Saturday, October 3rd, 2021
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Pit Parking Garage
The fuzziness dissipates from around my eyes as the room comes garage comes back into focus. Frantically my head snaps back and forth surveying the scene. Locking my eyes onto Meredith’s purse, I yell out in a desperate cry. “MEREEEEEEDITH!”
“MEEEEEEEEEERRRREDITH!!!!! Meredith, answer me now!” I scream out with tears running down my eyes. But once again, no response from my wonderful girlfriend. Only the echoes from my deep, blusterous voice resound the desolate concrete building. I continue to lay on the ground while my head stops spinning, worrying what Xander might have done to her.
The denial starts to set into my mind. I cry out once more. “MEEEEEEEEEEREDITH! You got me! You win! Now please stop! This isn’t funny game anymore. You got me.”
My heart races at a rapid rate in my chest before I fling my feet up into the air. Struggling to stay my ground, I hobble around the parking garage like a drunkard. Leaning up against the fans’ car to support me, I begin a hysterical search for my missing lover. Twisting and turning my head around the garage, my eyes lock onto a trail of blood left behind. A few of her golden hair follicles highlight the trail of crimson blood on the cold, cracked concrete. My fists ball up as my face burns like an intense flame. In shock, my hands dive deep within my pockets to search for my phone. As I bring my shattered iPhone up to my ear, my face begins to snarl. Muttering only one name before I embark on damage control, I muster out one simple phrase.
“XANDER, I’m going to kill you!”
Monday, October 5th, 2021
Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
KNOCK! KNOCK! KNOCK!
The traumatic events of the last couple days only festered deeper as I made a mad dash to back to Missouri. Lamenting at Meredith’s abduction, my eyes swell up. A river of tears rushes down my face as I waited for the door to open. My heart sinks deeper into my chest with each rattling step coming from the old rickety house. Exhaling an audible sigh, my ears perk up at the creaking door flying open. Out from the house emerged a disheveled, wrinkled old woman. An unlit cigarette laid between her chapped lips. Her tattered hair only bounced with each step she took towards me. When she laid eyes upon me, her arms cross her chest showing her censure for me. I could her scathing hatred in the depths of my soul. God damnit! This circumstance is not how I wanted to meet my future potential mother-in-law! But Meredith always warned me that meeting her mother Linda wasn’t not for the faint of heart.
Wiping the droplets from my face, I attempt to implore her forgiveness. “Please listen, Linda. When Meredith agreed to manage me, I didn’t fathom this situation happening. Never in a million years did I think some psychopath would abduct your daughter. But I promise…”
Interrupting me, Linda chastised me with vitriol behind her voice. “I told her you were another pathetic loser setting her life up for failure. You fuckin’ rasslers are all the Goddamn same. Y’er a bunch of boneheaded assholes jacked up on drugs. Y’er fuckin’ pathetic! Fuckin’ pathetic.”
Gritting my teeth together to tame my tongue, I look Linda straight in her eyes. Wandering right up to her face; I outburst my resentment towards the situation. “I don’t need reminding of my failures. I came ‘man up’ to them. Meredith’s gone and we can’t change that through incessant bickering. Both of us know the gravitas of this situation.”
My eyes scroll over to the background of the house as Meredith’s daughter Lexi emerges. She’s the spitting image of her mother when she was 4 years old. She has Meredith’s golden, curly hair. Her eyes radiate a glow of hope and faith. Her stance remains timid regardless if she knows you. Cowering next to her grandmother’s frail legs, Lexi clings onto them for dear life. Her face blushes with an apprehensive smile.
Looking back up into Linda’s eyes, I continue with my tirade. “You can’t send Lexi to her father’s house and you certainly can’t handle that little ball of energy at your age. It’s obvious I haven’t earned your trust yet, but I promise with every breath in my body; I’ll protect Lexi! Meredith’s eased me into becoming a father figure in her life. It may not seem fathomable, but I know Meredith trusts me to take care of Lexi.”
As Linda’s scowl increases, she relents at a steady pace. Struggling to kneel to get to Lexi’s level; she wraps her arms around little Lexi’s body giving her a giant hug. She lectures her granddaughter before entrusting her care to me. “When you’re with Mr. Zion, please don’t act up. Act like the little princess you are for grandma!”
In an exuberant tone, Lexi responds with her cute voice, “Otay, Grammie!” before she charges towards me. Departing from Grandma’s house, Linda motions to me making sure I know she’s watching me. Commencing my abrupt plunge into parenthood, I watch Lexi joyful skip to my Hyundai. As I open her door, her glistening eyes meet mine. She glances around distraught for a moment before asking “Where’s mommy?”
With tears streaming down my eyes, I lost it. It took every fiber in my body to muster up the courage to tell her the news.
Monday, October 18th, 2021
Crown Point, Indiana
“Can I go play in the Playplace, pweeeeeeeeease?!” Lexi pleads with me in her cute tone. “PWWWWWEAAAAAASE!!!!!” Her eyes glistened like tiny Christmas lights as her small hands grasped onto mine. She bats her eyes to amplify her cuteness factor to over 9,000.
I reply in complete exasperation. “Fine! But please stay in close to where I can see you, kiddo. Mr. Darin wants to make sure you’re safe.”
“Otay, Daddy!!! TEE HEE!” She responds before she barrels off towards the playground in the distance.
Reaching over for my cup of coffee, I guzzle a large amount before placing the cup on the marble table. My palms roll down my roughshod face, covering up my blood shot eyes. The last couple weeks have been complete hell and I’m drained from all the responsibilities. Never in a million years did I expect to become a single father to someone else’s kid. Out of all the billions of people in the world, the asshole with the worst upbringing is now a father. I didn’t know a single thing about parenting. Maybe it’s because my biological parents abandoned me into a toxic home situation. Hell, I didn’t raise any brothers or sisters growing up. My adoptive father only had me. God only knows how much I pleaded with Him over the last week to become a better father.
From delivering horrible news to night terrors, becoming a good parent overwhelmed me. Xander singlehandedly disrupted the balance of two lives with his abduction of Meredith.
Rubbing my fingers against my throbbing forehead, I couldn’t shake away the stress. I plant my forehead against the table, trying to get a couple winks of sleep, but I couldn’t. Feeling the gentle rub of someone’s hand against my hair, I pop up to see the familiar hand of an old friend.
I exclaim at the top of my lungs, “OH MY GOD! SHAWN! Thank God you’re here! I didn’t think they’d let you off this week. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Patting my on the shoulder, he smirks before acknowledging my calamity. “Parenthood’s not all that it’s cracked up to be, eh? You always gave me shit when I walked away from the business to take care of my three kids.”
My face grimaces at him as he plops down at my table, but I didn’t have the energy to retort. His confidence oozes as he cackles at his own joke. Gazing off into the distance, his eyes lock onto Lexi playing in the background. His keeps a careful eye on her in the background as he continues speaking. “I’ve heard you’ve got a big match at Rumble at the Rock. What are you gonna do to that young, upstart Xander Azula?”
The smile evaporates from my face as the hatred starts to glow. Veins protrude from my forehead, my fists ball up, and a scowl emerges from my face. I do not hesitate in expressing my disdain for my opponent. “That schmuck better learn how to fly in the next 12 days, or he’s fuckin’ dead. I will kill him. I’ll toss him off the top of that guard tower and watch his body go splat exactly how mine did three years ago. He’s a fucking manchild. Oh my God, I disagreed with his stupid little fuckstick cult. What he did to Meredith and Lexi makes my blood boil! He destroyed that kid’s life. He’s depriving Lexi of her mother all to resurrect some fake ass goddess.”
Letting off some steam, I slam my fists into the table. Before I can resume my ranting and raving, Lester shakes his head while I’ve succumbed to my rage. “Typical Zion! Always shooting first before formulating your strategy. God I’ve missed those days! Hell, I remember one time you beat some asshole from Atlantic City with a plastic clown head. In a fit of rage protecting your Icon Title, you showed up on the Coney Island. You beat that fool’s ass within an inch of his life in the Haunted House…”
I cut him off in abrupt fashion. I am in no mood to joke around about the good ole days when Lexi’s future is at stake. “There’s a time and a place for laughter and joy, and it’s not today. I promise you I’ll make that story will pale in comparison to what happens Xander at Alcatraz. If Azula’s trying to play mind games; I promise you I’m going to fuck him up.”
The smile on Shawn’s face melts away. He leans over and glares directly into my bloodshot eyes. While he grabs my hands to empathize with me, I pull them away from him. Nodding in agreement, he asks me point blank, “What’s your strategy going into this?”
Letting off a vexed sigh, I pull back and ponder for a moment before responding. “I’m trusting my fatherly instincts. For too long, I’ve cared about upholding a spotless reputation. I craved approachability in the HOW locker room since the last era. I wanted to maintain this image of an upstanding citizen. But I let my naivety control me too long. I thought I could do the right thing and succeed in HOW. Now, I’m going to make an impact. You don’t fuck with my family and expect me to wrestle with pristine class. Xander woke up my dominant killer instinct. He’s going to regret doing that. While I’ve lost to my own blind rage more times than I can count; I’m not entering Alcatraz lost. I found myself two weeks ago, and I’m going to show HOW a side of Zion they wish laid dead.”
While Shawn pats me on my shoulder, my eye fixate on Lexi playing off in the distance. The bitterness in my heart for Xander mounts as I watch her playing. Deep in my soul, I sense Lexi’s smile is fake, hiding her insecurities of losing her mother to a maniac. But don’t worry, sweet child! Darin’s going to bring mommy back home to us both. A sadistic smile curves over my face as I turn my attention back towards Shawn. Muttering my sinister cackling under my breathe, we both nod at each other. Under no circumstances is he to let Lexi watch Rumble at the Rock. When I get my hands on Xander Azula, I will batter, break, and destroy him. I am sending a message to the locker room their little brother dies in California. In his place, the once dead hell-bent Zion will reign, obliterating anyone in his path to success.
Let me make one thing clear to you, Xander. In our last encounter on HOW television, you experienced a more pleasant Zion in that ring. I cut a few jokes because I saw a lot of potential in you. You oozed the charisma of a breakout superstar like me in the old days of HOW. Sure, you hadn’t chalked up a lot of wins in HOFC or in regular matches. But you showed the moxie of someone everyone should watch out for in the coming years. I didn’t forget your name, nor did I want to disrespect your religion. Life cut you from a different cloth than the rest of the HOW roster. While I don’t share your beliefs in Eris; I went out of my way to respect your way of life. I wanted you to feel included in the festivities of this great organization. Mainly because I didn’t want you to end up like me. You didn’t deserve to face constant scrutiny in your life like I did for the last three years. Living under a microscope killed all my momentum in this era of HOW. Hell, I accepted my fate and became HOW’s resident jovial jester. I felt if I attended a few Eternal Circle meeting and covered up my intensions; you’d feel like a member of the HOW family. I considered you a friend, especially after our time in 214 together.
Never in a million years did I expect you to become a some creepy fuckin’ stalker. Hell, I didn’t foresee you would abduct the woman I call my only family in this world. Watching back all those weeks of promos, I should have trusted Meredith’s intuition. I missed all those disturbing smiles exuding from your face after I left the room. I failed to grasp your hidden intensions into manipulating me to your whim. Because it’s clear as fuckin’ day you saw me as a weaker man. You thought you could exploit the jester as a fuckin’ stepping stone to your sick and twisted cult. You thought you did your homework on my flailing HOW career and I would join up with you.
Well sit your worthless ass down because it’s story time, you piece of shit.
Before you came to HOW, I held a reputation of burying this roster and disrespecting the HOW machine. I came from a prestigious indy company with a chip on my damn shoulder. I won 16 different championships in that company before I came barging through HOW’s door. Once I entered, I didn’t care about earning self-respect or loving Lee’s wrestling business. I shat on everyone who crossed my path. From our own talent like Mike Best to our HOTV partners; I only craved championship gold. It became my sheer reason for existing in HOW. For 7 years I rooted my identity in securing more HOW that I lost my self along the way. I became a parody of myself. You could count on Zion to lay out the same, banal boring promo every goddamn show. And for the last 5 weeks, I’ve searched desperately for that missing piece until you crossed the damn line.
Now I’ve found it, kid; and you’re fuckin’ screwed!
See, you messed with the only family I’ve ever had in this life. My biological parents abandoned me when I was an infant. My adoptive father abused the hell out of me. Hell, my brother from another Mother Brian Hollywood gaslit me for years. He only used me for his own selfish gain to win championships. You stole away the only person who put up with my bullshit. Meredith has my back no matter how I acted. She loves me through thick and thin in our relationship. Yet you want to use her as a goddamn pawn to please your fake ass goddess. You thought you’d use her as leverage to manipulate me to your will.
Well, guess what Xander? You failed again at another attempt to find your relevance on this God damn roster. You awakened a fatherly instinct in me I didn’t think existed. For sure, I thought my shitty parents killed any hope of it existing. But you screwed with Meredith and her daughter, and it panged my heart to pieces.
I’m angry, Xander. It’s not the same kind of anger I exhibited when I failed at winning singles gold over the last 3 years. Oh no, you wish this anger was a glorified temper tantrum! It’s not like you fuckin’ throwing one when somebody disrespects your fake idol. This is the kind of anger that men go to jail over. It’s purely protective. It won’t stop until I neutralize the threat to my family.
It’s why I chose the Guard Tower Match, Xander. Sure, I fear getting thrown off that tower again. It took four months off my HOW career and caused me to reinvent myself. It removed me from a career to provide me and a future family with a livelihood. But I know the hell that comes in this match. It’s the only way I can keep you from ever fucking with my family again. It gives me the power to send you straight into a personal hell.
Mark my words, kid; the power of Eris won’t protect you from catching my wrath. At Rumble at the Rock, you’re going home to Jesus, motherfucker! I’m going to expose you as a fraud. I’ll be the Elijah in this story, and you’ll be the 450 prophets to Baal. After Eris fails to answer your pleas for help; I’m gonna burn your ass to the ground. When I hurl your ass over the rail, I’m going to take pleasure in your pain. I’m going to enjoy hearing your blood curdling screams before you go splat. I will get my justice and I will send a message to the rest of HOW roster at Rumble at the Rock.
I will not allow you to sacrifice Meredith to be Eris’ vessel. I will not allow Lexi to grow up without a mother. She doesn’t deserve to become a sick pawn in a depraved HOW storyline. I’m a future father and I will not allow another kid to suffer the same fate I did growing up.
Retribution will be mine in Alcatraz and I will survive my own personal hell when I enter that Guard Tower match.”