”The critics are always right. The only way you shut them up is by winning.” – Chuck Noll
You’re a violent man, Clay Byrd. Why mince words? I respect a man who takes matters into his own hands and finishes the job. I do. You’ve got a huge match coming up and I wouldn’t want to be the man who has to stand in your path. You’re like a bull in a china shop once you get going. Yeah, I respect that.
You know, I’m from the South. You’re from the South. You’d think we have a lot in common, and I suppose we do have some, but you are a big burly Texas ranch kid, and I was a scrawny little nugget of trailer park trash, a nobody, a loser. My father wasn’t a big name in anything, except maybe the local police files. And that’s where we differ. I respect what you are, envy it even, just a little.
I used to dream about running off to Texas. So much wide-open space, the beautiful hills, and plains, Florida without the meth labs. I dreamed about it.
I’m writing this down to send to you, and I just started thinking, we should write as we dream, because it’s the only place where we never lie. Asleep, nobody is a hypocrite. If we think that our whole lives are built on lying, we should try and write as our dreams teach us; shamelessly, fearlessly, and by facing what is inside every human being – sheer violence, disgust, terror, shit, invention, poetry. In our dreams we become criminals; we kill, and we kill with a lot of enjoyment. But we are also the happiest people on earth; we make love as we never make love in real life.
I remember when I was seventeen years old, I set out to make my dreams a reality. I was headed out down a long bone-white road, straight as a string and smooth as glass and glittering and wavering in the heat and humming under the tires like a plucked nerve. I was doing seventy-five but I never seemed to catch up with the pool which seemed to be over the road just this side of the horizon.
Then, after a while, the sun was in my eyes, for I was driving West. So I pulled the sunscreen down and squinted and put the throttle to the floor. And kept moving West. For West is where we all plan to go one day. It is where you go when the land gives out and the old-field pines encroach. It is where you go when you get the letter saying: Flee, all is discovered. It is where you go when you look down at the blade in your hand and the blood on it. It is where you go when you are told that you are a bubble on the tide of an empire.
It is where you go when you hear that thar’s gold in them-thar hills. It is where you go to grow up in the country. It is where you go to spend your old age. Or it is just where you go. It was just where I went.
You’re a lucky man, Clay. I’m sure you know that. I’ve always wanted what you had by birthright, instead of the dreary, gutter trash existence I was born into. It’s not a jealousy thing. You didn’t choose it any more than I did. But envy? Yes. Envy for sure. I’ve watched you, watched how you react, and you’re a man after my own heart. Our differing upbringings don’t make us as different as one might think. You were set upon by bullies, so you broke the bully’s arm. You made the bully scream for mercy. I love all of it. These are the things I do on a regular basis because it makes me feel free, makes me feel like all the years of being stepped on and stepped over are instantly erased, like a little kid correcting a math problem. Because that’s all bullies deserve. To be stepped over and stepped on.
Still, here we are. We will face each other, and oh how I’m looking forward to it, Clay. I’ll get to your partner soon enough, but you are my mark. I don’t seek to destroy you exactly. Violence does not necessarily take people by the throat and strangle them. Usually, it demands no more than an ultimate allegiance from its subjects. They are required merely to become accomplices in its lies.
We are the same. In so many ways, we are the same. People will watch to see us tear each other apart. You see, Clay, people are two things: greedy and cruel. So we have a perfect setup here. The greed part – a kid pays a buck for a chance to win a hundred. Plus fifty boxes of chocolates. The cruel part – watching two guys hitting each other, hurting each other, while they’re safe in the bleachers. That’s why it works, Clay because we’re all bastards.
I have to hold you accountable, you see, despite the fact that I actually like you. All violence is the result of people tricking themselves into believing that their pain derives from other people and that consequently, those people deserve to be punished. That’s me in a nutshell. I can’t control it. It is who I am. It is my nature.
And how lucky for me that your partner has a bit of a nasty violent streak in him as well, hmm? I remember your agonizing wails, Steven. I remember sitting calmly in my cell while you screamed and raved like a lunatic in yours. Two sides of a coin, me the calm and calculating killer, and you, seeking to overwhelm with in-your-face madness and hysteria. Not on purpose, I know. You poor thing. But nevertheless, I remember.
We are more closely aligned physically, you and I, so I believe we will put all of this to the test. What lovely symmetry, don’t you think?
Vengeance, retaliation, retribution, revenge are deceitful brothers – vile, beguiling demons promising justifiable compensation to a pained soul for his losses. Yet in truth, they craftily fester away all else of worth remaining. And retribution is what I want from you, Solex. Retribution for your garden-variety pawn shop brand of madness. You are the walking personification of the endless yammering of dozens of ‘mental health professionals’ who thought that there was a cure. There is no penance for this, Steven. You are what you are, and you did what you did. No penance. Only retribution, and that’s what I’ll take from you.
I think it would be cool if Arthur and I wore suits while we committed these violent acts of retribution. Not fancy suits. No. Cheap suits that we don’t mind ruining. Then if we’re caught by police, well, think how amazing we’ll look. All bloody and torn and grizzled. Plus, suits look official. They would add an air of credibility to our campaign of blood-drenched disproportionate responses.
I started out in the High Octane portion of this journey in the same place as you. We’re not so much in the same place anymore. I have been the HOTV Champion since October. This belt is synonymous with me now. Jace Parker Davidson’s impressive early reign is all but forgotten. And I’m dangerous, believe me, in the ring and outside of it. But in the ring is where we’ll meet up at least, Steven, so remember this: you will find no empathy in me, no feeling of mercy, no clamoring for help, and no madness-fueled screams of rage. I will find what makes you tick, and then I’ll rip you limb from limb.
That’s why I tend to win, Steve. That’s why. If I get overwhelmed physically one day, or someone can take advantage of numbers, or someone can distract a referee and I lose, so be it. I’m not delusional enough to think that I can’t lose. But I won’t lose because I lost control. Can you say the same?
I’ve already been hardened by it. What you see as the limits of my freedom, hands tied unless in the ring, guards around me at all times, wrist handcuffed to some metal pipe that can’t be moved or escaped from. But for me, this is the most interaction I’ve had with another living soul in almost a decade. In American prisons, you see, which are extraordinarily violent places, the most vicious form of punishment is simply to lock a person in an empty room for years with absolutely nothing to do. This emptying of any possibility of communication or meaning is the real essence of what violence really is or does.
I am able to give what is needed.
Violence gains nothing, killing wins nothing – only sometimes, nothing is what people want. Death is what they want.
And they get it.
In each of us, there is a Mr. Hyde; the whole thing is to prevent the conditions for the emergence of the monster from being met.
Gentlemen, someday you are going to learn that the two greatest joys of being a man are beating the hell out of someone and getting the hell beaten out of you.
Our strength is in numbers, and we number far more than two. The time is coming.
There is more.
”Never underestimate the determination of a kid who is time-right and cash-poor.” – Cory Doctorow
January 23, 2022.
Madison Square Garden.
New York, New York.
A stunned silence dominates the arena. Darin Zion is unmoving where he lies outside the ring. Being practically dragged up the ramp by security, Jeffrey James Roberts is smiling, then closes his eyes and takes a nice long deep breath, followed by an even bigger smile. He turns his head back to the ring, chuckles a bit, then goes willingly with the guard leading him through the curtain. Just before reaching the curtain, he notices something to his left, next to the guardrail at the back of the floor seating. A man is standing there, baseball cap pulled down over eyes covered by sunglasses, despite being inside. He has a trench coat on, is sporting a mustache that wraps around his chin into a goatee, and is staring right at Roberts.
Roberts looks at him, smiles then turns to the curtain as he steps through.
Backstage there’s a crowd of people around the bank of monitors, and they all look up as Jeffrey Roberts comes into view. Nearly the entire locker room was there, cheering on the plucky underdog Zion. Even wrestlers who had previously battled with Zion were there, united against this psychotic lunatic with the HOTv title.
Roberts is escorted through the mass of people, a smirk permanently pasted on his face, and a group by the nearside hallway parts to let them pass. Down the hall they go, Roberts with his hands in front, tied, two EPU guards in front, two in back, as is the custom. His wrestling boots cloppity clop down the tiled floor, cutting through the otherwise oppressive silence. Roberts begins to whistle as they approach the back exit to the employee parking area.
“Sunshine… on my shoulders… makes me happy…”
They exit the arena and approach a large van parked right up against the entrance. They hurriedly rush Roberts toward it, and out of the corner of his eye, once again, he sees the same man from the crowd. The guards don’t notice, only Jeffrey, and he smiles. The man nods back in his direction, then slinks off around a car and out of sight.
Roberts walks up the small metal ramp and sits on the bench in the back of this makeshift police van. The guards stand by the door as they make sure he is seated and secure, and Roberts gives them a little wink…
”There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with a gun.” – Linda Grayson
Friendship is a new concept for me.
I never had much need for friends. I had them, on the surface anyway, but they meant nothing to me. Always their value lay only in what they could do for me. No one understood. No one ever could, so I thought.
Then one day I discovered there are so many others like me. There are so many downtrodden losers who only need one person to see the value they possess.
We get so caught up in this need for companionship. You think because they don’t love you that you are worthless. You think that because they don’t want you anymore that they are right – that their judgment and opinion of you are correct. If they throw you out, then you are garbage. You think they belong to us because we want to belong to them.
It’s a bad word, ‘belong’. Especially when you put it with someone you are meant to love, someone who is supposed to love you. It shouldn’t be like that. Did you ever see the way the clouds love a mountain? They circle all around it; sometimes you can’t even see the mountain for the clouds. But you know what? You go up top and what do you see? It’s head. The clouds never cover the head. The head pokes through because the clouds let it; they don’t wrap him up.
They let it keep its head up high, free, with nothing to hide him or bind him. You can’t own a human being, but oh how they try. They try. They think you’re for sale. But you can’t lose what you don’t own. They want you to turn your entire life over to them. Your whole life. And if it means so little to you that you can just give it away, hand it to them, then why should it mean any more to them. They can’t value you more than you value yourself.
Still, who am I kidding? I’m not made to have friends. I’m made to have followers.
Helpers, if they prefer.
And I do it all from a tiny little cell.
They’re all starting to close in. I can sense them. You can be in a little cell and lead people. You simply develop your potentials and publicize them and you will see people looking for what you are offering. That is influence; self-made leaders do not have to look for followers. Followers look for them.
I read a poem once, by a man named Michael Bassey Johnson, which said, “A fulfilled life doesn’t point to the number of years, awards, wealth and followers someone amassed for himself, but the number of faces that smiled because of him.”
Substitute “the number of faces that smiled” for “the number of faces who cowered in terror.”
Yes, I like that much better. It is this value that brings us all together for a singular purpose, and I realize, you don’t know what that plan, that purpose is yet. But you will find out soon. Everything is starting to come together, and we won’t stop until our purpose is fulfilled. He will let you know when it’s time. He controls all and will control all, even from the grave.
Woe is to the man or woman who stands in our way.
I won’t wait for a coronation; the greatest emperors crown themselves.
”Fear not the dead. Fear the living.” – Silvia Liam