David Noble set at the River Cocktail Bar inside of the Lowry Hotel where he was renting a room for a few nights before Refueled 82 in Manchester. Slowly, he sipped on his Dobber IPA, recommended to him by the barkeep, and found himself looking out at the river that flowed through the city. As he sipped on it, he felt the aches in his muscles, aches that he hadn’t felt in years at this point. Sure, he was used to pain and the agony that came with that, but wrestling each week was different than a random bar fight. A random beer fight you didn’t feel past the next day. A ten-to-twenty minute match with a foe equal to you, the pain lasted for a few days. It was why David had seen so many turn to drugs and pills. David had been one of those people.
As he sat there, feeling the cold liquid run down his throat, he felt a tap on the shoulder. He sighed internally, knowing it was some fan wanting a picture or a ring rat who just wanted to say she slept with a wrestler. When he turned and looked over his right shoulder though, he was surprised to find that it was Lorelai, his daughter. Maybe his daughter. He wasn’t certain of it, but with her brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and wearing a loose-fitting t-shirt and blue jeans, he wasn’t in a mood to turn her away.
‘Evening,” he mumbled before he took another swig of his beer.
‘Figured I would come and join you if that’s alright with you,’ she responded to not the exactly warm greeting from David.
‘Please do,’ he responded and she sat on the wooden barstool, looking out at the majestic river as it seemed to be enchanting both of them as they found themselves lost in their thoughts.
She looked over at David as he drank his IPA. ‘Buy me one?’ she inquired. David coughed out at a laugh, clearly caught by surprise from the request.
‘Underage drinking is going to happen, but I won’t be the one to buy you that drink.’
Lorelai smiled. ‘Fair enough. Then I’ll have water and I can ask you questions.’
David looked over at her with a sideways expression. ‘Nah, don’t think that’s going to be our evening.’
‘How about then,’ she began before she flagged down the barkeep and grabbed a glass of water for herself. ‘I ask you a question and you get to ask me a question.’
David thought about this for a moment and looked at her, realizing she needed this, she had questions that were burning inside of her and she needed answers.
‘Sounds fair enough. Hit me with your first question.” David then ordered another beer for himself and polished off the one he was holding. Lorelai took a sip of her water before she looked over at David.
‘What’s the deal with wrestling? Is that your passion?’ Lorelai then took another sip of her water.
David took a moment to think about the question as the barkeep handed him another Dobber IPA.
‘Kind of tripped into it, really. I needed something, anything, to do. I was a kid from Buffalo with… a million questions in my head, probably just like you have a million questions in your head right now about life, parents, everything. I always got into fights when I was younger. Just couldn’t help it. I have four sisters and guys are dicks. So I fought, a lot. My father, my pseudo-father I should say, hated me for fighting. Thought it was beneath me.’
Lorelai looked confused for a moment.
‘So was he your step-father?’
David shook his head. ‘I was adopted. Mom dropped me off at a fire station when I was three. I was adopted when I was five.’
‘So,’ Lorelai continued after taking another sip of water. ‘Do you think that attributed to you fighting? Just a lack of belonging?’
David chuckled before taking a sip from his beer. ‘Man, you trying to psychoanalyze me? What the hell are they teaching in school these days?’
Lorelai shrugged. ‘I don’t know, just trying to figure you out a little.’
‘Okay, fair enough. I always felt like I was on edge like I had to prove myself. I think my mother, my pseudo-mother, really loved me. She wanted to protect me. She wanted to be there for me, but the same couldn’t be said about my pseudo-father. He just… never wanted me around. I could never explain it or figure it out. Guess I never will, what with him being dead and all,’ David responded.
‘Your mother still alive?’
‘Did you ever find out what happened to your real parents?’
David nodded once again, this time resulting in a longer sip from his beer as his eyes focused upon the river below.
‘You know,’ David began, still looking out at the river before turning his attention back to Lorelai. ‘I think you’ve asked me like five questions thus far.’
Lorelai smiled. ‘I usually do that to people. What was the deal with your parents?’
David sighed as he began to tear at the label on his bottle, his mind already going to memories that were long locked away even though he desperately didn’t want to go there.
‘My mother, she died of a drug overdose a few years later. Probably the right choice of her abandoning me as she did. Just wasn’t cut out for it. My father…’ he began before his voice trailed away, his eyes focused intensely upon the bottle of beer in his hands, wanting to throw it against the wall, to let the anger that coursed through his veins out in some form or fashion.
Lorelai reached over and placed her hand on his hand. He looked at her and saw something in his eyes that troubled him slightly.
‘What happened with your father?’ Lorelai asked in a soft tone as he found himself racing back to the memories of his father, shortly after he began wrestling.
David Noble emerged from the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, Hawaii with a smile on his face. Around him were Jack Harmen, Tony Davis, and Mary-Lynn Mayweather. As they walked through the streets of Honolulu, laughing at one another, laughing with one another, and just laughing because laughing is fun as shit, they all break off and do their own thing, slowly but surely. Jack finds a group of people where he can just be himself and act crazy as shit, Tony Davis sits on a corner and plays a video game, and Mary-Lynn Mayweather, after one too many drinks with David kisses him on the cheek and bids him a good night.
As his friends disappeared into the night, David found himself alone as he sat at a table meant for four, by himself. He looked out the window and watched the people walking by as he drank a gin and tonic, and before long, the drink had run dry. As he placed the drink on the table, he thought about where the road had taken him so far and knew that the future was endless. Only a matter of years earlier, everything had been taken from him, and he felt like he would never recover from it. Needless to say, things were moving in the right direction.
Sitting there, he heard someone approach the table, and assumed it was the bartender, but when he looked over he didn’t see someone bringing him another drink, but someone who towered over him and looked down with confusion in his dark brown eyes. As Noble looked at the man, with salt and pepper hair, he wondered why this person was standing there.
‘Just needed to see you for myself,’ the man spoke with a soft rasp in his throat.
‘And?’ David inquired, still confused.
‘You really don’t see the resemblance? My friends tell me every week that I look just like you. Looking at you on television, I couldn’t see it, but now seeing you in person, well, fuck.’
David’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the man who took it upon himself to sit down.
‘I don’t get it—‘, David began before he was cut off.
‘I wouldn’t expect you to. Never really got to know you, did I? Left your mom when you were what, nine months old? Fucking druggie. Abandoned you.’
The shock hit David over and over again as he stared at the man that sat across from him, noticing the things that only David could know about the man, knowing where he got his sharp tongue from.
‘Yeah, yeah, don’t say the words out loud,’ the man continued. ‘You don’t need to say it. I was never much of one and I sure as shit don’t want to be one now. Just needed to see you for yourself.’
David shrugged his shoulders. ‘And?’
‘Well, I guess I got one question. Why wrestling? Didn’t think you were a big enough joke being the son of a drug addict, adopted, all that shit? Needed more pity and sympathy in the world?’
The words hit David like a two-by-four across the face. David looked like he was ready to fight, but was shocked by it all. ‘What the fuck is it to you?’
’The fuck it is is that I have to hear my friends talk about you, and then I watch you have a match and shit, I don’t know, you’re really not that special are you.’
David went to speak again, only to be quickly cut off.
‘Wrestling isn’t respectable. Do you think you can make a living doing this? Do you think you have a future doing this shit? Come on. Stop embarrassing yourself and stop embarrassing me while you’re at it.’
The man stood back up as he looked at David.
‘Time to fucking grow up and actually do something with your life. Doing those fucking flips in the ring and thinking you’re going to be somebody. Let me tell you, boy, you’re just like your father. Worthless. A drunk. An addict. You trying to be anything else is just you lying to yourself and you’re just going to disappoint someone. Hurt them. Break them. Don’t you get it? You are me. What makes you think you can do anything in this life anyways?’
Before David could respond, the man took out a couple of twenties and threw them down on the table.
‘I saw that girl you were talking to earlier, cute thing. You’re going to hurt her. Trust me, I can see the look in your eyes. Just leave her be before you do.’
With that, the man disappeared from the table, leaving David floored at the vitriol that spewed from the man’s mouth. As he sat there, stunned, the bartender came over and handed him another drink.
‘Anything else I can get you?’
David looked at the bartender, took the drink, and shook his head before emptying the contents down his throat before slamming the glass on the table and felt the glass shatter in his hand, the blood dripping from his palm onto the table. The bartender looked at David aghast at the sight while Noble stood and walked out of the bar, his eyes focused on finding his father.
Fuck, Lorelai sighed before she finished off her glass of water and waited for the barkeep to refill it. David sat there, numb, as he told the story to Lorelai, leaving out what happened after that. As he sat there and looked down at the table, the barkeep replaced his empty IPA and Lorelai’s water. A few moments of silence passed between them.
As David sat there and took another sip of his IPA, he remembered the moments afterward and thought about sharing them, but quickly buried those memories deep into the recess of his memories.
‘So,’ Lorelai began. ‘Why wrestling?’
David sighed as he looked over at her. ‘Because it was the only thing I was good at. I stumbled into a gym when I was eighteen years old, looking for an escape from the hell I lived in and found it. It was my ticket out of Buffalo, away from him, and I needed it in the worst way possible. I wrestled in small towns and then eventually joined one of the largest wrestling organizations around, fWo. Then PRIME. And then the journey just continued.’
‘I imagine,” Lorelai continued. ‘Somewhere in there is when you met my mom?’
‘Well, I had you tell me one horrendous story. I don’t think I’ll have you do that again.’
David chuckled at this and though he didn’t say it, she knew he was thankful for that.
Lorelai looked around the bar for a brief moment. ‘So, Lethal Lottery? What the hell is that all about?’
David could only shrug his shoulders. ‘A chance to fight is the way I see it. A chance to go up the next rung and see if you have what it takes. Whether it be against Michael Best for the World Title or John Sector for the LSD Championship, it allows you to step in the ring with the best around and see if you have what it takes.’
‘Do you have what it takes?’ Lorelai inquired.
‘Fuck if I know anymore,’ David muttered. ‘Maybe I do, maybe I don’t. Knocking on the door of forty now and my body doesn’t feel the same it did ten years ago. I feel worn down and exhausted. My muscles are screaming at me every single minute, and I wonder if I made a mistake. Sometimes though, I step in that ring, and I feel like I did once before and I know it’s there, I know it’s buried deep down in there just ready to come out. Then it’s magical, then I can feel everything connected, and I can be the best out there once again.’
Lorelai nodded. ‘Sounds amazing.’
‘That’s why I wrestle because I know how good I can be. Even with everything that I’ve gone through, through all the ups and downs, I can just feel it on the tips of my fingers. Unfortunately, each time I feel it in my grasp, I fuck it up somehow.’
‘Why do you think that is?’ Lorelai asked him before taking a sip of her water.
David pondered that question for a moment. ‘Maybe because my father was right. I’m just a fuck up and I can’t get out of my own way.’
‘Well,’ Lorelai began to respond. ‘That sounds dumb as fuck.’
‘The mouth on this one,’ David muttered.
‘Where do you think I got it from?’
David smiled. Lorelai then stood up.
‘Gonna use the restroom, be back in a moment.’
With that, she walked with a confidence that he never had when he was her age. Instead, he was just lost and dumb. As he drank the beer a bit more, he heard footsteps behind him and turned around to see Joey Patiliano limping over to him with a frown on his face.
‘Fuck you doing?!’ Joey yelled at him, looking at the beer in David’s hand.
‘What the fuck does it look like I’m doing?’
Joey groaned. ‘We got training. Lethal Lottery! You gotta get in that ring and remind the world of how good you are!’
David shrugged. ‘And what if I’m not that good anymore? What if I’m washed up?’
‘Bullshit,’ Joey spat back. ‘You got it, you got it in you. You know that. You know what you’ve gotta do and you can step in the ring with all of them fucks and show them what you’re made of. You got that chance. You don’t think you can beat Best? Or Roberts? Or win the battle royal? Come on!’
David shook his head. ‘I don’t know. Am I ready for that yet? Am I ready to jump in that ring and be the champion? I’m not there yet, physically or mentally. Sure, they can throw me in there and I can get a win, but I don’t want to be one of those guys who get the title and then lose it the next week.’
‘Then don’t lose it the next week. Get your ass in the gym and work out, get back to where you were.’
David rolled his eyes. ‘You don’t think I’m doing that? I’m in great fucking shape old man. I can do a mile in six minutes. I can bench press 325. That has nothing to do with being in that ring. I’m not going to magically get that back sparring with you. It’s either going to be there or it’s not. I’ve got to figure out how to get it back each night for good.’
‘And you think you’re going to do that sitting in the bar every night?’
‘Look,” David began. ‘I’m talking to Lorelai. It’s good bonding time.’
‘Yeah?” Joey inquired. ‘And are you going to tell her you’re not her father?’
Just at that moment, Lorelai was walking back to her seat as she heard the words coming out of Joey’s mouth. Lorelai looked floored at the suggestion from Joey as David looked over at her, in shock.
Lorelai just stood there for a moment as Joey looked over at her, realizing the mistake he just made. Lorelai took a step back as David got up from his chair.
‘No,’ she whispered, the last thing she was clinging to ripped from her fingers. She turned and ran as David stood there, unable to do anything.
He looked over at Joey and shook his head. ‘You fucking asshole.’
David then went after Lorelai, hoping to catch her in time.