All The People I’ve Broken Along The Way

All The People I’ve Broken Along The Way

Posted on August 26, 2021 at 11:56 pm by Clay Byrd

You could kick at a structure, you could punch the unnecessary cosmetic upgrades off of it. You could break the windows, rip a countertop out. You could cause a lot of damage to a home, but it would still survive. It would still stand, the bones strong as ever. A mere human with his bare hands was no match for the exceptional craftsmanship of 1960’s construction.
 
This just fueled Clay’s anger. The posts he had kicked out, the siding that he had sheared from the side of the structure with his fist. It was all just cosmetic damage. The Monster from Plainview looked over at ‘The Coach’ Clay had done a number on it earlier, but much like the house, it could be repaired. Someone could make it like new again, they could use it. It’s life would continue onwards.
 
That was an unacceptable outcome to Clayton Byrd. The ringing in his ears, the throbbing in his skull, they demanded absolute destruction. They demanded blood. Clay jumped into the driver’s seat of ‘The Coach’. He stared out through the broken glass windshield and started the vehicle. For the last time he cranked the steering wheel as hard as he could to the right. Spinning it again like a school bus driver. He smashed the gas as the RV lurched forward, the vehicle slammed through the front porch of The Byrd Ranch.
 
Glass flew everywhere and Clay shielded his eyes. He looked back in the mirror and the back half of ‘The Coach’ was sticking out of the front door of his boyhood home. But the ringing hadn’t stopped, the throbbing hadn’t ended, and The Monster continued on. He crawled out of the driver’s seat of the RV and stumbled out through the back door he had kicked open the day before. Clay meandered past the broken floorboards and the destroyed living room.
 
He made a beeline for the now broken front bay window, and hopped out into the Texas sunlight. He held his head as the ringing got louder, and he stumbled to a garage they had normally used for farm equipment. With tears in his eyes he grabbed a gas can and an igniter for a torch. He marched through the pain towards the home with the half full five gallon gas tank. Clay walked back through the bay window. He walked past the front of the RV that was now a fixture of both the living room and the kitchen.
 
Clay paced to the back of the home, to his old bedroom. His father had turned it into a small shrine to The Monster while he was in Japan. He started to throw the gasoline looking at the magazine cut outs of himself. None of it mattered. He walked across the hallway kicking his father’s room door open. The old man’s oxygen machine was still beside his bed, nobody had touched it since he had passed away. The Behemoth was splashing the gas around the room when his eyes locked with a photograph on the nightstand.
 
He’d stared at that photo endlessly as a child. It was one of the only pictures of his mother that his father kept. Clay went to reach for it, but the shrieking sound in his ears and the throbbing in his head became too much. Clay roared from the pain and stumbled back out of the room. He trailed the gasoline down the hallway and back to the RV. He made sure to douse the inside. Then he continued the trail over the couch and back through the bay window. Finally ending in the driveway.
 
Clay dropped to his knees from the pain in his skull and the ringing in his ears again.
 
Click
 
Click
 
The gasoline lit before Clay could blink. It all seemed to happen in slow motion, the spark from the igniter leaping to the haze over the gasoline. The combustion of the vapors igniting the liquid. The trail of gasoline ignited along the way. A small rumble was heard as the fumes trapped in the RV ignited.
 
By the time Clay blinked the old 70’s style couch had erupted in flames. He watched the fire lick up the wall behind it. He was transfixed, absolutely mesmerized as he watched his family’s home go up in flames. He could feel the heat from the fire on his face now, he watched as it engulfed the living room. The heavy acrid black smoke had started to blow away from the driveway and into the high grass. He watched as the flames danced, up to the roof. The asphalt shingles began to turn to tar from the heat.
 
Clay began to back away towards his truck. He took the keys from his pocket, opening the bird shit encrusted farm vehicle. He started it up and began to back down the driveway. The intense heat from the house began to ignite the grass around it. He kept watching, the tires on the RV had already burned away. The toxic black smoke went unnoticed with the rest of the house burning. Finally the fuel left in ‘The Coach’s’ fuel tank had heated up to the point that it ruptured. The RV shot through the roof of the house. The asphalt shingles and the RV’s flaming contents shot across into the dry field.
 
The grass began to burn more than just around the house, as Clay made it to the bend, he saw the side of the barn begin to ignite. The ringing had subsided, the throbbing had stopped. The beast inside was finally sated. Clay backed his way down to the road, the black smoke could be seen easily from there. As he drove down the road, finally coming to the end of the ranch’s fenceline. He looked back one last time as the fire began to roar through the high grass. Clay looked down at the gas gauge, at least Claude had left him that. A full tank of fuel.
 
————————————-
 
John, are ya auditionin’ fer a career as Jean Luc-Picard’s replacement? Jesus, I look at this shit and my brain wants to bleed. If I needed a step by step guide to gainin’ weight I’d pay fer a trip ta Alcatraz and just talk ta Bobby. I’m done talkin’ ‘bout your audition for the captain’s chair though Johnny. We have far more serious enterprises ta discuss.
 
I’ve wasted my time John. I’ve wasted everyone’s time. My entire reason fer comin’ ta High Octane wasn’t ta start a blood feud with Ted Palmer. It wasn’t because I wanted ta be Lee Best’s minion. It wasn’t ta torture ya John. My reason fer comin’ ta High Octane was the cash. The money I made hurtin’ people fer the boss funneled inta proppin’ up my families legacy. Forty years of trainin’ wrasslers out of a barn in Plainview, Texas. Forty years of my father decidin’ ta be a fantastic man, my friend Claude was the first fella he let sleep in that barn.
 
He was the one person I could trust John, the one person who understood what the legacy of Robert Byrd was. He understood what my father stood for, what my father lived the last thirty years of his life fer. The man was my hermano. The one person I could count on, the one person I could trust to always be there.
 
And he betrayed me.
 
I lost everythin’ John. My father’s life work was takin’ from me in an instant. When I signed the dotted line ta join The Best Alliance, when I took that bag full of money from Lee Best I lost it all. My entire purpose, my entire existence. I’m not like you John, I don’t enjoy the simpler things. A bottle of tequila, a beautiful woman, a line of cocaine. John, these things don’t excite me like they excite you.
 
They are irrelevant, and I think yer finally startin’ ta figure that out. The only thing that remains of us John, is what we leave behind. The imprint we make on the world. The people we effected, the stories they tell. That’s the only thing that stays when we become dust. And amazingly, in yer advanced age you’ve managed ta figure it out.
 
How ya made it ta forty-two I’ll never understand. John Sektor and Keith Richards, I hope the both of ya donate yer bodies ta fuckin’ science.
 
But I digress.
 
John, I’ve lost my life’s work. Continuin’ my father’s work had been my goal since I was a child. The first time he put me in a singlet John, I wanted ta be like my father. I wanted ta be a fuckin’ hero. I wanted ta fight the bad men. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted in my entire life. I didn’t want football bad enough, I let my knee cost me my career. Hundreds of players in the NFL have had the same injury I had, hundreds had pushed on and became a terrific athlete, made their millions.
 
And I did too John, well minus the millions part. I pushed on, but my passion, my desire for football had left me. The time I spent at home, the rehab in the barn, all it did was make me fall in love with the grapplin’ again. I don’t mean the hammer locks and hip tosses John. They’ve never been my cup of tea.
 
No John, I really loved beatin’ the fuck out of guys who tried ta put me in a hammerlock or hip toss me. I loved the moment where they looked into my eyes and realized I was too strong, I was too big, that their offensive manuever had failed. I loved watchin’ their face turn white as I smashed my forehead across their nose.
 
I love it John, but I didn’t live for it. I lived for the legacy my father left me, I stayed motivated ta provide. I pushed myself ta succeed because of it, not in spite of it. My entire career, I was fightin’ fer somethin’ because I inherited it. Not because I loved it. So, what do I love? What gets me harder than a maple tree?
 
I remember my father talkin’ ‘bout how much he loved ta watch a trainee of his begin ta have success. Takin’ the first steps ta get inta the business, beginnin’ ta become their own man. He loved it more than competin’, he loved it more than title belts, he loved it more than magazine covers. And as I drove away from the flames, the smolderin’ ruins of my father’s legacy I realized what I enjoy.
 
I love destruction John, and now I can finally live for it. I love seein’ somethin’ someone else cares about, and rippin’ it apart in front of them. And what you love more than anythin’ John, is yerself. It’s not that title, it wasn’t yer daughter, it’s not the drugs or the blowjobs on a caribbean beach. What excites you John, is yerself. I bet you love nothin’ more than starin’ at yerself in a mirror. Just bein’ amazed at how truly fuckin’ great ya are. How ya shed all the flab and weight, and managed ta pack it on as muscle. Ya stand there and the blood starts rushin’ ta yer dick.
 
I’m gonna break that image for you John.
 
I’m gonna destroy that image, and make sure it never comes back. I’m gonna hurt ya in that ring John, I’m gonna rip ya apart. All yer bullshit trainin’ makin’ dipshits stand sideways, tryin’ ta find a southpaw, comin’ up with some new stance like ya can just fuckin’ magically decide yer gonna change yer fightin’ stance over night.
 
I can’t wait ta watch yer jab come in like a laser while yer hook floats in as soft as yer dick before ya take the little blue bill. Yer fuckin’ dense John, there’s nothin’ in this game that a two week fight camp can absolutely prepare ya fer. Ya can watch tape, ya can look fer tendencies, ya can see the small things, the details.
 
But ya ain’t reinventin’ the fuckin’ wheel John.
 
What’s the old sayin’? How’s it go?
 
Everybody’s got a plan till they get punched in the face?
 
I’m goin’ ta get the punchin’ ya in the face part out of the way quickly. The straight right hand is gonna smoke that caterpillar lookin’ mustache inta the third row. The second one that smashes ya in the nose? It’ll make yer eyes water John, and ya won’t see the left comin’. And ya couldn’t even stop it if ya did. Because ya think decidin’ ta fight southpaw is a two week endeavor. And no John, before ya ask. Bein’ able ta jerk yer dick with yer left and right hand doesn’t make changin’ yer fightin’ stance any easier.
 
And after this match John I want ya ta look in that fuckin’ mirror again. I want ya ta realize that yer no longer ‘The Gold Standard.’ I want ya ta realize yer simply ‘Worst Dad In America’ John Sektor. I want that little pissant shithead Adam ta understand what a degenerate fuckin’ looser ya actually are. I want him ta understand that carryin’ on yer legacy is a fuckin’ joke.
 
The kid needs ta make his own John, and not because yer hall of fame legacy is too heavy fer his shoulders ta bare. No John, it’s because he’ll have ta carry all the mistakes you’ve made fer yer entire life. They’ll look at him and wonder how much trainin’ the boy really got between the lines ya smash up yer nose. It doesn’t matter that ya currently aren’t doin’ it John, it’s the reputation, it stays with ya. They’ll wonder how much a guy who left his daughter fer dead would really care to pass on to a trainee.
 
Do ya lie ta the boy like ya lie ta yerself? I read the stupid logs ya posted, how ya gained twenty pounds of pure muscle in twelve days. John, I don’t care how much protein ya drink, ya ain’t addin’ twenty pounds of anythin’ other than love handles onta yer frame in two fuckin’ weeks. Ya can go out and buy the best horse steroids on the fuckin’ market John, it takes months ta sculpt a body, it takes years ta perfect it. Unless Lee lent ya the Delorean from the promo video, none of that is actually fuckin’ possible. But anyway, keep writin’ yer log up ‘bout yer delusions, I want ya ta believe them and come in that ring. Stand all awkward like a newborn giraffe, and I’ll rip yer fuckin’ head off.
 
I’ll do it because I love it John, I’ll do it because I fuckin’ live fer it.
 
And what will my legacy be in the end? What will it be when I’m dust?
It’ll be all the people I’ve broken along the way.
 
——————————————–
 
The sky had darkened, and Clay was barreling down I-44 on his way back to Chicago. He drove in silence this time. There was no music, no singing to the radio. No happiness. His phone had been ringing since he had crossed the Texas border. He had figured he’d be getting a call from a fire department at some point, so he just continued to ignore his phone.
 
Outside of Tulsa his head started to ache again, he could faintly hear the ringing in his ears. Clay focused on his breathing, taking deep full breaths as he drove down the road. He’d already tried to forget the scenes at the ranch, his family’s legacy burning to the ground in front of him. The feeling he had while he watched it, the infatuation. As if he had witnessed something like this before.
 
He couldn’t shake the feeling of deja vu. The phone continued to buzz and vibrate in the passenger seat. The Behemoth stared down at it for a moment, and stared at the number. He’d expected to see the typical 806 area code from the panhandle of Texas. He was confused as he looked at the 351 number flashing across his screen.
 
Clay continued to drive, silencing the phone every time it began to vibrate. He tried to keep his breathing deep, but it had begun to shorten. His head had begun to pound. The tinnitus in his ears had escalated to a high pitch squeal. He tried to continue driving, grimacing at the sound. He silenced the phone again and again, with the squeal escalating to a shriek. Clay finally pulled off on the side of the road and held his head in his hands, rocking back and forth. His thoughts were absolute nonsense as they came through. He knew he needed to stay off the road, the fire, california, the flames, his home, the letter A.
 
Clay let out a roar as he grimaced from the pain. His face was streaked black from the tears running down his cheeks, and the soot from his hands trying to rub his temples to make the pain stop. Clay tried to look for the sunglasses, but he bumped the silent switch on his phone and turned on the ringer.
 
“We grow good-ole tomatoes and our home made wine” the chorus to A Country Boy Can Survive joined the screams and grunts of a writhing Monster from Plainview. The thoughts kept coming at him, rapidly.
 
“A country boy can survive” Clay latched onto the last word. Survive, how to survive. He needed to survive. He had to call 911, that was the only way. He looked at his phone, it wouldn’t stop ringing long enough for him to dial. He’d have them call for him, that was his only chance. Clay drug his finger across the jagged broken screen, leaving a streak of blood across the glass.
 
As the phone switched to the call being answered everything suddenly stopped. The shrieking in his ears, the pain in his skull. All of it came to an end. He sat in absolute silence for a moment before carefully placing the phone to his ear. He was still out of breath from the ordeal and stammered as he began to speak.
 
“He… He… Hello?”
 
The other end of the line was total static. Clay listened, and sat on the side of the road as seconds quickly turned into a minute, a minute into five.
 
“Hello?” He asked again. He heard a voice through the static, he could barely make the computerized voice out. He struggled to hear it.
 
“Find us. We can help you.”