Prelude to Madness
No one wants to be the second match on the card. You want to be the main event, or you want to be first. Everything else is bullshit, and don’t let anyone tell you anything different. “I was the co-main event,” someone once told me.
You were the match before the main event. There’s no such thing as a co-main event. Only THE main event.
This isn’t my first main event, and it probably won’t be my last here in HOW. I’ll take my credit where it’s due. I’ve had a good run or two here in HOW, and I think I’m on the cusp of another. I just have to get my shit together and get my priorities straight. I can feel it in my fuckin’ bones. I am meant for greatness. I’m a Hall of Famer, sure…but I’m meant for so much more. All of that said, however, this is the most important match of my time so far in HOW. Everyone says that, I fuckin’ get it. It’s a cliché and it’s overused, but hear me out.
It’s not because I got here by myself, or because it’s my opportunity to avenge my loss to that bitch Lindsay Troy. It’s because I’m representing the Best Alliance, which is something that I haven’t been able to do very well recently but I’m a fuckin’ Soldier and I love being in the shit, and right now…I’m knee deep in it. When I’m in the shit, I only move forward. I only attack. If Lee Best thinks of us as his Army, then I’m the motherfuckin’ general in this bitch and it’s time for everyone in HOW, but more importantly everyone in this WarGames match to recognize that shit.
This match is not about me. In fact, I don’t need this match. I don’t even need the World Championship. I’m a fuckin’ Hall of Famer. My legacy is cemented, my name is etched in fuckin’ marble. When Lee Best decides to blow the Best Arena up with some black market bought C4 explosive and archaeologists dig that bitch up 500 years from now, they will find my name in the rubble. That’s how fuckin’ serious the HOW Hall of Fame is. WordPress or not…I’m in the fuckin’ hall. Still, even with the Hall of Fame induction and everything else, none of that negates the fact that I want this match. It also doesn’t negate the fact that one day, I will want the HOW World Championship. But like I said, I just don’t fuckin’ need it right now. Not one bit. In fact, I’m happy that Cancer Jiles is the World Champion. I’m genuinely happy for the guy, and more than that…I’m happy for the Best Alliance. We are a group of champions and Hall of Famers. And for me…that’s enough for right now.
It won’t be enough forever, but for now…I’m playing my role on the team. I’m the shortstop and I know that in order to win, my throw has to make it to the first baseman’s mitt…every time. My role is not to win the HOW World Championship. It’s just not, and I’m fine with that. My role is to make sure, with every ounce of energy and drop of sweat, that the HOW World Championship stays in the Best Alliance. That’s fuckin’ all. I don’t have to pin anyone, I don’t have to win. I just have to make sure that these Local Grapple fucks walk out of Tokyo with nothing but souvenirs and a sake hangover.
May 28, 2021
Shawn Kutter’s House
I haven’t been this annoyed in years. She doesn’t look at me the way she did that first night. It’s like she looks through me. Like I’m one of the incarnations of The Invisible Man; take your pick which one. I try to apologize for whatever the fuck I did, but she completely ignores me and walks past me in the doorway into the house. The smell of her perfume tickles my nose as she walks past and immediately, it lights me on fire. I lean back against the open door, pushing the doorknob into the wall. I take in a deep breath and look up at the ceiling. I wish I knew what I did wrong, but I just can’t figure it out. I walk away from the open front door and watch her as she walks into the living room, across the creaking hardwood floor. She tosses her coat onto the back of the olive green, corduroy couch. She scoffs.
“Let’s go already!” She shouts in the direction of the stairs. Her soft southern draw turns me on even more as I watch her pull a cigarette from her purse and light it up. No one’s allowed to smoke in the house, at least that’s what Shawn said. And this is his house.
She’s here for him.
I’ve been cast aside.
I’m the mutt-puppy that no one wants, and Shawn is the steroid-ridden-pitbull that I once thought I was and that every woman secretly dreams of.
I walk out of the living room and lean against the formica countertop in the kitchen. I watch the roaches run for cover as I start picking at my nails and stare down at the water damaged linoleum that’s glued to the cement floor. The sound of footsteps slowly marching down the stairs perks my attention. Shawn’s on his way down.
“You can’t smoke in here. What the fuck are you thinking?” His tone is stern and hard. He’s not playing around, he’s dead serious. Only Shawn Kutter could talk to a woman as beautiful as Constance, and get away with it.
She moans in pain and I hear a small scuffle. I dart across the kitchen and peek into the living room. I don’t want Shawn to see me, so I only lean out of the doorway far enough to watch what’s happening with one eye.
Shawn has a handful of hair and he wrangles Constance in close to him. He looks her dead in the eyes and plants a firm and aggressive kiss on her lips. He pushes in hard and smears her lipstick up the side of her cheek.
She looks scared.
He snatches her wrist and looks at the cigarette in her hand. He pulls the cigarette out from between her fingers.
“You’re nasty! Don’t you ever light one of these in my house again! You got that?!” His voice booms and echoes throughout the house, vibrating the walls as it bounces from one wall to the other. She nods in compliance.
But I can’t do anything about it. Shawn’s my best friend. She’s just some chick I thought I liked until…well, until 30 seconds ago when I saw that she’s his.
“What the fuck are you doing here anyway?” He pulls her in tight by the hair once more.
“I…I just thought…maybe we could get some lunch?” She whimpers. I feel bad for her, but I do remember Shawn telling her to call before she comes over and that she is only allowed to visit the house once the sun has gone down. She clearly defied his rules…it’s only 1pm.
He yanks and pulls her and she moans and groans. I watch as he pulls her to the door, a single tear falls from her cheek and splats on the roach-feces cover linoleum in the kitchen. He tosses her out the front door and then turns his attention to me. He points his finger in my direction and shouts “What the fuck did I tell you, Steve?” I cower like a child into the corner and shrug my shoulders. I look down at the floor. I do remember what he told me, I’m just too ashamed to admit it.
“I told you to never let that bitch in the house when you’re here. If you’re here, she can’t be here!” He shouts as he stomps his way across the kitchen until his pointed finger is two inches from my face. I know he’s there, but I dare not look up.
“Look, asshole. We can’t be having her around here. She’s bad for us. She’s bad for you. You can’t have her.”
I tell him that it won’t happen again to which he replies “It better fuckin’ not.”
“Now get your shit,” he demands. “We’ve got a plane to Tokyo to catch. We’ve got a match to win. We have a championship belt to win.”
Monday – Memorial Day, 5:30am
May 31, 2021
Haneda Airport, Tokyo, Japan
The plane hits the tarmac with a bit more force than I’m used to. I look over at Shawn, he’s passed out cold. He had three beers before take off and was going shot for shot with some Japanese business man. Not that it matters, but the Japanese man is also passed out. This isn’t where I want to be for Memorial Day. This is typically a day I spend with my brothers and sisters in arms. This is typically a day my brothers and sisters and I get shit faced and remember the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice so jack-wagons like me and you can do whatever the fuck we want to do. They are the reason we are free. They are the ones who paid the toll, and they’ll never ask for your thanks. You know why? Because they didn’t even know whot he fuck you were and they still paid the price…for you.
I stand up and grab my shit from the overhead bin just before the seatbelt light comes on. A flight attendant was fast approaching, but the crowd overcame her just in the nick of time. Shawn taps me on the shoulder and asks – no, he tells – me to grab his bag; he’s got to “hit the head.”
As I pull my stuff down from the overhead bin the Japanese man that Shawn had been drinking with grabs me with both hands by the shoulders and starts shaking me and laughing hysterically.
“You crazy man!” He shouts in broken English at the top of his lungs. Everyone is standing up in the aisle as this lunatic continues to shake me. I press my palm into his forehead and force him back into his seat.
“You must be mistaken, sir.” I try to get him to back off and it works, but the look on his face perplexes me. He looks like he knows me, but I only know who he is because he was talking to Shawn. How could he have possibly noticed me…
“Sir, we’ll need you to de-board now please,” a blonde flight attendant with white teeth the size of fence pickets calmly says, pointing to the exit at the front of the plane. I shake it off and de-board the plane. Just as I exit the plane, I pause to ask the man why he thinks he knows me…but Shawn grabs me from behind and motions for me to follow him through the airport. Like a good dog, I follow his instructions. He’s quick to get out of the airport as I struggle to keep up while juggling three duffle bags and the bottle of whiskey that Shawn bought at the duty-free shop in O’Hare.
Side note: Fuck O’Hare. That place is hot garbage.
Shawn exits the front door, and turns left. “Shawn!” I shout, trying to get his attention. “Shawn!” Again I shout, again he doesn’t stop nor does he answer. I finally make it out the door and turn left…but he’s nowhere to be found.
“What the fuck?” I whisper to myself as I drop my bags to the ground. I spin around trying to find Shawn, but he’s nowhere to be found.
“Where did he…” I look down at my bags, and there is only one carry-on. It’s my assault pack…Shawn’s bags are gone. “How the fuc…”
“Steve Solex?! Are you Steve Solex?!” A young Japanese man asks, holding a sign with my name on it. He must be my driver, but I don’t remember arranging that. Perks of the Best Alliance I suppose. He rushes over and grabs my bag and quickly loads it into the trunk of the car. I stand still, confused…pointing where I last saw Shawn.
“Did you see a man? An American, exit before me?” I ask the driver, one eye brow raised.
“Another American? No. Only you. We go now?” The young man is polite, but clearly in a hurry. He opens the back seat and I hop in.
“What took you so long?!” My heart sinks into my stomach as I look at Shawn sitting on the far end of the backseat.
I ask him how he got here without me seeing him, and why the driver doesn’t remember seeing him.
“I paid the little shit five-bucks to keep his yap shut and to get you into the car.” I can tell he’s lying, I can see right through him.
“Where are we going sir?” The driver asks. “The Raddison,” Shawn answers. Shawn never lets me speak to people when he’s around. It bugs the shit out of me, if I’m being honest.
“We’ve got a title to win,” Shawn says.