They sat together with the lights off for half an hour before either of them spoke. Prewitt kept a towel over his face for good measure, left hand securing a Ziplock bag of ice cubes over his knee. Castle didn’t have any war wounds like that, but he couldn’t stand up from his chair. It creaked under his bulk.
“I need something slower,” Prewitt told him from under the towel. “I can’t keep up.”
“Yeah?” Castle gave a one-note laugh. “Like what?”
“I was thinking about stabbing you in the back.”
“That’s nice of you.”
“I mean like Shakespeare.”
“Shakespeare didn’t stab anybody in the back.”
“We’ll start as best friends, see.” Prewitt unironically raised his hands in front of his covered face, drawing thumbs and forefingers into the shape of a picture frame. “We’ve already run together before. That time The Dragon tried to throw you off the roof, I ran in and helped save you.”
“I said ‘Thank you,’ right?”
Prewitt would not be deterred. One hand raised the towel so he could look his best-friend-slash-victim in the eyes. “Every week we’ll have some girls come out with us. We’ll be a team, and you do half the work, and I do the other half. After a few weeks, we find a girl you really like. You pretty much fall in love with her. We phase out the other valets, and she’s your one-and-only.”
“Why would any man turn this down?”
“But you’re all shy. After a month, every time we appear, she’s leaning towards me. I get grabby and possessive. Some weeks you work alone with her and me outside, and I’m clearly hitting on her. You can’t tell her how you feel, so you tell me to back off. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose, because what’s going on between us is more interesting.”
“I would like to win more.”
“Maybe that’s your frustration, right? Because you keep losing, even when we’re teaming together, and I’m always walking off with your girl. And you snap and toss me to the ground, maybe even sock me one.” Prewitt punched the end of his towel, letting it flap in defeat. “And I seem all devastated because I didn’t know you cared that much.”
“We should talk more. Communication is important in relationships.”
“The next week, I’m all business. We win for sure. We win three weeks in a row, the pay days are huge, and you’re telling me if we take gold, then you’re going to tell her how you feel. I’m all excited for you.”
“Except you’re not.”
“Except I’m not!” Prewitt slapped his bag of ice, then jolted from the realization of pain. His voice calmed as he laid both hands over the bag, massaging himself with cold. “We go to a title match, and we fight hard, and you come from behind, and you’re about to win, and I stab you right in the back.”
Castle made fists of his gnarled hands. “I swear vengeance. Like Shakespeare.”
“You bet your ass you do. But that valet you’re sweet on comes out with both of us. She has such a hard time choosing sides. One week she’s with me, the next with you, and she asks you not to hurt me too bad. Then when we finally fight, she trips you. Costs you the fight. You’re heartbroken. You leave wrestling forever.”
“Forever?” Castle scoffed and moved to sit up, except his back was still locked up. He grunted in horrid pain.
“For a couple months while you rest your sciatica. I drum up as much hatred as I can as the jerk who stabbed his friend in the back and stole his girl. Wrestle all lazy since I’m a scumbag bad guy. Maybe take a title. When you’re ready?”
“I come back and chase you,” Castle said to the ceiling, unable to adjust and face his nemesis this instant. “I’m going to rip your head off for what you did to me.”
Prewitt leaned over, one hand on his Ziplock bag, the other searching until he clasped Castle’s. They shook. It was guaranteed money and it would only cost them their friendship.