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?"
"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
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
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
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."
"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
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.
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
"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
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
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