selling tee shirt in the PRIMEporium since it’s release.
I hope you’re ready.
“You’re not ready, are you?”
“Just five more minutes.”
“That’s what you said ten minutes ago.”
Tony Gamble poked his head out from behind the closet door, his hair disheveled and his eyes narrowed as he asked, “Why are you in such a rush to get rid of me, you expecting company?”
“Yeah,” she replied with a chuckle. “Like anyone would want a piece of this.”
Violet Rayne sat at the edge of the bed, her eyes shifted to look down at her hand as it caressed the top of her belly. She was seven months along, but felt like the princess treating her bladder like a trampoline was eager to make her debut.
“I have two minutes to spare,” joked Gamble as he disappeared behind the closet door.
“You need to hurry up before you miss your flight, pervert.” She grabbed hold of the footboard, using it as a support to stand up while her other hand stayed rested on her stomach.
“You sure I should be going on this tour,” Tony dragged a suitcase out of the closet and over toward the bed.
“I’ll be fine,” she wrapped her arms around his waist and hugged him from behind. “We’ll be fine.”
“You’re not going to miss me?”
“Every second of the day.” She hugged him a bit tighter as tears formed in the corners of her eyes. They raced down her cheeks as soon as she squeezed them shut. It was a competition that would never have a victor, since Tony wiped them away with his thumbs as he turned to face her.
“Well damn, how am I supposed to top that?”
“That’s kind of the point,” Violet rested her head on his shoulder as she pulled him in closer. “I don’t think you’ll ever understand just how much I love you.”
“Well,” he whispered in her ear. “We have a lifetime for you to show me.”
She nodded in response.
“So about those two minutes.”
She leaned back, then pushed Tony away. “You really know how to ruin a moment, don’t you?”
“I said it romantically.”
“You whispered, that’s not romantic.”
“I also tried really hard not to grab your boobs.” He shrugged his shoulders with his arms stretched out at his sides.
“Oh, well that changes everything.”
“Still a no, huh?”
“Definitely.” She turned and walked away from him. “I need to pee.”
“Again,” he shook his head. “You just went a few minutes ago.”
“Well, I guess your daughter likes to be mean to me too.”
“Can you blame her?”
“It’s a freaking tie, Frank,” Tony Gamble looks at the label on the tie before tossing it on the table in front of him. “Probably a knock off, too.”
“Still, she’s expected to be a little angry.” Frank grabs the tie off the table and admires it for a moment. “Calling you a terrible person is probably the worst thing that little girl can think of.”
“Well, she’s typing,” Tony stares at his phone in anticipation of Kohime’s response to his response on Jabber. “So we’ll know soon enough just how angry and mean she can be.”
“You’re enjoying this way too much, boss.”
“I need to drive a wedge between them, Frank.” His eyes never look away from his phone, that damn grin ever present. “The last thing he needs right now is a distraction, not when he’s so close to winning us a title.”
“Morty still needs to get past Zion, Jefe,” Domingo chimes in from Tony’s left.
“Not to mention he hates us,” Frank adds.
“He doesn’t hate us,” Tony’s grin widens. “He hates the situation he thinks he’s in, but I’m going to open his eyes and show him that he needs us more than he realizes.”
“Did she respond?”
“Yeah,” Tony answers with a chuckle. “Said I’m going to have to face my terrible deeds, and she hopes I’m ready. What a freaking joke.”
“I told you,” Frank shakes his head. “As mad as she is, being mean just ain’t her thing.”
“I hope McGee puts up a better fight,” Tony hits send, posting his response to Mori before putting his phone down on the table. “Because this is like stealing candy from a baby.”
“First a tie, now candy,” Cruz stands up and walks over to the fridge. “Whatcha taking from Mikey, Jefe?”
“Honestly,” Gamble leans back in his chair. “He doesn’t have anything worth taking.”
“Don’t tell me you’re going to take this guy lightly,” Frank leans forward, resting his forearms on the table as he glares across at The Grin. “That didn’t turn out the way you thought it would against Ellis.”
“Gatorade?” Domingo has an orange flavored one in his left hand, and a cucumber lime flavored one in the other.
Tony shakes his head, but Pastore points to the orange one. Domingo tosses it to him, then closes the fridge before twisting the cap off and taking a drink.
“I’m not going to take him lightly,” Tony begins, as Frank twists his top off. “I just don’t think there’s anything for me to gain by beating him.”
“A win is a win, que no?”
“Well, yeah, but a win only improves my record and my ranking…two things I don’t really care about.”
“A couple of wins could get you another title shot, boss.”
“It’ll shut up some mouths, tambien,” Dom walks over and stands next to Frank.
“It would be good to head into the Halo with a bit of momentum,” Tony strokes his chin with his hand.
“Halo?” Domingo looks a bit confused. “I thought…”
“Let it go,” Frank cuts him off.
“How am I supposed to let this go?”
“He’s in critical condition, Mr. Gamble,” a Hispanic male in a blue pinstripe suit sits across the table from Tony Gamble, a manila folder in his hand.
“With his family there to support him,” Tony balls his hands up into fists. “While my fiance had to suffer alone.”
“I know this doesn’t make what happened any easier to accept, but…” the detective interrupts. “The coroner did conclude that the cause of death was blunt force trauma, so she did not suffer.”
“You’re telling me that you had to use dental records to identify the body because of how badly it was burned, but it’s okay because she was already dead.” Gamble slams his fist onto the table, as the chair he was sitting on crashes into the wall behind him. “Is that what you’re telling me, you son of a bitch!?”
“I understand what you’re feeling right now, so I’m just going to ask that you calm down before you do something you’re going to regret.”
“There’s a lot of things I regret doing, but I guarandamntee that I will regret nothing I do about this,” his nostrils flare as he breathes deeply, rage in his eyes.
“Is that a threat, Mr. Gamble?”
“Do you feel threatened, Detective Herrera?”
“Not at all,” he places the file on the table in front of him. “Mr. Higgins, on the other hand, may feel differently than I do.”
“Only if he wakes up from that fucking coma.”
Detective Herrera grabs a hold of Tony’s arm as he attempts to storm post him. “Don’t disrespect your fiance’s memory by doing something stupid.”
“The only stupid thing that happened today was that idiot cop of yours talking about how lucky our pal Arthur was that he didn’t burn up in his car,” Tony yanks his arm from the detective’s grip. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a funeral to arrange.”
Tony exits the room, pulling his phone from his pocket as he storms down the hall. Detective Herrera walks out of the room not too long after, his phone already to his ear. “Hey partner, get in touch with the guard set up outside of Higgins’ room and let him know that there may be trouble headed his way.”
“Hey Mikey,” Tony glances back over his shoulder. “I know it’s been a while, but I need your help with something.”