The Dove and The Serpent

By: Vhodka Black

Date: 13th Aug 2021

“What are you doing?”

Vincent slowly turned, with his arms stretching the robe that was definitely mine out and away from his body to reveal his whole Buffalo Bill motif while he did a sexy little shimmy towards me, humming what suspiciously sounded like Goodbye Horses. Over his shoulder I could see a small crowd gathering on the sidewalk in front of our building and a camera focused directly on us. Oh, so this was for work. That made more sense. I crossed my arms in front of my chest, smiling at my very self-amused husband as he strutted to a stop in front of me and threw his head back.

« Vincent Black »
Would you fuck me? I’d fuck me.

« Vhodka Black »
I’d let you rub the lotion on the skin.

« Vincent Black »
If you do you’ll get the hose again.

« Vhodka Black »
It does this whenever its told.

« Vincent Black »
Quid pro quo.

« Vhodka Black »
Quid pro quo.

Vin smiled before furrowing his brow and dropping the robe back down to hand loosely around his body.

« Vincent Black »
You’re dressed.

« Vhodka Black »
I have to go do that stupid radio thing they’re making me do.

« Vincent Black »
That’s serious? They’re giving you a microphone and a platform? Poor dumb bastards.

« Vhodka Black »
I KNOW, RIGHT?!

« Vincent Black »
Will you make it back in time to go to the studio with me?

« Vhodka Black »
Wouldn’t miss it.

Vincent turned me around and gave me a solid pat on the ass before shoving me down the sidewalk with more force than one usually uses to shove their wife.

« Vincent Black »
Give’em hell.

And with that I was gone.

???????????????

Graham Clauson. UGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Clearly, X and his associates were punishing me for the beating the FIGHT! Tower had taken in the course of my weekly war on VooDoo. After Vin found me in the halls talking to Dickie Watson about how to make Molotov cocktails, the big red she-beast and I had made an uneasy agreement that home turf was off limits in the name of the children and the sanity of my current husband and her former. With the agreement being what it was that left us with very little wiggle room on where to work out our differences and the tower just seemed to be the natural choice. I mean, it was literally called FIGHT! Tower. Why the hell call your building that if you don’t expect people to fight in it? Ridiculous. Okay, yeah, sure we ruined a few elevator cars… and a parking garage… and staff turnover was at an unusual high for a company that was only one month old. But those sorts of things are to be expected in our line of work, right? It was no good reason to saddle me in a match with the human personification of irritable bowel syndrome. Graham Clauson was a blister on the bottom of your foot meaning that he had a self-importance about him, you know? A blister, while irritating and disgusting to look at, much like Clauson himself, isn’t going to keep you from walking. It’s a minor annoyance that can be easily overlooked. Again, a lot like Clauson. Come to think of it “Minor Annoyance” should be the next tag line on his merch. Hell, it could be his super cool wrestler nickname! “The Silent Killa” Amari Kent, “The Prophet” Druscilla White, “The Calamity” Dickie Watson, “The PHRQ” Vincent Black, “The Minor Annoyance” Graham Clauson. I’ll take my royalties in cash, thanks. The saving grace to the thing was the fact that it was a tag match which meant quality time for me and Vin. The second saving grace… saving graces? Saved grace? Whatever. The second that thing was the fact that for as much as I disliked Graham Clauson, I loved his tag team partner Druscilla White that much more. Sure, we’d gotten off to a rocky start in Fade 2 Black but some of my best friends were people I once attempted to destroy with absurd pantry items. Druscilla was no different. We were bonded for life now, fast friends in a business that doesn’t take too kindly to friendship. Hell, maybe there was hope for me and Clauson to hit it off yet. Ya know, if he suddenly gets lobotomized and turned into a sentient cucumber. Yeah, I think maybe then we could be friends. Speaking of vegetables given autonomy… The dislike I took to the man in front of me was near instantaneous. He was Silly Putty shoved into a sausage casing and shaped into a roughly humanoid shape. He was a bag of gushers someone left in a hot car to melt down into a loosely formed man. He was the personification of everything wrong with the business of journalism, not fit to be categorized into the same subgroup as someone respectable like Denzel Porter. But above all else, he smelt of Sour Cream and Onion potato chips, the chip only second in abomination status to Cool Ranch. A thin layer of chip dust seemed to be coating every available surface of the small radio studio around us – which, like seriously, how the fuck do you coat an entire room in flavor dust with ONE lunchbox sized bag of chips. Was it some special extortionary talent this guy had? Was it seeping from his pores? I needed Mythbusters. I needed ANSWERS. The mutant in question removed the lid from his Mountain Dew Code Red to wash down the remainder of his chips from a mouth that hadn’t seen a toothbrush in at least the last six months. He winked at me while he did so and I could feel the scowl setting into my lips before the thought even formed into my brain to do so. First Clauson, now this mook. Or was it first this guy, then Clauson? Had to be the latter, considering Clauson never comes in first at anything. That’s his whole personality, isn’t it? The big sour cream and onion flavored chip on his shoulder at the fact that he’s always the bridesmaid and never the bride. Wait, he’s married right? Okay, I stand corrected. He was the bride least once but not at any wedding that mattered. Ken seems nice though. The man in front of me lifted his duct taped headphones up to rest upon his grease slicked hair like a crown all the while signaling for me to do the same. Gingerly, I looked into the holes where my ears should fit, inspecting for signs of wayward ear wax from whatever two-bit celebrity sat in this chair before me. Didn’t seem like Code Red sanitized this shit in between guests so I could never be too careful. God, Michelle would ralph if she saw this place. Of course, these days pretty much everything makes Michelle ralph. She was going to be a wonderful mother, right up there with Beulah May and Mama Romanov themselves if she could just manage to stop the vomiting before the kid arrived. I have found in life that there are two subsets of women, those that are suited to be mothers and those that are not. Michelle for all her proclivities had always been in the former group while me, I was firmly situated in the second. There isn’t a lot in this world that I want anymore, for the most part anything that I have ever desired or aimed for I have been able to obtain… eventually. But that special gene, the magic makeup that would make me know all the right things to do and say when confronted with the much smaller version of myself had always eluded me. To be candid, I would do terrible things to be even half the mother that Michelle would surely be. I don’t want for a lot in this world but God, I don’t want to fail Ripley. Code Red waved his hand in front of my face to get my attention, flakes of chip crumbs wafting down to land on the table below me like dandruff in a snow globe or whatever it is that they put in there. With much trepidation I placed the headset over my ears and nodded to the man across the table from me who began a silent countdown on one hand. As he curled his pointer finger down to make a fist a small lighted box on the ceiling between us lit up to read that we were on air. As The Abominable Michelin man went into his introduction, I took a deep breath (but not too deep given the chip smell) and braced myself for what was surely to come. Usually, they don’t let me do this kind of stuff. You know, media stuff for the company. No one would ever come out and tell me the exact reasons why but Vin said it was probably because I would be too good at it and then people would only ever want to interview me and all the other roster members would cry about not getting picked to do the special job which seemed like a reasonable enough answer. Truth be told, I actually hated this part of the job. Put me out there with the fans, man. Let me talk to the guys who would mansplain my career to me and the chicks who would ask me shy and uncomfortable questions about the size of my husbands… size. Those were the people I wanted to be dealing with, not people like Onion Breath. The only solace I had was that Graham would be wicked pissed that I had been asked and not him. He was like that, the kind of guy who got booty tickled over any perceived slight in his direction and this would just be the most recent entry on his list of ways the company that had been open a month was burying him. Of course, to hear Clauson tell it, every company had buried him. Every single one in his long mediocre career. At some point, let’s have some personal accountability. If you find yourself not succeeding in every company you step foot in, maybe it’s not that the Big Bads in charge are against you, maybe it’s just that the only thing remarkable about you is your ability to put people to sleep.

« Greer »
Isn’t that right, Vhodka?

« Vhodka Black »
Huh? Oh yeah, totally. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

That was true, I really couldn’t have said it better myself on account of I had zero idea what the hell he had just said. Greer gave me a somewhat strange look making sure to catch my eye contact long enough to be certain I was paying attention this time. Geez, some people just have no faith in a girl.

« Greer »
For a woman with such a storied career as yourself what was it that drew you to a relatively new and untested company like that of FIGHT! NYC?

This dude clearly had zero comprehension of anything happening in the world around him. Denzel Porter would never have such shoddy journalistic skills such as this. Denzel was a man who knew the business, through and through. Even if he keeps forgetting to put me on all his lists.

« Vhodka Black »
My brother-in-law owns it.

Greer looked like he was second guessing those chips as he stared at me waiting for me to continue on and fill up the dead air around us. Turns out, Vincent and I have somewhat rubbed off on one another and I mean that in both the literal and figurative way. He’s having a little more fun in life and I am occasionally trying out the say less approach. Looking at the intensely squinted gaze of Greer in front of me I couldn’t help but feel like maybe Vin had been onto something all these years. Also, I was really hoping if I did a bad job at this, I wouldn’t ever have to do it again. Let Paul Montuori do the media darling routine. He was exceptionally good at it and being handsome and charming certainly didn’t hurt either. Though I guess his plate was pretty full these days being “big dog status” and chasing Dickie for the Empire strap. But still it seems like media obligations should have been a part of that whole upper echelon champion thing.

« Greer »
Gotta keep the family peace, eh? Guess that would make for an awkward Thanksgiving dinner if your sister-in-law was working for the rival company.

« Vhodka Black »
After a brilliantly delivered PowerPoint presentation from my step-daughter Ciara we voted as a family not to participate in the celebration of the genocide of a mostly peaceful people. Also, I feel very uncomfortable with what goes on in the turkey’s butthole.

« Greer »
Do you mean stuffing?

« Vhodka Black »
Vincent and I do a lot of things but he has never once shoved stale bread up there. It’s not right.

Greer stared at me dumbfounded while he tripped over his next few words in what was surely going to be a sort of fool’s errand to redirect me to a more appropriate topic.

« Greer »
Well, uh, speaking of Vincent it’s been announced that you and your husband will be teaming up for the first time under the FIGHT! NYC banner to take on two people you are no strangers to, Druscilla White and Graham Clauson. Now, you’ve never actually faced off against Clauson but he dealt a stunning loss to Vincent Black not too long ago. How does that make you feel heading into this match at Venom?

« Vhodka Black »
Whaddaya mean how does it make me feel? So, Vin lost a match. Big deal. He didn’t lose because he wasn’t the better man or because Clauson somehow used his magic lamp to morph himself into a talented individual with face that doesn’t induce you to want to check how many registered offenders are within a six-mile radius of your house. He lost because his focus was not on Clauson but on other much more important things happening in his life. This time though, this time is a different story. Vincent is singularly focused on Graham Clauson and making sure that for the rest of his days poor ol’ Graham has to denote his drivel about beating Vincent with the addendum that he could only ever pull it off once and that time was only because Vincent allowed himself to be beaten.

« Greer »
Now if I am correct, you yourself have never actually met Graham Clauson in physical competition?

« Vhodka Black »
Let me explain something to you here, Greg. When you’re walking down the road do you aim for the piles of dog shit or do you walk around them?

« Greer »
Around, of course.

« Vhodka Black »
Same thing with Gramma Clauson. Why would I waste my good time and ability with someone who is quite frankly lesser than me? I can beat Clauson any time, any place, any day of the week. It’s not like it’s hard. Aside from Vincent, who we already covered, has the man actually ever beaten anyone worth talking about? He beat up on four kids with a combined total of a years’ worth of experience. Big whoop. He got his ass handed to him by Brandon Moore and Shawn Warstein not too long ago and Saturday night won’t be any different. It’ll just be different names in the win column.

« Greer »
Certainly sounds like there is no love lost between the two of you.

« Vhodka Black »
Clauson is a hack. A boring, uncreative, derivative hack. You know what Clauson is going to do? He’s going to do the same thing he’s been doing since the first time he ever learned my name – run his mouth to anyone who will give him the time of day about me being a whore and a drunk and ugly. See, fact of the matter is, Clauson doesn’t actually know one singular thing about me outside of my name and my gender. That’s all the has to work with. He hears Vhodka and he clings to the low hanging fruit of calling me an alcoholic for six months despite knowing that I don’t actually even drink. It’s funny, he says. But to church it up every now and then he likes to throw in something about looking like a prostitute or being loose. You know, the same exact thing literally every person who has ever faced me has to say. It’s just as predictable and boring as the rest of his personality. Graham Clauson is like the definition of insanity, he keeps going different places and doing the same thing hoping that next time his results will be different. Every company it’s the same diatribe that he’s being unfairly buried or that he can’t seem to make it into the main events because he’s not one of the teachers’ pets or whatever. Oh, and that’s another thing, his crying about the fact he’s never held the top belt anywhere. Do you know why that is?

« Greer »
Why?

« Vhodka Black »
Because he isn’t good enough. Plain and simple. There will always be three other guys in the back just that much better than him, just enough people that he spins his wheel in the mid-card of every company he runs to. But he can’t admit that when push comes to shove, he doesn’t cut the mustard. So instead, he creates these conspiracy theories of the entire industry being against him. But I know and Vincent knows and everyone else with half a brain knows that at the end of the day Graham Clauson is card filler. And that’s all he’ll ever be.

« Greer »
Shifting gears, a bit, Clauson’s tag team partner Druscilla White. The two of you have actually met before in a previous organization, do you want to tell the listeners a little bit about that?

« Vhodka Black »
I beat her unconscious and then covered her in off-brand bologna and Funyuns. It was a joke. We laugh about it now!

« Greer »
So, you would say that the two of you are friends now?

« Vhodka Black »
Yes, that is what I am saying.

« Greer »
Given your blossoming friendship how do you think that will impact you both going into this match?

« Vhodka Black »
Lookit, Dru is formidable, she’s charismatic, she’s athletic, she’s a professional. She’s every single thing that her partner lacks. If Graham Clauson brought literally anything to the table at all they might stand a chance against Vin and me. But unfortunately for Druscilla this might as well be a handicap match for her. My girl can bring it like nobody’s business but I’m not sure if Vin and I at the same time while she has to work with the human handicap of Graham Clauson will be too much for her. Dru is the kind of woman who was built with the wrestling gene. Sure, wrestling can be taught to just about anyone as Vincent and I are proving with the kids that we’ve adopted as trainees but just being taught isn’t enough if you ever want to do anything special with your career. You need that natural instinct that Druscilla has, you need that special ingredient that makes the fans give a fuck about what you’re doing. Graham is a great example of someone who lacks that and needs to work twice as hard to make up for it. It comess easy to Dru. But more importantly, Dru loves this business. She’s always willing to help out anyone in the back who wants to run through a new move or talk about game plans. She’s a leader, the kind of woman you’re proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with or even across the ring from. I know at Venom Dru will bring her all and leave everything she has on the mat. It’s business, not personal. Dru knows that.

« Greer »
You aren’t even the slightest worried she might be holding a grudge for what you did to her last time the two of you met?

« Vhodka Black »
Not at all. I mean, I wouldn’t blame her if she did. But like I said, Dru is a professional. We’re going to go in there and fight clean and whoever comes out on top comes out on top. Back in the old days there were no such things as friends in this business, everyone was public enemy number one – even your crew couldn’t be trusted. Look at my friend Joe Montuori and Dane Preston if you don’t remember the old days. But now? For the most part we’ve grown up enough to where we can do the work in the ring and still not kill on site outside of it.

« Greer »
Wait, did you just say your friend Joe Montuori? I follow OPW pretty closely and I can remember Joe and Paul for that matter taking swipes at you for months and vice versa. You cannot possibly be telling me the two of you are friends now.

« Vhodka Black »
I am saying just that, Greg. The Montuori’s aren’t bad guys once you get to know them, it’s just that old school thing I was talking about before, you know, the whole you can’t trust anyone thing. Paul has actually become a pretty close friend of mine even if he does keep trying to steal my husband. And Joe? Joe is a changed man. Just look at how caring and selfless he’s been with his future wife Allison Riggs. Yeah, Joe said some pretty harsh and UNTRUE things about me but I probably wasn’t as nice to him as I could have been either. These are two men who have broken their backs for this business only to be shunned and treated like shit from the top of the roster down to the bottom. But we’re in a Montuori renaissance these days with Joey Two Belts and Paul lining up to be our very next Empire Champion if he can snuff out Dickie.

« Greer »
Dickie Watson is a pretty impressive champion and Paul Montuori isn’t exactly known for being the face of the company. Do you really think he can do it?

« Vhodka Black »
I think Paul can do anything he sets his mind to. Dickie is nice, he’s a talented guy even. But I have seen a side of Paul that I have never seen in all the years that I have known him and I am telling you, it would be a mistake to sleep on Paul Montuori. Bet.

« Greer »
No one could have possibly guessed that the grand prize for winning Blood Money would be becoming the first ever Empire Champion. Now, you were not a big player in that match up instead choosing to focus on a woman we’ve seen you exchanging blows with for months – VooDoo. Do you regret your decision to focus on your nemesis and not on placing better in Blood Money?

« Vhodka Black »
Absolutely not. That title will be there forever, I can win it whenever I want to. VooDoo has an expiration date that is rapidly approaching.

« Greer »
Meaning?

« Vhodka Black »
I’m going to kill her, duh.

« Greer »
I imagine that your husband probably has feelings about that, no?

« Vhodka Black »
Yeah, I guess he’s not stoked or whatever. Wants us to do family therapy or some shit which everyone knows is a complete waste of time because those people are just writing ideas for their Turner & Hooch fan fiction on those little pads the whole time you talk about your problems to them. It’s a scam, like Rice-A-Roni.

« Greer »
Family therapy? So, what you’re saying is this rivalry between you two women isn’t being manufactured and played up for ratings?

« Vhodka Black »
Absolutely not! When I tell you that I want to place that woman’s body in a comically oversized panini press and set it to high I say that with my heart and with my chest. No cap.

« Greer »
Do you think that the two of you will ever get to a place where you can peacefully coexist for the benefit of your mutual family?

« Vhodka Black »
Did you not hear anything I said?

« Greer »
Fair enough. Now speaking of family Vhodka, we have a little surprise guest here in the studio joining you today as we wrap this up.

Greer smiled at me with a twinkle in his eye as if he was the fat man on Christmas Day himself. So sure of himself, so jolly. It was all I could do not to impale him through the nostril with the pen to the left of my hand on the flavor slicked table. I could feel my pulse speeding up and beads of sweat forming on the back of my next as his words sunk in and the reality of what was to come set in.

« Vhodka Black »
NO. I’ll do whatever you want! I’ll answer all your questions! You want an exclusive scoop? I could give you that. X waxes his butthole, bleaches it too – the whole shebang.

« Greer »
That’s rea–

« Vhodka Black »
YOU WANT MONEY? I CAN GET YOU MONEY. CARS? I KNOW A GUY WHO CAN GET A BEAUTIFUL MOUSERATTI FOR YOU. IS IT WOMEN YOU WANT? SAHARA IS FREED UP NOW THAT SHE RAN THROUGH DANE. I COULD GET YOU SAHARA. ANYTHING YOU WANT, JUST NAME YOUR PRICE.

« Greer »
Vhodka, Vhodka, relax. It’s okay, it’s just your mom.

« Vhodka Black »
EXACTLY!

« Greer »
Let’s go ahead and get her in here. Stacy, can you send in Beulah May Bickett.

My head thudded against the table defeatedly as whiffs of Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds wafted through the studio to let me know that my mother had arrived. Look, don’t get me wrong now, I love my mother. Everyone loves my mother. She’s damn near a national treasure. But my mother was exactly that – a mother. Which means that the next few moments would be filled with store so humiliating that I would never be able to crawl out of the hole I was going to bury myself in. There was also the very very very small minor miniscule detail that I had kind of sort of spur of the moment gotten married without telling her. She said it was okay but the way she said it convinced me that it was anything but. She loved Vincent, loved him as much as I did but in a vastly different way. I know she was happy for us, for me, happy that he’d made an honest woman out of me and he was at least thirty percent saner than my last husband. But she was southern and eloping was a cardinal sin. The only women who eloped in the south did it because they were knocked up. Actually, that would have been preferable to my mother. She’s always ready for more children. My mother thrived on the attention and platform of a radio show, it was pretty much one of her biggest dreams to get to sit around and talk about me to anyone who would listen. The larger the audience, the better in Beulah’s eyes. My mother was forever my number one supporter and even if she was passively a little miffed about the whole wedding thing, she behaved herself admirably as she answered questions ranging from my childhood all the way to whether or not she would be present to cheer me on at the Tara Fenix Charity Cruise event that I had been tapped to participate in. When the call came in from James Raven aka Captain McDreamy asking me if I would be up for teaming with him and Betsy in the main event, I was not only flattered but also elated. I’ve always wanted to recreate Titanic scene for scene and this would be the near perfect opportunity all while getting to assault new people I’ve never met. But the cruise was the future, months away and while it was a nice thought to think about making one of those parmesan cheese graters at Olive Garden human sized and putting my competitors into it for pasta topping it wasn’t what was important in this moment. Venom was important. Druscilla was important. And for the first time in his life, Graham Clauson would be important – if only for the time it took to beat him.