Private: Alexander Redding
January 5, 2021 @2:27 AM
“And that makes sixty-nine,” heh, nice. The smile fades after the satisfying tear of tape as another box gets stacked and ready to ship.
Back to the ‘click-clack-stack’ of folding the latest batch of Red & Ted merch hot off the screen-printing factory that was my fourth bedroom. A bump coming courtesy Grady’s latest masterstroke: Feed a little line to the dirt sheets about the assured clusterfuck of Red & Ted coming into Lindsay Troy’s vision of a rebuilt PRIME, make a weekend circuit of indy shows to knock off the rust and maybe drive the whispers into a symphony. Now wouldn’t you know it, the maestro was onto something; day two into talks.
“What are,” interrupted with a yawn, “what are you up to at 2:30 AM?” puzzled Gracey, my all-grown, little sister.
“Grace, when did you get back? I didn’t even hear you sneak in,” or the luggage she probably dumped at the front door.
“Yeah, looks like you’re pretty into something. Plane touched down twenty-five minutes ago,” my globe-hopping, fashion journalist, little sister rubbed at the corners of her eyes. “Do I need to ask?”
“Feast your eyes,” I hold out one for appraisal.
“It looks… just like the other ones, but with blue this time,” I hate when she tilts her head like a dog.
“Okay, so it won’t end up on any runways,” I relent, “but it damn sure seems to be popular with the marks.” Six letters and one ampersand set against black, worn by the anti-authoriatian and awkward alike. A sure sign if a woman was wearing one to be carrying weapons-grade daddy issues.
“Where’d the little spartan helmet go?”
Keen eye. “Well, if you’d believe it, a decade is up and, well, I’ve been working a little on trying to upgrade that particular sponsorship deal. Condoms are out, people have lowered their expectations for excitement it seems. Betting is the thrill they get now.”
Her face twists to say, ‘what,’ without speaking one word.
“I am this close to snagging a deal with FanDuel.”
Turning on a heel she tells me, “That’s actually kind of impressive. Just forgive me if I don’t have it in me to be excited right now; It was midnight in London when I boarded. All I want to do is crush whatever leftovers you have in the fridge and sleep.”
“I don’t think anything is older than three days, have at,” I bellow, only to be stopped by a chime. “It seems business might just be picking up for the night. Grady!?”
The Android lights up with the display as the pile of snakes under the uncharacteristically missing bowler’s cap is live via Zoom, “Yeah, some good news.”
“Damn, it looks like you went twelve rounds with Tyson. You exactly sure this is good news?”
“Sup, bitches!?” Teddy Palmer’s energy level double mine, and six times greater than Grady’s.
“Ah great, you’re up too. Saves me from having to drag this out.”
“What’s that?” is a good question I’m happy to answer.
“Grady here says he’s got some good news. I’m thinking by the looks of him, he’s going to tell me how to save fifteen percent on my auto insurance.”
“You should’ve been in that room, and see how you fared. Actually, scratch that. You’d probably want to start a fight on principle, and Ted might just for the fun of it,” he’s not wrong. “We’ve got an agreement in place. Red & Ted are all set for this PRIME Revival, on a few provisos.”
“Of course,” Ted says in stereo with me, though his is significantly less sarcastic.
“You’ve got to take the good with the bad, Red. Never told you this was going to be sunshine and peaches.”
“Skip to the downside, Shady. Give us numbers,” I’m slightly aghast to see Ted take the lead on the business angle of it.
Grady grabs the piece of paper they no doubt slid him and uncrumples it for the class to see.
“They forget a zero or two on the end there, Mr. Patrick?” my reaction to the idea of putting aside the Vancouver work to put my body into more serious danger while earning less than the personal tax exemption a year.
“That’s per fight,” didn’t sound all that more promising.
“So then,” I prompt.
“No long term deal on the table. Trust me, I’ve battled plenty hard just to get this foot in for ya, boys. Not that it matters much, them setting up headquarters in Vegas.”
Ted takes his time trying to find out why Vegas is such a bad thing, before I help with, “Nevada; they had to pick a Libertarian fuckhole of a state to set up shop. Means Troy and Co. have the power to endeavor any of the boys without just cause.”
“And it’s not just that. I mean, I get why she’d be more than willing to let Ted starve after the little tryst and adios performance last year, but Red!? Shit, exactly what war did you get into with her? I’ve seen grieving mothers talk more glowingly about the drunk-driver that just took their baby.”
Drags a smile to my face, those burnt bridges are a warm memory.
“I’m going to need you two to be choir boys if we’re going to hit the big payday. Ted, you’re going to need to clear a drug screening, then random tests after that,” is as sincere as I’ve heard out of my dear manager, and if Ted talking business was scary…
“I don’t see that being an issue,” came with a puff of thick white clouds.
“Are you smoking right now!?”
Cough, “I have a prescription,” he scoffs, slowly lowering his hand out of frame.
It’s all he can do to shake his head, before asking a bigger ask out of me. “Red, none of the usual. Troy wants you to know that the Villainy won’t be allowed to ruin her PRIME, not out of you.”
“But that’s half the charm,” I only half say in jest.
“Did I say choir boys? I meant you’d best be fucking angels. I mean, if this is still what you boys are wanting?” Grady was doing the same math I was.
“Fuck it. My schedule is free,” Ted shrugs. “Red?”
“Sell low and buy high. A wonderful bit of business this,” I can feel my eyes tighten into a smile. “Once more unto the breach, dear friends.”
“Terrific, I’ll send you boys the contracts to sign. I think we’re done here.”
“Perfectomundo, I suddenly got this mean hankering for some grilled cheese,” Ted signs off, and leaves me wondering if I even passed a reputable watering hole on my trip to his parcel of nothing-in-particular in Colorado, or anything more advanced than a microwave amongst his possessions.
I toss back to Spotify for a little background to the logistics work at hand, though I guess I got caught smirking.
“I couldn’t help but overhear,” she is a terrible liar, let alone when jet-lagged. “You’re really getting back into this?” is broken between a bite of fried rice.
“Seems like a bad decision. All the makings of a longshot. But I think it’s fair to say I’m up for one more mistake.”
She puts the fork and bowl to one side using the free hands to frame an image of me and just laugh.
“I’ve seen that look only once before. It was the same one you had when you told mom that you weren’t going with us out to Calgary,” where she’d take my brother and sister, after Dad had been sentenced, to live with some asshat I never bothered to learn the name of. Feels like a Keith. “That same defiant 17 year old. I don’t know exactly who could put a chip like that on your shoulder, but I do know Alex Redding is going to give them Hell.”
Before this was a business, this was about brotherhood.
From the day ‘Theo’ as he went by, showed up halfway through the 3rd grade I knew I’d found a friend. In those stupid fights, I could always count on one guy to have my back. When they’d complain of Ted’s exaggerated theatrics, they’d trust me to try to keep him calm. Smoothing out Ted’s issues became a specialty, almost. He was there when I married the high school sweetheart, and there just a year and some later through the divorce.
I appreciate the challenge that’s being laid at my feet, but I know we’re going to come out smelling like damned roses. Just as cocksure that PRIME won’t make it without the two-man stable.
Blue Mountain Resort
Blue Mountain, ON
January 8, 2021 @11:15AM
“You know, when I bought you two vouchers as a gift, I was more imagining you’d be taking a friend,” I let trail off like the breath I watch rise through the winter air.
“Well, since you won’t let me wax your chest, I figure you’d want a professional to do the job,” was as if her eye roll was fast enough to bring this wintery gust.
“I’d just as soon settle for someone that wouldn’t delight in my torture, dear sister.”
“Besides, everyone else was busy.”
“Ah-ha,” I can barely get out before her elbow finds my side.
“And, that all been doing for the past three days is watch video and train. You’re kind of driving me crazy,” a funny thought to ponder as we spend almost 30 days in the same town in any given year.
“Can’t find a damned thing on this Anglo Luchador,” is followed by silence as we pass the chairlift and the cluster of restaurants. “What even is an Anglo Luchador?”
Passed the puddles and skating around the ice slicks, I usually turn due west here.
“You know, I used to love this place. Would head up to Blue Mountain six times a year, if I could, to hit the hills. I could have gone all my life without knowing they had a full service spa on the premises,” I finish as the doors slid open, a waft of flowery something hits me.
“Registration must be,” Grace led, “ah, here we are. Hello.”
“Well, hello,” came gentil from what I assume to be the owner behind the desk, well enough made up, but on in years. As Grace pulls the tickets from her purse to hand over, the count is quick, “for two?”
“No good deed goes unpunished,” I say mostly to myself.
“Oh, and this is your?,” she points at Grace.
“My brother,” I think she smiled.
“First time?” to me.
Pulling myself from the saturated pinks and pastels, and uncomfortable looking people being led around by dolled up agents of envy, I return, “That easy a read?”
“Don’t you worry, hun. You’ll be leaving this place feeling and looking years younger. If you two would just follow Shannon,” the 5’8” brunette that sidled next to the desk.
“Sure,“ was a short prayer that I would just get through this without trading hands with some fool.
“If you guys would,” combined with this practiced gesture of a bent arm and upturned palm.
“I curse whatever bastard it was that decided wrestlers must be with shorn chests.”
I follow Grace following Shannon but knock shoulders against another guy in this surprisingly busy establishment.
“Did that guy just wink at me?” Gracey had to have seen that.
“A fan’s a fan, right?” she did.
I am still trying to figure out this big brother thing. Part of me thinks that’s all passed now, and I not bother. Lord knows I am no example to be set.
All I see are wolves.
I guess that’s why it was easy enough to sign on, eyes wide, you know? The only guy that’d spare the thought of putting me under boot was in the other bracket.
And you? You should know that I’m the wolf that doesn’t bother to wear wool.
Chiropractic on Tomken,
January 5, 2021 @5:58PM
The bell above the door chimes as I step in, but I don’t see any who it’d beckon. The wood-panelled room was sprace, save for the blue glow from the fish tank against the north wall, a desk with no clerk, and seating with no one sat. I’m nosing through the decade old periodicals before a voice final greets me.
“Ah, hi. I’m sorry, we were about ready to close up for the day,” the sixty-something with a full head of silver pokes a head around the corner.
“Doc, I just need a quick adjustment,” comes through my grin-like grimace.
Intrigued, the good ‘doctor’ steps into the lobby, all six foot nothing, hairy-knuckled, with that sixpack turned keg look. “Well, I guess. Just come this way, will you?”
The office is looking just as old as the lobby had been. Pale yellow overheads touched light upon woodland wallpaper and torn-upholstered table.
“Well, let’s have a look then. I’m Barry. You are?”
“Alex,” I appreciate the short introduction and hop up to sit.
The bear-like paws hit my shoulders and Barry’s amazed that, “I haven’t seen anyone with this much tension in some time. Most guys in your state wouldn’t be able to tie their shoes. Exactly what did you do?”
“Spa day. My sister’s idea.”
“Say no more.”
A few pops and cracks later and I’m in fighting shape again.
“My thanks, Doc,” my extended hand is met. “What was the damage?”
With an ounce of compassion, and a jarful of pity he just waves the idea away.
“No, seriously?” I bargain against myself. And then an idea, as I produce an undetailed cheque from my wallet. I fill it, and sign it valid before I hand it over, over stubborn protest.
“Think it a retainer. I’m about to do something stupid, and I’m going to need a place like this from time to time. Call it an investment.”
This time it’s about building back better. I swear I’ve heard that somewhere.
But for me, I had no other options, just fight. Fight the mask standing in the other corner, alls while I fight my instinct to take the quick way to the pay window. This was the time to become less Willing.
But Villains die hard.
Still, necessity dictates creativity. What a great and terrible thing that must mean. After all, necessity is truly a mother.
Las Vegas, NV
January 14, 2021 @3:05AM
The witching hour and still I had to pass a good few revellers en route to the elevator, gilded brass flourishes, and all too bourgeoisie. It’s the poster of PRIME’s Almassy Invitational and the cartoon of the goofy honorary that sees me pass the ride counting a decade from the rosary that stays inked ‘round my wrist.
After stops at the sixth, seventh and ninth do I finally step out into equally pretentious halls of the fifteenth. Leftward to spy a hunched over sack, lanyard knocking off the wall as it swings.
“Mills? Well don’t you just look like shit.”
“Hi to you, too,” is no welcome.
“If I was the betting man you were, I’d wager those slots treated you like their slut, then you ran to find some nice young woman to pay to treat you rough,” is met with a blank expression. “I’m just busting your balls. Come on, where’s the joke in return?”
“I’m currently fuelled by five cups of espresso, and not even that is doing the job. Just,” he opens the door, “get in, would ya?”
“So, just a quick interview, that’s all?”
Yawning his way into saying, “Yup.” Elegant.
And it’s at this point I’m clear through the rather spacious accommodations to see the perky Gen Z suited up and sitting down. “He is?”
“The guy that’s doing this interview. I’m just setting up the camera then headed headlong into a pillow.”
Feeling himself talked about, it’d only be awkward to not introduce himself, “Simon Tillier,” just to make it more awkward by not knowing what to do when someone extends a fist. “You must be Alex, right? Or do you prefer Alexander? Lex? Xander? Knew an Anders once…”
Giving up and sitting down across the table, I’m happy to let this kid know, “Red is just fine.”
“Alright, camera’s all set. Just kill it when you’re done and I’ll get it to editing in the morning,” PRIME’s senior scoop-getter departed for soft sheets and shuteye.
Craning to check his hair still holds in the mirror behind, Simon tries to soothe my non-existent fears. “So, look, it’ll just be three quick softball questions. You try to make a sound bite we can run with, nothing to worry about.” Tie all centred, he asks, “Ready?” though doesn’t wait for a reply.
“Hello PRIMEates, Simon Tillier sitting down in the World Famous MGM Grand Hotel and Resort.” Just who’s this monkey to be calling the chumps out as chimps? “This time I am sitting down with Almassy Invitational participant, Alexander Redding.”
Despite the lukewarm welcome, I cross my arms and wait for the questions to start flying.
“Okay. Mr. Red, what are you looking forward to the most now that PRIME’s back, and airing exclusively on the ACE Network?” is punctuated with a plastic smile back to the rolling camera.
“Now that’s a tough one off the bat. Huh,” I can work the pantomime. “Old names coming back? A bunch of grudges that I never thought I’d have the chance to settle without local PD getting involved? Bright lights and big crowds?
“Nah, let’s just keep it at: I’m looking forward to upsetting a few folks in sore need of a fucking sense of humour and adjusting certain expectations.”
Terror fills his bright eyes for but a fleeting moment, “You aren’t supposed to swear in these. But, I’m sure they can get that in post.” And a professional beat before continuing, “You mentioned expectations, what exactly should the PRIMEates around the world expect from Alex Redding?”
“To the uninitiated, expect a fighter that’ll more than give them their money’s worth. For the faithful few familiar with, I regret to inform that this Artful Dodger has had it suggested that I just stay Artful in the land of the blue and white, and ditch the Dodger. ‘It’s Vegas,’ they say, ‘be a Golden Knight.’ Sadly they don’t know just how artful I can get. And that starts at ReVival with some Anglo Luchador.
“Do you have anything on the guy? ‘Cause I’ve dove to the deep reaches of archives from near every last federation important enough to have an archive and I got nothing.”
Conflicted that I would dare throw a question back, Simon takes his time before laying out his cards, “I’m sorry. I’ve got no idea who it is under that mask.”
“Figures,” I vent.
“One more for editing?… Okay. Can you tell me and the world just what it means now that PRIME has secured residency at the MGM Grand Arena?”
“It means I have a phone call to make to tell some very nice people that I can no longer be taking their one hundred and fifty thousand. And I have the business acumen of our fearless leader to thank for that,” seems I had a little more steam still coming out of my ears.
“Excuse me?” I ignore and let my dead sponsorship ideas lay in state.
“No, it’s a bold thing, really. I mean, I thought people had taken the phrase, ‘residency in Las Vegas,’ to mean washed up, and living on people’s fuzzy memories. Keep troughting out the old hits, no matter how sick of My Heart Will Go On Celine must have got.
“Looking at a few names in the tournament and their rankings, and maybe that was exactly what Troy was aiming for. Nostalgia acts to fleece the people out of pocket and limp on for a good six months before the charm of it all slips some. Forgive me if I don’t want to sit back and watch a bunch of one-timers hog up all the spotlight. I’ll damn sure drag this place to something better; I’ll do the kicking, they’re free to scream.”
“Nice, that should do!”
“That’s it?” I feel the momentum coming to a sudden stop.
“Yeah, you did great. Don’t even worry about it,” he’s getting up and stretching.
“O..kay,” I’m starting to think this could have been done over Zoom.
“We’re saving the longer pieces for the guys people really connect with. The Brandon Youngbloods, Nova. Hey, have you heard of this guy, Teddy Palmer?”
“Oh,” he says from behind the camera he’s gone to turn off. “I guess it wasn’t turned on. Can we do this again?”