Clark County Correctional Facility, Las Vegas, NV
Friday, January 7, 2022 – 3:00pm
A black sedan pulls into a parking spot in a half-full lot near the front main entrance to the county jail. Both front doors swing open and two men clad in neatly-tailored suits step out. They’re young.
MAN #1: “This place is deserted. I mean hooray for the good parking spot and all, but it’s kind of depressing.”
MAN #2: “Half the staff probably have COVID. Speaking of which…”
Man #2 removes a mask from a coat pocket and pulls it over his face, securing the two white straps behind his head before running a gloved hand through dark brown slicked-back hair.
MAN #1: “Oh, fuck me. I forgot my contacts.” (Fidgeting with a mask over his thin-rimmed glasses) “You know what, fuck it. If they’re just gonna fog up anyway, I’ll go without ’em and you just make sure I don’t wander into the showers, okay?”
Man #2 steps forward and puts a hand on Man #1’s shoulder.
MAN #2: “Listen, Dickie, it’s time to focus. We’re here, we’re doing this. We’ll show everyone we have what it takes to elevate PRIME to greater heights than any of them thought possible.”
DICKIE: “I know, Benj, I was just…my glasses…nevermind. I understand what’s at stake. This is a big deal for us.”
BENJ: (Toussling Dickie’s mop of red hair) “Let’s go get our man.”
Inside the facility, Dickie and Benj are escorted through a metal detector before being approached by a guard holding gowns, gloves, and goggles.
GUARD #1: “Full PPE.”
BENJ: “Of course.”
INTERCOM: “Who are they here to see?”
GUARD #1: (Leaning towards the wall unit) “Inmate 171206, Vega.”
INTERCOM: “He’s in isolation.”
GUARD #1: (Turning to Dickie and Benj) “It’s mandatory with all incoming transfers. Your guy just got shipped in from Tacoma.”
They’re led through a series of gates to a central hub room and a door to their left buzzes as it unlocks. The guard waves for them to enter. Dickie bangs his shoulder on the door frame and cries out.
GUARD #1: “You alright?”
BENJ: “He forgot his contacts.”
The guard gestures towards a long table and group of plastic chairs.
GUARD #1: “This is the visiting room where you’ll meet with him. We should have him for you in a few minutes.”
He nods and exits the room, clicking it shut behind him. Dickie and Benj pull up a couple of the plastic chairs and sit.
DICKIE: (Rubbing his shoulder) “I know we’ve been over this, but remind me again…what did Nova do to get all jammed up in the first place?”
Stars shine down on tall grass that sways in the breeze outside a log cabin nestled against the side of a forested hill. Figures move through the grass quietly, assembling outside the front entrance to the cabin, where a light from inside illuminates a sliver of the yard in a beam of light. The figure furthest in front motions to someone behind him, and collectively the group un-holster sidearms and rifles. Two figures step forward on either side of a large multi-handled cylindrical tube. They swing it back once and then…
…the wooden doorframe explodes and the door swings open as the figures swarm into the cabin.
“SHOW US YOUR HANDS!”
At the far end of the main room, Nova sits in a straight-backed wooden chair, a lit cigarette in his right hand. He snuffs it into an ashtray on an adjacent stool and slowly raises both hands over his head.
TROOPER: “Watch those hands, boys! He fights for a living! Those things are probably registered!”
NOVA: “I’m not moving.”
A trooper steps forward, wrenching Nova’s arms down behind his back to cuff them. Nova winces in pain.
BENJ: “They thought he was distributing…like Pablo Escobar-level shit…”
DICKIE: “Damn…how long has he been in?”
BENJ: “Four years.”
They’re interrupted as the door clicks open and Nova steps inside the frame, his red scrubs a stark contrast to the muted off-white tones that bathe the visiting room. A wild mop of wiry blonde hair encircles his bald head in a kind of unruly horseshoe. A thick brown beard pokes out at every opportunity from behind his N95 mask, streaks of grey noticeably present. Benj hands him one of the chairs nearby and he takes a seat.
BENJ: (Grinning) “I don’t even know what to say.”
DICKIE: (Holding out his arms) “There’s so much!”
NOVA: “Are you guys here to tell me why I’m in Las Vegas and not Tacoma? My caseworker didn’t say anything about a transfer.”
DICKIE: “We’re here to tell you so much more than that.”
BENJ: “We brought you here…and now we’re bringing you home.”
NOVA: “The government seized my cabin and auctioned it off at a tax sale.”
BENJ: “Not that home.”
DICKIE: “We’re talking about PRIME, Nova.”
BENJ: “PRIME is back. PRIME is back, and you can be part of it.”
Nova’s eyes go wide and he leans back in his chair.
NOVA: “Wait, is everyone else dead?! Is that why you’re scouting talent at the local lock-up?!”
NOVA: (Breathing heavily) “Jesus! Lindz, Flyer, Sonny…I really should’ve done more letter-writing…”
BENJ: “They’re not all dead, Nova.”
DICKIE: “I mean, statistically speaking, someone’s probably dead. But it’s not like that.”
BENJ: “Lindsay Troy and some of the others, they resurrected the place. And we were sent here by the company because you need to be part of this thing.”
DICKIE: “There’s a lot of energy right now. Lot of momentum. People are pumped.”
BENJ: “When PRIME was humming along, it was in a league of its own, we don’t have to tell you that. And the excitement around this reopening is HUGE. We have a full roster, and Nova, we’re telling you, these guys are ready to COMPETE. No offense to the Wrestling Gods, but this new generation, they could run laps…”
DICKIE: “The new guys are ready to roll, and they’re good. Like, good. Buuuuuuuut, a lot of ’em…”
BENJ: “They’re new guys. This reopening, for a standard-bearer like PRIME, we need to reach some of the old heads. People want to see the names. The people who built this place.”
NOVA: (Holding out a hand) “Guys…” (long exhale) “…I don’t how to ease into this so I’ll just rip the band-aid off. I’m serving a jail sentence. I’m in the custody of the Secretary of the Department of Corrections of the State of Washington.” (Looking around) “Or at least I was.”
BENJ: “We’ve got that worked out. The fans need a connection to the company’s history…”
NOVA: (Wincing) “I’m ‘history’?” (Counting fingers) “I guess that checks out…”
BENJ: “Poorly-worded. You’re a Hall-of-Famer, Nova. No one who knows anything about PRIME can talk about the place without mentioning your name. We need you to help us clear the runway on this reopening. And if you’re with us, we can get you out of here.”
DICKIE: “We’ve put together a plan. You’ll obviously still be in DOC custody and subject to all of their rules. But we’ve got approved housing, we’ve got work and medical releases, approved schedule of events, check-ins, curfew…”
BENJ: “We’ve checked all the boxes. We’ve been assured through back channels that this is as good as done, we just have to put it in front of the Parole Board.”
DICKIE: “There’s a hearing scheduled on Zoom for tomorrow. There shouldn’t be any issues…if…”
Nova’s eyes shift back and forth between them.
NOVA: “What? If what?”
BENJ: “You gotta stop talking to your dead wife in public.”
Nova sits next to his lawyer at a table in front of the Parole Board, dressed in a ratty button-up shirt and slacks.
CHAIRWOMAN: “Counsel, does Mr. Vega have any witnesses he chooses to present?”
LAWYER: “Your Honor, I…”
Nova pushes back his chair, stands up, and gestures to an empty bench in the back of the hearing room, his eyes brimming with tears and a wide smile on his face. His lawyer covers her face. The Chairwoman’s mouth hangs agape, her eyes slowly shifting from the board member to her right, to the board member to her left.
DICKIE: “It’s not a good look.”
NOVA: “I know.”
BENJ: “It freaks people out.”
NOVA: (Resting fingers over the bridge of his nose) “I know.”
DICKIE: “You’ve been denied parole at least twice because of it.”
NOVA: (Looking up, eyes narrowing) “I know.”
DICKIE: “Ooooookay…” (Looking down at notepad) “…covered that one.”
Saturday, January 8, 2022 – 2:00pm
In the back seat of the sedan, Nova reaches down and gently runs his fingers over his ankle bracelet. Its little green light blinks like a heartbeat. He looks up to the front seat where Benj is driving and Dickie rides shotgun.
NOVA: “That hearing was…a little much for me. Can we go over this plan again?”
BENJ: (Grinning) “Dickie, tell him the plan.”
Dickie leans back, spreading his hands.
DICKIE: “We’re calling the promotion ‘Jail Cots to Jackpots.'”
He pauses for dramatic effect. Nova stares blankly.
NOVA: “That’s a fucking terrible name.”
DICKIE: “Um, thanks for the unsolicited feedback, and also – no, it’s not.”
BENJ: “It tested well.”
DICKIE: “Tackling police brutality head-on is too political, but everyone agrees that first-time youthful offenders charged with single-count nonviolent misdemeanors should at least be given the chance to be released from jail.”
BENJ: (Raising a fist) “Abolition! End mass incarceration!”
DICKIE: “…hands on the wheel, Benj. If they pass the screening process – no disciplinary reports while inside – then we can hire them on to work for the company’s residency at the Grand!”
BENJ: “PRIME gives back to the People…”
DICKIE: “…and the People help a company get back on its feet.”
NOVA: “I’m a convicted felon. Felonies. Plural.”
DICKIE: “For you we made an exception. Listen…PRIME opening its doors again is a huge deal. It’s sending shockwaves through the wrestling world. This kind of promotion will be a game-changer…exactly what we need to-”
DICKIE: “What the company needs to come out of the gates guns blazing.”
BENJ: “Do you need anything before we get to the hotel? Smokes?”
NOVA: (Sighing) “I don’t know…I’ve been in for a long time. May be a good opportunity to kick the habit altogether. Not getting any younger…”
DICKIE: “Fair enough. So, about the tournament…”
BENJ: “The Almasy Invitational. Honoring the Big Guy.”
NOVA: “Somehow I got word about Seymour.” (Looking out the window) “He was a good dude.”
DICKIE: “Well, you can doff your cap to the old boy by beating the shit out of some strangers. And on that note…”
Dickie turns to Benj, who winces and nods.
DICKIE: “So they made you a one-seed.”
NOVA: (Eyes widening) “I’ve been incarcerated for four years.”
DICKIE: “There’s more.”
NOVA: “I’m in my forties!”
BENJ: “There’s this ‘bounty’-style…thing…where if someone beats you…”
DICKIE: “Specifically you.”
BENJ: “…specifically you, then they get a Universal Title shot at some point between Culture Shock and the Great American Nightmare.”
DICKIE: “…and your first opponent does vampire shit.”
NOVA: “Pull over.”
Outside a rest-stop convenience store, Nova lights a cigarette and takes a deep drag.
NOVA: “If there’s fire…”
BENJ: “Calm down.”
NOVA: “…if there are buckets of fake blood…”
DICKIE: “We don’t know that will be the case.”
NOVA: “…if there are buckets of REAL blood…”
BENJ: “Those aren’t easy to come by.”
NOVA: “…if he’s got minions – I swear to fucking god, if he’s got minions I will instruct the crowd to jump the guardrails and I bet they’ll fucking do it, too…”
Nova takes a deep breath and brings the fingers of his left hand together over his heart, centering himself.
NOVA: “Alright. Alright.” (Taking a drag) “Let’s get to the hotel so I can take a REAL shower.”
The MGM Grand Hotel, Las Vegas
Saturday, January 8, 2022 – 3:00pm
Benj pops a bottle of champagne and gestures grandly around the hotel suite.
BENJ: “Not bad, right? Bit of an upgrade on your old digs?”
He pours up three flutes and extends one to Nova, who’s seated in a chair next to a window that looks out over Vegas.
NOVA: (Pointing to his ankle bracelet) “This thing doesn’t just tell them where I am, it’ll detect any traceable amount of alcohol in my system through my sweat.”
BENJ: “Riiiiiight…” (Turning to Dickie) “Well, more for us, then!”
Benj and Dickie clink their glasses together.
BENJ: “Jail Cots to Jackpots!”
DICKIE: “Jail Cots to Jackpots!”
Nova smirks and shakes his head.
DICKIE: “Yeah, what?”
NOVA: “You idiots expect me to believe that you got this cleared through Lindsay Troy?”
Benj and Dickie pause, staring at each other.
NOVA: “That Lindsay Troy green-lit a program whereby prison inmates could be furloughed to provide labor for PRIME’s grand reopening? That that would be a positive PR move?”
NOVA: “What the fuck did you guys do?”
NOVA: “I mean, I’m sitting here and not in jail, so clearly you did something.” (Pointing at Dickie) “And you…I know you. I know your face.”
NOVA: (Grinning) “Yeah, I know you. You’re Dickie Parker. You’re Rich Parker’s kid. I remember you running around backstage back in the day.” (Turning to Benj) “Who the fuck are you?”
BENJ: (Shoulders slumping) “My dad’s a wealthy investor in the company.”
NOVA: “Tell me what the fuck is going on, boys.”
DICKIE: “We just wanted to do something ourselves!! We wanted to be taken seriously!”
BENJ: “We can help this company! We’re tired of being treated like fucking staff brats around here!”
DICKIE: “We knew PRIME needed one of its legends for the reboot, we knew you were having issues getting paroled, so we put together a plan…”
BENJ: “…and we may or may not have forged a few signatures to get it past the parole board.”
Nova drops his head into his hands and takes a deep breath.
NOVA: “I really wish I could drink right now.” (Rubbing temples) “Okay…okay. She is going to kill all of us.” (Gesturing in a wide circle) “ALL of us. But we can sort this out. We can shut this down and do some damage control. You haven’t advertised this program or extended it to anyone else…”
Benj and Dickie look at each other nervously.
Benj and Dickie stand back in front of the bulletin board in the lobby of Clark County Corrections. They’ve successfully papered over the Prison Rape Elimination Act notices and advertisements for bail bondsmen with flyers touting the Jail Cots to Jackpots program. They give each other a high five.
NOVA: “Oh, fuck.”
There’s a knock at the door to the hotel suite. All three turn their heads to the door. Benj and Dickie look back to Nova.
NOVA: “Don’t look at me! Answer it!”
Dickie walks over and opens the door. A young man stands in the doorway holding a flyer. Nova’s eyes drift down to the ankle bracelet blinking green on the young man’s right leg.
YOUNG MAN: “Um, I’m reporting for the Jail Cots to Jackpots program?”
NOVA: “I need a fucking cigarette.”