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Christian Underwood
Posted: October 28, 2018 06:38 pm

TAFKATPF aka The Artist Formerly Known As The Pink Flamingo
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Joined: September 15, 2011

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“To err is human - but it feels divine.”
? Mae West
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Cat Riley
Posted: November 02, 2018 07:38 pm

SCW Advanced Member

Group: Members
Posts: 37
Member No.: 353
Joined: April 09, 2018

A smattering of fluffy white clouds amble lazily across the morning sky, carried by the cool, autumn breeze on an otherwise unseasonably warm Las Vegas morning. Undisturbed by the intermittent rambling of the frosty veils the sun looms high overhead, already beginning to hammer the expansive asphalt in the valley with its rays. Cat Riley steps off of the C.A.T. bus along with a pair of school children making their way to a nearby elementary school and quickly feels the warmth of the sunlight gently pecking her on the cheeks. Having experienced the brutality of Las Vegas heat many times now she turns her blue ball cap forward, allowing the visor to do its job of protecting her face while inwardly grateful for having the fore sight to wear a long sleeved sweat shirt; a black garment bearing the iconic Jaws movie poster which serves to protect her fair skin from the strong ultra violet radiation. She trods to the corner where a crossing guard, an older woman, most likely a retiree looking to keep busy stands by with a hand held stop sign resting in her folded arms. The neon yellow and orange of her fluorescent vest serves as a visual aid in identifying her as an independent contractor to the North Las Vegas Police department. The woman waits patiently, pausing to pick up a bottle of water sitting on the sidewalk besides a folding chair and takes a swig. Screwing the cap back on, she looks in both directions for a break in traffic before hoisting the sign aloft and meandering into the crossing zone, her gait slow and cumbersome, and a by-product of age Cat assumes as she follows the woman’s direction and begins to traverse to the opposite side along Belmont avenue and across Lake Mead Boulevard where she is met in the middle by a gaggle of school children chattering and laughing among themselves as the cars line up waiting patiently while their drivers amuse themselves with their phones, infotainment systems, stereos and various other features of distraction.

Safely on the other side Cat peers across the way towards a small car lot on the corner of Lake Mead and Belmont which features a collection of vehicles lined up behind a white chain secured to a string of iron posts with multi colored, triangular flags swaying in the soft breeze. She draws a breath looking over the collection; a black, 2008 BMW 5 series sits alongside a silver 2010 Camaro on the left and a white, 2011 Toyota Corolla on the right. Behind them sits a red Ford F150 pick-up truck, but the windows of the two door work vehicle are void of any sale markings leaving her mind to fill in the blanks, which she fails to do knowing extremely little about automobiles. Peering past the cars to a pair of darkly tinted glass double doors she recognizes the neon open/closed sign above and to the upper right of the entrance is dark leaving her to surmise that the establishment has yet to open. Glancing down at her black encased series four Apple watch which reads the time as being twenty minutes past eight AM she shrugs in realization that she has arrived forty minutes early. Behind her a small casino, wrapped in bright red and yellow neon lighting obnoxiously flashes prompting her to turn around and read the signage, looking for a way to pass the time. The Bighorn casino, a small establishment catering to the locals of North town as it is referred to beckons pedestrians into its white brick walls via an array of advertisements promoting cheap Modelo beer, live Mariachi music on the weekends – a favorite of the predominately Hispanic clientele, ‘loose’ black jack rules, double points for slot club members and cheap meals, simple tactics to draw foot traffic through the doors. Her stomach rumbles in reply to the unasked question of how to pass the time and she responds by pulling open the tinted glass door to enter the casino.

The atmosphere is sleepy; dark with minimal overhead lighting save for the tiny ‘pit’ consisting of a mere four tables, only one of which are occupied by a tall, lanky dealer decked out in smartly pressed black dress slacks and topped off by a white, long sleeved button down dress shirt with a pinstriped black vest and shiny gold buttons. The young man of perhaps 25 stifles a yawn and looks listlessly over to the row of television sets lining the back wall of the curved eight or ten seat bar, set up high so as not to obstruct the view of the liquor bottles which are lined up neatly facing outward where guests can read the brand labels. The bartender, a middle aged woman of maybe 50 years with long, straight platinum blonde hair and wearing a uniform similar to that of the dealer busies herself polishing glasses, oblivious to the chaos of the morning ‘news’ from Washington being reported by overzealous anchors adhering to their station’s political leanings. Cat pauses for a look around the negligible casino which is a far cry from the monstrous resorts inhabiting the famous strip. Instead of sprawling estates covering dozens and sometimes hundreds of acres the property known as ‘The Bighorn Casino’ barely covers half an acre, including the parking lot which she doubts has the capacity to accommodate more than a hundred or so cars. Inside is no different with possibly a hundred and fifty or so slot machines accompanied by the pit currently attended by the dealer and the pit boss, an older man who appears to be of Italian descent seated at one of the vacant tables with a pen in hand busily scribbling over some forms. A change person, a Hispanic man sporting a thing mustache with neatly trimmed dark hair and wearing a green shirt emblazoned with the casino logo – a ram’s head with the name underneath it – pushes a scratched brown metal cart across the floor pausing every few moments to call out “cambio” which she recognizes as being the Spanish word for change as a reminder of his services to the roughly dozen players who ignore him in favor of the clinking and clanging or the machines in front of them. Ahead to the left she spies the main cage, a small space of about 5 by 5 meters cordoned off from the public by fading gold colored wrought iron bars and attended by an older, heavy set woman with short blonde hair and black rimmed glasses. The woman, wearing a green shirt similar to the change person leans against the counter her head propped idly in her right hand. A security guard stands by the cage, a man of 30 years give or take with neatly trimmed short red hair wearing a tan colored shirt with shoulder patches denoting his position as well as the casino logo with dark brown slacks, polished black dress shoes and a utility belt sporting all sorts of gear ranging from handcuffs, to a radio, pepper spray, ammunition clip and a handgun securely holstered on his right side. He leans back against the wood grained finish of the wall, his right hand resting atop the butt of the weapon while his blue eyes alertly scan his environment. He nods casually to Cat in greeting as she passes by to the entrance of the restaurant.

A young woman who appears to be even younger than Cat stands behind a waist high wooden podium and smiles brightly at her arrival with her hazel eyes shimmering beneath the subdued flickering of the lights emitted by the machines. She reaches down adjusting the hem of her maroon V neck shirt bearing the now familiar logo on the right breast, grabs a clear, plastic encased menu and steps out from behind the podium and into the light of the restaurant itself revealing a fair complexion with a handful of freckles dotting up her cheeks.

“Hi!” She beams in a practiced enthusiasm. “My name is Amber, are you looking for a table for one or will you be dining with friends”?

“Just one please”, she replies softly, not really in the mood for chit chat with a stranger ahead of her big move lying mere minutes away.

“This way please”, Amber gestures Cat to follow her across the multi-hued carpeting to a corner table directly across from the entrance. “Your server will be Mary and she will be right with you in a moment, can I start you off with something to drink”?

“Pepsi, please”, she answers curtly.

“Oh, I’m sorry”, Amber replies with a frown about as genuine as the purpose of the slot machines. “We only carry Coke products, will that be ok”?

Cat grimaces at the thought. At home in the Underwood household Christian is a big proponent of Coca Cola and its various flavors, even going so far as to fully stock a second refrigerator in the garage from stem to stern and top to bottom with them. Cat Riley on the other hand has never managed to develop a taste for Coke and since childhood has strongly leaned toward Pepsi products. She shakes her head in quiet reply and instead elects for an alternative,

“Ice water please”, she says.

As Amber departs another woman, upper middle aged with a heavy set frame, wearing metal framed eyeglasses with curly brown hair brought up into a hastily crafted bun with tufts of grey peeking out. She smiles congenially and jots down Cat’s order of bacon cheeseburger with fries and a side of mayonnaise. Though a raspy voice she repeats the order back to ensure correctness and hustles into the kitchen, her black sneakers thudding against the thin, dull blue carpeting. The atmosphere is quiet, even more so than the yawning doldrums on the main floor. Overhead the metallic whine of modern popular music commonly referred to as ‘baby making music’ with yet another talentless hack belting their vocals through a voice synthesizer which covers the lack of training by overlaying the vocals with an amateurish computer generated feed. Shaking her head in disapproval Cat fishes through her handbag for her phone and pulls out the new iPhone XS beginning to browse the internet in hopes of finding something to distract her from the tinny wailing being piped through the casino PA system. Her prayers are quickly answered as the device vibrates and emits a symphonic ringing alerting her to an incoming call.

“Hello?” she answers in relief, pressing the minicomputer to her ear. “Oh hey Viv, what’s up?” a pause ensues as her friend and oft time training partner Viviana Fuentes relays the news of her daily plans. Cat listens attentively until her friend’s voice trails off indicating her turn to speak, “I’m finally going to buy a car today”, she says, her blue eyes brightening at the prospect. “Then I’m going to drive it to Tucson for High Stakes 8 for my match against Seleana Zdunich, I can’t wait!”

Cat holds for a moment as her drink and food are set before her, quietly amazed at the expedience in which it was prepared. She grabs the pepper shaker and blankets her fries with the spice before setting the red plastic shaker down and reaching over her plate to snatch a few of the crispy, string cut potatoes. Dipping them into the side dish of creamy mayonnaise and shoving them into her mouth she continues, “The funny thing is, I don’t really know Seleana Zdunich is, just that she’s really tall and kinda looks like a model. I haven’t had a chance to research her yet, but I think she’s from Sweden.., or Switzerland, one of the two. I was expecting to be booked against Kate Steele, but she is set up against.., uhh.., Crystal Hilton I think. Kate said the match had been planned for two years or something stupid, but I think she’s just ducking me but whatever, I don’t care”. Her train of thought fades into a gridlock with an image of Seleana’s broken body laid out over a set of railroad tracks which prompts a snicker. “Maybe I’ll run her over with my car when I get it”!

With her mouth busily devouring the salty bacon laden burger her last words come out in a mumble and impelling Viviana to ask another question, which Cat answers following another helping of fries which are then washed down with a swig of ice water. “Huh? Oh, nothing. I’m just grabbing some food, killing time before the dealership opens in about 15 minutes.” Taking the butter knife into her right hand she dips it into the dish of mayonnaise and uses the chrome utensil to spread it onto the bottom half of the hamburger bun. “I haven’t entirely decided what I’m going to buy yet, but the place is called Reliable Imports and the ad says they do a 128 point inspection on every vehicle, whatever that is”.

She stuffs her mouth with more food as her friend attempts to explain the automotive inspection process and what points actually are; with shocks being one, belts and hoses being two more, tires being another and individual fluids adding to the tally but her words fall on deaf ears as Cat is more interested in the thick, half pound burger in front of her than the automotive lingo being offered on the other end. Her thought flutters away from the car speak of her friend, to the food on her plate and suddenly back to her opponent for the upcoming event High Stakes. Her bushy dark brow furrows as another thought creeps into the sudden tumult of competing images. “Maybe I should call Gene and ask him to get some film on Zdunich?” she wonders aloud with the unexpected utterance catching Viviana off guard and moving her to ask the obvious question. “Oh who am I kidding? He probably has a bloody doctoral study on the bird by now.., what? Oh, nothing I’m just rambling”, she finally offers in response. “Don’t pay me any mind; I’m a little bit excited with everything going on so my brain is like.., I don’t know, it’s just crazy”.

Polishing off the burger and the remaining fries Cat dabs her fingers with the napkin, wiping the grease from the tips and glances at the check. “Hey, you like watching wrestling, maybe you can look up Seleana Zdunich while I’m getting my car, and maybe you can see something my manager doesn’t”, she offers while rifling through her beige faux leather handbag for money to leave on the table for a tip. Glancing at her watch she reads the time as being six minutes past nine, meaning the dealership has just opened and the realization propels her to her feet. “Hey look,” she says shuffling across the floor towards the cashier with the check in hand. “The dealership is about to open so I’m going to pay the check here and head over there. I’ll call you back when I’m done, ok? They are going to be amazed when I do this, Christian wanted me to wait for him because he thinks I’m helpless on my own but I’m going to show him that I can. He won’t believe it”.

“Oh come on, I don’t believe it”! Christian cackles wildly over a story relayed to him by his longtime friend Goldenboy Gene Banton. Flanked by his partner Scott to the left and his pet ‘Genie” the Persian cat not so coincidentally named after his friend shakes his head in disbelief, his thick, sandy locks bouncing in cadence on his shoulders. Looking at a lazy day in the office leading into the High Stakes event and having finished his ‘chores’ as he likes to refer to the act of contract finalities the co-owner of SCW decided to take a break before the real work begins by paying his old friend and manager a visit. For the better part of an hour the group has been trading stories with anectdotal viewpoints, each of them taking turns to share some outrageous tale with Gene’s recital driving him to the verge of spasmodic tears. “As funny as that sounds Geno, I have a hard time believing she actually did that to him”.

“Seeing is believing,” Gene replies and picks up the gauntlet with a smirk as his fingers break into a flurry of activity over the keyboard to the black Dell laptop set atop the clutter free desk in front of him. “You know my bouncing baby girl as well as anyone”, he adds while his fingers peck away. “You know what she’s capable of”. After several moments of twists and turns they arrive at their destination, a web site named and he turns the laptop around for Christian and Scott to see. “Watch it and weep.., just try not to stain the upholstery”.

On the 14 inch monitor screen is a posted profile of a site member nicknamed “Golden 1” and scrolling through the personal details his eyes arrive at the main body of the post which he reads aloud, “SWM seeks rock hard SM for fun, games and hopefully a steady relationship. I am sensitive, caring and insatiable and I would love to get naked and dance for you. I have blonde hair, blue eyes and I swallow, what’s not to like?” His brow furrows as his lips slowly purse into a crooked smirk while he scrolls further down the page settling on an embedded video. “My number is 555-1212, call me big boy, you won’t regret it”. He shakes his head while his brow arcs in bemusement. “That’s junior’s number alright”, he says in confirmation, but maybe..,”

“Play the video”, Gene advises, “and tell me if you recognize anything more”.

Scrolling the mouse pointer over top of the right facing play arrow he rights clicks on it and looks on with Scott and Genie watching over his shoulder. The video begins almost immediately, showing rough looking footage of an office that he instantly recognizes as his own prior to the recent redecoration that appears to have been taken by a cell phone. Although there is no sound the footage shows Cat Riley’s co-manager Gene Banton Jr. slowly undressing, first by removing his shirt and eventually dropping his pants while climbing onto a chair to adjust the thermostat on the wall and making sure to bend over.

“Son of a..,” he cries hysterically. “She actually did it! Holy crap”!

The group breaks into a mutual rolling laughter as Christian, with trembling hand, shuts off the video. They rear their collective heads to enjoy a throaty guffaw, the cacophony drowning out the buzzing of a small engine idling in the hallway. Clutching his stomach Gene gestures to the laptop and snorts,

“He.., he had to borrow my backup phone because his is still getting blown up”!

“Oh my God, that is so awesome”, the artist formerly known as the Pink Flamingo observes in a choked inflection. Lifting his head to meet the glassy blue eyes of his friend he adds “We taught her well, didn’t we”?

The door to the office squeaks open as the antagonist behind their mirth walks in. Pausing at the doorway Cassie removes her red and white leather racing jacket, hanging it in the polished bronze coat rack standing behind the door as it closes. Fluffing her long, orange hued hair she glances at the group, her face masked in confusion.

“What’s going on”? She asks, noting that all eyes, wide and bright are trained onto her.

Rising from the loveseat pulled closely to the front of Gene’s desk Christian, still snickering and teary eyed walks over to her.

“Cassie, come here”, he snickers while pulling her into a tight embrace, his body trembling in amusement. “I love you”.

“I uhh.., love you too Uncle Christian,” she replies uneasily before adding, “Especially if you would tell me what’s going on”.

“I showed them what you did with that video you took of your brother in his office”, her father explains in cachinnation. “He didn’t think you’d do it”.

“Oh that”, she sighs, a smile creeping onto her freckled face. “Hey, you can’t say he didn’t deserve it”.

“Yeah, but that’s one for the ages”, Scott cackles through belated breaths in an attempt to regain his composure. “It’s absolutely epic, pure gold”.

Plopping down in a spare office chair which she rolls up towards the desk next to the loveseat, Cassie opens her arms allowing Genie to climb into her lap and replies, “What can I say? The asshole brings out the best in me. Speaking of which..,” her voice tails off as she glances about the roomy office. “Where is the shithead any way”?

“He said he was going grocery shopping for your mom”, Gene offers. “He’s been gone for about an hour”.

“Grocery shopping hunh?” she repeats softly as her mind switches gears. Throughout her entire life her mother had always insisted on doing the grocery shopping herself as the woman tended to be meticulous about her meal preparation. “Oh no junior,” she says softly to no one in particular in response to the red flag. “You won’t get me that easily”. Turning to Christian and Scott on the leather loveseat beside her, she presses down on Christian’s forearm asking, “Uncle Christian, do you mind if I eat at your place tonight”?

“Not at all honey, come by any time you like”.

The group slowly settles into idle chit chat starting with them wondering how Cassie’s brother intended to exact revenge on his sibling; moving on to Gene senior’s tale of his trip to Egypt with Brandi Constantino to scout a pair of prospects and sliding into Christian’s troubles dealing with some of the talent under the SCW banner before coming around to the upcoming card in Tucson and his difficulties booking the match he had originally intended for Cat Riley and the subsequent replacement opponent for her, Seleana Zdunich.

“I’m telling you guys, hell is coming home to roost if and when Cat finally gets her hands on Kate Steel again and to be honest, after the hell she’s given me, I won’t mind it one damned bit”. He is of course referring to Kate’s obstinate refusal to pull out of her pre-planned bout with Crystal Hilton in favor of a higher profile by virtue of their recent rivalry, and therefore more lucrative grudge match with Cat and the ensuing arguments and infighting erupting over social media regarding the entire affair. “But I wasn’t the only one who was frustrated”, he continues. “Cat was absolutely livid. She called Kate a coward and tore into both sides, even getting into it with Seleana’s wife”.

“Well then it’s not all bad” Gene observes. “You can promote it from that perspective, basically Cat against the world”. He turns to his daughter who sits quietly stroking the long white fur of the cat snoozing peacefully in her lap. “Cassie, try to get Cat to hammer both sides leading into High Stakes. That way we can generate interest in her match against Zdunich and the eventual rematch with Kate”.

“She doesn’t want to hammer them dad, she wants to retire them”. The knowing smirk serves to tell her father that she is already up to speed on the situation. “Don’t worry, I got it”.
Christian rises to his feet stretching his arms upward and into a stretch. Walking across the chestnut carpeted floor towards the rosewood finished walls up to a gleaming burnt colored personal sized refrigerator. The door opens with a soft sound of the suctioned rubber gasket releasing from the aluminum edge and allowing him to reach inside to grab a couple of bottle of Dasani water, one of which he tosses to Scott. “Anyone else?” he asks looking to the Gene and his daughter who both shake their head in declination. Satisfied he lets go of the door and allows it to swing closed by its own weight before reclaimed his seat. He twists open the plastic blue cap and takes a swig, his parched throat grateful for the cool refreshment and sighs.

“Where is Cat anyway?” Cassie asks.

“I’m not sure”, he answers and replaces the cap back on the bottle. “She left the house before I did. She was talking about buying a car yesterday, but I asked her to wait until I could go with her”.

“Why?” she demands.

“Cat is a proverbial babe in the woods”, he explains while licking his lips. “She’s basically a kid and really has no idea how things like that work. She’s out here, thousands of miles from home and unable to lean on her parents for any sort of guidance so I guess I’ve kind of taken it upon myself. She can be so naïve and trusting and she has no idea of the charlatans in this country, especially in the car sales business. I’m just worried that she’ll get in over her head”.

The car buying process can be an intimidating, nerve wracking affair with the pressure of a boiler room, bubbling and churning with snags, discreet tricks, and pages upon pages of indecipherable legal script which tends to lead to one of two things; either the pot boils over into a foaming sea of expenses or it is removed from the fire with a dejected customer walking out unable to withstand the financial heat. For the better part of an hour now Cat has sat and listened to the sales manager, an older, obese Hispanic man named Fernando go over some of the finer details in the contract using many terms she did not understand such as buy rate, back end and dip. The man, with his slicked back dark hair and wisps of grey combed over a large bald spot speaks quickly, and deliberately so; to not give the prospective customer a chance to ask questions and try to negotiate. He leans back in a high back, worn faux leather desk chair which squeaks in protest over the rearrangement of his heft, the blue and white striped button down dress shirt bearing the sweat stains of a hard day’s work, despite the day having barely started. Drawing a heavy breath which sounds to be erupting from his mouth and smelling like an ashtray Fernando reaches for the pack of cigarettes in his left breast pocket. He selects one, replacing the container and packs the end of the Marlboro against the edge of the faded and heavily scratched wooden desk. Clasping his beefy hands together they land with an audible thud atop the desk calendar as he leans forward, blowing smoke just to her right, but close enough that the noxious cloud promotes a scratchy cough. She looks on questioningly as he sets the cigarette in the corner of a black, plastic ash tray.

“Well”? She demands, her voice betraying her attempt to project confidence with a rapid pitch. “Do the numbers line up”? Her attempt to sound as if she knows what she is talking about and is not lost on Fernando who shakes his head.

“Not quite I’m afraid”, he huffs, his chest heaving as his lungs grasp desperately for air. “We may need to double dip, but I think I can work the deal”.

“Double dip, what’s that”? Her head begins to throb at the base of the neck, a dull, muted pain at first which seems to grow every minute she remains in the chair.

“It’s nothing”, he says waving his pork rind fingers dismissively. “We just finance part of the deal through one institution and part of it through another. It’s pretty routine stuff”.

Reaching back Cat gently massages the base of her neck as the heavy set huckster swings around to remove additional paperwork from a light tan metal filing cabinet. A shrill ring reverberates through the tiny, smoke filled office as the telephone on the cluttered desk lights up. Spinning back around he sets the paperwork down in front of his customer and picks up the receiver.

“Reliable imports”, he responds using the business name and listens to a voice on the other end which turns out to be his brother and co-owner of the lot Tony who asks how the deal is progressing. Not wanting to alert Cat to any of his shenanigans he decides to use the lingo picked up over many years in the business, terms and phrases not mean to be understood by would be buyers.

“Yeah, a whopper with cheese”, he answers using a code phrase which actually refers to a deal which stands to make an exorbitant profit. Leaning back in his seat he grabs the burning cancer stick and takes another drag while continuing to list to the other end. “Yeah”, he nods, exhaling another noxious cloud of ashen fumes. “I’ll pack it and send it for a quick fluff and buff, and then put it in the ether, it shouldn’t take too long”.

Going over the paperwork set in front of her Cat scratches her head in confusion, unsure what to make of the six page form replete with paragraphs and sub paragraphs, bullet points and more than half a dozen open lines awaiting a signature.

“Can you help me with this?” she asks as soon as he hangs up the phone. “I really don’t know what all of this junk says”.

Fernando leans forward until his voluminous beltline begins to fold over the edge of the desk. Taking the stapled form into his hand he holds it aloft pretending to read it already fully aware of what the details entailed, which essentially gives him free reign to increase her monthly payments, interest rate and total length of the loan; a tactic known in the business as a five finger fold and payment packing. Sensing the young women’s growing anxiety he elects to gloss over the finer points as quickly as possible, ostensibly as a favor to her but in actuality to keep her from learning the truth.

“It’s just a bunch of fluff to keep the finance company happy”, he grunts. “A bunch of numbers we’ve already gone over. Just initial on these lines..,” he points to the blank lines beside each paragraph and hands her a pen,” and we’ll get you driving in no time”.

Although still confused over the process with its unusual terms, numerous signatures and mountains of small print even she couldn’t read, despite having 20/20 vision she gives in with a helpless sigh, finally succumbing to the ever growing throbbing at the base of her neck. Her back cracks and pops softly as she leans forward in the metal folding chair while taking the blue ink Bic pen into her right hand. A quick glance to the white faced analog clock on the wall informs her that she has now been here in the same spot for an hour and twenty minutes. As she signs away her money Fernando picks up the phone and growls into it,

“Hey Mickey, clean up the Mark VIII and bring it around front”.

His words sing true to Cat’s ears as she recognizes it as the car she had purchased and beams with a ray of hope over the confused, exhausted and thoroughly confused youngster. Feeling a renewed sense of urgency she quickly scribbles her initials on the last remaining lines. Fernando takes the paper, glances over and huffs in approval before thrusting another form in front of her to sign which she does obligingly. The pair continues to cycle through the paperwork as the fleshy fleecier kicks back after reaching down to pull a bargain brand can of diet soda from the small, personal fridge at the foot of the desk. Without bothering to offer any to his guest he takes a sip and sighs, smacking his lips and attempts to make small talk as the final signatures are gathered.

“So what do you do for a living”?

“I wrestle for SCW”, she answers. “In fact, I have a match coming up in a little over a week. I’m going to drive my new car there”.

“Oh Yeah? That’s great, where is it”?

“The card is being held in Tucson. I’m booked against Seleana Zdunich”. Her voice rises with the excitement of the purchase nearing completion. “I’m going to drive down there by myself and make an example of her”.

“She gave me a plaque for exemplary effort”, Cassie explains while gesturing to a wooden framed certificate bearing her name in bold, blue print and signed by Brandi Constantino who trained her for the better part of a year at her wrestling and kickboxing academy in Japan. “She said I was one of her best students and that I was a pleasure to teach”. Reaching over to straighten the award she pauses with a thoughtful frown. “The only thing dad ever gave junior and I was a plaque upside the head”, she spews with a giggle.

“Shut up”! Gene senior snaps back. “You know damned well your mother handles the discipline around here. Hell, everybody in this room knows I never discipline you two”.

“Which explains why we’re so fucked up”, the redhead retorts, casting a sly wink at her father.

“Did you just say your mother didn’t discipline you properly”? Christian smiles with an over exaggerated gasp. “Ohhh boy..,”

“Umm.., no! No, I meant that.., uhh.., she can’t hear us can she”?

“I don’t know”, Christian replies while tossing a crumpled paper ball at her which bounces playfully off of her head. “But that mother hearing is pretty darned good”.

Cassie impishly slinks towards her ‘Uncle Christian’ and drops into his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck and whispers in a mock sultry tone, “you wouldn’t do that to me, would you baby”? She purrs, running the back of her hand down his cheek.

“Sorry kiddo”, he answers by pushing her from his lap allowing her to tumble to the floor and adds; “Wrong plumbing. Only your brother can pull that on me”.

The action draws another round of rowdy laughter from the gang as Cassie dusts herself off and reclaims her seat with a snicker. Genie, who had darted onto her father’s desk once she had vacated the chair, is quick to return, jumping back into her lap and curling up for another siesta. With the white furred Persian buzzing in content the ginger haired would be temptress begins to absently stroke the gleaming, well-kept coat.

“Isn’t Cat supposed to be here”? She asks, looking up, “to get ready for Seleana?”

“She should be”. Her dad answers with a shrug of his taut shoulders which stretch away at the snugly fitted blue tee shirt which, on his muscular frame, appears to be two sizes too small. “She’s been preparing all week, maybe she just wants to take a short break before coming in. You know, have a little fun before getting back to work”.

“I just hope she didn’t go and buy a damned car without me”, Christian mutters in a gruff, fatherly tone. “I told her to let me go with her after High Stakes”.

“You seem awfully invested in her with this whole car thing”, Gene observes inquiringly. “Why”?

“I want her to do it the right way”, he responds, leveling his eyes to match those of his longtime friend. “Like when I taught her to drive”.

“What?” Scott exclaims, nearly bolting from his seat while turning to his partner. “You taught her to drive?”

“Oh shit”, Christian slaps his forehead upon realizing that he had also asked Cat to be the one to break the news. “I wasn’t supposed to say that”.

“Much like Trump’s tax return, you’re too late”, Gene adds drumming his fingers against the desk top. “If she did buy a car she’s probably in jail”.

“Oh come on”! He cries. “I’m not that bad of a driver”!

“Yeah, tell that to the little old lady whose Petunias you threw into her living room when you did that burnout in her garden”, Scott says snickering.

“Or the ambulance you ran into a ditch”, Gene says joining in.

“How about when you ran that forklift driver into the Green Room”? Cassie adds.

“Hey, he thanked me for introducing him to that place”, he answers with his index finger pointing sternly to each member of the group. “Besides, the old lady asked for it when she called the police on me for getting the mail wearing the ball gag, and the ambulance was driving like an old lady. My driving is fine and Cat was my best student”.

“She’s your only student”, Scott snorts, breaking into a rolling laughter. “Nobody else is that crazy”.

The platinum blond ‘genetic freak’ strokes his goatee as he is joined by the others who zealously start to point out additional examples of the SCW honcho’s exploits behind the wheel. They begin trading stories which each tale being louder than the previous one in an unspoken contest between the triad. The chatter quickly escalates from boisterous repartee to an emphatic clamor with each member taking a turn to share their own tales of tire shredding terror. Lost in the stentorian however is a faint sound emanating from the hallway, too faint to be picked up by human ears, especially when engaged in a rousing game of ‘kick the Christian’, but it nonetheless does not fall on deaf ears. Waking from her cat nap, Genie lifts her head, turning it towards the door, which remains slightly ajar and begins to struggle in Cassie’s grasp.

Cassie looks down in confusion as the cat squirms in her grip and digs her claws into her jeans, prompting her to release it and allow her to drop onto the floor and exit through the door. Standing up she follows Genie with a concerned gaze which she then turns on Christian once she disappears behind the door.

“What is it?” he asks, breaking away from the merriment. His sudden detachment from the fun catches the attention of Gene senior and Scott, who exchange puzzled glances before settling onto Christian and finally to Cassie.

“Genie just clawed the shit out of me”, she explains with a stumped inflection. “Then she darted out the door”.

The three men rise to their feet looking at each other in bafflement and starts towards the door, but as Cassie is about to open it, she stops, holding her hand aloft; a silent signal asking for quiet. “Do you hear that”? She whispers. “It sounds like.., crying”.

Gene abruptly grabs the door knob over his daughter’s hand and swings it open. Peering outside and down the hall his gaze settles on Genie, who sits on her haunches by Cassie’s motorcycle and tenderly paws at the figure straddling the road rocket. Cat Riley has buried her face in the fold of her arms as her body rocks in waves of sorrow.

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@Cat_RileySCW The way wrestling should be.
PMEmail Poster
Seleana Zdunich
Posted: November 03, 2018 10:51 pm

SCW Advanced Member

Group: Members
Posts: 27
Member No.: 354
Joined: April 16, 2018


Staples Center
Los Angeles, California
10:34 AM PDT

Seleana Zdunich stares into the ring set up for the coming Hybrid Wrestling Ascension Brand Pay-Per-View Unstoppable and smiles. Her sister-in-law-to-be, Linnéa Lacroix, was scheduled to be in the main event defending the Honor Championship against a woman called Lilith and Seleana was not going to miss this, especially not when it was scheduled to be right in her own backyard like this. Considering Linnéa and her own sister, Zenna Zdunich, had been in town with their band for a little over a week, this had been like a family reunion that had started with Seleana and Zenna getting to tag team together for the first time for a company called Galactic Women’s Wrestling on Monday.

Linnéa and Zenna had brought the rest of their band, bassist Alissa Lacroix, drummer Kelly Taylor and guitarist Katra Zdunich, with them so that the band, American Murder Log, could play a Halloween party for Katra’s ex-wife, fellow wrestler Eavan Maloney.

With both of Seleana’s sisters in town, and her wife, Crystal Hilton, trying to go all out to make things up to her lately, she’d gotten to enjoy Halloween like no other year. Now, with the holiday firmly in the rearview mirror, Seleana was standing at ringside as her stepdaughter’s live-in girlfriend of sorts, Haylie Jo “Halo” Annis was trying her hand at a training session with several other members of the Hybrid Wrestling roster that Seleana would call family, her cousin Maja Lindström, and the woman who had introduced Seleana to her wife and stood bridesmaid for her at the wedding, Stacy Jones.

Seleana Zdunich: You’re doing awesome, Halo!

Halo and Maja roll into a sparring session as Seleana stands on the floor next to Stacy, both of them waiting to see who all else might arrive for this get together.

Seleana Zdunich: It is amazing to me, how more… naturally… she move than me in the ring. Is her sister the same?

At first, Stacy doesn’t respond as she keeps her focus on the sparring session.

Stacy Jones: C’mon, Halo! Your movement is good… but you need to work on your technique more!

Eventually she turns to Sel with a slight look of frustration on her face.

Stacy Jones: Oh, sorry… yeah… she is…

Now turning back to the sparring session, she shakes her head.

Stacy Jones: Halo! Move your arm up to her chin! You’re applying a headlock not a damn choke hold!

Seleana Zdunich: She almost look afraid of her power… like she know she bigger than Maja and is afraid to use leverage.

Stacy Jones: Well she’s gonna need to learn to utilize that power effectively… simple as that.

Seleana nods slowly.

Seleana Zdunich: I had to learn the same. It never came easy to me. Christina used to get so frustrated with me for that.

Stacy’s fists ball up suddenly as she pounds her fists onto the apron.

Stacy Jones: Halo?! Pay attention to what I’m saying to you!

Inside the ring, Halo tries to move her arm and Maja uses the opening to score a double leg takedown on the taller woman.

Seleana Zdunich: Maja knows how to push…

Stacy shakes her head before finally sliding into the ring.

Stacy Jones: Okay, both of you get up…

Maja and Halo both stand to their feet either side of Stacy, Halo looking rather sheepish, as if she’s done something wrong and is about to get a telling off from her mother.

Stacy Jones: Halo, if you choke the poor woman, you could kill her! We’re trying to beat our opponents, not murder them. Watch. Maja, let me apply a headlock on you.

Maja nods and leans forward as Stacy wraps her arm around her head, clasping her hands together and wrenches on it a little.

Stacy Jones: You see where my hands are positioned, Halo?

The young blonde woman nods.

Halo: Ye-yes…

Stacy now releases the hold and nods.

Stacy Jones: Good. Now do it again.

Almost in a storming off fashion, Stacy leaves the ring and drops down back beside Sel and sighs.

Seleana Zdunich: Are you ok, Chickie?

Stacy Jones: Peaches and fucking cream, Cat. Sometimes you gotta be tough in this business in training, coz it ain’t easy, and I need to know this is something Halo really wants and that she can deal.

Seleana nods as they watch Halo grabs Maja exactly as Stacy had demonstrated.

Seleana Zdunich: It took her so long to ask for this. I think she was afraid we would all say no and that she wouldn’t be as good as Rain. She heard someone mention a baseball player, I think… called Ozzie Canseco, and the story terrified her.

Stacy Jones: I don’t follow baseball, and this ain’t baseball. What matters now is we’re helping her. I just hope that I don’t end up having this help thrown back in my fucking face.

Seleana frowns in confusion.

Seleana Zdunich: Thrown back in your face? By who, Chickie?

Stacy Jones: You know exactly who, Cat. You know her very well… don’t make me say her name because I don’t know what I’ll do as a result.

Seleana nods slowly.

Seleana Zdunich: You are angry with Estrellita.

Stacy Jones: You’re damn right I’m angry with her, Cat! You know, she had the audacity to ask me if I hated her the other day? I fucking told her straight, I don’t give a damn if things have been worked out between you two, it doesn’t make what she did right! That kind of thing pisses me off beyond belief and then… she was like, ‘c’mon, you’re one of my closest friends’, like that was going to make things better? The fact that she is one of my closest friends makes it even fucking worse! I wanted to do something special for two people I cared about, and then she goes and throws it back into my fucking face and expects me to just accept that and pretend like nothing happened!

Stacy slams her fists onto the apron again, letting out an angry scream that catches Halo and Maja off-guard.

Seleana Zdunich: It is not you…

Maja and Halo nod and go back to what they were doing while Seleana turns to face Stacy.

Seleana Zdunich: I thought I had lost her. I came home and she did not. Eavan wanted to tear her apart at first because they were already fighting each other in WWA and this just added fuel to that fire. Shenzi asked if they should form lynch mob. Kattunge called and we cry together. Brittany went home to Houston. I had several offers to not be left alone in Los Angeles when I came home. Shay Shay call, offer. Reya offer. Others.

She sighs heavily.

Seleana Zdunich: I sat and asked why I was not good enough for her.

Stacy Jones: You are good enough for her! She’s the one who isn’t good enough for you!

Stacy shakes her head.

Stacy Jones: I’m sorry, I can’t talk about this… I’m gonna end up blowing a fucking blood vessel. Tell Halo that I’m sorry for being so hard on her today and I’ll make sure to help her some more when I’ve got a cooler head.

Seleana nods and hugs Stacy tightly.

Seleana Zdunich: Tack för allt. Jag älskar dig, Simba. Kom ihåg vem du är!

Stacy nods and takes her leave. Just as Stacy leaves the room, Seleana’s wife, Crystal Hilton, walks into the room. Crystal walks over and nods as she watches Halo and Maja working in the ring. Seleana steps over closer and leans her head against her wife’s shoulder.

Seleana Zdunich: Thank you for coming, Estrellita.

Crystal nods as if it’s nothing.

Crystal Hilton: Of course.

They continue to stand against each other even as a loud screech goes up from the entryway. They turn to see Halo’s twin sister, Hybrid Ascension wrestler Amy “Rain” Annis, dropping her beg to start running excitedly towards the ring. Next to Rain is a much smaller woman in her tag team partner and girlfriend, Kendra “GoGo” Goganious, who also drops her bags and takes off running. GoGo gets to the ring first where Halo and Maja have stopped and slides in udner the bottom rope. Rain dives in after and the team known as Natural Resources all but tackles Halo.

Seleana Zdunich: Förtjusande!

Crystal Hilton: Babe, English…

Seleana shrugs.

Seleana Zdunich: Adorable!

Crystal looks at the three in the ring and then nods.

Crystal Hilton: Yes, they are.

Seleana nods to Maja.

Seleana Zdunich: Tag Team?

Maja glances back at them and then shrugs.

Maja Lindström: Varför inte?

She nods to the three women on the mat who are all now looking up in confusion.

Maja Lindström: Okej, Halo och jag mot Rain och GoGo?

Halo’s eyes go wide in near dread as her twin and GoGo’s eyes go wide in excitement!!

GoGo: Let’s do it, let’s do it, let’s do it!!!!

Rain nods her agreement.

Rain: Damn right, Goldi! Let’s do it!

GoGo: This is gonna be so… AWESOME!!!!!

The four stand up and Halo whispers to Maja before taking their places. As they start, Maja’s boyfriend, Matthias Lindeman slides in as a referee and Seleana sounds the bell, Crystal standing next to her ready to coach Halo at any second.

Seleana Zdunich: She looks even more afraid than I was.

Crystal shrugs.

Crystal Hilton: She’ll get over it. Everybody does, especially a Crystal Hilton Student!

Seleana nods as they watch the action unfold.

Seleana Zdunich: I love you, Estrellita.

Crystal Hilton: I love you too.


Staples Center
Los Angeles, California
12:34 PM PDT

The camera opens upon Seleana Zdunich as leans against the Hybrid Ascension branded ring scanning the arena in her ensemble of Detroit Rampage track pants and a black sleeveless top.

Seleana Zdunich: Cat vs Cat…

Seleana shrugs.

Seleana Zdunich: On paper, not a bad idea, ja?

She can’t help but smile slightly.

Seleana Zdunich: We see which of us really has nine lives, which of us has the claws and the will to sink our teeth into the other’s throat?

Nodding, Seleana pats the edge of the ring.

Seleana Zdunich: I am certain that is what the people in charge of Sin City Wrestling are hoping for with Cat Riley vs Seleana “The Cat” Zdunich.

She starts to stand up and say something else when suddenly, a look comes over her face that changes her entire attitude. The smile fades off and she shakes her head in the negative.

Seleana Zdunich: Actually, no, that’s not what they are hoping for and I…

She shakes her head slightly disgustedly.

Seleana Zdunich: According to their own released information, we are fighting because you demanded a match that you could not have and because my wife…

She pauses to look directly into the camera.

Seleana Zdunich: Yes, SCW, Christian Underwood, Mark Ward, whoever else needs to start paying attention to their own employees, Crystal Hilton, Christina Rose, whatever you wish to call her…

She leans forward, nodding pointedly again as she does so.

Seleana Zdunich: I am not her fiancé, I am her wife! We got married here in Los Angeles in a rather large affair five months ago. Thank you for noticing…

Leaning back against the ring, Seleana shakes her head again.

Seleana Zdunich: And no, it does not make it any better than whoever messed up my marital status in an official company release then added that the match might steal the show since in calling me that word, they also used the wrong form and called me a man. What galactic idiot paid so little attention to this document?

Suddenly, her right arm shoots out, her right holding up, palm out to the camera as she looks away in revulsion.

Seleana Zdunich: No, do not bother making the excuse, I do not really want to know because you have already said right there what the problem is. I am in this match because I am the only one that does not complain.

Her hand drops as she looks back to the camera.

Seleana Zdunich: So I am basically being used as a speedbump for Cat Riley while she waits her turn to try and kill Kate Steele and since you had two divas throwing hissy fits and one had been in line longer, you decided to try and placate the second one by giving her me for reasons passing understanding.

Her gaze falls to the floor as she sighs heavily.

Seleana Zdunich: So here we are, Cat Riley wanted a piece of Kate Steele but could not have her because…

Looking back up to the camera, Seleana shrugs.

Seleana Zdunich: I don’t know, Christian Underwood could not be arsed to just book a simple match before the pay-per-view because the card was sacrosanct…

She pauses pointedly and then nods in acknowledgement.

Seleana Zdunich: And yet, it was not so sacred that he could threaten to change it by booking my wife vs Cat with the winner getting Kate on this show.

She shakes her head as she turns to the right to wave a hand in that direction.

Seleana Zdunich: So Cat threw a tantrum to try and force a change you were loathe to make.

She turns to the left.

Seleana Zdunich: Then you threw a tantrum over it…

And back to the right.

Seleana Zdunich: Causing my wife to throw a tantrum over it in protest…

Back to the left again.

Seleana Zdunich: and then you threw a tantrum at me because of what they were doing and you have no balls and thus decided to fire on you considered both the most expendable and the most helpless.

She turns back to the canter, looking into the camera.

Seleana Zdunich: You have no spine at all Mister Underwood or you would have simply told Cat Riley to wait her turn from the start.

She gaze moves up and slightly to the right as her arms cross in front of her chest.

Seleana Zdunich: Even a modicum of backbone would have meant you simply book her in a match on a Climax Control but you thought so little of Kate Steele…

Her hands drop as she looks to the camera in exasperation.

Seleana Zdunich: Why am I even bothering, all you’re going to do in response is one of two things. You will either ignore me completely as you have already shown you are quite capable of doing or you will threaten to punish me in some way thinking you actually have power over me in some manner.

She pauses and then looks down and to the left.

Seleana Zdunich: I would say you have less power over me than you do balls but since you have none of either, I guess it comes out to be equal on that fight.

Seleana scoffs and looks back to the camera.

Seleana Zdunich: You have no power over me sir because there is nothing you can do to me that will hurt me. You have already forced me to fight both my wife and my stepdaughter and you have tried to feed me to Evie Baang. You have also already threatened my employment and since we already know you have no…

Trailing off, Seleana stares off into the distance.

Seleana Zdunich: What did Christina’s family call them?

She pauses to contemplate this, pondering the answer in her head before nodding as the answer comes to her.

Seleana Zdunich: Huevos…

Looking back to the camera, Seleana’s glare comes into focus.

Seleana Zdunich: Since we know you have no huevos, you would have fired me already if you were going to. Your threats are empty, devoid of all meaning and thus…

She waves her hand dismissively.

Seleana Zdunich: So here we are, in a match meant to be a speed bump for cat Riley because we all know the truth here is that i do not care about you, cat and you do not care about me at all. You never did and you never will because I am not Kate Steele and I am not my wife who was standing in your way to get to Kate Steele. In truth, if you were in the ring with Kate Steele I would wish you luck and even offer to stand at ringside to make sure she could not escape the vengeance you would unleash upon her as she deserves every scrap of that she can possibly feel from anyone who knows her. Kate Steele is an ignorant scoundrel and I disapprove of her very existence. I would consider ending it myself but the line is so long i would never be allowed the opportunity for self control to get the better of me on her.

Seleana looks to the ground and laughs to herself, shaking her head in disgusted disbelief.

Seleana Zdunich: So we are stuck with one another in a match neither of us asked for and neither of us particularly want and what does this mean?

She looks back up to the camera.

Seleana Zdunich: It means we are two cats about to be thrown into a canvas bag and held over a river for everyone else's amusement and this is when we decide we are going to have to fight it out or die and I, for one, am tired of being the one that dies. I am coming to High Stakes and I am going to prove that this Cat has the claws to be reckoned with. I suggest you do the same and may the best Cat win!

PMEmail Poster
Cat Riley
Posted: November 09, 2018 07:16 pm

SCW Advanced Member

Group: Members
Posts: 37
Member No.: 353
Joined: April 09, 2018

Immediately recognizing her Christian breaks into a trot, bounding down the hallway and up to the bike propped up by a kickstand with a helmet sitting on the elevated tail of the leather seat matching the red and white color of the fiberglass side fairings. Reaching the bike Christian stops in front of the weeping young woman and places a gentle hand on her back, rubbing in a reassuring matter while he leans in to ask,

“Cat, what’s wrong honey”?

“I.., I don’t want to talk about it”, she stammers in between broken sobs. “All you’ll do is say I told you so”.

His brow tightly groomed brow furrows as the others arrive and file in behind him, looking on with concern. Putting two and two together he realizes that his fears have come to fruition as Cat has apparently purchased a car despite his efforts to get her to exercise patience. While a part of him, the vindicated villain of his younger years wants to do as she suggests, it is overruled by his veteran mind and he merely sighs and rubs the back of her neck in a reassuring manner.

“Cat, sweety, none of that matters now”, he softly explains. “The only thing I want to do now is help you”. Placing his hand on her head he strokes her long, silken blonde tresses; his hands working their way to her cheeks which he then cradles tenderly, and turns her head allowing their eyes to meet. “Tell me what happened kitty cat”, he says in a soothing, fatherly tone while reaching out with his thumbs to wipe the corners of her eyes. “Let us help you, please”.

“I went to buy a car”, she confesses. “I was going to surprise you and drive it to Tucson for High Stakes but..,” her voice trails off, her train of thought derailed by another emotional tide rushing in. “It.., broke down on.., on the freeway..,” she continues, shakily steering her thoughts back into the proper lane. “I was stuck there.., for almost an hour until a policeman gave me a ride off of it and I caught a cab here”.

“Who sold it to you?” Christian demands, his tone abruptly switching from tender and caring to aggressive and angry. “Cat, tell me who sold you that car”, he says sternly, holding her chin in his grasp to ensure unbroken eye contact. “Oh you’re going to give me a name young lady, who sold it to you?”

“With a pair of fresh tracks streaming down her face she blinks rapidly, forcing out another set of tears and replies, “His.., his name is Fernando; some old fat guy”.

“So let me get this straight”, Gene interjects behind Christian, drawing his and Cat’s attention. “This guy sells you a car which breaks down and leaves you stranded mere minutes later, is that right”?

Cat nods quietly.

“How much did he charge you”? Christians asks, his rage subsiding just as abruptly.

“I gave him ten thousand dollars down and he financed the rest for 36 months at 250 a month”.

“Jesus, that’s $19,000 bucks”, Cassie observes, having quickly done the match in her head.

“Guaranteed to the curb”, Christian adds mockingly, using an old euphemism to describe the so-called warranties at used car dealerships. “Well, fat boy Fernando is going to deal with me now”.

“All of us”, Gene corrects him and turns to his daughter. “Cassie, bring the dually around front please, and make sure the chain is in the back”.

Cassie nods in acceptance and quickly darts back down the hallway towards her father’s office. Retrieving the keys she circles back around, her sneakered feet thudding against the carpeting as she bounds past them and through the front door.

“What’s the name of the place?” Scott asks.

“Reliable used cars.., err.., imports, it’s a small lot in North Las Vegas”.

“Hah!” Christian snorts. “That’s the textbook definition of oxymoron”.

Hearing the throaty, lumpy idle of a diesel engine as his daughter arrives with his truck, Gene gestures the group towards the door, which he holds open, allowing everyone, including Genie, who follows Cat closely. Stepping into the sunlight he motions them to get into the truck as Cassie exits from the driver’s seat, releasing it to him and which he takes in silence, buckling himself in and adjusting the rearview mirror while waiting for everyone to buckle themselves in. Finally, with the group fully strapped in; he shifts the steering column mounted transmission lever into drive mode and glances to Cat seated in the back seat between Cassie and Scott with Genie seated protectively in her lap.

“Where is your car?” he asks.

“It’s in the northbound lane of the 15”, she answers, “in the left breakdown lane between Sahara and Spring Mountain”.

“Alright”, he directs a quick glance to the dash mounted digital clock which reads 1:18 PM while guiding the white with tan under tones Ford F 350 dually onto the street towards the highway. “We’ll probably catch the tail end of the lunch hour rush so we’ll need to be careful”.

“I’m surprised the freeway service patrol didn’t help out”, Scott observes, looking out of the window watching the sidewalk and people rushing by. “That’s what they’re there for isn’t it?”

“Oh please”, Christian scoffs. “Those clowns are as useless as tits on a bull. They only do it to rape people in a jam”.

“Yeah”, Cat chimes in agreement. “They did stop by but wanted to charge me $400 to call a tow truck plus another $100 per mile. I told them I couldn’t afford it and the bastards left me high and dry in the middle of the freeway. I was starting to walk back, looking for a break in traffic to run across to the other side when a police officer spotted me and gave me a ride to where I could call a cab”.

“Fuckers should all be shot”, Christian mutters between clenched teeth. “Step on it Geno, I can’t wait to get my hands around this fat bastard’s neck”.

The driver obliges, throttling down on the gas promoting a roar from the beefy 7.3 liter industrial diesel engine as the fuel is compressed and detonated in the firing chambers. The scenery quickly changes from manicured lawns and lush, rolling greenery to fractured asphalt lined with dilapidated brick and mortars lining the roadside as the king cab truck is guided through the streets and around slower moving traffic towards the interstate 95 north bound on-ramp. The brown leather appointed cabin is quiet as they stop at a traffic light. With his hands on the padded brown steering wheel Gene looks on as a group of teenaged stragglers meander across the intersection, mildly surprised that the scruffy looking youngsters are actually obeying the law by waiting for the light to change. To his left in the passenger seat however, Christian fidgets anxiously, his steely eyes shooting bullets into each of them as they pause and break into a lively cackle; convinced that the light will change while the group ‘jerks each other off’ in the crosswalk and forcing a delay. He tries to settle into his seat, picturing the anticipated meeting with the scum lord used car salesman and wrapping his digits around the shyster’s corpulent neck. Alas, he is unable to reign in his anxiety, a condition he has suffered from since childhood. Although he has managed to bring it under control for the most part with the help of prescribed medication he nonetheless finds himself at times being forced to deal with the beast within. Shaking his head with a frustrated groan, he pictures himself jumping from the truck and moving the kids along in his own way but instead turns to the driver with his face warped into a scowl of annoyance,

“For chrissakes Geno, run them over, let’s go”!

Understanding his friend’s frame of mind, and aware of his struggles with anxiety Gene simply ignores the hastily formulated suggestion and continues to watch the lights. The group finally resumes their trek across the street with the light turning to a timely green once they set foot on the opposing sidewalk allowing them to get back into motion and roar up the ramp and onto the highway. They quickly accelerate up to and past the freeway speed limit of 65 mph, weaving in and out of lanes, passing by the slower moving vehicles and quickly merging into traffic. The group settles into an idle chit chat ranging a variety of topics from killing with impunity to proper disposal techniques of human bodies until Cat pipes up with a question,

“With everything going on all of a sudden, how am I going to get to Tucson”? She asks.

“Why, are you in a hurry to get your hands on Seleana?” Christian replies.

“Surprisingly enough, she is the one member of that clan who I don’t really have a problem with. I would much rather have Kate Steele, Brittany Williams and Crystal Hilton than Seleana Zdunich, but no; to answer your question, I don’t want to take the bus any more”.

“I don’t blame you for that”, he replies with a shaking of his head, his wavy hair bouncing along his chiseled shoulder blades. “Don’t worry Cat, you’ll ride with me. I’ll even let you drive part of the way; it’ll be fun terrorizing the streets with my co-pilot again”.

“Thank you, but I have to ask you something..,”

“What is it”?

“You’re the co-owner of SCW and the head booker, so why didn’t you just overrule Kate’s bull shite match and give her to me like you originally planned”?

He shrugs. It is a fair question and he could have easily fulfilled it, but as the co-owner of a federation in which several of his friends compete he has learned that fair has to extend to all sides, not just those he favors. He sighs and runs his hand through his thick mane.

“You’re right”, he agrees. “I could easily replace Kate’s opponent with you and I damned near did but the trouble is that I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place here, a catch 22. If I show any signs of favoritism I run the risk of alienating others in addition to setting a very dangerous precedent. They could easily cry bias on my part and drive potential new talent away and also run the risk of seeing us sued out of existence. You have no idea how close I came to putting you in there against Steele. Crystal Hilton pissed me off to no end and I wanted to screw her over but.., I have to play fair sadly”.

“But not entirely”, Gene quips from behind the wheel”. “Given that you booked Cat against Crystal’s would be wife. You’re a real devil, Mr. Underwood, you know Cat is a killer between those ropes”.

“Ok, Ok, I confess”! He laughs. “I was hoping at the time I booked it that Cat would rip Seleana’s arm off and beat Hilton with it”.

“I’ll do it for you”, Cat offers. “You’re always helping me”.

“No, that’s not necessary kitty cat. I’ve had time to cool off a bit and to be honest, Seleana is probably the least deserving of your wrath of the whole bunch but don’t worry, I’ll get the rest of them for you, just have a little patience”.

“Treat it as a sort of a qualifier match”, Gene advises, looking at his protégé through the mirror, “With Kate Steele and the Hilton clan being the reward for winning”.

“It’s a bit of a tough spot for me”, she deadpans. “I don’t really want to hurt Seleana in all honesty, but at the same time I want to retire Steele, Hilton and Williams, you know”?

“Just remember, Seleana knows what’s at stake here”, the veteran manager and businessman advises. “She’s well aware of everything that went down between her fiancé, you and Christian, as well as your relationship with him and that you believe Crystal moved to block you from Kate. She is probably certain that Christian sent you against her as his hit man so to speak and she is going to fight like a badger on behalf of her partner, like your father would for your mother. What I’m saying is don’t go in there expecting to shake hands and have a friendly match. It’s going to be a nasty, gritty affair, I promise you, so be ready for the worst”.

“He’s right”, Christian nods in agreement. “He has more experience than any of us so be sure to listen. His words carry a lot of weight”.

“Yeah, about 270 pounds worth”, he quips.

“Or..,” Scott interrupts flexing his bicep. “You can listen to me and take words with 285 pounds of weight behind them”.

“I dunno uncle pump”, Cassie joins in feeling his baseball sized bicep. “It feels like you’ve been slacking lately”.

“Hey! That’s not funny!”

Regardless the group shares a laugh at the ‘Big Pump’s expense while the dually is guided in and out of lanes, weaving between slower moving vehicles until an opening presents itself allowing him to throttle down. The big truck picks up speed while its passengers turn their respective gazes upon the roadside and traffic around them as Cat keeps her eyes peeled for her car. She spots a faint, burgundy silhouette up ahead and taps the driver on the shoulder advising him,

“That’s it up ahead, in the left breakdown lane”.

With a nod Gene slows the truck down as the vehicle comes into view as Cat notices the rear end bottomed out nearly scraping the pavement. “Did my car get a flat too”? She asks as the dually pulls off to the left side in front of the car and shifts into reverse, slowly backing up to it. Looking on Christian recognizes the vehicle as a 1998 Lincoln Mark VIII, sporting an oxidized burgundy coat with chrome aftermarket wheels and tinted windows. He shakes his head,

“No”, he replies. “Ford luxury cars use an air ride suspension system. Basically it has tough rubber air bags in place of the shocks. The bags are prone to leaking in older cars like yours which drops the rear end”.

With the truck coming to a stop all four doors near simultaneously open allowing for the occupants to depart. All eyes are trained on the idle Lincoln sitting with its engine off in the breakdown lane while Gene reaches into the bed of the truck and retrieves a double hook steel chain. He fastens one end around the tow hitch of his dually as Christian, Scott, Cassie, Genie and Cat all gather around the bittersweet lemon. Christian opens the driver’s side door and reaches under the dash board to pull the hood latch which releases with a clunk and then walks back around to the front to open the hood to inspect the engine bay. He sighs upon releasing the hood, expecting it to stay up only to have it fall back down. Fortunately he is able to catch it and gestures for Cassie to hold it up while he takes a closer look. His attention starts with the fluids, noting the blackened brake fluid and water like viscosity. Shaking his head he twists open the radiator cap to check the coolant level as Gene lies on the asphalt, reaching under the car and securing the chain to the center most rigid point of the frame he can find. Rising up be brushes himself off as Christian replaces the radiator cap and turns to the air cleaner. Unlatching four aluminum clasps which secure the top portion of the black plastic air cleaner assembly he pops off the bulbous top and removes a well blackened rectangular air filter. He laughs, running his finger along the edges as they emerge with oil stained tips.

“Oil in the air cleaner”, he sighs. “Water in the brake fluid, cracked hoses and belts, corrosion on the battery cables and God knows what else. Gee, let’s see what’s behind curtain number two”.

“A leaking rear main seal, frayed bushings, loose idler arm assembly and about 200 pounds of grime”, Gene answers while walking to the rear of the vehicle. “Cat, toss me the keys”.

She quietly obliges, throwing him the jingling set of keys which he catches and turns to the trunk. He inserts the main key into the latch and twists it open with a metallic click while up front Christian pulls the dip stick, checking the oil and noting tiny wood colored granules mixed in with the matte black lubricant.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me”! The words ring out in unison as both men find themselves surprised and lean over gazing at each other along the driver’s side of the car with a smirk.

“What do you have”? Gene asks.

“Sawdust in the oil”, he mutters. “You know what that means.., “He pauses allowing Gene a moment to catch on and for both men to exclaim in tandem once more, “A broken rod”! “What about you Geno”?

“It’s the damnedest thing, these assholes hotwired a small, electric air pump to keep the suspension up”.

“You’re shitting me”?

“I wouldn’t shit you, you’re my favorite turd”.

Christian trots to the rear of the car and peers into the trunk to a small, blue and white portable air compressor used to reflate flat tires in case of emergency. Only this one has a thin wire spliced into the power cord which runs along the edge of the trunk and disappears through a small hole drilled into the sheet metal. He drops to the ground and reacquires his target which is zip tied to various points of the sub frame leading from the rear of the car to the starter engine. Shaking his head in disbelief he dusts himself off and clamors back to his feet.

“I’ll be damned, that’s the first time I’ve ever seen that”.

Cat, Scott and Cassie take turns exchanging bewildered glares, unsure exactly what the two men’s ‘car speak’ translates into while Genie casually cleans her face with her paw settled under Cat’s feet. They listen in abject confusion as the pair throw around terms like ‘spit shine’ while going through the interior and brake booster bell crank pivot, spongey pedal, and branded title while combing through the engine bay to catalytic converter, u joint, and differential while peering underneath. Finally, with Cat and the gang thoroughly bewildered the would-be mechanics get back up with Christian closing the hood and Gene shutting the trunk lid. He hands the keys to his daughter and announces in an authoritarian aura,

“Alright, here’s what we’re going to do..,”

“You mean aside from me tearing out his intestine and hanging him from the Stratosphere tower”, Christian interrupts his tone rumbling as an underlying rage threatens to break loose.

“Yeah, besides your scheduled death match.., we’re going to flat tow it back to where you got it from,” he continues while looking directly at Cat. “Cassie will drive your car while I tow it with my truck. We’re going to get it off the freeway as quickly as possible since traffic is still a bit heavy, but that means we’ll have to accelerate like a bat out of hell..,”

“Excuse me..,” Cat interjects. “But why can’t I drive? I mean it is my car after all”.

“Do you know how to flat tow with a chain”? Gene demands pointedly. The question prompts Cat into shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head. “Then Cassie drives because she does know how to flat tow. Now, once we get there, Christian, Scott and I will do all of the talking”. He turns to his flaming haired offspring and rambles on, “Cassie, you will keep her occupied while we handle the asshole, play a rousing game of scrabble or something, I don’t care but we do the talking, got it”? Cassie nods in acceptance and gestures Cat and her furry feline guardian into the passenger seat while she takes the wheel and her father, Christian and Scott file into the dually. Gene rolls the window down and sticks his head out shouting to Cassie and Cat once secured inside. Cassie turns the ignition switch into the ‘on’ position and activates the hazard lights. She waits patiently while the hotwired air compressor in the trunk draws juice from the battery and slowly pumps air into the suspension and finally flashing him a thumb up. “Alright, here we go”!

The big white, 4 x 4 dually slowly creeps forward as the chain follows, rattling on the ground until the slack is taken up and confirmed by a light tug on the rag tag Lincoln. “Hold on to your ass”, Cassie says with a grin as a break in traffic presents them with an opportunity. With a bellowing roar the truck ravenously launches forward ingesting the pavement as if it were a buffet, jerking the vermilion vehicle in behind it. Gripping the steering wheel firmly Cassie holds the car steady, tapping on the brakes every so often to ensure that the chain remains taut. Cat clutches onto the edge of her seat, her eyes wide with apprehension upon noticing how closely behind the big Ford they are.

“How long is that chain”? She asks.

“It’s a 20 foot chain”, Cassie pans, sensing her passenger’s anxiety. “But about two feet of it are taken up in securing it to both cars so there’s about 18 feet of space between us, or about one car length”.

“We’re doing 80 miles per hour”, she exclaims, glancing at the analog speedometer which registers even with the engine off.

“That’s part of the reason why the chain is so tight”.

“What’s the other reason”?

“If I let the chain slack and then it suddenly cinches up again it could flip us over. So yeah, I have to concentrate here”.

“Yes, please concentrate. I’ll keep my bloody mouth shut”.

Watching the truck ahead and glancing periodically through the rear and side mirrors Cassie steers the car, which lacks its usual power assist by virtue of the engine being off, into the next lane over to the right, following the truck to which they are linked. A silver Nissan Versa tries to beat them into the lane with a decidedly dangerous three space lane change but is cut off and forced into a brake check with his brakes squealing madly and the ripping sound of tires shredding against the pavement followed by the acrid smell of burnt rubber and the accompanying white smoke along with the angry pilot’s blaring horn. With the windows being down and the cabin filled with the noise of the rampaging Nissan and other traffic the two women are surprised to hear Scott’s booming voice resounding over all of it and daring the jerk to follow them to the next light which draws a healthy chuckle from the pair.

“Uncle Pump”, the redhead snickers as the Nissan roars past them, the driver unwilling to accept the wrestler’s challenge. Her focus returns to the road and the truck to which they are linked as her father extends an arm from the window, holding it down as a signal to her that they are preparing to slow down and exit the freeway. ”We’re getting off the highway Cat”, she says to her passenger hoping to ease her anxiety.

“Thank God”, she says breathing a sigh of relief. “Nothing against your driving, I’m sure you do fine work, but this scares the hell out of me”.

“Yeah, it can be pretty nerve wracking on the freeway”, she agrees. “But on the streets it’s easy as pie. Well, except for turning”.

“What about turning”?

“No power steering”, she answers, tapping the brakes to keep the chain tight as they begin to slow down on the off ramp and approach a red light. “And that means I get a workout even if I don’t want it, not to mention a lot more braking, and with no power brakes I also get an extra leg workout, but that’s easier than steering a 3500 pound car”.

Sure enough as the car is pulled off of the interstate and onto Sahara Avenue she can readily see the tension in Cassie’s arms as she twists the wheel directing the dilapidated lemon to follow suit and once again as they veer off and onto a less populated side street with the redhead grunting under the strain but holding the car perfectly steady nonetheless. Cat retreats into her thoughts leaving her friend and co-manager to worry about the car; looking out from the passenger side window, watching people milling about the sidewalk on the 85 degree day - in November! A flock of pigeons take wing, startled by a siren nearby while a work crew is stationed behind a row of pylon cones, busily digging up the street. She found it funny that every time she came across a road work crew she could never actually see anything tangible from them. Instead it was the same sight time and again, a vacated back hoe sitting idle in front of a gaping chasm in what appears to be a perfectly good road with a group of neon orange vested, white hard hats standing around doing nothing. She shakes her head concluding that it is no surprise the streets are seemingly always run down; nobody does anything except take breaks in the sun.

“The union life”, Cassie mutters passing them by sharing Cat’s sentiment.

The scenery changes as they enter the township of North las Vegas which, despite the designation is an entirely different city with its own government and police force apart from the more famous Las Vegas. They travel down Las Vegas Boulevard past the Silver Nugget Casino to the right and a Smith’s grocery store to the left and further along past the newly built North Las Vegas city hall, a ten story building designed to house the various municipal agencies under the same roof in a central location. Further down, just past the intersection with Civic Center drive they pass by the also newly built North Las Vegas justice center which serves as a primary base for the city’s legal operations including the police department. They make a soft right onto Carey Avenue which takes them past rows of older houses, built in the 70’s and 80’s. The local fire department station stands next door to a boys club which is well shaded by a group of trees which still green foliage. Finally, after a few more non-descript blocks of travel they stop at a four way intersection before making a right onto Belmont. Recognizing the neighborhood with its rows of duplexes Cat fidgets in her seat and announces nervously,

“We’re almost there, just a few more blocks on the right, just in front of the light up ahead”.

In short order they approach the light which serves to regulate traffic between Belmont and Lake Mead Boulevard and the truck slows to an eventual stop just ahead of the Belmont entrance to Reliable Used Cars as Cassie, sensing an opportunity pumps the brakes bringing the Lincoln to a full stop effectively blocking the entrance. A heavy set Hispanic man of roughly 35 clad in oil stained dark blue cover all’s approaches them, his thick mustache bristling before a fiery gaze behind brown lenses as he shouts at them something unintelligible before being quickly intercepted by Christian who angrily shoves the wrench wielding man back.

“Get that fat ass Fernando out here right now”! He demands.

Despite clutching what could serve as an effective weapon the man, wearing a stitched on name badge which bears the name of ‘Miguel’ thinks twice upon noticing two additional occupants in the truck as well as the two women in the car behind it and retreats inside of the building ostensibly following orders. Meanwhile Gene glances at Scott with a wicked grin,

“Scotty, help me grab the car”.


“We’re going to flip the bastard over”, he answers after removing the chain and tossing it into the back and then gesturing for Scott to take up position alongside him. Together the two hulking powerhouses squat down, reaching under the car and gripping it along the edge of the frame. “Ready..? One.., two.., three”! On queue the men grunt and strain, their limbs tensing and legs quivering under the 3600 pounds of weight but slowly they manage to lift the side off of the ground. Loud grunts echo through the lot as they lift it higher and higher, drawing looks of surprise from potential clients milling about the small 60 by 60 foot lot. Fernando emerges from inside of the office with Miguel in tow and cries out but is intercepted by Christian who corners him against a red Nissan Titan pickup and allowing Gene and Scott to finish the job. With one final heave the car lands on its side and is given another pushes which sends the teetering transport onto its roof accentuated by the crumbling sound of metal scraping against the black top.

“Hey!” Fernando cries, “What the hell are you doing”?

“No, fucktard”, Christian sneers, leaning against the rotund racketeer, “The question is what are you going to do”?

“I don’t understand”.

“You sold that scrap heap to my friend”, he seethes, pointing the overturned Mark VIII. “Now you’re going to make things right or I will do something very wrong to you”.

Fernando squirms in Christian’s grasp as he is joined by Scott, Gene, Cassie and Cat along with Genie who walks in behind and sinks her claws into his fleshy legs and drawing a high pitched squeal as she rakes them across the back of his calf. Shimmying into the conversation Cat taps Christian on the shoulder,

“What can I do to help?” She asks.

“Nothing”, he says curtly. “Go back to the truck and sit down; this asshole is my problem now”.

Grabbing her friend by the arm Cassie leads her back to the truck which they lean against to watch the events as they unfold while Scott spies the pair of shocked shoppers perusing the selection and makes a bee line for them. With a beefy thumb jutted towards the sidewalk he growls,

“You might want to buy a car somewhere else, because this place ain’t gonna be open much longer”.

Heeding the advice of the mammoth the couple, a young man and woman quickly navigate through the parked cars and back to the sidewalk, not bothering to look back as they leave the dealership in their wake.

“Hey,” Fernando exclaims. “You’re running off my customers”!

“I’m about to run my foot up your ass”. He points to Cat who is leaning against the big F-350 looking on. “You’re going to refund her money and tear up that contract you made her sign”.

“I .., I can’t do that”, he stammers, squirming in Christian’s surprisingly powerful grasp. Noticing a small gathering on the sidewalk watching the commotion Fernando, in between heaping breaths attempts to regain his composure and hopefully score some points with the potential customer base looking on. “Your friend signed the contract so that car is hers, and it was sold ‘as is’ and all sales are final. Now you’re going to leave and take that bucket with you or I’m calling the police”.

Cat gasps, “Oh no, that’s serious”.

“It’s nothing”, Cassie replies as her thin lips crease into a knowing smirk. “One of dad’s closest friends is a judge, judge Brenner, they have lunch twice a month. Not to mention he donates to the police union every year, they won’t touch him”. She bobs her head back towards Christian who grips the fat man tightly by the collar, turning it into a sort of noose and drags the gasping man over to the upside down car. “Besides, Uncle Christian will probably kill him before they even arrive”. She snorts and folds her arms propping her foot up against the sidewall of a rear tire. “Don’t worry about it Cat, these guys are like Allstate.., you’re in good hands”.

“Go ahead and call the police fat boy”, he sneers pressing the dealer’s sweat stained torso against the car and pushing his face into a grimy oil deposit blanketing the under carriage. “And while you’re at it, make sure you tell them how you sold this kid a car with a thrown rod, water in the brake cylinder, a bad air suspension system with a portable pump hotwired to the starter, an air filter with more oil than Exxon, shot bushings, a leaking rear main seal and oh, while you’re at it how about you tell them how you charged this kid $20,000 for a car that doesn’t even blue book for a thousand”. He pauses to reach into his right hip pocket and retrieve his cell phone. “You want to call the police, here, use my phone”.

Scott and Gene stand a step back looking on in silent amazement as Christian manhandles the dirty dealer, reading him the riot act with several onlookers beginning to cheer him on. They shout out signs of support for Christian to the dismay of Fernando and the suddenly demure mechanic Miguel. Scott shakes his head glancing over to Gene with a twisted grin,

“Man, it’s been years since I’ve seen Chrissy like this. Hell, I didn’t think he even had it in him”.

“I’m half tempted to grab a pair of pom poms and cheer him on my damned self”.

“How many other cars like this do you have on this lot? You get your boy Miguel to spit polish them and try to push them onto young kids like Cat who don’t know any better. Well I got news for you asshole, you can’t polish a turd!” Allowing the now profusely sweating Fernando back to his feet, Christian maintains his grip and accentuates his point with a swift kick on his ample posterior which draws a rousing chorus of cheers from the swelling crowd of onlookers. “You’re like a bottom feeding, scum sucking leech, preying on the misfortune of others, taking advantage of people in a bad situation and making it worse just so you can make an extra dollar. “You’re what’s wrong with this damned country”! He cries, offering up another boot to the bottom. “How about I give you a kick for every dollar you’ve swindled out of people like Cat porky?”

Sweaty and teary eyed the man looks up at Christian, his jowls bouncing in sync with the movement of his head as he pitifully tries to warn him off, “I’m going to sue you”, he whimpers, “for assault and bodily harm”.

Unexpectedly the SCW co-owner rears his head and cackles obnoxiously. “Oh that’s funny” he cries. “Go ahead and sue me shit head, and watch as I file a class action counter suit on behalf of my friend and every other person you’ve ripped off over the years for fraud and willful misrepresentation in addition to conspiracy to commit fraud, violating the clean air act with those fake smog tickets and for being an all-around piece of garbage. So sue me, please, I’m fucking begging you”.

Having lowered the tail gate to her father’s truck Cassie and Cat sit on the edge watching the proceedings with a degree of amusement, at least for the redhead who knew beforehand what to expect. Cat in contrast, still appears to be concerned for her friends as well as a proper resolution. Cassie sighs and wraps her arm around Cat’s shoulder, a subtle message for her not to worry.

“God I could go for some popcorn right about now”.

“I saw one of those Mexican food carts around the corner”, Cat offers. “I’m sure they have something”.

“Oh yeah”, the redhead scoffs. “Flies mostly, but even if it’s clean I never get popcorn from them”.

“Why not”?

“They sell that spicy Mexican popcorn and that stuff will burn your little white taste buds to a crisp. Don’t mess with it that stuff is not meant for gringa consumption”.

Sensing a challenge Cat drops from the lowered tail gate and onto her feet. “I’ll have you know that I can eat anything”, she says picking up the gauntlet. “Do you want me to prove it to you”?

“If you were my brother I would insist that you prove it to me”, Cassie answers with a warped grin. “But being that you are not I will instead try to warn you away from it. Don’t eat it Cat, trust me”.

“Psh, nobody tells me what to do, not even me”.

Defiantly Cat strides off along the sidewalk, past the brick fascia of Hahn’s military surplus next door where an olive drab world war two era jeep stands guard flanked by a pair of deactivated howitzers. As she rounds the corner Cassie cries out suggesting that she also buy some milk which her mother had taught her to be the most effective method for toning down the fire of spicy food, but her words fall on deaf ears as Cat approaches the small, aluminum push cart with an umbrella strapped to a broom stick affixed to the side. The man, a small framed older man sporting a five o’clock shadow along with a thick, bushy mustache regards her coolly as she approaches, reaching to adjust his blue and white button down shirt, tucking it into a snug fitting pair of blue jeans.

“What can I get for you”? He asks in a gruff, Spanish accent.

“Spicy Mexican popcorn,” she replies.

“Are you sure lady? That stuff is pretty hot”.

“I’m quite sure, spicy Mexican popcorn, please”.

With a grunt the man nods and reaches into the cart removing a clear plastic bag filled with popcorn, yellowish with flecks of red and orange. Pausing thoughtfully, clacking the heels of his leather cowboy boots together he reaches into the compartment again, this time emerging with a pint of milk.

“Maybe you should drink some milk with it”, he suggests. “It helps”.

“No, thanks”, she replies handing him a crumpled five dollar bill. Taking the change in hand she turns about and walks back towards the truck leaving the man shaking his head and muttering under his breath in Spanish.

“Aye loca chica blanca”.

Arriving back on the scene, parting through the ever burgeoning crowd of curious onlookers Cat reclaims her seat beside Cassie with the popcorn in hand. Unfastening the red twist tie she opens the bag and takes in the zesty aroma of chili and lime before teasing her friend passing the open bag under her nose. Cassie brushes it aside and instead asks,

“Did you get any milk”?

“Real women don’t drink milk”, she replies reaching into the bag for a handful and bringing to her mouth as the redhead rolls her eyes.

“You sound like my brother, and much like Fernando over there, it’s your funeral”.

Shoving the sweaty, panting walrus back with a forceful finger to the chest, Christian continues to tear into him much to the delight of the crowd, some of whom have taken to filming the incident on their cell phones. The man backs up as the wrestler turned businessman shoves him again, leaving him to rub the tender area with his fleshy paws while his ears take the brunt of the assault.

“And furthermore you wasteful wanton cesspool of caloric criminality these kids work hard for their money.., too damned hard to be able to afford flushing their life savings down the drain so you can stuff another taco into those gelatinous jowls”. Another pointed finger drives the man back another step. He attempts to circle to his left and avoid any further finger pokes of doom but Christian follows suit, his tongue lashing out at him as would a cat of nine tails. “She bled, sweated and cried for that money she gave to you pilfering pork fed pouch of opossum piss. The least you could do is to try and do right by her and sell her a car that works, not something that barely survived a demolition derby and looks like a poster child for junkyard wars”! His face red and eyes glassy Fernando holds his palms up attempting to plead with his captor, but the co-owner and head booker of SCW only seems to be warming up. “A huckster like you tried to do the same thing to my father years ago and do you know what happened? He took the car to a crusher and a bat to the con man’s head. How does that sound, do you want me to take a bat to your head, or how about a blow torch to your dick, assuming anyone can find that needle in the haystack of blubber. No, I have a better idea..,” he pauses to accentuate his ongoing displeasure with another finger poke, forceful enough to leave a bruise and knock the simpering manatee back two more steps. “How about I go through your yelp reviews, round up everybody you’ve conned over the years and file a class action lawsuit on their behalf”? The last suggestion draws a raucous round of applause from the gathering assembled on the sidewalk on the opposite side of the over turned Lincoln. “I’ll bet there are plenty of people who would like to bend you over and prick you with a syphilitic dick”.

Cassie looks on in stunned silence, as do Gene and Scott while the crowd, enthusiastically behind Christian soaks in the comeuppance of the crooked crown price of corpulence. Cat meanwhile, with her mouth full of the spicy popcorn seems oblivious to the proceedings as her face quickly turns to a beet red and her eyes begin to water with the mucous draining freely from her nostrils. She breathes through her mouth, gasping for additional air and wipes her nose on an old rag lying in the bed of the truck behind her beside the chain.

“Hotthhh.., too hotthhh…,”

Unable to speak intelligibly Cat fans her open maw with her hands, desperately trying to guide any air she can get into the fiery magma chamber, but the relatively cool autumn air is not enough, even when coupled with a waterfall of saliva pouring into her mouth and nearly turning it into a lagoon. She turns her face away from Cassie, who glances curiously at her, not wanting to concede that she was right about the popcorn but the heat continues to build and she begins sweating profusely. Wiping a swath of perspiration from her forehead with her shirt, and her eyes tearing up the red faced rabble rouser suddenly bolts from the truck, her legs a blur as they propel her across the street and back into the casino where she had had breakfast a few hours ago and leaving Cassie snickering and shaking her head.

“Ok, Ok!” Fernando cries, giving in to Christian’s demands. “I’ll refund her money and tear up the contract. Just, please.., no more”.

“I have the receipt and her copy of the contract in my hands”, he warns as his hazel lenses burn into him, following the hysterical shyster into the office. With the hungry hornswoggle retreating into the undergrowth of underhanded dealing Christian turns to his companions with a wry smirk. “Should I charge him interest”? He asks.

“Gene replies by shaking his head, “Nah, just go through with the class action suit. Use my lawyer, he’s on retainer”.

“It’s a deal”, he laughs.

Fernando waddles out of the office ham fisting an envelope, presumably with the cash given him earlier and a rolled up contract, which he shakily hands over. Taking the envelope Christian dutifully counts out the money, which is in hundreds, rubber banded together in stacks of a thousand and then grabs the contract which he unrolls and pleases it side by side with Cat’s copy for comparison. Gazing over the numbers and the signatures to ensure that everything is in order he nods and hands the paper back to him, his voice lowering into a gravely tone of admonition,

“Alright fatty, you know what to do”.

Still nervous and with his mechanic Miguel looking on Fernando tears the contract in half, and then into quarters and hands the shredded document back over to Christian allowing him to set it on the grown and lite it afire with the butane cigarette lighter kept for emergency pranks. Turning back to his friends he tucks the envelope into his pocket and regards the cheering bystanders with a warm smile and handing out a handful of business cards.

“Not only are you witnesses”, he tells them. “But if you’re a customer or former customer of this asshole, contact me in a couple of weeks to join the class action suit”.

“Wait a minute”, the red faced racketeer blusters and gestures to the upturned car. “Aren’t you going to take the car”?

“You bought it back”, Christian sneers. “It’s your problem now. Maybe Miguel can give it a spit shine”.

Looking over to the truck where Cassie sits on the tail gate next to Genie his brow furrows seeing no sign of Cat. “Where’d she go”? He asks. “Alright Cassie, spit it out, what did you do to Cat”?

“I didn’t do anything”! She exclaims, thrusting her palms out. “She did it on her own accord, I swear”.

“Where did she go”? He sighs and shakes his head in frustration.

Cassie juts a thumb towards the Bighorn casino across the street. “She’s getting a gallon of milk”, the red head giggles.

“Of course”, he says with a sigh breaking into a trot and crossing the street. “After everything I go through to get her out of trouble she goes and gets into more. This is becoming a full time job”.

Opening the tinted double doors his face is blasted with a heavy waft of cold air courtesy of the air conditioning system. The small establishment is subdued with the lights dimmed allowing for the pulsating machines to generate the majority of it accompanied by the all too familiar chirps and whistles of players hard at work keeping the state of Nevada’s tax coffers well fed. He passes by what he supposes is meant to be a stage, although the small wooden platform barely stands a foot above the green, red and white carpeted floor and can’t be any more than a hundred square feet, if that he guesses. Looking ahead, past another short row of machines he notices televisions lining the bar, all of them tuned to a sporting event of some kind and at the bar itself he recognizes Cat, leaning against the brown leather padded counter top. She appears to be arguing with the bartender, a slightly older platinum blond woman sporting long, straight tresses which cascade just beyond her shoulders. To Cat’s left two Hispanic men are seated and sipping on coronas while listening to some sappy mariachi song sung in lyrics he couldn’t understand while casually watching Cat and the bartender from the corners of their eyes. He stops short, the prankster in him wanting to listen in for a moment, hoping for some juicy bit of gossip to hold over her head.

“Milp..,” she says, rapidly licking her lips.

“The bartender leans forward, her expression is a quizzical one. “What”?


“I don’t understand”.

Frustrated and desperate to soothe her burning palette Cat snatches a burgundy pen and a napkin and begins to scribble her message which she quickly hands to the bartender who reads it aloud,

“You want Milk? Honey in case you haven’t noticed this is a bar”.

Growling, Cat snatches the napkin and scratches an addition to her message.

“Then give it to me in a skull mug or beer bottles just give me some milk”!

Laughing heartily the bartender drops the napkin on the counter and turns to the reach in cooler behind her, removing a jug of milk which she begins to pour into a glass, skull carved mug while the two men share a chuckle muttering under their breath something about gringos delicate taste buds. Christian, now leaning against a slant top keno machine directly behind her watches in mirth and shakes his head as Cat grips the skull mug tightly with both hands and ravenously downs it. With a lip smacking sigh Cat sets the mug down gesturing for a refill. She takes the clear plastic bag of spicy Mexican popcorn and hands it to the men beside her, ditching it in favor of the fresh glass of milk which, like the first, she downs with alacrity. With the mug empty she pays the bartender, after pausing to fan her mouth one more time she heaves a sigh of relief and glances at the two men shoveling the popcorn gratefully into their eager mouths.

“Be careful”, she advises. “That stuff will kill you”.

“Hah hah”, the man next to her laughs in response. “It’s not even that spicy”.

Cat says nothing and instead gestures for a third glass of milk while staring through wide incredulous orbs. Christian steps forward as Cat takes the milk, and drinks, more slowly this time as her flaming maw has lessened to a mere inferno. She regards him with a bright eyed expression, noting the smile on his face.

“Did you get?” she asks hopefully. “How did it go”?

“Of course I got it”, he scoffs. “I told you I would handle it and I did”.

He hands her the plain white envelope stuffed with cash bringing a delighted grin to her face. Peeking inside she squeals happily and leaps onto her boss, wrapping her arms and legs around him in a four limbed bear hug while enthusiastically kissing him on the cheek and forehead bringing a smile to his face.

“Thank you, thank you thank you”! She cries while hugging him tightly. “Oh my God, thank you so much”!

“It was my pleasure kitty cat”, he laughs. “Just.., next time bring me along, ok”?

“I owe you so much I promise! I’ll do anything you want”.

“Well.., what I truly want is not really suitable for someone with your wiring, nor is it suitable for a public place like this so let’s just beat the hell out of Seleana Zdunich and we'll call it good, alright"?

“You got it”, she drops down and says happily while offering one final peck on the cheek before they turn to the exit. “I’ll bury her in the biggest pile of litter you’ve ever seen”!

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@Cat_RileySCW The way wrestling should be.
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Seleana Zdunich
Posted: November 10, 2018 12:42 am

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Joined: April 16, 2018


Home of Crystal Hilton
Hollywood Hills
Los Angeles, California
11:34 AM PST

Sitting in an open room that had been cleared out specifically for when her family had arrived in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago, Seleana Zdunich glances around and cannot stop smiling as she sees her sisters, Zenna and Katra, holding their guitars, the rest of their band, vocalist Linnéa Lacroix, bassist Alissa Lacroix and drummer Kelly Taylor, standing at their usual positions while Katra’s fiancée, Adriana Nitro, stands off to the side looking happy yet subdued. Her mother’s illness had taken its toll on Adriana and this was not something that was going unnoticed.

Linnéa Lacroix: So, we gonna play something else or?

Seleana nods even as the others all glance around to each other.

Seleana Zdunich: Stjärnljus?

Zenna and Katra both smile, nodding their endorsement of this idea. Linnéa walks over to Seleana and hugs her, pulling her up off her chair.

Linnéa Lacroix: Only on one condition…

Seleana stands with her and shrugs.

Seleana Zdunich: What is that, Chickie?

Linnéa nods to her and then to Adriana as fellow resident, Haylie Jo “Halo” Annis walks into the room and sits down to see if the band will play more. She’d been enjoying this far more than almost anyone else and seemed to always try to find a way to listen as unobtrusively as possible…

Which, only seemed to make her stand out more given the usually ostentatious personal trappings of the owners and occupants of the house, Crystal Hilton and Brittany Williams.

Linnéa’s grin widens as she leads Seleana to the band area.

Linnéa Lacroix: You sing this one and Adriana and I back you up.

Seleana’s jaw drops in shock as Linnéa, Alissa, Kelly, Zenna, Katra and Adriana all nod in unison.

Seleana Zdunich: But.. I… no… sing… I…

Zenna crosses her arms.

Zenna Zdunich: Sarabi…

Seleana just stares at her middle, redheaded sister.

Seleana Zdunich: Jag gör inte.

The other women all shake their head as Seleana’s attempt to say that she can’t sing. The youngest, blonder Zdunich sister, Katra, nods, visibly trying to think of how to say what she wants to in English. Katra had never felt comfortable speaking the language though she always seemed to be able to understand it when others spoke it perfectly.

Katra Zdunich: You… try?

Seleana looks around the room, terror suddenly filling her eyes.

Alissa Lacroix: Come on, Sarabi, ain’t nobody gonna hear but us and we all love you!

Linnéa grins.

Linnéa Lacroix: Besides, we know why you wanna play that…

She nods to Seleana.

Linnéa Lacroix: Come on…

Seleana nods and takes her place at Linnéa’s microphone while Linnéa and Adriana step over to the back-up singer microphone usually used by Zenna or Alissa depending on the song being played at the time. They nod and Katra starts to play the song. As Seleana looks down, Crystal walks in and sits down next to Halo, for once, hoping nobody sees her there.

Seleana Zdunich: In the distance light years from tomorrow
Far beyond yesterday
She is watching, heart aching with sorrow
She is broken, as she waits
Hoping when all is said and done we learn to love and be as one

Crystal’s mouth falls open as she hears Seleana managing to sing and actually sing kinda well.

Seleana Zdunich: Oh Starlight, don't you cry we gonna make it right before tomorrow
Oh Starlight, don't you cry we're gonna find a place where we belong (where we belong)
And so you know, we'll never shine alone

Crystal smiles to herself as Seleana belts out the chorus, Halo looking over and patting Cristal’s arm.

Seleana Zdunich: There are shadows sleeping on the horizon
Leave us scared and so afraid
As the fall out of a world divided
It brings her tears and so much pain
So we take cover from the dark
Hoping to find where we can start

Crystal squeezes Halo’s hand as she watches her wife singing this song, her sisters playing behind her.

Seleana Zdunich: Oh Starlight, don't you cry we gonna make it right before tomorrow
Oh Starlight, don't you cry we're gonna find a place where we belong (where we belong)
And so you know, you'll never shine alone
Starlight we'll find a place where we belong (where we belong)

Seleana glances down from where she’s been singing with her eyes closed and her gaze falls upon the nw nearly crying Crystal and Halo.

Seleana Zdunich: You will see as the mountains fall and turn to dust
There's one thing that won't change
I believe there is something within each over us that always stays
That will always remain as long as love never fades

Katra goes into the guitar solo as Crystal and Halo seem to lose themselves in the music. Seleana looks down at them and then down to the floor wondering if this was a wise idea. As the song comes back around for the last pass at the chorus, Seleana looks up and stares passionately at her wife.

Seleana Zdunich: Oh Starlight, don't you cry we gonna make it right before tomorrow
Oh Starlight, don't you cry we're gonna find a place where we belong
And so you know, you'll never shine alone
Starlight we'll find a place where we belong (we belong)

Seleana looks to the floor and nods slowly as the song comes to a close.

Seleana Zdunich: She is watching, heart aching with sorrow
She is broken, as she waits

The song finishes and Seleana walks over to her wife. Crystal stands up to meet her and the two fall into each other’s arms, embracing each other lovingly before kissing just as passionately. Halo, Linnéa, Zenna, Katra, Alissa, Kelly and Adriana all stand and applaud the sight of the two spouses loving each other.

Seleana Zdunich: ¡Te amo!

Crystal Hilton: También

They kiss again and Katra starts a playful rendition of the K-I-S-S-I-N-G song on her guitar. Everyone else giggles while Seleana and Crystal glance knowingly at her.

Seleana Zdunich: Cheeky, Kattunge…

Crystal Hilton: Now get on with kissing your own wife-to-be!

Katra shrugs and Crystal looks at Seleana.

Crystal Hilton: You were singing to me…

Seleana looks at her for a minute like she’s contemplating this question herself and then nods slowly.

Seleana Zdunich: I suppose I was, Estrellita.

Crystal beams.

Crystal Hilton: When did you learn to do that?

Seleana shrugs.

Seleana Zdunich: I did not know I could. I have never really tried before.

Crystal can’t help but smirk hungrily.

Crystal Hilton: You should do that more often.

Seleana smiles back in kind.

Seleana Zdunich: Maybe I will.

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