May 23/24, 2021
Flying halfway around the world twice in a week’s time is not what the Queen of the Ring wants to be doing, especially with the biggest match of High Octane Wrestling’s calendar year fast approaching.
As the de-facto “captain” of the Grapplers’ Local 214 War Games Team, given her long-standing animosity with Lee Best, she should still be in Tokyo right now with the rest of the group. She should be getting better acquainted with Xander Azula and Darin Zion and sharing her knowledge with them and Arthur Pleasant after being in two of these matches before, or discussing different match scenarios with Ray, Conor, Zeb and Teddy, or ramping up her training sessions to ensure she’s at her absolute best for the arduous task ahead.
Unfortunately, Lindsay knew she was going to be pulled away this week as soon as the Road Tour was released at the end of March.
She had a sneaking suspicion Lee purposely planned it out this way as another “fuck you” to her. Even though War Games is typically held in early June, the irascible owner scheduled this particular tour so that the High Octane roster would be over half a day’s travel away from their home base if they were able to catch a direct flight. He also knew, because it’s not a secret, that Lindsay’s daughter Ami is a senior in college on the East Coast and is set to graduate at the end of May.
This would force the Queen to make a choice: stay in Japan to prepare for War Games and miss her only daughter’s graduation, or fly back and forth from Tokyo to Boston for the ceremony, contend with jet lag, and miss out on critical preparations to ensure her and the Grapplers’ success against the nefarious Best Alliance.
It was not a decision she came to lightly, or quickly. Family has always come first to Lindsay, but over the prior weeks and months, the members of Grapplers Local 214 have become like family to her as well. They traveled together, ate together, trained together, boarded together at AirBnBs she had carefully arranged for, and bonded with one another outside the ring. War Games is no ordinary match: the competing teams are only as good as the sum of their parts, and one poor performance could spell doom for an entire group, and team camaraderie and chemistry might be the secret sauce to the Grapplers’ success on June 6th.
There is a lot riding on this year’s event. But for as much responsibility that she personally feels for whether or not Grapplers Local 214 succeeds or fails, Lindsay knew she would be wracked with guilt and sorrow if she were to miss this important milestone in Ami’s life. If she has that weight on her shoulders, there’s no way she could be expected to perform well and be the captain the Grapplers need.
She weighed all the pros and cons before making up her mind. Jet lag can be overcome: keeping hydrated and adjusting to the time zone changes while in the air will be key. Training can still happen both in Boston and Tokyo, with sessions consolidated into two-a-days if needed upon her return to Japan. Game-planning with the 214 can be done via video conference while she’s away.
Creative solutions to modern problems, and a mother will see her daughter cross the stage and receive her hard-earned diploma.
May 27, 2021
Le Méridien Hotel
“How are you feeling?”
The curved wand glides up and along her thick lashes, depositing black, clumpless mascara with smooth precision. It’s mid-morning on a cloudy, cool Boston spring day, but there’s no chance of rain in the forecast and the sun might peek out through the clouds later. Just in time for the cap toss.
“Excited,” Lindsay replies, applying the makeup to her other eye before reaching for a tube of raspberry lip stain. “I didn’t think this day would get here. I don’t want to be that mom who takes a million pictures, but…”
“…you’re gonna be that mom who takes a million pictures,” Clay’s voice chirps through the phone.
“Yeah,” she looks down at the screen with a smile of her own. “Yeah I am.”
“I’m sure you won’t be the only one. Kaz will be right there with you.”
“Believe me, he already started with us at the Sox game last night. Ami might kick him out of her apartment if he doesn’t cool it.”
“Typical brother, I suppose,” Troy’s agent chuckles. “Have you seen or talked to Rayne yet?”
Lindsay takes her phone out of the dressing area and into the living room of her hotel suite. The day before, there was a meeting of the minds between her, Clay, and her divorce lawyer Tara regarding the latest proceedings the divorce case. Earlier in the week, the judge agreed that Rayne’s Underground Lounge is a different business model and not an expansion of his original venture, the Katana’s Point, and Lindsay is entitled to half of it. But the decision did not pressure her ex into giving up his interest in the San Diego gym like Tara had figured. With both sides still at a stalemate, and Lindsay’s team believing this might be the best offer they can get, the Queen stated she wanted to talk to Rayne before finalizing anything.
“No, I haven’t,” she states, settling into a comfortable position on the stately leather couch. “And I know Tara advised against it, but I’m going to see him today for the first time in over a year and there’s no way that this isn’t going to come up between now and when the kids and I head back to Tokyo for War Games. I would at least like to get through the ceremony today and dinner tonight before having this conversation. Today is about Ami, not about us.”
“That’s the right way to look at it,” Clay agrees. “I know that this has been an emotional rollercoaster for awhile now, and you might get taken on another one when you do finally have that talk. Just stick to your guns. You’ve got this.”
Although he can’t see it, Lindsay offers up a wry grin in reply. “I will, and I appreciate that more than you know, Clay. If I don’t call you later tonight, I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
As the longtime friends and business associates hang up the phone, the Queen sighs, swallowing her nerves, and casts her gaze out the window, where the Charles River courses steadily along beyond the rooftops.
Later that night
As a parent, you hope your kids grow up to be better than you. To view the world with eyes wide open, and to surround themselves with good people, good experiences, and good memories. To take the lessons you’ve instilled in them, to learn from their mistakes and grow as individuals and, when the time is right, to spread their wings and journey off into the world with hope and vigor and passion untamed.
Today is one of the proudest moments of Lindsay Troy’s life. Far beyond any match she’s ever won, or title she’s ever carried. Today, and when the twins graduated high school, and when Kaz completed his wrestling training are all occasions in her children’s lives that she’ll forever remember as places in time when their potential and their dreams were limitless and the best parts of herself were seen in them.
Even though there are hundreds of students in her college and thousands graduating today, to Lindsay, Ami is the only one walking across the stage. When her name is read, she and Kaz and Tyler explode into cheers along with Ami’s friends, their praise so loud and genuine that you’d think they were a crowd of 50,000 in the Tokyo Dome instead of a mere handful seated on folding chairs on the pristine, emerald lawn of Killian Court.
It was a strange, bittersweet sight watching Tyler walk toward them from across the court, their first time rejoining as a family since his and Lindsay’s separation last March. He looked good in his suit; he always did, and even though she could tell he shaved his 5:00 shadow was already reappearing. The past year seemed to have taken its toll on him, though; his hair was a little greyer, his face more weathered than his age would suggest, as if karma decided to be a crueler mistress than usual and punish his transgressions against the Queen by taking her revenge on his otherwise good looks.
But the former couple kept things civil, even cracking a joke or two and not at one another’s expense. Even Kaz, who still hasn’t moved past his feelings of resentment toward his father, didn’t let any of that show through while they were all together. He promised his mother and sister that he wouldn’t, and he was true to his word.
The ceremony and picture-taking lasted a couple hours, after which the family made their way to Pammy’s in Cambridge, one of Boston’s top restaurants, for a three-course graduation dinner. The lovely staff complemented an exquisite meal and once Kaz and Ami left to meet up with some of her friends for a post-graduation party, the two adults made their way to the bar with their drinks.
“This was a nice day,” Tyler remarks, aimlessly swirling his scotch around the inside of its glass before downing the rest in one gulp. “Too bad the sun didn’t make it out.”
Lindsay nods, shrugging her shoulders slightly. “Can’t have everything, I guess. At least it didn’t rain.”
“True. Everyone stampeding for cover to avoid getting drenched would’ve been a sight.”
“The kids had their caps to cover their heads. I’m not sure our graduation programs would’ve held up, though.”
Tyler chuckles and shakes his head. “Probably not.”
Lindsay takes a sip of her Chenin Blanc as Tyler signals for another scotch. A lull passes between them, heavy and awkward, and Lindsay can feel the tingling uncomfortableness of nerves start passing through her body.
“Ty,” she starts, looking down at the red oak bartop then over to him. “We need to talk about us.”
Again, he chuckles, although there’s not much mirth in the expression this time. “Now you want to talk about us,” he says as his drink is dropped off. “I’ve been wanting to talk about us for a year.”
“I know you have.”
“And you didn’t want to listen.”
“It’s hard to want to listen when you’re angry and hurt,” she says, sensing the antagonism in his tone but keeping her voice low and even, doing her best not to rise up and match it.
Stick to your guns.
“You hurt me deeply when you cheated, Tyler,” she continues. “And the reasons you gave were just so unlike you. Bitterness over how your career ended? Jealousy over me going back to work? You never said any of this to me; not once. You wanted a conversation after you did wrong but never before anything happened. Don’t you think I would have quit and come home? Or never signed with HOW in the first place? When have I ever put the business before my family?”
Lindsay runs her fingers through her hair, tucking a few curls behind her ears, feeling tears beginning to form behind her eyes but willing them to stay at bay.
“Maybe I shouldn’t have closed you off for a year but you begged me for forgiveness and another chance and I couldn’t give it to you. I told you a long time ago that I could forgive you for a lot of things but breaking my heart and being disloyal weren’t one of them. I needed space. Then I needed out. And you continued being selfish. For months, you said divorce was off the table. And then, all of a sudden, you’re willing to give me what I want but only at a price. Going outside our prenup for ownership rights to my gym? You’ve never cared about that, it makes no sense…”
“I care because all I see is you.”
For the first time since they sat down on the custom-made barstools, Tyler Rayne looks at his ex.
“When you expanded to San Diego, you found a place right by the beach house. It was perfect; not far away, the kids hit the mats, hit the weights, all with the ocean near the front door. But now, the reminder of you is there every time I drive by it. Every time I see someone wearing one of the gym’s shirts. It’s like a dagger that I can’t pull out because I’m the one who put it there. You’re everywhere I go in this town and as shitty as it is, I thought if I could try to take that piece of you for myself it’d force you to come to the table and talk. I didn’t expect you to counter with the club, or for that judge to agree with that loophole.”
Lindsay offers him a genuine, sympathetic look. “You left my team with little choice. You had to have known I was going to fight back after you went after something that’s been in my family for decades.”
“I know,” Tyler affirms. “And now we’re here.”
“Do you really want half of the gym, Tyler?” she asks. “If you do, I’ll agree. I don’t care about the club, I never have. I’ll tell my lawyer to drop my claim to it. I just want this over. I’m tired of things dragging out and us being in this place.”
“I’ve accepted that you want this marriage to be over. I didn’t for a long time, and I’m still not okay with it, but I know that it’s my fault. I’ll never forgive myself for it. But if you want to move on, then the gym needs to move on with you. I’ll drop my claim to it if it does.”
With those words, the turbulence inside her stomach and along her spine begins to dissipate. It’s not replaced by elation, or satisfaction, but instead with melancholy over the life they had for so long that’s now, officially, ending.
“I can make that happen,” Lindsay says, pushing her unfinished wine glass to the edge of the bar. She reaches into her purse for some cash but Tyler puts a calloused hand on hers, halting the gesture.
“I’ve got it.”
She places a hand over his, one last time, then walks out the door.
May 28, 2021
Le Méridien Hotel
“This is how I want things to go.”
She sits at the marble-topped table, lighter than she’s been in months, with her finished breakfast plate to her left and a steaming mug of coffee to her right. Like so many times before, Clay and Tara are present on the screen of her tablet, but Lindsay is confident that this will be the last time the three of them will need to meet.
“I talked to Tyler last night and this is what I am agreeing to: I will be withdrawing my ownership claim to the Underground Lounge and will be moving my gym out of Southern California. Tyler’s agreed to drop his ownership claim to DP’s if I do.”
“Well that’s … unexpected…” Clay starts, before Tara cuts him off.
“So you’re going to give up and give in?” she asks, perplexed. “What about the fight? What about going to war?”
“Fighting a war means having to pick and choose your battles,” Lindsay says swiftly, decisively. “I can move on and rebuild elsewhere. I’m doing the same with my life. That’s what’s important here. That’s what I’ve wanted from the beginning.”
“Well,” Tara finally says after allowing what her client and her advisor have said to sink in, “this is not how I anticipated this turning out. But if it’s what you want, then I will start putting things in motion with Tyler’s lawyers today.”
The trio say their goodbyes and Tara clicks off the call. Clay sighs and scratches his head, relief flooding his face. “Well, the bright side is that you don’t have to travel halfway around the world with this hanging over you anymore. That has to feel good.”
“It does, because I’m getting what I want,” Lindsay says with a smirk. “And I’ve got a feeling that this victory won’t be the only time in the short term that I’ll be winning on the terms I want to win on.”