3 Years Ago
Dashing towards the HOW Tag Team Straps with all my might, my eyes shift back to Brian Hollywood. My eyes glow with excitement and glee as I continue the pursuit. Communicating with my best friend is now my top priority. After taking some time to catch my breath, I scream out to Brian at the top of my lungs.
“We’ve got them! The belts are coming home with us, brother! The Industry can’t stop us now!”
I slither within inches of the sterling silver straps secured at the top of Alcatraz’s guard tower. My body’s cravings gnaw at my withered soul. Soon I’ll restore my former glory and hold HOW gold I desperately deserve. They’re…
WHAM! CRASH! WHOOOOOOOOOOSH!
The stern force from the arms of an Industry member sweeps me off my feet and sends me flailing to my death. A bright, white light illuminates from background. While my brain grapples with the terms of death, it hits me. I can only embrace this destiny. Closing my eyes, a blood curdling scream blares from the depths of my body. It reverberates off the concrete chasms in Alcatraz.
In the sudden heat of the moment, reality blends and blurs together to show modern day events. The shadowed Industry member becomes my mortal nemesis: Xander Azula. Meredith appears where the HOW Tag Team Championships once dangled. Her body tied and bound to the railings of the decaying, rusted Guard Tower. My heart sinks down into my stomach while no noises expel from my body. Only morale bankruptcy fills the void in my world. I failed the woman and child I love most. I’d let Xander’s conquer me and destroy the lives around me. Weeping at the immense downfall; I now have nothing left in my life. As death besieges my soul, everything around me burns…
Thursday, October 21st, 2021
Crown Point, Indiana
Soaring out of my bed after experiencing another night terror, I heave the air in and out of my lungs. The sweat from my body drenches everything: my pillows, blankets, pajamas, and bed. Sobbing my eyes dry, I collect myself before I reach into the nightstand for another dose of Zoloft. God damn that hallucination felt real. Meredith’s absence drained the life right out of my soul. Relaxing against my comfy Purple mattress, bit by bit I fade back into dreamland.
“DAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDYYYYY! DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDY!” Lexi’s distant shrills jar me back to reality. Staggering down the hallway to the guest room at a snail pace, I drag my frazzled feet to check on her.
Six hours of sleep over the last two days can kill man. On normal days, I’d get uninterrupted 6 hours of slumber. But Lexi’s profound struggles continue to startle her awake every night. Tonight’s battle is the worst for her. Whereas the other nights we’d wake up and share cookies before she’d pass out; Lexi sat awake her in bed lamenting. Her face buried deep into her pillow. Her feeble heart crushed at vacancy of her mother in her life. Kneeling at her bedside; I swaddle tight her minuscule body with my mammoth arms. Scooping her out of the sack; I rock her to and fro while giving her a gentle pat on the back. Consoling her, I murmur in a comforting tone. “I’m here now! What’s the matter, sweetheart?”
“I miss my moommmy!!” She wailed out at the top of her feeble lungs. Lexi conceals her little head into my shoulder before bursting into more tears.
It took every fiber in my being to hold me back from crying.
I grew up without the support of my sperm and egg donors. Lexi’s own struggles cut the wounds beneath my flesh. I couldn’t express the hostility I felt towards Xander Azula with her. He sole idea of Meredith is she’s a fucking pawn in manipulating me to joining his cult. This four-year-old dangling in my arms couldn’t grasp the idea of my vengeance. I could traumatize her with all the homicidal and savage plots running I wanted to unleash on Azula. Any time someone mentioned his name, I went on a berserk bloodlust binge, craving his blood.
Meredith’s kidnaping isn’t a game to me. It’s a declaration of war. No HOW superstar went to these lengths with me. They all knew I’d buried my past six feet under. But this moronic man-child desires to resurrect it. Fine! When I meet him in the depth of Alcatraz; he’ll catch my unrelenting fury.
Right now, it isn’t the time to dwell on my internal strife. I could only give the luxury of comfort to Meredith’s beautiful daughter. My arms clutch her meager body against my own. Brushing her golden locks behind her head, my eyes twinkle as they meet hers. My tone makes a drastic shift into a mild, soothing father. Encouraging her, I ask “What can I do to make this better, honey? I promised you I would bring back your mother soon. It’s hard to accept it will take time. But I’ll rescue her lickety-split. Right now, we both must cope with the pain. I promised you I’ll do anything to pamper you in the meantime. So, what can I do to help?”
Her eyes sparkle as she tugs against the collar of my PJs. “Weally? Anyfing I want?” she asks me in her sweetest voice.
Nodding at her, I boop her nose before she unleashes an uncontrollable giggle. “Yup! Anything you ask is yours!”
Sliding down the side of my leg, Lexi clenches onto my hand and tugs me straight into the kitchen. Jumping up and down with glee, she screeches at top of her lungs. “Ice Ceam! Ice Ceam! I want Ice Ceam!” She darts off back into her room while I pull out a container of Chocolate Ice Cream from the freezer. Emerging from the halls, she drags a huge picture book behind her.
“Can you read me another story, daddy?” She pleads in her sugary, youthful tone. Naturally, my heart melts inside my chest as she bats her little eye lashes at me. It almost reminded me of Meredith.
“Sure thing, princess!” I exclaim before grabbing our ice cream and guiding her into the living room. Sitting down in the old, dusty recliner I inherited from adoptive father, she cuddles right up in my lap. Before I could even start reading, she buries her face deep into her chocolate ice cream.
Watching the sprinkles and whip cream flying everywhere, we start our story time. Only one thought echoes in the back of my mind: justice. Becoming burgeoning father figure in Lexi’s life, it inspired me my growth. Unlike my parents, nothing will stop me from protecting this precious life in my lap. Gazing down at Little Lexi falling asleep, the dominant beast within awakens. If it gets Meredith back in her life; I’ll go to jail to protect Lexi’s well-being. I didn’t want Xander’s sick and twisted plans to scar another young soul.
Even though I couldn’t round my wrestling skills; I’ll dive into those gritty, street lesson life gave me. What Xander failed to realize, I grew up on the tough, dank streets of West Garfield Park. Desperation isn’t an option for the survivors. You fight to kill and protect your family. And by God’s grace; while those lessons laid dead for years, I vow I’ll unleash them on Xander.
If there’s one thing I learned from my shitty dad; a father’s justice ascends the law. And I promise it’s a fate worse than death for your adversaries.
Tuesday, October 26th, 2021
San Francisco, California
Observing from the distance, I watch a cargo ship labelled Reesemart pull up to shore. Biding my time while the crewmen settled onto the island, I reach into my leather jacket. Withdrawing my dinky, spiral notebook, I jot down a list of items:
- Brass Knuckles
- Cigar Cutter
- Fish Wire
- Bag of Thumbtacks
Every item I once used in brawls during my time in juvie. It all fits into my plans for torturing Xander throughout our Guard Tower Match. All those items could fit into my trunks or into a fanny pack. Our referee wouldn’t give two shits either. For making Lexi and me suffer the last month, I’ll make damn sure Xander doesn’t walk out of Alcatraz the same man. It’s time to show that bastard how cold and unforgiving the real-world treats criminals. Eris won’t save his ass from my justice.
Clamping my fists down into my jacket pockets, I stroll over in a nonchalant manner towards the dock. Inhaling the fresh sea air, I reflect on this moment. These are the last free moments I have outside the walls of Alcatraz. The sun blazes its majestic red, orange, and purple hues over the bay skyline. Truly it’s a sight I’ll miss!
Taking the final turn, I amble my way towards one of the workers carrying a box. Colliding into him with every intension, I knock him over on his ass. I reach over to hoist him back up and brush him off. Apologetic, I start forging a relationship.
I browse down at his Red name tag before blurting out his name. “GARY! Man! My mind’s in the clouds today. I can’t shake the immense pressure that’s on my mind. They’re gonna chain my girlfriend up to that tower over there…”
I twist his head with force to the guard tower station that still haunts my dreams before continuing. “She’s my everything. Even in all my losses; she’s protected my ass. It’s…it’s….”
Shrouding my face with my palm, I lay on the fake tears. As Gary takes in everything, he finally recognizes me. “Oh shit! You’re Darin Zion! Dude! I’ve got major respect for you. Every HOW fans loves you, man. You put up with a lot of shit and losses, but fight your ass off for the last 7 years. God, that’s gotta be tough!”
My eyes narrow at him while I grit my teeth. “Yeah….first world problems…”
As I straighten his nametag on his shirt, my hand dives into my coat pocket to extract my shopping list. “Anyways, I’m in a bit of a bind. I need a few weapons to teach Ole Xander Azula a tough life lesson. I left all my electronics back at home before it hit me Reesemart’s got an online presence for this event. I kinda…. need a favor from you, kid. You mind helping me out?”
Withdrawing a large sum of cash leftover from selling my mansion, I slap it against his chest with my list in tow. Gary’s eyes widen as he begins to process everything going down.
“You understand…no paper trails and shit. I’m paying you and QT Reese more than a fair share to provide me with some goods. Sure, you’re a family-friendly wrestling weapons dealer. But Azula is a fuckin’ lunatic. He needs to understand how prison justice works here at Alcatraz.”
Slapping my hands together, I display my grim demeanor. Before I could even coerce the man, Gary leaps into immediate action. Digging into the crates, he extracts a bag filled with the supplies I asked for and more.
He exclaims, “You caught me right in time. Reesemart a LIMITED TIME OFFER on our Prison Weapons Bundle. It celebrates the true spirit of Alcatraz Island in its glory days. It’s only the low low price of $1,999.99 today only! Instant Delivery!!!!!”
Crossing my arms, I glare at the dimwitted retail employee. “…I gave you $4,000 mother fucker! Where’s my change?” I ask in an annoyed voice.
“Paperless trails cost you extra here, bud.” He barks at me before he proceeds to setting up his stand. As I turn away at a slow pace, my eyes fixate on a lead pipe sitting off to the side. Yanking it away, Gary is quick to retort. “Motherfucker, that’s part of the stand.”
As Gary charges straight at me, I swing the pipe his direction before he dodges it and cowers near the ship. “And you’re throwing in this nice lead pipe I’ll call Meredith, free of charge, asshole. I’ll jam it between Xander’s jawline and deliver his damn skull as an early Christmas present for you fuckers. This is what you get for fucking highway robbery!” I squawk out while walking off into the distance.
Cruising off to my room in Cell Block B, I admire the plunder I secure. I mutter underneath my breath. “You want to see a deranged Zion, Mr. Azula. Be careful about what you ask for, asshat. Christmas comes early for the fools. I’m gonna maim you in broad daylight. And I promise, I’m not gonna walk out of here the hero. Now I’ve lived long enough to become the villain. They’re gonna lock me up in here. But it’ll be all worth it when I deliver Lexi her mother back home.”
“Broken vows are like broken mirrors. They leave those who held to them bleeding and staring at fractured images of themselves.”
–Richard Paul Evans, Promise Me
“Over the course of 3 years; I’ve made incessant promises to walk out of big-time matches holding gold. Now it’s become a running gag. I’m sure the roster thinks I’m writing a check my ass can’t cash when I vow to bring my beloved back home to her daughter. I’m a failure of a man whose actions can’t back the damn promises he makes. He’s only a sad, desperate clown man pretending to live his lifelong dream in becoming a superhero. He’s the white knight HOW never wanted. He’s so desperate to emerges in his hero complex that he’s oblivious to the true nature of HOW.
I’ve heard it all, but the best piece of advice I heard came from the late, great Max Kael. I loathed the man while he lived, but there’s one line that resonated with me. When I wrestled in the World Championship tournament that kicked off this era of HOW, he threw it out. God knows he made his best attempts to reason with my thick skull. I’m paraphrasing it now, but it connected the moment you kidnapped Meredith from me.
‘Eventually, you’ll have to shed your good-natured heart to survive the cruel world of HOW.’
Naturally as the stubborn fool I am, I did the exact opposite of what he told me. I secluded myself in my innocence hoping I could become the beacon of light guiding HOW to a better future. Maybe if I embraced the image of HOW’s Little Brother, I dethrone the machine of all evil. Hell, everyone loves a good Cinderella story from time to time to cleanse your palettes.
Well, it’s about damn time I embrace the cold-hard truth.
Xander, it’s time to awaken from your fantasy world. This isn’t the Dungeons and Dragons game your mother still lets you play in her basement. In the real world, you’re not a grizzled 34-year-old grizzled Gandalf the Gray wannabe. Discordia doesn’t fucking exist on a fuckin’ map. Eris isn’t a fucking magical goddess giving you supernatural powers. Hell, while we’re exposing shit; Santa Claus, The Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are fake news. It’s only your merry band of fat, basement dwelling losers indulging your whims. Hell, your abysmal 2-5 record suggests I’m right. Eris will not smite your enemies; she would have done already to protect her most loyal follower.
This isn’t a fable with heroes and villains, you stupid fucker. I’m not here to slay the damn dragon and protect the village from the vile dragons. I’m the jilted, jaded young lover willing to do anything to protect his love. In this battle, I’m not here to fight for my reputation. Oh no! I’m coming to mangle, maul, and dismember you to get Meredith back. The authorities will use Rumble at the Rock as evidence to keep me incarcerated here. Think of me as Liam Neeson in the Taken franchise, kid. I’ll break any law or kill anyone who stands in my path to protecting my family. Because that’s what true men do. They’ll envelop themselves in sins they’ve sequestered to safeguard their loved ones.
It’s not desperation you see in me. It’s unbridled rage! You’re a fool if you think this is some subjective case for argument. It isn’t some abstract college thesis statement. It’s objective, societal sin you’ve committed by coveting Meredith. And I’m coming to issue you justice.
Justice isn’t the bullshit you pulled with Meredith. You’re acting like a fucking child. I didn’t man up and tell you my feelings. You’re the one who escalated this into a True Crime Story, asshole.
Go ahead, I dare you to continue to normalize kidnapping a woman against her will. It’ll fuel the torment I unleash on you. You thought you could step into the world of HOW and be another edgy bastard. You hoped and prayed you’d get away with it. You thought you could throw a Scottywood sized tantrum getting your way. When things didn’t go your way, you tried to seize the day. But in the end, it’ll cost you everything.
No, you’d be lucky if I gave you systematic justice for what you did. You’re facing a father’s justice. It’s like prison justice. You royally fuck up and you get the worst Goddamn torture of your life. The prison system can only imagine it could serve justice like this, Xander.
I still don’t think you grasp the gravitas of this Guard Tower match. Your thick skull won’t allow you to see the truth. Your bullshit doesn’t fly with this Zion. My history might show I’m fuckin’ Chris Farley. I’m just another joke for you and the rest of the HOW roster to walk all over. But I’m about to go full Kratos.
Keep bringing your damn Mega Bloks pot shots to this war. Because you’re about to witness my dark side. This isn’t your mothers fuckin’ rassling matches, son. You’re about to witness the true, grim nature of HOW. We don’t always put on wrestling clinics. When you gotta teach a lesson, you leave your opponents with scars. People have lost eyes for fucking with the wrong people here. We’ve killed bands for the sole reason of how shitty they are. When you’re at my mercy, you’ll beg for me to Bottomline you. It’s a far lesser punishment than what I have planned for you.
I won’t fight with pride, valor, or class at Rumble at the Rock. I will cut you up and make you bleed within an inch of your damn life. It’s about to the dirtiest fight in my history. Because I’m about to unleash some life lesson I learned when I got thrown in the Juvenile Detention Halls. If you paid attention, you damn well know my history in HOW. I’ve fuckin’ destroyed corporate headquarters, attacked random fans, and watched arenas burn at my whim. I’m not some lonesome loser ready to pack up my bags and hit the retirement farm. I’ve played stupid the past 3 years because I didn’t want my history to define who I am.
In our guard tower match, I unleash that sleeping beast within. I chose this match to end you Xander. I want to grasp the cold hard truth of your humanity. I want to hear you begging to Eris crying out why she’s forsaken you. I crave the moments where I watch you gasping desperately out for air. And when you collapse from the suffering and justice I deal out; I want to watch your discarded corpse splat against the pavement for my sheer solace.
I didn’t take this match only to conquer my own fears. You’re damn right I’m a fucking sadist. It’s the only match to satisfy my unquenched bloodlust you freed. It’s the one match type I know breaks your damn soul. When you go flying off the side of that tower, taking your final breaths; it sends a loud and clear message.
Don’t ever fuck with me, again.
When the Industry did it to me, I never willingly crossed them again. It’s why I joined up with Lindsay Troy. It made me respect this company. It made me realize I had to earn my opportunities. It changed who I became and molded me into this worthless sycophant you see today.
Now it’s my turn to bestow my HOW life lessons for your journey, kid.
You’re not walking out of Rumble at the Rock the same, ignorant, immature jackass. I won’t allow you to pull a stunt like this shit again. I’m a man hell bent on destruction and chaos at Alcatraz. I didn’t earn this Pay-Per-View spot to fail again.
You’re Goddess isn’t coming back. You need medicine for the voices in your convoluted head. This isn’t some white tent Reawakening Movement for the Eternal Circle. You’re just a poor man’s Pat Roberts hoping for your 15 seconds of fleeting fame. Sorry, you’re not getting that glory.
It’s time for you to stop projecting your sad career status on mine and realize what’s happening at Alcatraz.
You’re about to become an example to the rest of this roster. After I dispose of you; my message to you and the rest of the HOW roster will ring out clear from the halls of Alcatraz. Don’t fucking mess with Darin Zion. I will not break another promise. This is a father’s justice. I promise to bring Lexi back her mother. I will not falter on that vow to her.”