Before Refueled 82
David rushed to the outside of his hotel and looked around, desperately, for Lorelai. Instead, he was met with a busy street and no sign of an American teenager that didn’t look like she belongs in Manchester. As he looked around, the crisp air hitting his lungs with a hint of pain, David just shook his head. To say he was beside himself would be an understatement. The fury ran through his veins and he wanted to hit something, anything. Then there was a tap on his shoulder.
It was Joey Patiliano, who had limped his way out of the hotel, chasing after David and Lorelai. David thought for a moment of taking a shot at Joey, but he didn’t want to be responsible for a one-punch murder in the middle of the streets of Manchester. He took a deep breath, shaking his head at Joey.
‘Sorry,’ Joey mumbled and David shot him a look.
‘That’s all you got to offer?’ David responded, sarcasm dripping off his lips. ‘What am I supposed to do now, Joey?’
Joey just mumbled something under his breath and David didn’t have the energy to fish it out of him. David paced back and forth, knowing he needed to alert the cops, but at the same time, knowing that they wouldn’t do much of anything. She was sixteen. In Manchester, that was viewed as an adult. They’d do a cursory look at most.
‘You know,’ Joey began as David turned back towards him. ‘I thought you were going to tell her. You know you don’t have to be that person.’
David shook his head. ‘Be that person? That is my OWN shit to deal with. Not your shit and definitely not her shit. She doesn’t need to know every bad detail about her mother, about her father. In her head, she lost her family, and somehow got some semblance of that back. I’m surprised she’s as well-adjusted to all of this as she is. I don’t need to ruin her precious bubble simply to be right.’
Joey threw up his hands.
‘I get that you have your code of ethics to live by. Gotta tell the truth every time it hits you in the fucking ass. That girl though, she’s hanging on by a thread, and I thought you of anyone would’ve understood that. I don’t need to ruin her life even more. If I can be of comfort for her while she grieves then so be it,’ David continued,.
Joey nodded his head, stuffing his hands into his pocket. ‘Fine, fine.’
David began to make his way towards the hotel door, trying to formulate a plan in his head.
‘David,’ Joey started. David looked back at his trainer. ‘Why not tell her? Why are you acting like you’re her father?’
David sighed as he walked back into the hotel room, determined to figure out the next steps.
Is this how this thing works? Do we just do streams of consciousness? And then everyone gets super excited and hangs on the word of a few select people here in HOW?
Fuck. I guess I will give it a try. The alternative is Michael Oliver Best deciding to call me out, label me as soft, and everyone get beside themselves at how it was the most ‘real’ thing in HOW today. Trust me, I laughed, and then I rolled my eyes a bit. Could give two fucks who Michael Oliver Best is. He might be the owner, but I haven’t seen him face to face, haven’t heard a peep from him since I signed up for HOW, and now he wants to run around and put my name in his mouth when I could give two fucks who he is. He wants to be the boss? Then come on down and prove it to me, otherwise fuck off.
I can hear the dirt sheets buzzing in a fever pitch. I can feel them tensing up at the real heat that is being dragged across for everyone to see. You talk about my personal life, my family, and you bet your last fucking dollar that I’m not going to ignore that shit. The same goes for Scott Stevens. Say my name all you want so you can feel relevant and important, but realize that no one here gives two fucks about either of you and would rather you both just roll into a ditch and fuck off for good.
Refueled 83. Liverpool. There was a time in my life, early in my career, when seeing the world was something I yearned for. I wanted to go from country to country, city to city, and tear down the house, send the crowd home buzzing about the amazing performance they saw, potentially the only performance of mine they would see in person. As time wore on though, I became less and less enamored with the thought of traveling. This time in the United Kingdom, while nice to be in another country for some time, reminds me of the time when I wanted it as well as the time when I loathed it. I’m ready to go home, to turn the page to the next chapter in my career.
Still, I have a job to do, and these fans are wanting a performance for the ages. This is made significantly harder because the person standing across the ring from me is Darin Zion. That’s not to say he’s much of a challenge. Sure, he can hold his own, but Zion is the equivalent of watching paint dry. He does a perfunctory job in the ring, but never enough to truly be memorable. Never quite enough to capture the big matches or win the titles. To prove my point, he’s had two chances at the LSD title in recent months, and both times he’s fallen short. The reality is that to be a true game-changer in this world, you have to be able to shift between various gears without failure. Zion is the equivalent of being stuck in second gear.
Somehow, I have to step out into the M&S Arena and dig down deep enough to carry Zion to a good match. That’s my bar at this stage in my career. I know I can still win matches, I know I can capture titles, and be the face and name of wherever I’m at. To me, those aren’t real challenges anymore. When you’ve been in the game as long as I have, you know everyone is fallible. It’s impossible to be perfect. You’re not always going to pull out the victory, no matter the stakes and how much you want it. The true mark, my true legacy, is going to be making mere men, mortals, look like Gods. Can I do that with Zion?
Fuck if I know.
As I said, Zion does just enough to get out of his own way. He does just enough to get lucky every few shows to get a victory. I’ll either be carrying someone who desperately wants to be seen as good in the ring or a sack of potatoes. There is no in-between with someone like Zion, someone who has been doing this for as long as he has, and is just unable to get out of their own way as it comes to success. Maybe he doesn’t live it, breathe it, consume it like some of us in this business does. Maybe he truly has reached the peak of his abilities and he’ll just be a guy to fill a spot on the card. Someone people look at and just accept the fact that he is a solid guy who can at least perform some moves in the ring.
That was never my drive. My drive was to be the best. My drive was to astound each time I step out there. I sometimes wonder if I still have it in me to kick it into that gear. Six years away from active competition will have you doubt yourself. Still, I stand here, and the expectations are put squarely upon my shoulders. As long as the expectations are there, I strive to be the best version of myself.
I wish the same could be said about Zion. He’ll step into the ring on Sunday evening and I know he will give it his all. It just won’t be nearly good enough to make a difference. He’s showing up to a gunfight with a pencil and he somehow inexplicably doesn’t even know how to spell his own name. So I will do what I have to do, let him lean on me so he doesn’t embarrass himself, and then just when he thinks a victory is in his grasp, snatch it out of his grasp and put him down once again. He’ll look up at the ceiling and think to himself, my fifteenth loss, and it won’t eat away at him. He’ll just accept it, get back up, and keep moving forward.
In some ways, it is admirable. In other ways, it is just sad. I couldn’t live my life like Zion does.
I’d sooner put a gun in my mouth, cock the trigger, feel the lead against my tongue, and hope I woke up as something actually important in the world. As long as I wasn’t Zion, that would be okay.
Before Refueled 83
David wiped the sweat off his brow as he finished his workout inside the gym of the Titanic Hotel. David felt the sweat roll down his back as he grabbed his bottle of water and took a long swig from his water bottle while Joey cleaned everything up and packed up the equipment. David felt the tension in his neck and back. The return to the ring had been unquestionably difficult on his body and he wondered how long it would be before he either suffered a serious injury or felt his body finally adjust to the rigors of the business.
Joey walked up behind him and patted him on the back. ‘Good work out today, buddy.’
David nodded his head as they walked towards the door to the rest of the hotel.
‘Any word from Lorelai?’ Joey inquired.
David simply shook his head. He’d left a note and a bundle of cash at the front desk of the hotel before checking out in the event she returned there and wanted to get a hold of him. In the past few days though, there was silence from her, and he couldn’t exactly blame her. Still, he worried about a teenage girl in Manchester or anywhere for that matter, on her own. He’d talked to the police, but they didn’t pay it too much mind.
Instead, he was here now, readying for his next match while his mind was split between two different places.
They walked through the hotel and made their way to the elevator, riding it up to the penthouse suite. While the money from HOW wasn’t exactly lighting it on fire, he’d earned quite a bit over his career, and his endorsements had started to pick up thanks to his return. As he stepped inside of the dark and quiet room, he threw his keys on the table and retreated to his room, not even wanting to talk to Joey about anything.
Since the event occurred, he’d kept things strictly professional between Joey and himself. He entered his bedroom and shut the door before stripping his shirt off and making his way towards the bathroom. As he walked by the bed, something caught him off guard.
‘Before you take everything else off, I should let you know I’m in here,’ a voice came from the corner and as he turned around, he saw Lorelai sitting in a chair by the window, looking out at Liverpool. Her knees were pulled into her chest and her gaze seemed to be far away.
‘Lorelai,’ David began.
‘Your note, it promised me answers,’ Lorelai responded. ‘So, I’m here for answers, and then from there, I will decide what the next step is.’
David nodded his head as he sat on the edge of the bed.
‘Alright then, let’s do this.’