At least I think it was Sunday, I can’t remember. I don’t even know what day it is right now, truth is I don’t even know where I am, just that it’s not Saturday afternoon. Let’s say Sunday.
So I got the list from Woodson, along with a speech. Always a fucking speech with him. Something about needing to fit in more, his grand scheme, some other shit, I don’t remember. I just remember the list. Four things; a ‘To Do’ list. He said it would help “bring me in line with the true meaning of HATE.”
I knocked off number one Sunday.
I fell asleep in the afternoon – I smoked some really amazing Indica, and yeah, it’s true…indacouch. I remember I was having this weird ass dream that I was in getting my name changed on my license, and the lady behind the counter kept telling me to only use capitals. Every time I wrote my name, it was in lowercase…no matter what, I couldn’t make my hand write in uppercase.
Finally, just as I was about to try for the third time, I hear myself saying my own name, and I woke up. That’s when it hit me like a punch to the gut – we’ll get to that part later – but it hit me, I gotta fit in with HATE, right? Well, Woodson wanted me to change my name…that was number one on the list.
HATE has four letters. So does Rick…and, well…I’m not exactly changing my name so much as how I’m known. I didn’t think that would be enough, so I thought a little harder…and while I was thinking I remember putting on The Walking Dead. I kept hearing the same thing over and over: people always calling out to Rick Grimes. Always in trouble. Always reaching out for help.
“RICK!” They’d yell…and that’s when the lightbulb turned on. That’s when RICK was born. HATE: four letters, all caps. RICK: four letters, all caps. No more Rick Dickulous, the loveable and bumbling Canadian lumberjack…no. Now was the time for RICK to show HATE what they had – a world class fighter, a team player, THE best tag team wrestler in HOW. It was time for RICK to help HATE.
That’s the key. The ability to adapt and overcome adversity. That’s the thing the Hollywood Bruvs haven’t had to deal with yet. They probably see a team cobbled together and figure their experience with each other will get them through Saturday night. Not this time…not after the H-Bomb.
I opened my eyes with a start, seeing nothing but white as my muscles twitched involuntarily again; I swear, if he could make a pocket pussy out of electricity, he woukd fuck it. At least the music had stopped…I couldn’t take another playthrough of “Beat It.” I could feel the lights, their scorching warmth ever present. And finally the twitching stopped, maniacal laughter filling the room.
HITCHIN: “Where is he now, Rick Dickulous? Hmm? Where’s Matt Klazzic? Yeah, that’s what I thought…no sleep for you, bud!”
My vision cleared just long enough to see his fist barrel towards my face through the vertical bars as I felt it catch my bottom jaw. I couldn’t even move to block it if I wanted to, there was barely enough room in the cage for my body. This motherfucker…enough is enough.
As I started struggling a bit I felt the electricity shoot through my body again, my vision went white and I felt a comforting warmth…it started right around my dick and it grew, all down my legs, gently under my ass. Then suddenly the pins and needles stopped.
HITCHIN: “Oh my god, he fucking pissed himself. WOODSON!! I AM NOT CLEANING THAT!!”
It felt like I was floating…or maybe suspended somehow, and that’s when I passed out.
I went to see Costuming on Monday. I told them what was up, and they were ‘busy,’ as always. I remember Connie, she was the hardest one to get through to.
CONNIE: “So, why do you just want your name on the butt of your pants? I don’t get it…like, why not some sort of symbol or something?”
ME: “Connie, for cryin’ out loud, the HATE logo – y’know, the Anarchy ‘A’? I want that in the background with my name over top of it across my butt.”
I was getting really pissed off, like, of all the people down there, why did this one have to be the one to take my order?
CONNIE: “Right, so, the HATE logo, and then Rick Dickulous? That’s gonna be a lot of real estate, hon, you sure they’ll be able to read it all the way up in the nosebleeds? You don’t exactly have a gigantic keister…”
ME: “No, again, just RICK. All caps. Four letters. Just like HATE. You get it? The HATE logo, and RICK. Not hard, Connie.”
I watched her shoot me that look; she was about to do the thing I HATE the most. It’s the same smug look Mikey Unlikely always wears.
CONNIE: “You keep that up and maybe I’ll put your order at the bottom of the pile instead of at the top.”
ME: “And I’m sure MR. WOODSON WOULD BE HAPPY TO KNOW YOU BASICALLY JUST TOLD HIM TO GO FUCK HIMSELF!! Now…do you need me to repeat myself?”
I watched that smug look disintegrate as my voice boomed so loud it shook the walls. I could feel the counter vibrate as I snapped at her, and, I’m not gonna lie, it kinda felt good. Knowing I could slay this dragon? Throw her down to the ground and cover her for the three count with words, just like I was gonna do on Saturday against the Hollywood Bruvs with elbows and knuckles?
CONNIE: “N-no, Mr. Dickul–“
ME: “Just RICK, Connie…always in caps…”
CONNIE: “R-right, Rick.”
I know it was either the look I gave her, or the sigh that sounded more like a growl, but she corrected herself pretty damned quick.
CONNIE: “Sorry, RICK! They’ll be ready Saturday afternoon before the show.”
Item two down. Change my look. Look the part, not like an 80’s gimmick…more words of wisdom from Woodson. I wasn’t sure what he was after here, but that was when I knew there was no looking back – that last hurdle was a tough one though.
“You have to show them that you’re really not scared,
You’re playin’ with your life, this ain’t no truth or dare..”
I woke up to the slam of a door and Michael Jackson’s shrill voice piercing my eardrums. I couldn’t have been out for more than a few minutes. The headache was unbearable, the halogen worklights never turning off, the heat making the ammonia smell of old urine sharp and unrelenting.
I could hear the shuffling of feet, it must be time. My lips were so dry, my tongue swollen up inside my mouth and feeling like gummy sandpaper.
“They’ll kick you, then they beat you,
Then they’ll tell you it’s fair,
So beat it, but you want to be bad…”
HITCHIN: “JUST BEEEAT IIIIIT! BEEEAT IIIIT!! NOO ONE WANTS TO BE DEFEATED!!”
I watched him try to moonwalk in front of the suspended cage with a smirk on his face.
HITCHIN (in a mocking tone): “Just like you, eh, Rick? Eh? Know what I mean, bud? Wanna make some brownies, guy?”
He slid a straw into a bottle of water and held it up in front of my face for a second, that snakelike smile spreading across his lips.
HITCHIN: “We’re not gonna have a problem here, are we, Rick Dickulous? I mean, Woodson said I can’t use the electricity anymore, but he didn’t say anything about beating you within an inch of your life – he did say something about beating your face off? Beating the face outta you? Beating off on your face? Here’s the deal…I’m gonna let you drink this water, and you’re gonna do just that…or not only do you get no water…you get more beatings. Deal?”
I shook my head yes. I opened my mouth to tell him I was going to beat him within an inch of HIS life, but all that came out was:
He brought the bottle closer and I put my lips around the straw and began drinking. The cool water on my tongue was refreshing, and it made me forget where I was for a minute.
On some tropical island beach, the sun beating down on my face as the waves splashed lazily on the shore. Music could be heard off in the distance:
“Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated
Showin’ how funky and strong is your fight
It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right…”
I was rudely snapped back to reality as I finished the water and he took a step back, shaking his head.
HITCHIN: “You’ll learn, Rick Dickulous…you’ll learn how to HATE. Woodson’s got a plan…”
And then he left, walking back to the door, opening it, and closing it with a slam. I pushed with everything I had against the top and bottom of the cage, testing the strength of the cage’s construction. No dice…it’s holding me back…just like my third hurdle was. I needed a bit more rest.
Sing me to sleep, Michael.
“Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it
No one wants to be defeated,
Showin’ how funky and strong is your fight,
It doesn’t matter who’s wrong or right,
Just beat it, beat it,
Beat it, beat it, beat it.”
The third thing on the list was the hardest for me. Changing my name? Changing my look? Simple. I mean, yeah, it takes a little bit of effort, but if other pro wrestling companies can rework a witch doctor into a pimp, reworking a lumberjack into something else can’t be too tough, right?
Woodson’s master plan all of a sudden kicked me right in the ballsack. Hard. Without mercy.
I remember reading and re-reading it…but it didn’t change. Number three, cut all ties with Matt Klazzic. Cut all ties. Now I’ve heard of conflict of interest, but I mean, I’m pretty sure he didn’t stutter when he told me he’d help me find whoever did this to Matt. I didn’t understand how cutting ties helped that – but he’s the COO, so obviously he knows a thing or two, right?
That’s when I sent the worst text message I’ve ever sent…and I think that was the breaking point.
“Hey, bud! Hope you’re doin’ ok! Look, I got a really good opportunity here while you’re out, and I’m gonna take it…you gonna be ok?”
I stared at the text message screen, the cursor steadily blinking after the question mark, waiting for more.
Then I could hear Woodson’s voice in the back of my head: “Stop being so fucking nice. I mean, look at you! Baking fucking brownies?!”
So I erased it. Clean slate. New message. Cut all ties with Matt Klazzic. Easy.
“Look, Matt, I’ve got a good opportunity here, and I’m gonna take it. Let me know when you’re better.”
Seems a bit better. More to the point. Tells him what’s goin on, and that’s that. I was just about to hit send when again Woodson’s voice popped into my head.
“You can’t do things half assed, Rick. HATE isn’t a half-assed emotion, is it? HATE is from deep down…waaay down somewhere in your guts…and I’m gonna bring that out. I’ll make you burn those bridges, make you realize that you ARE a monster. Look at you…you ARE…a monster.”
He’s right. I am a monster. Maybe I’ve been hiding behind a joke for too long, maybe I’ve had someone just skating along for the ride, and didn’t realize it. Maybe Matt Klazzic WAS holding me back. Sure, he bled beside me in a Tartarus Prison Match, but he couldn’t fight off two guys in a dressing room? Come on. The whole time, think about it…what did I get? A fucking brownie recipe. I erased the message, feeling my blood start to boil a little bit.
My hands were trembling as I typed, my thumbs dancing across the keyboard as I inhaled and exhaled deeply through my nose.
“Look, I can’t keep this up. Turn-It-Up Express is done. You’re welcome for your 15 minutes of fame. P.S. Your sister’s brownie recipe fucking sucked – I only liked the fact that she loaded them with weed, you fucking idiot – not mint. Turn THAT up to eleven. #sorrynotsorry”
And then I hit send, and that was the end of Turn-It-Up Express. I blocked the number, and deleted the contact from my phone – step three done.
Now it was time to head back to the office to meet up with Scott Woodson, Hughie Freeman, John Hitchins, Damien Ryan, and Franklin. Time to show these HATE motherfuckers I’m in, lock, stock, and barrel.
Time for them to meet RICK.
I showed up to Woodson’s office a few minutes late. Traffic sucks, especially when your car’s lucky to hit sixty on the freeway. A few of the bumps definitely knocked a few chunks of rust out from under the body somewhere along the way because I felt them hit the underside of the car in my feet.
I parked like shit out front of the building and quickly scanned in through security and waited for the elevator. When the doors slid open with a digital ding, I stepped in and pressed the button for the floor Woodson’s office was on. I looked at my reflection in the polished mirrors inside of the elevator, stroking my beard as I waited impatiently.
Suddenly the elevator slowed, and it felt like my balls were in my stomach somewhere. Crawling up to meet floor level, the doors again whisked open with a digital ding, and I was off down the hallway.
I pushed the door open and waved at his secretary – June? Judith? Whatever – who pointed at Woodson’s office door.
“Go on in, he’s waiting for you…”
Just the words I wanted to hear. No doubt another lecture about punctuality, and how somehow it ties into HATE. As I turned the doorknob and pushed the door open, the room fell silent. Woodson was sitting behind his desk, Hughie and Damien were sitting in chairs facing him (but had both turned around to stare at the intrusion), and Franklin was dutifully at Woodson’s side waiting for an order. I didn’t see John, but whatever, he stormed off before and somehow I thought his absence was probably for the best.
Woodson invited me in, told Franklin to pull me up a chair. All he could find was some old, rickety metal dinosaur that probably was from the 1950s – but a seat is a seat, right? So, we sat and chatted for what seemed to be an hour.
I filled them in on my plans, filled Woodson in on how I’d completed his list, and he just smiled that catlike grin.
“I know, Rick – or should I say, RICK! You’ve done well. You really got in touch with your HATE…but, see…when I said you were a monster…”
That’s when I heard the footsteps behind me and the crackling. It sounded like one of those sparklers you give the little kids on holidays with fireworks, or on little birthday cakes at restaurants where all the staff come and embarrass you by singing happy birthday. Suddenly I saw white and my back arched, my muscles tensing up. There was a burning sensation in the middle of my back that I’d never felt before, and suddenly I could smell burning hair. That’s when my head rocked forward and bounced off Woodson’s desk and I could smell copper.
The good thing about the fall? My muscles weren’t on fire anymore. I started crawling away, just trying to distance myself from whatever was happening, to get away from the burning pins and needles, but it was all for naught. Again the fire, again the white vision – like in a January blizzard. But then there was John’s voice, giggling as he talked from directly over top of me.
“How’s that feel, Rick Dickulous? You like that, bud?”
“John, please…you’re INTERRUPTING ME! Now…where was I…”
I could hear his feet on the floor, but I kept my eyes closed. Play dead…that’s what they teach you to do when a bear attacks. Hitchin’s far from a bear, but at that moment he may as well have been.
“…RICK, when I said that you were a monster, I meant it. I could smell it on you the first time I saw you backstage. This gentle giant? No…” he laughed “…no, I knew that deep down there was so much more, and I knew that I could harness it. Bring it to the surface. Let HATE fuel you.”
I managed to blurt out “What about Matt? You told me you’d he–“ before I was cut off by more pain. A punch to the back of the head from Hitchin, this time a droplet of blood fell from my nose onto the dark floor. I couldn’t fight back, there were too many of them – I may be a monster, but I’m not winning a five on one fight.
“I promised I’d help you find out who attacked Matt Klazzic, and I will. Believe me. But first, I need to make you a HATEful individual, RICK. I need to bring out that beast, and I need you to do much more than just touch the surface of your HATE…I want you to dive right the fuck in, RICK…do it.”
I pictured myself diving off a cliff towards a choppy, rough, grey sea – a sea of HATE. I could feel myself freefall for what seemed like an eternity, weightless, free.
Just as I hit the water is when they started beating me. All of them – even Franklin. They punched, they stomped, they kicked. All part of Scott Woodson’s grand master plan, eh?
Beat his “monster” before he faces The Hollywood Bruvs. Smart thinking, right? Maybe he’ll toe the line, maybe he’ll back down…maybe he’ll HATE.
The last thing I heard before I passed out for the first time of this whole ordeal was Woodson’s voice:
“OK! Enough. Get him tied up and in the car…we’ve got a bit of a drive and I don’t want him getting fiesty and driving us into a bridge abutment.”
I’ve heard “Beat It” so many times, not only do I know every word, but I know every note. I know every chord, every riff…I know the drum bits, the synthsizers, everything. I’ve counted 352 times, and that’s not counting the times it’s played while I catnapped when Hitchin wasn’t in the room. Thank fuck it wasn’t playing now.
He was there, tormenting me, poking at me with his cattle prod. I knew he used something to take me out at that meeting, but I couldn’t figure it out. When was that? Wednesday night? Tuesday night? I don’t even remember now. The cage was lowered to the floor earlier, and the cold cement was making my kidneys hurt.
All I care about is getting out of here and jamming that cattle prod so far up Hitchin’s ass he shits lightning bolts like Pikachu.
“What now, Rick Dickulous? Were you thinking how much of an asshole I am? Hmm? Wishing you could strangle me, maybe?” He laughed to himself. “Good luck with that.”
Suddenly there was a pounding at the door. Hitchin walked over to it after shooting daggers at me from his eyes.
“Stay put, big guy…I’ll be right back.”
He walked to the door and opened it, and I could hear some hushed talking. Suddenly bursting through the door was a figure I couldn’t make out through the glare of the lights…but that voice. I’d heard it a million times.
How did they manage to pull this one off? How did they get Jesse Kendrix here…and why was his accent fucked up? Was he drunk? On bath salts? He sounded like he drowned in a vat of Guinness. The lights made it impossible to see him, just a silhouette.
“Oh, aye. Ye be tinkin’ ye kin hang wit’ da Hollywood Bruvs, mate? Ye be tinkin’ ye kin beat us even?”
Then I heard a zipper, and seconds later I felt a warm stream splash over my head, face, and hands.
“That just pisses me off, Bruv!”
And he laughed and laughed, spraying his piss everywhere. When he was done, he put his junk back in his pants while he stared down at me.
“Fucking pathetic. Ye can’t even say anything ta defend yerself. Ye WILL lose Saturday…mark my words…ye’ll lose.”
And then he left, and Hitchin followed. Now was my time. Again, I pushed with everything I had against the floor with my feet and ceiling of the cage with my back and suddenly I felt it pop a little bit. It gave way! Get the fuck out!
Just as I was about to push again, the door opened and I could hear Hitchin’s distinctive shuffle across the floor of the room. He pulled a chair closer to the cage and sat in it, in full view.
“Ya know, Rick Dickulous, the more you fight it, the longer you’ll stay in there…you know that, right?”
I took a deep breath and looked at him flatly…and finally said something other than my own name…
I knew he’d take the bait. He rose up from his seat, sneering down at me.
“Fuck me? Fuck….ME?!”
He rose out of his seat and turned around, undoing his belt and dropping trau right in front of me…and that’s when I made my move.
I pushed with everything I had again, the top of the cage straining against the pressure. One of the joints popped apart, and the rest of the ceiling separated with ease.
Hitchin fell flat on his face in a panic, unable to control his urge to flee while his pants were around his ankles. With a guttural roar I hopped over the side of the cage and instinct took over. It wasn’t fight or flight…it was live or die. One of us wasn’t leaving this room.
Much like Mikey Unlikely and Jesse Kendrix, John Hitchin had underestimated RICK. Sadly, it was to be his undoing, much as it would be theirs.
I toppled over one of the lightstands and walked, much like Jason Voorhees stalking a victim, towards where Hitchin lay, pleading for forgiveness.
And much like The Hollywood Bruvs, I showed him none.
Beating up Hitchin was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I chanelled my HATE. I came to find that maybe it’s not quite so bad after all.
I do recall the joy I felt when I discovered the H-Bomb, though…Hitchin may not agree. All I remember was giving him everything he’d given me…and that? That made me HATE the fact that I’d been holding this back for so long.
Scott Woodson can be seen standing outside what appears to be an abandoned factory somewhere in Chicago, leaning against a pristine black 1969 Chevelle, black with #97Red racing stripes. A cacophony of noise can be heard from inside…yelling, smashing, cries for help…but the one constant:
“Another piece in place.”