C. Mortgomery Byrnes
It was another dry, sweltering hot day in Las Vegas. The former Alias Champion was sitting in the foyer of Tony Gamble’s office enjoying the air conditioning that hotel and casino provided him as he waited. And how long had he been waiting? Tony had told him two o’clock. Montgomery Byrnes arrived twelve minutes early. The time as he sat there was almost a quarter after three. A clear power move for Tony to have kept him that long, but it all part of the game. Some level of posturing was to be expected.
Mortgomery knew what this was about. He had to answer for “Tropical Turmoil”. He had lost the Alias Championship to some sniveling little media whore. Morty knew he was to blame. He did not have his “A” game. He was distracted. Arthur Pleasant. That creepy bastard sidelined Kohime Mori. True, he and Kohime were not on the best of terms but he could not just turn off his feelings. He made a choice, did that choice mean he no longer cared about Kohime? Did the choice mean that he wanted to see Kohime suffer? No and no.
Arthur Pleasant got into Morty’s head….so Morty cracked Arthur Pleasant’s with a rusty piece of rebar. Morty hoped that Arthur suffered some tetanus from those blows and even that would be far less than he deserved. In an ideal world, a tube would shoved up Arthur Pleasant’s rectal cavity and a ravenous rat would enter the tube. The rat would burrow into Arthur’s ass ripping away at his colon upon clawing through his sphincter and proceed to eat his insides causing a long and painful death.
Time makes a man’s mind wander and Tony had given Morty plenty of it.
Morty patted the top of his legs with his hands like a bongo, managing to carry a beat until Domingo Cruz (who had been standing guard at the door) waved the masked man over. Morty did as he was told: He rose from his chair, adjusted his black suit with a neon blue criss-cross pattern, reached into his pocket, gave the satin tie a little squeeze for good luck, and headed towards the door.
Mortgomery Byrnes entered the lavish office of Tony Gamble. If there was one thing Tony wasn’t, it was subtle. Morty could swear there was an original Degas hanging by the window overlooking the Vegas strip. The door closed behind as Domingo Cruz took his position just over Tony’s right shoulder. Frank Pastore stood in front of the door. Morty took a seat across from Tony whose stonefaced gaze had not left him from the moment he was led into the room.
TONY GAMBLE: You got something to say to me?
MORTY BYRNES: Nope.
The question was a trap. It was always a trap. Even when Morty was a child it was a trap. When he was about eight years old, his mother asked that question. Hee had been roughhousing with his brothers due to a disputed call during the always controversial “indoor wiffle ball game” and a vase got knocked over and they attempted to glue it back together. Several hours later, his mother asked him “Do you have anything to say for yourself?”. What could he do? He and his brothers were anything but professional vase gluers so he admitted to the crime only to find out that she had received a call from his school and informed her that he failed a spelling test. He was basically double fucked and he took his brothers down with him which made him triple fucked. He learned two valuable lessons that day: Don’t be a snitch and if there was no evidence there was no crime.
TONY GAMBLE: You assaulted Arthur Pleasant. A rather brutal assault, I might add.
MORTY BYRNES: Whoa! I was turnin’ the corner, mindin’ my own business when he lunged at me with those chompers of his! I was defendin’ myself!
There was a pause. Tony knew the story was bullshit and Morty knew that Tony knew the story was bullshit. The truth was that it wasn’t any of Tony’s business. It had nothing to do with G.A.S., so why should Morty have to explain himself? Besides, he did not feel like getting another lecture about Kohime Mori and how he hit her and how he should let it go blah blah blah,,,,
TONY GAMBLE: You know he might seek retribution for what you did, right?
MORTY BYRNES: You think I’m scared of that Frankenstein fuck?
TONY GAMBLE: I’m just saying.
MORTY BYRNES: What is it then? What, per se, is it that you are sayin’ that you’re sayin’? You sayin’ I should apologize to this prick?
TONY GAMBLE: Oh, hell no. Never apologize. It’s a sign of weakness. I’m just saying, it was quite the attack.
MORTY BYRNES: What is it then? You have somethin’ goin’ on with this human shitstain?
TONY GAMBLE: You’re misunderstanding. The truth is, I wouldn’t piss on Arthur Pleasant if he were on fire. All I’m saying is, whatever your reasoning was, I’m wondering where that Morty was during the Gamble Championship match.
MORTY BYRNES: So this is about losin’ the Gamble Championship? Tony, I get you’re upset but—-
TONY GAMBLE: More disappointed than upset. Don’t get me wrong, you had a pretty good run, but I was hoping for a great one.
MORTY BYRNES: Be that as it may, there is no sense in dwellin’ on it, it’s, uh, whaddya call it, counterproductivity. That was then, this is today.
TONY GAMBLE: Yeah, you’re right, and you’ve got bigger fish to French fry.
MORTY BYRNES: Flamber-Jay and the Impulse Championship.
TONY GAMBLE: “Intense”.
MORTY BYRNES: Oh, you know it will be.
TONY GAMBLE: No, it’s the Intense Championship.
MORTY BYRNES: Where’d I get “Impulse” from?
TONY GAMBLE: No clue. But how are you feeling about it?
MORTY BYRNES: I feel good.
Which was the truth. It had been about a year since he and Flamberge had locked up in the squared circle, back when Morty was a fresh faced noob, inexperienced in the ways of professional wrestling. Morty had learned a lot since then. He became a champion, damn it! The last time he and Flamberge shared a ring, he was employed by some crackpot conspiracy nuts to defeat the Frenchman because of some imaginary French conspiracies involving French Toast or something. This time, it’s all about the Intense Championship. And this time, during this championship bout, Arthur Pleasant would not be taking up space in his head.
MORTY BYRNES: Flamber-Jay might as well do what France is known for, throwin’ up the white flag.
TONY GAMBLE: I’m loving the confidence.
MORTY BYRNES: It ain’t confidence. It’s a guaran-fuckin’-tee. In fact, come with me.
TONY GAMBLE: Why?
The skepticism in the Grin’s tone was unmistakable but it was one thing to talk a big game, it was another to show up and win. The second the match was announced, the disappointment from losing one championship became a dream, no…a forgone conclusion that he would win another. It was important to Morty that Tony see that. After all, he would not have the success he’s had without his guidance.
MORTY BYRNES: Trust me. You’re gonna love it.
Morty led Tony, Cruz, and Pastore from the office, down the hallway, a quick elevator ride, and an excursion through the chatter, the bings, the dings, the high pitched sirens, and the clangs of the casino floor. Past the digital slot machines, the classic slot machines (the casino only had four left), past the tables – roulette, blackjack, craps – towards the door.
Normally, he would be repulsed by the sea of degenerate gamblers, sweating with desperation as they put their last fifty bucks on “red nineteen” or calculate the odds on hitting with sixteen, but today. Today, Morty walked with a swagger, one could say he was a paint can or two away from reenacting the Tony Manero strut from “Saturday Night Fever”…..
….some elderly lady with blue hair and wearing so much Bengay it would make someone with a normal sense of smell’s eyes burn attempted to exit the row of slot machines and planted her walker with tennis ball ferrules into the aisle at the exact moment Morty was walking by.
The PRIME wrestler tripped over the walker and stumbled forward knocking over a portly gent in a porkpie hat and orange Cubana shirt. The gent had been carrying a cup full of change but as Morty’s right arm came up striking his arm holding the cup of quarters. In an instant, there were slight flashes of light hitting the quarters as they flew in the air before hitting the ground in a series of clangs and jangles (changles?).
Morty’s knee hit the ground and he felt a sharp pain upon impact before he hopping back up to signify that he was alright. Admitting to any amount of pain from a circumstance such as this would be an embarrassment and not befitting an Intense Champion. Instead, he spun towards the old lady with the blue granny glasses, white beehive hair, and more makeup than a Mary Kay salesperson overcompensating for a lack of sales skills.
MORTY BYRNES: WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM, YOU STUPID BITCH!!!
OLD WOMAN: Oh…my….chest….
MORTY BYRNES: Oh, this is fuckin’ rich! You expect us to fall for this shit?
Morty raised his hand as the old woman clutched her chest and without the aid of her walker, dropped to her knee, grasping at Morty, clawing his new expensive tailor made suit. Morty looked around confused until she began hugging him, her face in his crotch, as the portly gentleman frantically picked up the loose quarters and shoved them into his pockets and bucket handfuls at a time. Confusion was about to be joined by anger.
MORTY BYRNES: Whoa! Whoa! Get away from the goods!!!!
OLD WOMAN: He’s violating me!!! Helllllp!!!
MORTY BYRNES: I’m not touchin’ you!!!
OLD WOMAN: Help!!!
As the old woman began frantically clawing at his back and rear end, the crowd in the casino had turned their attention towards the display on the floor. Morty threw his hands up in the air as if there were a dozen SWAT training their assault rifles on him as the old woman continued to scratch his lumbar, sacrum, and gluteal regions before she slunk to the ground groaning and moaning and holding her chest. Domingo Cruz and Frank Pastore each grabbed an arm and began to hurriedly escort Mortimer across the floor with Tony Gamble following.
MORTY BYRNES: I didn’t touch her! What the fuck!
FRANK PASTORE: Just keep moving.
DOMINGO CRUZ: And don’t make eye contact.
MORTY BYRNES: I didn’t do nothin’!
DOMINGO CRUZ: It’s about optics.
TONY GAMBLE: And should something come of this, the video will exonerate you. Until then, just keep moving. The casino owners are sticklers for bad press. The sooner we get you away from the situation the sooner it dies down.
MORTY BYRNES: I shoulda popped that dusty shrew right across the fuckin’ mouth!
FRANK PASTORE: Just keep moving.
DOMINGO CRUZ: Where are we going?
MORTY BYRNES: Parking lot. For fuck’s sake! If anyone was violated, it was me! She shoved her face in my crotch like she were a fuckin’ pitbull and my balls were coated in peanut butter. Did you see that shit?
Tony Gamble, Frank, and Domingo all responded the same way: in silence. Through Morty’s constant protesting, they finally made it through the double doors to the casino. Once the doors opened, Morty became blinded by the light, going from the dim ambiance of the casino to the blazing sun caused him to recoil like a vampire. They continued onto the sidewalk, Morty squinting as he attempted to gain his bearings. Pastore and Cruz let go of Morty’s arms.
MORTY BYRNES: What the fuck, Tony! Draggin’ me out like a fuckin’ drunk scumbag fuck!
TONY GAMBLE: Don’t take it so personal. We didn’t want you to do something that might get you arrested.
MORTY BYRNES: Fuck that! If I were to have done somethin’ it would have been self-defense the way she was shovin’ her face in my penile vicinity.
TONY GAMBLE: Like Arthur Pleasant?
FRANK PASTORE: Arthur Pleasant touched you in an inappropriate way?
DOMINGO CRUZ: That would explain the attack.
Mortgomery Byrnes locked eyes with Tony and said nothing. There was nothing he could say. At the end of the day, Tony was the boss. Instead, Morty had no choice but to swallow his pride and show Tony and his cohorts what he wanted to show them.
MORTY BYRNES: Follow me.
The sun and the air helped calm Morty down as he walked down the parking aisle. With each step, he had begun pushing the old woman and the chubby quarter man out his mind and focused on the excitement of what he wanted to show Tony. Towards the end of the aisle, there was a car covered in a large blue tarp parked at an angle taking up two parking spots. Morty smiled and adjusted his suit but before he could make his grand announcement, he was interrupted by Frank Pastore.
FRANK PASTORE: Disrespectful. Who does this?
DOMINGO CRUZ: Pisses me off. I took my mother to the doctor once, full parking lot, and, guess what? Same thing, some inconsiderate jerk took up to spots.
FRANK PASTORE: What’d you do?
DOMINGO CRUZ: What could I do? I was with my mother. If I wasn’t, that Cavalier would have ended up a Crapalier.
FRANK PASTORE: Mister Gamble, you want I should have it towed?
MORTY BYRNES: It’s my car! Shit! Fuck! It’s mine! I just got it!
FRANK PASTORE: You know you’re supposed to park between the lines, right?
MORTY BYRNES: Fuck you, Frank! I didn’t want some dipshit to open their car door and hit my car before showin’ you guys, okay?
DOMINGO CRUZ: That’s good thinking.
FRANK PASTORE: Prudent.
DOMINGO CRUZ: Very prudent.
MORTY BYRNES: You’re ruinin’ this moment for me, you know that, right? All the excitement is bein’ flushed like a turd down the toilet.
FRANK PASTORE: Sorry.
TONY GAMBLE (to Cruz and Pastore): You two shut your traps and let’s hear what Morty has to say.
MORTY BYRNES: Thank you.
Morty cleared his throat, he had a whole monologue planned out but whether it was the heat or the incident with the old woman or the pressure of his upcoming Intense Championship match, he had drawn a blank. He opened his mouth and nothing came out. His original speech was funny, insightful, emotional, and filled with humorous anecdotes. All he could think of at that moment was the absence of someone he wanted to include in this moment but that person hated him….and he had no idea where she was.
And yet, as they say, the show must go on. Instead of following a script this performance would need to be based on improv – and not the kind where he would ask the audience for a scenario. Knowing Frank and Domingo, they would want Morty to be a blind vegan chicken going to a steakhouse for an eye exam.
No, he would just try to remember the key points and speak from the heart.
MORTY BYRNES: Tony, earlier to hoisted upon me a particular query as the readiness that I am undergoing with regards to one Flamber-Jay. I am so ready for him that I have already spent a portion of my impedin’ Intense Championship money on this. I give you…..
Mortgomery Byrnes grasped the tarp with one hand and with one fell swoop revealed…..the front passenger side tire. With another fell swoop he revealed the front end of the car. With a third lengthy yank of the tarp, he managed to reveal in all it’s glory…..
MORTY BYRNES: The MORTcedes!
Morty had revealed a black 1991 Mercedes Benz 500e. Domingo Cruz and Frank Pastore shared an unimpressed look.
MORTY BYRNES: The French fuck thinks he’s the only one that can drive in style? Unlike the Flamborghini, the MORTcedes won’t end up sleepin’ with the fishes!
TONY GAMBLE: It’s a nice looking ride, Morty, right?
DOMINGO CRUZ: Oh yeah, yeah, sure…
FRANK PASTORE: Absolutely!
TONY GAMBLE: But maybe, you could have aimed a little higher.
Mortgomery Byrnes cocked a brow underneath the mask of his and tilted his head. Perhaps they misunderstood. Maybe the heat was affecting their vision. Their lack of genuine enthusiasm bothered Morty. How could he aim higher than this perfect piece of German engineering?
MORTY BYRNES: It’s the Mercedes 500 e. It’s equipped with the original tape deck and it works! Whaddya wanna listen to? I got some Broadway shows, some Sinatra, Dean-o, No Doubt, Britney, N’Sync, you name it! Even got the Tubthumpin’ single. Chumbawamba! Clear as day!
FRANK PASTORE: I think we were expecting something more….
DOMINGO CRUZ: ….newer….
FRANK PASTORE: ….the way you built it up and all…
DOMINGO CRUZ: Yeah.
MORTY BYRNES: You fuckin’ kiddin’ me here? What? I’m supposed to ride around in some flashy fuckin’ hot rod speed machine? That’s bein’ overcompensatory! Flamber-Jay wants to hide the fact that his sausage is the size of a cocktail weenie, that’s on him. Me? I’m secure in that particular area.
TONY GAMBLE: I don’t think that’s what they’re saying.
MORTY BYRNES: I ain’t no midlife crisis neither. Look, it don’t matter, this is the car I wanted and I got it. End of fuckin’ story. In fact, the sales guy told me to hand out his card to….
Morty reached toward his back right pocket. Empty. He proceeded to pat himself down as if he were looking for a wire to ensure he wasn’t bugging himself.
MORTY BYRNES: Where the fuck….
Morty stopped searching and his jaw dropped. Tony, Frank, and Domingo all looked at one another before they all turned their attention back towards Morty.
TONY GAMBLE: What?
MORTY BYRNES: Bitch stole my wallet!
FRANK PASTORE: The old lady?
MORTY BYRNES: No! Ariana Grandy! Yeah, the old lady!
DOMINGO CRUZ: Noooooooo…..
Mortimer turned towards the casino hotel and started marching, he was on a mission to slap that old bat right upside her wrinkled head and take back what was rightfully his….the wallet had his initials on it, dammit! About halfway to the entrance he stopped (which allowed the Grin to catch up).
MORTY BYRNES: Motherfucker….
Exiting the casino with her enormous beehive was the thieving old lady almost strutting. Without the use of a walker. He could feel rage grow inside. Sure, there could have been a more subtle way to handle it, but he chose the direct approach. He ran at full tilt towards her.
MORTY BYRNES: HEY! BITCH!!! GIMME BACK MY WALLET!!!!
The Old Woman stopped and looked towards Morty charging towards her. The gap between them was closing rapidly. Never underestimate the power of rage and adrenaline. The Old Woman did the only thing she could do, run. And run fast. As she ran along the side of the building, she had to evade a couple of people smoking their cigarettes and was forced to stop short to avoid a young tattooed woman pushing a baby carriage. Morty was an arm length away, he reached out, she turned and bolted. He managed to get a grip on her hair and…..
….the wig came off of her head….
Morty stood in shock as he saw the giant synthetic hairpiece in his hands as the not-so-old woman leapt over a parked convertible, scaled a fence, and disappeared around a corner.
Mortimer looked off to where the woman disappeared and heard the wheezing and panting of two winded goons.
FRANK PASTORE: I…(gasp)…don’t think she….(gasp)….was really an….(gasp)….old lady….
MORTY BYRNES: YA FUCKIN’ THINK SO???
Morty shoved the sliver wig into Domingo Cruz’s gut and walked, nay – stormed off towards his brand new car. He made a point to request that Tony get all of his Vegas contacts to search for the bitch that took his wallet. Morty knew that Tony would only want one thing in return for the use of his resources: The Intense Championship.
He wasn’t worried in the least.
He bought a MORTcedes so it was a done deal.