View Full Version : The Commoner: Joey Melton

08-31-03, 08:51 PM
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Aug-31-03 AT 08:45 PM (EST)]The low lighting of Armani Restaurant's main dining room sets the tone for a quiet, romantic atmosphere. Shadows dance playfully across the cream colored walls, their sources of inspiration sitting at rectangular tables scattered across the restaurant. Candleabras sit on the tables, bearing witnesses to dozens of intimate conversations between sharply dressed men and stunning women.

Towards the back of the restaurant in a quiet, secluded corner sits Lindsay Troy. A goblet of deep, rich, red wine sits in front of her. It appears to be untouched. Lindsay’s curly trendrils cascade down her shoulders, a black caged-back dress hugs her body tightly, as her eyes dart around the restaurant, never settling in the same place for more than a moment.

The seat next to her is empty.

Troy checks her watch, and sighs impatiently. His client meeting must be taking longer than expected. He said he shouldn't arrive any later than 9:00.

It's now 9:23.

He's never this late, for anything.

Lindsay rests her chin in her hand, and continues to gaze around the restaurant.

People have to be served.

Romantic evenings are a team effort and often the men and women most responsible go ignored, sans ten percent. Fifteen if the man senses a positive sexual tip-off.

Helpless fools devoted to being seen and not heard are the backbone of a working high society.

Bring a millionaire his chicken and accept your fate.

Take back the pasta because a woman who did finish school never takes the first offering. Don’t show weakness by accepting their best.

It’s a game, and much decides what side you play on.

Joey Melton was used to ignoring the plight of the unclean. It wasn’t his fault they essentially were riding the short bus of life. Opportunity led Melton to the light. Charity to Joey meant destroying free will. Life has a way of sorting the winners and losers out. Why should he break his back pulling another fool up to stand with him? Equality is a myth, one a man who’s bested his challenges dismisses. Melton only tries to control himself. Only a selfish man wins the match.

However, the game has changed.


Joey, in a white dress shirt, black slacks and bow tie froze in the belly of Armani’s kitchen, surrounded by the other twelve sharing his shift, a resolve for escaping life’s boot print on their ass decreasing as the age gap widened around the room.

It was Melton’s third day and already he’d garnered a cult like status. A forty year-old man working his first real job offered golden material on a silver platter. If only appeasing an angry volcano were this easy. A young virgin hasn’t always guaranteed a village’s safety, but a middle-aged man completely out of his element, too arrogant to realize life has been ordered to humble him, is infallible.

John Wilson, a cook at Armani’s for eight years cut his vacation short. The largest ball of twine wasn’t nearly as entertaining as seeing one of their own defiant in the face of adversity.

Melton provided the laughs and bewilderment that each employee bottled up and sold at home for the past three nights. He provided the rare satisfaction of their career choice. They made less than twelve dollars an hour, but paupers are allowed more laughs. Only from the bottom of the tracks can you see the humor in the train’s consistency. Sure, the bodies putting master degrees to good use shared a chuckle or two in the E.R. or courtroom, but only at Armani’s can you see Melton fumbling for his pride. The price is less than twelve an hour. So be it. They’d rather laugh than live.

Who wouldn’t?

“Melton don’t hide behind Carlos! I’m talkin’ to you boy.”

Mitch Carter was a forty-four year-old midget. A father of three who has chain smoked since birth, which indirectly led to him suffering third degree burns to his scalp six years ago when working for a day on the set of the ABC sit-com Sabrina The Teenage Witch.

Melissa Joan Hart is professional and kind.

Carter plead to a lesser count of stalking seven months ago. The case is still pending. Melissa’s kindness, as well it should, knows bounds.

“Jeebus Carter,” Melton looked ahead pulling himself together, “Isabel Sanford called. She wants her voice back.”

Carter smiled. For two long years he’s waited, dreamed, prayed to have Joey Melton at his mercy. A camel clutch in the TokyoDome in front of eighty thousand people ripped a disc in Mitch’s back clean off.

Melton was hung over from the night before and admitted to the grand jury he passed out briefly while the hold was in application.

The midget was awarded $1.2 million dollars.

With it, he quit the business and bought out the previous owner of Armani’s. In this very building ten years ago Carter bedded his future wife inside a cabinet in the men’s bathroom.

His wife’s a risk taker of sorts. Until he met Louise, Mitch questioned if he was truly alive. Armani was special to him. It’s the reason he sued. As the verdict was read, Mitch daydreamed of showing a couple teens around the place as a gray bearded grandfather.

“Kids this is where your Grammy first spoke in tongues at my hands.”

Through mutual friends Carter offered Melton a job. The last three days have been the icing on the cake.

“Careful Joseph.” Carter’s warning failed to mask glee, “Or I’ll rent you out for birthdays and Bar Mitzvahs.”

Joey’s back straightened and his blue eyes narrowed. It wasn’t the safe move, but for under twelve an hour, his peers entranced in a circle neglecting their jobs, suffered so that they might be entertained.

“For old-times sake Mitch,” Joey started, calmly taking a butcher’s knife off the island table, “we should put grilled shrimp back on the menu!”

As the words rode all over Carter, Melton dangled the knife in front of him.

“That’s two hours pay docked right there!”


“You want to make it four?”

It’d gotten ugly quick.

Melton paused before giving full value, “Has anyone see Mitch? He gets lost in the shuffle so easily.”

“That’s,” Carter stuck his left hand out in front of his body, pinkie and thumb twirling in the air, “two more! You want to go again?”

Joey smiled.

“Stand up man, when you address humans.”

“That’s six!” cried Mitch, “Wanna try for the rest of the week? I’m gonna have every dollar you earn for the rest of your natural born life!”

Melton shook his head. “And with that I’m taking a break.”

“Break? You’ve hardly worked all day!”

“Please. The job gets done. Like you’ve gotten any complaints about my performance.”

“Hundreds,” retorted Mitch incredulously. “Every table you’ve had!”

“Well,” Melton’s lips curled back slowly as if the curtains were lifting on restructured dimples. “Can’t say I haven’t been a load of laughs.”


The under twelve gang have been spellbound since the first barb. A brother’s job was on the line. They could feel it. What would Melton do next? Entertainment ceases at a fixed point.

“I said you can’t say I haven’t been a lot of laughs.”

Melton laughs again. No response.

“You irritants,” chided Joey as he stormed for the doors. “That’s funny and a smart crowd would appreciate it.”

The padded double doors in unison smacked Melton’s rear as he stormed out, telepathically acting on Carter’s behalf.

Joey hung a sharp left oblivious to the sets of hands extending from a round of tables, impatiently waving as if hailing a cab. The drop in Melton’s effort brought on by a break indistinguishable.

Running from the calls of his name, Melton flung himself in a corner booth. After over fifteen years in the business fame no longer got him high. He remembers as a thirty year-old walking out into Thomas Indoor/Outdoor Stadium, roof retracted being hated by one hundred thousand strong. He was the beautiful rare bird on display gracing the ring with his presence, the light emitting from his feathers blinding the haters who booed because they knew nothing better. Joey never held it against them. Ignorance is unfortunate, but constant. One day the unclean would look back, when the hope truly was gone from their lives and remark about the time they, if only for a short while, saw deity shine through a mere man.

The former CSWA World Champion once craved the attention enlightening others brought, but no longer. The bird is weary and sings of a silence that eternally eludes him.

What else do these people want from Joey Melton?

He’s on break. When pressured the brilliance of his colors fade.

Hidden in the booth Melton notices he’s not alone. Calvin Carlton slouches in the moderate darkness where the booth resides and shields the exposed side of his face with his left hand. Calvin, in black golf knickers, white and yellow stripped argyle socks, white shirt, and yellow golf cap pushes sunglasses up against the bridge of his nose; Carlton gently scratches a hideously fake mustache.

“You’ve grown that since this morning?” asked Joey still with the strength to be surprised. “You poor man what your back must look like...”

Carlton’s left hand lowers, the shades slip an inch and Calvin’s eyes dart suspiciously around.

“Wait a minute. You’re afraid to be seen with me.”

“Keep your voice down. I’m not here,” Carlton instructed, sticking out like a sore thumb. “And NO that’s not it.”

“Carlton this hurts. Why? Because I’m,” Melton chokes on the words. “Because I’m...po...po...”

“Poor!” Carlton finished, “Yes.”

“It’s still me Carlton. Mister Melton!”

“Mister? I’m...”

“What are you not telling me?”

“There’s an emergency club meeting tonight with the board.”

“Beautiful,” Joey exclaimed bouncing a fist off the table, “Finally a token minority we can show to the press to get those civil rights activists off our backs.”

“It’s not that vote.” Melton’s eyebrows rose before Carlton could finish. “It’s about your membership.”

“I’m paid up through the year!”

“It’s the principle.” Carlton stated matter-of-factly, “Joey I’m sorry, but ever since Alison froze your assets, the grass on the course has browned, the fish have stopped biting,” Every bit of it true and Melton knew it, “You know what the common people are. They’re anchors Joey!”

“I’m not a commoner!”

“I know that.”

Carlton suppresses a cough.

“Damn that crazy #####.”

“The board doesn’t know about her, right?” Carlton was going to fight for his man, “Maybe if you came to the meeting and presented your case.”

“Right Carlton,” Joey rolled his eyes, “The club members want to hear I married into money. Though I guess that’s why I always seemed to migrate to the wives at club functions.”

Melton paused. “Why I keep my body in shape for the enjoyment of others.”

“Everybody makes one martial mistake, the board has shown flexibility in the past.”

“I married her when she was 37 and I was 16,” Joey said desperately, “Had to get permission from my parents.”

Carlton shrieked, jumping back into the wall of the booth.

“Your Momma let you go early?”

“She was happy to get rid of me. It just meant she could board another sailor in my room. After sixteen years her exact words were, ‘I could use the break.’”

Carlton didn’t like seeing Joey vulnerable. He’s seen a hero weakened in front of his very eyes. No man should have to endure that sort of pain. Not even the poor.

“Carlton you have to understand. Growing up I had nothing,” the two obviously role-playing, Joey the victim of his parents lack of ambition, and Carlton the Club’s Board Of Directors, “I used to come to joints like Armani’s and sulk. While the other kids my age were hitting a ball, I was near the rich, face smearing the glass as I vicariously existed.”

“How long did you go without money?”

“Until I was sixteen.”

“Did you,” Carlton’s voice trailed off he hated asking but knew Dexter Thorton head of the board would, “Rob a bank on horseback?”

“No. That’s frowned on right?”

Carlton shrugs. If not it well should be.

“I married,” Joey’s heart jumped, “Into money, sir.”



Carlton clapped his hands together. “We’re done here. Membership revoked.”


“You wanted honesty right?...”

“...Let me finish, I’ll get stronger as we go on.”

Carlton sighed, the truth was his revoke had nothing to do with honesty. Calvin was simply terrified of being recognized, and the longer he stayed...

“Tell me about the dame.”

“Thank you sir,” said Melton struggling to regroup, “Alison was a self-made real estate multi-millionaire whose right foot was three inches shorter than the left, and she was born with a tail.”

“Sweet mother,” gasped Carlton, shaking with the sort of fear he hadn’t felt since watching Poltergeist 2 as a boy. “I don’t want to hear anymore. Get out! Get out!”

“I started work for my Uncle’s Pool Cleaning service the summer I met her. Decent work,” Melton stopped upon seeing Carlton’s disproval, “Horrible work. Out in the sun, shoveling dirt and taking a short lunch like I was some sort of animal!”

Calvin nodded. This might have a chance after all.

“You serviced her pool, yes? Tell me about the estate.”

“Very nice. Screamed Hollywood Hills. We were hired in late May. I loved the grounds. Just being there I felt complete. Like I had been elevated from society and would rather kill than go back down.”

“Your wife, tell me about her.”

“Distant at first. Then,” Joey laughed, “The requests started to come in.”

“Requests?” a puzzled Carlton asked.

“Our key was taken away. To gain entrance we had to climb over the security fence, but only at even hours!”

“So if you arrived at two to three,” he asked but knew the answer.

“We had two minutes to scale, otherwise we waited an hour.”

“Was this type of behavior typical?”

“Oh yes.”

“Let’s describe your wife’s behavior.”

“Odd. Distant. Childlike.”

“Why do you think she acted as such?”

“Alison didn’t trust people,” reasoned Joey speaking as dramatically as he could to win Carlton over, “Having a wicked limp since childhood played on her, and growing up with a tail made matters worse. She withdrew. Her family moved quite a bit in an effort to find peace.”

“Do you think that’s why she became interested in real estate?”

“Beyond a doubt. Moving as she did gave Alison a good look at how to handicap location. How to size up neighbors instantly. Which ones will snicker behind your back, which ones will bring dinner over out of pity, and which ones can be taken advantage of.”

“Did her behavior towards you and your uncle get more eccentric?”

“Yes. Six weeks into the job she asked that only I stay and clean. Alison was very controlling. Having no control over others made her more controlling by nature.”

“You worked alone then.”

“Yes, sir.”

“When did the relationship turn sexual?”

“For a month she paid me extra to float in the pool on a raft for an hour. She just wanted to sit on the side and chuck rocks over my head.”

“Ah ha!” Carlton jumped out of his seat. Momma assured him he was sharp, “She liked making you feel like the freak.”

“Never thought of it like that. Interesting.”

“Moving along...”

“On a Thursday afternoon I scaled the fence and discovered a trail of Reeces Pieces leading to an unlocked door at the back of the house,” Melton recounted, his voice becoming deeper. “I went inside and the trail followed upstairs into her bedroom.”

“You went in?”


“What did you find?”

“She was suspended over her bed on a swing covered in Chocolate.”


“She said, ‘Did you taste the others?’ I said I had not...”

“...’You may taste some of it off me now.’”


“I wanted to run,” the former 7-time CSWA IC champ said, “I was scared as hell.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“I don’t know.”

“Did you—“

“Yes. Like a pair of horny goats.”


“She unearthed a side of me I didn’t know existed,” as he spoke Melton dabbed the sweat off his forehead with a napkin. “Three weeks later she proposed.”


“With my parents blessing I accepted.”


“I loved the freakishness of it all, but better was the limos, the estate, and a Swedish nanny to help me breast feed.”


“She may not have been Swedish.”


“How could I have not said yes? Having tasted life the way it was meant to be lived, I couldn’t go back home.”

“Was it a healthy marriage?”

“As healthy as any other I suppose. She loved pretending she was an animal. I used to walk her around on a leash for thirty minutes a day. Alison always told me humans never should have evolved. From her perspective can you blame her?”

“Why did the marriage end? It lasted four years correct?”

“That’s right. I couldn’t say why. I just know one day she went to the zoo and snapped. Climbed in with the monkeys and wouldn’t come back out”

“That’s almost romantic in a sense.”

“It’s disgusting,” he corrected Calvin, “The woman was a sexual deviant and a lunatic.”

“So noted.”

“I was concerned for her though. For the first six months I went to see her at Green Valley, but she wasn’t coming back.”

“Green Valley?”

“Home for the mentally deranged.”


“With her in the nutter as her husband I gained control of the fortune. I said my goodbyes, sold the business, and went on my way.”

“But now...”

“She’s back,” Joey warned his voice losing steam, “Sane and out of Green Valley. She’s frozen my assets and is accusing me of adultery!”

Melton sighed in disbelief.

“Can you believe that?”

“If you prick them, do they not bleed?”

“I can’t get into my accounts. She’s gone for twenty years and thinks she can come back just like that. I’m basically penniless.”

“Stop! You stop that right NOW.”

“It’s true Carlton. Do you have any idea what it’s like to have your cards denied to have ATM machines laugh in you face. I have access to nothing!”

“What about the millions made during your career?”

“In the accounts. Until I can get a lawyer to take the case, I’m screwed.”

“You get paid now!”

“Not much. I don’t have a CSWA contract,” Carlton waved Joey off refusing to hear more, “Merritt doesn’t want me there. I work on a show-to-show basis.”


“Have they given out checks yet? I can make more here.”

“You’ve got to have something. What about that two thousand dollars Randalls gave you last weekend.”

“Damn reservation casinos.”

“You blew through that?”

“Don’t make it sound worse than it is. I was up two-hundred thousand at one point.”

“What happened?”

“Drugs, booze, hookers. It’s Mike’s fault. I had this sweet piece of Choshu, half native American, quarter Irish, half Mexican, and a quarter Swedish.”


“Anyway I popped this bag Mike gave me that was just supposed to restrict my blood flow. A male orgasm without ejaculation is my quest, like the French Open was to Sampras. I mention it in passing one day and Randalls starts taunting me like he can make it happen in his sleep.”

“I don’t like Randalls and Momma doesn’t either.”

“I’m out ten hours and when I wake up I’m in a corner of the room, left big toe in my mouth, and having double vision. Hell Carlton I thought I was seeing two worlds at once. Off by the bed my late Gram was trying on my boxers and singing commercial jingles.”

“Gram. Was she?”

“Yeah. Nobody really talks about her.”

Carlton had never considered whether being Melton’s shrink was a good thing before. He was company. As a kid Momma had to pay kids to interact with Calvin. With Melton he only had to kiss up a smidge, but the two shared a connection. A frightening thought for both.

“I think I’m still cross-eyed,” Melton leaned across the table, “See for yourself.”

With the lighting it was hard to tell. If Melton’s eyes were off center, there was good reason. Carlton shrugged only half looking. The truth, sometimes, better left unsaid.

“Anyway. I got cleaned out. Somewhere in the reservation there’s a hybrid with golden drapes hanging off the windows of her shanty.”

“Are you going to tell Mike?”

“No. No. I need a break from him,” said Melton stretching his neck, “He thinks what’s happened to me is teaching me honor, and humility. He’s on a weird bonding kick of late.”


“--ing, not –age you ass. Bonding. Like we can relate better now. The man scares the hell out of me.”

“I would ask Momma but,” Calvin’s suggestion tapered off, “We don’t believe in handouts. So many dishonest people out there.”

“I understand.”

“All of our charity work is done through the Carlton Foundation. Allows a tax write-off.”

“Naturally,” the two stooges nod respectively, “Good move.”

“I’ve got to find something though. You bring the paper?”


Carlton pulls out a paper, thumbs through world events, and a recount of another Bonds homer before laying out the classifieds.

“Evening janitorial services, high school education required...”

“Move on,” Melton instructed then breathed deeply, “Got to be something better.”

“Secretary...” Joseph could type, “If it’s anything like the movie.

Melton devilishly smiles. “Maybe.”

“Computer Eng—“


“Here’s one!”


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“Could be good,” Joey theorized winking at an eager Carlton, “I’m in shape. Wonder about rooftop jumping though. Lot of ‘leaping in single bounds’ I bet.”



Carlton pulls a marker out and highlights the ad.

“What I need is someone to pay my expenses, follow me around on tour, get the mail, buy breakfast, lunch and dinner, and agree to a good amount of healthy sexual tension.”

Carlton thought briefly.

“You mean a pimp.”


Carlton frantically ducks under the table as an overweight white male approaches, his two meaty hands balled into fists prop against the table for leverage.

“I don’t know what your problem is but you haven’t been to our table in twenty minutes.”

“Twenty-five by my watch,” Carlton offered from shelter.

“Tonight’s my wife’s birthday and she specifically desired to come here for the bread alone! I would link Armani’s would treat returning customers a wee bit better.”

“Look man,” Joey said coolly, “The last thing that woman needs is more bread. The dozen loafs she had on her twenty-first birthday are still stuck on her.”

“Excuse me?,” the enormous weight of the man edged closer to Joey’s smug face, “How dare you!”

“How dare I? It’s time somebody dared. She’s a biscuit away from heart failure and you’re busting my chops for more bread. Is there an insurance pay off you’re not clueing me in on?”

“What? I’m going to get the manager right now!”

“Yeah. Take your ass back to the table I’ll be with you shortly, and I’ll have filtered water with me. Eight pints a day is a start. Ease up on the carbs, and flush the residue fat out, that’s what Momma always says right Cal.”

“You’re going to wish you never said that!”

Wrapped around a leg of the table Carlton watches the man’s thighs, the size of Calvin’s body alone, tremor off towards the kitchen. He counts to ten before sitting back up.


“You keep saying that word,” spoke Cal with a thick accent, “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Disgustedly Joey looks off Carlton, his eyes drunkenly scanning the dining room. So his life had come to this.

Melton’s look ceased to wander on a dime, and he bolted out of the booth, a charming fool having spotted prey.

“This is too good to be true.”


08-31-03, 08:56 PM
[updated:LAST EDITED ON Aug-31-03 AT 11:13 PM (EST)]The glass is half-empty.

And still, she waits.

With half of the blood-red wine drained from the crystal goblet, Lindsay Troy is growing utterly impatient. Her cell phone sits silently next to her on top of the tablecloth, and every few minutes she casts her eyes down to the face-plate, looking to see if maybe she didn't hear it ring over the din of the dining room.

No such luck.

She knew she should have made the reservations for later, but he insisted that 8:45 would be fine, and he wouldn't be more than 15 minutes late.

Troy had been sitting there for close to an hour.

She shifts in her seat as her waiter walks by, offering to fetch her another glass of wine, to which she obliges. He flashes her an amorous grin and darts off out of sight, walking briskly, but he must feel like he's floating.

Soft music from a violin quartet begins to carry throughout the restaurant, and Troy wonders if she should call him.

No, she decides; five more minutes. Then we'll see.

The waiter returns with the wine and disappears promptly. She finishes what's left in her first glass and places the second in front of her. She watches the liquid settle in the glass, and smiles to herself before scanning the restaurant once more.

Such a lovely night, not even his tardiness could ruin it.

"What have we here?"

A beaming Joey Melton, if recent events wore on him it didn't show, struts to Troy's table confidently.

Oh no.

"No," she cried in unreserved horror, "NO!"

Not him. Anything but him.

"May I?"

Melton motions to the empty seat in front of Lindsay and sits.

"What the hell do you think you're doing? You're not sitting here. Someone is..."

"Meeting you here? Sure he is honey. And he's big, tall, dark, and handsome, kind to animals, moral, and helps little old ladies across the street. I know."

"If you know what's good for you," she hissed, "you'd leave now."

"Easy. Maybe I'll wait for your friend to show. Really this is akin to sending yourself flowers on Valentine's Day. Not ‘sad’, but clearly an act of desperation from a sexually frustrated woman in her twenties."

"I bet you remember your twenties well, Melton. The 60's was a good decade for you. You got to see Elvis in all his different weight incarnations."

"60's?” he shot back exasperated, “You evil witch!"

Two tables behind and to the right of Troy, Calvin Carlton, eyes peering over the top of a menu laughs triumphantly.

"Is that?" She cranes her head over her shoulder. Yep. It was, "Oh...my...God. I so don't even want to know what's going on here. You two are like a gay little version of the odd couple."

"Heh," Melton smiles. It wasn't a compliment, but he took it as one, "I always liked that show. Ba ba ba ba bah ba ba bah ba bah da."

Troy’s waiter returns, reaching behind Melton to place a glass of wine in front of his colleague before walking off again. In three days he’s seen enough of Joey to know when the master is working, when class is in session he’s not to be eyed directly or spoken to.

Melton's face lit up as he lifted the wine glass.

"That's NOT for YOU."

"Well, the boy placed it in front of me so it must be." He takes a sip, and puts the glass back down. Divine. Does she taste as good?

"What the..." She'd finally decided it was safe to eye Melton without melting. Joey was dressed down. Light staining of his uniform told the sad story. "You WORK here?"

Why is it that she has a knack for busting him? He lifts his hands in the air to ward off such an accusation.


"That's him!" The bread man, smoke billowing from his ears, led Mitch to Melton and Troy. "He's the one!

Melton cringed, and speaks loudly. "Watch it folks, this man is a carb fiend on the prowl for his wife. Hide the bread and small children. He's on a strict liquid diet."

"You'd better do something right now!"

Bread man bent down to get in Carter's ear. Grinning from ear to ear Mitch calmly ushered the patron clear before leaning into Melton.

"You're fired," Carter sang to the tune of Bell Biv DeVoe's hit Poison, "Fired. You're firrrrrrrrrreeed."

Of all the women on the planet, Melton picked her to torture. Her date was bound to pay dearly for not showing. Especially now.

"That's it. I'm outta here." She snatches her purse up off the floor and begins to rummage for her keys.

"Oh come on, stay," Joey laughed. "This is twice now when you haven't even been civil. Is this how you relate to your date?" He puts his hand over hers in an attempt to get the purse back on the floor. Her hands, soft and smooth.

Troy yanks her hand free and slams the purse back down on the floor. She glares daggers through him.

"This is how I relate to arrogant pricks who assault children of my employees!"

"Are you still on that? I said I was sorry and I meant it!"

Troy huffs. "Are you even capable of being sincere?"

"I'm capable of a lot of things."

"Most people are who wait tables at forty," she shot back sarcastically.

"Careful Missy, we have a union. Keep going and you're liable to end up with a horses' head in your bed tomorrow morning. And thank you very much we're taking up the fight as we speak to better wages!"

"Let me clue you in, Marlon Brando. In the real world, horses heads don't show up in people's beds."

Melton grins, playfully. "If you'd taken up me on my offer you wouldn't be in this position currently."

"What position is that?"


"He'll be," Troy's voice raised to a threatening, pre-menstrual level, "Any minute."

"You've missed me haven't you?"

She slams her hands, palm-down, onto the table. "Like I missed the flu that kept me in bed for three days this winter."

"I'm right up your alley then. I can keep you in bed for three days without making either of us sick."

"Oh I sincerely doubt that."

"You should pad."

"Excuse me?"

"Cleavage honey. I'm not seeing enough. You'd do well in a corset or with minor reconstructive surgery."

Before Joey's enunciation ended, Troy grabbed a glass of water and threw it in his face.

"It's called a goddamn minimizer, #####. Now get lost."

"Whoa." Minimizer? Her appeal just increased by ten-fold. "I think you're misunderstanding me."

"If we were alone right now I'd stick my foot so far up your---"

"You filthy minx...stop," Melton teased, loving that the game was now moving to his level, "You know I'm on the clock."

"Considering you just got fired I don't think being on the clock is much of an issue for you anymore."

"Such fire, such ferocity, my dear Ms. Troy you are a firecracker." Melton knows she's more than that. Beautiful, Passionate, His meal ticket... "Is there any way I can reach your level?

"Prescription medication may help," she retorted. He's starting to wear on her. "Try them sometime and you might be able to keep a bedmate other than Carlton around."

"Carlton's a delicate flower. The special bee hasn't been chosen yet. I don't think I'll pass the screening process."

"Oh, and why am I not surprised? You didn't pass mine."

"I've missed this between us." Oh, how he ever missed it. Her face alone is worth the price of admission. "Seriously how ya been?"

"You have serious issues, Melton."

"Still in the rasslin' business."

She had a sinking feeling things were going to deteriorate from here.

"Among other ventures, yes."

"You do color, or backstage work?"



"I'm talent Melton, don't be more of an ass than you already are." As if that would be hard for him to do.

"Talent? You manage? This is like manna from heaven!"

"I wrestle!"

"Baby yes. I saw a lot of that in Japan the past twelve months. When it's done right it's a stimulate."

"You're even more clueless than I gave you credit for being. I wrestle men, Melton."

"Like private shows? Dammit now that is beneath you."

"In a North American promotion, A1E."

"Women don't wrestle men."

"The business has changed since you broke into it in the seventies, Melton. It's not the sexist haven you remember."

"What sane person would buy a woman in the ring with a man?"

"Welcome to the 21st century."

"This is why our sport's declining with the economy. Nobody pays the freakin law of physics any mind."

He makes her blood boil.

"So you don't think I can carry my own weight?"

"I'm saying if someone is stupid enough to put you in the ring with a man any credibility you have in the business will be shot."

"You are so chauvinistic. I'm the #1 Contender to the A1E Cyber Title, and I held the A1E Triple Star Title for 10 months. My television quarter hours and merchandise sales are among the top in the company."

"I carrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrre," he retorted sarcastically.

"You're such an #####, Joey."

"I don't care what you've done in the backwoods of professional wrestling, smart audiences won't---"

"Backwoods? My contract's probably bigger than yours!"

"That's none of your business!” he says defensively, fearing the possible truth behind Troy’s statement. “Listen in the big leagues that ##### won't fly. A hundred and fifty pound woman in the ring with a monster like Dan
Ryan, or Eli Flair."

"That's a hundred seventy pounds, and now that you bring up Ryan, why don't you call him and ask him how it felt to lose to me. I hear he's Mr. Big Shot in CSWA right now, and quite deservingly might I add."

"I'm sure wherever he took that fall wasn't..."

"The so-called "big leagues"? I love it. You're so completely blind to anything beyond yourself."


"The business is changing and you can't see it."

"Blind? Hardly. For fifteen years I've stayed two steps ahead of the business, darlin'. If you do have some in-ring skills they could take you over huge as a manager. A body like that flaunting around the ring fully capable of handling herself...we could go far."

"I'm more than just a pretty face, Joseph. Maybe if you took your blinders off long enough, you'd see that. And you didn't just say "we"..."

"Yes, we. If you tone down the hostility a bit, the two of us could sell out arenas. I've worked with all kinds, but never a body that gave me so much to play off of."

She couldn't believe he was suggesting this. Over her dead body...

"You're got a poster of Ike Turner on your wall don't you? There's no we Melton. Never has been. Never will be."

"Think about it. I'm offering you a major opportunity to get out of the Smith's backyard promotion and work in the NFW, and the CSWA."

"When I make it to those promotions it'll be on the strength of my own hands, and my reputation as a worker."

"Manage me Troy," Melton shot back not even listening to her latest point, "Give it six months and we'll be rakin' in money hand over fist."

"I don't need the money, and if I did, it wouldn't be enough to put up with you."

"Well I do! Is that what you want to hear?"

The man is desperate. His tone is pleading. Just hearing him admit that he needs her in some sort of way, thus far, has made her night.

"As thrilling as this has been Joseph," she folds her arms over her chest, and smirks. "You need to leave."

"Manage me, Lindsay. Please."





"Melton, no!"

"Troy, Yes!"






"HA! Verbal contract right there!"


As Troy's head does a double take Carlton, menu flying out of his hand, rushes to the scene.

"You've got a witness Mister Melton!"

No. Nononononononononono....

"You asses! You've been PLANNING this! You have GOT to be kidding me!"

"You just said yes."

"I said---"

"The local ads running here for your charity work list you as a woman of your word. I'd hate to tell all the rejects it's not true. What kind of message would that send?"

"This is not a binding contract!"

Melton points to Carlton. "I've got a witness."

She hates her life.


Troy places her head in her hands, defeated. She hates the two of them more now than she did twenty minutes ago.

They'll pay for this...

Behind Melton, there's some sort of commotion. People gasp, and chairs are moved.

Someone's walking this way.

Troy lifts her eyes, and a look of recognition crosses her face.

Melton should have left when he had the chance...

"Well dear, it's been a real slice of heaven as usual." Joey smirks, and Carlton approves. "I'll be calling you with the specifics. Say...tomorrow around eleven-ish?"

"I don't think you'll be making it until then," a deep voice behind Joey and Carlton says, with cooling anger.

Carlton whips around, looking to defend Mister Melton, but does a double take of his own. He cowers back towards Troy, who shoves him away from her.

"Oh, really?" Melton quips. With a smug look across his face, he turns in his seat to face the voice behind him.

He has to look way, way up...

Standing behind Melton is a giant of a man wearing an all-black, tailored, 3-piece Armani suit, which fits him quite nicely, taking into account his broad shoulders and massive arms. His jet-black hair falls past his shoulders, and his ice-blue eyes eye Melton with a quiet, seething, hatred.

"If you'd like me to leave your 911 dialing finger intact, you'd do well to get out of my seat."

Melton turns back to face Troy, who has an “I told you so” look across her face.

Evil woman, thinks Melton to himself. Oh, the fun they're going to have...

He's snapped out of his thoughts by the jerking of his chair. A hand encloses around his throat, and Melton is no longer facing Troy. Instead, he's being lifted into the air.

The situation has just turned ugly.

Carlton shrieks and Troy springs to her feet. Melton's no more than a few inches out of the chair, but the look on his face is priceless.

She steps over to the man and runs her hand along his bicep, all the while looking Melton square in the eye. "Love, is this any way to treat a simple restaurant worker? He was merely keeping me company while I waited for you. And besides," she smirks wickedly at Melton, "the poor dear just got fired tonight."

Oooooh, she makes his blood boil.

"I believe I heard enough of the prior conversation to form my own conclusions about this man." The hand around Melton's throat holds tighter. "I wonder if he knows what entrapment is."

"It's not entrapment if a law hasn't been broken!" yelled Carlton, still on the floor, still cowering. Pleasepleaseplease don't go after me. I'm too
young to die. Who would take care of Momma...?

"Darling," said Troy, soothingly, "we were merely talking about the next charity case I was about to take on."

"And what case would that be, love?"

"Why him, of course."

Melton crashes to the floor, having been released from the hold, his breathing clear of any obtrusions. He coughs violently. Troy continues.

"Naturally, at first, I wasn't so sure about the idea, but I'm not the kind of person to just turn away a cry for help when it comes crawling and begging for my mercy. It would be ever so horrid of me not to help Joey Melton get back on his feet. He has nothing to live for except for my
kindness and generosity."

The stranger glares down at Melton before smirking in approval. He casts his gaze to Troy and wraps his arms around her waist. "Sometimes even I think you're too nice." He kisses her lightly.

What Joey wouldn't give to drink from her lips. Just once. The taste must be sweeter than any wine.

Melton gets to his feet and helps Carlton to his. Troy and her companion part, and she looks over to Joey.

"Joey dear, you might want to push that phone call back to around 1:00. I might not be awake until then." Troy lightly smiles and waves her fingers slightly, signaling him to leave.

Melton and Carlton move to leave but not before Melton arrogantly bumps into his dark-suited counterpart. The two quickly scamper off before any more motion in their direction is made.

"Can you BELIEVE that man?” Carlton asks, his backbone returning now that he and his idol are out of harm’s way, safely occupying the curb in front of the entrance, “Putting his hands on you like that? MISTER MELTON, I assure you, if I was in any position to stand up to that man..."

Carlton brushes himself off.

"Yes Carlton, you would have. Momma would have wanted you to." Melton loosens his tie and throws it to the ground. He unbuttons the top two buttons of his shirt and fixes his collar. Two women eye him favorably as they walk past.

"That man would NOT have had Momma's approval. The NERVE of him..."

"I wonder, Carlton," Melton said, looking longingly after the two women, sizing them up. "Would Momma have approved of this?"

Melton reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out a wallet. He opens it up and flashes the driver's license to Carlton.

It's not Melton's wallet.

Before Carlton can get a good read of the name, Melton reaches into the billfold and pulls out a wad of cash. He closes the wallet and walks over to one of the valets standing by the door.

"Be a good man, son," Melton says, and hands him the wallet. “Give this to the gentleman sitting in the very back corner of the restaurant, and tell him I said thanks for the cab money."

The valet takes the wallet and darts back inside the restaurant. Joey turns back to Carlton and winks.

"And we're off..."

*Co-written by The Queen*

08-31-03, 09:08 PM
I'm still afraid.