Private: C. Mortgomery Byrnes
The following is a scene from the 2002 straight-to-DVD horror movie “Lucifer’s Lap Dance”, a story about a portal from hell opening in the basement of a gentleman’s club. With an IMDB rating of 3.2, one reviewer commented “This is the worst piece of crap I have ever seen. I wish I could give a ‘0’.”
The scene occurs at the eighty-three minute mark. BRAND (the twentysomething college student played by the excruciatingly wooden Rowe Fontaine who, with his college friends, opted for a night of debauchery and ended up trapped with an unimaginable horror) and MISTY (the buxom, blonde twentysomething exotic dancer with a heart of gold played with mesmerizing ineptitude by Ariel Autumnsommer) have found a parchment in the manager MR. STEVE LEEZIE’s office on the floor next to the partially inflated sheep and empty bottle of lube.
BRAND: It’s, uh, just symbols and shapes. How can we read this?
MISTY: Have you forgotten already? I’m majoring in Ancient Languages.
BRAND: Boobs, Butt, and Brains. You got it all, baby.
MISTY: If we get out of this, maybe you’ll get to experience all three.
BRAND: I still got a dollar in my pocket.
MISTY: I figured it was a roll of pennies.
BRAND: Half dollars, baby.
MISTY: We can’t put this off any longer.
<MISTY looks over the aged parchment, squinting her eyes as she studies the symbols.>
BRAND: What’s it say?
MISTY: It’s Ancient Sumerian. It’s an incantation to send that demon bitch back to hell.
BRAND: Well, what are we waiting for?
MISTY: I’ll need time to say the full incantation.
BRAND: I’ll get you that time. Where is she?
MISTY: In the V.I.P. room.
BRAND: It looks like we’re putting the “pain” in the “champagne room”.
MISTY: If something happens, I want you to know….I love you, Brand.
BRAND: I love you too, Misty.
MISTY: It’s Freida. My real name is Freida.
<BRAND leans in and they kiss.>
Mortimer Kjedelig pauses the video on his smart phone (a recent purchase, but it lacks the impersonal expendability of the burner phones of which he has become accustomed). Mortimer feels nauseous watching this movie, a physical repulsion overwhelms him. He begins to wretch and convulse whilst walking from the arena to his Ford rental. Why does he subject himself to this torture? Is he a masochist?
Maybe it is self-loathing. He left Revival without a victory and without the Mask of Malice. Since taking the road of professional wrestling he has nothing to show for it.
Mortimer, attempts to swallow what he can as he feels the hot dog mixed with stomach acid begin to fight it’s way up his esophagus. He stops in the middle of the parking lot and hunches over and begins dry heaving. As he convulses, a white limo pulls up in front of him. Mortimer looks up, spittle oozing from his mouth, as the chauffeur exits the vehicle and opens the back door.
CHAUFFEUR: Please enter the vehicle, sir.
The chauffeur is a large muscular gentleman in his thirties, a bruiser type. Someone whose facial features seemingly has spent more time in a boxing ring than behind the wheel of a limousine.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I’m good, thanks.
CHAUFFEUR: I must insist on it.
The chauffeur sucker punches Mortimer in the gut and the masked wrestler hunches forward and drops to one knee. He begins wheezing, trying to grasp his breath while hoping that he does not puke all over himself. The chauffeur proceeds to grab Mortimer by the neck and shoves him into the back of the limo and shuts the door, leaving a smart phone laying on the pavement with a newly cracked screen.
Mortimer regains some composure as he sits in the well air conditioned limo. He looks at the familiar face sitting across from him. A large man wearing a tailored doublebreasted suit – charcoal pinstripe. The man is in his sixties, his silver hair slicked back. The man is in sixties but could easily pass for fifty-five. Mortimer’s Uncle Frank exudes an aura that demands respect. Mortimer, realizing he has been ambushed, feels a couple of droplets escape his bladder and into his underwear.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Uncle Frank. Had I known you were—-
WHACK!!! Uncle Frank backhands Mortimer in the of his face like a seventies pimp whose sex working employee has just shorted him.
UNCLE FRANK: Not a word.
Uncle Frank hits the divider of the limo and the car takes off. Mortimer feels the stinging pain in his cheek. Mortimer looks at Frank with crippling fear in his eyes and maybe Uncle Frank needs to control a smirk from forming across his thin, chapped lips.
UNCLE FRANK: Your mudder would be rolling in her grave if she saw what’s become of you.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I never said anythin’ against you, Uncle—-
UNCLE FRANK: I told you to shut your mouth.
Mortimer’s lip quivers as he tightly closes his mouth.
UNCLE FRANK: You wanna be a pro wrestler? Fine, salut, whatever makes you happy. I know you’ve had a tough go of it these last couple years or so. But when you start talking about things that may have happened at a zoo that you may or may not have been mistakenly taken out of context and perhaps added some disparaging context to it, vis a vis mentally filling in the blanks on your own, to the point that certain people are questioning the disappearance of certain people that are, in my view, alive and well and in the program? I gotta draw the line. And that’s not the only instance of you talking out of school.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I swear—-
UNCLE FRANK: Look, I get it. Twenty some odd years ago your dumb fuck cousin takes you on a job or two, which is totally and completely unrelated to my legitimate businesses, and you end up doing a couple of months, that has nothing to do with me. Yet, because my business is under certain scrutinies, you name drop me. That’s not very nice.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I never mentioned anythin’ about you! It’s untraceable. I’m usin’ one of them “pseudo-names”.
UNCLE FRANK: I need you to cut the shit. Friends of mine are starting to take notice of you and, by extension, me. They are making inquiries about you and what you may or may not know.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Uncle Frank, I—-
Uncle Frank leans in and grabs Mortimer Kjedelig by the head, grabbing a fistful of hair through the mask and pulls him close enough for Mortimer to smell the bourbon on his breath.
UNCLE FRANK: You’re not a wiseguy. You never were. You are not even a paisan. You’re shitty Spandex genes made that fucking clear. Cut the shit. Stop pretending to be something you’re not.
The legitimate businessman releases Mortimer’s head, almost throwing him back into his seat. Mortimer rubs his head hoping that he has not lost any hair in the process. He stares daggers at his uncle. Everything he has been through with the government, turning states evidence.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: So this is how you’re gonna do it, huh? You’re gonna gaslight me before you disappear me, that it? This some kind of new psychedelic warfare?
UNCLE FRANK: If that was something that I could do, I wouldn’t. It wouldn’t be worth my time. Harsh but true.
Uncle Frank leans in and locks eyes with Mortimer. There is a sincere yet cold seriousness to his uncle’s gaze.
UNCLE FRANK: You’re a fucking loser playing pretend.
Mortimer’s lip twitches at this comment. Frank looks at Mortimer with the same regard he would an ant at a picnic. Mortimer expects at any moment for Uncle Frank to pull a .45 with a silencer and put one between his eyes. At least it would be quick and painless.
UNCLE FRANK: Your wife blames you for what happened to your child and starts fucking Big Dom, that sucks. Especially since you can’t touch him. You know she’s pregnant now? Due in September. Point is, I don’t know if this some sort of midlife crisis or maybe your brain short circuited or what, but this has to stop. I don’t care if you call yourself Mortimer Kilowatts or Captain Cannoli, but this wiseguy shit? It’s fabrication. It’s all in your head. And it needs to remain there, capice?
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: You callin’ me crazy?
UNCLE FRANK: Misguided. I mean, what kind of name is Mortimer Kjedelig anyway?
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: European.
UNCLE FRANK: You’ve been warned, kid.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Look, Uncle Frank, just listen to me for one sec. If you could change something in your past, what would it be?
UNCLE FRANK: I would have gotten a blowjob from Maryanne McGuiness in the eleventh grade behind the bleachers.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Seriously.
UNCLE FRANK: I’m always serious.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: What if I told you that in a couple of weeks this will all be over?
UNCLE FRANK: I’d say it’s a couple of weeks too long.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Hear me out, after I win my next match—
UNCLE FRANK: Considering you haven’t won a match yet, you aren’t instilling me with much confidence.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Look, there’s this chick, Anna Daniels, she’s some sort of time travelling superhero or villain or whatever. After I beat her, I’ll have some leverage and get her to travel back in time to prevent me from going with Mike for some alleged heretofore job which will change the trajectory of my life. This, right here, it won’t have happened, I’ll be livin’ the life I was supposed to live! I wouldn’t have met Tara, she woulda never gotten pregnant, I wouldn’t have gone to Mike’s weddin’ where she met that fat fuck, and woulda not taken some of those demeanin’ jobs just to make ends meat. I woulda made my date with Linda, I woulda seen “She’s All That”, and Linda would not have met that fuckin’ ballplayer docuhebag while I was in the can. I wouldn’t have gotten that DUI. I wouldn’t have had to make collections—-
UNCLE FRANK: Stop. Just, please, stop with the science fiction bullshit. Woulda, coulda, shoulda.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: Uncle Frank—-
UNCLE FRANK: You’re a fuckin’ actor, Rowan! And not a very good one, at that. The only thing you’ve collected in the past ten years is unemployment.
Mortimer leans back against the plush, microfibre seating of the limousine and defensively crosses his arms across his chest. He stares at his uncle silently. The shriveled up raisins his uncle has to come to the arena to essentially kidnap him and then coerce him into thinking what he knows is true is false. If he wouldn’t get clipped for it, he would slap the sauce out of his uncle in the back of this luxury vehicle. All he can muster is one simple phrase.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: You owe me a phone.
Uncle Frank sniffs, clearing his nostrils, as he reaches into the interior pocket of his ridiculously expensive suit and pulls out a wad of cash. He gives his thumb a quick lick and flips through his cash. He hands Mortimer a wad of cash.
UNCLE FRANK: That should cover it with a little extra, treat yourself to a nice meal, on me.
Uncle Frank smiles at his masked nephew and gives him an affectionate slap on the cheek before banging on the limo divider.
UNCLE FRANK: You’re a good kid.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I’m forty-one.
UNCLE FRANK: I’m not feeling very appreciative here.
As the limo comes to a stop, Mortimer looks at the stern face of his uncle, the face of a drill sergeant about to call him a maggot before demanding that he give him twenty. Twenty what, he does not know. Dollars? Sit ups? Chin ups? Twenty ways to say “I love you”? As much as he is pissed off at his uncle, the easiest and safest play would be to placate him.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I’m sorry. Thank you, Uncle Frank.
UNCLE FRANK: End of the road. Don’t make me come back here.
MORTIMER KJEDELIG: I won’t.
Mortimer steps out of the limo which speeds away once he shuts the door behind him. He takes a moment to count the cash, four hundred simoleons. He looks up to find himself face to face with a drunken degenerate who is eyeing his wad of cash like a dehydrated man crawling in the Sahara would eye a bottle of Dasani. Mortimer quickly pockets the cash and starts walking down the street. He passes a couple of youngish ladies looking a decade older than they actually are, wearing more makeup than a clown convention, dressed in their trampiest of outfits asking him for a date.
Mortimer keeps his head down and continues walking through the red light district. He hails down a cab which proceeds to take him back to the arena and back to his rental car. His smart phone, nowhere to be found. Mortimer drives back to his hotel, the Red Roof Inn.
For the rest of the evening, he laid on his bed, the television was on, playing reruns of “Murder, She Wrote” and “Columbo”, not that he was paying attention. His focus was on what his uncle had told him.
Was he falsifying certain elements of his past?
Did events not transpire as he had remembered them?
How does Uncle Frank explain the occasional pop in visits from Freddy B. Irvine, his handler?
Is he a loser?
He hasn’t won a match in PRIME. He fuckin’ lost to a fuckwit with a dancing bear. He was bested by a Frenchman. And he could not take possession of the Mask of Malice. It is almost enough to shatter one’s confidence.
The fact that he will finally get his hands on Anna Daniels is what will drive him. His Cousin Mike once told him that if you inflict enough pain on someone, you get them to do almost anything you want them to. As long as the Angelo Luchador focuses his attention on Ria, Mortimer can focus on Anna.
He worries to himself, how much pain can he inflict? How much pain can she absorb? Is this an exercise in futility?
Maybe he should forego his quest to force Anna to change his past.
Maybe he should instead focus on the Impulse Championship.
He has already taken on Ria Nightshade. Her and her altruistic bullshit. Mortimer doesn’t see her coming around to offer him her hand in support. She is a fraud. He senses that about her. She’s not better than he is and she acts so superior like she is something special.
Angelo Luchador, well, he wears a mask, so he’s clearly hiding something. Mortimer could do the research but he doesn’t want to. Not when there is money in his pocket and a card game somewhere.
Winning the Impulse Title would shut the traps of anyone who has doubted him. It would silence the naysayers. It would prove to the Uncle Franks and Tara LaMacchias of the world that Mortimer Kjedelig (aka Rowan Scatino) is not a fuckin’ loser.
A championship around his waist would change everything. It would give him something that, deep down, he desperately wants: Validation and credibility.
He is just a man who has made some questionable decisions in his life.
And at “Great American Nightmare”, there is the chance that all those decisions can be reversed and his dreams will be realized.