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Ray Banks

The Last Kayfabe

 

Donít matter what city youíre in, what town. Three hundred days a year on the road, you could be in Shitsville, Ohio or New York fuckiní city. All it looks to you is another hotel room charging ten dollars for a stubby bottle of beer. Outside, you got the same old shit too: drizzle throwing a mist over the streets and their barred-up liquor stores. And you know if thereís a place with Martin Luther Kingís name on it, thatís where youíre gonna score.

"That time you fucked up New Jack," says Monty. "That for real?"

They donít always recognise me. This one canít believe a white boy pinned a former bounty hunter with four justifiables. I stare at him, wish heíd move his ass and hand over the fuckiní dimes.

"No," I say. "Wasnít for real."

"Any of that shit for real?"

Shake my head. Apart from the blood. The blood was real. The pain. Shit, you wanna talk pain, we can talk pain. I got a constant steel-band ache across the back of my neck thanks to a guitar broke over my head by an Elvis-looking motherfucker called himself The Honky Tonk Man. Then Hardcore, list it out: second-degree burns on my hands and arms; been spiked so many times with barb wire I lost count; broke all my ribs, individual and all at once; broke my sternum; eight concussions and I got a total of over six hundred stitches holding me together like a beefed-up rag doll with bad dreams.

Mightíve been sports entertainment. Mightíve been rehearsed. Bret Hart saying he never hurt anyone Ė fuck Bret Hart. But just Ďcause you planned that three-hundred-pound grizzly dropping on your ass from fifty feet in the air, didnít mean your damn bones didnít shake and break.

"What about that time Ė shit, musta been ten years ago Ė you was on RAW Ė"

"Your nameís Monty, right?"

"Yeah."

"Just making sure, Ďcause your man up the way there, he told me I should come down here and get the shit from Monty. Now I gave him the money, but you ainít given me shit but an interview. So how about we turn off the fuckiní Biography Channel and do some business?"

Run the numbers: work twenty-seven days out the month, twice daily on the weekends. Nine airplane connections a week. Adds up to a couple dimes a day. In the way-back, I didnít know a jobber who didnít pop, snort, guzzle or spike. Pills for the pain, drink or tie off to sleep, snort to wake and grapple. Better living through chemistry, and mine came boulder-shaped.

Beat those old memories like dust from a rug. No good for me in the here and now.

"You give the money to Leon?" says Monty.

I point at a stringy guy who looks like heís trying to shit his pants slowly. "That Leon? ĎCause thatís the motherfucker got my money."

Monty nods. "Thatís Leon."

"Then weíre all acquainted."

"How much you give him?"

I squint at him. Heís stalling. "Whatís the problem, Monty?"

"Ainít no problem at all, man."

Except heís looking over my fuckiní shoulder.

I turn, get the picture in Hi-Def.

Leonís quit shifting his weight, coming down on me full-bore. Got this crazy-ass chimp face on him, grin to grimace, like heís playing heel in his own private smackdown. Hands outstretched, but I knock the lunge out of him. Grab his head, bring it to mine solid Ė stamp the sidewalk as I do, force of habit. Another collision, Leon totters back. Reach for his skull, grab what I can of his hair. Adjust the tape on my fingers, sneak the razor out.

In the trade, they call it a bladejob. You need to sell a pillowstrike, you cut yourself. One time I caught a gash so bad, I made a 0.7 on the Muta Scale.

Leon tries to jerk, makes me dig an artery. I let him go as he squeals and bleeds like a chiselled pig.

He ainít the only one bleeding. I spin at a spike in my leg, see something drop to the ground as I turn and grab Monty. Motherfuckerís heavy, but I reckoned heíd carry it slow. No more bullshit: sometimes you got to close the fist and fuck somebody up. I tear into Monty, drop him to the concrete. The sidewalk opens his head at the scalp. I put my foot in his ribs, then pull back when the pain in my stuck leg is too much.

Hearing screams melt into hoarse breath now. Monty rolls onto his back. A blood bubble appears in his open mouth, pops when his lungs are empty. Look over at Leon, he canít see through the blood in his eyes. Curled up like a fuckiní baby on the ground. Sounds like heís crying.

I look at the ground: Montyís weapon, the one he stuck me with. Itís a boxcutter.

Another word we use in the trade: kayfabe. Means fake. Some jobber threw for real, tried to hurt you, that was breaking kayfabe. You didnít do it unless you wanted your fuckiní papers.

These two: kayfabe fuckiní dealers, no stones to back Ďem up. Broke roles Ďcause they reckoned me another crackhead cracker.

Thinking now, picturing these two hanging out with their pipe-hitting pals: "That whiteboy wrestler, Babyface Ė you remember that motherfucker? He came round my shit wanting rocks, man. Me aní Leon, we fucked that boy up."

"This fun to you?" I say. "You having fun, boys? ĎCause you want some more, Iíll stretch both you motherfuckers blue."

Leon whines.

"Thatís what I thought."

Look at me now, you think Iím FUBAR. Lean and old, holding my fuckiní leg like itís gonna drop off. Itís why they donít recognise me. Been a long time since I was the ultimate face in the Federation. But then, I was Babyface. The crowd popped at me, man. I put so many heels to the mat, I was a fuckiní hero. Spin out a running DDT as a finish, hear twenty thousand people calling my name.

The ladies shouting: "Nobody puts Babyface in the corner!"

Got the men: "That Babyface ainít for crying!"

Hear it now, the applause like a fuckiní rainstorm.

And then wait for the lightning to strike. The Attitude years, hearing the cheers turn to jeers, the crowd turned vicious. They need a hero like they need a bag on their collective hip. I go up against Stone Cold, I do my gimmick Ė rip my T and throw it to the crowd Ė but they ainít having it. They throw my T back. Faces are victims, there to be stomped. Some turn heel, some leave the business to sell used cars. I take flop on flop, pin on pin. Do whatever the bosses tell me Ďcause Iím a good worker and I believe that peopleíll want their heroes back some day.

They donít.

Clean that from my mind as I limp over to Monty and see if heís legit. Sure enough, the guyís been holding. I pull two baggies of vials out of his pockets. He whistles as he breathes, tries to speak, but he donít put up a fight. Go to Leon, get my money back and more besides. Leonís hand clamps over mine.

I bend two fingers till they snap. Leon finds the breath to scream again.

"Hush up, Leon. Listen. You know Vince?"

Leon shakes his head.

Course he donít know Vince. Thatís what I call him. Reminds me of my old boss. It donít matter what heís called, though, Ďcause the pointís the same:

"Vince says you deal on this corner, you gonna get fucked up. You feel me?"

Leonís eyes get to slits.

"You know me," I say. "Iím a good guy. Thatís why I didnít fuckiní kill you. When you get yourself stitched, you remember that. And pass it on to Monty."

I turn my back, go to the rental.

Every time playing out the same shit in my head.

I go to the car, thereís gonna be a gun. These guys, if theyíre real dealers, theyíll have a fuckiní piece between Ďem.

Welcoming the gun, hoping for it. Some fuck wants to put this Old Yeller out his misery, they can go right ahead. I seen that movie a million times and I know. Donít matter what a good dog Yeller was. Once you get bit by the fuckiní wolf, youíre a short time dying.

Ainít gonna happen with these kayfabe motherfuckers. Small time. Stick me with a boxcutter instead of shooting me. I check the leg situation as I get in the car: if I was still fighting, Iíd be fucked. ĎCause the damage donít matter Ė you have to do what your bosses tell you to do. Vince is the same. He wants me to fuck somebody up in Detroit, Baltimore, Cleveland, fuckiní Anchorage, I do it. He got some wide-ranging business interests and a lot of ants trying to make off with his sugar.

Start the engine. The rental coughs. I check the count on the cash. Couple thou, should be good for gas. And enough rocks in these bags to last me a while.

Vince wants me to hit a corner in Atlanta tomorrow night. Donít know if I can do that with my leg, but Iíll see how I feel after I hit the stem.

íCause right now I need something. All us jobbers do.


Ray Banks is doing okay, thanks for asking. His books include The Big Blind and Saturday's Child, with more where that came from. This is his first appearance in Blip Magazine Archive and he's fuckin' stoked about it. He has forthcoming stories in Best New Noir, Fuck Noir and Best British Mysteries IV. When he's not talking about himself in the third person, he keeps a website over at www.thesaturdayboy.com .

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