A soft knock came from behind Mitch, which pulled him out of his head. He turned towards the origin of the sound and did a quick doubletake. In the doorway stood a handsome man that was about as broad as the space he occupied, bespectacled and with a neat beard. His shirt was a size or two too small, and Mitch thought to himself that if this guy so much as coughed, it’d be torn to shreds.
“Uh, hi there,” Mitch gave a small wave, since Jodie either hadn’t heard the knock or was too wrapped up in her thoughts to notice. He acted nonchalant, despite being he very aware of the visitor’s identity. They’d never met until now, but it didn’t matter; play it cool as he may, Mitch was an indie wrestler so he knew Avi Sher.
“What happened to your arm, dude?” Avi asked, as if they did know one another. His voice much softer than whatever Mitch had anticipated.
“I-” Mitch tensed up, totally caught off guard. “Torn rotator cuff. Happened during a match the other night.”
Avi gave a low whistle, and it made Mitch more desperate to vanish. The reaction got old, as was delivering the abstract, and he wondered at what point in his life sympathy equated to shame and suffocation. Was it when he’d immigrated to the United States as a child? When he first came out to his friends and family about being gay? Or maybe when he had to confess that he’d been abusing painkillers and needed help?
“Are you Avi?” Jodie -the defacto savior of Mitch’s entire well being- spoke up, affording him the opportunity to stop discussing himself.
Avi smiled brightly. “Yeah, I’m looking for Jodie. I take it you’re-”
“Jodie,” she replied and held a hand out, which Avi stepped forward and shook. “So I have some paperwork for you to fill out. Are you cool with Mitch hanging out on the couch, or do you want me to boot him or…” She trailed off and pursed her lips in thought, the gears in her head violently grinding while words were forced through her filter. “He’s kind of going through some shit right now, but can also leave.”
Mitch made a face at her.
“Nah, it’s cool. We were just talking about his match from the other night.” Avi looked over his shoulder, still smiling. There was that familiarity again; it wasn’t unsettling, but Mitch’s wariness came naturally. He slid over to one side of the couch so that Avi could have a seat, and Jodie handed him a clipboard with some forms on it.
While Jodie and Avi had their discussion, Mitch folded his arms across his chest and pretended not to eavesdrop, but it was tough. To start, this guy smelled like an entire Lush catalogue, which drew attention whether intentional or not. And then there was Jodie, the best bullshit artist that Mitch ever met, working the full force of her magic. She talked enough shop so that she appeared to be knowledgeable, but her gift was character analysis, and that made her an effective carny.
It never ceased to amaze him how little Jodie actually knew of “the business”, historically speaking, or that she did not remotely care about that lack of knowledge. She only got into this a few years prior, after she met Victor and learned that he was a professional wrestler. But having a background as a theater kid, holding both a BS in psychology and a MBA, and possessing a decent understanding of how to use search engines, made her appear competent.
“So we have a ton of stuff to go over, but my dad isn’t here to take you through your duties. I can give you a tour of the place, though,” Jodie offered.
“Sounds good.” They both got up to leave, and before Avi followed Jodie out of the room, he paused in the doorway. Turning to Mitch, he gently said, “Hey man, good luck with your recovery. I’ve been there, it goes by fast.”
“He lives at the house, you can talk to him more about it then,” Jodie called behind her.
“Oh!” exclaimed Avi. “Well in that case, see you later, roomie!”
Mitch blinked, and for the sake of politeness managed to blurt a “Ye-yeah. Later!” But they had both already left the room, and in confusion he mumbled, “Roomie?”
After letting go of a breath that he didn’t know he’d been holding onto, Mitch stared into space and tried to process all of…that. As he did, his phone vibrated. He completely forgot about it, as well as his entire nightmare situation, for that short duration.
And if he could not focus on it for 5 minutes, god willing, he may be able to pull through after all.