At just a few months old, I was adopted by my parents, Ray and Patsy Noble. My biological mother couldn’t handle the realities of being a mother, especially when one considered the fact my biological father bailed on her to do drugs and whatever else he felt like was more important than raising his son. So, my mother left me for adoption and after a few months of being the property of the state of New York, Patsy Noble held me and knew she was going to bring me home that day. Patsy desperately wanted a boy, something to balance out the five girls she’d been blessed with; Andrea, Madison, Eliza, Irene, and Rebecca. Patsy loved her girls, but having all girls was a challenge in itself, especially considering they were all between the ages of two and ten. She’d always wanted a little boy and when Ray told her he wasn’t giving her any more children, she decided to take it upon herself to bring a boy into the family.
My father hated me on sight. I was never certain if it was because he didn’t want the five daughters he already had or because I spit up on his shoes one day, but there wasn’t one ounce of love towards me that existed inside of that man’s body. Four of my sisters instantly took to me and were eager to play with me, take care of me, love me. All of them except for Andrea. To Andrea, she took after our father and that meant teasing me to no end, making my life a living hell, and ensuring that I was always in trouble whether I did something or not.
One time, when I was eight and Andrea was nearing her high school graduation, I came in from playing later than I normally would. My mother had given me permission because I wanted to play basketball with my only friend at school, Scott. Scott and I got along quite a bit on an account that we were the only kids in school who had a fucked up upbringing; Scott’s mother was killed in a tragic car accident and his father devolved into a drunk who beat him.
Coming home late was a huge violation in our household unless you had permission to do so. So when I walked back into the house on this evening, Andrea stood in the kitchen with a look in her eyes, as if she knew she finally got one on me that would get me kicked out of the house.
‘You know the rules,’ she said, confidently.
‘Mama said it was fine.’
She shook her head at me. ‘Mama would never!’
I furiously nodded my head in response. ‘Ask her!’
‘Well, I’ll tell Daddy. I’m sure Mama told him before she went to bed. She had a bad headache and had to take some sleeping medication so she won’t be able to defend you.’
I glared at Andrea. Even though I was eight, I knew what hate was like, and most of it at that young stage of my life was reserved for Andrea. I walked over to her and glared at her.
‘Don’t,’ my voice pleaded with her, which only caused her to break out a grin that the Cheshire Cat would be jealous of.
‘Why not? If you’re telling the truth, then you have nothing to worry about.’
I shook my head. “You know how Daddy is.’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’
In the back of my mind, I knew she knew exactly what I meant. My father had a penchant for putting the blame squarely on me; like when he blamed me for the Buffalo Bills losing to the Bengals in the AFC Championship Game, and beat me with a belt until I had cuts all over my back. He’d never do that to the girls, especially not to Andrea.
‘Just don’t, Andrea. Let’s talk to Mom in the morning.’
She shook her head. ‘I think this is something we should take care of immediately.’
I saw the red in my eyes as she turned around and I knew I had to do something. I was going to get in trouble no matter what, so I told myself that I should at least have a good reason to be in trouble. This in turn led to me grabbing her ponytail and yanking it as hard as I could, sending Andrea’s body crashing to the floor as tears welled up in her eyes.
‘What?!’ she said as she looked at me, in dismay. I wasn’t proud of what I’d just done, but considering the shit she’d put me through all of my life, considering the whooping I was bound to get no matter what, I reasoned to myself that I might as well earn it
She stood up and the grin appeared on her face again as she backed out of the kitchen. As she stepped out of the kitchen, I could hear her hollering.
I braced myself for what was to come next.
* * *
[The following is a transcript of the February 8th WrestleTalk show, aired lived on SiriusXM radio]
Wade Ross Sapp: And we’re back from commercial break! Pleased to introduce our next guest this evening, competing in High Octane Wrestling, he is set to team up with the HOW World Champion Conor Fuse in a first round match of the Marauako Cup, I’ve got none other than David Noble joining me in the studio.
David Noble: Happy to be here, thanks for having me.
WRS: Not a problem! You don’t normally do interviews like this, so I was happy to have you on board.
DN: Yeah, usually my schedule keeps me pretty busy.
WRS: Of course, well glad you made the time today. Especially with your big tag team match on Sunday evening, live from the Mackey Arena in Lafayette Indiana. Before we get to your match though, talk to us about your time in HOW. How are you enjoying it?
DN: [beat] You know, it’s been something getting back into ring shape to be quite honest. The first few weeks I was back, it was hell on my body. I’d done some wrestling here and there, as well as some cage fights, but getting in there and competing against top-tier talent is tough. It wears on you both physically and mentally.
WRS: Exactly! Your first match in HOW was actually against Jeffrey James Roberts for the HOW TV Championship. That couldn’t have been an easy first match back, right?
DN: Fuuuuuuck no. Oh, am I allowed to say fuck on the radio?
WRS: Definitely! This is satellite radio. We don’t have the same restrictions as regular radio.
DN: Oh, good. Yeah, that was not an easy first match back. When you’re preparing for a title match, you have to do so much mental preparation and studying to get ready for a match like that. For me, I was already just trying to get my mind straight and ready to be in the ring. I was not mentally ready for a match like that, not out of the gate. So it bit me in the ass.
WRS: I don’t think you did too bad out there.
DN: Well, thanks. I know how I felt afterward. I wasn’t pleased with my performance, but I knew no matter who I stepped in the ring with, whether it’s Xander Azula or Conor Fuse, that I would be up against it.
WRS: So you think JJR got luck then?
DN: No, definitely not. He’s one of the top in HOW for a reason. He’s intense. He gives no fucks. He will rip your face off if you give him the chance.
WRS: And you will have a tag match against him in the upcoming weeks.
DN: [chuckles] Don’t remind me.
WRS: Sorry, sorry. Let’s not go down that road tonight though, but promise me you will come back and talk about that match next week.
DN: Yeah, sure.
WRS: So, before we talk about your opponents on this Sunday’s show, we have to talk about your tag team partner. Conor Fuse. We saw the two of you getting some, well, let’s call it bonding time.
DN: Yeah, yeah.
WRS: What are your thoughts about teaming with Conor Fuse? You originally had Doozer as your partner, but he’s out for the time being.
DN: You know, when you’ve got the World Champion in your corner, it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand, you have someone who definitely knows what it takes to be the best in the ring on a nightly basis. That’s comforting and gives you a foot up on your competition. On the other hand, whomever you’re facing across the ring is going to bring their A-game. They want to beat the top guy in HOW and I think that’s double the case with someone like Conor Fuse.
WRS: What do you mean by that?
DN: It’s simple. He’s not your typical champion. He’s into video games and everything that comes along with that.
WRS: Looked like you knew a bit about video games.
DN: [chuckles] Yeah, yeah. But, when you see a champion, you expect them to be… different. Fuse is different in a way that doesn’t threaten you off the bat and for some people, they see that as a weakness.
WRS: But you don’t?
DN: Have you seen him in the ring? There’s a reason why he’s the champ.
WRS: You’re speaking positively about your partner. You’re not really the kind of guy who has a lot of friends, ya know?
DN: I’m well aware of that. Look, what good does it do me to talk shit about my partner? I’m not at that tier, you know? The management isn’t going to look over at me and say ‘well, let’s give him a title match’. I haven’t earned it. My best path forward to go against someone like Fuse is to win this tournament. That happens and my stock goes up. There’s no question about that. You keep piling up the chips in your corner and eventually, someone realizes you’re a top dog and deserve a chance to be the top dog.
WRS: You think that could be you?
DN: Fuck if I know. All I can do is get out there and compete.
WRS: Talking about competing, your opponents this Sunday will be Bo Stevens of the Stevens dynasty and Ultrabot. A robot. Let me check my notes one more time… yep. A robot. What do you make of them?
DN: [beat, before he laughs] Only in the world of professional wrestling would you have a match against a robot, you know?
WRS: Nowhere else! You don’t see Tom Brady going up against a robot.
DN: Exactly. Look, I don’t really care who is in that opposite corner, you know? It’s do or die time. Our backs are up against the wall. We lose and we’re basically done. We win and we still have to go through Arthur Pleasant and JJR just so we can move on. It’s full-on fight mode.
WRS: That make you nervous?
DN: It doesn’t make me feel all comfortable. This is where your mettle gets tested, where you have to show up or shut the fuck up. I’m not one to simply shut the fuck up. I’ve always fought and this is no different.
WRS: But a robot…
DN: Don’t get me started. A fucking robot. Man, I don’t even know how that’s legal.
WRS: And Bo Stevens?
DN: I can’t even begin to gameplay for Stevens because I’m too busy game-planning for a fucking robot.
WRS: Fair enough!
DN: For Bo Stevens and Ultron-bot, this is just another day at the office. You win, congratulations. You make it one step further than people expected. You lose, no skin off your nose and you get to go back to Waco and the lab you were created in. For Stevens and Ultron-bot, they don’t have to live with the failure of losing. Well, I guess Ultron-bot has no feelings, but that’s beside the point.
WRS: Yeah, I get your point though.
DN: I sure hope so because I’m talking about a robot. [beat] My back is against the wall. In this match, everyone else but me gets to go back to their own world and forget what happened. Not me, because if I lose this, what is next, what is left for me? Nothing.
WRS: That goes for your partner, no?
DN: Exactly. I have the most to lose in this match and that makes me far more dangerous than anyone else in that ring on Sunday night.
WRS: You’ve got a good point. If anything, that’s your edge.
DN: Without question. All I know is how to compete in that ring and give everything I have. All I know is how to internalize every single loss and let it eat away at me. I don’t have time for that, I don’t have patience for that. Stevens. Robot. It’s nothing personal, but I’m going to mow the fuck over you and move onto what my partner would call the Behemoth in a Final Fantasy game, a match that would be considered a Final Boss-worthy finale.
WRS: Fuse starting to seep into you.
DN: No kidding. As Fuse would probably tell me, time to level up, motherfuckers. I’m going to wield my Keyblade, remove the Master Sword from its pedestal, bust out my Blades of Chaos, and destroy you with my BFG-9000.
WRS: Whoa. That’s channeling Fuse for sure!
DN: No kidding. I might need to go and start drinking, let a car hit me, so I can get this out of my system.
WRS: HA! Fair enough. Let’s take a commercial break. Thanks for joining us today David, hope we get you back next week.
DN: For sure, thanks for having me!
* * *
The sight of Andrea, standing in my living room, brings back a flood of memories, most of them not pleasant. There was the time when she was thirteen and making out with Randy Daniels, a mousy-looking boy who lived next door to us, and when my father found that I knew about it, I was the one who received the beating while nothing happened to my sister. Or the time Andrea managed to convince my father not to come to my high school graduation as if showing an ounce of support for me would ruin me for life, as if a lifetime of him treating me like an illegitimate child hadn’t done that already.
The death of our mother only made things worse.
‘You know,’ Andrea begins. ‘We all thought if you were going to get back into the ring, wrestle professionally, that you would’ve at least given us a heads up so we could be prepared for it. Especially considering the fact we haven’t seen you in five years.’
I shake my head. ‘The thought had crossed my mind, but in the rush of everything, it must have slipped. Funny how thoughts work like that sometimes.’
‘Funny,’ she mocks me in return before looking around my house, surprise in her eyes as she takes in the fact that I actually have a home, one that she can stand in. Then, her eyes land upon Lorelai and then dart back to me.
‘David,’ she started. ‘She looks a bit young to be one of your groupies. I thought you had some standards.’
‘First,’ Lorelai interjected. ‘Ew. That is unbelievably gross. Second, fuck you.’
A smile appears on my face. Even though I decided against doing the DNA test to confirm Lorelai is biologically my daughter, there are moments like this that I’m pretty certain that Samantha lied to me when she said Lorelai wasn’t mine.
As the words live Lorelai’s mouth, Andrea looks over at me in shock and disgust. ‘You’re just going to let her talk to me like that?’
‘Sure, why not,” I respond, a smile permanently plastered on my face. ‘Especially since you decided to presume who she was instead of asking her.’
Andrea nods her head. ‘My apologies,’ she begins while turning towards Lorelai. ‘Where are my manners? I’m Andrea. And what is your name?’
Lorelai folds her arms across her chest. ‘Lorelai.’
Andrea looks back at me, even more confused than before. ‘You know, wasn’t that the name of the daughter you thought was yours like a decade or more ago? From that bitch, what was her name, oh yeah, Samantha?’
‘Yeah, that would be me,’ Lorelai responds.
Andrea spins around. ‘Oh shit, are you serious? Oh my goodness, my apologies! How is your mother?’
‘Dead,” Lorelai deadpans.
I ensure I’m looking at Andrea’s face as this goes down and I’m pretty positive I saw her face fall off on the floor and she had to bend over to pick it up and put it back on. Pretty sure that’s what happened, but I could be mistaken.
Andrea’s eyes lock upon me. ‘You’re not… responsible for her, are you?’
I just nod my head. Andrea takes a step back. ‘This is not good. You can’t raise a teenage daughter.’
‘Um, I don’t think you get a say in that,’ Lorelai fired back. ‘David and I have figured this out all on our own. No thanks to you.’
Andrea’s eyes turn to fire and she turns around. ‘Look, I’m going to need proof that you are who you say you are, first and foremost. And a test that proves you are actually related to him.’ She then turns back towards me. ‘You’re a celebrity with money, you can’t just take everyone at face value.’
‘The first half, the proof, I have so don’t worry about it. The second half, we’ve decided it’s not that important. She’s only got a couple of years of high school left so instead of her going back with the state and complicating her life any further, I’ve decided to just roll with it. Well, we have.’
Andrea shakes her head. ‘You have definitely lost your mind.’
‘That’s not necessarily related to this incident,’ I retort, causing Lorelai to chuckle before lifting her left hand over her mouth to stifle anything further coming out.
‘David—‘ she begins before I lift my hand to cut her off.
‘The reality, Andrea, is that if I was going to call any of my sisters about this, the last person would’ve been you. I guess technically, Dad would’ve been the last one I call, but he’s not my sister now is he. So, you’ve decided to intrude in my life as you’ve shown plenty of times a keen ability to do so, but I don’t really need you here complicating things further.’
Andrea slowly nods her head. ‘I’m hearing you. I get it.’
‘Good, so why did you come here after all?’
Her head drops and for the first time that I can remember, Andrea is showing emotion, genuine emotion. Within moments, tears are falling down her cheeks and landing on the tiled floor beneath her. I put my hand on her left shoulder.
‘Andrea?’ I asked.
She sniffles. ‘It’s Dad. He’s got cancer.’
Fuck, I think to myself. Fuck, fuck, fuck.