Your recommended auditory companion: SLEEP
“Thank you, ma’am. If you’d please stay on the line for a minute to answer a quick questionnaire describing your experience on this call, it would be greatly appreciated. Have a good afternoon.”
He disconnected from the call. That was another account settled, but there were many, many more to get through.
That, and arguably the most important call of them all: the one to Becky, letting her know he’d be home late. He hated to disappoint here, but given recent circumstances.
Ollie swiveled away from the screen. It was Morris, from Sales, casually leaning on the wall of his cubicle.
“Meeting up with the squad down at the Tiki after work. You in?”
Ollie sighed. “Man, I wish, but I already told Lipschitz I’d work over today. He’s up has been on my ass all week.”
“Ahh right,” Morris chuckled and took a sip from his oversized Raiders mug. “Better not cross ol’ Shit-Lips. Well, we’ll keep a seat open for ya in any case!”
Ollie grinned earnestly and fired back with a finger-gun. It was a hollow gesture, but at this point, he felt like gnawing his leg off just to get back to work. “Thanks, Morris. I’ll hit you up if anything changes.”
The sales associate saluted and wandered off to waste someone else’s time. Ollie turned back to his workstation and refocused. Only a couple dozen calls left to make (not including the one to Becky that he was remorsefully putting off).
He punched in the next number on the list and listened to it ring. A man’s voice answered on the other end, and Ollie threw himself into the same stock greeting that opened all of his service calls.
“Good afternoon, sir. I’m calling you today on behalf of Southwest Gas of Las Vegas, about your pending statement. I’m your service representative–”
Ollie felt something twist in his stomach. Did he really just hear that?
“OLVIR ARSVINNAR!! WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU?!”
Yes, somebody was definitely shouting that across the office. And the hoarse, croaking voice was painfully familiar.
He rose out of the chair and slowly stood up to catch a peek over the cubicle wall. Other heads rose out of their own cubicles and turned to the same corner of the office.
His fears were confirmed.
It was REZIN…
Standing on the receptionist’s desk.
Shirtless and splattered in some black filth.
High as fuck.
Scanning the room with wild, reddened eyes as though in search of someone.
Searching for HIM.
“LISTEN UP, YA SCUM!” he bellowed. “I’m lookin’ for the BUTT-DOMINATOR!! HAND OVER OLVIR ARSVINNAR!!”
Everything and everyone in the office was frozen in time. All eyes were on the unkempt intruder who had burst into the room and interrupted what was otherwise a normally
“Great Odin’s Raven…” Ollie swore under his breath.
And then Rezin’s maniacal eyes fell upon him.
“THERE you are, you BIG-DICKED BERSERKER! Now GET THE FUCK OVER HERE!”
Shit. What gave him away?
Probably the oversized Viking helmet on his head, which he almost never took off.
Can you believe some people visit Las Vegas and just go to the Applebee’s?
(yes, that line is a cross-fed callback)
Anyway, we’re there now, on a “late lunch break”. Which naturally, was the first excuse Ollie Arsvinnar could think of to get out of there.
Fresh in his mind is the painful memory of running through the office, hauling the rambling Goat Bastard over his shoulder, and storming out of there before he could embarrass him any further in front of his coworkers.
Goddamn, Lipshitz was going to have his ASS when he got back.
“I told you after that Culture Shock fiasco to never contact me again!” Ollie says ruefully. “Now you come into my work and cause a scene? What the hell is your problem, Erik?!”
“Rezin, if you’d please,” Erik replies, in the process of stuffing his face with wonton chicken tacos. “Trynna separate myself from the government name as much as I can, in case I’m on any of the feds’ watch lists.”
Arsvinnar feels his eyes roll through his head. As if the government would waste money or resources watching this asshole.
“Whatever! My point is, you being in my life is screwing everything up! What do I have to do to finally get you to leave me alone!”
Putting down half of an eaten taco, Rezin shakes his head and tsk-tsks. “Damb, Olvir… here after all these years, I kinda hoped you’d be stoked to see an old buddy suddenly and unexpectedly stumble back into your boring, mundane life and give it some much needed excitement. The fuck happened to the man they once called ‘the Scandinavian Sodomizer’?”
“LIFE happened!” Ollie retorts, pounding his fist on the bar. “And now I’m a changed man!”
He suddenly becomes aware of his surroundings. The restaurant is mostly empty, as one would expect of an Applebee’s in the resort and entertainment capital of the nation… save for the not-so-lovely bartender standing at the other end of the bar, wiping down the cocktail glasses while a lit menthol Pall Mall hangs from her lips. She watches them with only mild interest. Apparently, she’s used to weirdos.
(yes, that is a cross-fed cameo appearance)
Ollie clears his throat and reigns in the volume. “Look… I’m not the Viking-themed pornstar wrestler you once thought I was, Rezin. I have a wife and kids now! And a degree! And a career! And a mortgage! Maybe not as flashy and interesting as the triple life I once had pillaging, pro wrestling, and porn, but it’s a nice, simple existence, and one that I’m more than happy with.”
Rezin throws his head back and gargles the air. “Ohmuhfuggin’gawd that sounds so boring…”
“In any case,” Ollie continues, ignoring the remark. “Being someone who harbors a reputation for throwing women over his shoulder and carrying them off with the intent to sodomize them doesn’t exactly vibe in today’s society. To be honest, I’m ashamed of who I was back then. That was a cringey, juvenile chapter in my life, and I couldn’t be happier to have moved on from it.”
The Goat Bastard shakes his head in disbelief. “Good Gawd, man… you used to be so PUNK ROCK, and now look at you: just another assimilated slave of this consumerist society. Living the nice, plush normie life.”
“I don’t recall asking for your opinion,” Arsvinnar bites back. “Be as it may, ever since you hit me up at random a few weeks ago, you’ve given me nothing but trouble! I honestly don’t know why I let you talk me into betting all that money on you winning that title match!”
“Hey, that’s not on me!” Rezin protests. “That ref clearly had it in for me! It’s a CONSPIRACY, I tell ya! If everybody didn’t have such a boner for that ‘Suplex Sagan’, not only would I be here with that belt, but we’d be sittin’ on a MOUNTAIN of winnings!”
“But instead, I lost several thousand dollars betting on you in that match,” Olvir seethes. “And after you assured me you had it in the bag! That’s a year’s salary down the toilet!”
“Yeah… well, I lost something too,” Rezin grumbles, taking a sip of his Pabst Blue Ribbon. “Something of value to me. It was also worth several thousand dollars. And it will now be worth several thousand more, soon as the bank decides to put it up for auction.
“What, the house back in Indiana? I thought you hated that place and swore you would never go back.”
Rezin growls and rubs at his head. Clearly that situation is more complicated than he originally suspected. “You talk about losing a year’s salary. But for a ME? That house was all I had to my name. But I ain’t done yet… I’ll get it back…”
Ollie finishes his safe, non-alcoholic cranberry and club soda, eager to get back to work before shit really hits the fan. He eyes the bartender, ready for his check…
“Well, good luck to you on that end, but thanks to you, I now have to deal with the issue of the giant hole in my family’s savings account. If Becky finds out, she’ll rip my damn beard off…”
“Ah yeah, sure must suck to keep secrets from your lady like that,” he says, going back to the basket of appetizers. “And I suppose it would suck if she found out about all that missing money. Betraying the trust of your union, and all that.”
A smile forms on Rezin’s creepy, hair-lined face.
”On that note… whaddya think she’d do if she were to ever find out about your sordid past?”
Ollie’s heart sinks in his chest.
Rezin turns in his seat and glares at him like an animal. His voice comes out like a growl. “Don’t test me when I’m desperate, dude… cause that’s right where I am.”
Ollie Arsvinnar knows him well enough to know that he’s being more than serious on this threat. Panic sets in as it slowly dawns on him what this could mean.
“Rezin, if she finds out about all the ‘Butt-Dominator’ stuff… she’ll leave me!”
Rezin’s face brightens in mock surprise. “Well SHIT, dude, I guess we better hope she NEVER EVER finds out about all those years of warrin’ and whorin’! Good thing you got such a good, trusting friend like ME to keep your secrets! Ya know… so long as we’re FRIENDS, anyway! And since I’m doin’ YOU the friendly favor of keepin’ your secrets on down low, I guess you can do ME the friendly favor of helping me get that fuggin’ house back!”
Ollie melts in his seat. He knows he’s being blackmailed. He also knows there’s little he can do about it at this point. He thought his pornstar past was long dead and buried… until this scumbag crawled back into his life.
“Don’t worry, my dude,” the Escape Artist says, semi-consolingly pats him on the back. “When all this is over, I’ll repay you back every red, blood-stained cent you lost at Culture Shock, and then some!”
“No way! No more bets!” Ollie firmly shook his head. “If there’s any lesson to be learned from that experience, it’s that it’s too reckless and risky to put money down in the hope that you’ll win your matches, Rezin. Hate to say it, but… you kinda have a history of being inconsistent on that end.”
“Bah, screw the betting game!” Rezin barks before scarfing down his last wonton chicken taco. “It’s all just a capitalist ploy anyhow. But don’t worry, I got somethin’ better this time! Somethin’ BRILLIANT! Something that needs a smart, serious numbers guy like YOU to fully realize!”
Arsvinnar sighs in defeat. “Somehow, I expect this is only going to cause more trouble than what it’s worth.”
“I go where the trouble goes! Keeps life innerestin’!” the Goat Bastard crows through a mouthful of food. “
“What’s the plan then?”
Rezin doesn’t answer.
“…you don’t have one, do you?”
“Goddambit, like I told that poindexter reporter, I DON’T DO PLANS!” Rezin squawks. “That’s why I brought YOU on board! I need you to figure out how I can raise a couple hundred thousand in US dollars by winning the Five Star Championship!”
Ollie processed that internally.
“Rezin, how am I supposed to figure out how to turn you winning a championship into that much money?”
“Fuck if I know! YOU’RE the big genius now!” Rezin tosses his empty basket aside and gestures to the bartender for the check. “You got this, right? Thanks pal! Anyway… your task is to think something up in the next couple days–something novel and PUNK ROCK–and then meet me outside the Grand Garden Arena at ReVival!”
Ollie nods, but already feels a wave of dread when he realizes that the night of ReVival is when he and Becky usually host the neighborhood book club. This was quickly turning into an ever-spiraling web of lies and excuses, and it made him feel sick to his stomach.
Rezin scoots out of his seat and makes for the door.
“What are you going to be doing in the meantime?”
The Escape Artist turns around at the door. His face wears a smile that would make anyone want to put a fist into it.
“Today is Four-Twenty, amigo! And I gots dope to smoke!”