-Yeah, now that is real old school shit. Now, I knew at once that one of the reasons that Darryl had looked me up was because I was one of the guys that had done a variation of the Straight-Jacket Gag, although I had done it as the ambush and not as the victim and I had a pretty shrewd idea that Darryl wanted me as the victim from the way he was grinning at me. One of the reasons that I was hooked though is because itís a perfect way to get heat - a perfect way to get the crowd pissed off and it itís a trick that perfectly fits the progression of a feud in wrestling. The good guy needs to get the shit kicked out of himself regularly without looking weak. The hero can look stupid, hell thatís practically a necessity, but he canít look weak.
So the gag is, someone has to announce that the two men involved in the feud are going to fight in a straight-jacket match. The objective of the match being to beat-up your opponent enough until you can stuff him into the straight-jacket. The guy who ends up put into the straight-jacket loses the match. Anyway, as part of the set-up for the match the good guy gets called to the ring to demonstrate the straight-jacket, he ends up getting talked into into putting on the straight-jacket to show what it will look like and once the final buckle is cinched in - BOOM - the bad guy hits the ring and starts beating the shit out of our hero who canít do a damn thing because heís stuck in the fucking jacket right? Perfect gag. Villain looks dangerous and smart; hero gets beat up and needs to get revenge, maybe he looks a little stupid; crowd gets riled up because the bad guy is taking advantage of someone who is essentially tied-up. Great story-telling. I think it was Rory that I did this to back in the day.
-I think that you are right. I remember my older brother telling me about it.
-Right, I probably did it in Eighty, maybe Eighty-One. Anyway, when Darryl suggests it, my eyes light up, because itís a great way to tell a story line, plus it hasnít been used in more than twenty years, so itís fresh, but itís old school traditional. In terms of the fans itís smart too, the new younger kids will have never seen it before, the older fans will enjoy seeing it again because itís been so long since the last time it was used last, and the historians will mark out because I was one of the last to use it and now itís being turned against me. Hits all the groups who watch wrestling you know. Smart.
Anyway, Darryl introduces me to the kid heís been training. Tall, good-looking blonde kid. Muscled, but lean like a swimmer. Darryl tells me that heís twenty-six, that he and Von Hess trained him for his amateur high school and college team growing up. All-American, National Champion, went to the Olympics but separated his shoulder and couldnít compete. Mickey and Von Hess forced him to finish his medical degree, before they would let him make a stab in the professional game. His name is Michael Chakerian, but Von Hess and Darryl have agreed to say that he is Mickeyís son and let him call himself Mickey Von Hess the Second.
Now, with this pedigree, Iím surprised that Darryl doesnít just call St-Louis, but Darryl explains that the kid is still green and by working the indies, they can get the kinks out. Plus, he can manage the kid from the outside and I can fight him in the ring. Or as Darryl puts it, ďEven in your wasted decrepit condition Rattler, you can still bump like a king.Ē What Darryl carefully doesnít mention is that since Old Man Clancy died in Oh Two, (about two months after Donnie died) Junior is in charge and Junior has for some odd reason never liked Darryl much and he likes me even less. So, Darrylís plan is to rattle around the indies, working the kid up and build some buzz around him until Junior has no choice but to give him a shot in the show. Darryl also carefully doesnít mention that maybe this is my last shot to make it back to the big time. Which it is.
And Iíll admit that that is the other reason that my eyes light up, because I can see it already: the feud, the package. Much like the team of Von Hess and Darryl and Mickey One, the team of Darryl, Me and Mickey Two is one that could go all the way to the top with a through-bred like Mickey Two needing us to prepare him for the spotlight and us needing him to bring us back to the spotlight. Even reflected glory is still glory. Even reflected sun light can give you a tan.
The other perk of this team up, I can already see is that I have two doctors to work on me. Darryl, who never got his degree but who has more practical experience on repairing bruises and muscles and joints and backs without resorting to surgery or pills than any two, three doctors put together, while Mickey Two is an actual medical doctor with a degree and everything, and even before I see the two work together, I get the impression that Darryl pretty much took the same courses as Mickey Two on an informal basis, using Mickey Two to supplement the practical stuff that he had picked up over the years. Actually, I found out on the road at one point that during his time away from wrestling, Darryl had picked up the training to be a licensed paramedic. Anyway with my knee and back still bothering me, I know that Darryl and Mickey Two are going to be able to help me there. I mean, I can anticipate that itís going to hurt like hell for a while, but in the end Iíll probably feel better than I have in years after these two are done with me. Little did I fucking know...
Chapter Twenty-Seven: ďWeíre Running Out of TimeĒ
-Iíve got the files from Montreal. Turns out that it falls under Provincial jurisdiction not Federal, but the RCMP cleared the way for me. Turns out that everyone down there has a hard-on for this case. Itís the one that got away. The one that everyone wants to get solved. Their Moby Fucking Dick. So, they pretty much emptied the bag for us.
-Thatís great Captain, but weíre running out of time.
-Why, is he clamming up?
- No. Far from up it. Heís still rattling... heh... rattling on. No, what I am worried is that the C and F is probably half done by this point and you know that once the show is over, weíre going to be too busy to do anything on this case for weeks. This is the calm before the fucking shit-storm.
-Yeah. Good fucking point. Well, letís hope OíReilly can get enough soon. Worse comes to worse, we can just return the favour and dump this whole interview back to the Quebeckers, let them sort it out. Never know when we might need a favour back.
-True. Give me half those files from Quebec. Letís look see how much the official record agrees with the Rattlerís version.
Chapter Twenty-Eight: ďDoes This Look Like a Fucking Tavern?Ē
-I donít suppose that there is anyway I could get a beer?
-Does this look like a fucking tavern to you?
-No, itís a cop-house, but thatís the next best thing isnít it? If I went out there and started rifling through desks, how long until I find some scotch or rum or vodka?
-That would be beyond the fucking point. Look, Iíve been fucking patient with you, Iíve listened to your stories. Iíve let you lie to me when it suited your purposes.
-Lie to you? What the fuck are you talking about?
-Youíve already given me two different versions of the story of how you came to leave Quebec. Youíre not telling me the whole story about Mickeyís death. Plus that bullshit story about wrecking your car on your ex-wifeís lawn? My partner was Katyís escort at a whack of charity events. I know that whole story, the true story.
-Your partner was sleeping with Katy?
-Whoa. Did that strike a nerve? I wouldnít worry about Katy. My partner is gay.
-Katy was sleeping with a gay guy?
-Will you sit the fuck down and stop shouting you fucking loser. No. my partner wasnít sleeping with your ex-wife. Not that it should be any fucking business of yours. She needed a good looking guy to go to charity events with, who also knew how to dance and it was either him or a fire fighter and Ray looks better in a tux. Now letís get this fucking story over with or Iíll invite Ray in to beat the shit out of you.
-There isnít a cop born that can beat me in a fight.
-I wouldnít be to sure about that Tessier. I mean you could take me out sure. But Iím a pencil-pushing pussy. I solve cases from behind a desk, using a computer. But my partner Ray? He may be gay, but Ray is old school, Rayís street. You may be a dirty fighter, know all the little wrestling tricks, but Ray knows all the dirty cop tricks. Besides, Rayís already taken out two of your friends. You remember that little motel brawl in Eastern St-Louis? Two of your wrestling buddies got themselves hopped up on white cracker lightning? Started tearing a motel apart? That fucking Olympic strong man and his partner from Korea?
-Alen Holiday and Dan Chokra?
-Yeah. Put three cops in the hospital before they were finished, Banged up and bruised up about a half dozen others more or less. Ray drives up, calls everybody off and takes out his billy club and has them both hand-cuffed and subdued in about two minutes flat.
-I think he also knocked out most of Alenís teeth and gave Chokra a concussion.
-Donít start whining for them. Those two bastards put cops in the hospital. Theyíre lucky they didnít get shot.
-OK. Fine, your partner is a tough son of a bitch. Whatís your point?
-My point is that you should stop fucking freaking out over what your ex-wife does. You walked out on her remember? You divorced her. If she was balling the whole fucking police department it shouldnít mean shit to you. And you need to start levelling with me and telling me why you fucking came here because the CNF is nearly over and when it is over and those fans hit the streets, I wonít be here listening to you, Iíll be out there trying to keep your drunken, knuckle-dragging, mouth-breathing, fucking weak pathetic excuse for a human being that you call fans from lighting this city on fucking fire. So, finish your fucking story already.
-OK. OK. Fucking mouth on you, kid. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?
-Pot. Kettle. Black.
-My motherís been dead and buried more than thirty years gone, kid. And a sore disappointment that I would have been to her had she lived and thatís the truth. But you must have something to wet my lips with to keep me going.
-Ray, bring us in some coffee and I think that I have some oranges.
-A man asks for beer and you offer him coffee and oranges. The hospitality of St-Louisí finest has sadly dwindled over the years. Fuck I can remember being brought in here in handcuffs and being offered my pick of three different kinds of Scotch and my picks of the hookers scooped up that night.
-Yeah, Iíve heard stories of those days. Whenever you were brought in in handcuffs, it was always a hoax fixed up with the TV show. Besides, offering you a drink would be a little like offering a pyromaniac a book of matches.
-This would be true. Well, I guess I will survive on your coffee and oranges, poor gruel it is to be sure.
Chapter Twenty-Nine: ďThis Straight Jacket is a ShootĒ
-All right, where was I?
-The Straight-Jacket Gag.
-Right. Well, I had well understood that I was going to be the victim of the Straight-Jacket Gag. The way that Darryl explained the gag, the feud would be built around the fact that I was, well a pathetic drunk and junkie and Mickey Two was so fucking clean he squeaked. In fact, Mickey Two would be boasting how he was ďstraight-edgeĒ
-Fuck yeah, this is apparently a new young kid rebellious thing. Like their parents were all counter-culture, weed-smoking hippies, so the only way they can rebel is by being clean-cut Republicans with good hair-cuts and good jobs who donít drink or do drugs or even have sex. I remember when Darryl first explained this to me and I was all, ďWhat the fuck do these kids do to have fun? I mean sure there going to out-live us but what the fuck is the point in living that long if your life is so fucking boring?Ē
-You sound like George Carlin.
-Well, that was basically my job. Be cranky and funny and defend the casual use of drugs and booze and sex. While Mickey Two was all up tight and wound up and repressed and trying to keep everyone from having fun. Worked perfectly, too. The fans suddenly had a reason to care about me and I was getting over as a face for the first time in years. Plus at the same time, Mickey Two works as a heel, because the best heels are the ones who have good reasons to do what they are doing, even if those good reasons take them too far. Road to hell is paved with good intentions, right? And itís a bit of a cautionary tale too, because I am old and busted and broken down and old for my years and shit, while Mickey Two is all bright and squeaky clean like a new fucking penny.
So, we do a couple of matches and they are built around the fact that the kid can flat out go, while itís obvious that after a certain point I run out of gas, and when I do, I take a beating from the kid, but the kid is all arrogant about beating me and that allows me to sneak out the win using my ďVeteran InstinctsĒ as I win with a cheap roll-up when I get my second wind. And because the crowd is with me, I can even do shit like pull the tights or use the ropes or pull on his hair. I have carte blanche to cheat. Iím the anti-hero, the angel with a dirty face, Jimmy Fucking Cagney, Humphrey Bogart. I get all the fun of being the bad guy and I get the cheers and I get to win. Itís all dessert and no fucking calories.
All of which is leading to the straight-jacket match. And to the demonstration. Now, I only had one issue with the demonstration which is that I didnít want to look stupid doing it. I mean, Rory looked like an idiot when I conned him into the straight-jacket how much dumber would I look when I was the one who had tricked Rory into doing it all those years ago. I mean I didnít want to look senile in my forties, right?
This was Darrylís plan to do the bit without me looking dumb. We brought in Mongoose to be the announcer in this biggish Texas and Southwest indy fed that was booking this storyline and basically giving Darryl carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. So Mongoose invites me out to demonstrate the straight-jacket and I play along, act dumb, put it on, but before one buckle can be tightened or one strap strapped, I grab the mike from Mongoose and I yell at him, ďWhat? Do you think that Iím stupid, Davey? Do you think that I donít know that Mickey Junior isnít waiting in the back waiting to ambush me? I mean I may be an old man. I may have pickled my brains in alcohol and pills. But Iím not stupid! I invented this fucking match! Iím the one that tricked Rory Clancy, bless his dumb soul, I tricked Rory into wearing this straight jacket. Do you think that I would let myself get tricked into wearing it so that Mickey Junior could finally get a fighting chance to beat me with my hands tied behind my back? Did you think that I was that stupid Davey?Ē
Then I let Davey take the microphone back and Davey, Mongoose, Iím letting the audience think that weíre shooting cause Iím using Daveyís real name instead of calling him Mongoose. Anyway, Davey takes the mike back and he deadpans, ďNo, Eric I didnít think that you were that stupid.Ē and then he shoots me with a stun gun. And thatís when Darryl and Mickey Two hit the ring and strap me up as Iím twitching and the three of them start kicking the shit out of me as I twitch. And the crowd is going nuts, which is good. And I am going nuts and howling because Davey the son of a bitch has used a real fucking stun gun on me, which is good to an extent because the stun gun has zapped me so bad that the kicking that they they are doing itís like itís happening to some other guy who is howling about it and itís my voice, but itís not me. Then they gag me and prop me up and Darryl grabs the mike.
And this is where that great greasy fat son of a bitch fucks me in front of the entire world.
-How so? Wasnít this all part of the plan?
-Oh sure. Only nobody told me that the straight-jacket was a shoot.
-For real, not part of the act. See, Darryl took the mike and said, ďRattler, Eric, the three of us in the ring are your friends and when I looked you up in New Mexico to ask you to do this program, it was so that I could get you into this straight jacket, so that I could explain something to you. Do I have your full attention, Eric? See, I love you Eric. After my brother Mickey died, you stepped up and did all the stuff that I couldnít do. You became my brother, Eric. You helped me get my big shot, my run as World Champion, youíre the guy who called me and told me to write that shit down when I did the interview with Lou. Do you remember that phone call, Eric? You called me from Mexico wasted out of your mind on cheap Mexican tequila and you told me, ĎDarryl, write that shit down. Write a book. People will want to buy it.í Do you remember that phone call, Eric? No, I didnít think so. See, thatís the problem, Eric. Youíve been killing yourself for years with the booze and the pills and your friends, weíve been letting you do it. Iíve, Me, I have let you keep on killing yourself. Well, itís too God Damn much! Too many people have died Eric. Rory and Mickey and the twins and Donnie and Bruce and Iain and all the boys who ended up dead in a hotel room or in a gutter from alcohol or pills. And maybe I canít stop them all from dying. But you, my best friend, you I can stop from killing yourself. So, right here, tonight, this, this is an intervention, Eric. And you are going to stay in that straight-jacket until you are sober. No matter how long that takes.Ē
Fucking fat piece of shit.
-So what are you saying? He really...
-He really fucked me is what he did. They were just supposed to beat me up, kick me in the ribs, set-up the straight-jacket match. But there was never going to be a straight-jacket match. They set me up to straighten me out, get me sober. Bastards.
-Oh damn them them, Damn them all to hell.
-Well, fuck you too, you fucking boy scout. They quit me cold turkey, do you have any idea what thatís like? Besides, I wasnít just addicted to one drug, I was addicted to a half-dozen and Darryl gets to try out all these fucking holistic solutions to addiction on me to ďleech out the poisonsĒ which means heís sticking needles in me until I look like a pincushion and he is taking heated glasses and putting them on my back and this old Chinese Granny comes in and writes a bunch of Chinese on me using this burning fucking tar as ink. And all the while Mickey Two or Davey are taping me and they are playing my tapes for the crowds as I am howling how I will kill the three of them when I get loose.
Plus he wonít let me smoke or drink even so I am going cold turkey from pain-killers and nicotine and alcohol and tranquilizers and fuck them all. May the bastards all rot in hell.
-How long has it been since youíve had a drink?
-A year, two months, three days, four hours and a bit.
-And you just asked me for a beer?
-Fuck you boy scout. Iím not sober because I want to be. Iím a fucking victim of a kidnapping by a cult of straight edge mother-fuckers. When I escaped in the confusion of the show tonight, it was fifty-fifty whether I went to the nearest bar or here. I chose here because I figured that I could get a drink and lay some fucking charges.
-Iím not sure that itís against the law to make someone sober against his will.
-Well, it fucking well ought to be. Are you laughing at me?
-No, no, really I just need to sneeze. Itís the dust really, I promise. They donít clean these rooms enough.
-Bastard. Right, oh and the worst fucking thing is that this angle is going over gang-busters. The crowds are eating this shit up. Then Darryl takes it a step further and announces that I am going to start tagging with Mickey, that he is going to release me from the straight-jacket at the shows and then tie me up afterwards. Now, part of the appeal is that no one really knows what I am going to do when I am being let out. Fuck, even I donít know what I am going to do. And Darryl comes out with me chained up like Hannibal Lecter and explains to the crowd that my cure is not complete and please donít offer me any drugs or booze. So, naturally when I come to the ring there are all these college punks taunting me with doobies and pitchers of beer and Darryl and Davey and security are keeping them back and I take all that misery and frustration and anger and I funnel it straight into the match and the matches get a little crazy with me - well I can pretty much do whatever the fuck I want as long as I stay in the ring.
Fuck calling spots, Iím just doing whatever the fuck I want. Iím Chuck Fucking Berry showing up for the show five minutes for the show with Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band acting as my back-up band and I step out on the stage and I donít even tell them the song or even the key, I just start playing and let the young punks figure out the song. And every once in a while, I make a dive for some beer and Darryl and Davey and a whole shit-load of guys are acting like sobriety lumberjacks throwing me back in to the ring.
And the poor bastards who have to wrestle me keep asking me, ďWhatís the finish? Whatís the finish?Ē and suddenly, Iím remembering wrestling some dumb ass-hole in Quebec when I was seventeen and he was in his forties and had been wrestling in Quebec for like a hundred years - well twenty-five - without ever leaving the province mind you, but he was hot-shit in his corner of Hochelaga let me tell you what. And because the head office owes this ass-hole a favour, I get told to go down and work a match for him. And I show up hours early to work out the match with him, but he wonít organize shit with me, tells me matches are better organized spontaneously, ďfeels more real that way.Ē Dumb mother-fucker. So, Iím wrestling him and trying to figure out his calls because his English is bad and his French is fucking worse because he talks this muddy ketaine version of French where he mumbles everything. And like these kids twenty-five years later, Iím whispering at him, ďWhatís the fucking finish? Whatís the finish?Ē So, I find myself telling them the same thing that they told me, ďLook in my eyes. Look in my eyes and you will know the finish.Ē Fucking horse-shit then fucking horse-shit now.
But the crowds are going nuts for it. I mean people are bitching because Darryl swatted their pitcher of beer, twenty feet out of their hand because they got it too close to me. And the guys this happens too gets all pissed off and writes in the internet how heís never going back and the angle is fun and all, but the fed has forgotten about the fans. And then he gets bitched out for trying to give beer to an alcoholic. And then the guy who said that gets bitched out for being a gullible mark, and did they really think that after the match that they really kept me locked in a straight-jacket until my next match? And despite all of them saying that they are never coming to the next show, they are all there anyway and they have brought friends because no one really knows what will happen, I mean my own tag partner has to duck my tags because I will take his damn head off with a punch when I tag him in. And after the match they strap me back in the straight-jacket and strap me to a back board and wheel me the fucking hell out of there and I do spend my nights in that straight-jacket or locked to a radiator or a bed or something. And like I need it, I start developing a reputation for being into bondage because a few of the rats walk in on me handcuffed to the bed in fucking leopard-skin hand-cuffs or worse the pink boa hand-cuffs. Because Darryl has this weird theory about the best way to convince people that something isnít happening is to tell them the truth but make them believe that when you tell them the truth that you are lying, so they believe anything other than the actual truth that you are busy telling them is the truth, but they wonít believe it.
I mean fuck, I couldnít be possibly being held captive by Darryl and Davey and Mickey Two, right? They couldnít be forcing me sober against my will, could they? Thatís the story line right? And every fucking one in the fucking universe knows that wrestling is fake right? Mother-Fuckers.
So thatís how things stood, when Katy called. Because the ratings for the Budweiser Wrestling Hour which is now a two hour show with Bud Light sponsoring the second hour. And because they are considered two completely different shows, St-Louis gets to boast just about every week that they have the number one and number two shows on cable and sometimes on a really good week for the Saturday show, number three show as well. Only, ratings are down a little bit, and the shows are being beaten by a fucking sponge. So Budís a little ticked by this and they arenít really satisfied by Juniorís explanations about how wrestling is a cyclical business and they are in a valley now but that eventually they will climb out. Now to Budweiser, this is fucking defeatist talk. Bill Senior would never have talked about cycles. When he was getting his ass kicked in the ratings, by the time they came to see him, he was already trying something whether it be the Rory International or adding a second hour or bringing some hot shot kid from Japan or Montreal or Calgary or England or what the fucking ever.
Point was, the guys from Bud were almost afraid to talk to Old Man Clancy when the ratings were down, because he always had a plan or plans and if they came in it almost always meant that they would walk out with lighter wallets as he talked them into investing in something that would improve the ratings. Bitch to Old Man Clancy and you would walk out with him having taken half of your advertising budget and if his big idea didnít work, he had another and another and eventually something would work.
So, Juniorís not really impressing Budweiser with his keep the ship stable approach. And of course, Katy is right there. So itís not really a coup díetat, but Budweiser makes it pretty clear that something must be done so Katy gets a part of the book, much to her surprise. And Katy does have ideas, and one of her ideas is bringing back in Cage and she has been following what he has been doing because she never really understood why her brother didnít want to work with Cage. I mean screw bumping, the man is gold on the mike and can get other people over, plus heís gold in the backstage because he keeps people healthy and helps people book their matches properly. Plus, Cage is hell on wheels on people drinking and driving or doing drugs in the backstage and Katy wants to bring a lot of young guys in, give them a shot see what works, see what doesnít, actually let the audience choose to a certain extent and build back your audience. This is ground-breaking stuff by the way. I mean only wrestling is so backward that you ignore what your fans want. St-Louis was never as bad at this as New York, mind you.
So, in Darrylís mind, he was building a team around Mickey Two, and it was Mickey Two and the angle with me that was going to get him to the show. But Darryl is too fucking modest right, he doesnít realize his own worth. So when Katy calls him, she knows all about the angle and it intrigues her a little bit, but sheís basically telling him that she wants him to come in and help her with the locker room and help her book and sheíll take his angle and use it as a favour to him and not because she wants the angle. Totally upside down and backwards from what Darryl expected, but that doesnít matter because Darryl and Mickey Two and Davey and me, we are all going back to the show. Even I am excited. Heck, Darryl even calls up Von Hess and tells him to pack his bags for St-Louis. Darryl even breaks out a bottle of champagne and pops the cork and sprays Davey and Mickey Two. He even breaks down and gives me a glass of champagne. Bastard. Saves a bottle of champagne for a specific occasion, a celebration and the fucking prick has the presence of mind to make it non-alcoholic champagne. I mean, seriously, what the fuck?
Thread ahead: The Llakor Project: Day Twenty-Nine, Chapter Twenty-Five Next thread: The Llakor Project: Day Thirty, Chapters Thirty and Thirty-One Previous thread: Eric Loy (known here as Eddie Famous) interviews Harley Race
Welcome, everyone to another EXCLUSIVE, JAM-PACKED and HIGHLY ADDICTIVE edition of Inside The Ropes. I'm Canadian Bulldog, one of only three openly gay columnists on this website. We've got a lot to get to this week, but first, a quick poll: