Slaying the Dragon
Halitosis, his wife Laura Bergman, Matt the Manager, Cue-Card Guy, and the Two Scriptwriters follow the red brick walkway known as Campus Drive an hour following the end of the MVWA 90 super show at the Joseph Gentile Arena in Chicago, Illinois.
Halitosis went to the show to visit with a few friends who he hadn’t seen in a while. He also wanted to watch what he’d thought would be a kick-ass main event in Charlie Blackwell versus William Daniels Bryan- two of Missouri Valley Wrestling’s most gifted technical wrestlers. In that regards, he left the Gentile Arena a little underwhelmed by the match- Bryan’s first big match since returning from a bad leg injury that put him on the shelf for several months. And it showed. Bryan’s in-ring speed was a half-step slower than Blackwell’s.
After the show, Halitosis visited with and caught up with friends backstage.
Now outside and looking up in the bright sky, Halitosis thought to himself it was ‘strange’ how light the sky appeared at eleven o’clock at night. And it’s not just the city lights either. The sky resembles late afternoon light conditions.
Halitosis shrugs and continues down the walk way. He doesn’t give the light skies a whole lot more thought- that is, until suddenly the skies begin to turn black.
The Masked Luchador with Insanely Poor Oral Hygiene whips around. A huge storm suddenly whips up and forms right over the campus of Loyola of Chicago University.
The wind starts to pick up. He sees lightning off in the distance.
Laura grabs Halitosis and holds on to his arm.
Laura Bergman: Honey, we’d better get to the car now.
Halitosis looks up at the sky. It has become jet black with an evil looking greenish-tinge. The storm above continues to strength at frightening speed and progresses past mere severe thunderstorm level towards apocalyptic event full of fire and brimstone.
Seriously, what the hell is going on here?
Halitosis: Yeah, that’s probably a good idea.
Flashs of lightning fire off in multiple bursts. Everyone braces themselves for the epic downpour of all downpours that’s surely on its way.
Laura Bergman: We should probably run for it.
Halitosis: Yeah, that’s probably a good idea too-
Something streaks through the air flying dangerously low at extremely high speed with the sound, power and the fury of a jet airliner, and not just an airliner but one of those 737 airbuses. The ground reverberates while the group of six desperately search the sky for any sign of the supersonic thing that just buzzed them.
Halitosis decides that he’s not sure what’s out there- but chances are it’s going to be a hell of a lot safer being inside a vehicle versus staying outside in the elements. He tugs on Laura’s coat and turns back to the others.
Halitosis: RUN FOR THE VAN!
While the maelstrom continues to intensify, the six take off on a dead sprint across the green space south of the arena called the West Quad. They make it about fifty feet into the open field…
Again, the ground shakes and knocks everyone off their stride. This time, Halitosis notices a small streak of fire emanating from whatever is flying low at extreme high speed.
But that does not slow him or the group down. They continue to sprint at full speed across the green field towards a nearby on campus parking garage where the van is.
Matt the Manager turns to the scriptwriters as if he’s expecting them to come up with a line from him to say. The scriptwriters both shoot an incredulous look back at him- like are you kidding? They weren’t writing anything right now. Cue-Card Guy had long since tossed his cue-cards away in the mad scramble.
Laura nearly trips and falls. Halitosis pulls on her arm and manages to help her keep upright and balanced.
The group reflexively ducks again.
Cue-Card Guy: What the hell is that?
Halitosis: KEEP GOING! WE’RE ALMOST THERE!
With the parking garage tantalizingly mere hundreds of feet away and all six in a dead sprint, a huge dark object suddenly materializes directly in front of them and blocks the entrance.
The group come to a screeching halt. Halitosis’s jaw drops. There’s no way through.
Halitosis: Oh. My. God.
In front of them? Well, it looks like a dragon of some sort.
No freakin’ way.
Halitosis blinks his eyes rapidly as if doing so will make the horrible image staring right at him go away as if it’s just something created by his imagination. He reopens his eyes and looks again.
It’s still there.
Halitosis: This has got to be a bad dream.
The dragon moves closer.
That really gets everyone’s attention. Halitosis notices something familiar about the creature. No, it wasn’t the fact that he binge watched an entire year’s worth of Game of Thrones the night before. No, the thing resembled someone. The sharp features. The pointy teeth. The menacing and insane look on the dragon’s face.
Halitosis: Say, you don’t know the Prime Minister of Maxopotamia by chance do y-
Laura slides in and hides behind her husband.
Laura Bergman: Honey. Just breathe on it.
Laura Bergman is Halitosis’s closest confidante and usually smart as a whip- unfortunately, this wasn’t one of those times. Halitosis’s response is more than a little sarcastic and even borderline caustic for him.
Halitosis: Oh yeah, I’m just going to breathe on it.
Halitosis closes his eyes and shakes his head.
Halitosis: Somehow, I don’t think my bad breath is going to w-
Dragon: BAD BREATH? You think YOU’VE got bad breath?
The dragon takes to the air again.
Cue-Card Guy: Oh oh.
Scriptwriter #1: What is he doing?
Halitosis has a ‘master of the obvious’ moment.
Halitosis: I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
The dragon eases his head forward and snarls.
Dragon: I’ll show you what bad breath is!
Halitosis closes his eyes, says a quick prayer, and braces himself for the worst.
A huge explosion rocks the area. The shock wave from the blast knocks Halitosis and the others off their feet. Everyone tumbles to the ground and roll for several feet. When they finally come to a stop, they look back at the source of the eruption.
The entire parking garage is ablaze.
Halitosis grabs Laura by the hand.
He literally drags Laura back to her feet and takes off in the other direction.
The Quinlan Life Science Education and Research Center next to the parking garage explodes. Bricks rain down from the air.
Cuneo Hall across the street goes up in flames. The flaming debris and fire lights up the now night-time sky.
The group is running out of time. Everything around them is on fire and pieces and parts of three buildings are falling from the sky.
But even with the obstacles in their way, Halitosis sees there’s one corridor out.
Halitosis: North Kenmore Avenue West south towards Sheridan Road.
Halitosis waves everyone in that direction.
Halitosis: THIS WAY!
Again, they take off running. Again…
The dragon swoops by. This time, it lands in front of them blocking the way. Nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide.
Halitosis moves Laura behind him.
Dragon: Do you have any last words?
Halitosis looks off to the right. Nothing but fire.
Halitosis looks off to the left. Nothing but fire.
Halitosis looks behind him. Nothing but fire.
Scriptwriter #1: Screw this.
Scriptwriter #2: We’re getting out of here.
Too late. Suddenly, the two scriptwriters make a run for it. The dragon slowly turns his head, rolls his eyes, and without batting an eye unleashes the ultimate breath of death.
The scriptwriters are barbequed in an instant.
Behind Halitosis, Cue-Card Guy opts for a more covert escape. He tries to sneak away. He makes it about twenty-feet.
The dragon burps. Stream of fire shoots out.
Cue-Card Guy is toast.
Matt the Manager does something out of the blue that’s so totally out of character that it completely shocks everyone.
Matt the Manager: Fuck this!
That’s right. He talks. He swears.
Halitosis: He ad-libs?
Then Matt runs.
Then he gets crispy fried.
The dragon eyes Halitosis. Halitosis eyes the dragon.
Halitosis (sputters): Uh…
He rears back.
Dragon: Last chance. Do you have any last words?
The dragon opens its mouth.
An orange color appears in its throat.
The Bergman House
Thursday May 16th
Four o’clock in the morning
Halitosis’s voice (shouts): …uhhhhhh…TIFFANI-AMBER THIESSEN!
In the pitch black of the bedroom, Halitosis bolts up into a sitting position in bed. His back is straight as a board.
Heavy breathing as he tries to catch his breath.
There’s movement next to him. Rustling blankets. A sleepy wife who’s not pleased with the sudden and jolting return to consciousness from a dead sleep.
Laura’s voice (annoyed as hell): What in the blue hell…
More rustling. The LED display on the alarm clock adjacent Laura’s side of the bed disappears when she maneuvers herself around to check the time.
Laura’s voice: Jesus. It’s four in the morning.
More rustling. Halitosis can see she’s reaching for the light on the night stand.
Halitosis’s voice: Honey. No. Wait. Don’t turn on the-
The light on the end table nearest to Laura comes on. Immediately, Halitosis dives underneath the covers and hides his face.
Halitosis’s voice (under the covers): …lights. Keyfabe!
Laura Bergman: What do you mean keyfabe?
Halitosis’s voice (under the covers): Keyfabe!
She shakes her head and extends her arms out.
Laura Bergman: There’s no one else here…
Laura glances up and sees the cameraman pointing a camera at her at the foot of the bed. We see his hand waving to her to the side of the shot. Her eyes widen in surprise.
Laura Bergman: …oh.
Then Laura glances down and becomes acutely aware that she’s not wearing a top- of which the cameraman pointing a camera at her at the foot of the bed has also noticed and focused in on.
We see the cameraman flashing a thumbs up off to the side of the shot.
Laura Bergman: Balls.
As gracefully and as fast as her sleepy reflexes will let her move, Laura yanks up the blanket to cover herself up. Then she points to the cameraman, and nearly accidently let’s go of the blanket in the process, with her eyes flashing with embarrassment.
Laura Bergman: Turn that goddamn camera off…now–
Five minutes later…
Laura, now wearing a t-shirt, is in the middle of an epic rant at the cameraman inside the bedroom…at four o’five in the morning.
Laura Bergman: …and that footage had better not turn up on the internet, do you understand me?
The camera moves up and then down.
One more minute later…
Halitosis and Laura sit up in bed. He’s wearing his lucha mask albeit the mask is tilted ever so slightly off kilter on his face.
Laura glares uncomfortably in Halitosis’s direction, arms folded in front of her.
Laura Bergman: Tiffani-Amber Theissen, huh? What’s that all about?
Halitosis straightened up the lucha mask and made a half assed attempt at explaining the remark.
Halitosis: It was the first thing that came to my mind, what can I say?
Laura Bergman: You can think about it out on the couch, how about that?
Yeah, that didn’t go over very well.
Plan B. Halitosis tries to explain it again.
Halitosis: I was having a bad dream. It just came out.
By the continuing glare coming from Laura, it’s safe to say that the wife is not convinced at his explanation nor amused by the flippant way he tries to dismiss it.
Laura Bergman: You were having a bad dream and the thing that flies out of your mouth- the words that just come out- no, that you shouted out is Tiffani-Amber Theissen?
Halitosis: Okay. Laura, I read online a while back that when you’re having a really bad nightmare and want it to stop, you can yell out some sort of ‘safe word’ that will end the dream.
Laura Bergman: Safe word?
Halitosis: Right. It’s kind of like this- you’re feeling like you’re being chased and you find a safe house- something like that.
Laura Bergman: With Tiffani-Amber Theissen.
Laura’s immediate reaction makes him think better of his response.
Halitosis: …no wait…
Suffice to say, Laura’s still not convinced.
Laura Bergman: Oh? And what exactly were you doing with Tiffani-Amber Theissen in your ‘safe’ house.
Halitosis turns a shade of red.
Halitosis: Well. I’d rather not say but-
Laura smacks him on the shoulder.
Realizing that she’s genuinely becoming pissed off with, Halitosis finally does the smart thing and decides to come clean.
Halitosis: Okay. I had a bad dream. It was about dragons.
Laura Bergman: Dragons?
Halitosis: Dragons. There. Happy?
Arms folded again, Laura shakes her head.
Laura Bergman: I warned you about binge watching Game of Thrones right before a big match.
Halitosis: I wasn’t binge watching Game of Thrones.
Laura Bergman: Oh? And what were those empty Game of Thrones DVD containers I found all over the floor?
Halitosis: Okay, I stayed up all night binge watching Game of Thrones.
Totally busted, he totally fesses up.
Halitosis: Yes. I admit it. I made a tactical error. I was just trying to escape from everything for a few hours. I was trying to take my mind off of Refueled Three and just forget about Friday night’s match with Max Kael.
Halitosis takes a deep breath and makes a further confession to her.
Halitosis: I guess I’m a little concerned about the match.
Laura Bergman: Really?
Laura Bergman: I’m surprised.
Halitosis: Why is that?
Laura Bergman: I thought you had a real good handle on the situation when you did that interview with Blair Moise last week. I loved the part about seeing this through to the end- you talking about finishing what you started and finishing the job. I thought you had it nailed down pretty well. I was impressed with what you said.
Halitosis: I think I did. At least I thought I did. But the closer Friday night comes, well, I get the nagging feeling that maybe I don’t.
Laura Bergman: You’ve been in big matches before.
Halitosis: That this is a big match is an understatement. Honey, you know damn well it’s one thing having a big match with the Dork Dynasty or Weapons of Mass Destruction in Effingham, Illinois or Mason City, Iowa. This is a BIG match in a BIG venue against a BIG time wrestler.
Laura Bergman: Yes. The level of competition is a lot stronger here and you’ve given the roster here their due respect. Yes. The atmosphere is going to be a lot different with a capacity filled Yuengling Center than wrestling at the North Iowa Events Center or the Effingham Performance Center- especially when you’re wrestling with a world title shot hanging in the balance. But the ultimate goal is the same- for everyone. Winning the tournament. Winning the title. And to do that, you have to defeat Max Kael Friday night.
Trying to read her husband’s facial expressions and eye contact, Laura can tell the biggest match in Halitosis’s career is definitely weighing on him. She tries a different approach.
Laura Bergman: Okay. What’s got you concerned about the match?
Halitosis: I’m not sure.
Laura Bergman: Max Kael wants the same thing you want. That world title shot. To win the tournament. To wear the HOW World Title belt. You are on the same level terms as Max. You will both enter the ring at Refueled Three. One of you will leave with a chance to win the title. If Max tries to play rough with you, you play rough right back. If Max fights dirty, you fight dirty right back at him. If he tries to bully you, you stand up to him and don’t back down. You stay in his face and you make it clear that you’re not going anywhere.
She shifts her position on the bed and folds her legs under her.
Laura Bergman: Honey, not a whole lot of people have ever set foot in the ring with someone like Max Kael. But you have set foot in the ring with any number of different wrestlers in your career who were characters in their own right- wrestlers who could be charitably described as unpredictable, potentially dangerous maniacs inside the ring and you handled them just fine. Max is his own unique entity. He’s not a monster. He’s just a man, dear. A twisted mess of flesh and bone, mind you. But he’s still just a man.
Laura places her hand on his arm to reassure and calm him.
Laura Bergman: Look. You’ve made it this far.
Halitosis: I didn’t think I’d be in this position.
Laura Bergman: Trust me, I’m pretty sure no one thought you’d be in this position. But here you are. If you lose, you lose. Don’t be afraid of losing. More importantly, don’t be afraid to win. Yes, it’s a huge match. Don’t let the moment overwhelm you. Don’t let the occasion get the better of you. In fact, fuck fear. Don’t fear failure. Don’t fear success. And for God’s sake, don’t fear the moment.
She takes a breath and inches closer to him.
Laura Bergman: Remember what the great philosopher Keanu Reeves once said. ‘I wish I could say something classy and inspirational, but that’s just wouldn’t be our style. Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.’ So stop worrying about what Max Kael is or isn’t going to do Friday night. That’s out of your hands.
Laura edges her face up to his ear and whispers.
Laura Bergman: Slay that fucking dragon.