MDM: PCH

By: Murphy Doyle Maher

Date: 22nd Sep 2021

In the song ‘All Eyes on me’ by Tupac Shakur, he says All Eyes On Me a lot, and that’s all Murphy can really remember. Pulling off of the Pacific Coast Highway and into a parking lot, he wishes he had heard the song more than once or twice, as he could reference it here and now. Because it didn’t just remind him of his life at the moment. But it reminded him of the one man in this business who he could not be friendly toward. And it just so happened to be the same man he was set to fight this week. Joseph Montouri. He felt odd about it, for sure. The man who had started off his career in this business, kind of, sort of, was now at his level. Of course he’d fallen a very long way to get there. But he was there nonetheless. And now it was time for Murphy to make a decision. But before he could, he wondered if he should have made a reservation. This place, Geofries of Malibu, was not used to his type pulling up and disturbing their conversations which were barely that. Disinterested driveling competitions were more like it. Wait for them to stop bragging about their life so you can speak up and brag about yours. Cutting the engine to his bike as soon as it came to a stop, he tried to spare the people outside the deafening roar of its engine and allow them to enjoy their meal. Unfortunately for these folks and anyone actually within earshot, the person he rode in with had other intentions. Reving the accelator on his bike hard and fast, Kal Wolf drowned out almost every other noise in the area, and some outside of it. He didn’t look at any of them, he barely moved anything but his hand. Murphy was afraid that someone was going to have a problem. That they’d stand up and walk over and words would be exchanged and then those words would be abandoned for something unspoken but audible.

Kal on the other hand was not afraid that this would happen. He was hopeful about it.
He may have taken a knee from the fight game, but altercating with a person was not about the money for him, It was about the joy of doing so. Sparking joy was not just for throwing out belongings. It was also for throwing punches where they belonged.

Killing his engine, Kal smiled at Murphy and hung his helmet from the ape hangers he had for handles. He pulled his weed pen from his pocket and took a drag, offering Murphy some. Kal had admittted that upon getting ‘sick’, which was the only way he referred to it, he discovered that weed was not only good for the feelings during, but much better for his mental health after. Murphy declined. And tucked his straps inside his helmet before placing it in the net on the back of his bike. A waiter dressed in a button down shirt with the restaurant’s logo on it attempted to walk out to talk to the pair, but was cut off by a man in a plain t-shirt and shorts, with a golfing hat covering his eyes from the glare of the sun. He smiles, and steps out to the pair. Murphy awaits a talking to, while Kal stands for a handshake and a quick hug. The man is Jeff Peterson, the owner and one time bus boy of Geoffrey’s. He welcomes Kal, who in turn introduces the man to Murphy. The two of them have a quick conversation before Jeff leads them to a private area in the rear of the eatery that is set up just for them. He tells them that they’ve prepared a tasting menu for them and that he hopes they brought their appetites. Murphy is about to tell him that they’ve been on the road for 12 hours for the third day in a row, when Kal cuts him off and says thank you. Jeff disappears into the rear off the restaurant and Kal and Murphy cheer each other with glasses of what appears to be ice cold, and very expensive looking champagne. Which neither like, and are hopefully that a beer is on it’s way.

M D M
This a bit fancy for us, yeh?

Kal Wolf
No. This is just fucking fancy enough. When I got you in this fucking business, this is how I wanted you to end up. Top of the world, where you belong. Not some fucking joke like on the back of a fucking laffy taffy.

He wasn’t lying. The history of Kal and Murphy goes back a long way. Back before Kal was a legend and Murphy was whatever the opposite of that is. Back when Murphy was stuck in Juvie for ripping off car stereos, and badly. See, Kal didn’t know Murphy when he met him, but he knew his face. He’d seen it every day of his life for years. Not in his dreams, but in the guy that would become his adoptive father type. A man by the name of Willy ‘Lucky’ Maher. Murphy’s grandfather on his mothers side. Lucky had done so much for Kal, that when he found his grandson by accident, it felt like fate. And when he saw the kid throw a punch, it felt like destiny. Murphy was to be Kal’s lifeline to this business. He always knew Xavier and Vin would surpass him, disparage him to separate from him. But Murphy, Murphy would be the one his torch would go to. Or so he thought.

M D M
California fancy. Califancy. Not me deal.

Kal Wolf
Shut the fuck up. You’re a hipster and you fuckin’ know it. Probably only use organic toilet paper and shit. Brought you up better ‘en that.

When he says that part of Murphy dies for a second. It was true, as far as anyone was concerned Kal was more of a father than any he’d ever known, and more of a friend than he’d ever thought he’d had. He didn’t understand for the most part how someone with a reputation for anything but could be so loyal to him. Ok, so there was this instance where Focus, headed up by none other than Joe Montouri, had used an opportune moment that they themselves manifested with the help of a very sleazy general manager, to get Kal in the ring alone, and as outnumbered as anyone had ever been. It was 4 to one. NO. 7 to one. 100 to one if it was anything. Might as well have been anyway. They were taking turns tuning him up with trash cans and weapons which would date it perfectly for those paying attention. No one was there to come to his rescue. No one but a skinny 17 year old Murphy, who despite having no experience in a ring, ran to that ring, and had Joe Mont do just that to his bell. Paul Mont was there as well, young and fresh faced, and as he was back then, not really invested. A few other names Murphy could not remember attached to faces he’d never forget, and they all took him down quite easily. It was then that Joseph Montouri cemented his place in Murphy’s life forever.

M D M
So Joe Montouri. I got issue.

Kal Wolf
I can’t see what fucking issue you’d have. Guy runs his mouth like he should his fucking legs.

Joe had knocked him right the fuck out, and Murphy came to confused and also confined to the corner that he was handcuffed to. That was all the rage back then. If Smart marks ran out and invested in garbage cans and handcuffs back then, they’d be running this business now. Or at least retired. From that place and that point of view, Murphy had to watch his mentor, friend, brother, get torn up with no way of helping. But that didn’t stop him from trying. 17 stitches for one wrist, 11 for the other. The right one got slightly infected and the left one swelled like a fucking water balloon. But what he lost in the ability to use his hands he gained in the trust department from Kal. It wasn’t long before Murphy was off to jail for manslaughter charades, but Kal never forgot. Say what you want about him, but he paid his debts and then some. But there was an issue. As much as Murphy wanted payback for all those years earlier, to settle an issue that started over a decade ago, there was another payment he needed to make. Tuition to his daughters’ school. Which up until winning the Queens title, he had no hope of affording. Thanks to a mistake on someone’s part, though, the title came with a pay rate increase. And it went up after every successful title defense. Which in the queens title department makes no sense, but the question asked must be ‘did they retain?’ And if yes, monies. Murphy wasn’t complaining. The daughter he didn’t know he had forever was now enrolled in a very prestigious arts school and was happier than ever. And her happiness was paramount and worth way more than the misery of one Joe Montouri. Or was it? Surely he could find another way to make money. Surely the success of his daughter and the misery of Joe were not tethered to one another and could be made mutually exclusive? Probably not, and don’t call me Shirley.

M D M
Problem is, I made someone a promise. And yeh of all people know I don’t take them lightly. Especially to her. But I really wanna, yeh know?

Promises can be a son of a bitch. Especially those you make to those you call your Hero. Murphy had gone years in jail promising Kal that not when, but if he ever got out, he would find Montouri and make him pay. Not with money but with his eye teeth and anything else he could take from him on a permanent basis. Maybe he’d take some handcuffs with him when he found him. Maybe he’d take his hands when he left. See back then, the funny nice Joe Mont wasn’t a thing. You hear him talk about Jarrett, and All Hannan like these were the rose and dorothy to his blanche. What they really were was the fucking But then time passed as it tends to do, and in order to see the light at the end of his penitentiary tunnel, Murphy had to make another promise. A promise to himself. That he wouldn’t keep locking a door that was so close to being open and keeping himself in a place he was so desperate to get out of. And so he did. He kept to himself and kept that promise to himself, and after 10 long years, he got out. He let go of the past and he let go of the anger. But now, sitting in this place, looking at his mentor, and having to fight the person responsible for so much of this life…that promise was slipping away faster than he could try to keep it.

M D M
…anyway. How’s it feel to be back?

Kal Wolf
Good. Hope by next fucking week I can ask you the same fucking thing.

Kal wasn’t letting up. He was making it very clear that while they may be like brothers, and friends, those aspects of their relationship were left back in New York 2 days ago before they began the ride. The only person sitting before him was his mentor. The one who started this path that he was, mostly, sitting on the sidelines of. And he understood. As far as Kal was concerned this was Murphy’s chance at redemption. Forget about the others he’d lost to, like literally everyone he’d faced since signing on with Fight. This was the guy. And beating him wasn’t just about bragging rights this time, it was about leaving his legacy with a little duller shine.

M D M
I ‘preciate ya coming back. With things heating up, and this new group coming through like they is, we need all the help we can get.

Kal Wolf
Tell me something, since when did you become so good at fucking deflection, and nothin’ else?
Again, he wasn’t playing. Murphy was hoping he could do just that, and deflect the conversation away from his match and toward that of the promotion as a whole. As it stood most of the regulars in these parts were concerned, and for good reasoning, about the influx of outside talent. Granted what they were back then was a far ways away from what they’d became. They were a fucking circus. And now, they were THE circus. Or at least the 5th ranked circus.

Murphy had told himself in the moments where he had doubts about his lot in life that it wasn’t going to be that hard to get to the level he once wanted to be at. All he would have to do is bide his time, make some blood money where he could, and then he could buy his way out of this title and into one that paid better in both money and respect. But for now, he needed to be here. At the bottom. Because like the area under a roller coaster, there was free money down there. And shoes? No. Not shoes.

M D M
Kal, I-

Kal Wolf
Do not even try to logic your ass outta this bullshit, mother fucker. You know I ain’t wrong. You’re fucking giving up. You think you’re good at hiding it, but it’s written all over your stupid fucking face. I get the whole Sarah thing getting you down, and I’m sorry. But to give up like this. It’s killing me. And fuck man it should be killing you.

Kal took a deep pull off his pen and let out a breath of pot smoke so thick it could hide lepers within. Murphy watched as the cloud floated away and dissipated into thin air, but could see the smell affect, because it is an action, the people seated at a table a few feet away. The effect was that they were suddenly annoyed by it, because that is the outcome of the action. One of the men threw his napkin down and marched toward their table. Murphy watched as Kal spun in his chair, having seen his expression and guessing what was coming. He looked dead at the man and before he could even say something, he yelled.

Kal Wolf
Or what? Or What, mother fucker? Go sit the fuck down before I lay you down. Fucking fancy boy bitch ass.

M D M
..Kal, relax. He could be a-

Kal Wolf
What, a fan? If he was a fan he’d have his camera out, or a pen in his hand with something to sign. He’s a douchebag whose used to not getting his teeth rattled for fucking acting up. I’ll break his jaw and build him a house. Fuck atta here,

Murphy watched the blonde douche return to his table, his friends not pressing him about how he had gotten up with such gusto and came back with such ‘uhh, no.’ Kal wasn’t as big as Vin and X and but if there was a person who was going to be intimidating, it was him. It was something Kal had tried to instill in Murphy, but Murphy was too nice. Too funny. He could kick an ass but he’d probably catch you off guard about it.

M D M
Look, we need to change teh subject, ok. I don’t care about Joe anymore. He’s a big deal again or what have you but I don’t give a shite. He’s in this to win this or whatever, and I’m not. What he did to me,That was years ago, yeh? Fuck, might as well’ve been to another guy. I’m not a kid, and if yeh want revenge, yeh get it. Go on. It’s not me game, Kal. And by the by, Dane’s got him in his sights, and I sure as hell ain’t tryna make difficult things more difficult for ‘neh reason.

Kal Wolf
Oh fuck off. You think Dane is gonna look at what, transitive properties if he loses to Joe? Murph beats Joe, Joe Beats Me, I can’t be Murph, some shit? Or are you afraid you’ll pass the belt to Dane somehow? Who the fuck made you the protector of all these fucking feelings other than your own?

M D M
I don’t care about this business, Kal. I got back in because she asked me teh. She wanted this for me. And now she’s gone and I’m left with what? With a loser belt. With the responsibility of being in a gang war I can’t even wrap my head around. Yeh talk about the new people, who gives a shit? You think I wanted to be one of them? I wanted one fucking thing in this world, Kal. Just teh one. And it was taken from me. It was ripped from me fucking hands and now its going around as something else. And I wish, vehemently, that it would all get turned around and she’d come back, so I can stop listening to the sad bastard music and get on with it, but I can’t. I’m in this now because I’m obligated. Because I gave me word and signed a piece of paper. I don’t care about winning, about being respected or loved. I’m not here for me anymore, understand? Trade me in feh Dane. He’ll do yeh a mite prouder ‘en I will.

Kal Wolf
Alright. You don’t wanna do better, fuck it. Don’t. I just…I wanted you to be, like I don’t know, happy? I know when I started out, I had fuck all in that way. Worked my ass off in this business, and the rest came. But if that’s not in you. Go ahead. Be a good dad instead. But I’m pretty sure if you asked Shan what she wanted more she’d pick a happy dad.

M D M
Yeh could not be more wrong.

Kal Wolf
Alright. Say no more. Let’s just eat and have a good day, right?

And that’s what they did. They sat and they ate. Not like two fighters who should be watching their weight and caloric intake but like two men on death row. They split artisanal cheese plates with three different types of cheese and fig compote, and candied walnuts. Followed by jumbo shrimp with an Asian plum sauce, and sautéed lump crab cakes. Just when they thought they were done, two plates of ahi tuna tartar were brought out and once that was finished they were given spicy fried oysters and a large portion of the very thing Kal always came here for; Geoffrey’s paella. They both sat there, full and drunk and tired, and half stoned. As in only one of them was stoned.

M D M
jazus, that was a lot ‘f food.

Kal Wolf
Save room for dessert?

M D M
fuck neh, barely have room for breathing. The fuck yeh putting it?

Kal Wolf
Telling you, getting sick like I did. Made me hungry again. I had to buy a fucking extra freezer just for all the ice cream I order. My wife has to take vacations to see her parents just to keep me off her.

M D M
…came out a wee rapey.

Kal Wolf
Yeah, it just kinda came out. Fuck.Kal got very somber very quickly, and leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table and looking into his hands. And then at his arms, and his knuckles. Everywhere he looked there were remnants of who he was that made up who he is. And in a very real way that a guy like him could never fully articulate was that he hoped one day Murphy would have just as many scars and way less regrets. Getting sick, one thing I didn’t expect to miss was the monotony of day to day life. Just, existing. When you’re sick like that, every day is the most important day of your life. Gotta get tested, gotta take the meds, gotta be on top of shit. Can’t eat this might fucking puke, can’t eat that because it interacts with the meds. When I got word I was better, I remember sitting at a cafe looking at the menu. And I mean, I couldn’t eat whatever I wanted right then and there…I was still on the meds and shit, but I could soon. It was a possibility. Deciding what to eat for lunch wasn’t always gonna be this fucking, thing, ya know? I could just pick something again. And that made me break down, kid. I won’t even pretend it didn’t.

M D M
Make yeh fuckin’ point, ironarse.

Kal Wolf
I know it don’t feel like you’ve got a shot at being fucking better than you are right here and now, but you do. Will you have to work for it? Who wants something and ain’t never done that? But you got the possibility. Don’t shut down the idea just because you think you should. Remember, it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit…

M D M
And keep moving forward, yeh yeh I seen rocky. I’m sorry, Kal. I dun give neh a shite about joe Montouri. That’s Dane’s fight. Or yers. Or who the fuck ever, but it sure as fuck ain’t mine.

Kal Wolf
I’m sorry to hear that, but also, fucking cheers. May you enjoy whatever this fucking life ends up being for you..

Dessert was brought out, and as Kal devoured the three offerings; a Creme Brûlée, a warm apple tart, and marble brioche bread pudding. Kal dropped his black Amex on the table and Murphy cheered him with his wine, laughing at the distended stomach of Kal now poking out from under his cut off t-shirt. It eased off a little after a very loud burp, and an equally loud fart. Kal says something about not trusting those, and runs off to the bathroom. Waiting outside by the bikes, Murphy looks out at the PCH and at the ocean just beyond it. And his mind goes back. To a moment before the world lost the sense it once made. Back when he was 19, and had the world at his feet. Or in the palms of his hands. Or on a string. Or by the tail. Why does the world have a tail? Whichever way was best to have the world, that’s where and how he had it. And then it went all to shit in a single decision. He’d been out drinking with his friend and quasi tag team partner and things had gone from commiserating to celabratory, and in the history books of bad decisions, getting drunk and driving someplace in a rush was easily in the top 5. Who was driving is a matter that’s been debated amongst those in the know ever since. But one thing was sure. Murphy and Will had caused a man to lose his life. And Will had lost his in the process as well. Leaving Murphy the sole atoner for the entire incident. A task he has taken very serious. And as Kal made his walk from the bathroom to the bikes, he took more and more issue with it.

Kal Wolf
Tell me, when’s it gonna be enough? When are you gonna be done fucking paying back the word that fucked you up and over? I get it, you feel bad about what you done but when do you stop punishing yourself? I mean, just lock herself up in one of them rooms with the whips and get on with it. What’s it fucking enough? That money i put aside for you, you gave it to a woman who hid your kid from you and had no intent on telling you she was pregnant at all. And your so afraid of being your dad, that you did what you did. Because that’s what good dads do. They look out for their kids. So I get that. Sarah was the love of your life, so you did what she asked because you wanted to make her happy. And now you feel like this whole thing is a waste because she don’t want you doing it no more, or whatever and I get that. You became a tag team fighter despite hating the entire idea of sharing anything with anyone, but you loved Dane because he bought you some fruit or some shit, so I get that. But Jesus Christ, When do you finally stop pushing that fuckin rock for no reason other than you’re fucking used to it? When The Fuck Is It Your Turn!?

Kal didn’t stick around for an answer, or the next excuse. He simply sat on his back, turned the engine over, and took off into down the PCH. Murphy sat on his bike for a few minutes, and thought about how easily he could vanish into California, and never be seen again. He could drop his cellphone, leave New York behind, and start anew. New York had become annoying anyway. Fight being as popular as it was, he’d begun being recognized everywhere. Unlike the rest of the fighters though, he was recognized as being the biggest loser in the biggest promotion with the biggest talent. It was usually something he embraced. He’d done so when he came back at EWA, and was constantly left off their rankings. It was fun, really. Top Five? I’m #6. Top Ten? Mr. Eleven. He was known for his humor and a lot of that was of the self deprecating kind. It seemed to have taken hold now, though. As it was less and less a joke he made and more and more a truth he’d become, and it was a truth that was still very funny. But he wasn’t being laughed with anymore. He was being laughed at.

Unlike Joe Mont who had run roughshod over Fight from the get, and becoming a dynamo that very few wanted to deal with, Murphy was a punchline. Known for not caring about winning, or not being able to win, and not at all for his prowess of any kind. He was known for being a loser, a balk of a warrior. And imposter to the game. He used to say ‘At least he was known for something,’ but now he’d rather not be known for anything. And that’s why he started his engine, darted across 4 lanes of traffic, and went right in the opposite direction of everything else. Leaving the life he knew in New York in his rear view, already pushing it to the back of his mind, where he kept everything else he’d lost or had stripped away. It wasn’t everything, mind you. But it was everything that mattered. Back in the parking lot, all that was left behind was some rubber, some smoke, and a freshly cracked iPhone that had been thrown to the ground just a minute before. The sound of screeching tires would fill the area a second later, and everyone in the parking lot would turn left toward it’s source. As they gathered by the sidewalk, the motorcycle with Murphy on it zipped past, cutting the two lanes and dipping into each to pass the other. His head down, he streamlined as best he could to cut the distance he’d allowed to get between him and Kal, determined to catch up and tell him what he’d just realized. As he came around a tight corner, he found Kal parked on the side of a small bridge that was high up. He was pulling drags off his pen and looking at the water below, which had receded at this point, revealing the things that live in the muck beneath it. Kal didn’t bother to turn toward Murphy when he heard him approach. He was tired. He got tired a lot since he got sick, and not just from physical activity. If he could bottle the feeling of having your life taken from you so early, he’d do so and give people perspective. As it stands, he only had his words to do that with, and he wasn’t ever called eloquent, so it didn’t work as well as he wanted to.

M D M
…the answer to yeh question, bad. Is right fuckin’ now.

Kal picked his head up, and smiled. He beckoned Murphy in for a hug, and the two men held each other as cars honked and passed by. Kal who was happy to see his friend, his protoge with even a little bit of fire in his gut, and Murphy, who eventhough he was sure this drive he had just found in the cellar wouldn’t last, he damn sure was going to use every single bit of it on Joseph Montouri.