For faults in the
Clouds of delusion,” ‘Dark Star,’ By The Grateful Dead
“I’m a good person.”
“Sure dear, do you need another round?”
There I was sitting at a bar mere hours after I watched Ellis and Oleg drag a half dead body from the hidden property. Yea, I went to a bar instead of walking into the Conex Box. I didn’t see Jack Marley. I didn’t see The Doc. I didn’t see Rebecca. I instead drove until I saw a neon light, walked in, ordered some whiskey, and listened to crappy 80’s rock music on a jukebox.
Like Journey B Side’s, people…I had to drink to not hammer nails into my ears. This bar was as rundown as STRONKs toilet, and the bathroom was as messy as a Bobbinette Carey relationship.
I wanted someone to agree with me that I was a good person.
I am certain I haven’t heard that since I had my mom save an injured bird when I was a kid. It flew a few weeks later just like I flew after letting my own insecurities get to me
But here I was drinking whiskey wishing to be a good person when to be one all I had to do was stay at the Conex and see how Rebecca was doing. I sat and drank whiskey that I wouldn’t offer my worst enemy, but it wasn’t about the drink, it was about avoiding the situation I had created.
“Sureeee, leave the bottle!”
At that moment everything had already become a tad blurry, but it was helping numb the knee pain I was in from the workout. Ice or alcohol on ice…I will choose the liquor every time to my obvious detriment.
I slammed my fist on the bar angrily, “DAMMIT!”
It was at that time after many drinks that I came to understand that Ellis Jackson had gotten in my head to the point that I was drinking at an empty bar at two in the afternoon in some Podunk town. I shook my head realizing I had made a mistake but as always to make myself feel better I poured another drink and soon after I had already forgotten about what I had messed up on.
“I am a great person,” I said nodding, my words beginning to slur a tad as I stared up at an old TV that was mounted over the bar. On the screen were talking heads screaming about sports at each other with ignorant takes that any semi-literate caveman could think of. “Man, did that guy just say STRONK is unbeatable?”
The bartender looked over at me with a confused look on her face, but she was used to dealing with drunks, “I think they are talking about Baker Mayfield.”
I threw my hands to the ceiling, “they are always talking about that bum, what they should be talking about is Dead or Alive.”
Yep, it had come to the point where I was spouting about a wrestling show that this woman probably had no idea even existed. Sorry guys this is the real world. Have you seen ratings across the board these days?
She had the foresight to grab the bottle when I wasn’t looking and hid it away. At that point I didn’t even notice. She put a fresh napkin under the glass I still had and smiled. “I am not sure what you are talking about, but you look like an athlete.”
I pointed at the TV, “they don’t talk about us. They put us in the corner because they don’t like what we do.”
She nodded, “that’s too bad but I would think an athlete wouldn’t be drinking at 2PM in the afternoon…and here of all places.”
I sighed and dropped my head. This bartender was going in on me without even realizing it. “I am… strategizing.”
“I am planning my next move,” I responded quietly but loud enough considering the place was empty that she could hear me.
She laughed, “I mean the next move after drinking like this is either puking or passing out.”
She wasn’t wrong and the only strategizing I was doing was how I would go back to the property now that I ran like a scalded dog. I sat back and imagined Conor Fuse’s smug smile as he honestly mentions me ducking him but openly admitting he has scouted me longer than he has played Zelda II. That game sucked just like his scouting report that amounted to reading my fucking bio. Oh no, shitty STF that definitely saved Pretty Miss Needs Friends To Succeed.
“I would prefer neither…do you know of a place I could sober up?”
She winked at me, “I know of a place.” She started writing on a piece of paper and pushed it towards me.
I looked down at the paper and then back at her. I was still seeing blurred lines but as Steve Solex has told me ‘Check the Adam’s apple, if there’s none…smash.’
No… for real that was the advice that came to my mind at that time.
I continued to stare at her and she noticed rather easily, “what…is there something on my face?”
I shook my head, “Nah,” I didn’t see an Adams Apple, “just thinking about some advice a friend gave me.”
She shrugged as she took a wet cloth and started cleaning the bar in front of me. I gave her a small smirk, “I will be right back, where is the bathroom?”
She grinned and pointed to the corner, “don’t go puking now.”
I walked to the bathroom slowly so I could get a lockout for items I could bump into. I grabbed a chair softly as I moved by to make sure I didn’t hit it. I finally got to the bathroom, opened the door, and went to the urinal.
I won’t tell you how strong my manly flow was or if it was whiter than the women Jace jerks off too. I got to the sink and started washing my hands. I stared at myself in the dirty mirror in front of me and checked for food in my teeth. I smiled and flexed like I was STRONK before he let Shelly Greene put baby oil on him. Have to make STRONK look like shiny Tyron Lannister with muscles, of course.
“May as well finish what I started,” I said to myself. Yea, I didn’t have the intelligence at that time to realize that I haven’t finished a goddamn thing I have started recently.
‘GIVE HER THE KNEE, STEVE.”
Ellis Jackson’s words echoed in my ears as I turned the water off to the sink.
“GIVE HER THE KNEE, STEVE.”
“What the hell is wrong with me,” I muttered as I opened the door to the bathroom.
“GIVE HER THE KNEE, STEVE.”
‘FINE, I WILL!” I screamed and then realized I had said that out loud. The bartender looked over at me with a surprised look on her face. My eyes darted like Xander at a Q conference, “uh…I will—see you later, yea.”
“GIVE HER THE KNEE, STEVE.”
She nodded back at me, her smirk returning to her…I don’t know…cute face? Sure, let’s go with that. “I saw you were limping, is your knee hurt?
“GIVE HER THE KNEE, STEVE.”
Damn right I will, I thought to myself.
Nope, not delusional at all.
I see you, Jace.
I am sure if you say your delusional lies repeatedly, they will suddenly become factual. That is the way the world works these days, but I am not one to sit back and let you walk away from the dogshit you dropped in front of Bergman and me.
You are overexposed.
You run from fed to fed now wanting people’s adulation to the point that if someone pointed at you and said that’s Darin Zion I would just nod and walk away.
How’s that going for you, bud?
I am being honest. I really don’t know because my eyes cannot handle OCW promos and if I wanted to listen to trailer trash, I would just listen to Mikey Unlikely’s podcast.
The Highwaymen are the Tag Champions. It just so happens that Bergman and I are defending them now because Solex has a world title match and Clay Byrd has STRONKs old title. You know the one you had at one time, and nobody cared about it. Am I supposed to apologize to you of all people for defending these titles?
You…of all people are trying to call foul on something?
That is laughable.
Let me remind you that I have defended them with Byrd as well. I have fought for them more times since they were won by Solex and Byrd. I am the FOREVER Tag Champion, Jace because I have never lost a Tag Title Match. Let me say that one more time so you can hear it in whatever redneck town OCW is competing in this week: I HAVE NEVER LOST A TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH.
You can fight with me saying Best or Forever but I just exaggerate on something that is very factual. I won the Tag Titles on two occasions with Cancer Jiles. If you want to make freebird jokes, then just remember that the first time they were lost is because Jatt and Sektor, still butt hurt from losing them, got Lee’s blessing to defend MY Tag Titles at War Games.
The truth is I hate the freebird role because it cost me the titles once. But I can forget the past if I can keep them in the family. This isn’t The Best Alliance this is an actual group that works together and doesn’t care who won what, just that we all win.
I am not happy that you are walking around with the LSD Title, but I can admit that you earned it against Jatt. I will win that title back eventually and if you are the one holding it at that time it makes my victory that more satisfying.
At Dead or Alive after STRONK is done protecting you I have reservations that the big guy can climb to the roof of the saloon. You will finally have to fight yourself and trust me when I say as bad as Bergman has burned you verbally, it will pale in comparison when the both of us toss you off the roof into the horse water trough below.
Got to put that fire out somehow, heh.
I am sick of your rambling marble mouthed nonsense.
YOU TALK TOO MUCH!
If I don’t hear the lame childish comment ‘fisher price,’ again I will be a happy Miracle Man. Is that your catch phrase now? You share an insult with Scott Stevens congrats on overrating your wit you weaselly eyed motherfucker.
I suppose people who are mentally still children think about toys a lot because the only thing grown up about you is your undeserved sense of self-worth.
I will do my BEST to leave you whimpering and questioning your talent when Bergman and I leave you pouting for STRONK to come save you.
All I ask is that you wash your hands before this match starts because we all know you are into some deviant grotesque stuff. I don’t want to know where your hands have been, but you can rest assured you won’t be able to move them after I knee the vertebrae out of that yellow spine of yours. Get all your stress relief over now you pervert but don’t be glum about it because with that time off you might finally get unbanned from twitter.
You can continue to be blinded by your delusions, Jace, but when all is said and done you will have to accept your loss, or you will be left wandering the Dead or Alive set until you die of dehydration.
Sorry, I guess you could always treat STRONK as a very short Tauntaun and survive in his meat poisoned carcass until Mike Best realizes he hasn’t had a fresh cup of coffee in a while.
You get it meathead?
Either way your loss is everyone’s gain, and The Highwaymen will ride out in the sunset with the Tag Straps in hand and unbroken liquor bottles to celebrate with sticking out of our pockets.
The Next Day
I was minutes away from the property and I was going over in my mind any excuse I could think of and analyzing them. It was almost noon the next day after my adventure in drinking at a bar in the afternoon on a weekday. I knew I would be welcomed with scowls and questions so even though my head was worse than my knees I had to use the brain inside it to think of something good.
“I got lost hiking,” I said out loud.
With my knees?
Yea, see I just beat you uncreative dolts to the punch with the tired knee jokes. Look at them now though, they are bruised but stronger than they have been in over a year. I will break Conor Fuses video game consoles with them and then stick them in that condescending mouth of his.
“I was called away on important Highwaymen business.”
That is plausible but what business in the hills of Virginia could we possibly have for just one night? I know some people, Jace for instance can handle his ‘business’ in less than three minutes but not all of us have that pathetic gene inside us. The boys are busy getting ready and I know Joe is conflicted about Xander Azula but come on, buddy…we are supposed to defeat cults, not invest in them.
I pulled up to the property and sat there with the VW Atlas running and nodded my head along with some music. I was hoping the jamming by Goose would open some dimension of creativity where an amazing idea would pop out, smack me in the face and call me daddy.
“I was out fucking some woman whose names evades me now and I passed out on the floor after rolling off the bed.”
Did she give me truth serum or something?
I took both hands and smacked both sides of my cheeks. I was hoping that could help a bit to snap me out of it and that my stupid drunk or drugged Brain would not ever say what really happened. I turned the engine off and stepped out of the vehicle. I shut the door quietly because I did not need Jack Marley to run to the front door like a dog waiting for me to enter and then jump on my…I paused and looked at what I was wearing.
Ugh, my shirt was ripped, and I realized I could still smell her horrible perfume all over me. I took a deep breath and walked up to the door, opened it slowly, and walked into the Conex Box we made into a makeshift home until Rebecca was back to normal and we were certain my father wasn’t after us. That was supposed to be Oleg’s job, but he was off doing God knows what with Ellis, but I knew whatever it was, it was not something I wanted to be a part of.
I took a step inside and saw a very bright light, I put my left hand up to try to shade my eyes.
No crickets this time just complete apathy.
Congrats on winning a handicap match with Xander against STRONK. I am certain that will get you a meeting with Netflix execs.
It has been four months since I last gave you a thought and that was because I beat you…again. You seem to have gotten a little pep back in your step recently and that is commendable seeing how far you had fallen.
Well…let’s be honest there really wasn’t anywhere left for you to fall.
You and Xander made it to the big stage though and I believe it is not insulting to say that one of these things is not like the others.
Do you get it?
Your team is the one box of raisins in a sea of chocolate.
You may have made it to the Tag Title match, but you are over your head and the fans would rather ignore you and concentrate on the true talent on hand. Ok, minus Bobbinette Carey.
Everyone looks at you and turns their head away in shame that they had to witness such try hard morons trying to act like true stars. You are what you are, Brian. I think you have come to terms with that and that maybe just maybe you will luck out again into a big win.
It isn’t happening this weekend.
It doesn’t matter if your partner is friendly with my partner because to the rest of The Highwaymen, we just tolerate the cult following fool. It is because of Joe Bergman that Xander Azula wasn’t the first person eliminated at War Games. That is his huge accomplishment…not being the worst competitor inside a match.
Must be nice to just want the simplest of things but I am Steve Harrison. I want to retain these titles and travel the PWA defeating anyone with the courage to face us. I don’t want to stop at one success, and I won’t stop at one failure. I don’t think you two have the heart nor the mind to fight through the pain we will all endure and climb up to the roof and grab those belts. I was built for this. I have won a Ladder Match recently with blood dripping from my face. This is going to be child’s play for me and not a child you want to play with… you failed actor.
What the hell is going to happen now where Joe has to concentrate on beating Xander and not helping him? I reckon we are going to witness a show that will leave Xander back to square one again.
Hate to see it right, Xander?
I will give you two credit though. Neither of you ever give up and run away like a lot of these wrestlers these days. You guys will always come back for more but that doesn’t mean you do it any better than The Highwaymen. Each one of us has picked ourselves up from failure and become champions or soon to be champions. Skill and talent with the ability to overcome will always trump whatever drive you two have. It isn’t enough, you are riding a bicycle while we are blazing by you in a fucking lambo.
You two can try to play hide and seek from the champs all you want but it won’t do you any good when I slide you down the bar like an old western cartoon. The other side Bergman will smash a nonalcoholic beer over your no personality having heads. Can’t let the kids get drunk now. I mean for two real life cartoon characters it should be on your goddamn bucket list anyway.
Now your time playing with the adults is over. When this is done you can go back to the kids table or better yet go find some PRIME seats elsewhere where you might find a small amount of success.
I am rooting for you guys.
But not that much.
It’s only right you two receive some Enlightenment and for that…I will never apologize.
The light subsided and I walked a few more steps to see The Doc and Jack Marley walking quickly to me. Jack hugged me without warning, and I didn’t have it in me to push him away. It sometimes feels good to be missed, I mused to myself. The Doc nodded and I did so back. I walked over to the cheap IKEA couch we had set up and sat down. I crossed my legs and looked at Jack.
“I need a new change of clothes, a shower, and a lot of water!”
“What the hell happened, mon?”
I paused and went over the excuses again in my head, “Uh…hard work out and passed out in the car.” I thought of a good one right on the spot, that was so fast thinking I thought as a smirk came to my face.
The Doc walked over to me and looked down at me with an uncertain look in his eyes. It only lasted a few seconds, but I knew he didn’t believe me, but he continued anyway, “that can all wait.”
“What did you say?”
“I said, that can wait, we have more important things to talk about then the stench coming off that ripped shirt.”
My face got flushed red.
I was embarrassed.
Damn Doc knew too much really quickly.
“Um…go on?” Is all I could muster as this hangover and The Doc calling me had me completely off whatever game I thought I had.
I heard some noise from behind me that was unexpected, and I looked at The Doc who waved his arm behind me. I turned to see, “looking a little worse for wear,” I heard her voice as soon as I saw her: Rebecca Hines.
My mouth dropped and my eyes bulged from its sockets like Conor Fuse jerking off to Hentai, “wait…what?”
Doc smiled, “she should be back to normal. STEVE!”
I jumped back not expecting him to yell my name and then looked back at Rebecca, “it is…it is…man, I am so happy to see you.”
She smiled and walked over to me and grabbed my hands. I stood up and she gave me a hug, “thanks…STEVE!”
I pushed her away and held my ears, “jeez guys you are all yelling louder than STRONK getting dragged away from the Golden Corral buffet.”
Jack took a joint from behind his ear and lit it, “yea, mon… about time things started looking up for us…STEVE!”
I stopped the hug and stared holes through Jack because he was yelling now too. I looked back at Rebecca, “I need another hug.”
I went in for another hug and she put her hands up to stop me and placed her hands on my chest.
And with that last yell my eyes fluttered open.
It was all a dream, unfortunately I did not read word up magazine, but I did have a throbbing pain on my face. I squinted and held my face with my right hand and then stared at it to see a bit of blood. I moved a little and leaned against the door I had just entered and that is when I saw her.
I REALLY SAW HER.
Rebecca Hines was staring down at me holding her hand. I realized at that moment that she had punched me. She leaned down and put her hand out for me, “we are even…for now.”
I paused and pinched my left arm because the last thing I needed was another dream skeet to ruin my figurative pants.
I put my hand out and grabbed hers and before I could say anything Jack Marley ran up to ruin the moment and said, “YOU GOT KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT, BOIIIII!”
I didn’t want to pull Rebecca down with me, so I dropped her hand and then slowly got to my feet and smiled as I ignored Jack. “Waking from a dream usually isn’t better than the dream.”
She smiled back to me, “that’s a good start but remember…I have my memory back you may have changed based on conversations with Jack and The Doctor but at the same time you haven’t been here in a while.”
My smile faded.
She was right.
I was still the piece of shit she used to work for.
I nodded, “as tough as I am. As strong as I am. As smart as I am. I am at my core always afraid of moments like this. I will prove I can be better and prove that I didn’t do everything for an employee. I did this for someone I care for.”
It also made me feel like I was glowing inside my body.
I kind of liked it.
That’s it, guys.
I genuinely feel happy but at the same time I feel extremely guilty. I made a mistake that day, but I wasn’t judged for it– yet. I cannot make any more blunders now in my life and that also goes for wrestling.
I have gone through the blood. I have gone through the injuries. I have held titles. I have lost titles.
I am not a rookie to HOW anymore. I am the second ranked wrestler for a reason and yes STRONK I am coming for your spot. You should be afraid. But look, STRONK I know of some really good Milk you can drink to wash down the STRONKUMMS. Ask your pal Jace how delicious it is when it is moving down that acne ridden throat of yours. Oh sorry, Jace likes to make Milk jokes yet wasn’t even around when I was promoting it.
I will tell you STRONK, I don’t hate you. I honestly find you to be an honest guy that is easily swayed into helping those who don’t deserve it. I am not sure when you decided that money was more important than crushing your enemies and hearing the lamentations of their women, but I am certain it started when Mike Best latched onto your popularity. That means Jace is just steps behind like the good little lap dog he is.
I ask you, STRONK, if you had to choose between Carey or protecting The Board who would you choose?
I feel like that is a question that might give you a brain aneurysm, but I kindly ask you to comprehend the implications of it. Do you want to save Carey or somehow climb to the Roof and win the titles? I will tell you now…Carey isn’t making it to the Roof, and you can probably thank your best friend Jace for that.
I wouldn’t worry about your number one spot, STRONK. The only thing I care about is holding on to these Tag Titles and that means absolutely nothing to the standings. You have pinned me twice. Don’t think that doesn’t weigh heavily on me. I haven’t lost much but you have supreme bragging rights over me right now.
At Dead or Alive I am going to kick your shins until you can only stand on your knees. Don’t be mad if I ride MONGO and have him kick your head off. He is an animal, and I will bring him the finest food a Bull can eat, and we’ll have ourselves a rodeo inside that damn Saloon.
I am not the one delusional now, STRONK. If you think you can maneuver around the drama that will be placed on you, you are sadly mistaken. The Highwaymen will take advantage of this and leave you wanting again as you watch the weight of a title belt leave your eyes once again.
Speaking of delusions that aren’t mine: CONOR FUSE.
Oh, you sanctimonious phony bastard.
If there was one person in this match that I just cannot stand with a passion, it is you.
How many times have you rewound our past tag team matches?
Do you get mad?
Do you throw your Doritos at your 19” Flat screen and then yell at your mom for more snacks?
You don’t need to answer this, Conor. I know you are busy recording your shitty twitch channel while playing old video games nobody cares about anymore. I apologize, I know in Canada you get pop culture ten years late and going by your choice in friends intelligence must also be ten years behind.
Man, fuck you.
Scout my middle finger I will be using to flip you off during the tag match.
Oh, sorry I know you still haven’t gotten over the thumb being pointed down in your annoying direction.
Even your best ideas couldn’t get your BFF over the hump against me. If you truly cared about War Games, you would have stayed out of that match. You let personal animosity against me cloud your judgment and I am sure my ribs were broken because of something you showed her.
What a Captain, everyone.
Fucking Captain Courageous here, everyone.
Fucking Captain Caveman here, everyone.
Fucking Captain and Coke here, everyone.
Fucking Captain and Tennille here, everyone.
Fucking Captain Save a Hoe here, everyone.
Fucking Captain Kangaroo here, everyone.
Fucking Captain Canada here, everyone.
You are the worst captain since Dion Phaneuf was Captain of the Maple Leafs. I know you understand that, you maple guzzling hockey loving hoser. I hope you lose your passport and get detained at the border. Who knows what he has in those video game controllers, officers.
You are the leader equivalent to a dictator that is currently being hung from a tree by an angry mob.
You can’t lead anyone to anything. This weekend you will lead the charge to another disappointment because this is personal between you and I, buddy. I don’t usually let it get this far before I become a businessman, but this business is only going to end with one of us injured or being run out of HOW.
We can’t see eye to eye, and you have made that a reality.
You just can’t let anything go.
You with your little pokes when you should be getting people together.
You, your little smirk when you patted your World Title when around me.
I am not going to just knee you, Conor.
I am going to leave your face looking worse than Arthur Pleasant’s chest.
It will be a Miracle if you leave unscathed.
I control those, Conor and you are entering my world once again. You will fail in this world.
Out of Lives.
I am going to fucking murder you.
Hah, guess I wasn’t too happy.
These Titles are ours. You will all fall, and we will take one step closer to finishing The Board.
One more thing:
Conor Fuse is a bitch.