California Love

California Love

Posted on October 27, 2022 at 12:37 pm by Christopher America

“Out on bail, fresh out of jail, California dreamin’”

  • California Love, Tupac featuring Dr. Dre

 

Christopher America took a deep breath.

He felt the air in his lungs catch several times, almost as if he was sobbing. As he exhaled slowly through a small opening in his mouth, he saw her get closer and closer.

The island looked like something out of a horror movie, especially in the darkness. The main prison building rose above the ground like a haunted house. The windows appearing just above the trees, serving as all seeing eyes. The lighthouse next to it, stood as an ominous monolith, as if warning everyone to stay away. The flora around the island grew as if to try to disguise the building. The whole island acting as if it wanted to be alone.

America closed his eyes and took another deep breath. He continued his slow, deep breathing, gripping the rails of the boat. America did not open his eyes until he felt the boat lurch as it nudged the dock.

For America, it was surreal to be back here. At the place where this all began. At the place where his last journey with HOW ended and arguably the main reason for his recent return to HOW began.

The wharf was a massive, sprawling area with a large building standing imposingly to greet you. Building 64, as it was called, had multiple uses throughout its tenure. It was a military barracks, it housed cannons, and was used to house families waiting for better quarters elsewhere. Right now, it acted as guard, judging all who stepped foot onto the island. America almost sheepishly looked up at the building, both in awe of its size as well as in reverence.

As he continued down East Road, America detoured off and headed towards the main prison. He could feel his heart beat faster with each step closer. Blood was pumping so fast, he could hear the pulsing in his head. The walk to the prison was a slow, winding climb, as if to allow the prisoners time to examine their conscience. And America used the time to do just that.

Bill was right.

The training that America had done to this point – all the aerobic exercises and cardiovascular training, the conditioning and strength training, the mat based and technical side of professional wrestling, and working new submissions into his arsenal, specifically the guillotine chokehold, would be for nothing if America didn’t get his head right.

As America looked around, he caught himself. His breathing was rapid and sounding haggard. America closed his eyes and slowed his breathing. He clenched his fists and felt the anger inside of him rise. But the anger wasn’t for Alcatraz.

As America slowly opened his eyes, he heard Bill’s words once more.

“And whether you know it or not, piss yourself off.”

Why did Bill have to be right… so annoyingly right?

Despite having not been back to Alcatraz in years, despite his belly being full with a warm meal from food in his kitchen, despite having slept on a soft bed in his own home, despite having the freedom to move around wherever and whenever he wanted, it was still happening.

History had repeated itself.

Not in the way America expected and perhaps not in the way that he intended, but history repeated itself just the same.

October came.

The days until Rumble at the Rock drew near.

He was back at Alcatraz.

And Christopher America found himself once more in solitary confinement.

Except this time, the prison was of America’s own crafting. Instead of EPU agents, it was own thoughts and trauma keeping him insulated. The light that once affected America’s sleep was replaced by the nightmares.

The anger and rage at Mike…

The anger and rage at Ground Zero…

All of it was replaced by the anger and rage he had for himself.

The World Champion’s face grew sullen. He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his American flag jacket and pressed on. He knew that he had to face his fear. There was still two weeks until Rumble at the Rock. Two weeks to be free of it all, to cleanse himself and focus solely on Harrison. Because that’s what mattered to him – keeping the HOW World Championship, ending the Highwaymen, and walking into ICONIC as HOW World Champion.

And deep down, he knew he was running out of time and running out of options.

This was it.

No going back now.

As he entered the main prison, America followed the all too familiar path to D-Block. He rounded corners and eventually found the more secluded section.

And before he knew it… there it was.

And it all came flooding back.

The smell of damp that hung in the air. The black paint on the wall had begun chipping and peeling. The putrid smell of unbathed human flesh permeated the entire room. America looked up and the saw the light that had kept him constantly awake. He turned and noticed the camera in the hallway – the same camera that Mike Best used to keep tabs on him.

And suddenly… in this moment… America felt different.

As America turned back to the cell, he noticed how small it all was. Being in solitary, everything seemed so big – in terms of both size and weight. The gravity of the situation felt heavier and yet, standing here now, it somehow didn’t seem so big.

He didn’t know why. It was just something he felt.

America entered the cell and sat down in the same place he had been before.

The room also seemed smaller.

This feeling… it was humbling. America felt vulnerable and stupid.

Christopher America: How many HOW guys have been down here? How many of them have survived this confinement? So why me? Some sat here for two weeks and I barely lasted that, let alone the full thirty days!

America put his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands.

Christopher America: And what the fuck am I doing here now? Am I… am I trying to scare myself so much that I just somehow get over it? Am I trying to prove something to myself? Am I expecting to find answers as to how I can be whole again? So, what is it then? What am I trying to prove? That I’m not scared because I feel like I am. That I’m not angry? Because I am.

So how do I move on? How do I move when part of me feels like it’s constantly rooted here… like part of me never left?

America’s words echoed in the room before the silence took over.

America sat for nearly fifteen minutes, mulling over his own question before it finally came to him.

Reconciliation was never possible.

This whole thing wasn’t about fixing the part of him that had been broken on all those years ago.

It was about letting it go.

About leaving it where it belonged.

In the past.

Buried.

As if on cue, the thought hit him once more.

Bill was right.

And the more things progressed, the more frequent the realization became.

America had patched things up with Mike Best. Ground Zero wasn’t around anymore. So who was he chasing ghosts for? The only person left was himself.

By focusing on this, America was doing Harrison’s work for him. His mind devoted so much time and energy that he was losing focus on what mattered, on what he should be focusing on: his HOW World Championship match. The excuse, that Bill mentioned, was built in. He couldn’t focus on Harrison because he was focusing on this instead. America knew that this month was coming and he still gave in.

He still submitted to it.

Because it was comfortable.

After sitting for what felt like another hour, arguing with himself in his own head, America tried it differently.

He made the decision.

It was time to move on.

Time to put things behind him.

He couldn’t change the past, but he could change how he lived in the present. Part of him would be in that cell. Part of him would always remain. The hurt, the anger, the frustration, the pain… it would all still be here. But it was time to let that part of him go and focus on the future.

For himself.

For the championship.

And the first step on that path involved walking away from that moment. Walking away from that part of him. Walking away from the past.

The spirit of Christopher America was like a house. In solitary confinement, that house feel into disrepair. It fell apart and crumbled. The rebuilding from that never truly began. Perhaps, crudely, a wall had been erected or half of a foundation laid, but the house… the old house was gone. And in it’s place a new house was to be erected. It yearned to be.

And so, America got up from his seated position and wiped his hands off on the sides of his blue jeans. He began walking out of the cell and stopped in the doorway. Something inside of him, something deep wanted him to turn but he refused. He pushed onwards out of the cell, down the hallway, rounded the corners, and out of the main prison.

It was time.

Time to move on from Solitary Confinement, time to move on from that cell, time to move on from the past, time to focus on the future, time to get back to work, time to retain his championship.

And so, America took out his cell phone, pulled up his text messages, and got to Bill’s name. He hovered his thumb over the screen for a moment.

‘Don’t know if you’ll read this.’

He hit send and waited to see if the message at the bottom changed from Sent to Read but it didn’t.

‘At Alcatraz. Realized you were right. Had to leave that part of me there. But I’m not done. I’m not giving up.’

He hit send again and still no change in the status of the message.

‘Headed to TEN-X to train.’

America hit send for the final time before quickly putting the phone back in his pocket. He began the walking the winding road back down and caught sight of the Warden’s House.

Soon.

Soon he would find out.

Had it worked?

Was his training enough?

Was coming back here enough?

Would the nightmare end?

Would his title reign end?

Or was this merely the beginning of the next chapter?

******

You’re absolutely right, Steve.

Your submissions are painful. They’re especially painful when they’ve been locked in on someone who went through a war with your boy, Solex. But you seem to have conveniently left that part out. So, anyways, kudos to you. You slapped a chickenwing on an injured man. Tell me, is that how the self-righteous Highwaymen do things now? Seems to be, doesn’t it?

Attack injured men.

Gang up on hillbillies in the back.

Cheat to win matches against the Egg Bandits.

Oh yeah, you’re all saints who have every right to judge me. Face it, Steve, the Highwaymen is just the Best Alliance, except you walk under a different name.

But the Board? We don’t interfere. Did Tyler or I change the course of the Tag Team Championship match at Dead or Alive? Did Stronk fly out of nowhere and save me from Steve Solex? Did Lee Best come down from on high and injure Jatt Starr for me? No, none of that happened. But you wanted it to happen, didn’t you? Because it’d be so much easier to paint Christopher America as this cheating American who got by solely on the strength of his allies. The problem is that the truth is so much better, isn’t it? Christopher America BEAT Steve Solex without help in HOFC. He BEAT Steve Solex at Dead or Alive. And he BEAT Jatt Starr.

It must eat at you to know that the Board have played by the rules far more frequently than the Highwaymen have. Continue lying to yourself, coward.

You’re going those lies to comfort you when I beat you at Rumble at the Rock.

If you think for one moment that not perfecting a submission hold will be enough to make me tap out, then you’re in for a rude awakening. I am the sum of all the parts that HOW has thrown my way. I am the hardcore attitude of Scottywood, the mouth and dominance of Mike Best, the technical wizardry of John Sektor, the longevity of Chris Kostoff, the cunning of Max Kael, the ego of Jatt Starr, the remorselessness of Graystone, the flash and flare of Bobbinette Carey, the intellect of Lee Best… and the list goes on. When you face me, you face the fucking PANTHEON of HOW’s wrestlers from Shane Reynolds and Aceldama to Clay Byrd and Conor Fuse. I AM FUCKING LEGION. You need to perfect that move because you are facing me and the knowledge I’ve gained through wrestling the very best that HOW has to offer – including some wrestlers who were cementing legacies while you were still getting your feet wet in the ring and your dick wet in your bed.

You think you’ve had it hard here? That your journey to the World Title is hard? I’ve been through matches that would make you blush. You hurt yourself at Dead or Alive? You have a broken down body? You bled from the head?

Sounds like a regular fucking day at the office for me.

I’ve almost been crucified. I’ve had lions take a pound of flesh from my shoulder and bathe in the blood that spewed forth. This scar on my other shoulder is from a harpoon that impaled me all the way through. I’ve been embarrassed and made a slave on live television. I’ve had war veterans young and old attack me before, during, and after matches. I’ve been in war zones and communist countries. I’ve ALMOST had my eye impaled by a Bottomline pen. Spare me the journey you’ve taken because I’ve already done it. You want me to walk a mile in your shoes? Fine. I’ve already walked hundreds of miles in them. What’s one fucking more? I’d offer you my shoes but you can’t fucking fit in them.

You talk about Lee throwing bodies at you?

Did he put you in a three on one handicap match to soften you up? Did he make you run the gauntlet to get a shot at the World Championship? Oh, I know! He gave you a Beat The Clock challenge and demanded you pin your opponent in three minutes, right?

No?

He didn’t do that?

What’s that you say?

He booked you in straight up one on one and tag team matches?

Holy hell! EVERYONE STOP THE PRESSES! EVERYONE WE HAVE AN EMERGENCY! STEVE HARRISON WAS ASKED TO PARTICIPATE IN FAIR MATCHES!

And since you’re so keen on seeing who wrestles when, how often, and for what money, I’m sure all the chastising you’ve done for me gets reciprocated with the rest of the Highwaymen, right? I mean, Clay Byrd shows up to wrestle essentially the same amount as me and attacked FDJ in the back. Me? I show up to wrestle, I cut promos, I have championship celebrations, I do a whole bunch of shit but you ignore that because God knows you can’t bark back at your leader. As a follower, you don’t snap back at your leaders until you either quit the group or get kicked out. Then, you’ll probably find another group that’ll take you on as a straggler so you can stand behind the others and spew your shit talking then.

You didn’t say a fucking thing when Solex was running around backstage dealing with Carey and her shenanigans instead of, you know, winning matches and successfully defending the tag titles that you fought so hard for, did you?

No. You do what everyone else always does. You point the finger instead of looking inward.

And as far as “main event” money goes…

I AM THE MAIN EVENT.

I’ve earned my stripes and earned the pay that I have. Multi time World Champ? Multi time War Games winner? ICON Champ? LSD Champ? Stable Champ? Multi time Tag Team Champ? Stepped up to the fucking plate as HOW’s representative to face another company’s World Champ because no one else would? Bought arenas and stadiums that HOW ran shows in?

Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, check, MOTHER FUCKING CHECK.

But maybe I have had it easy. Maybe you’re right. Let’s see…

I faced my Dead or Alive opponent one on one for this title a couple of weeks after War Games, still scarred and still healing. Oh! And I did that in the fucking HOFC cage. I also gave him TWO chances at my lovely championship and he FAILED. I faced Jatt fucking Starr. Not Simon Sparrow. Jatt FUCKING Starr. And I faced you and Carey. So, please, tell me which one of these should have been a cakewalk for me. Which Hall of Famer? Or was it you I was supposed to beat easily? Seriously. For a man who says that Hall of Famers all have respect, please tell me which wrestler and career you want to diminish.

And since we all have respect, let me know your thoughts on Carey. Or Jace. Or the “incredibly stagnant Jatt Starr” as you so eloquently put it.

Fuck you and your hypocritical bullshit.

Fuck you and the disrespect you show everyone.

And so what if my stable thinks you choke. I’m not them. You see, in the Board, we actually have our own individual thoughts and feelings. We’re not like the Highwaymen where Clay Byrd promises to kill someone and the other three stand behind him just flexing, cracking their knuckles, and shouting “Yeah!” before looking sheepishly at Clay for approval.

Fuck the disrespect you show me and fuck the disrespect EVERYONE shows me.

Yes, I am fighting this match for respect and yes, I am the underdog going in because everyone thinks I’m easy prey. Because it’s not Mike or Tyler or Cecilworth or Conor or Jace or Sektor holding this championship. IT’S CHRISTOPHER AMERICA. Everyone thinks that the title is easier to win because I’m the one holding it and that disrespects me and it disrespects this title. My entire reason for being here is about establishing myself as the single best wrestler in HOW. Not HOW today. Not HOW tomorrow. FOR ALL FUCKING TIME! I am aiming to do what no one has done in the modern era. I’m looking to hold this World Championship for a year… AT LEAST!

I’m going to make this title not just THE title in HOW. I’m going to make it THE title in ALL of professional wrestling. It doesn’t matter if your promotion comes from New York City, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Louisville, or Las Vegas. Everyone… AND I MEAN EVERYONE… is going to recognize HER and recognize ME.. as THE UNDISPUTED GREATEST WORLD CHAMPION IN HISTORY!

And you may think this title means a lot to you but she means more to me than you could possibly fathom. You fell off a roof to defend the Tag Titles? Congrats, I guess. So what happened with the LSD Championship? Not worth falling off the top of the War Games cage for? Weren’t willing to go the same distance? What about the ICON Championship? Not worth it either? Not worth going to the mat harder, pushing yourself further, and seeing what you are truly capable of against Tyler Best?

If not, then you aren’t deserving or even fucking ready for this championship. If retaining this title over you meant that I had to die in that ring, then I would. I would rather leave this plane of existence and go to the Big White House in the sky as HOW World Champion, shaking hands with every dead President and great American up there, than tap out and submit to you. I’m not just AN American, I’m THE American and my colors don’t run. They don’t submit. And they sure as hell don’t tap out to you when this title is on the line.

To show you just how serious I’m taking this match, I’ve been training my ass off day in and day out. I’ve worked on the submissions I know and on some new ones just for you. And unlike you, I AM working on perfecting them because I know that I have to be perfect in my match against you in order to retain the HOW World Championship. Any slip up could mean the end of my championship reign and that’s not something I’m willing to accept right now.

I’ve run God knows how many miles, jumped roped for hours upon hours, I’ve hit new personal bests in my speed and strength tests. I’ve explored the depths of pain physically and mentally leading up to THIS MONTH and THIS MATCH… AND IT’S STILL NOT ENOUGH FOR ME! Because I have to go further than that. Further than all of that to ensure that I beat the ever loving piss out of you and stretch your body into so many undiscernible shapes that you’re going to look like a fucking MC Escher painting by the time I’m done with you. The doctors will examine you and wonder how the human body was ever meant to be pushed, pulled, prodded, bent, and knotted that way. I want the doctors to have to dissect your body limb from fucking limb just to undo the pretzel I create with you. I’m hoping to make your life in Alcatraz AS FUCKING MISERABLE as mine was in Solitary Confinement.

At Rumble at the Rock…

Inside the Warden’s House…

On Alcatraz Island…

You will do what everyone always does…

Like the British Empire, like Nazi Germany, like the Japanese Empire…

You will submit to America.