Private: Larry Tact
The building looked industrial, maybe a warehouse or a factory, like many others in Queens, NY. It was not a place where you would think anything suspicious or nefarious was happening. In fact, there wasn’t, but the place was more of a destination venue than you would also think.
If you know, you know.
Inside, the building had been gutted and repurposed into an entertainment venue. There are large pipes that run along the walls and along the rafters of the high-ceilings, giving the impression of a previous alternate purpose for the structure. Now, it serves as ‘rugged charm’ for those who come looking for a concert or show. There is lighting from candlelight in mason jars hanging from exposed wooden beams. Two bars are at either end of the main lobby area, which isn’t terribly large, but decorated with photos of singers and local theater performers who have passed through the venue’s halls. There are some patrons getting drinks or small bites offered, while others bring in more substantial grub from food trucks stationed outside. House music ranges from rock ‘n roll to alternative to easy listening.
There is one main stage on the ground level, and one substage in the basement. Downstairs, we find it empty tonight as there is no scheduled performance. However, one man stands in the auditorium, looking at the empty space for attendees to stand and vibe, with the stage behind him. Larry Tact has his golden-blonde hair tied back, wearing an ocean-blue hoodie and grey denim jeans. He looks around, seemingly lost in thought, until a man’s voice disrupts his reverie. “You know, when you stew in the past, the present will pass you right before your eyes.” Larry whirls around to face the stage, where a middle aged man on the latter side of the mid-century mark stands. His salt-and-pepper hair is also tied back, extending down his back and his goatee of the same color is neatly cropped. He raises a hand to wave to Larry, who walks over and looks up at him with a smirk.
“You know I have a fondness for reflection, Jack, until I settle things in my mind,” Larry reaches up with a fist and pounds Jack’s.
“You here for the show upstairs or just to loiter around like a vagrant?” Jack puts snark on the question.
“Date night, actually,” Larry replies, gesturing out of the auditorium, “My wife wanted to hit up the Yankee Doodle Dandy’s truck outside. I thought I’d take a trip down to the old Cellar.”
“Great chicken sandwich, those dandies,” Jack remarks, chuckling, “This is far from the Cellar you remember, though. That was a long time ago, when I was in fighting shape, myself,” he recalls, scratching his goatee in remembrance.
Larry shrugs, “It figures you’d take over the place. You practically made a second home here, as much as you fought. Never wanted to branch out of the local scene, though?”
“I knew I wouldn’t last out in the ocean, King of the World. But in a smaller pond, ripe with quality competition? I could be content being King of the Block.”
Larry nods at Jack. “You were smart enough to know when to get out, and not overstay your welcome surrounded by steel chains. Now you’re here, running a show venue. Does it ever feel weird knowing your basement probably still has literal blood seeped into the cement?”
“When you’ve spilled as much blood as I have over the years, not a lot phases you no more. In your wrasslin’ rings, I’m sure it doesn’t stop you from your day to day, or else you’d have tucked yourself away in your office a long time ago. Word is you couldn’t stay away just yet, though,” Jack says with a surly grunt.
“Logan’s almost heading to college. I wanted to show him what the old man can do, not to mention find some new scores to unsettle while I have the wherewithal to compete,” Larry flashes a smirk, then looks down at the floor, tracing an unseen circle with a finger. “It was right around there, yeah? In the middle?”
“Sure was, maybe the most gnarly cage you’d ever seen in the early 2000’s. I don’t know how often they touched that piece of crap up, but it felt sturdy as any brick wall when you hit it.”
“I never went in there for a fight, but I’ll take your word for it,” Larry says.
“Real talk, though, Larry. What’s got you thinking of practically ancient history?” Jack hops down from the stage, standing next to Larry, who turns and faces him.
Larry pauses for a moment, looking at the older man solemnly. “Remember a man by the name of Ramon? Salvador Ignacio Ramon?”
“That’s a name I haven’t heard in quite a while. Of course I remember, but not for the best of reasons, sad to say. The man died here, after all,” Jack scratched the back of his head. “Not that men didn’t risk their health every night in the cage, but that Ramon? Not to disrespect the dead, Larry, but I know you can take it straight… the guy was on a collision course with his end. Almost seemed to have a death wish with the amount of times he got back up. Again, no disrespect meant.”
“No worries, I understand what you mean,” Larry holds a hand up momentarily, with a curt nod. “He had the heart of a champion, but he never seemed all together to make a run to the top. People ended up viewing him as a ‘tomato can,’ an ideal stepping stone for younger fighters. It’s too bad he couldn’t disrupt that narrative more often than not,” he shook his head.
“You knew him more towards the end of his career, well, his life. Back in the 90’s, the man came in here and could wreck guys in half a round. Problem was, he couldn’t contain that thrill to the ring. He made a habit of seeking the thrill, had a penchant for it. He got the wrong advice, and never ended up being the same. Real tragedy, that one,” Jack reminisces aloud.
“Yeah, well, after that his mother wanted nothing to do with being in New York anymore. She thought it would ruin her, and her son, Cesar. At the same time, she was torn because he had grown up here, made friends, and was finishing high school. Her husband hadn’t left them much, due to his habits, but I hashed out an agreement with her. He had a sharp mind and potential to do great things, plus he had applied to schools and gotten accepted to a few. Only thing holding up a decision was funds, so I paid for his tuition out of respect for Salvador. His mother ended up agreeing to stay until he finished senior year and got setup in his college dorm, then went to Puerto Rico to live. She didn’t want to leave him, but the pain was too much for her. Anyway, it’s not like she couldn’t call him, and I was here, too. She did as much as she needed to get him where he needed to be,” Larry recalls.
“Seems like that worked out pretty well, then,” Jack says, clapping Larry on the shoulder. “What’s bugging you, then?”
“Getting haunted by the past. See, when Cesar was finishing school, I took him on for an internship at Tact Enterprises. He’s worked for me ever since, fulfilling that potential I saw years ago. He’s like my second son, in a lot of ways. Recently, though, Cesar got the itch to learn more about his father, and he ended up starting wrestling training. I found out when we was well on his way, or I’d have deterred him, but maybe that was the point,” Larry shrugs.
“You find me here, running this joint, Larry. You can’t take the fighter out of the bloodstream, the genes, man. People find their way to their fates. It’s not a matter of encouragement or deterrence,” Jack paces around the estimation of where the octagonal cage would have been in the now-vacated audience space.
“I’m a believer in making your own fate,” Larry retorted. “I allowed Cesar an alternate path, but I guess he has a right to know about how his dad was, once. He had only really remembered seeing him towards the end, when Salvador brought him to watch. I thought he wanted to make one more run for the kid.”
“Possibly, but the demons don’t take pity on sentimentality,” Jack noted. “It sounds like this story doesn’t have a great ending, either.”
“Once I knew he had already committed, I took up overseeing Cesar’s training. Then a couple months back, he stormed into my office and accused me of being an accomplice to Salvador’s… last days,” Larry ran a had through his hair. “It seems someone leaked some story to him, information that definitely hd some distortions. I didn’t kill anyone, much less a man I’d been a sparring partner for,” Larry says defensively.
“Did he listen to your side?” Jack offers.
Larry sighs, “Nah, he didn’t believe me, and I haven’t seen him since. I guess that drew my eye to coming back here.”
Jack stops pacing and looks up. “I don’t envy having to convince the young man you’re innocent, Larry, but I wish you all the luck. You know, if you do end up talking to him, there’s some real tough truths about Ramon that will need to be told. Not the type of things a young man wants to hear about his father,” he admits.
“I’m not concerned with pleading my case for innocence. Cesar honestly knows the kind of person I am, having worked with me for well over a decade. He knows I’m capable of some ugly things, but this? It’s beyond the pail. I can be vicious, even sadistically driven at times. Hell, I just threw a man off a second floor balcony onto an escalator last month, so I could defend a title. I get I’m never winning Humanitarian of the Year, and that’s fine by me. I’m making the moves that will put me on an ascendant track, but it never helped me to assist Salvador’s downward spiral. I only did what I was asked, and didn’t see the signs like I do now. I was a twenty-something year old who was sparring to keep his wrestling skills sharp. I don’t go helping someone down the path to their end. Cesar will come around, and realize as much,” Larry states with as much confidence as he can muster, while beating back hints of creeping doubt.
“I hope he does, and you’re able to put this all behind you,” Jack walks up to Larry and gives his arm a smack. “What’s next for you in the ring, anyway?”
“I just worked a date in Evansville, Indiana, and came back to do a few college visits with the wife and son. Scary to believe I survived on Earth long enough to take my son for college visits. Not gonna lie, it felt a little surreal. Next I’m flying out to Vegas for a PRIME Wrestling show, their sixth ReViVal.”
“PRIME… I remember when they were around back in the day, yeah,” Jack recounted. “Guy named Nova was a big deal. I hope you enjoy it, anyway. Don’t come back with a bunch of lumps for college admins to judge you on,” he chuckles as Larry takes his phone out.
“Yeah, they’d love that first impression,” he says sarcastically as he reads. “Oh, Cindy is wondering where I went off to. I’d better get back with the masses before she starts kicking their asses,” he jokes, and the two shake hands. “Good to talk, Jack.”
“You ever want to go a round in a cage, Larry, let me know and I’ll find a spot to whoop on you a little,” Jack makes a little show of shadow boxing, and they both laugh. “Take care, and get that business sorted out.”
“Trying, believe me,” Larry says before proceeding through the doorway of the auditorium and up the stairwell.
The following statement has been written and authorized by LARRY TACT. It is to be distributed by PRIME to those parties they deem appropriate to receive. These will represent official remarks from LARRY TACT ahead of his match at ReViVal 06:
- I haven’t been around the PRIMEates for some time. My last match was at ReViVal 04, where I was unjustly dealt a defeat in the Five Star Scramble qualifier. It was about as unpleasant a loss as I’ve had to endure since I returned in 2021, considering the eventual victor went on to be the disgrace known as Jonathan-Christopher Hall. Moreover, even the pinfall was flukish, which only makes the ‘loss’ in the record books all the more fraudulent. It’s not the way I envisioned my start in PRIME to unfold…
Yet, I remain present and ready to attack at ReViVal 06. My career has hardly been a smooth upward track. I’m not a superstar, after all, I’m a wrestler. You take lumps along the path to success, that’s a reality of life and wrestling. Misleading as the record books can be, my path will not be flawless, and the opponents will look to use that as fodder for my future downfall. Unfortunately for them, they’ll find the numbers on a page of a book are the easiest thing you can criticize when it comes to Larry Tact. When you step into the ring with me, I’ll be more than happy to lump up your face like an abstract art canvas. Within minutes, any thoughts of escaping past me with a victory will seem but a humble dream, crushed by the harsh reality of our match.
Speaking of humble, though, we have my opponent for this match: Phil Atken. A man who certainly has seen some things he’d like to forget, if he’s wanting to reenter a wrestling ring at this stage of his life. I thought I was going to be an elder statesmen in this iteration of PRIME, but the remaining years Phil can compete are certainly dwindling for this FIFTY-something. My man, what brings you to a PRIME ring? Was the marketplace insurance not working out at your other day job? Did you think you were signing up for Guy Fieri’s Grocery Games, and accidentally signed a show contract to wrestle? Take it from me, you aren’t missing out much on the Grocery Games front. Either way, it’s a horrid mistake on your part, given you’re now in the untenable position of facing me coming off a two match losing streak in this place. Needless to say, I won’t be sorry if I lose you a few memories due to head trauma. Not only am I in need of getting in the black here, but I’m hardly in a mood to hold back. In fact, I’m looking for someone to uncork some pent up frustration and acrimony on. No need to overthink it, Dr. Phil. I’ll lay it out real plainly: You’re prognosis for ReViVal 06 is a fresh bill of pain on those creaky joints, your brain screaming regret on returning, and your tactful surrender in this match.
But don’t take me to be presumptuous, Atken. The truth hurts, and you’re fighting the uphill battle here. To a point, I can sympathize your effort to step back into the ring at an advanced age. Sympathize, not empathize, because I’m hardly at the point in my life where I look at my morning breakfast and think, “You know what would make my day a little brighter? Signing up to get punched in the face and twisted like a damn tuba.” At this point, though, a piece of brass may have more durability than you, but I digress. I can sympathize because I’m trying to reconcile the end of another aging fighter, one from my own past. He was full of piss and vinegar, as I bet you are. That’s what it must take to haul your carcass into a squared circle as a fifty-something, right? This guy didn’t make it to fifty, but he fought with everything he had. The problem is, that simply isn’t always enough. It wasn’t a question of his determination, the fight he had in him, or his ability to take a hit. He had all of that, and he knew how to take advantage of an opportunity. He had a nickname… “Cheapshot,” for how deftly his sleight of hand was. He seemed to have a knack for when the referee’s view would be obstructed and made the most of those critical moments. It helped him in a number of fights, but in the end, he faced demons that were beyond the effect of his capabilities. In the ring, he would draw the wrong card, facing someone who didn’t have sympathy for his struggle. The never give up, never say die fighter had his fire extinguished, against his will… and maybe to his own relief. Because he never would have stopped, had someone not stopped him.
It’s a telling tale for you, Atken. There’s no reason you need to go down in flames with any such finality as my old friend the fighter. However, it’s clear you need someone to show you that you’re stepping into territory that you do not belong. At the very least, your first match is one in which you will be overmatched. If you somehow make it through this match and think, ‘I want more!’ then maybe you’ll stumble across someone that’s more susceptible to your ‘wily’ instincts or piss and vinegar. As for me? The only thing you’ll be pissing on is yourself, when I stretch you sideways and make you sing to the bloodthirsty, lowest common denominator PRIMEates seeking their slice of entertainment.
As I said, I’m seeking to start my ascent in PRIME. Conversely, Atken, this will only be the start of your end. I’m not going to say I’ll retire you because you’re obviously too foolish to make that sort of smart decision for your well-being. I’m not saying Lindsay Troy and the other executives of PRIME will be embarrassed and disgusted by the performance you put on, and how I utterly extinguish your hopes for a roaring first match in PRIME. In fact, I’m expecting that you put up a good fight. If you don’t, I’d hardly be able to release the aggressions I have for the two fluke losses I’ve endured thus far in my own tenure. Just like ole “Cheapshot,” I need someone who can take some damage and keep on getting up. Of course, unlike that tuba, I doubt you’re going to absorb too much punishment before a few bones break beneath the skin. What are EMT’s and hospitals for, though, am I right? And being paid by PRIME, you’ll be able to sign up for the GOOD marketplace insurance. It’s all gonna work out, P.A.
You may want it to be a grand first match for yourself, filled with all those fun traditional moves that even the pea-brained PRIMEates can easily digest. You envision a crowd that may not understand why the hell you’re in the ring, but they at least understand you’re worth being there. You want to be recognized, acknowledged for your efforts. However, I offer you all of those things in my scenario, too. You could still pull off those classic hits like the Atomic Drop, the Back Rake, and even the dreaded Rope Burn. I’m not flawless, right? You’re bound to have a burst of offense at some point. The fans can have a moment – albeit a fleeting one, but don’t look more pathetic begging for more than you get – where they connect to the bill of goods you’re selling. Maybe they think this vintage purveyor of whine will throw some sharp cheese with the old mussels. In that moment, perhaps they will acknowledge your worth on this roster.
In the end, you can have all that… and still fall short. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but you need to know your place when it comes to facing me. I lost on a technicality and a fluke, and at ReViVal 06, the match WILL end with MY HAND BEING RAISED. I’m not above giving you all those validating emotions I stated above, but those are moments. You need more than moments to achieve victory, and that’s my prize to claim.
I’m a man of humble principles, but I have no time nor patience to fend off claims of abusing the geriatric. If you try and test me, though, I’ll have no choice but to do what’s tactful…
Breaking your non-brass balls to bits, and showing why you were better off settling for three square meals, rather than stepping inside a squared circle.