Just as he was about to turn off the car and head in, a loud voice boomed through the speakers. "One of you lucky listeners is about to win the prize of a lifetime!" "LIFETIME!" The radio echoed. "One of you will get to battle next week at Wrestlemania... in the ring..." *DING* "with Chris Jericho!"
Carlton paused, listening intently as the echoes of "JERICHO!!!" filled his car. He'd always been a closet wrestling fan, and had only recently admitted it to Marlowe after she'd told him she liked it too.
"Be caller number five to win!"
Carlton quickly grabbed his phone out, only to drop it and have it land on the other side of the car. "Crap!" He fumbled to get his seatbelt off and dove on the passenger's seat to reach for it. Triumphantly his long arms were able to grab it and he started dialing. It was busy the first time, so he tried again.
"Sorry! You're caller number four. Try again!"
He did, four more times, but each was a busy signal. Finally he admitted defeat and left his car before hearing what lucky schmuck won. Slightly sulking and grumbling about how those radio prices are a scam to get more listeners, he sulked into the precinct.
"Chief?" Buzz tentatively knocked and peeked in Carlton's office, obviously noticing he was in a foul mood for most of the morning.
Carlton looked up from his work and gave an overly harsh, "What?"
Before the Jr. Detective could reply, Shawn and Gus walked in. Gus was in his usual casual business attire and Shawn, or what he assumed was Shawn, was in a spandex Lucha Libre outfit complete with a green cape and mask.
Carlton gaped at the spectacle in front of him. "Spencer, why in the name of sin are you dressed in that... thing?"
"Wrestlemania!" Shawn bellowed throwing his arms above him in victory before being slapped in the side by Gus. "What? Too much?" Gus glared and nodded while Buzz, still in the office, was forcing himself not to laugh.
After closing his eyes, biting his lip, taking a deep breath, and pinching his nose, Carlton looked behind the trio to see if his old partner had come with them. He doubted it because she never would have let him even think about wearing that getup if she had been there. "What are you doing in Santa Barbara? Is everything okay with O'Hara?"
In a Spanish accent, Shawn stated "It isn't Spencer. It is Senior Calcetín!... and Jules is fine." Shawn waved his hand dismissively.
Gus glowered at Shawn. "You know calcetín means 'sock' right?"
Shawn's mouth twitched, as if he didn't know it had meant sock, but Carlton figured he knew what was coming next. "Your face is a sock."
Finally coming from around the desk, Carlton put his arms around the two friends and began leading them out of his office. "You know, as much as I love having you here interrupting my work..."
Ducking out from under his arm with a flourish of his cape, Shawn was suddenly facing him again. "Hey, I know you're all busy with the paperwork, the bills, and stuff," Carlton rolled his eyes and released Gus with his other arm, not rising to the bait of Shawn implying that he was a desk jockey. "-but I came here to invite you to see me fight Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania!"
He felt the blood rush from his face and hoped the others didn't see it.
"Youw22; You won the radio contest this morning?" Of all the people in the whole city, the whole surrounding area... it was Shawn that won it. Carlton didn't know why he was surprised anymore.
With only what Carlton would guess was a giant smile behind his mask, Shawn shouted, "Great! You heard of it! So will you and Marlowe come? I can invite up to five friends! My dad is already coming and-"
Cutting him off, Carlton quickly stated, "I don't know. I'm really busy."
He suddenly had a hand around his shoulder and Shawn gave it a comforting squeeze. "Oh come ooon! Jules says you've been stressed lately. You need a break."
Carlton made a mental note to tell his former partner not to share their conversations with her fiancé.
"C'mon Shawn. He doesn't want to go." Gus nodded his head towards the exit before facing the Junior Detective. "We'll ask Detective Dobson if he wants to go."
"Well hold on a minute." He'd be damned if Dobson was going to take his place at a wrestling match. Christ, what am I about to myself into? "I'll see what Marlowe says, but I don't know if we can find a babysitter on such short notice."
Buzz raised his hand, "Francine and I can take her."
Carlton blinked in surprise. "You'd do that?"
"Yeah." Buzz nodded with a smile. "I have the night off and Francine loves her." His heart melted slightly at the Detective's generosity at giving up a Sunday off to help him out.
"Great!" Shawn released him. "Jules will be glad, I think. I still have to tell her, but I'm sure it will be okay."
Carlton rolled his eyes. Of course Shawn would buy a suit, pick a name, and invite everyone else before telling her. "Okay. I'll ask Marlowe tonight. Now I've got things to do. important things, so out!" Shawn left but before Gus was out the door Carlton pulled him aside. "Make sure O'Hara knows about this before the day of the fight."
"You know that's right." Gus nodded.
"Come on Gus! Olé!" Shawn yelled from the other end of the bullpen, where he was getting some very interesting looks. Most of them knew Shawn and his antics, but hot green spandex was a new one on everyone.
"Good luck." Carlton patted Gus on the back as he followed after his slightly insane friend. He then went to his desk and sat down before giving an exasperated sigh. Shawn always seemed to have some kind of divine luck to be in the right place at the right time. Just once Carlton wanted to have something cool happen to him. He just had to
come to terms that he was going to that event, because he knew what would
happen if he asked Marlowe anyway.
It would be a big, fat, excited...
"YES! Oh my God Carlton WRESTLEMANIA!!" Marlowe squealed happily and hugged him. "I've always wanted to go to that since I was a kid!"
"Alright, alright. I'll let Spencer know we're in." He gave her a small peck on the nose before releasing her. There was no going back on his word now or she'd be absolutely crushed.
Below them, Lily made an excited nose and looked up at them with wide eyes. She'd obviously seen her mother was happy and wanted in on the action. He picked her up and handed her to Marlowe who was giving him a funny look.
"What's wrong? You love wrestling." She put a hand on his face. "Don't you want to go?"
"It's just, I tried for the contest and Spencer - You know what, never mind. I'm sure we'll have a great time." Carlton smiled and tried to change the subject. "Anyway, it's this Sunday and McNabb said he'd watch her while we were gone."
"Wait, he's not going to..." She covered Lily's eyes and made an angry 'rawr' face.
Carlton smiled at how cute she looked when she did that. "McNabb knows that if he does that again he'd be demoted to cleaning toilets. I think we're safe."
"Good." She smiled and turned with Lily, heading towards the living room. "We have some wrestling to brush up on. I'll teach you how to do a Suplex when you're older."
Carlton snorted in amusement as he watched them go. Then his chest tightened up again. If she was this excited just to go, imagine how off the moon she would be if he'd gotten to wrestle Chris Jericho himself. With his good mood ruined again, he turned to his work room and decided he'd put a few more names on his criminal wall to help him feel better.
Wrestlemania was packed. People from all around the world, of all ages were rushing to get to their seats. It was already almost show time by the time the group got to their own section. Henry, Juliet, Gus, Carlton and Marlowe spotted their seats were in the front row, with five blocked off for them as Shawn promised. Shawn himself had been at the stadium since the afternoon. Supposedly he had some practice work to do before the actual fight.
"Finally. Took us long enough to get through that throng." Carlton grumped. "If you would have been able to pick something to wear, we would have gotten here faster."
Henry frowned and looked at his Undertaker T-shirt. "I had to find the right one. Besides, you took long enough at the snack aisle. What were you ordering? Steak well done?"
Glaring Carlton just sat down. He'd actually seen a few men near the concession stand, hiding in the corner reaching into their pockets and pulling out money. He'd stalled and stayed there to watch them, just in case they were selling drugs, but it ended up being wrestling cards in the end. However, Carlton wasn't going to tell anyone that. Least of all Henry.
"Oh come on Carlton. Don't be such a grump!" Marlowe smacked him in the arm lightly. "Just because you wanted to win that silly contest doesn't mean you can't be happy for him."
Carlton froze and out of the corner of his eye saw all three people to the left of him turn their heads to stare in shocked awe. "Wait a minute, you called in for that too? That's messed up." Gus said with a
mouth full of fries.
"Wait," Juliet looked at him quizzically. "Is that why you've been sulking since I got here this morning? Shawn said he thought it was because you didn't want to come."
"NO! I just..." Carlton sighed. "Can we just please watch the match?" It was getting hard to hear anyway with the commentators starting up their banter. Besides he hadn't exactly been rude to Shawn, more short than anything, but he'd been doing his best to hide his disappointment.
Marlowe turned to him with one of her determined frowns. "Carlton, Shawn has enough problems worrying about the match. He doesn't need to fret over you not having fun. I want you to say you're sorry and tell him the truth."
Nooooo. Anything but that. He whined internally and turned to Marlowe. "C'mon. Spencer doesn't care that much. He just wants to have people to show off to."
"Carlton." Marlowe huffed out, annoyed.
"Carlton!" Both Juliet and Marlowe were turned to him. Staring him down from both sides.
He looked down the row at and locked eyes at Henry, silently begging for help.
"Don't look at me." Henry held up his hands.
"Alright fine." Marlowe's face instantly lit up and she gave him a kiss on the cheek before he stood and took out his backstage pass. "But I'm telling you he's probably forgotten all about it by now."
He caught the knowing look Henry, Gus and Juliet shared. He got the familiar nagging feeling that he really should have listened to Shawn's goodbye disc all the way through, before heading off towards the dressing rooms.
Carlton knocked before he peeked around the corner into Shawn's dressing room. He'd already gotten an eyeful of the detective just in the costume, but he didn't want to chance seeing him naked either. He stepped further in and he saw it was empty. Oddly, the costume was still on the hanger, and Shawn was nowhere to be found. He looked at his watch and saw they had less than five minutes before he was called out.
"Spencer?!" He shouted, hoping that Shawn was just in the bathroom having second thoughts rather than believing the twinge in his gut that something was very wrong.
He didn't even get half a chance to worry, because as soon as he stepped into the dressing room, something hard hit his head. His face smashed on the floor as he landed, and just before he passed out he felt something tugged over his head as his attacker began to smother him.
Carlton came to slowly. His head felt ten times bigger than it should have, but he was alive and that was a good starting point. He was laying on his back and had something stuck on his head, restricting his vision.
"What the heck?" He rose to his feet, and grabbed the chair next to him as the world spun. Before he could get his bearings, a woman with a clipboard and two burly men entered the room.
"Shawn Spencer." She looked up and gave him a weird look. "Okay, a suit. Interesting choice with the mask. It's going to be hard fighting in slacks, but to each his own I guess."
Carlton looked down, and realized that the smothering sensation had been someone shoving the mask on his head. He was happy to see his attacker hadn't stripped him as well as shoving the ridiculous mask on his face. Wait a minute, did she just call me Spencer? "Woah, wait I -" Before he could finish,
she was heading out the door and the men were pushing him through it.
"I hope you're ready, we're running late as it is and Chris can only keep them entertained for so long." She continued to lead the way through the maze that was their backstage, leading them past wrestlers and make up artists.
"Hey, good luck out there man!"
He tried to keep track of things but each movement made his headache and his legs go weak. Damn I've probably got a concussion. "Wait, someone hit me..."
One of the men beside him gave him a concerned look. "You alright, dude?"
Carlton couldn't answer before a chorus of mariachi music and fireworks went off in his face. They were at the top of the ramp, facing the audience and the ring where Chris Jericho was already waiting.
"You're on." The woman nodded and the men hauled him out to the announcement of Shawn's wrestling name.
"Let's give it up for El Calcetín Locoooo!"
He reached for the mask to pull it off and stop this stupidness, but his hands were grabbed by the men and they practically dragged him down the walkway to the ring. "Come on, act it up just like we practiced, Shawn."
"Let me go! I'm the Chief of Police!" He kept trying to explain to the men as the commentators in the background were busy chatting about the fight.
"This is an unprecedented match Michael. This is the first time they've allowed a civilian to fight in the ring with one of our wrestlers."
"I just hope he doesn't get killed out there."
"Killed? What?!" Carlton exclaimed as he was finally brought up the steps to the ring and helped through the ropes. "Guys, there's been a huge mistake." The men just gave him a quick, hidden thumbs up as they headed back up the ramp, their cargo delivered.
"A mask and a suit?" He turned to see Chris Jericho already looking him up and down. "You look like a stupid idiot in that thing!"
Carlton tried to reason with him. "Listen... I really shouldn't be in here. I'm not Shawn Spencer. You got the wrong guy!"
Jericho leaned in and whispered, "It's okay, everyone gets the jitters. I'll go easy on you."
"What are you tryin' to do? Chicken out on me? You really don't want to do that.... I'll put you on my list!" The crowd went wild at the prospect as Jericho pointed a finger at Carlton menacingly, "Now it's just you-" then pointed at himself, "and me, hombre."
The bell went off and the crowd went wild.
Jericho made the first move. He ran at Carlton, poised for a grapple. Carlton dodged the blow but the wrestler grabbed his arm and flung him at the ropes like a ragdoll. He bounced off and ran right into Jericho's waiting arm.
It felt more like a push to the ground, but with Carlton's aching head it made things start to spin again and he hit the mat with a loud "Ooof!" before Jericho dragged him up for another walloping.
In the background, the announcers weren't helping any. Narrating every blow, every kick and hold Carlton was manhandled into.
"OH MY GOD! He's doing the Breakdown!" They announced as he was tripped, slamming face first into the mat.
"No... he can't be!" One of them exclaimed, "He's really gonna do it!"
No! Please don't do it. Carlton silently begged as he felt his legs being
"YES! He's doing the Wall of Jericho! Oh no! He's going to be feeling that in the morning!"
Carlton could definitely tell the professional wrestler was holding back, but it didn't stop his breath from being taken away as he was basically folded in half and sat on.
"GAAAAAAAA!!!!" His howl of pain was more high pitched than he would have liked, but at that point he didn't care. Forcing your legs down so far they touch your back will do that.
"C'mon Honey Bear! Get up!" Marlowe's encouragement rang through the throng of cheers. "Kick his ass!"
The embarrassment that he was being beaten up in front of all his friends notwithstanding, he couldn't face being pummeled to death in front of the love of his life. I'm going to kill you for this, Spencer. It somehow had to be all Shawn's fault for getting him in this situation. Somehow.
Jericho quickly stood up and circled him as his legs dropped and he had the blissful experience of laying flat again. "C'mon you wimp. Show me something!"
Come on! You're a veteran cop and a police chief! You've been shot, stabbed, had a broken clavicle... you can do this! Isn't this what you wanted anyway? Now get up and show him! Carlton took a deep breath to clear his head, and stared to rise.
"Who you calling a wimp, you over muscled miscreant." Carlton sniped, standing tall and looking down at Jericho. The crowd went absolutely wild. His friends screaming the loudest.
Jericho's eyebrows rose as Carlton charged, hitting him low in his firm midsection. The wrestler wasn't expecting it and he ended up going down hard. Carlton jumped over him as Jericho tried to grab his leg and bring him down too. Jericho may have been muscular, but he wasn't all that fast.
As the wrestler got to his feet, Carlton used all his might to grab his arm and toss him to the corner of the ring. Jericho hit it with a painful sounding *thwap* and he fell straight down to the floor. Carlton ended up taking two steps towards the downed man and a wave of dizziness hit him so hard it brought him to his knees and he put his palm against his head. Don't pass out, don't pass out.
By the time he looked back up, Jericho wasn't on the mat anymore. "Oh crap." Glancing upwards, Carlton saw the other man was on the top rope looking down with an angry glare. Jericho jumped high, heading straight for him when Carlton had the presence of mind to roll out of the way.
The police chief made it, just barely, and he felt the whole mat shake with Jericho's hard landing. Carlton expected another blow to come, but it didn't. Chris Jericho lay still on the mat, seemingly out for the count. He staggered forward and slumped over the prone wrestler.
The ref was there in less than a second. "One! Two!"
Before three, Carlton felt his leg being pulled and he was hauled off of Jericho.
"Aw come on!" He complained and a blurry figure with long brown hair dropped his foot and rushed over to Jericho. As his vision cleared he saw the brunette was a very familiar statuesque woman.
"This can't be happening! Stephanie McMahon just pulled El Calcetín off Jericho! She’s coming to his aid!" The commentator shouted wildly.
Stephanie McMahon, the heir to the wrestling throne and real life wife of wrestler Triple H. "Ho-ly-crap."
"Ooooo… she looks angry, Mike!"
The cheering reached new heights and he could barely make out someone calling his name repeatedly. "Marlowe?" He looked around but being in the center ring made him discombobulated and he couldn’t tell where their seats had been.
Apparently Stephanie already had a mic on, because her taunting voice boomed over the loudspeakers. "You may have broken Jericho, but I doubt a skinny man like you can take me on."
Carlton looked up with wide eyes and got to his knees, grabbing the ropes for support. "I’m not," with one last grunt of effort he pulled himself to his feet, "hitting a woman." Least of all one married to a man as big as a Mac truck.
"Oh, you won’t hit a woman, huh?" She spun in a circle, playing up the crowd. "Well, I sure as hell am gonna hit you! Let's go bean pole!" Quick as a whip she reached out and grabbed his arm, swinging him to the ropes. He knew what was coming, so he caught himself before he could make the return trip.
"Geez lady!" He hung on for dear life as she came at him from the other side of the ring.
"HEY!" Stephanie stopped short and twirled around to see none other than Marlowe standing in the ring and glaring angrily at her. "Get away from him, you bitch!"
Stephanie looked taken aback. "Wait, this isn't in the script."
Carlton gawked at her disbelievingly. "And everything else was?"
Marlowe squared off with Stephanie, who seemed unsure as to what is going on. However, the cameras were still rolling and it was a live show so she seemed to be playing along. His wife rushed the wrestler and gave her a good jab in the ribs before Marlowe's hair was grabbed and she was slammed to the mat.
By now, the commentators had just caught up with Marlowe's grand entrance. "It's pandemonium in here tonight ladies and gentlemen! Fans are storming the ring and challenging the wrestlers!"
"This is unbelievable!"
Wait, fans? As in more than one?
Sure enough, he looked down and Henry was on his side of the ring. "Lassiter! Are you alright?"
"I don't think so. What the hell is going on?!"
"Juliet and Gus went to go look for Shawn. We thought he had talked you into this, but Juliet could tell something was wrong." Henry explained before glancing into the ring in time to see Marlowe roll to her feet and wipe a smear of blood away from her lip. "Get her on the ropes, Marlowe!"
With a war cry rivaling the ancient Valkyries, she charged and Stephanie dodged only to be caught by her arm as his wife bounced off the ropes and clotheslined her so hard she flipped to her back and did not get up.
Carlton's jaw dropped. "Wow."
Breathing hard, Marlowe bent over, grabbed under Stephanie's leg and pinned her. At first the ref didn't know what to do, until Marlowe's seething glare in his direction sent him into action.
"One! Two! Three!" The crowd chanted along.
The bells sounded as Marlowe stumbled to her feet and had her arm raised in victory. Carlton thought the wide and satisfied smile on her face made it all worth it.
The commentators were absolutely beside themselves. "She won! The fan from the audience beat Stephanie McMahon!"
"Does that mean she gets the title Michael?" The commentators continued arguing as officials and security started to run down to the ring and immediately began checking on both Jericho, who had started to get up already, and Stephanie who was still groaning on the mat.
Meanwhile, Marlowe had slid next to Carlton and was cradling his head in her hands. "My poor Carlton! Are you alright?"
"Baby, you just wrestled Stephanie McMahon for me." Carlton hugged her back, and loving this woman more than he had before. A second later a security guard walked up to them, not looking pleased.
"Mr. Spencer, what just happened? Why did you go off script?"
"For the last time, I'm not Spencer!" Carlton reached up and finally ripped the mask off his head and threw it on the ground.
Jericho, who was being helped to his feet, saw the whole thing. "That isn't Shawn Spencer; what the hell is going on here?" Everyone froze and looked at Carlton as the depth of the disaster that had just happened started to sink in.
Henry shook his head and glared at Carlton, "You really should have done that sooner, Lassiter."
"Shut up Spencer."
One Month Later:
After the smoke cleared, Carlton ended up spending two days in the hospital, and another two recovering at home from a concussion and some pulled muscles. Shawn had fared slightly worse with his own concussion. He'd been found by Juliet and Gus in one of the back offices, bludgeoned in the head. He was rushed to the hospital but everyone said he would be fine. Carlton was convinced it was his hard head that deflected most of the blow.
It had taken all of those four days to piece together what had happened to cause one of the worst foul-ups in WWE history. He'd found out most while he was in the hospital after they'd caught one of the officials named Simon Sands trying to escape out the back of the arena. Apparently during his rehearsal, Shawn had seen some shady dealings and money changing hands and was in the process of looking into it when he was caught by the shady official and subsequently knocked out.
It had been Juliet who had given Carlton the rundown of events.
"Our best guess is that since the guest fight was the highlight of the evening, if Shawn missed his match, Sands knew he would be caught, so he hit you and got you to take Shawn's place. With the mask, no one ever noticed it was you, and we had no idea it wasn't planned."
"Great." Carlton had just been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"What about everything else?" Marlowe asked, "Them dragging Carlton out? Stephanie getting into the ring? What was all that?"
Carlton looked to his former partner. He was burning with curiosity too. "That Sands guy must have told them to get me to the ring at all costs so he could make his get away clean. The conniving rat."
"Actually that..." Juliet looked sheepishly at them, "was Shawn's idea."
Both Carlton and Marlowe stared at her in disbelief.
Juliet quickly explained with a painful smile. "He told them he wanted to be dragged out and thrown in the ring... you know, El Calcetín Loco?"
The Crazy Sock. Sounds like Spencer alright.
His face warped into a disgusted frown despite Juliet's best efforts to explain the lunatic she had promised the rest of her life to. "That's your fiancé."
The WWE had sent their condolences for the mix up, and had their lawyers talk to both men about what could be done to alleviate what could be a giant lawsuit. Since Carlton had never signed any of the waivers Shawn had, and one of their employees had assaulted their would be guest wrestler it could have been very expensive for the company. Much to the WWE's relief, both men realized it was an honest mistake and neither had intended to sue. However, Shawn ended up getting a lifetime of backstage and season passes to any WWE event and he was in seventh heaven.
Carlton, on the other hand, had gratefully accepted their offer of ten grand towards his daughter's college education, but he had one more request for Chris Jericho that the wrestler hadn't been able to refuse.
"Hello SBPD!" Chris Jericho shouted into the microphone. His rock band, Fozzy, stood directly behind him. The officers gathering at the small venue they'd picked cheered excitedly. "You ready to rock? Sing along if you know this one!"
Chief Carlton stood in his uniform near the back watching the festivities with a satisfied smirk.
"So, how does it feel to be one of the coolest police chiefs in the world?" Juliet asked as she stood beside him, watching the fun. She was also making sure Shawn didn't get into any trouble as he and Gus rocked out on the dance floor next to Marlowe and Henry. The latter was dressed in the Chris Jericho shirt Shawn had gotten for him out of his deal. Shawn himself was in the green Lucha Libre wrestling outfit he'd never gotten to wear at Wrestlemania. It was sure to traumatize someone, but at that point Carlton was too happy to care.
"It's just a concert, O'Hara." Carlton shrugged, but the grin never left his face.
"Oh come on. Let's do this!" She grabbed his hand and dragged him out on the floor to the rest of the group as Fozzy played the introduction to their song, 'Sandpaper.'
As they danced, Carlton leaned in to talk to Shawn. "I've been meaning to say, I'm sorry for being a poor sport at the match."
Shawn held up a hand. "No need to apologize, man. Things worked out." Carlton nodded and was about to go back to dancing when Shawn continued. "Besides, I never would have gotten the highlight reel I'm about to show if this hadn't happened."
Carlton grit his teeth and knew he was turning red. "You didn't."
"Oh yeah. I did." With a devilish grin so big Carlton could still see it behind the mask, Shawn signaled the stage and as the band ended their song, a screen dropped. It immediately began showing the part of the match where Carlton's face hit the floor after Jericho had hit him with the Breakdown.
The officers cheered and hooted. Yells of "Go Chief!" and "Ooooo!" filled the room.
"DAMN IT, SPENCER!" Carlton hollered before taking off after the now running detective.
"El Calcetín Loco strikes again!"
"I'll show you a Breakdown, you little-!"
"No no! It's all supposed to be kayfabe! Remember wrestling isn't real! OW! Gus help!"