“This is gonna be quite the fucking trip.”
Two duffle bags shudder against the hardwood floor as Michael Lee Best heaves them off of each of his shoulders, letting them fly through the threshold of the bedroom doorway. He closes the door behind him, putting his hands on his hips as he looks around at his accommodations for the next week and some change.
As usual, no expense has been spared for The Son.
Big ass TV. Comfortable ass bed. Floors so clean you could snort a line off of it, if you’re the kind of person who would be so inclined. A sarcastically placed PlayStation 5 and sweatpants. The walls are carefully adorned with posters and photographs highlighting some of the biggest moments of Michael Lee Best’s career, and the whole room seems specially themed to his own liking and tastes. Every painstaking detail is a testament to the love that the owner of HOW has for his only son. Since the return of HOW in 2019, Michael and Lee Best had been operating on a new level of understanding. Rarely disagreeing on anything. No arguments. No drama. No bullshit. They’d finally formed the relationship that both of them had always wanted, and Lee made absolutely no attempts to hide that fact from the rest of the roster.
The room was no different.
While Michael hadn’t seen the digs reserved for anyone else in HOW, he was certain that no one would be set up in a room like this. Not Dan Ryan. Not Steve Solex. Not anyone. They probably deserved it more– they were loyal soldiers of the Final Alliance, while Michael had been rejecting them at every turn. But it didn’t matter– Michael Lee Best was blood, and they were not, and if there was anything the God of 97 Red valued more than anything else, it was exactly that: blood. Michael almost laughs, shaking his head and the empire of decadence in front of him– gold trim on fucking everything, and a fresh new pair of gold Jordans sitting on top of the bed, just waiting for him to try them on.
It doesn’t go unappreciated.
But it isn’t going to work.
Rolling up the sleeves on his sweatshirt, the Son of God makes his way toward the balcony, opening the double French doors and peering out into the yard of the mansion. He stares down at the grass below, assessing his surroundings before turning back toward the big ass TV on the wall.
“Alright.” Michael nods. “Let’s do this.”
Without a second thought, the reigning LSD Champion grabs a firm hold of the television, ripping the cord straight out of the wall and heaving the TV up onto his shoulder. He takes two decisive steps toward the open French doors and lets it fly, sending the flat screen careening over the balcony and crashing into the grass two floors below. The TV bounces several times as it hits the ground, skittering to a full stop with a smashed screen.
“No distractions.” He grunts, immediately turning back into the room.
It’s all gotta go.
Like an alcoholic clearing out the cupboards after a relapse, Michael Lee Best begins chucking special treatment after special treatment out of his grasp. He shovels the PS5 and controllers up into his arms, unceremoniously yeeting them out the open balcony doors. The desktop phone and the landline on the end table are next to go, tossed out into the yard. He makes his way to the packed duffle bags on the floor, opening both of them up and emptying the contents loudly onto the hardwood floor around him. His ring gear and championships are strewn about the otherwise spotless floor, along with what appears to be a shitty burner flip phone, a hammer, and some nails. He shakes them out to make sure that there’s nothing else left inside. Once he’s satisfied, he immediately turns to empty his pockets.
A single vape pen and cartridge.
And that’s it.
Michael picks the phone up off the floor, quickly digging through the contact list and making a phone call. He impatiently waits through the rings, tapping his foot on the floor and looking again at the room around him. It’s meant to be an homage to a champion, but in the current mindset of HOW’s ultimate Hall of Famer, it feels more like a mockery. A museum to all the mistakes that he’s made along the way. Of the consequences of his success, and the people he walked over on the way there. For a moment, he considers tearing it all down off the wall and tossing it off the side of the balcony with the rest of the distractions, but no.
It has to stay.
It’s important that it stays.
He won’t be able to see it, but he’ll know that it’s there. Whatever happens inside of this room over the next week, he needs to be reminded of the mistakes that he’s made. Reminded of the journey. Not a single thing can be out of place, and there can be nothing left for him to cling to in this room but his own fucked up memories. His own fucked up life. His triumphs, his mistakes, and all the things he wishes that he could forget.
He’s snapped from his own thoughts, as the man on the other side of the flip phone finally picks up. A gruff voice answers, warbling something into his end of the call.
“Yeah.” Michael barks into the phone. “I’m inside. Do it.”
As soon as he clicks the phone shut, a ruckus can be heard on the outside of the bedroom door. The ringing of a drill, followed by the sharp clang of metal on metal. A bolt loudly slams shut from the hallway, trapping Michael Lee Best inside of the room.
This is it.
No turning back now.
He slowly saunters toward the balcony, looking down at the flip phone in his hands. For the next week, this phone is the only outlet he has to contact the outside world– no one gets in, and no one gets out. He made sure well in advance that there would be enough food and water in the fridge to get him through the week, and outside of sustenance, there was nothing outside of this room that he couldn’t live without. A functioning bathroom. A pen and paper. The contents of that vape pen. It will have to be enough.
This has to work.
Nothing but time on his hands to find out, anyway– the man on the other side of that phone call has already been instructed not to let him out under any circumstances. No crying. No begging. No pleading, or threatening. The next time he steps foot outside of this room, it will be to look Conor Fuse directly in the eyes.
He looks down at the phone one more time.
And then throws it out over the balcony.
“Alright then.” he rubs his hands together. “Time to get to work.”
Without another word, Michael Lee Best bends down and picks the hammer and nails up from the floor beneath him. He heads toward one of the blackout curtains over one of the windows, placing a nail at the corner and beginning to hammer away.
Some of the most healing experiences of his life had been spent in Solitary Confinement on the island of Alcatraz. Life changing experiences. Sometimes, the only way to fix a human is to break them entirely first– like a torn muscle, time and time again, Michael Lee Best has come back stronger. Better. More dominant.
His hands grip the hammer with methodical intensity as he finishes out the first curtain, enveloping half the room in complete darkness. He moves without a word to the next window, placing a nail against the side of the drape and plunging it down into the wood that lines the window’s frame.
But this time would be different.
He wasn’t locking himself in this room to become more ferocious, or more dominant, or embrace some kind of monster inside of himself. No, this time he was here to silence it. To figure out what makes it tick. To finally conquer the one thing that he’s never managed to conquer. He’s won championship after championship, award after award, and accolade, but he’d done it at the expense of everything else in his life.
Maybe he’d wrestle another ten years, or maybe he’d wrestle another ten days, but as he pounds away at the blackout curtains, sealing himself into a week of night, there’s only one opponent he’s come to conquer this time around.
His worst enemy in the world.
His ego. His narcissism. His undying, unyielding addiction to himself. It’s the addiction that fuels all others– he can get off coke, and booze, and cigarettes, and fucking… lottery tickets. It doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, the biggest thing holding Michael Lee Best back from his truest potential is himself.
It’s healthy to want to win the HOW World Championship. It’s healthy to feel competitive. It’s healthy to want to be the best. But this unwavering hungry… this self-destructive, all consuming cloud of megalomania that has hovered over him for his entire life… it’s poisoning him. Devouring him. He’d been doing so much better… making so much progress…
And then Conor won the title.
It was like an instant clean slate.
It was a delicate balance to walk– he wanted to win the HOW World Championship. He wanted one more reign. He wanted to win. But fuck, the thoughts in his head weren’t healthy. They weren’t productive. To respecting a man and wanting to compete with him, to suddenly wanting to watch him die. To envision breaking his spine, and severing the nerves in his neck. Tom Brady was the greatest quarterback of all time, but he wasn’t a fucking murderer. He wasn’t a sociopath… probably. There had to be balance. There had to be some way to keep his competitive edge, without the horrific consequences.
Maybe he was asking to have it both ways.
Maybe this is what made him great.
Only one way to find out.
He finishes the curtains around the balcony, completing sealing himself into the prison of his own design. No distractions. Nothing but himself and the solitude of the mission. He fumbles around in the darkness, his eyes not yet adjusted– the only light remaining in the room is the dull halo of the sun around the very edges of the curtains, and even the halos have grown faint.
He stumbles toward the bed, sitting down on the edge of the frame and reaching into the pocket of his jeans. The vape pen sits idly in his hand, probably staring back at him, but it’s far too dark inside of the room to see. Instantly, the regret starts to set in– this whole thing feels wrong. Like it isn’t something that he should be doing. Michael Lee Best hasn’t had so much as a drink in years, much less actually touched real drugs. Weed is weed– a gateway to nothing, but this wasn’t a vape pen full of fucking THC.
This was the real deal.
“It’s not drugs.” he assures himself, taking a deep breath. “It’s medicine. This is… this is going to help me get better.”
That’s what his doctor told him, anyway.
Okay, perhaps not the most reliable or ethical doctor in the world. And perhaps not actually a doctor, anymore. Perhaps he used to have a medical license and had it taken away exactly for recommending shit like this to his patients in the first place. But every doctor, every psychologist, every therapist that Michael Lee Best had gone to see all had the same dogshit recommendations. Take antidepressants. Antipsychotics. Take this pill, take that bill, get more sunshine, take long walks on the fucking beach. They didn’t understand the monster that they were dealing with. They didn’t understand exactly how far gone the Son of God was. For fuck’s sake, he unironically referred to himself as the fucking Son of God.
There isn’t a pill for this.
…but there might be something.
“Come on.” Michael swallows dry air. “Quit being a fucking pussy about it.”
He takes another deep breathe, trying very hard to push away the idea that this is going to turn him back into a junkie. That by the end of the week, he’s going to be clawing at the doors and sincerely considering sucking dick for a bump of fucking coke. He had been so careful for so many years… came so close, so many times, to a devastating relapse. And now, here he sat, holding one of the most dangerous substances on the planet in the palm of his hand. Was he really considering this? Was this really the smartest fucking idea in the world?
“Do it.” he grunts, through gritted teeth. “Just fucking… do it.”
He holds the tip of the mouthpiece up to his lips, thinking long and hard about it one last time. Whatever was going to come next was next to impossible to describe– he knows, because he’s been Googling it for three days trying to figure out what it was going to be like. Every source said the same thing… it’s impossible to describe, but it changed my life.
Well, his life needs a change.
Maybe this would be the end for him– maybe he’d come out the other side of this an entirely new Michael Lee Best. But would that be the worst thing in the world? He thinks back to HVAC guy one more time, waiting with his shitty kids in line for Space Mountain. Maybe that guy has it all figured out. Maybe that guy was the smart one, all along.
Whatever comes out the other side of this, maybe it will bring understanding. Maybe he’ll understand himself, and maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll come out a better person, and maybe he won’t. Maybe he’ll beat Conor Fuse and become the HOW World Champion, and maybe he won’t. But even considering taking an action that might hurt his chances of winning his eleventh championship feels like… something. Like a step in the right direction.
Like something he’d never do, throughout his career.
Without another thought, Michael presses the button on the front of the pen, and it startles him as it lights up in the darkness. He pulls hard on the mouthpiece, sucking in the bitter tasting fog as it fills his mouth, and then his lungs as he breathes deep. The pain hits his chest almost immediately, and half a cloud explodes back out of his mouth as he falls into a terrible coughing fit. It feels like his lungs are on fire, and instantly he wonders if he’s going to die. Nothing has even kicked in yet, but it feels like he’s just run lungs-first into a nest full of hornets. This was a terrible mistake, but it was too late to take it all back. Too late to do anything but sit back and try his best to endure the journey.
Michael Lee Best just took DMT.
This is going to be quite the fucking trip.