CSWA PRIMETIME Cruise of Deception Episode 2

10 Jun 2006 at Parsons Cruise Liner II

CRUISE of DECEPTIONEpisode 2

The CSWA's annual PRIMETIME POOLJAM tour has turned into a fiasco. The ship has been taken over by the mysterious Hacker, along with his henchmen, led by the Red Midget. While all the CSWAers are aware of the 'takeover,' the other patrons remain blissfully unaware...for the moment. As the company gears up for its final tour event, PRIMETIME in the Caribbean, the Hacker's bizarre plans are underway. This is the story of what happened after the cameras went off.

The Ultimate Sacrifice

Thomas studied the reflection in the bathroom mirror until the illusion was clear. Neither version was in control.

The Cruise was a disaster of epic proportions; the first the CSWA wouldn’t survive. In eighteen years, the summer dream only a warehouse and a handful of people could see, has always shaken off the beatings. Through the years of neglect and mismanagement, it has suffered the pride and arrogance of its employees to be there when the Chiefs were bored with just playing Indians. Never a doubt one or the other, Merritt or Thomas, would come back.

Stephen set sail to escape the hungry, collective mouth he couldn’t feed even if he knew how. This was to be the Lady’s last voyage, oh, he knew it well, but not like this. Man or mouse, and to know the answer was hell. He wanted to do right by her. Gently let his love die then dine on the drunkenness of the last glory until he couldn’t remember how the story played out, until the myths and fabrications swelled to completely blur fact and fiction. Thomas sought redemption, but found vengeance. Maybe she let this happen. Dreamt of it as the box was shut, and her mercy and greatness ignored. The executioner, though, had no right to be Red.

Hundreds were hostages to a deranged midget, lost at sea, the company bleeding money. Thomas had finally awakened from the dream, but knew the hardened reality: the true horrors lay outside the bathroom door.

"Shoog, I’m ready."

Hortense played because she was tired of being lonely, Thomas, for her, was power and money. The deal was, neither breath of desperation was to be said as a prayer. The Thomases were together, happy or otherwise. Not that it mattered. But trapped by a midget, the family business riddled with bullets, women tend to want everything. Say you love me, and mean it. Stay in the bathroom until I’ve changed into the plus size lingerie I custom ordered in anticipation for this day: This exact moment when I’m at least a Queen to a King. Square peg, round hole, after decades of waiting, Hortense would make an opposite fit.

"I hope you like it…."

Stamping validity to his marriage was, perhaps, the one thing Thomas could do right this second. Penetrating Hortense and releasing nature to take its course would potentially bring freedom and end this Cruise of Deception, and also, make amends to the lie he’s lived with her for three years. It was time. With his world collapsing, Stephen for once sought the right thing. Problem being, the key component on this Love Boat wasn’t willing.

He opened the bathroom door and his wife took his breath away. It was as if a whale and crossdresser were the victims of Capital One identity theft. The oddity of the sight, and knowing how long Hortense had waited…..no. There was no hope of an erection tonight. But how do you casually bring that up when your four-hundred pound wife is spread eagle over the bed of deception and the fortunes of hundreds of innocent people depend on you becoming a man?

"You look, beautiful…." The words shook as they dripped from Stephen’s mouth.

"Oh, Shoog…I do, don’t I?" Hortense stroked her left thigh, then playfully slapped at it. The ripples cause Thomas to slightly throw up in his mouth.

"This is," Stephen crawled gingerly between her legs, fear dominant in his eyes, "really happening. Goodness…"

"Shooog…" the virgin giggled, she was a schoolgirl again, this time bent on keeping the promise to finish. "Not with the lights on."

"Right! Knew I was forgetting something." Thomas spring from his bed like a kid on Christmas morning and stood by the light switch next to the now dead locked door.

"And…."

"And?"

"Shoog, I may not be Teri Melton, but I know the pants have to come off."

"They do?" his tone begged.

"Yes! Strip for me baby. Be momma’s whore."

"How…DARE…you!"

"Either you do it, or I’ll do it for you."

He stood at the door weighing his options. Which one would bring him back to mental safety quicker?

"Stephen!"

"Alright, Alright!"

If you want something done right, don't send Roderick McRatrick

Bright, sunshiny day! A perfect day to be relaxing on a cruise ship. And that's just what CSWA Greensboro Champion Jericoholic Anonymous is doing. Decked out in Bermuda shorts, sunglasses and lathered in SPF 20 sunblock, JA is lounging on a layout chair with Lollipop, in a black string bikini and an SPF 35 sunblock (because she's prone to falling asleep) in the chair next to him, sleeping just like clockwork. JA is all smiles as he lays back, hands behind his head, feet up and a fruity drink in a coconut shell with an umbrella in it to his side. It's always sunny in Philadelphia, and it's always sunny for Philadelphians laying out on the deck of the Parsons Cruise Liner 2... well, always sunny until someone walks in your sunlight.

Rude woman blocking poor JA's sunlight: It sure must be hard work looking for a Hacker when you're reclining in a chair catching some rays. Most people, when they want to get a tan, generally don't want their face to be pale as a ghost, under a mask or not.

JA: The hell...

The Anglo Luchador looks up to find that a certain Queen of the Ring is standing over him.

JA: What in the hell do you think you're doing?

LT: I should ask you the same thing, but it's kinda obvious what the answer would be.

JA: Well duh... I'm on a cruise, I'm doing what people on a cruise should be doing.

JA sticks his tongue out at the EPW World Champion.

LT:You're just like a child, you know that?

Troy rolls her eyes and motions off to the side.

LT: You mind moving your towel off that chair? I'd like to occupy it.

JA: Fine... make me move... just when I'm comfortable...

JA sits up and grabs the towel from off the chair on his other side.

Troy throws her own towel over the chair and eases into it.

LT: Y'know, instead of bitching about having to move because you can't keep your towel on your own chair, you should be moving around this floating prison trying to find the person keeping us here.

JA: Hey, hey... I've got that taken care of. Remember? I got my own private dick, Roderick McRatrick, on the case. He'll find us that hacker.

Cut to Roderick McRatrick, walking, holding a leash. The leash is attached to one Rusty Joe, who's obviously drunk and sniffing the ground like a bloodhound.

RMR: You find anything yet, Rusty Joe?

RJ: I BE ONERY!!!

RMR: Didn't think so... hrm... I wonder, how does gay midget sex feel... I'll have to try and proposition that Red later on...

Suddenly, Rusty Joe points his head to a room.

RJ: I BE ONERY!!

With that, Rusty Joe falls over.

RMR: Good job Rusty Joe! You deserve a Scooby Snack!

Roderick throws an egg as hard as he can at Rusty Joe's head, and the egg splatters.

RMR: But we're all out, so have an egg.

Roderick grabs the doorknob.

RMR: Now I've got you!

He opens the door, and standing right in the doorway is... THE PENGUIN! (from Billy Madison). With a martini in one hand, he waves to Roderick with the other.

RMR: Aha! I knew I'd find you!

Cut back to JA and Troy.

LT: Seriously, you're going to leave our fates to someone who thinks he can talk to the ghost of a guy who isn't even dead yet?

Suddenly, the Ghost of Steve Guttenberg materializes behind Troy.

GoSG: Hey, you know just because I'm a ghost doesn't mean I can't feel your insults!

LT: You hear something?

JA: No, I think it was just the wind.

GoSG: You bastards!

The Ghost runs to the edge of the boat and jumps into the sea.

JA: Anyway... you raise a valid point.

LT: I know I do. I'd like to step on land sometime soon and leaving McRatrick in charge of anything is about as smart as putting a gun in Dick Cheney's hands.

JA: And I thought you liked poor little Roddy.

Troy sarcastically smirks

JA: Well then, I guess I gotta do what I gotta do. Besides... I heard the sun wasn't even that good for you anyway. sigh

JA gets up and scoots off-camera. Troy watches him go and smiles to herself.

LT: Finally, some relative peace...

She closes her eyes behind her sunglasses and settles deeper into the chaise-lounge. Not a moment passes before Lollipop bolts upright in her chair.

Lolli: Like, omigosh, babe...I just had the weirdest dream! You were, like, hanging out with the Ewoks and I was their fairy princess and ... babe? Where'd you go?

Lolli jumps up and scoots off-screen as well, most likely in search of her fiancé.

Disbelief

(It’s the second day locked in a cabin together for the three hostages. At first, their only open connection to the ‘outside’ was Poison Ivy’s cell phone walkie-talkie linked to Adrian "Little Voltron" Evans. Then the Red Midget and the Hacker decided to make themselves known, using the television to show the threesome scenes from what has been going on aboard the ship.

They’ve deduced that the whole cruise is held hostage, although only those that work for the CSWA know it, thanks to the Red Midget. The ship didn’t stop at its scheduled port in Montego Bay, which means that the other patrons, the ‘regular’ cruisers here to enjoy the CSWA’s PRIMETIME POOLJAM Cruise, must be beginning to realize that something’s amiss.

The Hacker’s latest ploy? Stir the pot by showing Ivy’s current boyfriend lambasting her ex. And while Hornet knows he shouldn’t take the bait… he does, cutting a promo that may or may not be seen by the public. But maybe he shouldn’t have said…)

IVY: Sloppy seconds?

HORNET: You sound so calm. I was sure this was going to turn into one of those ‘screaming fits.’

TERI: Brace for impact. In three….two…

IVY: Hey Funbags.

TERI: Excuse me?

IVY: Yeah, you. The saline implants with the skin attached.

TERI: I don’t care if you’re my ‘boss’ or not now, you can’t talk to me that way…

IVY: Yes I can. Leave.

TERI: And just where am I supposed to go?

IVY: There's two rooms in this suite and we're in one of 'em. Use your tiny brain and do the math. But unless you want another broken nose, you'll leave now.

(A brief staredown commences. Ivy doesn’t even have to take a step forward – Teri’s been in this spot long enough to know when to back down. Which is always where Ivy’s concerned. Which is why it’s odd that Hornet has chosen this moment, trapped in a cabin with her, to push that particular button.

Teri slinks towards the bathroom. Before she can even get inside, Ivy has already turned her attention back to Hornet. She misses the fact that Teri snags a small bag that Ivy left outside of her normal backpack/satchel combo. The bathroom door slams.)

HORNET: It’s like being locked up with an angry teenager.

IVY: She’ll do what she’s told.

HORNET: Who said I was talking about Teri?

IVY: You’re determined to get into this, aren’t you?

HORNET: What else are we going to do? None of us had the forethought to bring cards.

IVY: So what, I’m supposed to launch into a fit and yell about how I won’t be called sloppy seconds and defend Sean’s manhood?

HORNET: I’d never presume to guess how you’re going to react to anything.

IVY: I don’t believe it.

HORNET: Excuse me?

IVY: I don’t believe it. The whole act. The whole "let me be indifferent" thing.

HORNET: The whole ‘act?’ You oughta know better than anybody that I don’t put on an act. I’m not Troy or Timmy, or even Sean.

IVY: That’s for sure. So what’s this, a new take on the "Businessman?" Maybe the new, improved "Executive?"

HORNET: Ah, ok, now I’ve gotcha. It’s not the stuff with Sean that you have a problem with, it’s what… that I’ve got nothing to lose? That I’m focused on one thing? That I don’t care about you and Sean being together?

IVY: 'Don't care' isn't what I'm talkin' about. I mean, no matter what we've gone through, together or separately, I've never downplayed what we used to have like you just did.

HORNET: Why, because I’m not pining after you while I write sappy notes and pop a few more Soma?

IVY: That’s not what I…

HORNET: That I couldn’t possibly be over somebody who wrote me out of her life because she believed a pathological whore?

TERI (from bathroom): Hey!

IVY and HORNET: Shut up, Hooters!

HORNET: Or that I somehow still have feelings for a woman who doesn’t have the common decency to have someone return a phone call to let me know that she’s still alive?

IVY: That’s not…

HORNET: A woman that would rather spend time with a psychotic break like Craig Miles?

IVY: Craig is…

HORNET: Or that somehow, some way, I wouldn’t still want to be with a woman who lambasted me for one night with Teri Melton when we were apart, but somehow finds it okay to sleep with Mark Windham? That I couldn’t possibly be over a pathetic hypocrite like that?

(CRACK!)

IVY: Finished?

HORNET: For a long time now.

(Hornet turns and spits blood into a nearby wastebasket – no one ever said Ivy didn’t have heavy hands, woman or not. As if on cue, the television comes back on full blast as the manipulative Hacker gives the captives a chance to catch up on the main event match they missed the night before -- Mark Windham’s appearance on the boat, UNIFIED Title in hand, as he walks down to his ladder match with Dan Ryan.)

Laptop Jackpot

The scene is the deck of the PCL2, a much more concerned Jericoholic Anonymous is standing back looking around at the sunbathers, shuffleboarders and various other passengers. Watching everyone, yet not focusing too much on any one person. His concentration is broken as a hand taps his shoulder. Slightly startled, JA turns around to find that it's only Lollipop with a bottle of green soda in her hand.

Lolli: Hey babe. Like, here's that Vault soda you like wanted 'n stuff.

JA takes the bottle from his fiancée slowly and untwists the cap.

JA: Thanks babe. taking a sip You know, this crap is a lifesaver. If I had to rely on hot coffee down here, I'd probably have died of freakin' dehydration by now.

JA wipes his mouthhole and tenses up as if he were getting goosebumps... not the kind you get when you get scared, but the ones you get when you're drinking something caffeinated. As you can see, JA's kept himself quite caffeinated ever since getting up off that beach chair to take the hacker search into his own hands.

JA: But this hacker stuff... man, no one on this ship fits the bill. No overweight, pimply faced computer dweebs. No skinny pricks with pocket protectors...

Lolli: Well, you can't like judge a book by its cover babe.

JA: I know... I know better than anyone about that babe. I've made a career of making people believe that. But still, it would be nice to begin with something a little obvious. It would at least make me think I was making a little progress.

Lolli: Like, I know babe. But we're like in the age of computers 'n stuff now. Like, anyone could be a hacker 'n stuff.

JA: Yeah... anyone...

JA sighs, knowing his search would be damn near impossible. He takes the cap off his soda again. He first goes to sip the soda before stopping the bottle right before his lips. He takes the cap, inspects it and then skips it across the deck in frustration. The cap bounces off the deck, right into the thigh of a corpulent woman. The woman turns around indignantly.

Woman: EXCUSE ME! Watch where you're flinging your refuse!

JA: Lady, the way you are, I'm surprised you even felt that.

Woman: Well I never!

The portly and angry woman stomps off. JA watches her leave, shaking his head. He looks over at the spot where she used to be, and notices something.

JA: Egad, I think I found it.

Lolli: Like, you did?

JA doesn't answer her. Instead, he just runs over to where the big woman was standing. He looks at the spot.

JA: Jackpot!

The camera turns around to JA's back... showing that he's looking down upon a laptop computer. But not just any laptop computer...

A laptop computer, running Mozilla FireFox, with the CSWA Fans site loaded and the IP address of 66.34.139.220 in the server bar.

Jackpot indeed.

Lolli: Jackpot? Babe, we like, work for the CSWA. Anyone could like be on that site to check out what the hacker like might do next 'n stuff.

JA: Oh yeah? Then explain this.

JA moves his finger on the mousepad and puts the cursor over the toolbar. He clicks on a box and up pops an AIM window box.

FishFundXII [3:12 PM]: has the trap been set?
GUNSDustMark [3:12 PM]: yeah the principals have been trapped... im sure ivy and melons have ripped each other apart by now and pauls probably back on painkillers
FishFundXII [3:13 PM]: lol
FishFundXII [3:13 PM]: yeah those chumps wont know what hit em
FishFundXII [3:15 PM]: u still there?
GUNSDustMark [3:16 PM]: yeah i was lookin at pr0n
FishFundXII [3:16 PM]: tmi dude tmi
GUNSDustMark [3:16 PM]: shut up... just meet me at the place and time
FishFundXII [3:17 PM]: room 2000 @ 6PM?
GUNSDustMark [3:18 PM]: yeah... g2g
GUNSDustMark has signed off at [3:18 PM]

JA: The proof is in the pudding. Or should I say, the unshut AIM window.

Lolli: That's like heavy babe...

JA: I know. We got at least a clue. I don't know what's going to happen in that room at six... but it's worth a shot. Babe, what time is it?

Lolli: Like, quarter to four.

JA: Awesome... I have time to relax until then.

JA gets up and turns his back to the laptop. Before he walks off, he turns around to the laptop.

JA: Slacker... you got sloppy.

He turns completely around, closes the laptop, then turns back around and walks off.

Realization

(We join the ‘unlikely threesome’ slightly after we left them, but still trapped like rats. Hornet’s face is obviously still smarting from the slap Ivy laid on him, while Teri is still in the bathroom – with Ivy’s purse for some reason. If the Hacker’s intent was to reopen old wounds, it appears he’s done it.)

IVY: You don’t know anything about Mark and…

HORNET: And I don’t want to.

IVY: It wasn’t… I don’t have to explain myself to you.

HORNET: Let me guess, we were ‘on a break?’

IVY: Don’t make me hit you again.

HORNET: Why? Because you wouldn’t want to hurt me? Or because you just want me to shut up? If you believe it’s all an act, then what’s the difference.

IVY: How long has it been? What was I supposed to do, throw everything in my life on hold? Measure everything against what Paul wants me to do? You certainly did it. Otherwise you wouldn’t have slept with her. It was over. It still is.

HORNET: Of course it is. But this is the first time in those years that we’ve been forced in the same room together, isn’t it?

IVY: We talked through all this…

HORNET: No we didn’t. You did. Just enough to make yourself feel better about shutting me out completely. Just enough to absolve yourself of the guilt of putting me on the ‘block list.’

IVY: What? Was I supposed to invite you down to Starbucks for a latte and a chat? What the f---?

HORNET: Is that what you and Miles did between shots? Or is that how it started with you and Mark?

IVY: You’re dangerously close to getting kicked in the head.

(Hornet stands up and faces the metal door that has them trapped in the cabin.)

HORNET: You ran away. You ran off to the fWo. You didn’t respond to any of my messages. You wouldn’t even call me back when you were recovering from being shot. But you had time to run a company on the West Coast, help Merritt run the CSWA, help Coop run a gym in New York, listen to Craig spout his latest plan for anarchy and ideas for the NFW, time to listen to Mark blabber on in his ‘awakening’ garbage, but you couldn’t even send me one e-mail, not even when you knew I was in rehab. Why?

IVY: Why do you think? Because it HURT, g--damn it! Is that what you want to hear? Does that make you feel better?

HORNET: …

IVY: Because I couldn’t be responsible for you or for trying to figure out what you’d do next, when even you didn’t know. Because I got over it and moved on, and I wasn’t going to risk getting sucked back in. Because I met Sean…

HORNET: And you moved on.

IVY: And I moved on. It was the only healthy thing to do.

HORNET: Otherwise you might have ended up in rehab. (laughs)

IVY: Why are you doing this?

HORNET: I don’t know. Maybe I needed to know that you hurt like I did. Maybe I needed to know for sure that it all actually meant something and I didn’t just dream it…

IVY: …

HORNET: Damn it! I was going to ask you to marry me. Do you know that?

(Ivy looks down, obscuring her face behind her hair. Hornet continues to stare at the solid door. Then he erupts into motion, slamming his fist into the drywall next to the door. The wall cracks open – either Hornet’s still pretty strong, or the building materials on this ship aren’t as sturdy as they look.)

HORNET: Hell, maybe I’m just going through an early mid-life crisis.

IVY: Early? What, you think you’re going to make it to 80?

HORNET: Funny lady. (He pauses.) Look at me.

IVY: What?

HORNET: LOOK at me.

(Hornet grabs Ivy’s arm and pulls her off the bed to a standing position right in front of him. His back is now to the wall, the injury to the wall just over his left shoulder. He grabs Ivy’s shoulders and forces her to face him.)

IVY: Have you lost your f---in’ mind?

HORNET: I don’t know. Do you know me well enough to tell anymore? LOOK AT ME, damn it!

(So she does. She stares in his brown eyes and doesn’t see any gleam that would make her think that he’s completely lost his mind, and yet… She sees his eyes glance to her left and she follows his gaze.)

HORNET: So what’s the verdict? Can you see what I want?

IVY: I see it. But I don’t know if I can do what you’re asking.

HORNET: But you’re willing to try?

IVY: Yes. Of course. It’ll have to be a secret, though.

(They’re trying. The act has to be believable enough for their audience. There’s no doubt that the Hacker and the Red Midget are somewhere on the boat reveling in their fight and this apparent make-up. But it’s not romance on the minds of the former lovers, it’s escape. Ivy pushes Hornet away and throws herself against the wall, covering her face, apparently crying.)

IVY: But I can’t do this to Sean. I can’t hurt him the way I’ve been hurt. (sobs)

HORNET: Forget about him. Think about the here and now.

(Hornet crosses the room and stands in front of the television. If his guess is right, this is the way the Hacker has been watching their every move. One of the first things they did after they realized who was holding them hostage was to search for hidden cameras or pickups. Deduction suggests that if they aren’t obvious, then they must be hidden and getting power from somewhere. And if he’s right, then this might just block the Hacker’s view and give Ivy a chance…)

IVY: I just… I just need some time to think.

HORNET: I don’t know how much time I can give you, Ivy. I don’t know how much time we still have together.

(Neither of them know how long it will take the Hacker to see through this ploy. If he can tell that Ivy is fiddling with the control panel that Hornet’s punch exposed, then it could be moments before he sends someone to stop them. It all depends on how believable they can make this melodrama… or if someone spoils it. Teri steps out of the bathroom….)

TERI: I’m not staying locked up in there anymore. I don’t care if you threaten to break my nose again or not. I’m tired of being treated like a second-class citizen just because you’re my boss and you’re some guy I tricked into thinking I was pregnant. I’m Teri Melton, damn it.

(Ivy turns from the wall and flicks a glance at Hornet… Hooters could expose everything with one slip of her forked tongue. As Hornet steps over to mask the work she’s done through the hole in the wall, Ivy takes a deep breath and steps around the bed towards Teri.)

IVY: Look, you’re right. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have broken your nose. It was just years of all our… mess… coming out. Can you ever forgive me?

(Teri looks completely nonplussed as Ivy does the unthinkable… she hugs Teri Melton.)

TERI: What the hell?!

IVY: I just hope you can accept my apology and that one day we can… (she almost chokes, literally) … understand each other better.

(It’s got to be too much. Whoever the Hacker is can’t actually believe this, right? Not if he knows anything about these two. Time is ticking away...)

TERI: I think I’m going to be sick.

(Ivy pulls away from Teri and turns back towards the wall, using eye contact with Hornet to try and convey everything. He steps back in front of the TV, hopefully blocking the Hacker’s view.)

TERI: What the hell happened out here while I was in there? You too are making eyes at each other…. Ivy’s obviously taken some sort of sedative or happy pill that’s made her loopy. And what are you doing with…

HORNET: (interrupting) It’s nothing, Teri. We just talked some of our differences out. And we both realized that sometimes the wounds of the past are like cysts, even though they’re covered over, they aren’t really healed. The only way to really heal is to lance them, let them open up and get rid of all the hurt. So we realized that we needed to get over our disgust of you…

TERI: Gee thanks, you’re making me feel all warm and bubbly inside.

HORNET: (to Ivy) I can’t do this anymore. About ready?

IVY: I think so. If I’ve found the right circuit…

TERI: What are you two doing?

HORNET: You’ll know in just a second. But I need to tell a couple of other people first.

(Hornet turns and sits on the bed, facing the television. He lays back against the headboard and starts talking.)

(fadeout)

Red Herring...

Six o'clock. The sun isn't fully set yet, but it's turned that bright orange that signifies that the day is almost over. The camera closes up on a deck on the PCL2, a door with a room number on it. The room number is 2000.

Cue up the Mission Impossible theme, as hummed by one Jericoholic Anonymous, who is stalking down the hallways like a secret agent.

JA: Dah-nahnahnahnahnahnahnahnahnah... duh duh duh duh DUNH dunh dunh dunhdunh dunh dunh dunhdunh dunh dunh dunhdunh dunh dunh dunh dunh... didiloo... didiloo... didiloo duhduh... DAH DAH!!

JA stops short of the room and shakes his head.

JA: Well, that was ridiculous. Now, let's see what our hacker and his protege are up to now...

JA quietly steps up to the door, trying his best not to make any more noticeable noise. He steps up to the door and puts his ear right on it so as to hear what might be being said...

JA: (to himself) Crap... can't hear a thing... everything's muffled... sh**, I can't hear this... I need to do something drastic...

JA puts his hand on the knob and shakes it... nope, it's locked.

JA: Sh**.

JA rams his shoulder against the door, trying to jar it loose. Still nothing. He rams it harder, harder. Still nothing. Finally...

JA: This better work...

JA steps back, takes a running start, and...

*CRASH~!*

The door crashes down. JA composes himself and looks around at the room. It's empty. Completely empty... save for two things... a tape recorder in the corner, playing a conversation between Vincent Vega and Jules from Pulp Fiction.

JA: Sh**... sh**sh**sh**...

The Anglo Luchador looks around the room, in the closets... nothing... in the bedroom quarters... nothing. Finally, he looked in the bathroom and looked in the bathtub. It was filled with ice. JA slowly walked towards the tub, bending over to look and see what was in it. He leans over further and further and further, sticking his arm into the cold tub. He swishes his arm around, and finally grabs onto something. He pulls it out and gets a good long look at it...

Suddenly, all the excitement and emotion rushes out of JA's face. His shoulders slump. His head tilts.

JA: F*ck.

It was a red herring. Literally, a red herring... a nasty, smelly red fish, the metaphor in the flesh.

A red herring.

JA stares at the fish for a good sixty seconds before tossing it across the room in disgust. In three year-old hissy fit form thrashes out of the bathroom.

JA: GOD DAMNIT! GOD F*CKING DAMN IT ALL TO FUCKING HELL AND SH*T AND BACK AND... AWWWWW F*CK!

JA kicks the tape recorder halfway across the room before he slumps down, hyperventilating.

JA: I should have known... I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN! Dammit! No one is that sloppy... no one leaves their AIM conversations out for everyone to read unless they wanted them to read it... DAMMIT ALL TO HELL! I got played... I should have known... I should have known...

Just then, the broken door that closed about halfway after JA went in opens to reveal the CSWA's newest executive, Tom Holzerman, the new VP of Talent Relations.

TH: Is everything okay in here?

JA: Looking up sheepishly Yeah... yeah, everything's okay.

TH: You know... this isn't your room.

JA: Oh yeah... I know... I was... just meeting a friend in here for a fish dinner.

TH: Oh, so you know who Sagebrush M. Expectations is?

JA: Sagebrush... that sounds like a name you find on a spam e-mail.

TH: That's what I thought too...

JA cuts him off quickly, probably to try and diffuse anymore questions.

JA: But yeah, yeah, me and Sagebrush, we go way back, man. Way back. I'm just waiting for him... to get back.

TH: You know what... I'll just leave. No questions asked...

Holzerman turns to leave. But before he does.

TH: Oh, and by the way... next time you need to meet a friend for dinner, check under the mat for a key before you go knocking the door down.

JA: I'll try to keep that in mind.

Holzerman leaves, as JA stands solitarily, stewing and cursing under his breath.

The Ultimate Sacrifice - Part Deux

As the CEO of CS Enterprises unbuckled his belt and carefully took one leg at a time out of his pants, Stephen’s mind wondered back to the beach. The island he mistakenly left Red dead for. Was it wrong? Sure. But so is forced marital rape. This was too much. Inappropriate at best. With no card left but "if" to play, Thomas’ demented visions of killing Lyle Tallman were fantasy, a troubling exciting one at that…

"Oh, Shoog…" the Love Sister blushed. It wasn’t a small baby arm, but from the shadows of Thomas’ "CS Enterprises: Building A Better Tomorrow, And Making A Profit Out Of It" boxers, the mirage was fierce and just what the lady needed.

"NO! NO!" Stephen’s body had betrayed him. "I was…"

"You were," she winked and a bit of a river herself.

"Thinking of killing someone."

"Sick…"

"Condoms right. The sooner we…the better." The night was a stunt on Fear Factor to Thomas. Don’t stare at the glass box of worms and roaches, just dive in and mentally go to the beach.

"Condoms?" Hortense laughed. "Baby, I’m not fourteen."

"Sick…I’m not Melton thank you."

"We’re healthy and if you get this bitch pregnant…." Her voiced trailed into a laugh.

"Yeah," Thomas took baby steps to the bed. "Not the miracle I need right now."

The room shook briefly, a somber reminder of current events. Thomas’ knees embedded next to his wife’s, and he slowly lowered himself over her body. The lights rose to a dim and generic romantic music played in the room.

"Nice touch, Shoog!"

Thomas growled and spun back to glare at the plasma TV. Sometimes the bravest people in the world are the ones history will soon forget and damn to enslavement to their mistakes. Stephen wasn’t Hornet, or Mike Randalls. He’d never sold out Madison Square Garden, took the beating of a lifetime in an electrified steel cage and then visited a dying girl in cancer ward of a local hospital. His victories were often at the expense of others, but victories are prone to be such. Somebody wins, somebody loses. As Thomas kissed his wife, blinding himself momentarily from the gleam in her eyes, he heard what others have said about him in the past roll in the section of his head he was now hiding in. That he was the backbone of the CSWA. In the darkest, hollow of places Thomas found hope. One or the other always comes back. It’s in the scriptures of the Lady’s book.

Stephen signed off on the run-in never to come. Maybe this was his penance finally paid. Fair enough. But as the Saints began their march home, in Thomas’ mind, he owned the league more now than ever. He didn’t have to climb Mount Everest. Just beat a three-foot man. Even the gravest of situations can be made manageable.


Results compiled and archived with Backstage 3.