Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away…
Scene: It’s late evening.
A large neon Texas sign lights up the area on top of a multi-story structure that functions as the entrance to Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth, Texas- otherwise known as the biggest honky-tonk in the world. How big is it? 127,000 square feet. One bull-riding ring inside. Forty-two bar stations.
A concert has just let out of Billy Bob’s – standing room only – and last call was called. People stream from the venue headed towards their respective vehicles.
Focus in on…Joe Bergman. He strides down the sidewalk with purpose and intent to reach his truck as fast as possible.
Behind him, Dawn McGill follows – trying to keep up with Joe – both walking away from Billy Bob’s towards the parking area along with hundreds of other patrons.
McGill struggles to keep up with the fast walking Bergman as he powers walks towards his waiting truck while readjusting the black vest he wore over a plain white collar-less shirt with black pants and boots every few seconds.
Dawn wears a black, vintage fringed, embroidered Western shirt under a brown Fringe Detail Double Pocket Suede Jacket, a pair of blue jeans, and brown cowboy boots.
Joe Bergman (very pleased): Finally!
Joe huffs and puffs from the over-exertion.
Joe Bergman: Where is he?
Dawn McGill: Who?
Joe Bergman: Ray. Ray’s not here.
Dawn becomes momentarily agitated at the question.
Dawn McGill: Well how the hell should I know where he is? It’s not my day to keep tabs on where my ex-husband is. I haven’t been married to the son of a bitch for three years now! Where do you think he is?
Cut back inside to Billy Bob’s.
In the main room where the concert had just concluded a few minutes prior, most of the people have cleared out except for a single solitary figure sitting at one of the outer tables. A herd of empty beer bottles litter said table but the person remains hidden in the shadows.
Oh. A Big Bertha driver leans up against the table.
Random Narrator: We tried to hire an eight time High Octane Wrestling champion to play the fake Obi-Wan Kenobi part of this RP but he declined. Then we tried to get a five time HOW champion- he told us to fuck off. So did the four time HOW champion, all the three time champions, and the two time champions. So we just got this guy.
This guy = Ray McAvay. Former HOW World Champion for a whopping thirteen days.
McAvay channels every inch of his inner Patrick Stewart-styled self-righteous rage of indignation as he lashes out at the narrator.
Ray McAvay: This guy? THIS GUY?
His hand shakes as he wags his finger at the random narrator- wherever he was.
Ray McAvay: I’ll have you know not only did I win War Games in 2016, I’m now the CEO of Missouri Valley Wrestling!
Random Narrator: A show that no one watches.
Ray McAvay (sputtering like hell): Yeah – but-
McAvay gets cut off and we quickly return to the parking lot where Bergman and McGill have found their mode of transportation – an aging 2000 International tractor trailer truck named the Mister Falcon (as in Bruce Willis’s epic line in Die Hard- yippee ki-ay mister falcon).
But we digress…
Joe is much happier now.
Joe Bergman: Finally, we catch a break. Do you know how much money these guys are paying us for this job? Do you know what this means?”
Dawn McGill: It means you can buy modern wardrobe and stop wearing stuff that went out of style in the 1970’s
Joe Bergman: No. (Joe catches himself) Well – okay yes. But, no.
Dawn rolls her eyes.
Joe Bergman: What it means Dawn, is that at last, we can get all of our bills paid off and-
Strange Animal Sound: QUACK…QUACK-QUACK-QUACK…QUACK!
Joe freezes in place.
Joe Bergman: Holy shit. I know that voice.
Dawn dares not turn around to face the source of the unique voice.
Dawn McGill: I do too.
She motions with her head at Bergman to turn around. Joe refuses.
Dawn McGill: I’ve got a very bad feeling about this.
Male Voice: Bergman. Where are you going in such a hurry?
Dawn McGill: Awww, dammit.
She was right.
Joe and Dawn slowly turn around and in seconds their worse possible fears are confirmed when they become face to face with a giant six foot tall duck with a major drooling problem and his normal sized human companion dressed in a suit and had funny things protruding from his head
Bergman lets an awkward and untimely chuckle escape from his mouth.
Joe Bergman: Jabba. Um…what a coincidence.
Jabba the Duck and his majordomo/translator Bob Fortune glare back at the pair.
Jabba the Duck (angrily): QUACK-QUACK…QUACK-quack-QUACK…QUACK!
Spit and slobber rain down on Bergman.
Bob Fortune: Jabba wants to know why you had to fry poor Guido like that?
Joe tries to rein in his nervousness, keep his cool, and come up with a plausible answer to save his neck.
Joe Bergman: Um…it was an accident. Malfunction. Er. The gun just went off – by mistake?
Bob rears back and laughs.
Bob Fortune: Joe, the entire bar heard you pull your blaster out and tell Guido – and I quote – You tell Jabba I’m coming and hell’s coming with me you hear? HELL’S COMING WITH ME!
Awkward smile from Joe.
Joe Bergman: Okay, so it wasn’t an accident.
Dawn takes a step back.
Bob Fortune: Well, no matter. What Jabba really wants to know is when are you going to repay him for that load you lost last month.
Dawn takes another step back.
Joe’s face reddens. He musters up as much pious righteousness as he can.
Joe Bergman: That wasn’t my fault!
Jabba raises a wing and points – well, points as much as a six foot tall oversized duck can point with a wing.
Jabba the Duck: QUACK-QUACKQUACK-QUACKQUACKQUACK! QUACK!
Joe holds his hands up to stop the spit from hitting him.
Bob Fortune: You forgot to hook the trailer to your truck.
Joe Bergman: Okay, that was my fault.
He glances back at McGill who’s now about five steps behind him and seriously thinking about making a run for it.
Joe Bergman: But look, we’ve just got a new load. To Atlanta and back. It’s a load of Coors beer.
Bob Fortune: Coors beer?
Joe Bergman: That’s right. We’re going to go eastbound and down, loaded up and trucking. We gonna do what they say can’t be done!
Jabba looks at Bergman quizzically.
Bob Fortune: Joe-
Joe Bergman: We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there. We’re eastbound and-
Fortune raises his hand to Joe to make him stop referencing the main song from the movie Smokey and the Bandit.
Dawn McGill (fifteen feet behind Joe): Also from the 1970’s Joe!
Bob Fortune: I will confer with Jabba.
Then Fortune confers with Jabba.
Precious tense moments go by.
Beads of nervous sweat appear on Joe’s face.
Joe Bergman: I’ll be able to pay you back – with interest!
Dawn has now moved ten steps back from Bergman.
The tension mounts.
Jabba peeks his head around and cocks a crooked eyelash towards Bergman.
You can now cut the tension with a Husqvarna 24 Inch 460 Rancher Gas Chainsaw – 3cc 24 inch gas chainsaw with guide bar and chain with a 2 cycle engine with inertia activated chain brake for safety while operating.
Available at your local Home Depot.
Finally, Fortune concludes his deliberations with Jabba.
Bob Fortune: Okay, Solo-
Joe Bergman: Who?
Bob Fortune: I mean- Joe. Here’s what we’re going to do.
Joe holds his breath.
Bob Fortune: You’re a goof. And your oral hygiene still leaves much to be desired. But Jabba likes you and he’s willing to give you one last chance. But…
There’s always a but.
Bob Fortune: …if you fail Jabba one more time, he’ll personally turn you over to Darth Kael-
Random Voices from God Knows Where: LONG MAY HE MAIM!
Joe looks up in the sky for the source of the random voices.
Also freaking out, Dawn’s eyes search back and forth for any sign of the sinister Prime Minister of Maxopotamia, The Lord of Kaelsalvania himself.
Joe extends his hand to Jabba.
Joe Bergman: He won’t regret it.
Jabba shakes his head and stiffs Bergman on the handshake. He’s clearly in no mood for Bergman’s attempt to curry favor with him.
The duck shakes a crooked wing at Bergman to intimate just how serious he is.
Jabba the Duck: QUACK-QUACK…QUACK…QUACK-QUACK…QUACK…QUACK-QUA-
A loud rifle shot rips through the air. Dawn screams out as Jabba’s head explodes in a gruesome flash and coats Fortune, Joe, and everything else within a twenty foot radius in blood and tissue.
Dawn’s outside the twenty foot area so she’s happy.
Another female is ecstatic…
Female Voice Several Feet Away: GOT HIM!
Joe tries to shake off the remains of Jabba from his hands. He ends up wiping them on his pants.
Female Voice Several Feet Closer: YES! YOU BETCHA!
Joe Bergman: What the hell-
Walking into view, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin hands the high powered Winchester rifle with long range scope to an aide and high fives him. Governor Palin is wearing a hunting outfit with knee high black boots.
Another Voice- Not so Happy: MRS. PALIN!
Palin’s tour guide rushes to keep up with her.
Unhappy Tour Guide: MRS. PALIN!
Dressed in an all-white suit, the guide toddles over to the former governor fit to be tied.
Unhappy Tour Guide: For the love of God Mrs. Palin, would you please refrain from shooting everything in sight?
Suddenly, a rumbling sound resembling a large vehicle is heard.
Joe Bergman: What was that?
Joe becomes extremely alarmed as the sound gradually becomes larger and the ground begins to vibrate.
Joe Bergman: Dawn?
Dawn sees a large gray vehicle rumble into view.
Dawn McGill: That’s not good.
The vehicle rolls even closer now and Dawn’s apprehensions are correct.
Dawn McGill: Joe?
It’s a giant gray Death Ball rolling down through the parking lot of Billy Bob’s.
The ball stops. Suddenly, a concentrated beam of light shoots out from the big gray Death Ball of…death and…
…and Billy Bob’s explodes in a massive plume of fire that consumes the building in just seconds much to the horror of Joe Bergman…
Joe Bergman: Wait a minute. The Death Ball is functional?
…and Dawn McGill.
Dawn McGill: Oh. My. God.
The door to the Death Ball opens up and a man kept alive primarily by a mechanical breathing apparatus – he’s more machine than man these days – pops his head out and stares down at Joe. Then the man appears to give orders to the people inside the Death Ball.
A door opens up and a large gun turret comes out and locks on a target.
Dawn McGill: Um, Joe?
Dawn knows this isn’t a good thing and it’s time to go.
Dawn McGill: JOE!
Dawn McGill: JOE! IT’S HIM! IT’S DARTH KAE-
Joe sees a bright orange flash from the turret and then-
Joe Bergman’s voice (shouting at the top of his voice): SARAH PALIN IS A HOTTIE AND SHE CAN PICK OFF AN OVERSIZED DUCK AT ONE HUNDRED FEET WITH A SHOTGUN!
The Bergman’s Temporary House Trailer
Early Thursday Morning February 13th– 3:00 AM
The bedroom is pitch black. Well, save a small red light that indicates there’s a HOTv cameraman also inside the bedroom to film what happens next.
Joe sits up in bed. His back is straight as a board.
A small lamp on the end table by the bed turns on.
Sleepy, Laura Bergman turns over in bed. Even half awake, she already knows the answer to the question she’s about to ask but poses the query anyways.
Laura Bergman: Let me guess. There’s a camera guy in here.
Joe Bergman: Yep.
Joe leans back against the wall and covers his eyes with his hands.
Laura Bergman: Good thing I’m dressed.
The camera guy may be a little disappointed at that development but he still has a lifesize poster of Laura topless after Joe/Halitosis’s dragon dream last summer as a consolation prize- so he’s okay.
Joe Bergman: Sorry. Couldn’t sleep.
Laura Bergman: Joe, what did I say about staying up all night and binge watching all the Star Wars movies right before a big match.
Joe Bergman: I wasn’t binge watching Star Wars.
Laura Bergman: Really? And what were those empty Star Wars DVD containers I found all over the floor?
Joe Bergman: Okay, I stayed up all night binge watching all of the Star Wars movies.
The last time Joe was over the top nervous for a match against Max Kael, he stayed up all night and binge watched Game of Thrones which produced a night of really intense – and really bizarre dreams.
She wasn’t in the mood for it tonight. Laura turns back over.
Laura Bergman: Go back to sleep Joe.
North End Tavern
302 N. Main Street
Thursday Night February 13th
The ‘Budweiser On Tap’ sign outside the stone exterior lights up the area near the front entrance of the tavern.
♫ “White Trash”- Chris Janson ♫
Between the trailer and the dog
And the cars on blocks and the hogs
Out in the front yard
Where us kids play
Just inside the bar and seated at a table with a window view of the downtown business district, Laura Bergman, Dawn McGill, and Joe Bergman chat while Chris Janson’s ‘White Trash’ blares loudly over the sound system – a song selection on the new-fangled jukebox located in the rear of the main area.
Yeah there was mama
In her house shoes
Smokin’ Salem Lights with the tattoos
You add it all up
That’s why they call us white trash
Laura = not overly impressed with the song selection.
Dawn? She’s sings the oncoming chorus along with Chris Janson with gusto at full voice.
Well if they’d had their way
They’d have thrown us away
Like an empty bottle of wine
We belong sacked up
Stacked on the curb
In their mind
Joe’s making a beer run at the bar where he carefully bundles three bottles of beer in his arms and slowly makes his way back.
Dawn kicks back, relaxes, and continues to belt out the chorus of the song.
And their daddies didn’t want us
Hanging ’round their girls
And they told every son they had
Don’t even think about it
Taking out the white trash
Laura leans in to talk with McGill. They chit-chat until Joe finally makes it back to the table. He hands out the beers to the appropriate person and then sits back down.
The door to the North End Tavern opens. Laura eyes the person and seems a bit surprised.
Laura Bergman: You’re doing a promo here? Tonight?
Joe’s head nods. The sight of the HOTv camera man attracts a few eyes inside the tavern who wonder what’s going on.
Laura Bergman: Why?
Joe turns to the camera guy.
Joe Bergman: Are you about ready?
The camera guy says yes.
Dawn McGill: All right then.
Dawn gets handed a microphone.
Joe takes one last swig from his bottle of beer. He then leans down and kisses his wife.
Joe Bergman: Because.
McGill stands on her chair.
Dawn McGill (projecting her voice): Okay folks. If I can have your attention here for a few minutes. We’re cutting a promo here tonight for this thing we do called High Octane Wrestling. Any fans here tonight?
There’s a few people here who are very familiar with HOW.
Dawn McGill: Good good.
She motions for Joe to stand on his chair.
Dawn McGill: I’m going to hand this over to Mr. Joe Bergman. He’s got himself a big match this weekend against the man who’s a mashed together Darth Vader-slash-James Bond villain all wrapped up in one- Max Kael.
Dawn motions the camera a little closer. She points over to another table where erstwhile Sunshine God Rah – his golden locks a flowing along with his brown robe – sits with his ever-eclectic entourage: Happy Mango, Bob Nye-The Foot Fetish Guy, and the BronzeBeach Bikini Suntan Team.
Dawn McGill: And yeah Max, unfortunately Rah’s going to be a little busy Saturday night so he’s not going to be at the show.
She hands the microphone to Joe and there’s a sizeable cheer that erupts inside the bar.
Joe Bergman: All right everybody. First off, how about a hand for the manager of champions – the master of the steel folding chair- and the six foot demolition machine in a skirt- Dawn McGill!
As Joe points to her, the crowd stands and cheers. Dawn raises her hand to acknowledge the applause. She then gives the fans a thumbs up.
Joe Bergman: I just want to say thank you for allowing me to interrupt your Tuesday evening for a few minutes. My name is Joe Bergman – or ‘Ordinary’ Joe Bergman-
Random Patron (shouts out): REGULAR JOE!
Joe smiles and nods his head in acknowledgement.
Joe Bergman: Yes, I’ve been called that too. As you know, I face the HOW LSD Champion Max Kael this Saturday night in Chicago for Max’s title.
He pauses to take a drink from his beer.
Joe Bergman: Before I begin, I just want to advise everyone that if you’re expecting the usual fire and brimstone, blowing up the opponent, tearing down the walls, and verbal emasculation that usually accompanies a HOW promo- I’m not that guy. I don’t have the ability to dissect someone with my words like many of my contemporaries in HOW who can be best described as surgeons of the spoken word. You’re not going to get an incendiary oral assault of my opponent where I tear them a new one with shit talking. Nope. That’s not me. Trash talking is not what I do.
Joe shrugs. It is what it is.
Joe Bergman: Trash talking is definitely NOT what I do. So you may ask, what exactly do I do? Well, ladies and gentlemen of the North End Tavern in lovely DeSoto, Missouri, what I do best is this- I show up. I’m there. If Lee Best books Joe Bergman – or before, Halitosis – I’m there. If Ray McAvay calls and says ‘Hey Joe. Could you come down here and help us this weekend? If I’m available, I’m there. When Blaire Moise or even Brian Bare asks me for an interview, I’m there. No matter where I go – no matter where I am – every time Joe Bergman sets foot in the ring – no matter if I’m in a HOW ring or a MVW ring or even an Appalachian Mountain Championship Wrestling ring, if I’m there then you are going to get one hundred percent – max effort – from Joe Bergman. Maxing out. Week after week after week. Do you want to know how I won the World Title for the first time? I can tell you this much- it wasn’t luck. It was hard work. It was maxing out every time I wrestled. Week after week after week I maxed out. How did I win the World Title for the second time? Hard work. Maxing out. And I caught John Sektor on a night where he thought he could just come to the ring and win. I was ready to be there. Sektor was not. Why? Because that’s what I do. I’m there.
The people of the North End Tavern clap their hands. Joe uses the moment to drink more of his beer.
Joe Bergman: So now, with the help of Dawn McGill again, we are facing Max Kael Saturday night. Max says that I’m not that interesting anymore because I gave up the Halitosis gimmick. I’m okay with that. I’m not here to be interesting- I’m here to win matches. Now Max is interesting- in kind of a circus, train-wreck kind of way. His match with High Flyer? Wow. But that’s what he does. That’s what Max has done throughout his HOW career. He’s a Hall of Famer- he deserves my respect. All the window dressing, the Darth Vader-ish makeover aside – he’s still one hell of a wrestler. The fact that after everything that’s been done to him, he’s continues to wrestle at a high level – the fact that he’s still great – the fact he wears the LSD title around his waist tells you everything that you need to know about Max Kael the wrestler. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s going to be a battle. Max isn’t going to make the same mistake he made in the first match. He’s not going to underestimate Joe Bergman or take the win for granted. He’s the LSD Champion. I’m going to have to wrestle out of my mind to find a way to get that belt off of him. I’m going to have to fight like I’ve never had to fight before to pry that LSD title belt from his hands. I’m going to have to push myself like I’ve never pushed myself before, to leave the Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois this Saturday night as the HOW LSD Champion. But I can do it- with your help.
Joe takes another swig of his beer.
His wife Laura looks up at him and remembers a time where her husband hated cutting promos and talking in public and thinks to herself, How times have changed.
Joe Bergman: That’s right. I may not have an eMpire behind me or be backed by The Industry- chock full of not just HOW’s best wrestlers but some of the best wrestlers in pro wrestling period. I may be outmanned and outgunned talent wise – I may be the two star schmuck trying to compete against four and five star talents. I may still be the underdog – the dark horse – the guy who really shouldn’t be there – but here I am. Still standing – still fighting like hell. I’ve got you – the people – that I can feed off your energy. I’ve got you to lift me up and for a few minutes make me a better wrestler. Life throws all of us curveballs. It threw me one when I defended the title against Max Kael. It threw me a whopper of a curveball when I faced Dan Ryan. It threw me a boatload of curveballs when I set foot inside the Alcatraz Infirmary at Rumble at the Rock. But it happens. Wins and losses happens. Life happens.
Joe points to the people in the bar.
Joe Bergman: You people know all about that.
He then points at the bartender and the waitresses.
Joe Bergman: And I know you all do too. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure there are days that you wake up in the morning and the last thing you want to do is get out of bed and go to work. But you do. Because that’s your job. Because that’s what you do. Even on crappy days when you swear that the universe is playing tricks on you just to see you struggle, you put your head down, set your lower jaw, and keep pushing forward. In the weeks after Rumble at the Rock, bruised, battered, sore, I have to admit to all of you – I wondered if I really wanted to continue wrestling. But once I came to that realization that this is what I wanted to continue to do, I put my head down – I set my jaw – I plowed forward. Working dark matches before the HOW broadcast to get back in ring shape. Wrestling independent shows to get back in ring shape. Working day and night with Dawn McGill cracking the whip to make sure I stay focused on the things I need to be doing, training like hell to be in the best possible shape and best possible frame of mind come Saturday night – here I am. Last week, I defeated a pretty good wrestler in Brenton Cross. This Saturday night in Chicago, I’ll arrive at the arena to punch the clock just like many of you do every day – ready to work- ready to do what I have to do to succeed. If I defeat Max Saturday night, it won’t just be my victory, it’ll be OUR victory.
The Bergman’s Temporary House Trailer
Early Friday Morning February 14th– 2:00 AM
The bedroom is pitch black- again. Well, save a small red light that indicates there’s a HOTv cameraman also inside the bedroom to film what happens next- again.
Joe’s sound asleep.
And he’s dreaming- again. How can you tell?
Thrashing back and forth.
Somehow, Laura doesn’t wake up- or she’s become accustomed to her husband’s penchant for experiencing anxiety-ridden dreams in the nights before big matches.
Irregardless, this goes on for several minutes while the HOTv camera guy stands back and waits while mentally making bets on what name is going to come flying out of Joe’s mouth when he wakes up- like he may have seen this happen before or something.
Sure enough, two minutes later…
Through the pitch black darkness, the camera man hears the sound of Joe shooting up from the bed – the sheets fly up and land on Laura’s side of the mattress.
Joe Bergman’s voice (blurting out): CARRIE FISHER WEARING THE SLAVE GIRL LEIA OUTFIT IN REVENGE OF THE JEDI!
Laura Bergman’s voice (half asleep, tired, but somewhat apologetic): Not tonight dear.