North of Toronto, Ontario
4 Feb 2020
Snow gently falls from an overcast sky over a lovely forest scene. Bare deciduous trees intermingle with green coniferous, the white fluff accentuating the deciduous branches while weighing down the lush coniferous. The rythmic sound of a two stroke engine can be heard revving up and biting into wood, echoing throughout the peaceful forest, followed by crackling and splintering, the raucous noise of branches rattling together, and finally a thundering crash.
A celebratory whoop pierces the air as Rick Dickulous can be seen, chainsaw in hand, standing over a large felled tree. He shuts the chainsaw off and sets it down on the stump still in the ground, walking along the trunk silently, seemingly inspecting his prize carefully, measuring out imaginary cuts with his hand as he makes his way up the trunk.
“Jesus, this bad boy is just what the doctor ordered,” he quietly says to himself, “just a little reconnect with nature…always recharges the batteries.”
He walks back to the stump and retrieves the chainsaw with one hand, his other instinctively resting on the pull cord handle as he gives a final look at the felled tree with a nod.
He yanks the cord upwards and the engine fires up again, the hot exhaust creating puffs of greyish smoke that drift on the wind. Rick makes his way from the stump back up towards the branches, adjusting the choke on the chainsaw, the engine’s sound dying down to a dull roar.
As he stands over the branches and squeezes the trigger, the chainsaw blade begins spinning as the engine revs up, the roar piercing the silence of the pristine forest. Rick lowers the blade to the branches and the chain bites in, the engine labouring to slice through the thick, frozen wood.
He smiles as he makes short work of the first branch, sawdust bouncing off his unprotected legs, littering the ground around his feet. He seems relaxed, almost lost in thought as he works.
Somewhere in Northern British Columbia
23 Feb 2015
A much younger, and decidedly smaller Rick can be seen trudging through the mud covered ground of a logging camp with a pack on his back. He makes his way past other workers, all dressed in a mishmash of different coloured plaid jackets and rough, thick canvas pants clearly meant to last in the bare basic amenities of the remote camp.
Some nod at the fresh-faced kid with the infectious grin, clearly amazed at the beauty, and at the goings on around him. A large man with a booming voice yells across the camp at him from the “porch” of a portable building that more closely resembled a sea container than an office.
“Hey, kid! Get your ass up here and quit fuckin’ the dog! You ain’t here to take in the scenery, you’re here to work! Let’s go!”
Rick sheepishly jogs towards the office as the man retires inside, water from small puddles splashes from under Rick’s feet, thick mud caking his boots. As he reaches the stairs, he kicks his boots against the steps in an attempt to remove as much of the dark brown sludge from his boots as possible.
“Don’t worry about your boots, just get in here, Rick,” the man’s voice resonates through the wall of the structure.
As he steps inside the structure, Rick waves humbly at the old man who gestures to a chair sitting in front of a shoddy, jury-rigged desk.
“Have a seat. I’m Don, but everyone around here just calls me “the old man.” Glad you made it ok – did you have any issues with the helicopter ride in?”
Rick shakes his head no.
“No, sir. It was definitely a nice view though.”
The old man chortles.
“Don’t get used to it, kid. In a month, all that’ll be left on this face of the mountain will be mud and roots,” he picks up a pen and slides a sheet of paper in front of him, “so you better have taken a few pictures on the way in. You got any hobbies?”
Rick nods, a smile growing across his face.
“Well, my old man’s a professional wrestler. I always loved summers when I was younger, travelling around with him to all the stops, hanging out with all the other wrestlers. It always made me feel special – maybe one day I’ll go that route, but right now I’m focused on getting shi–I mean, stuff done here.”
The old man scoffs.
“Kid, wrestling’s fucking fake. It’s a bunch of oiled up ‘roidheads playing grabass in a square…trust me, you’re far better off here. Steady work, great benefits, and you never have to worry about whether or not there’s food in your belly. Stick with us and you’ll be set for life.”
Rick gave a disconcerted look across the desk.
“Look, I get it. People don’t understand wrestling. People look down on guys busting their ass night after night for cheap crowd pops. I don’t expect anyone to understand it – takes a special kind of person to beat themselves up and potentially bleed everywhere for little kids and fat middle aged dudes to lose their shit. But people don’t see the other side of it…the connection those guys make with the fans at promotional events, the visits to hospitals to go visit little kids who are dying, hell, even just shaking hands with fans on the way to the ring…it’s special, and it’s real.”
Don nods across the desk at Rick.
“And do they make any money from these visits? I mean, sure, visiting little kids in the hospital is a great thing…but nobody should work for free. Here? You do work, you get paid. You don’t? I’ll bust your ass all the way back to Toronto.”
North of Toronto, Ontario
4 Feb 2020
The tree Rick felled earlier is neatly chopped into small chunks and piled in a row five high, extending ten feet long. A single chunk of wood sits on top of the pile, seemingly out of place. Attached to the freshly cut face is a picture of Steve Solex, his moustached sneer practically oozing overconfidence.
Suddenly an axe crashes into the picture’s face, splitting the head of Solex in twain. Crunching snow can be heard; the sounds of heavy footsteps on the snow covered ground, as a massive hand grasps the handle and wrenches it free from the wood.
“Poor Stevie…seems all that dad shit’s given you a splitting headache.”
Rick laughs at his own joke, checking the blade of the hatchet with his thumb. He gently runs his finger along the blade, recoiling it quickly and sticking his thumb to his mouth.
Rick removes his thumb from between his lips and looks at it carefully, blood slowly rising from a small cut across the pad.
He stares at it, then looks over at Solex’s picture, placing his thumb over the split face. His blood smears over both sides of the picture, leaving Steve seemingly with a crimson mask.
Rick wags his finger at the picture, a broad smile across his face.
“I wonder what the kids will say Saturday night when you stumble in the door looking like you lost a fight with a polar bear over a baby harp seal…oh, to be a fly on that wall.”
He removes the picture and stares at it intently.
“Sorry, not sorry, bud…”
Rick pulls a lighter from his sporran and lights the bottom of the picture before dropping it in the snow. The picture crinkles as the flames lick towards Steve Solex’s snide, bloody grin.