Those two words played, on loop, in the deeps of the Oncoming Storm’s subconscious, nipping at the edges of her every thought. The knowledge that her debut in HOW had been tainted by some city slicker chickenshit that didn’t have the balls to stand on his own two feet was never too far from her mind. Had Conor Fuse beaten her fair and square, she would’ve gotten herself back up, dusted herself off, and gotten back up on the proverbial horse without so much as batting an eyelash. Having a win stolen from her, though… that reached into the center of her being and dug its claws in, threatening to rip away her self-control. To have the fruits of her hard work unjustly taken tugged on something deep within Erin’s soul, that generations-deep loathing of theft born of desperate times where a thief could literally steal away one’s chance at survival. It was no surprise that even the concept of theft was anathema to her, much less having the crime committed against her. It was a good thing that she was well-versed in keeping the tornado confined to the teacup. Otherwise, she would’ve probably lost her job in HOW… and Conor Fuse would’ve probably lost far, far more.
Not that containing it lessened the force of said winds. She just knew how to keep anyone she cared about from getting swept up in it, was all–and that was enough for her.
It was a blessing that Benson had insisted on getting his hands on a copy of I KNEED JESUS since he’d had his nose in it from the moment it arrived. As much as Erin personally found the Best scion to be an obnoxious blowhard that was more full of shit than all the sewage plants in Crawford County–and even less worthy of adulation since at least sewage plants served a useful purpose–she had to admit that Mike Best’s book was at least good for keeping her son occupied when she didn’t need him to help her out. And considering how hot her blood was running, well… to say he was better off in his room was an understatement, and it wasn’t on account of him being in danger.
Simply put, working hard was the best way she knew of to keep her temper from boiling over–and the more she had to do herself, the better off the entire household would be.
From hurling square bales of hay from the bed of her truck into the hayloft on the second floor of the main barn, to bodily pushing the old tractor from where it quit working in the middle of one of the paddocks into the barn to be repaired later, to scaling the largest silo’s rickety ladder so she could hammer the door at the top into staying closed as it should, to all the other physically demanding tasks that meant she’d never need to lift a weight to get a workout in, the Oncoming Storm kept her nose to the grindstone. Ignoring the aches and pains that inevitably came about in favor of finding what relief she could in the satisfaction of a day’s work being done, she didn’t let herself slow down until after dinner was made and dishes were cleared up–well, and Benson had returned to his room and that book of his.
It was only then that the inner maelstrom calmed enough for her to sit down and address her opponent properly… or as properly as she could, all things considered.
The video recording cuts on suddenly, the absence of a professional cameraman obvious since all that fills the screen at first is imperfect darkness. After some fiddling about and muttered curses, the darkness is revealed to be an extreme close-up of Erin’s slate gray tank top as she leans away from where she’s got whatever she’s using to record propped up.The well-worn kitchen of the Gordon household is where she’s chosen to get this bit of business out of the way, mostly on account of how she’s not in the mood to coax aching muscles into moving more than she has to just yet. The warm glow of the ceiling light overhead makes it clear that it’s well after dark, the sound of the tillings and killings of the insects outside intermingling with the low hum of a dishwasher doing its thing to fill the silence. Settling back into her seat with a low sound of exertion, the Oncoming Storm takes a sip from an old-fashioned glass bottle of Coke before her attention properly centers itself upon the matter at hand.
“I’m gonna level with you, Jason Storm. You’re gonna be catchin’ another man’s ass-whuppin’.”
And to a degree, there’s actually a little bit of regret in the blond’s tone as she regards the camera with that prairie-level gaze–the kind of thousand yard stare that has the power to turn a man’s knees to water ordinarily. Considering how what happened at her debut is still stuck in her craw, well… let’s just say that Conor Fuse would be a dead man if her glare could land a blow like her fists and leave it at that. A faint shake of her head.
“I’m not sayin’ that I’d be takin’ it easy on you otherwise, but there ain’t a wrestler on the face of the planet that don’t kick things into a higher gear when they’re pissed off. Considerin’ how a yellow-bellied coward saw fit to steal from me and run away with his tail between his legs like a scalded dog, well… to say I’m pissed off is an understatement. And since Lee Best decided not to give me the chance to set things right, that means that you’re the one that’s gonna be on the receivin’ end of everything that’s been boilin’ away inside since Conor Fuse decided to steal his debut win from me. And while the day will come where I take my pound of flesh from both him and his Game Boy, it won’t come soon enough to save you. At this point, there’s nothin’ on the surface of God’s green Earth that can save you from what’s gonna happen when we get in the ring together. It’s dead simple, Jason. Once that bell rings…”
The swig of Coke she takes does nothing to soothe the justly-earned ire that burns away in her gut–if anything? Rather than slaking that thirst for vengeance, it only intensifies the thirst for such. Slamming that bottle down when it returns to the counter, the sound it makes is akin to a gunshot that Erin allows to reverberate before she finishes that sentence.
“I’m gonna punch you in the face over and over again ‘til you can’t remember your own Goddamn name.”
Another swig and she’s throwing that empty bottle out of frame, the sound of it landing in the garbage can dimly heard before she’s taking a deep, slow breath in an attempt to get her vision to stop going too clear, too sharp around the edges.
“Now I know you’re not just gonna stand there and take it. You got somethin’ to prove in your debut, same as I did a week ago–and you’re gonna wanna prove to Lee Best that he did the right thing in signin’ on the dotted line. And while I ain’t gonna begrudge you that want, that need to make that first good impression by gettin’ that win, I am gonna make damn sure that you’re just gonna have to settle for havin’ a good showin’. I can’t… no, I won’t be your steppin’ stone, not when I’m already fightin’ an uphill battle here already. Even if the world knows it wasn’t clean, my loss last week ain’t gonna have an asterisk next to it in the record books, and I will not let that bullshit ruin my chances at buildin’ myself a legacy here in HOW. Ain’t nobody that’s gonna write me off, least of all somebody that thinks namin’ himself Storm is the same thing as earnin’ the moniker the hard way like I have since the first time I ever taped up my fists.”
Erin nods a little, that stoic sort of calm reclaiming her–or, at least, doing so a little before she’s canting her head to one side, an elbow rising to rest upon the wood before her so her chin can rest in the cupped curve of her hand.
“Hell, thinkin’ about it… I already began earnin’ it here in HOW with only one match under my belt, haven’t I? I mean, I damn near won an unofficial handicapped match all on my lonesome against two men that were workin’ together like a well-oiled machine, not given’ me a moment to catch my breath. I was so much of a threat, so huge of a problem for Conor and his Game Boy that they had to dig out a good many of their dirty tricks to get the job done when, on paper… I shouldn’t have even been cause for either of’em to break a sweat. And while it’s impossible to know if I woulda’ won or lost if the match had been clean, well–think about what those desperate lengths that they went to say about me. Think about how I did all of that, on my own, with nothin’ but my fists. Matter of fact, lemme make it real simple for you. If it took two men doin’ all they could think of shy of throwin’ a literal kitchen sink at me to put me down for the three count… then how the fuck do you think you’re gonna do it aIll on your lonesome?”
A blond brow quirks before she shakes her head, her hand falling away to rest on the tabletop.
“The simple truth is that you ain’t, and I know that’s gonna be a hard pill to swallow. I know you’re gonna take issue with me sayin’ that, and that’s fine by me. I want you comin’ into our match with a head of steam. I want you to make our match as hard on me as humanly possible, as a matter of fact, cuz I don’t want a pushover. Naw… I want a challenge. I want you to come at me with every last bit of fight you got. I want you to bring your version of the storm so that when I knock you out cold, there ain’t no excuses left for you or for anyone else who doubts me to hide behind. I will say, though, that I’m takin’ back what I said before. You ain’t gonna be catchin’ another man’s ass-whuppin’ after all.”
Stormy eyes narrow subtly, the Oncoming Storm leaning in a little bit closer to the device she’s using to record this on–the unspoken promise of violence looming large in her gaze, her tone, her very bearing itself.
“You’re gonna be gettin’ your very own… and it’s gonna be deserved.”
A jab of the finger at the button to cut the feed… and everything goes black.