The Job: Steakhouse Tony

A MAKESHIFT WRESTLING LOCKER ROOM LOCATED BEHIND A HIGH SCHOOL GYM. VARIOUS ODDLY SHAPED PEOPLE IN ODDLY DESIGNED COSTUMES. A SMELL THAT CAN BE SEEN.

FRANKIE: (VOICE-OVER) Injuries are an unfortunate part of the job. Health insurance, however, is not.

CUT TO:

FRANKIE SIDELINES, A HEFTY, SWEATY MAN IN OVERSIZED, YET SOMEHOW STILL SNUG CLOTHING, HOLDS A MAKESHIFT CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE BELT.

FRANKIE: I’m Frankie Sidelines, and I’ve been in the wrestling business for almost twenty years.

CUT TO:

A THIN, SMALL LINE OF MOSTLY BORED PEOPLE QUEUE UP OUTSIDE THE GYM. SIGNS FOR “TETANUS CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING”, “RUSTED NAILS AND RAZOR BLADES MURDERFIGHT” HANG HERE AND THERE.

FRANKIE: (VOICE-OVER) You hate to see it. Nobody wants to get hurt.

VARIOUS WRESTLERS ATTEMPT, FAIL TO CONVINCE ANYONE TO PAY FOR AN AUTOGRAPH, HANDMADE TEE-SHIRT, PENCIL, OR EVEN A PHOTOGRAPH.

And we do what we can to not seriously hurt each other. This is a competitive sport, afterall. We’re not stand-up comedians.

CUT TO:

FRANKIE IN THE MAKESHIFT LOCKER ROOM, STILL CLUTCHING TO THAT MAKESHIFT CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE BELT.

FRANKIE: In the last two decades, I’ve seen a lot of men and women suffer horrible hospital bills and long-term gaps in their wrestling resumes.

WRESTLER #1 LIMPS INTO THE LOCKER ROOM, BLEEDING INCONSIDERATELY ALL OVER EVERYONE’S THINGS.

One time after a show, Steakhouse Tony needed twenty staples in his head after a woman confronted him in the parking lot, demanded a refund, and then tazed him when he told her he wasn’t even on the show.

WRESTLER #2, BLEEDING AND WITH SOMETHING CLEARLY STICKING OUT OF THEM, IS DRAGGED INTO THE LOCKER ROOM.

“Springboard” Steve Goodknees can’t walk anymore after he broke his back doing a quadruple hickory-smoked dive onto the concrete floor outside of the ring. But those fifteen people who bought tickets, though? They definitely got their money’s worth.

WRESTLER #3 IS WHEELED INTO THE LOCKER ROOM ON A MAKESHIFT GURNEY, FALLS OFF.

And there was that time Two-Timing Tim Philanderer was stabbed in the ring during a match by one of his wives. He lived, but he only has one kidney now. Shame, really.

WRESTLER #4, STUFFING THEIR FACE WITH A CAN OF BEANS, CLUTCHES AT THEIR CHEST, SLUMPS OVER DEAD.

Fortunately, I’ve somehow managed to go all these years without any serious injuries. Probably because I only come to watch and hangout with anyone who gives me the time of day. But I’m doing my part, ya know. Gotta show them it’s all worth it.

The Job: Rabid Frenzy

A BIRTHDAY PARTY IN SOMEONE’S BACKYARD. CHEAP, YET OVERPRICED PARTY DECORATIONS. EXHAUSTED ADULTS. UNMUZZLED CHILDREN OFF THEIR LEASHES.

RILEY: (VOICE-OVER) We don’t do it for the money. The Job is about passion. It’s about dedication to a craft. You can’t get into this business expecting fortune and glory. Mostly because the pay is shit.

CUT TO:

RILEY RABID, A HEFTY MAN IN PLEATHER, ADDRESSES THE CAMERA.

RILEY: My name is Riley Rabid, and I am one half of the tag-team “Rabid Frenzy”, along with my partner, Freddy Frenzy.

CUT TO:

TWO BACKYARD WRESTLERS, DRESSED IN TATTERED STREET CLOTHES AND NO PROTECTION, “COMPETE” IN A MAKESHIFT RING WITH MAKESHIFT WEAPONS. SEVERAL PARTY GUESTS WATCH.

RILEY WATCHES THIS FROM A SAFE DISTANCE.

RILEY: Look at those guys. Killing each other for free. That’s the difference between professionals and backyarders. This is our life. This is who we are, every day, all day. We aren’t a couple of “weekend warriors” looking to make a quick buck and a bad joke of the business, ya know.

WRESTLER #2 BEATS WRESTLER #1 WITH A VCR.

I mean, we do work weekends. Almost exclusively, now that I think about it. But that’s only because most shows are on the weekend.

CUT TO:

BACKYARD WRESTLER #1 TEARS OUT THE THROAT OF WRESTLER #2’S, CELEBRATES BY DRINKING THE BLOOD OF THEIR FALLEN FOE. PARTY GUESTS POLITELY CLAP.

RILEY: You’d never catch me doing that sort of thing for free. No, sir.

FREDDY FRENZY, A FLABBY MAN IN PLEATHER, WADDLES UP TO RILEY.

(TO FREDDY) How’d it go?

FREDDY: (HANDS RILEY A FIVER) I talked the mom into paying us half upfront.

RILEY: Nice.

FREDDY: Get ready. We’re up next.

RILEY PUTS ON A BIG, RED CLOWN NOSE.

RILEY: I’m always ready.

FREDDY PUTS ON A COlORFUL WIG AND RED NOSE.

FREDDY: Let’s do this.

THEY HIGH FIVE AND WADDLE OFF TO JOIN THE PARTY, HONKING HORNS AND GENERALLY CLOWNING IT UP.

The Job: Bobby Bloodhound

A PUBLIC PARK. BIRDS TWEET. PARENTS AND CHILDREN GATHER AND LOOK ON AT A SMALL GROUP OF STRANGELY DRESSED MEN AND WOMEN MAKING A MESS OF THE PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT.

PERRY: (VOICE-OVER) Life is so… fragile, ya know? One moment, you’re here, binge-watching episodes of Quantum Leap. The next, people are finding your body in a shark cage suspended fifteen feet in the air, after having been the unwilling participant and prize in a Wrestler-on-a-Pole match between two rival factions, but then never let out of the cage because everyone else took off running when the fire marshall raided the place due to a lack of proper permits.

CUT TO:

“PRICKLY” PERRY PEARSON STANDS OUTSIDE THE MEN’S ROOM.

PERRY: I’m “Prickly” Perry Pearson, and we’re gathered here today to celebrate the life and career of our teacher, our friend, and our brother, Bobby Bloodhound.

CUT TO:

THE STRANGELY DRESSED MEN AND WOMEN GATHER AROUND A SMALL TOY WRESTLING RING WITH A MAKESHIFT URN IN THE CENTER.

PERRY: I first met Bobby when I was just twenty years old. I always dreamed of being a professional wrestler, and Bobby was the one who showed me the ropes. I mean that literally, too. My first day, Bobby charged me twenty dollars just to show me where they stored the ring ropes.

When I heard the news of Bobby’s passing, I knew we had to do something for him. So a bunch of us gathered up what little money we had and booked a show in Bobby’s honor at his second favorite stripclub.

Unfortunately, someone forgot to put down the deposit and we got bumped for a bachelorette party.

LIL’ PETE: (OFF) Sorry!

PERRY: Of course, that ultimately didn’t matter because someone else forgot to book the ring rental.

A PAUSE.

PERRY LOOKS AROUND, POINTS TO HIMSELF, GRIMACES.

CUT TO:

PERRY JOINS THE OTHER STRANGELY DRESSED MEN AND WOMEN AROUND THE TOY RING AND URN.

PERRY: Right. Where’s the ring bell?

EVERYONE LOOKS AT EVERYONE ELSE.

PERRY: So, we forgot the bell too? How are we supposed to do a ten-bell salute without a bell?

EVERYONE SHRUGS AND/OR NODS.

PERRY: Shit. (LOOKS AROUND) Hold on. I’ll be right back.

PERRY “RUNS” OFF.

CUT TO:

PERRY RETURNS WITH A TRASH BAG FULL OF CANS AND BOTTLES.

LIL’ PETE: What the hell is that?

PERRY: A trash bag full of cans and bottles, obviously.

LIL’ PETE: Isn’t that a bit disrespectful?

PERRY: We’re all here, dressed like a bunch of assholes in a public park, gathered around an old toy wrestling ring, with our dear friend’s ashes in an old shoebox, and all because we’ve utterly failed him in death as we failed him in life. So, I think we’re beyond having to worry about aesthetics, Lil’ Pete.

LIL’ PETE: Fair.

PERRY: Right… (CLEARS THROAT) We love you Bobby Bloodhound, we miss you, and we always will. Goodbye, Brother.

PERRY SHAKES THE BAG TEN TIMES, THE CANS AND BOTTLES RATTLE FROM WITHIN.

EVERYONE STANDS IN SILENT ATTENTION, INCREASINGLY EMOTIONAL WITH EVERY SHAKE AND RATTLE.

THE BAG TEARS OPEN ON THE LAST SHAKE, BOTTLES AND CANS SPILLING OUT EVERYWHERE.

PERRY: Shit.

The Job: Sack Lunch

A PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING RING.

ENTER ANNOUNCER.

ANNOUNCER: (INTO MICROPHONE) In a high school gym in a town lost among the weed- and bramble-choked hills, where the streets are cracked and broken, and the people there… more or less the same as its streets, we present to you a tale of hurt, betrayal, and more hurt.

GENERIC ROCK MUSIC FILLS THE HIGH SCHOOL GYM.

ENTER TERRY OF THE GRAVEYARD, DRESSED AS A HUMBLE EMPLOYEE OF THE LOCAL CORNER DRUGSTORE.

Terry of the Graveyard, son of Gordie the Accountant and Breastua the Mighty, worker of the graveyard shift down at Nippleson’s Drug Emporium and Liquor Library, lover of pills, and sniffer of glue!

MUSIC CEASES.

ANNOUNCER HOLDS MICROPHONE AS TERRY SPEAKS INTO IT.

TERRY: (INTO MICROPHONE) Woe unto the poor soul who ate from my packed lunch which held mine reuben on marble rye, a baggie of cookies, and boxed juice of the fruit cocktail variety! Shame unto the damned, blasted, and damned soul who would take of my lunch without so much as reading my name that was clearly written in plain English on the brown sack in which it was held! And short be their days, as I, Terry of the Graveyard, seek not only reimbursement of lunch lost, but battle to satiate my hunger and blood to quench my thirst!

ANNOUNCER: (INTO MICROPHONE) What manner of beast or man or man or beast would take of another’s lunch so? Who among us dare to touch another man’s sack without permission?

TERRY: (INTO MICROPHONE) It was… It was… Oh, but it breaks mine heart in twain to say, but it was…

DIFFERENT GENERIC ROCK MUSIC PLAYS.

ENTER MANAGER MIKE.

ANNOUNCER: (INTO MICROPHONE) Mike, Manager of the Late Nights and occasionally of the evening when The One They Call Katie unexpectedly, yet expectedly calls out!

MUSIC CEASES.

MIKE: (INTO MICROPHONE) It is I, Manager Mike, and none other!

ANNOUNCER: (INTO MICROPHONE) Twas you who stole of the lunch engraved with the name of Terry of the Graveyard?

MIKE: (INTO MICROPHONE) Lies upon lies upon falsehoods upon unsubstantiated untruths!

TERRY: (INTO MICROPHONE) Nay! Twas Manager Mike who stole of my lunch and drank of my drink!

ANNOUNCER: (INTO MICROPHONE) If your personage is not of the thieving flavor, why does thou stand here before us when your shift is in but a few hours?

TERRY: (INTO MICROPHONE) Guilt pangs at his heart like so many cholesterols! Shame hardens his soul as his arteries do!

MIKE: (INTO MICROPHONE) My heart is free of guilt and blockages, and the only thing hardened is my resolve! If thou will not keep still thy lying tongue, then I shall remove it for thee!

TERRY: Have at thee!

ANNOUNCER EXITS THE RING.

A BELL RINGS.

MIKE AND TERRY AWKWARDLY HOLD, GRUNT, TICKLE, AND SLAP EACH OTHER ABOUT IN COMBAT!

A PHONE RINGS AND RINGS.

MIKE AND TERRY STOP MID-WRESTLE.

MIKE: Would someone please answer that?

TERRY: Yeah, it’s a bit distracting.

ANNOUNCER: Sorry. I’ve got it.

MIKE & TERRY: Thank you.

MIKE AND TERRY COMMENCE WITH THE WRESTLING.

ANNOUNCER EVENTUALLY ANSWERS THE PHONE.

ANNOUNCER: Hello? Hello. Hi. Right, sorry. Uh-huh? Uh-huh. Uh-huh… Okay. I’ll tell them. Bye.

ANNOUNCER HANGS UP, JUST AS MIKE AND TERRY STOP MID-WRESTLE.

TERRY: What was all that about?

MIKE: It better be important. We’re in the middle of a very serious blood feud at the moment.

ANNOUNCER: That was The One They Call Katie. She said her go-bloots is acting up again, and she needs you two to come in early so she can meet up with her old high school besties for a night of binge drinking.

MIKE AND TERRY CEASE WITH THE WRESTLING ALTOGETHER.

MIKE & TERRY: Boh!

The Job: “Cheapshot” Sandors

A STRIPMALL PARKING LOT.

SETH: (VOICE-OVER) This job isn’t for everyone, you know. It’s given me a lot, but it always gets its cut. Always.

CUT TO:

SETH “CHEAPSHOT” SANDORS, A MISSHAPEN POTATO OF A MAN SEEMINGLY DRESSED FOR HIGH SCHOOL GYM CLASS AND HOLDING A LARGE, HEAVY TEXTBOOK.

BARRY: I’m Seth “Cheapshot” Sandors, and I’ve been a pro wrestler for twelve years.

CUT TO:

SETH BEHIND A DUMPSTER.

SETH: I’ve lost friends and loved ones to this business, actually. I mean, I know where they are – they haven’t just disappeared into thin air, or something. Obviously.

Well, for example: My sister once hit me with her car for a chance at a free trip to Classy Lou’s All-You-Can-Eat Buffet. She didn’t get it, unfortunately. And she hasn’t answered my calls… or responded to my lawyer’s attempts to get her to pay my hospital bills.

And then there was the time my one-time best friend slept with my girlfriend just to get a psychological upperhand in a match I wasn’t even involved in. (BEAT) Which, now that I think about it, doesn’t make too much sense, really…

A SILENCE.

Oh, check this out…

SETH REVEALS SEVERAL DISTINCT SCARS.

(POINTS) This is where they replaced one of my ribs with a titanium rod for some reason. This one is from the time I took a VCR to the back of the head during a “Be Kind, Rewind” match. And this, uh… this is from an unruly class of twelve–year olds who all decided to throw their desks at me for asking them to, please, put away their phones and stop recording my crying from all the mean things they were saying to me. (NERVOUS LAUGHTER) Middle-schoolers, right?

ANOTHER SILENCE.

Anyway. I couldn’t go back to teaching middle-school English after that. (BEAT) Literally, I wasn’t allowed back on campus. But I also saw it as an opportunity to take my natural ability to absorb inhumane amounts of physical, mental, and emotional abuse and make something of myself. It’s all about making those opportunities for yourself.

That’s why I’m here, actually.

JOE, A MAN IN A WHEELCHAIR WITH A MAKESHIFT CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE BELT, PASSES BY.

Sorry, I’ve gotta clock-in real quick.

SETH SNEAK-ATTACKS JOE WITH THE LARGE, HEAVY TEXTBOOK.

(GESTURES) Come on! Come on!

REFEREE APPEARS OUT OF NOWHERE.

SETH PINS AN UNCONSCIOUS JOE WHILE A HORRIFIED CROWD WATCHES.

(TO REFEREE) Oh, stop staring and do your job!

REFEREE: (LIGHTLY SLAPPING THE PAVEMENT) One! Two! Three!

SETH STANDS, HOLDS UP THE MAKESHIFT CHAMPIONSHIP BELT IN VICTORY.

ANNOUNCER APPEARS OUT OF NOWHERE.

ANNOUNCER: Your new Calvin Carson’s Town Center and Outlet Mall Champion, Seth “Cheapshot” Sanderson!

EVERYONE LOOKS UPON THIS IN SILENT CONTEMPT.

The Job: “Twin-Beds” Jablonski

A CITY SKYLINE.

TWIN-BEDS: (VOICE-OVER) It’s never easy being a champion. And it is a heavy title and responsibility that I take very, very seriously.

CUT TO:

JOHN “TWIN-BEDS” JABLONSKI STANDS IN A MOTEL PARKING LOT, HOLDING THE EL DORADO INN HOT TUB, CABLE TV, AND WI-FI CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE BELT.

TWIN-BEDS: I’m John “Twin-Beds” Jablonski, and I’m the El Dorado Inn Hot Tub, Cable TV, and Wi-Fi Champion.

CUT TO:

TWIN-BEDS’ MOTEL ROOM. HE’S STILL WEARING THE BELT.

TWIN-BEDS: This is actually my third reign as El Dorado Inn Hot Tub, Cable TV, and Wi-Fi Champion.

My first run was back in 2009, lasting nine-and-a-half weeks. I was coming off a bad breakup, and the El Dorado was the only place I could afford. The previous champion, Eric “Seltzer Water” Anderson, had just been evicted that afternoon, and I was the first one who checked-in after that. I lost it when I fell asleep at the pool and some tourists took photos with me as I slept. The mom didn’t realize her foot on my chest was, by El Dorado Inn official rules and guidelines, an official pin. I tried fighting it, but was escorted off the premises shortly after by security.

Then I found myself back here in 2015, after I lost my job stealing airport luggage. I won the title again a short time later from a recently divorced father of three. Sure, maybe the guy needed the money more than I did. And sure, maybe it was a bit rude to interrupt his bi-monthly supervised visit with his kids by blinding him with some bottle of toilet cleaner I swiped from the housekeeping cart in the hallway and taking away his sole source of income and personal dignity as he lie beneath me, screaming about how he couldn’t see, and his kids crying about me hurting their daddy. But that’s the job, ya know? Don’t climb the mountain if you aren’t ready to be blinded and thrown off the top.

CUT TO:

THE MOTEL PARKING LOT. TWIN-BEDS IS PERHAPS A LITTLE TOO ATTACHED TO THE BELT.

TWIN-BEDS:  I don’t do it for the money. (BEAT) I mean, I do. But it’s not much.

CLERK: (OFF) Excuse me? Twin-Beds? Mr. Jablonski?

TWIN-BEDS: (TO CLERK) What’s up?

CLERK ENTERS, APPROACHES.

CLERK: Hi. Sorry. But, uh… Your credit card declined.

TWIN-BEDS: Did you call Debbie? Everything should’ve been sorted out Thursday with Debbie.

CLERK: She said she isn’t covering your room anymore. The manager said they’re going to need you out by eight tomorrow morning. You can leave the belt on your bed.

A SILENCE.

TWIN-BEDS: Where am I supposed to go?

CLERK: I’m sorry, Twin-Beds. But they don’t pay me enough for this shit.

CLERK EXITS.

ANOTHER SILENCE.

TWIN-BEDS: (SIGHS) Checkout isn’t even till noon…