FXR | “GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY” | FYA

By: Dane Preston

Date: 22nd Jul 2021

THE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY

Years ago, I was having a serious conversation with my girlfriend at the time. We were talking about careers and what Iíd do if fighting didnít work out. It wasnít something I thought about, because in my heart I knew that I was born to throw hands with the best of them. So I asked her what she thought were my best skills, get a load of this; fighting, fucking, fixing shit, and if Iím not fixing something, Iím fucking it up. That last part adequately sums up my present day personal life drama…

After Blood Money, I spent the entirety of last week laid up in the infirmary, sharing a room with Joe Montuori, which was like living in my own personal Hell. I spent 5 years in San Quentin State Penitentiary, and that was like living in Heaven by comparison. This week, Iím medically cleared to return to action and find myself booked against the inaugural Empire Champion, Dickie Watson himself.

Man, that conference call with Xavier Wolf just before FIGHT! was kicking off just is starting to make a ton more sense. X told me that he had very high expectations for me, but that Iíd be facing some heavy hitters. No expenses spared, theyíd be acquiring top tier talent at every turn, which meant having to show the world something I havenít shown them since EWA.

Any other day I would be ready to rise to the occasion, but with everything going on in my personal life, Iím not even sure what day it is anymore. Itís bad enough having to deal with Joe Montuori muscling his way into my family life and trying to take my wife from me, but I have Lauren MacKay, known to wrestling fans the world over as Sahara, making a play for me now, taking advantage of the friction Joe Montuori has introduced into my life.

Godsdammit, I should never have agreed to Allison teaming up with that fucking Meatbol in the first place. We should have followed her fatherís advice and exercised her contractually guaranteed Opt-Out clause. But, instead, like a good husband should, I opted to be supportive of Allisonís career, which I swore I always would. But after all the ramifications of that choice, the conflicts, the uncertainty, the mental anguish that has followed such a harmless decision, Iím not sure Iíd make the same choice if given the chance again. I remember the conversation like it was yesterdayÖ

Preston Residence @ Parts Unknown, Wisconsin
April 15th, 2021, 10AM

There we were, just like any other day; me, Allison, Bella and the twins, Luke and Layla. In the middle of a nice family brunch, when Allison decides she wants to broach a sensitive subject with me. So we make sure Bella is okay watching the twins for a moment while we go out on the balcony and talk. I knew what she wanted to talk to me about, and I was dead set against it, but if it was important to my Princess, I needed to hear her out.

ALLISON
Okay, hear me out. Yup, there it isÖ Instead of having Dad and Sarah fight this with legal jargon written into our contracts, how do you feel about us working this to our advantage?

DANE
You mean actually seeing this through, with you teaming up with Joe Montuori?

ALLISON
Why not?

DANE
Um, how about because itís him? He purposely made that match to get closer to you, just to piss me and your father off. If you have your heart set on winning the tag titles, letís go out and win them ourselvesÖtogether. Me and you.

ALLISON
Because weíve done that dance a thousand times, and it hasnít always panned out for us.

DANE
Why do I get the sense of a greater US than just you and me here?

ALLISON
Because I mean our whole circle. Voo, Vin, Kal, X, Dad, Jason, Shane, mom, Vhodka, Dyamond, all of us. Weíve lived in our own world, aligned ourselves only with each other, built our own empire, and crumbled hundreds more. We donít exactly have the reputation of playing well with others. Iíd like to change that.

DANE
But Joe Montuori, one of your dadís biggest annoyances. I canít even call him a rival, because Jason Jarrett and Corey Bradley were more worthy of that title than Joe. Even so, Montuori is someone your father loathes and despisesÖ

ALLISON
Exactly!

DANE
Iím afraid I donít followÖ

ALLISON
Daddyís not in charge of the family anymore. We are. We get to make our own rules and call our own shots. We also get to choose who we work with. Who better to turn over a new leaf with than someone who the previous leadership would never have worked with willingly?

DANE
Okay, in an oddly weird way, that makes a lot of senseÖ

ALLISON
Right? We can show the world that we donít do business the way Daddy and the Pack used to.

DANE
Okay, so that brings us to what exactly?

ALLISON
I need you on board with this. I need you to trust and support me, the way I have always trusted and supported you.

DANE
I told you after the twins were born, that I would always support you and never interfere with your career. I will honor that promise. I trust you, but I donít trust him. Heís been threatening to steal you from me for weeks, so youíll have to excuse my hesitance in agreeing to thisÖ

ALLISON
You have nothing to worry about babe, I would never leave you or our family, especially for a Meatbol like him. This will be fun, I promise. Besides, whatís the worst that could happen?

Whatís the worst that could happen, indeed. Famous last words if Iíve ever heard them, thatís what those are. I donít think either of us had even an inkling of an idea that Allison teaming with Joe Montuori would blow up in our faces into the shitstorm it has become. I mean, it was a simple, professional agreement that has taken on a life all of its own, and all I see on the internet are STANs shipping JAllison and ARM. For fuckís sake, why did I agree to any of this?

Dane Prestonís Locker Room @ Hearst Tower, Manhattan, NY

Shower thoughts as Iím washing up; now that Iíve been released from the infirmary, maybe my life can finally return to some semblance of normalcy. I need to go home, to Allison, and Bella, and the kids. But I need to get cleaned up first. I smell like a used car salesman, and despite all his fart jokes and blaming me for the room we shared being rank, that dude has some disgusting hygiene habits. Iíll need at least a dozen showers before Iíll get his stench out of my nose.

Stepping out of the shower, I reach for my towel, but itís not hanging on the hook where I left it before I got in. I look around and donít see or hear anything unusual, so I walk out of the shower area and instantly hear a low whistle. Spinning on my heels I see Sahara, standing there with my towel hanging from her index finger, dressed in the tightest latex bodysuit I have ever seen. I cover up my junk and quickly walk over to her, snatch my towel from her and wrap it around my waist.

SAHARA
My, oh my, I suppose we can squash that stupid “dickless” rumor.

Sahara looks slightly upward and whispers as if talking to the Gods themselves, “Wow. Well done.”

DANE
You really shouldnít be here, Lauren. What do you want?

SAHARA
Somethiní Iíve wanted since 2017Ö

DANE
This isnít funny, Lauren, why are you here?

SAHARA
Do you remember the last time you stepped into the ring with a bona fide World Champion?

DANE
I do. NOTHING, EWA. And I lost. Is that what you wanted to remind me of?

SAHARA
NOTHING of the sort, pun intended. No, I came to tell you somethiní you donít know. From the eyes of someone who was on the opposing team. When you and Murph walked into EWA, I knew right from the start that you two would be a force to be reckoned with. Sarah managed you both well, and for a couple aí guys that were barely introduced before teaming up, you two performed like a well oiled machine.

DANE
A history lesson, from you?

SAHARA
Shut the fuck up and listen would ya? Itís not often Iím candid like this, so enjoy the gift Iím giviní you.

DANE
I raise my hands up. Go on.

SAHARA
You two walked in like you owned the place. It doesnít matter who they put in front of you, the confidence was undeniable, if not a bit of a turn on. Sure there were a couple aí missteps here and there, but there was no slowing your momentum, or weakening your resolve. The two of you were driven, focused, determined to take EWA over and bring in more of your friends and family at some point. The writing was on the wall for all to see. NOTHING saw it, West and Rayner saw it, hell, even Calder saw it. And I saw it right from the start.

DANE
What exactly did you all see?

SAHARA
The future of wrestling was about to change. The next time you fought NOTHING, the outcome couldaí been different and you would walk out with the title. NOTHING knew it, he wasnít scared of it, but he knew the likelihood was high. You were like a man possessed, determined to make the world scream your name. The only problem is that you didnít believe in yourself enough for that to happen. Forget the Montuoris and the Moores. The Blacks and the Wolfs. Itís time for you to step outtaí the shadowsÖbut you gotta understand yer gonna have to go to places you may not wanna go…

As the last few words escaped her lips, Sahara had crossed the distance between us.

SAHARA
And this time Iím gonna be there to help you take over FIGHT!, whether your wife likes it or notÖ

She reached out and snatched my towel from my waist, crooked an eyebrow and I could swear she even licked her lips.

SAHARA
And Iím gonna enjoy every single second of itÖ

I quickly covered myself up and put my arm out to push Sahara back when she cupped my hand over her breast with a devilish grinÖ

WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE!?!

Pulling my hand away, I spin around to see my wife standing in the doorway, taking in the full view of my bare naked ass, with her cold, steel blue eyes wide. The unmistakable rage of a Riggs etched into her face, ARP drops a duffel bag to the floor and rushes towards Sahara.

ALLISON
Oh, you are so dead, bitch!

I dart between them and stop Allison from attacking, giving Sahara enough time to make her exit.

ALLISON
Dane, get your damn hands off of me! What the fuck were the two of you doing!?!

DANE
Nothing thatís running through your brain right now, I swear it to you!

ALLISON
You give me shit for all the crap going on with Joe, and I walk in on THIS!?!

DANE
It isnít what you think it isÖ

ALLISON
Like Hell it isnít!

With a huff, maybe a growl, Allison shoves me away, turns around and walks to the door, kicking my duffel bag on her way out. I stood there for a moment while my brain caught up to what just transpired, and it felt like my brain was crashing like a computer.

DANE
What in the fuck just happened?

I swear, I need to meet the Fates and have a conversation with them about my lifeís trajectory, because I either pissed off one of the Divine and this is their way of getting back at me, or some God or deity somewhere is having the time of their eternal life trolling the shit out of mine.

After what happened in my locker room yesterday, Allison isnít returning any of my calls, texts or emails. Just when I thought things were on an upswing for us, Sahara had to come along and destroy it all. Sahara is a formidable ally, could work on her people skills and drop dead gorgeous, Iím not fucking blind. But I love my wife and I am not about to throw away what weíve built, just like I know Allison wonít either.

I had the chopper fly me back to the Jersey Compound, where I packed a bunch of my shit before getting on The Howling Wolf and flying home. Back home to California, things are too dicey here right now and Iíve got some shit to tend to at the shop anyway. As if on cue, my phone starts ringing the second the plane is airborne. Walking back into the room Allison and I once shared with Ani during those long flights way back when. In reality it was only a year ago, but it feels like it was another lifetime.

Flopping onto the bed, I get settled in for an eight hour flight; Howling Wolf was built for comfort, not expedience. My phone begins ringing again, as it had all day long. SAHARA. I take my phone out of my coat pocket to silence it, when I see the last two missed calls actually from Bella. Listening to the voicemails, I was being begged to come back to Jersey, Bella had flown in earlier in the day. We were hoping that the three of us could spend some quality time together, healing the rift currently driving us apart.

Unfortunately, I was in too foul a mood to deal with that or either of them right now. Instead, I was about to return to the place where it all started for me. The finest MMA training facility in NorCal; AKA, the old place has seen some state of the art upgrades, which I knew from the last time I visited some years back. Little by little it feels like itís not the same place. But that feeling goes away instantly the second I walk in. Thereís something about walking through those doors; I feel grounded, focused, ready to get back to the basics and take on the entire fucking works by myself. Itís hallowed ground to me.

But before I could visit my old training facility, I needed to see a man about some parts for the Demonhunter. Which meant paying a visit to my crew at Busted Knuckle Kustoms. When the plane touched down at San Carlos Airport, my 66 Mustang was already there, gassed and ready to go. While neither the Wolf nor Riggs families owned a stake in this small airport, I always chipped in when I could. Which afforded me certain perks, like shredding tires down the tarmac in my all wheel drive Restomod before ripping out onto public streets.

The weather was perfect, the sun was shining as bright as ever, 75į with a soft breeze, combined with the smell of burnt rubber and supple Italian leather clad seats, I was reminded that I was home. Godsdamn, how I missed this place. Not even ten minutes after touching down, Iím walking through the large roll up door to my shop, to whistles and cheers, and high fives all around.

DANE
Is this what I pay you lunkheads for? Get back to work, ya bums!

All smiles and middle fingers raised, the crew dispersed and returned to work. But the mood all changed when I walked into the office to find my head tech and day to day operations guy sitting at my desk looking like heíd just gone rounds with Iron MikeTyson in his prime.

DANE
What happened, Dom?

DOMENICO
The fucks it look like, man? I got my ass kickedÖ

DANE
How much this time?

DOMENICO
Ten largeÖ

DANE
Youíre lucky youíre my oldest friend, and extremely fucking valuable to meÖ

I throw a fat envelope on the desk, Dom smiles as best he can, the cuts on his lips and cheeks and bruising causing him pain. Dom opens the envelope and sees more than what he needed, then he looks up at me, puzzled.

DANE
The extra is for the Vamps. Theyíre expecting that money, so donít you even so much as think about blowing it on more bets. Thatís protection for you and the shop.

DOMENICO
Yeah, I heard that fuckiní mook from New York threatening the shop on Venom last week. The fuck you thinkiní lettiní your Queen team with a queef like that?

DANE
Come on man, consider who youíre talking about. Since when have I ever controlled anything she does?

DOMENICO
Only one time, when she was pregnant with the twins, who I miss by the way! When do I get to fly out and visit again? Kalís got the top shelf hooch, ya mother in law is a preem MILF, and your twins are little angels who love puttiní a hurtiní on olí uncle DomÖ

DANE
Soon. Kal told me the Grand National and Monte Carlo shells arrived yesterday. Iíll need you out there to mate the bodies to the tube frames. The crates have your name on themÖ

DOMENICO
Thank you Pretty Boy PrestonÖ

DANE
Come on man, you ainít called me that since we shared a cell. But letís not make a habit of these gambles, brother. I may be comfortable, but Iím not the Old Man.

DOMENICO
Whateva you say, Pretty Boy. Thanks againÖ

A handshake and quick bro hug and I was out the door, heading for American Kickboxing Academy, the house that built Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, and Khabib Nurmagomedov into worldwide sensations. It took me a while after my prolonged vacation from society to come back and face Javi, and since I started wrestling it felt like years all over again. My old trainer was all smiles to see me walk through the door, he had that twinkle in his eye, you know the type when you see an old friend and they canít wait to bust your balls.

JAVI
Yoooo, if it ainít my 200th ranked student, come to show his old coach some love!?! Wait, wait. You work for FIGHT! NYC now, finally got signed to a legit combat sports promotion now, huh!?!

DANE
I chuckle, itís good to see Javi in a good mood, Something like that, coach. I see this place is ever evolving, I still gotta get you out to the Woodside house. That gym got seals of approval from Arnold, Froning and the Old Man, but itís missing yoursÖ

JAVI
I know man, I know. One of these days Iíll get up there. But weíll have to schedule it, with you living in the Northeast and all that nowadays…

DANE
Actually, weíre back in Jersey for a while. At least I think we are. I canít make heads or tales of anything anymore.

JAVI
Listen man, your woman wants nothing more than for you both to be the best the fight business has ever known. Like her old man and his friends. Which reminds me, tell Kal I said thanks for the tequila, best Iíve ever had.

DANE
Iíll be sure to do that.

One of the most prolific coaches in the game, Javier Mendez has a clientele spread out all over the world. The man barely goes home to his family, thatís how much he loves MMA. We catch up for a few more minutes before he sends me to change for a workout. Midmorning on a weekday the gym was closed, but Javi was always around to hold the pads or run me through the latest and greatest conditioning workouts.

Today was no exception, a minute each on the combat bike, ergo rower, forty pound overhead ball slams and then two minutes full intensity on the heavy bag. After four rounds I tapped out. Sitting on the mats, a sopping wet mess, a bottle of water lands next to me just before a towel lands on top of my head. I look up to see Javi pushing the mop and bucket my way. One thing you could always look forward to, a coach that keeps you humble. No matter how big the name, you train here, you clean up after.

The fighting community is a brotherhood, fighters look out for each other, and take care of their dojos. All those martial arts movies where rival dojos face each other in giant gangwars, that shitís no joke. Thatís how MMA and wrestling are as well, you could hate the fucker youíre in the ring or cage with, but the second anyone from outside the brotherhood gets a wild hair up his ass, youíll see two cats in the middle of a blood feud come together to work the mark over.

After the training session, Javier had to run off to take a call. Man that dude knows how to put me through the paces. While resting, I find myself distracted by thoughts of my wife and Joe Montuori, but I need to focus on Dickie Watson. The Empire Champion. I take out my phone and open the camera app, tapping record when I prop the phone against the wall and wipe my head and face. My beard still dripping, I set the towel down in front of me as I start to speak.

A few years back, my brother Murphy and I were taking the entire roster of EWA to task. We had a single minded goal, and that was to take over. Sadly, mismanagement got the better of the promotion, and we were left without a place of employment. I had two young babies and a wife who needed her husband, and Murphy rode off into the sunset with Sarah Wolf.

After EWA folded, I came back here, trained at least three times a week, plus I built a full gym at home that would rival any big box gyms. I made it a point to stay ready at all times, because you never know when youíll get that itch again. A couple years later, Iím signed to Action Wrestling, this time it’s me, Allison, Anicka and Johnny. Even that went south when Johnny Stylez began to show his true colors and we wound up feuding for the better part of the next year.

That feud transcended promotions. From AW, which we both left due to politics, to NEW which I left after realizing how much of a cunt the Styles that was running the place was, to OPW where Johnny had me put on the shelf twice for extended stays away from the ring. But up until OPW, with the exception of my wife, none of these has beens running around in FIGHT! Were even a blip on anyoneís radar. No Miss Michelles, no Montuoris, no Vhodkas, no Vincents or Xaviers, not a damn one of them was around when I was kicking the shit out of all comers.

Then they waltz back into the business and act like it still fucking belongs to them while Iíve been the one putting in the work day in and day out and they were off enjoying their retirements. To say that Iím fucking frustrated with the entitlement of some of these motherfuckers is putting it mildly. Sure, Iím cool with some of the old heads, friends with a few of em even, but itís pretty fucking frustrating to be pushed aside when youíre the guy thatís been here.

So, Dickie, I guess you could say that Iím a bit distracted right now. Between dealing with some slimy piece of shit trying to steal my wife from me, my old running buddy wants to dismember me simply to prove heís better than me, and having to prove that not only do I belong here, but that I belong here more than some of those old fucks that came outta the woodworks when the Old Man put Stylez in touch with all of them to bolster OPWís ranks. They are all transplants here in FIGHT! And theyíre all on my list, one by one Iím going to knock these motherfuckers down a peg or three.

Which brings me to the fresh meat thatís been signed to FIGHT! contracts recently, one of which is you. I understand you are top tier talent and that you compete for other promotions, youíll get no complaints outta me, so long as you fulfill your obligations to THIS promotion, and you represent us with honor, dignity and pride. See, you and me, we donít have to make this shit personal between one another. This is simply business as usual. Creators know Iíve got more than enough enemies on my plate without needing to add another.

Be that as it may, what a feather in my cap would it be if I took the fight to the Empire Champion and came out with the dubbya? After all, isnít that why weíre here? To challenge the best and prove to the world that we are among the elite, the upper echelon of fighters? If someone ever tells me that theyíre not here to be the absolute best, Iíd tell them to pack their bags and go the fuck home. Because quite simply, those are the kind of competitors who put forth the bare minimum and expect equal opportunities to those that are putting in the work.

I went back and watched Blood Money again, and you put on a fucking clinic. Make no mistake about it, I donít doubt your abilities one bit. Youíre crafty, and you know how to fight. I look at it like this. Someone, somewhere in this company, thought you and I would make a good showing for this weekís Venom. But that very same someone thought that a bout like ours isnít good enough to Main Event the show? Iíll just go out on a limb here and say that youíre guilty by association, and Iím sorry theyíre doing you dirty on account of me.

Fuck me. It just dawned on me, Iím so fucked in the head by all the shit thatís going on in my life right now, that Iím making nice with all the recently signed talent. Chances are they, like you, have already had a giant ass glimpse of what my world is looking like, itís highly possible, maybe even probable that most of these folks are going to keep their distance from me. After all, emotional outbursts, violent attacks, social media wars, Iím all over the place right now, and the last thing anyone wants to do is cross paths with me. Whether out of fear of what Iíll do to them, or simply because they donít want any part of my drama. Listen to me prattling on about nonsensical bullshit that has no bearing on our match at all.

Dickie, I am honored to step into the ring with you. I view this match as my golden opportunity to show the world who the fuck I am, one more time. In case you werenít aware, or didnít do your homework, Iím an ex-con and a skilled MMA fighter. I know it sounds so cliche, but Iím truly not cut from the same cloth as most of these cats running round FIGHT! Now, my boy Murphy, ex-con who can throw mitts like you wouldnít believe. And our pal, still running around under a mask until he decides to scare the shit outta Joe Montuori, he also had a lengthy stay in jail and grew up on some rough streets, fighting to survive was a day to day struggle.

The point Iím getting at Dickie, is that I didnít come from a perfect home. I didnít have the perfect life. I made mistakes and I paid dearly for those mistakes. While Iím not a perfect person, I am the living embodiment of second chances and making good of every opportunity presented to me. I own a hot rod, restomod, custom and chopper shop that boasts the likes of Kevin Hart and Jason Momoa as satisfied customers. Iíve worn gold in my career and I aim to do the same again in the very near future, itís my hope that our match this week proves me worthy of challenging for your title sometime down the line. But most important of all, despite all the hardship, trials and tribulations Iíve had to overcome, all the shitty hands Iíve been dealt and all the shit Iíve had to shovel, I came out of it all with a beautiful family, a home, and all the toys a guy like me could ever want.

While weíre not enemies, Dickie, we are professional competition to one another, and Iíd be lying if I told you I donít want to mow you down. I mean, be honest Dickie, youíre holding the richest prize in this organization, would you really expect anything less from anyone else you get paired up with? As I said earlier, you are top tier talent that I was informed would be making their way here. I go into every match the same way, focus on the task at hand, the person standing across the ring from you, and find a way to hurt them before they can find a way to hurt you first.

You saw the depths Iíll go to in order to protect my family from VENOMous snakes like Joe Montuori, how I sacrificed my own health and safety to take JMont down. Of course winding up in the same infirmary room as him for seven days was not on my to do list. But you have to ask yourself, exactly what am I willing to do in order to provide for my family. What am I willing to do to prove to the world that Dane Preston isnít simply another “Big Dog”, but instead I intend to prove that I amÖ

THE KING OF THIS JUNGLE!

There are some guys running around here with delusions of grandeur and inflated sense of self worth. Funnily enough, theyíre all old friends; Joe and Paul Montuori and Brandon Moore. If I were you, I would get to know Joe and Brandon. Because anytime youíre involved with Paul Montuori, chances are one of the other two Little Pups will rear their ugly ass heads. Rubba Dub Dub in the Tub, you little bitches.

My apologies, my ADHD took me for a detour there. The point Iím trying to convey, the picture Iíd like to paint for you, is that I have been at the top of the food chain, and I rather liked it up there. No disrespect intended to you or anyone else, but I will do whatever it takes to see myself seated atop the food chain, as the ultimate predator, by any means necessary.

This opportunity, regardless of being a non-title match, this match means more to me than you can possibly fathom. To go toe to toe with thee Champion in our promotion would silence the naysayers in a huge fucking way. While I could list off a laundry list of my motivations, I will sum it up simply with this; you have something I want and I will stop at nothing to get it. To me, itís worth more than any championship. And thatís RESPECT.

But please donít twist my words, by no means am I suggesting that your title is unimportant, because thatís absolutely not the case. I will tell you until the cows come home, just how much I want to wear that Empire strap, and it is more than you could possibly fathom. Yet at the same time, I want the respect of my peers that much more. Titles are won and lost all the time, while respect must be earned and maintained at all times, itís also much harder to come by.

Which begs the question, are you willing to pull out all the stops and do whatever it takes to maintain your place as the Empire Champion? Because the way I look at it is like this; you are standing between me and what I want most — professionally speaking, as I want nothing more in this world than to destroy Joe Montuori and live happily ever after with my wife and family — but what I want most is Blood Money. And a whole lot of it. What better way to accumulate what I need than by besting the Champion? Can you tell me another way? Because I sure as shit canít think of one.

Like I said, I have no issues with you, this is purely business. But, the ramifications are quite clear, I need Blood Money to get what I want, which is to eventually face whoever holds the belt in your possession right now. Thatís another story for another time. Destiny awaits us both, Dickie, but for one of us, glory waits as well. And right now, Iím chasing glory and taking full advantage of this Golden Opportunity. Iíll see you at Venom, Champ.

I look up to see Javi standing there, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed. I kill the camera on my phone and wipe the sweat from my face again.

JAVI
Donít stop on my account, that was some good stuff there.

DANE
I hope so, going toe to toe with any Champion is a tall order. Going toe to toe with someone who won in the fashion Dickie did, that’s a giant order.

JAVI
You got the goods man, youíre gonna be fine. But listen, I have some errands to run. I left a key on the front desk. Lock up on your way out. It was good to see you again. Donít be a stranger for so long next time.

DANE
Thanks, Coach. Until next time.

About forty minutes later, Iím out the door, and I drop the key in the mailslot after locking up. Like clockwork, my phone vibrates in my pocket. Slinging my gym bag over my left shoulder, I pull my phone out.

DANE
Grrrrrrreat. Accepting the call, I put it on speaker. Whatís up Damon?

DAMON
Donít give me that fake friendly greeting. So whatís this I hear youíve packed up and gone back to The Bay? Taking your ball and going home, are we?

DANE
Nope, had some personal business to take care of at my shop. Needed to get away for a bit anyway. Being that close in proximity to JMont, I might kill him. Besides, I didnít know that I needed your approval to go home…

DAMON
Yeah, alright. Fine. But did you see what Joe is shilling on Twitter? This cannot stand, Dane. You need to do something about him. Now!

DANE
Okay, pump the brakes Old Man. Are you going to step into the ring and away from the announcerís desk? Are you going to finish what you should have the last time you fought Joe? Whatís that? Youíll be in breach of your contract, or is it that your cancer riddled body canít do what it used to?

I pause briefly for effect and I can practically see Damon seething on the other end of the call.

DANE
Now that weíve gotten that out of the way, stop being a backseat driver to my career. I am perfectly capable of knowing how and when to act. Secondly, if youíre talking about Joeís t-shirt, it looks like a 12 year old kid made it. And just like Joe, heís trying to make a buck like the slimy ass negotiator he is. Letís keep in mind, Allison and I are still married, and I have not been served nor have I signed any sort of divorce or dissolution of marriage paperwork. So let the delusional Meatbol relish in his perceived victory. Heís over there playing Candyland while Iím making Chess moves.”

DAMON
I fucking well hope so. Iím so sick of this whole partnership. Over it I tell ya. Now, ya mind telling me about your naked adventures with Sahara, before I send Phoenix Squad out to make you disappear?

Jesus Christ, that woman is quite literally going to be the death of me. If this feud with Joe Montuori doesnít kill me, Saharaís shenanigans most certainly will get me killed. I abruptly hang up on Damon and try Allisonís cell again, and just like the last dozen or more attempts, it goes straight to voicemail. Sheís angry, Saharaís thirsty, Joeís a piece of shit and Damonís about to have a Black Ops squad hunt me down — theyíre friends of mine too. Just fucking greatÖ