The Horne Sounds
Cup of coffee in one hand, Halitosis stood over a desktop computer perched on a Sauder mass produced computer table that he and his wife Laura Bergman put together in the study of his modest house. The computer, a brand new HP Pavilion Desktop Intel Core i5 with: 12GB Memory, 1TB Hard Drive plus a 128GB Solid State Drive- one of the first luxuries afforded as a result of Halitosis joining HOW. He pushed the power button and the computer hummed to life, cycling through the opening screens.
Adjusting the belt on his robe and making sure his lucha mask was on tight, Halitosis sat down in the chair in front of the desk and placed the coffee cup on a coaster to the right of the computer. He went to work on the keyboard and clicked onto the internet going to You Tube and putting ‘The Horne Sounds’ into the search function.
‘The Horne Sounds’ was a weekly pro wrestling podcast taped and then uploaded to the internet by legendary wrestling manager Jackson C. Horne. The description on the site read: Jackson C. Horne is not only a legendary manager and wrestling entrepreneur but he is also one of wrestling’s most outspoken minds and mouths, hitting you with his blunt and uncensored takes on professional wrestling!
Halitosis grew up watching Horne later in his career on cable television in the late nineties and early 2000’s. He’d even attended a pro wrestling show just to watch him manage one of the big tag teams who were over at the time just to watch him do his thing. Simply put, he was a fan of the man’s work.
Hundreds of ‘The Horne Sounds’ past episodes popped up onto the monitor. He scrolled down the list and found the latest edition of the podcast. Halitosis moved the mouse with his free hand and clicked on the episode. The picture changed on the monitor to a cartoon caricature of Horne and his co-host Kyle West with the number and title of the episode in white letters against a green background.
Halitosis paused. Then he clicked on play and sat back in his chair as Horne’s voice blasted through the speakers.
Jackson C. Horne’s voice (from the speakers): “Hello again everybody, welcome to another edition of The Horne Sounds. I am Jackson C. Horne and with me as always is my good friend and co-pilot Kyle West…”
Kyle West’s voice (from the speakers): “Aloha Jackson and hello everyone to another insufferable episode of The Horne Sounds! Whatcha eating tonight, Jackson?”
Horne: “I’ve got myself a Turtle Pecan Cluster blizzard from Dairy Queen.”
West: “Dairy Queen, eh?”
Horne: “I love going through their drive thrus.”
West: “Of course you do.”
In between bites of his Turtle Pecan Cluster blizzard, Horne would take the next couple minutes to preview the episode before getting to the subject at hand- and the reason Halitosis was very interested in this particular podcast.
Horne: “-now, I’m sure you all know my feelings over the years on the subject of High Octane Wrestling and their particular brand of outlaw bullshit wrestling. This is the place where the chick stuffed a bloody tampon down someone’s throat. Where some guy spiked a baby. Stabbing people’s eyes out with a fucking pen. And my favorite, sarcasm intended, a fucking cow sucking off the wrestlers.”
West (shocked voice): “Whoa, whoa, whoa. WHAT?
West’s voice turned incredulous.
West: I’m sorry, I didn’t quite hear that.
Horne: “You’ve never heard about that?”
West had apparently never heard about the infamous episodes involving Besty the Cow- rest in peace.
West: “Ah…no. You’re kidding, right?
Horne: “No, I mean it. I’m talking about the actual animal- a real fucking cow sucking off a real wrestler. Oh, then there was the time one wrestler killed another wrestler in the ring…for real. It’s the slice yourself up, hardcore, kind of horseshit that just drives me crazy and this business needs to get away from.”
West: “I thought HOW went dark.
Horne: “Well, HOW did go away in July 2016. But they’re back again for one last run.
West: “I see.”
Horne: “Now, to be fair. I do have to admit that I thought Lee Best might have turned over a new leaf when HOW announced they’d signed and brought in Eric Dane, Lindsay Troy, and Dan Ryan.
West: “Really? Lee brought all three of them in?”
Horne: “Yes. Not just three good wrestlers, but three of the best wrestlers in the fucking sport. Dane, simply said, is a fucking legend and can still bring it in the ring. Troy, along with Georgie Nickels, are probably the two best women wrestlers on the planet. And all Dan Ryan does is go out and win world titles no matter where he wrestles. So, Lee brings in these three superstar talents into HOW and I think to myself, hey, maybe, just maybe, the new HOW is going to steer away from the outlaw, hardcore bullshit and get serious by featuring great talent who actually know how to wrestle.”
Horne paused to catch his breath and shovel down another couple spoonfuls of his Turtle Pecan Cluster blizzard while the taping continued so Halitosis took the opportunity to take a sip from his coffee before the wrestling legend resumed his soapbox rant.
Horne: “But now, they’re back and ready to crown a new champion again. Brian Hollywood, who was the last HOW champion before the promotion shut down in 2016, is one of the wrestlers vying for the title.
West: “What do you think of Hollywood?”
Horne: “I’m okay with that. Hollywood’s a good wrestler. He’s got a good gimmick and he makes a credible champion.
West: “He’s also a two-time HOW champion, right?”
Horne: “Right. So he’s okay. So who is wrestling Brian Hollywood for HOW’s top title you may ask? Is it one of the three big signings? No. Is it Mike Best? The eight time HOW champion. Yes, he’s done some crazy shit in the past, really crazy shit that I’m not crazy about but you can’t deny the man’s talent. But alas, no. It’s not Mike Best.”
West: “Max Kael?”
Horne: “Fuck no. Besides, I don’t know what the fuck Kael did with his teeth but he looks like a fucking James Bond villain now.”
West: “So okay, who is it?”
Horne: “It’s another new signing. The guy who probably has the worst fucking gimmick ever in the history of professional wrestling. Some putz named Halitosis. He’s the one.”
West: “Halitosis? What the hell is that?”
Horne: “It’s exactly what you think it is, Kyle. An average, nondescript wrestler with mediocre talent HOW plucked from one of the minor wrestling companies. The man’s signature move is his own bad breath.”
West: “Bad breath?”
Horne: “Yes. Bad breath. He stinks. Literally. For Christ‘s sake, the man’s signature move is his own BAD BREATH.
West: “Yes, you said that.”
Horne: “Seriously? You can’t make this shit up. Halitosis is a career mid-carder and he is at best talent enhancement who gets by with parlor tricks because he sucks at lucha libre. He’s done nothing – NOTHING – of note in his career except breathe on people. This gimmick is so bad, I would usually refuse to acknowledge its existence and wouldn’t dignify this shit stain as being worth my time to comment on. Except for the fact that this guy, Halitosis, is somehow wrestling for a TOP WRESTLING TITLE! Again, I cannot make this point clear enough, you have four of the best wrestlers ever on your roster but it’s the guy with the worst gimmick in pro wrestling history wrestling Brian Hollywood for your company’s top title.”
While Horne kept on ranting, in the background West typed away on his laptop doing some impromptu research.
West: “Okay Jackson. It looks like this Halitosis defeated three HOW hall of famers to get to a final of a tournament to crown a new champion.”
Horne: “And that’s why tournaments suck. It’s a fucking crapshoot and more often than not you end up with a guy like Halitosis in your finals wrestling for your top belt. This is just outlaw, mud show, play wrestling bullshit. Now, I found this video clip from a couple years ago and I believe this guy has Halitosis pegged.”
West: “And it gives you a few seconds to shovel down some more Turtle Pecan Cluster blizzard.”
Horne: “Fuck yes.”
Halitosis took another sip from his coffee and swore he could hear the disconcerting sound of Horne cramming more of the blizzard into his mouth which drowned out the sound on the video they were playing.
During a lull in the proceedings, he heard the front door close.
Laura Bergman (from the other room): “HONEY! I’M HOME!”
Laura’s voice caused Halitosis to click pause on the podcast in a Pavlovian fashion. He yelled back to wife.
Halitosis: “I’M IN THE STUDY!”
He waved a hand, a general gesture of ‘hey, I know you’re here’ hastily done so he could get back to what he was listening to.
Laura Bergman: (still in the other room): “YOU BETTER NOT BE LOOKING AT SEXY PINUP PICTURES OF TIFFANI AMBER THEISSEN AGAIN!”
Halitosis mouthed ‘shit’ under his breath. His head swiveled back and forth, looking around the room to make sure Laura wasn’t lurking.
Halitosis: “YES, DEAR!”
Whistling casually and trying to be cool, he took the mouse to the right of the keyboard and moved the cursor over the internet explorer symbol on the bottom taskbar. Two windows appeared. The one on the left- The Horne Sounds podcast. The one on the right- a website devoted to, you guessed it, ‘Sexy Pinup Pictures of Tiffani Amber Theissen.’
After checking one more time, Halitosis deftly ‘X’d out the window on the right and the box with the potentially offending website disappeared- just as Laura walked into the study from her morning jog. She wore a gray t-shirt with Chattanooga written across the front in cursive with ‘The Scenic City’ in block letters below, a pair of black running shorts, and her gray Under Armour Micro G Assert 6 running shoes with the logo contrasting in pink. Laura removed her headphones and the plain black baseball cap she wore letting gravity pull her black hair down past her shoulders.
Halitosis: “Oh. Hey hon?”
Halitosis exhaled a sense of relief and clicked on play on the You Tube site to restart The Horne Sounds podcast.
Laura cast a skeptical, inquisitive glance towards her husband as if her intuition somehow knew he’d been up to something. She also noticed the HOW cameraman standing there filming Halitosis’s latest vignette and rolled her eyes accordingly.
Horne (from the speakers): “I’ve heard the narrative. It’s an underdog story. We should be happy. We should be celebrating. Well fuck that. Fuck this underdog bullshit. To hell with the Cinderella story. Do you really want the face of your company, the carrier of your standard, the fucking first world champion coming back from a three year hiatus to be Halitosis?”
Laura let out a sigh and shook her head. The screechy tone of Horne’s voice, especially when he was riled up and riffing, grated on her ears.
Laura Bergman: “Why do you listen to this? Jackson Horne has never said anything good about you.”
Halitosis just shrugged.
Laura Bergman: “Well, it sure as hell bugs the hell out of me. It pisses me off to hear him tear you down like that.”
Halitosis: “Honest dear. It really doesn’t bother me.”
She suddenly had a thought.
Then the thought morphed right into an idea. Laura pulled the cell phone from her purse.
Laura Bergman: “In fact, it pisses me off so much I know what I’m going to do.”
She began to type out a text on her phone. Halitosis tried to peek around her to see what she was typing and to whom was she typing it to.
Halitosis: “Honey. What are you doing?”
She pressed ‘send’ and the text went off into the electronic ether toward its destination.
The video came to an end on ‘The Horne Sounds’ and Jackson C. Horne’s voice blared through the speakers again.
Horne: “Jesus Lee, you can do better than this flea-bag three ring circus. Do better-“
Horne paused. Something captured his attention.
Horne: “…hold on a second.”
Horne whispered to himself as he read something to himself.
Horne: “I don’t fucking believe it.”
West: “What is it?”
Horne: “Do you know what I just got?”
West: “No. What?”
Horne: “I just got a text message from that fucking goof Halitosis’s wife.”
Both Laura and Halitosis’s jaw dropped simultaneously.
West: “Really? What does it say?”
West’s voice oozed surprise.
Horne: “It says, and I quote, ‘you suck.’”
Halitosis turned to his wife and mouthed ‘how?’
Laura mouthed back ‘I don’t know.’
Horne: “No Mrs. Halitosis. Your husband sucks. As far as I’m concerned, he can take his outlaw, play pretend pro wrestling bullshit and stick it up his ass. Or come up with a real gimmick. His gimmick is so bad-“
West: “How bad is it?”
Horne: “His gimmick is so bad, it’s worse than that dipshit who pretends to pull an invisible pin out of a pretend invisible hand grenade and causes a pretend invisible explosion.”
West: “Well, I don’t know about that-“
Horne turned up the sarcasm to eleven and began to build the tirade step by step until he’d reached a nice groove.
Horne: “No. I’ve got a better one. His gimmick is so bad it’s even worse than the guy who flips people with his dick!”
West: “Um, Jackson. I think you’re getting a little carried away-”
Horne’s tone of voice became more heated and he built to a grand crescendo- in between cramming heaping helpings of the Turtle Pecan Cluster blizzard into his mouth, causing his speech to slur a bit.
Horne: “No-no. How about this. His gimmick is so bad it’s even worse than the chick who projectile vomits into the dick guy’s crotch who then gets dick-flipped herself!”
West: “Wasn’t there a tag team once in PCW whose finisher was projectile vomiting all over their opponents?”
Horne: “That doesn’t matter. What matters is this. If there is a God. If there is truly justice in this world. Brian Hollywood will knock this punk’s block off and send him back into the obscurity he deserves so I’ll never, EVER, have to talk about him and his WORST FUCKING GIMMICK EVER IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING EVER AG- AAAAAAAAAAAARGHHHH!”
Horne: “AW, FUCK!”
The sound of someone banging his head on a counter could be heard through the speakers.
West: “What’s wrong?”
Horne: “BRRRRRAIN FREEEEEEEZE! AARRRRRGGHHHHHH!
West: “I told you not to eat the blizzard too fast.”
Horne: “ARRGH, ARRRRRRGHHHHHHH! IT HURTS!”
West: “Are you going to be okay-“
Horne: “IT HURTS! MAKE IT STOPPPPP!”
West: “Perhaps next time you’ll eat your blizzard slower.”
West: “Okay. Maybe we should just pause and take a quick break.”
Laura finally heard enough.
Laura Bergman: “Jesus. Turn that off right now!”
Halitosis clicked on the ‘X’ and the You Tube site disappeared from his computer screen.
Laura peered at him incredulously.
Laura Bergman: “I can’t believe you can just sit there and listen to that.”
Halitosis: “I told you it doesn’t bother me Laura.”
Laura Bergman: “You are one day – ONE DAY – away from the biggest match in your career.”
Halitosis slipped in an aside.
Halitosis: “For the third consecutive show.”
Laura’s hands balled up into angry fists and her face turned red.
Laura Bergman: “FOR THE THIRD CONSECUTIVE SHOW! You need to be at your peak mental and physical condition when you step into that ring with Brian Hollywood Friday night and you’re NOT going to get that listening to some old washed up, wrinkled prune of a curmudgeon rip you a new one on his podcast just because you’re not like the wrestlers he worked with twenty-five, thirty-five years ago.”
She gestured wildly to emphasize just how important she felt the moment was and caused Halitosis to reflexively duck when one of her arms whizzed by his head at an uncomfortably close distance.
Laura Bergman: “This is the HOW World Title. This is for everything.”
Halitosis: “I know.”
He stood up from the chair.
Halitosis: Laura, I trained hard this week in St. Louis with Dawn McGill and her fiancée and Dawn seemed really happy with how everything went. Plus…PLUS, she knows Brian Hollywood inside and out from the days when she managed Ray McAvay. So she was able to give me a whole lot of good insight on what to expect from him. We’ve got a game plan. We’re ready to go.”
Halitosis grinned to accentuate his next point.
Halitosis: “I promise you I’m ready, sweetheart.”
Color Laura unconvinced.
Laura Bergman: “You’re not going to persuade me that listening to Jackson C. Horne call you the worst wrestler in the world is going to put you in the right frame of mind.”
She realized she probably wouldn’t win this exchange.
Laura Bergman: “But whatever. I’m going to go take a shower.”
Laura turned and began to head towards the bathroom. She took five steps down the hall, stopped, and turned her head back towards him, eyebrows raised, an enticing expression on her face.
Laura Bergman: “Do you want to join me?”
The camera began to walk towards Laura at a rapid pace. She put up the stop sign with her hand.
Laura Bergman: “NOT YOU!”
Suddenly, the camera suddenly panned down to a close up view of the brand new hardwood floor in the hallway- reflective of the dejected cameraman lowering the camera and pointing the lens down at the floor. The hall light reflected off the shiny surface.
Halitosis’s voice (off camera): “Nah. I’m going to finish up listening to the show and then go for a little run before we get ready to go to the airport.”
Laura’s voice: “Okay.”
Laura’s shoes squeaked on the floor while walking away. She muttered to herself.
Laura’s voice: “I really hate this business sometimes.”
Laura’s footsteps faded away as she headed down the hallway to the bathroom.
Halitosis’s voice: “Hey.”
The camera panned back up to a medium shot of Halitosis.
Halitosis: “Can I let you in on a little secret?”
The camera moved up and down to signify ‘yes.’
Halitosis: “Okay. The truth is…I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone says about me. It’s all part-“
He stopped when he saw the screensaver kick on his desktop computer- a pinup picture of Tiffani Amber Thiessen posing against a rock on a beach in a white lacy outfit that stood out against her tanned skin. Her black hair covered one side of her face and she had the whole pouty thing going on with her mouth.
Halitosis: “Oh shit!”
Halitosis scrambled back to the desk and moved the mouse. The screensaver disappeared and the crisis averted. He turned and faced the camera.
Halitosis: “You didn’t see that.”
The camera again moved up and down to signify ‘agreement.’
Halitosis: “Okay, as I was saying. It’s all part of the game. Scottywood promised me a proper welcome to HOW. He said he was going to ‘rip that smelly mask off your face, make you eat it, shit it out and put the remains back on your fuck stain of a face.’ A little harsh yes, but I totally expected that from the Hardcore Artist.”
He spun the chair in front of the computer desk around so he could sit down.
Halitosis: “Max Kael said I was just another ‘Cinderella dream. Another guy just trying to make another dream come true.’ He then said he had a ‘dream that someday he’ll run into a real opponent in this Tournament and not just a bunch of gimmicks and call backs who should have never crawled into that ring with him.’ Actually, I thought Max kind of took it easy on me.”
The camera moved up and down to signify ‘yes.’
Halitosis: And I saw where my opponent Brian Hollywood finally emerged from his mansion to say a few things about me last night. Again, not too bad. Kind of what I expected. I’ll say it again, he is a two-time HOW World champion and I will give him the respect he deserves. He’s a damn good wrestler and I can’t wait for the challenge of stepping into the ring with him tomorrow night.“
Halitosis held up a finger in the air.
Halitosis: “But. But. Hollywood said the pressure’s on me. I couldn’t disagree more. Brian, first off you’re already talking about War Games. You say you’ve treated this tournament as a declaration of war. You said you’re at war with pretty much the world because you want to ride into War Games with Lee Best to take on Mike Best. You say you’ve been on a collision course with Mike Best since HOW came back and it’s destiny that this match takes place at War Games. Brian, you’re already focusing on War Games and Mike Best. I’m not focused on War Games. I’m not focused on my ‘destiny.’ I’m focused on the here and now. I’m focused on the ‘moment’ and that moment is tomorrow night.
The Yuengling Center.
Brian Hollywood versus Halitosis.
The HOW World Title.
You weigh yourself down with your destiny. I will walk into the ring tomorrow night with no pressure on me whatsoever because I’m enjoying the moment. I have no idea if I’ll ever be in this position ever again so I am going to step into the ring like I have nothing to lose- because I have nothing to lose. I get who I am. I get that I’m a two star wrestler overachieving in a company chock full of the best wrestlers you’re going to find anywhere. No one expected me to be here so if I win tomorrow night, it’s a great story and more so it’s going to be a great moment. If I lose, it’s still going to be a great moment. It’s a freedom I’ve never felt before as a professional wrestler. Jackson Horne might be right- I may very well lose tomorrow night and fade right back into obscurity. Hell, for all I know, I could end up back at Missouri Valley Wrestling after War Games. I don’t know. And I don’t care. While you’re burdened down with chasing your destiny, Brian, I’m sitting here and living the dream. While you’re already eyeing War Games and looking past our match tomorrow night – a mistake by the way that Scottywood and Max Kael also made – my sole focus is on embracing the moment, leaving everything I have in the ring, and doing everything in my power to step through the ropes to the floor after our match as the first High Octane Wrestling World champion of the Refueled Era.”
Halitosis stood up and motioned to the cameraman towards the front door.
Halitosis: “All right. You’d better get going. She’ll be out of the shower soon and I need to go for a run so we can get ready to go.”
Cut to black.
A few seconds later, the camera came back on and Halitosis reappeared to make one last point.
Halitosis: “Oh, and I forgot. Winning the HOW World title is only…
Halitosis grinned again.
Halitosis: “Okay. Now you can turn it off.”
Cut to black.