The ticket window is dark.
Actually, the entire island is dark. There are a few work lights and emergency lights that keep the island from being pitch black. The sole exception to the low ambiance was a large floodlight aimed at a huge banner over the entrance.
“PARK AND MUSEUM CLOSED FOR HIGH OCTANE WRESTLING RUMBLE AT THE ROCK”
“NOV 8 2019 – NOV 10 2019. NORMAL HOURS TO RESUME NOV 11 2019”
In front of the banner, MJ Flair, Adrian Evans, and MJ’s cousin, sixteen year old Shannon Joseph Stevens look up at it, nobody saying a word. They each have a bag strapped to their backs, and MJ stands with her arms folded.
Shannon Stevens: I’m gonna get in trouble, aren’t I?
Shannon Stevens: Why did I let you talk me into this.
Adrian Evans: Anything happens, I’ll work things out with your mother.
This is all it takes for Shannon to relax. Adrian Evans, MJ, and her parents are pretty much the only people in the world who can talk his mother, Ivy McGinnis, out of anything. It’s been hard on him having famous parents – both McGinnis and former multi-time World Champion ‘Triple X’ Sean Stevens. He’s able to live his life with his erstwhile cousin, MJF, as someone he can talk to about it – but the bottom line is that her parents are several thousand levels more mellow than his.
MJF: Guys, calm your tits. High Octane’s got a fuckton’a chartered boats to bring the fans, the crew, the boys, and the rest’a the shit tomorrow. Ya look at it like that, clearly we’re doin’ ‘em a favor by not havin’ ta bring us in.
She swings her bag around, holding it up.
MJF: And when ya look at the fact that we’re bringin’ sandwiches to the guys that’ve got America Fuck Yeah under lock ‘n key? Dude, Wooderson owes us.
Adrian Evans: Woodson.
MJF: Yeah don’t care.
Adrian Evans: Mr. Ryan had arranged a charter boat for all four of you plus your guests; I know you were on the email.
Shannon Stevens: Wait. We could’ve been getting here tomorrow without crowds, without being packed onto overstocked boats? Really, Mariella?
MJ’s first real friend, he’s the only one who can consistently call her by her full first name without any consequences. But she laughs him off.
MJF: I know, man… I know. But it’s like…
She trails off as they continue to walk, entering the main building and navigating the hallways.
MJF: Dude, Ryan and LT have known Harmen for fuckin’ years, man. Like, longer than I’ve been fuckin’ alive. And I know in my brain meats…
MJ taps the side of her head.
MJF: …that we’re a team. But logically, if I wanna retain my title I’m likely gonna have to beat the flame broiled fuckburger outta Harmen at some point. And I know LT and Ryan are gonna be way too busy with their own ish to care who wins as long as it’s one of us… I think it’s just better that we keep our distance until it’s over.
Expertly winding their way through the main building, MJ stops only briefly when making a turn.
Shannon Stevens: My parents both trust Dan and Lindsay, you know. I don’t think there would’ve been a problem with taking the boat with everyone tomorrow.
Adrian coughs to cover a laugh, while MJ turns her head towards her cousin, resting her hand on the inner door.
MJF: Listen, man. Tomorrow’s probably the most high profile shit-kickin’ I’ve had so far. And I ain’t supposed ta’ fuckin’ be here, kiddo.
She steps back and points at Adrian.
MJF: You know it–
And she points at Shannon.
MJF: And you know it. LT and Ryan, they deserve their spots.
Adrian’s eyes widen at MJ’s use of the other’s less formal names; she’s clearly getting worked up.
MJF: They’re where they’re expected. Mr. Harmen, he’s where he should be. They all fit.
MJF: Me, I don’t fit in.
Adrian Evans: That’s not ex–
MJF: Dude. Don’t. You’ve heard it, these little idiots never stopped reminding me that I’m the one without the track record and without the hall’a fame career. Lookit.
She holds up her hand, raising her thumb.
MJF: Evan Ward. Champion.
MJF: Max Kael. Champion.
MJF: Jack Harmen. Champion literally everywhere else, man.
And she tucks her thumb but holds up her other fingers.
MJF: MJ Flair. One’a these things ain’t like the other. I don’t fit, and I guaran-fuckin-tee you, we’re still in the bubble’a me bein’ called a fluke the second someone takes my belt away.
Shannon looks at Adrian, and vice versa. They’ve both heard her sound off on different things in the past, and they’ve both learned it’s a lot less stressful to let her get it all out.
MJF: So I don’t belong, I’m not a star, and I’ve got no track record. It doesn’t make any sense ta show up in grand style tomorrow.
And with that, MJ backs her ass up into the door, pushing it open, and she leads the others into the recreation yard.
MJF: It’s gonna be a prison fight, so we might as well break into prison ta get things cookin, right?
As the LSD Champion walks into the yard with a confident swagger, Shannon and Adrian take a minute by the door.
Shannon Stevens: You think she’s okay?
Adrian Evans: She’s focused on this fight. For the moment, that might be for the best. My advice, young man – we’ll talk about it, but only if she brings it up. Deal?
The teenager shakes Adrian’s hand.
Shannon Stevens: Deal.
Off in the distance, MJ has already turned over a few benches, and has propped her backpack at her feet.
MJF: Get the led out, guys, I’ve got the sammies but you’ve got the drinks!
Eight days earlier…
MJ paces anxiously. She tried sitting still, but her ass was sticking to the exam table and the thought of how many others had been there in the past few hours sort of skeeved her out. The paper gown may cover her front, but the rear draft is increasingly annoying her.
The door opens, and a nurse steps in.
Nurse: We’re almost done, Ms. Flurstein – the doctor will–
MJF: Dude. All I needed was a tetanus booster. I don’t see why that needed a full exam.
She smiles a faux-reassuring smile as she looks over MJ’s chart.
Nurse: I understand that, Ma’am, but as you stated you were…
And the nurse double-takes.
Nurse: …potentially going to be hit with or cut by rusty metal at your job in the next week or so, coupled with the fact that it’s been over a year since your last physical, the doctor thought it was prudent.
MJ holds up a hand, as if to defiantly surrender.
MJF: Okay. Okay, I gotcha. But can we like… move it along a little? I left my boyfriend in the waiting room thinking this was gonna be a five minute in and out, and it’s been…
No watch. No phone. MJ turns to the analog clock on the wall.
MJF: almost an hour.
Nurse: I understand. I’ll try and get him in here as soon as I can.
She leaves the room, and MJ continues to pace. She can feel the cold of the tiled floor even through her thick socks, which only increases her feeling of the room as a barren, antiseptic cell.
And, of course, waiting in this room in a doctor’s office allows her mind to race, inventing the worst possible outcomes of everything.
Fortunately, the nurse appears to have been true to her word, with a doctor entering the room just a moment later.
Doctor: Ms. Flurstein?
MJF: MJ, please. And you…?
Doctor: I’m Dr. Patel, it’s nice to meet you.
They shake hands. MJ folds her arms over her chest and starts to shift her weight from one foot to the other as Dr. Patel looks through her chart.
Doctor: Well, the good news is that you look to be in generally excellent health. You drink enough water, you obviously get enough exercise. You have an unusually high amount of scar tissue for a nineteen year old woman, but I understand you’re an athlete of some sort? Play hard, I take it?
MJF: Something like that.
Doctor: Okay. I’m not going to tell you how dangerous that can be, because it’ll fall on deaf ears. But I would like to refer you to a colleague of mine that specializes in orthopedics and musculoskeletal care. We need to do some bloodwork, and then you need your tetanus shot, and we’ll get you that information you need.
MJ nods, but she also raises an eyebrow.
MJF: That’s all cool, man, but like… your nurse? She sort of implied that there was a problem.
At this, the doctor thumbs through the chart for a moment, stopping about three pages in.
Doctor: Ah! Yes. Your family medical history is incomplete. Are you able to fill in some of the blanks?
MJ thinks about it for a few seconds.
MJF: Not like physical stuff, right? Like, my dad was a pro wrestler for twenty years so his knees are shot, but that’s not a hereditary thing, right? And he really doesn’t have anything else.
Doctor: Sure, that’s not something we’re looking for. What about your mother?
MJF: Ummm… My mom had a lump on her breast like ten years ago, but they said it wasn’t anything to worry about.
Doctor: Can you tell me what it was? Or if there was a family history of breast cancer past your mother?
MJ inhales. She doesn’t respond. The doctor smiles.
Doctor: Why don’t you take this home and fill it out there?
He hands her the paperwork and she smiles at him.
As she takes it, her hands are shaking.
FADEIN on a concrete wall, lit up with what appear to be floodlights at night. Pan right to reveal the HOW LSD Champion, MJ Flair, leaning against the wall like a hoodlum. Her hair is blowing slightly in the breeze and the LSD Title belt is draped over her shoulder, only slightly obscuring the ‘HIGH OCTANE FLAIR’ T-shirt she’s wearing.
“This is it.”
“This is the impact point.”
“I’d call it Ground Zero, but this is an arena of success.”
She pats the main plate of the title belt.
“This right here, man? This is what it’s about. All the debate right now seems t’be split between MJ Flair and Max Kael, which is a far fuckin’ cry from where we stood before War Games.”
“Do you ‘member? Cause I ‘member.”
A sinister grin spreads across her face.
“I remember all the talk about the greatest collection of High Octane legends on one side’a the cage, and the greatest collection’a new arrivals on the other… plus this second generation annoyance. There was speculation on Cecilworth Farthington finally ditching the ICON Championship in favor of the World, or Max Kael runnin’ the gauntlet on all of us. Or Eric Dane committing the ultimate heresy in High Octane and holdin’ that #97red title above his head.”
“Not a single one’a you predicted the second generation annoyance standin’ tall against the World Champion, the Icon Champion, and Creepy Pornstache all by myself. Not a single one’a you thought I’d be the one ta’ eliminate the World Champion from the match, thus securin’ this Championship.”
And she holds the title belt up again.
“And I’m still not s’posed’ta be here.”
She pushes forward and stands up straight, no longer leaning on the wall.
“You’ve got all the gangs represented in this match.”
One finger up.
“Ya got Jack Harmen, representin’ The Industry.”
“Max Kael, former World Champion, member’a the Empire.”
“And Evan Ward, another former High Octane World Champion, throwin’ it up for… Ground Zero?”
She stifles a laugh.
“Talk about in like a lion ‘n out like a lamb.”
And MJ points her thumb at herself.
“And the fourth. The Champion.”
Pregnant pause. She drags this out to an uncomfortable level.
“I’d bet a million dollars when Mikey first floated this match, he was convinced Scottywood was gonna handily beat me for his sixth LSD run so he could represent The Order in this match, and shove me into the dark match battle royal or some shit.”
She shakes her head.
“For all the accusations that I’m pro wrestling royalty with a silver set’a elbow pads and a greased path t’the show, it ain’t never been true.”
“Mariella Jade Flair: Subverting expectations since Day One.”
“I expect Evan Ward t’come at me with all the fire ‘n gusto he can. He ain’t leanin’ on his failed Ground Zero experiment anymore; he’s his own man and he’ll bring the fight. He proved it ta me in the tag team match, which just means I’ve gotta turn up the heat on ‘em.”
MJ looks up into the inky blackness.
“That sun’s gonna be brutal tomorrow… but it ain’t gonna burn his ass half as completely as I am.”
“I don’t like Jack Harmen in this match.”
“It’s not because I don’t think he deserves a shot at this title. It’s not because I don’t think he can win, or because I don’t consider him a threat or because I consider him ta be too much of a threat.”
“He’s my partner. We two, as well as Dan Ryan and LT, we’re all part’a the Industry. And I know what I’m gonna have t’do to Evan Ward and Max Kael if I wanna hold onto this title.”
“I don’t wanna do the same to ya, Jack. And I don’t think you wanna do the same t’me.”
“But this is real life, ain’t it, Jack? And the fact is, you’re a professional. So am I. And I ain’t gonna take advantage of ya, Jack… but I’m gonna take every fuckin’ opportunity I can, just like I know you will.”
“I’ll tell ya what though, Jack… long as it won’t cost me the LSD Title I’ll try my best t’save the parting shots at Max Kael, just for you. After the roller coaster ride you’ve been on this year you’ve earned at least that much.”
MJ sinks back against the wall with her head bowed, and her hair falling into her face for a few seconds.
And she looks up, the wind picking up just a bit, blowing her hair all over the place.
“Is this the end’a the road for us, sport? We start with my pinning your ass at War Games, we end with a Prison Yard Match here at Rumble.”
“I wouldn’t expect any name recognition momentum on that front from junior either, Maxxie. Your sequel, Max Junior, might’ve sold you on bein’ undefeated, but let’s just be clear on what that entailed.”
She holds up her hand again, one finger up.
“Beats some nobody. Literally.”
“Non-factor in a tag team victory.”
And five, her hand is fully open, fingers splayed out next to her face.
“And a non-factor in a tag team defeat.”
“Max Junior. The sequel. If he’s your sequel, you’re clearly the movie Carrie, cause the sequel was an underwhelming soupy abomination that literally nobody wanted.”
“Will you be the remake? The reboot? Or will this be the exact same show, shot straight in the heart of Maxopotamia and narrated by Harold the Herald?”
“Show me something new, Maxx… cause that’s what I’ve been doin’ since I started here in High Octane, and the only time these shoulders been on the mat for a three was at War Games.”
“This is the moment, Max. Evan. Jack. This is when perception becomes reality. The perception I left War Games with was one of sky high potential as a force ta be reckoned with here in High Octane.”
“The reality following our brawl in the Prison Yard will be one of potential fuckin’ realized.”
“I will not be ignored. I will not be disregarded. I will not be dismissed.”
She catches her voice in her throat and steadies for a moment.
“And I will not be losing the High Octane LSD Title.”
MJ looks up at the night sky again.
“Tick tock, gentlemen… it’s almost time ta rumble.”
Adrian Evans pushes the button to stop recording, but he continues to look at MJ for a few seconds. She’s sank down to a crouch, catching her breath after knocking out her promo in one take.
Adrian Evans: Did you want to try that last part again?
MJF: What? Why?
Adrian walks over to her and puts a hand on her knee.
Adrian Evans: What’s going on?
MJF: Nothing, man. Everything good.
Adrian Evans: Shannon?
Shannon is a tall, lanky teenager that was making himself useful holding up one of the floodlights while Adrian filmed, and he’s currently looking for a place to deposit said light.
Shannon Stevens: You looked like you were about to cry when you were talking about not being ignored and stuff.
MJF: No I wasn’t.
Adrian Evans: Yeah, you were.
Shannon Stevens: Mariella. You were.
She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath.
Adrian Evans: Does this have anything to do with those two missing days from last week?
That gets her.
Adrian Evans: Would it help to talk about it?
She doesn’t answer; instead, she walks right past the two men back towards where they’d set up a makeshift campsite.
Shannon Stevens: I thought you said not to bring it up.
Adrian Evans: Calling an audible, young man. You’ll figure out when it’s best when you get a little older.
He turns around to see MJ digging through a bag, finally, pulling out a bottle of Remy Martin 1738.
MJF: If we’re gonna get into the feels, man… I need a drink.
To Be Continued…Views: 2 Likes: