::::SCENE: One of the four viewing rooms of the Killhem and Chillum Mortuary. This particular room is referred to as the “Gold Room” (the others being Silver, Copper, and Platinum), the second most extravagant viewing area in the funeral home. Red and gold velvet curtains behind the coffin, the chairs (forty-eight to be exact with four rows of six on either side of the room) are gold with red velvet cushioning. Only six of the seats were filled and the sounds of an organ rendition of Ace of Base’s “The Sign” comes through speakers, torturing the poor souls in the room, both living and dead.
Simon Sparrow had attempted to book the Platinum Room which was top of the line which included parting gifts with an engraving to remember the dearly departed (Simon was going to opt for the fountain pens), but the ninety year old gaunt, walking corpse of a man, Winthorp Chillum told him it was booked for a more high profile funeral. Winthorp Chillum, the co-owner of the business, upon meeting Simon Sparrow asked him to call him “Winnie” in a gravelly, labored voice.
“Winnie” should be reserved for Poohs and women named a character in “The Wonder Years”, not a elderly gent that can pass as an extra for “The Walking Dead”.
There is a woman, heavyset and in her forties, her face obscured by a thick black veil, wailing and crying in the front row. Simon Sparrow approaches her.::::
SIMON SPARROW: Not so over the top. Scale it back a touch, this ain’t Princess Diana here.
::::The veiled woman nods and proceeds to make weeping noises. The Wabid Wabbit sits in the back row next to Mario Maurako, both of whom look anything but interested. Simon Sparrow approaches the podium located in front of the coffin. There are several wreaths scattered about the room and one particular item, about six feet high, covered with a sheet. Simon Sparrow clears his throat and retrieves index cards from the inside pocket of his purple and black plaid suit.::::
SIMON SPARROW: Thank you all for coming. Today, we honor…..
::::The Professor of Sparrowdynamics quickie removes the sheet revealing a cardboard cutout of a winking Michael Best holding the HOW Championship over his shoulder.:::::
SIMON SPARROW: The life and career of Michael Best. He has been called many things: The Prodigal Son. Blasphemer. Murderer. Bastard. Asshole. Evil. Insecure. Fuckface. Dickwad. Arrogant Prick. ChristPlow. Douchebag. Impotent. Cokehead. Drug Addict. Mad Bomber. Uncle Mike. Bitch. Bitchy McBitchface. Cecilworth Farthington’s Better Half. Author. Champion. Legend. Hall of Famer. Plus more. Much, much more. But there is one thing he should be considered, the greatest HOW wrestler of all time.
::::Simon Sparrow nods to the disinterested audience as if he is awaiting thunderous applause. He is met with silence, so he carries on.::::
SIMON SPARROW: To say that Michael and I had our differences, that would be an understatement. He is a loathsome chap who has done some diabolical things in his career, some of which was directly to me, none of which needs to be revisited here as they are mostly cataloged online. You might be wondering why Simon Sparrow, the Ruler of Jattlantis, the Sultan of SeaJattle, the Jattinum Standard, the Sovereign of Starrgentina, the Professor of Sparrowdynamics, etcetera, etcetera is here, giving a eulogy? “Isn’t that Hippocratical of you?” As the saying goes “Let the past make you better, not bitter”.
::::Simon Sparrow looks over at the Wabid Wabbit, sending psychic messages to him to clap and cheer him on. Instead, his giant Easter Bunny mask is down looking at the plain black tie he is fidgeting with.:::::
SIMON SPARROW: “March to Glory” is fast approaching. The moment where Michael Best’s wrestling career comes to an…ahem…end. I think it is a foregone conclusion that Michael Best will lose his final match. After all, he is taking on Clay Byrd, a man who doesn’t breathe, he holds air hostage. Clay Byrd, a man that can sneeze with his eyes open. Clay Byrd! A man who does not believe in the periodic table because he only believes in the element of surprise. CLAY BYRD!!! A man, nay, a FOLK HERO….the man who choked an anaconda to death because he wanted snakeskin boots. CLAY BYRD!!!!!!! The man who not only beat the devil in a fiddle contest by playing a darn tootin’ rockabilly version of Chumbwumba’s “Tubthumping”, but also defeated the Grim Reaper in a game of Connect Four! Yes, Michael Best, a dominant multiple champion, a man with irrefutable talent, is destined to lose his final match.
::::Simon Sparrow solemnly drops his head preemptively mourning the inevitable loss to the Behemoth in a few short weeks. After a moment of silence he raises his head and looks at the paid members of the memorial viewing.:::::
SIMON SPARROW: That brings us to “Refueled” and the immense amount of pressure that is placed on me to ensure that Michael Best’s penultimate match ends with a victory. Not just any victory, but a victory against two of the HOW Originals. Don’t get me wrong, there is small, teeny, tiny part of me that would love to hop off the apron as he goes for the tag and I watch as our opponents make him suffer and bleed. But I can’t do that. I would feel guilty on so many levels. He’s the son of Lee Best, the man who took a chance on the Jattlantic City Idol twenty years ago, there’s this intrinsic loyalty I have for Lee, and I know he would not want me to pull a Doozer. And, as loathe as I am to say this, like him or not, Michael Best is the greatest of all time and he should not go out on his final “Refueled” a loser. And let’s not forget, he once had a squirrel for an apostle!….or was I on something then….
::::Simon Sparrow looks down, his eyes are distant as if he is in some other place. He considers whether or not there was a squirrel that may or may not have been named Pete or Petey. Or maybe it was a chipmunk…named Alvin? No, it was Simon. Maybe it was a gerbil or a hamster. He seems to recall trying absinthe around that time and perhaps that has affected his memory. Ultimately, he decides that yes, there was, in fact, an apostle squirrel.::::
SIMON SPARROW: And while there would be guilt in losing, there would be something far worse. The self-loathing. The depression. The absolute humiliation that I would feel at losing a match to Darkwing.
::::Simon Sparrow snaps his fingers and Winthorp Chillum enters from behind the curtain carrying a briefcase. He slowly meanders around the coffin. Seconds seem to turn to minutes as Simon Sparrow waits. Finally, Winthrop hands Simon Sparrow the briefcase. He opens the briefcase and reveals….in all it’s stainless steel glory….the UAD Championship. He holds it in the air and places it on his shoulder as Mario lets out an exaggerated “Ooooooo”.:::::
SIMON SPARROW: I don’t have a lot to be happy about in my life right now. The stress in my life is becoming insurmountable to the point where I have to try and escape it all by joining super secret societies, calligraphy classes, whittling classes, cooking classes….none of which works. I burned a grilled cheese sandwich, for heavens sake. I’ve got a lot on my plate, dammit! I have that lickspittle fopdoodle, Darin Zion busting my shops with his insincerity and disrespect whilst my daughter is in a coma in a private care facility. The fucking bills associated with it! The doctors, the ventilator, the nurses, the IV’s! When she awakens, I’ll have to flip the bill for speech therapy, physical therapy, psychotherapy. Granted, there’s this North Kaelrean doctor who says he can possibly use cybernetics to revive Gilda, but it’s ludicrously expensive. Factor in that he’s most likely a mad scientist who may or may not have worked for Max Kael, there’s a lot to think about. My whole life lately, I have been feeling like I’m drowning in my own anxiety. I need some positivity in my life.
::::Simon looks at the UAD Championship over his shoulder. The “UAD” emblazoned in, what is now known as, 97Red in the stainless steel center with the words “Undefeated Against Darkwing” underneath in black lettering. The teal strap, however, clashes with the red UAD logo.::::
SIMON SPARROW: But I have this. Who would have figured that after four straight losses to Smoky, that I would defeat Omar Rasheem and Darkwing to become the HOW Internet Champion all those years ago. When you think about it, Darkwing was there for many of my firsts. I defeated Darkwing in an Ironman Match while fighting in the streets of Toronto for my first ICON Title victory at “Genesis”. Then there was the finals of the Tournament of Champions where I defeated Darkwing for my first HOW World Championship! Darkwing represents that period where I was the Ratings Juggernaut. Without Darkwing, there is no Jatt Starr. His incompetence started my rise to superstardom. This belt right here….it makes me happy.
::::Simon looks at the belt, staring at it and smiling with nostalgia. Reflecting on how many times he defeated Darkwing. Fourteen? Fifteen? Thirty-four? The smile fades from his face and he turns back to the “crowd”.::::
SIMON SPARROW: I’m not cocky enough to think it will be easy. Darkwing has waited years to get a victory over me. It’s the reason he’s back. Remember when I came out a few weeks ago and said I wanted nothing to do with him? Oooo, he was so angry. Word is he drowned his sorrows in whiskey and Clamato juice, got a tattoo on his left buttock that reads “Jatt Starr’s Bitch”, and took a vow of silence. He, of course, attempted to get the tattoo removed but due to his vow silence, the tattoo artist misunderstood and he ended up getting another “Jatt Starr’s Bitch” tattoo on the right buttock. When he texted Bobbinette Carey about this….well, this story goes into an area that is really not mortuary appropriate….needless to say, some shit happened. Darkwing has nightmares about all of the losing. Hell, he looks up to Michael Best with reverence because Michael Best has done something he never could….beat me. So, Darkwing, he’s driven. He’s gonna pull out all the stops. He will do anything to take this belt from me….the last true symbol of his greatest failure…and destroy it.
::::Simon Sparrow lets out a sigh.::::
SIMON SPARROW: Which is why, I am dedicating this tag team match and my continued undefeated streak against Darkwing to my daughter, Gilda.
::::Mario Maurako lets out an overdramatic gasp from the back row, eliciting stares from the five other “audience” members in the viewing room, including the Wabid Wabbit.::::
SIMON SPARROW: It’s about accountability. I cannot lose. If Darkwing tries to choke me out or stabs me with a toothpick and blood gushes from my forehead causing that proverbial crimson mask, I just have to remember who I am doing it for. Not Michael. Gilda. Because Simon Says….the Sparrow Has Spoken!
::::Mario jumps out of his chair and begins applauding. Simon Sparrow looks at him with more confusion than a cocker spaniel trying to learn to sew patches on a denim jacket.:::::
SIMON SPARROW: Mario, what are you doing?
MARIO: What? I thought you were….aren’t you done?
SIMON SPARROW: Not yet.
MARIO: It seemed like the perfect time to end it.
SIMON SPARROW: I have more to say.
MARIO: Oh. Do you know when….
SIMON SPARROW: Not much longer.
MARIO: Because we have that meeting in an hour.
SIMON SPARROW: Some respect for the dying career of Michael Best.
MARIO: It’s sushi night.
SIMON SPARROW: As soon as I pay proper respect to—
MARIO: They’re going to have fresh uni.
SIMON SPARROW: Okay, I will hurry.
::::Simon Sparrow places the index cards back inside his pocket as he clears his throat once again.:::::
SIMON SPARROW: It should also be noted that Darkwing is teaming with Kostoff. A Legion of Darkness reunion. We all know about Kostoff. He’s a bonafide monster capable of losing matches while at the same time ending his opponents’ careers. Gilda respected…respects the hell out of Kostoff. He was her first tag team partner. If Kostoff were here, I would apologize for dragging Gilda away that night. I robbed her….and you of a victory.
::::Simon Sparrow, starting to feel the emotion start to bubble to the surface, stops himself. Further discussion of Gilda and opening up about her brief partnership with Kostoff, which she relayed to her father over a year ago after he and Sektor brutalized him, expressing that he had no real motivation behind it other than “following Sektor’s lead”, having to describe the disappointment in her face when he told her….it would end with him sobbing. Instead, he changes gears.:::::
SIMON SPARROW: But that was then, this is now. Michael should be quaking in his boots and soiling his shorts because if Kostoff gets his hands on him, he might not even make it to “March to Glory”. Which means, the second Kostoff enters the match, he will immediately tag me in which….
:::A new kind of anxiety overtakes Simon Sparrow. A sudden feeling of dread begins to overwhelm him. He knows Kostoff. He knows what drives him. He also knows that he spent a large sum of money on plastic surgery to remove the scars that Kostoff had given him. The psychological scars, while faint, are still with him.::::
SIMON SPARROW: Rage. Rage is what drives Kostoff. One could make the argument that since Lee Best is either dead or, in the words of Miracle Max, mostly dead. There’s no place to channel that volcanic rage and fury that Kostoff holds on to. Maybe when he sees Michael, he sees Lee and if he can’t get his bonebreaking hands on Michael, he will take it out on me. That’s no good. I can’t afford another therapist! Psycho or otherwise! Do you know how much it costs to remove scars? I have….
::::Simon Sparrow trails off, not wanting to reiterate his financial situation.::::
SIMON SPARROW: So, the only thing I can do, for Michael and for Gilda, is go to that place I don’t want to go. Kostoff will remember every single humiliation he suffered at the hands of Lee Best, every time Lee bragged about his balls bouncing off Barbi’s chin, every shady attack, every insult. Kostoff can go to his wife and child’s graves and tap into that grief and belief that he was a failure as a husband and father and take it out on me. I will fight rage with rage. Kostoff will be the stand in for Thaddius Byrd, that fucking shitstain that shot my little girl! Kostoff will be the larger and more lethal stand in for that lickspittle Darin Zion. I will channel my own rage at losing to that undeserving, D-level Hall of Famer Bobbinette Carey.
::::Simon Sparrow turns towards the empty casket behind him.::::
SIMON SPARROW: I vow, Michael, that I will unearth the violent, sadistic side of me, in order to win the match for us. I vow that I will walk out of “Refueled” maintaining my undefeated streak against Darkwing and continue my reign as UAD Champion. I vow that I will win this match for my little girl. And one last victory in the name of Best.
:::Simon Sparrow scowls at the coffin and places his hand on it. His face is a mixture of fear, anger, and disgust as he removes his hand and slowly backs away. He does an about face and forces a smile as he walks down the aisle towards the two large oak doors exiting the The Gold Room. Mario and the Wabid Wabbit rise as Simon passes. Simon’s mind then ventures to things more positive…..such as sushi night at the local chapter of the League of Non-Toxic Gentlemen as he pushes open the doors. END SCENE.::::