Thanks For Nothing; Thanks For Everything

By: Shawn Warstein

Date: 13th Jul 2021

 

    • Thanks For Nothing: Part 1

 

As I walk out of the doors into the large parking garage, hidden underneath the tower. Grasping my ribs, as each breath is mildly painful. I wince in pain with each exhale. That’s nothing compared to the small welt forming on the left side of my face. Courtesy of Dickie Watson and his timely Molotov Cocktail. I can’t blame him, hell I was about to do the same thing to him. So close, I could taste it. Better him than someone else I suppose.

The parking garage opens up the closer I get to the Navigator. Pressing the keys in my pocket the loud chirp echoes. A few stalls down I notice a group huddled around. A gleeful bunch of rapscallions. The party stops for a moment after the chirp and I see the faces of Adien Reynolds, Kasey Winterborn, Hannah Watson and Dickie Watson, amongst a few others all surrounding the new and inaugural Empire Champion. Smiles all around. I pay them no attention as I open the door to the SUV, and toss my bag in the back haphazardly. A smattering of pitter patters comes up to my left.

“Hey handsome” A smiling Kasey said while whipping an arm around my shoulder.

A slight wince and sigh. “Hey, yourself.”

“You okay?” She said while gently rubbing between my shoulder blades.

“I’ll be fine….” A quick side smile, clearly I wasn’t fine I was just hoping she’d go along with it. I was mistaken.

“I know that we’ve only been hanging out for a little bit now, but I can already tell you.” She pauses for a second and what would usually be a playful slap on the back instead was a carassesing hand across my left cheek and a smile. “You’re full of shit.”

“Oh so you know me so well already?” I said in a manner that could be misconstrued.

“Well….” She pondered the question. “I guess not then.”

“Spoilers.” I leaned over and whispered into her ear, as the goosebumps begin to form causing her hair to stand on end. “You’re right. I am full of shit.”

“Well then tell me. What’s the problem?” I was asked as I walked over to the driver’s door and opened it up. I pull myself up and into the seat.

“Honestly.” I asked and was quickly given a nod from Kasey. “I just feel like I failed.”

“But you didn’t.” She quickly tried to ease my feelings. “It was a long shot that anyone would win, and you and I had talked about that. Going into this unknown situation, the odds were never really in your favor to begin with.”

“I know. But once I saw what it was….” I hang my head and shake it slightly. “It was mine for the taking. It was right there. Then he happened.” I point out towards Dickie who keeps glancing over.

“Hey…” Kasey grabs my hand and holds it firmly. Giving it a slight squeeze waiting for me to reciprocate. I relent. “You did amazing. I know it. You know it. Hell, even Dickie knows it.”

“I dunno. It was right there. I could literally taste it.”

“Listen. Come out, let’s get dinner, we are gonna celebrate.” Kasey tries to pull me from the driver’s seat but I’ve gone boneless at this point.

“I don’t feel much like celebrating. I don’t have a ton to celebrate at the moment.”

“Come on…” Kasey once again grabs me by the hands in an attempt to get me to move.

“Trust me.” The look of disappointment falls over her face. As she brushes back her crimson hair she hops onto my lap in the seat.

“Maybe just a little celebration?”

My heart begins to race. The pain was suddenly gone as she pressed herself up against my body. She leaned in and breathed lightly along my neck.

KNOCK KNOCK

We were both startled by the sound of someone rapping on the window. Holding a large black box. Waving it back and forth. The man was out of breath and clearly disheveled.

“Mr Warstein… I’m glad I caught you before…” He takes one look at the two of us and then quickly diverts his eyes. “Well…before you left.” The man tries to open the passenger door with his free hand but it’s locked.

“Just put it in the back with my bags.” I said while wriggling an arm around Kasey to pop open the back. “And don’t slam my god damn door.”

The man places a large box, wrapped in black paper with a red bow on top. He shuts the door and disappears off into the parking garage. I turn a sly eye towards Kasey, who is thoroughly enthralled by the package. “So about this celebration…”

“Oh right.” She looks back towards me and once again leans in. Hovering just above my earlobe. “Let’s get dinner.” She laughs and with a quick kiss on the cheek, she crawls over the center console. Obviously I had to help guide her over, but as she sat down and fixed her hair a smile radiated.

“You know, you’re lucky I like you.” I said with a shit eating grin. “Otherwise you’d be stuck here.”

“Well where would be the fun in that?” A slight chuckle from her, as she places her hand atop mine on the gear shifter. “So where are we going?”

“You’re the one celebrating….” With a quick click of my tongue I continue. “Wait, what are we celebrating?”

“Well…” She didn’t seem caught off guard. Am I really that predictable? “We are celebrating new beginnings. You have a new company. A friend won the top title…” This is where I could normally chime in, but Miss Vexx holds a hand up to stop me before I start. “Yes I’m aware friend is a loose term, get over it. Celebrating a new relationship. Shawn you don’t realize how much you have to be celebrating…. Can you just trust me the same way I trust you?” She looked at me with a loving glare. I smiled and simply sighed.

“I suppose you’re right.” A ‘Well Duh’ Expression from her. “And since you’ve made no plans, I guess we could order from somewhere and head to the brownstone. Dru should be out of there by now and hopefully didn’t redecorate too much.”

“Sounds like a date.” We share a quick smile as I place the SUV in gear and pull out into the parking garage.

The scuttle of Dickie and his compatriots has begun to die down a bit as it’s just Dickie and Adien standing there as the truck begins to slowly roll past them. I roll down the window, as Adien waves to Kasey.The Molotov and I don’t say anything. No words need to be said, respect is earned and dammit if he didn’t earn mine. He did to me exactly what I was planning on doing to him. I can’t stay mad. I can’t be forever salty. There is nothing wrong with losing to Dickie Watson…. No matter how much it pains me to say that. A simple nod up from him and a simple nod down from myself. As the vehicle pulls past them and onto the busy streets of New York as the taillights fade from view.

 

    Thanks For Nothing: Part 2

As the flame off of the candle danced in the air off a small bead of wax rolls down the side and pools at the bottom of the candelabra. The sounds of utensils clinking down upon the plates below them.

“So you’re not going to open the box?” Kasey asked as I stood up from the table and began to gather the dishes.

“I mean I’m sure eventually I will, but this is going to be the second time this company has already interrupted our time with each other.” I continue talking as I walk to the kitchen and begin to set the plates down. “It just seems no matter where we are, what we are doing… someone or some company has to put their face in our business.” The dishes crash gently into the sink as I walk back into the dining area. “I mean I specifically chose Mexico. I specifically chose that spot in Mexico, and somehow, someway we were still interrupted.”

“You aren’t going to blame them for Betsy and Noah?” Kasey said while leaning back in her chair with a smile.

“I can and I will. Watch. Every time we are about to kiss, something. Somehow stops us.” I walk right up to Kasey and take her by the hand. As I pull her upwards she ‘falls’ helplessly into my arms. We lock eyes and as we begin to inch closer and closer…..

I pull away. “Seriously? Nothing?”

“What?”

“I thought for sure something was going to happen.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Indeed I am, but only when it comes to you.”

Kasey grabs my collar and pulls my head down. As the two of us disappear.

*The camera lingers on the candle in the middle of the table. At first it’s slow to melt, then as the night progresses more and more wax fills up the bottom of the candelabra. Until…*

A strong gust of wind from my mouth blows out the flame. A small plume of smoke trails off of the wick as I take a seat at the table. Swirling a bourbon in my hand staring at the box.

“What are you?”

I grab the box. Shake it like I was a child on Christmas Eve.

“Seems light. Almost empty.”

As I bounce the box on the tabletop, an empty hollowish sound emanates. Each bang becomes, for some reason, more and more infuriating.

“Fuck it”

Without a second, or in this case third thought, I rip open the package. There is a simple box inside, with a card sitting on top. Clearly marked “Read Me First”.

“I swear to god if this is a Russian Nesting Doll scenario, I’m going to lose my shit.”

I peel the card open. It’s the same as the business card from Mexico only this time the Fight NYC logo is embossed on one side. Flipping the card over there is a note written.

-Mr. Warstein-

We here at Fight NYC are beyond the moon that you have decided to sign within our company. Even more so that you participated in our first event.

Now while we are sure you are saddened that it didn’t work out for you the way you had hoped, this is just a small token of our gratitude for putting your faith in our company.

Now you’re asking yourself….

What do you get the man who claims to have everything?

Well I will tell you that we spared no expense in making sure that we got you exactly what you wanted.

Enjoy.

-Mr. X-

Tossing the card to the side, I carefully open the box. Inside there is a bunch of paper crumpled up. Various shades of the red spectrum strewn about around the table and floor. Digging down towards the bottom and finally emptying the contents, once again there is another card.

“Empty. Of course they couldn’t get me what I wanted. A nice watch? Something. Anything.”

I flip the card over.

-Apologies-

We knew that there was no way we could possibly give you what you truly wanted. That was until I thought about it. Shawn, Our gift to you is going to be us not bothering you when you are trying to escape.

No longer will you be inundated with things from us when you are away from the Tower. So whether you’re on your beach in Mexico, in your home in New York or one of your other properties. The only time you will receive anything from us is when you are expected to work.

Enjoy your time away. Enjoy what you really want.

-Mr. X-

P.S.: Look up dummy.

My eyes drift upwards to the top flap of the box. I don’t see anything written, or special about it. In a huff and a quick swipe I close the lip of the box and standing there at the foot of the stairs is Kasey. Wearing one of my plain tee shirts, as she ties her hair up into a messy bun.

“You coming back upstairs or what?” She said with a head tilt and devilish grin.

“Yeah. Just seeing what was in the box.” I stand up and walk up to the beauty before me.

“So…..”

“It was indeed everything I ever wanted.”

And it was. See what I am first and foremost is someone who values his time away from work. I’m the type of person who doesn’t need anything but some time to myself and spending time with people who care about me.

Normally my homes are empty, and maybe that’s by choice, but allowing me the freedom to do as I please is the only thing I ever wanted or craved. It all harkens back to when I was a child. I was never alone. Someone always had something to say, someone was always watching my every move. I spent years searching for solitude only to find none.

Now that I can have solitude anytime I want, I’m always grateful for those who choose to spend their time with me.

It’s funny when you think about it. The one thing I always wanted is the same thing I’ve hid from for so many years. I’m not going to waste my time, however long it is, with her. I want to cherish every second. I want to be exactly what she needs, and who she needs me to be.

No more Half Measures.

There’s a Kingdom to be conquered.

And my Queen needs a throne.