“What a show!” Jodie collapsed into her office chair, while Mitch sprawled out onto the old couch. Pay envelopes were dispensed, the building cleaned up, and aside from a few roster members that were indecisive about where they wanted to go drink, everyone else cleared out.
“That it was.” Mitch distantly responded while he mulled over Rod’s parting words to him. The gist of it was that his transitional moves were sometimes clunky, and that he often came across as more frantic than he intended. He needed more control over both himself and his opponents, if he wanted to be a more dominant competitor in the long run.
‘Don’t ever let them know that you actually know what you’re doing,’ was Rod’s parting remark.
“By the way,” said Jodie, “Sandy did a fantastic job. I know that you were apprehensive about having her going one on one with Goon, but…”
“She’s improved a lot,” Mitch acknowledged. “I’m really proud of her. In retrospect, Arin’s probably the best person to go against if you’re green. But that size discrepancy, y’know?”
“Baby bird’s gotta fly some day,” Jodie replied with nonchalance. “She wanted it real bad. I wouldn’t have booked it if I thought she couldn’t handle it, but she did. And now she’s had a taste of the main event. It’s gonna make her a better wrestler in the long run.”
“Yeah, I know,” Mitch softly exhaled. “Thanks for ignoring my anxiety on that one.”
“You’ve had an extremely shitty two weeks, my dude. Figured that might have something to do with it.”
“God, don’t remind me,” Mitch scoffed. He was about to go on a tangent about it being over -thank god– then remembered that he still needed to tell Jodie about the upcoming errand. The decision to keep this discreet stemmed from her already having a full plate; well, that, and he didn’t want her commentary going into this. But he ought to say something. “By the way, did I tell you that I’m getting my stuff tomorrow?”
“Wait, no? What? How?!” Jodie sat up straight and leaned on her elbows. “Is he bringing it up here? Am I going to get to cut him?” Out of nowhere, she produced a box cutter and slid the blade out in a fluid motion.
“No, I…where the hell did that come from?!” Mitch lurched forward in surprise.
“Oh, I found it earlier and was already playing with it under the desk.” She opened a drawer and put it away. “Anyway, you were saying?”
“ANYWAY,” Mitch lay on his back again and stared up at the ceiling. “Avi offered me a ride, actually? He walked in on me freaking out about Calv, and-” His eyes darted back over to Jodie to gauge her reaction. “Offered?”
“Was he just trying to get you to shut up?” She folded her hands under her chin, looking smug.
“Oh god.” He smacked the side of his head. “Probably, huh? Should I tell him not to?”
“Dude, I’m kidding! I think he actually might be a super nice guy. Dad’s known him for over a decade, and so far has only ever said good things. Sometimes people are just cool, and I get that’s a very scary concept to you-“
“A little, yes! The past few years haven’t been ideal on that front!”
“But Avi seems OK! He wouldn’t be living with us if he wasn’t.” Jodie rubbed her temples. “Can I ask you something?”
“I hate this game,” grumbled Mitch. “Sure, fine. What?”
“This might just be you being, well, you.”
Her eyes narrowed. “Why did you lie about the cupcake?”
“Huh?” Mitch scratched his facial hair while he wracked his brain, then let out an audible, “Aw, fuck.”
“It’s weird, even for you.” She shrugged. “I didn’t blow your cover or anything when he thanked me.”
“You were the one that wanted to do it for him! So, I dunno, I figured you deserved the credit.”
“You went and got it, and paid for it. You can accept gratitude for once,” she countered.
“I just said that he was giving me a ride! I was talking about how wonderful he is or whatever. Why am I being interrogated?” He slapped a hand over his face and dragged it down, smearing the paint he’d yet to clean off. This conversation was inevitable, he knew that ahead of time.
“Because you’re still abrasive. I know everything’s a living nightmare for you, and I don’t need you to get buddy-buddy with him or suck his dick. But I need you to try, Mitch!”
“I am!” Mitch shouted, then shrank back and rolled onto his side to face away from her. “I’m sorry.” His voice softened. “I am trying, I promise.”
The office chair creaked, and the wheels rumbled across the concrete floor. “Move your feet,” her voice came from above him, and he complied. She took a seat, grabbed his legs, and repositioned them so that they hung over her knees. “I know, I’m sorry, too. Shit’s fucked, and I’m gonna help you best that I can.”
“Thank you,” Mitch mumbled into his shirt sleeve.
“But I need you to help me as well.” His ankle stung lightly while she picked at some of his leg hair, but he didn’t mind. “And that means not making the very renowned guy that I just hired think he’s gotta tiptoe around your grumpy ass. Especially not while I’m opening another business in a few months. I can’t have that, dude. I’m about at the end of my rope here.”
“Did he say that?” He lifted his head from off of the cushion enough to meet her gaze.
“Not in so many words, but that’s the vibe that I’m starting to get?”
“I didn’t mean to make him feel like that.” Mitch frowned.
“I told him that you’re super awkward at first, which you are. He got it. But the cupcake is such a thing fits into your weird sad boy cycle, and maybe let’s stop that before it gets bad?” She pat his calf a few times. “So do me a solid, and be a doll on your car ride. Get him to talk about himself. Make him feel at home. Can you do that for me?”
“Yes,” resigned Mitch. “Yes, I can do that.”
“Like, if you gotta LARP it out, pretend that he’s a well paying client and you’re a high end escort-“
“I’M NOT SUCKING HIS DICK FOR YOU!” He lifted his leg and started to kick her. “What is wrong with you?!”
“No, but hear me out!” Jodie cackled, barely shielding herself from the blows. “Escorts don’t necessarily have sex with the client. It could be like Pretty Woman. You might even fall in love.”
“I’m gonna make him quit, and then I’m gonna burn this entire building down to the ground. With you inside of it.”
“Aw, but you’d look so good in that little spandex outfit that Julia wears! With the thigh highs and everything!”
“Anyway, wanna watch Pretty Woman tonight?”
“A little, yes,” he begrudgingly admitted.