“All right let’s go over this once more.”
clipboard in hand James reviews a small list of things that must be done before he departs the cruise ship. charity as to charity and obviously supporting those who could compete while he stayed on a steady course during last year’s summer Cruise. this seems like a simple review Logistics was in order, all crew members were paid well in advance of departure. Thought they look like shit from partying all last night prior to the captain’s decision to step down, they had clearly taken the time to look as professional as was the captain’s demeanor.
He took in the measure of each of the staff throughout the ship, from the engineers to the cooks, maybe a lecture or two to the housekeeping. Ah…the memories, some positive and some negative. He didn’t have to feel like his life was almost ended.
Like so many times before.
Bright and bushy eye was James in the years of 2011…2013…he couldn’t keep track. All he knew from those years of competing for High Octane Wrestling was that it was the pinnacle of wrestling that outshined whatever successes he had accomplished prior. It was the realm of real men and women, not for the kiddies looking to run around with their shiny fucking new pants and shirts.
You bled everyday just for looking at someone the wrong way. You bled for challenging folks with more money than you were willing to burn. Hospital visits were aplenty during those years, but the enticing promise of grander rewards were always teased on the radio shows back then. When you come waltzing into a tough as nails company with a softness of a teddy bear, you probably should have invested in better insurance.
The thought of medical insurance alone, caused James to react defensively as he rounded a corner and someone walking in the hallway held the push button pen in their right hand. The employee immediately took notice, stuffing the pen in his pocket. James acknowledges the employee, who only began to shrink against the wall of the pathway.
It just doesn’t stop.
The thought bubbles up as James takes to turn around another corner to just have a moment to breathe. He can feel the muscles twitch, the memories bubbling up to remind him of what he was returning to…
The spasms continue for another moment as he tries to control his breathing. He straightens out, clear his throat, takes a deep breath, before continuing down the hallway, taking a flight down to the main deck, where the XO stood with what looked to be a backpack. James tried to stifle the smile, but he knew he wasn’t getting past.
“Mister Gonzalez, i am a grown man, why do you insist on treating me this way?”
The 5”3 man of sun-kissed complexion, mused before grinning ear to ear. He took James’s hand and shakes it feverishly as James begins laughing.
“Senor Mamba, it was an honor for you to be at the helm of this fine ship as the captain, i feel you have grown considerably. I hope it was as enlightening as your fitness regimen during the summer?”
James takes to grabbing the backpack respectfully, out of the hands of the man who originally was the captain. He returns the smile with an infectious one of his own.
“I cannot stress that i am in your debt. It has been a trying few years and despite who signs the check, you will always remind me of what is out there that can restore happin-”
James’s eyes seem to freeze down the path of the dock itself, his smile slowly fading as he turns to gaze down the gangway, bridging the path across the water and on to solid ground, an stern looking individual gazes back up at James specifically. James sighs, but doesn’t break the staredown..
“I seem to be keeping him waiting. Until next time Senor Gonzalez. You have the con.”
“Farewell, Senor Mamba”
James takes to the gangway, shouldering the backpack as he coldly maintains the gaze with upon closer inspection, Scott Stevens. Neither man gave much warmth as the distance between them closed. After a few minutes, James sighed.
“Look…Scott…oh forgive me…H……O……W..
James jabs a free finger onto Scott’s chest with each word…
Hall of Famer…Scott…Stevens.”
Stevens looks down at the finger of Black Mamba before slowly pushing it away.
“That’s not correct.”
The Texan informs his tag partner for Refueled as he looks back up.
“It’s Mr. Hall of Famer to you.”
Stevens says as he jabs his finger into the chest of Mamba.
“You have a lot of balls calling me here after you left me high and dry all those years ago.”
The Texan reminds James and he doesn’t care for the statement. James takes to the moment, a sheepish half smiles appears as he shrugs and takes the step back.
“Business called and clearly you didn’t take it that well. I get it, you wanted gold, just as bad as i want the damn world in my hands. I should have considered that you had designs on reaching the top.”
Stevens doesn’t seem entertained by Mamba’s answer.
“Business called huh?”
Scott asks rhetorically before continuing.
“Well, I’m glad business called because while you and your fellow seamen have been taking care of an obsolete battleship that’s been rotting in dry dock, I’ve been given business opportunities by the only Best in HOW that matters…MICHAEL OLIVER BEST!”
Stevens informs as he gets chest to chest with Mamba. A frown immediately appears on Mamba at the mention of Michael Oliver Best.
“And because of him, I have become one step closer to becoming the world champion again, and because of him I will drag your ungrateful ass to tag gold and you’ll be able to see success before Scottywood happens to take that other eye of yours as a trophy.”
Stevens mocks Mamba’s previous eye injury. Mamba steps back, the warmth in his face fading fast, as he clinches his hands.
“Oh…I’m dreadfully sorry…”
Mamba immediately pockets his hands, tempted as he might be, but the fire burns bright.
“I have forgotten what it’s like to be tempted by the devil and his son…JUST to crumble back and down to the ground. You think its going to be me being dragged to the finals. No…”
Stevens cuts him off.
“I’m not tempted by any one boy.”
Stevens says with hatred in his tone.
“The devil is dead and his son is taking a twenty-four day sabbatical looking for his smile. I’m working with the Mr. Best because he is the only member of the Best family that doesn’t turn everything into a fucking side show for his amusement. Since returning to power, Mr. Best has done more for this company than Lee or Mike has done for it except run it into the ground.”
Stevens states as he doesn’t let Mamba get a word in.
“Mr. Best wants a professional environment and there is no bigger professional in HOW than me, and because of that and respect for Mr. Best that is why I’m not knocking your teeth into the dirt right now!”
Stevens spews his venom, but Mamba gets right back into Stevens’ face, dropping the backpack.
“So, you’re telling me there’s a damn Best with some sense that is homicidal?! That I’m supposed to believe that you are actually getting the damn respect you’re getting. “
Mamba returns the venom at Stevens, all too familiar with the Best family name and their idea of what wrestling should be.
“I understand, fine be the damn BEST professional wrestler you can be in HOW…but i will be the damn best teammate you have in this decade! I’ve returned to set things right in the history books, with or without a Hall of Famer. I KNOW I needStevens you, but I don’t have to enjoy it Stevens.”
Mamba steps back, grabbing his backpack as his personal luxury ride pulls up at the docks. He motions to it and actually extends a hand towards Stevens.
“Its not much to make up for the years before…but for a Hall of Famer such as yourself, will this be a start?”
Stevens looks down at Mamba’s hand and shakes it.
“Let’s win this thing.”