Here You Are

Here You Are

Posted on June 11, 2024 at 9:10 pm by Drew Mitchell

Friday Afternoon – Hampton Inn Chicago-O’Hare International Airport- Schiller Park, Illinois
The midday sun streamed through the partly drawn curtains of Sunny O’Callahan’s hotel room, casting a warm glow that seemed to dance with the flickering images on the television screen. The sound of clinking glasses and murmured conversations drifted in from the hallway, mixing with the low hum of the TV. Sunny, reclined casually on her bed, legs crossed at the ankles, sipped Southern Comfort and flashed a grin at Drew Mitchell as he entered the room.

Sunny gestured towards the TV where Brinsley Decker walked down the lush fairway of the 18th hole following her tee shot… perfect… right down the middle… her athletic frame silhouetted against the vibrant green landscape.

Sunny O’Callahan (admiration evident in her voice): Look at her go.

Drew’s gaze focused in on Brinsley and he couldn’t help but let out a low whistle.

Drew Mitchell: That girl has some incredible talents.

Sunny O’Callahan: She’s got the eye of a tiger right now.  She kind of reminds me of you in the ring, Drew.

Drew chuckled.

Drew Mitchell: Oi, I’m not that good… yet.

Drew’s expression turned serious as he watched Brinsley line up her shot. He leaned forward, his broad shoulders tensing with anticipation.

Drew Mitchell: She’s come back from the brink, has she.

Sunny smiled knowingly at him and both turned back to the TV, fully engrossed in Brinsley’s remarkable performance. The room buzzed with an electric energy, as if the tension from the LPGA US Open had seeped into the four walls inside their Hampton Inn hotel room.

The commentator’s voice filled the room, conveying the gravity of the moment.

TV Commentator (on TV): Brinsley Decker shot an 83 yesterday and after twelve holes today sat at 15 over par. Then she eagled 13, birdied 14, 15, 16, and 17 to pull herself up to 9 over par. The cut line is 8 over par. Despite a disasterous first day, Decker is just one birdie away from making the cut for the 2024 LPGA US Open.

Drew Mitchell (murmuring under his breath): Come on, Brinsley.

Onscreen, Brinsley executed her swing with mechanical precision, sending the small white ball soaring through the air.

Drew leaned even farther forward.

Drew Mitchell: Come on!

Sunny folded her hands and held her breath as the camera followed the balls arc until it landed gracefully on the green…

Drew Mitchell: YES!

…and came to rest an agonizing fifteen feet from the cup. Drew pumped his fist and high-five Sunny while on the television, the crowd erupted into cheers, their collective voices a raucous symphony swelling through the speakers.

TV Commentator: She’s got a chance!

Sunny O’Callahan: Yeah she does. Would you look at that placement! Fifteen feet’s nothing for her.

Drew Mitchell: Oi. Nothing indeed.

Drew’s eyes never left the screen.  Silently, he admired Brinsley’s concentration, her focus, something he aspired to emulate when the chaos of the ring threatened to overwhelm him.

Sunny O’Callahan: Well?  It comes down to this. Pressure’s mounting…

Sunny swirled her drink in her glass.

Sunny O’Callahan: …but that’s where stars are born, isn’t it?

Drew Mitchell: Absolutely.

Drew refocused back on the television with a half-smile playing on his lips.

Drew Mitchell: C’mon Brins.

On the green now, Brinsley prepared for her pivotal putt.

TV Commentator: Brinsley Decker.  One putt away from making the cut.  She has a testing fifteen-footer she must make in order to get to the cut line.  Can she do it?

Sunny and Drew sat transfixed, united in their silent rooting for the determined golfer who stood poised over her ball. The television screen cast a glow over Drew’s taut expression, his fingers curling into the armrest. Sunny leaned forward, the ice in her Southern Comfort clinking softly.

Brinsley was the picture of concentration. Her eyes flicked from the dimpled white sphere to the hole, measuring, calculating. With the same precision she’d used to eagle and birdie her way back from the brink, she drew back her putter and took the swing.

TV Commentator: To make the cut…

Drew Mitchell (muttering under his breath): Come on now.

The ball rolled across the green, a steady drive towards destiny.

Sunny O’Callahan: Yes… yes…

But fate had a twist in store. It kissed the edge of the cup, flirting with victory before veering off course and coming to rest twelve inches shy of triumph.

Sunny O’Callahan: …no.

Drew closed his eyes and fell back onto the bed.

TV Commentator: OH!

Gasps and groans erupted from the gathered crowd as they watched fate intervene in this intense match. Brinsley could only stare at the ground in disbelief, her hands gripping her knees tightly as she tried to process the cruel twist that had just occurred.

TV Commentator: The putt rimmed around the outside of the hole and rolled about a foot away from the cup!

Sunny exhaled, a wry smile betraying her disappointment.

Sunny O’Callahan: Ah, hell. So close.

Drew Mitchell: Bollocks… so bloody close.

Drew watched Brinsley’s reaction as she processed the near miss.  He noted a little shake of the head, the calm walk to tap in for par, and the scorecard signing that sealed her fate at 9 over.

Drew Mitchell: Unlucky. But still, what a fightback. From shooting an 83 on day one and then fifteen over through twelve to this? That’s guts.

Sunny O’Callahan: Right you are.  Remember that, kid. In the ring, sometimes the match won’t play out the way you’ve planned.  You’ll take hits, maybe you’ll even get pinned when you least expect it. But you have to keep fighting. Just like Brinsley did today when things weren’t going her way.

Drew’s gaze shifted from the TV to Sunny, absorbing the lesson. He knew later on that night, when he stepped into the ring, resilience would be his greatest weapon. And Brinsley’s spirit, her unyielding pursuit despite the odds, would be the echo in every slam and hold.

“Aye.”

The Best Arena- Friday May 30th
As Drew Mitchell and Sunny O’Callahan walked toward Best Arena, They could feel the roar of the crowd surging through the walls like a living beast, pulsing with anticipation for Chaos 66. Drew’s broad shoulders rolled with each step, exuding strength and determination while Sunny’s frizzy blonde hair bounced to the beat of her rebellious gait, her flask of Southern Comfort providing a steady source of liquid courage.

Sunny O’Callahan: Ready to take out the Final Alliance again?

Sunny’s eyes glinted with a mentor’s pride.

Drew Mitchell: Aye.  Born ready.

As they approached the talent entrance to the arena, a sudden flash of red appeared in Drew’s peripheral vision.  His head spun and time seemed to slow down for a heartbeat.

Drew Mitchell: Oi? Brinsley?

Brinsley Decker leaned against the wall by the door, her posture tall and commanding and piercing eyes locking into his.  Her low-cut red dress hugged her athletic frame as if it were a part of her.  The hem of Brinsley’s dress was daring, stopping just above her sculpted legs and inviting onlookers to trace the graceful curves of her muscles. Her piercing gaze mirrored the fiery intensity of her dress, while her long, brunette hair tumbled in glossy waves, framing her determined expression like a dark river of silk.

Drew blinked in surprise, his charming facade momentarily faltering.

Drew Mitchell: Didn’t expect to see you here, Brin.

Brinsley Decker: Yeah, I decided I didn’t want to hang around Pennsylvania…

She conveyed her disappointment with a shrug, though her eyes held a determination and there’s a hint of steel beneath the velvet of her voice.

Brinsley Decker: … so I flew back to Chicago and thought I’d hang out with you tonight.

Drew Mitchell: Close one, that. That late charge was something else.

Brinsley Decker: It sucks that it took me until the thirteenth hole on day two to get my game going.  Eagled the thirteenth.  Birdied four of the last five holes but I just couldn’t get that last putt to fall on eighteen.

Sunny O’Callahan: Still damn impressive if you ask me.

Sunny’s hands found the comfort of her jeans pockets as she nodded approvingly at Brinsley.

Sunny O’Callahan: You’ve got grit, girl, I’ll give you that.

Drew Mitchell: You’re ace, lass.  Proper skills on the golf course.

A genuine smile forms on Brinsley’s lips.

Brinsley Decker: Thanks.

Drew Mitchell: Absolutely…

Drew affirms Brinsley with a wink.

Drew Mitchell:  …at least you’re here to watch me and Darin Zion take out those Final Alliance wankers tonight.

Brinsley Decker: I’m sure you’ll put on quite the show, Drew.

Sunny raises an eyebrow, her lips curve into a knowing smile.

Sunny O’Callahan: Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place for a show.

Sunny watched Drew and Brinsley with a mix of admiration and envy as Brinsley leaned into Drew’s side, her dress hugging her curves as they walked into the Best Arena… Brinsley’s hand intertwined with Drew’s.

Saturday night- Cheers Bar and Grill – Manchester, Missouri
The next night, the chaotic din of Cheers Bar and Grill in Manchester, Missouri, was deafening as Sunny O’Callahan, her wild frizzy hair and toned denim-clad legs propped against the weathered wood of the bar, commanded the attention of everyone in the room. A wave of anticipation rippled through the sea of excited wrestling fans as they hung onto every word that fell from her lips.

Sunny O’Callahan: Ladies and gentlemen… DREW MITCHELL!

The crowd erupted in cheers as Drew Mitchell climbed onto a chair next to Brinsley Decker, still buzzing with adrenaline from his match the night before. His muscles tense and sore from last night’s match, adrenaline courses through his veins with the ferocity of a title bout.

Sunny O’Callahan: Great job out there, Drew.

Sunny’s frizzy blonde hair catches the glint of the overhead lights as she falls into step beside him. Her stride’s confident and sure, matching her unwavering belief in Drew’s abilities.

Drew flashes her a tired but grateful smile.

Drew Mitchell: I appreciate it, everyone. But man, Darin Zion’s antics almost cost us that match.

Sunny chuckled, well aware of Zion’s reputation.

Drew Mitchell: The bottom line is Zion pinned Steve Solex and we beat those wankers the Final Alliance again for the third time. Plus, Brian Hollywood won the LSD title off that dodgy skive Evan Ward.

Drew’s mind immediately began racing with thoughts of training and strategy for the upcoming War Games event in the UK.

Drew Mitchell: I know War Games is no joke- I know it won’t be easy- it takes precision, strength, and endurance. But I will give it my all and put on a great show for all of you.

A mix of adrenaline and nerves coursed through Drew’s veins as he contemplated facing some of the toughest opponents in the world. Sunny O’Callahan, his mentor in the chaotic world of professional wrestling, chimed in with her genuine sincerity.

Sunny O’Callahan: But more importantly…

She paused dramatically before continuing.

Sunny O’Callahan: …we made a promise to buy the whole bar a round if Drew won last night, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

The bar erupted into cheers as excited patrons awaited their free drinks.

Drew stepped off the chair and wrapped his arm around Brinsley.

Brinsley Decker: Your schedule gets serious on Monday too, doesn’t it?

Drew Mitchell: Yeah, all War Games, all the time until the end of the month.

Sunny O’Callahan: It starts on Monday. So enjoy this weekend while you can, Drew because come Monday, it’s back to training and grinding.

While the waitresses and bartenders began to take drink orders, Drew marveled at his good fortune.  Glancing back and forth between the two important women in his life at the moment- Sunny O’Callahan, his manager and wrestling mentor, and Brinsley Decker, his romantic partner and ally in achieving their personal goals, Drew knew that both strong-willed and determined women both played a crucial role in shaping him into the wrestler that he was today.

Right now, it couldn’t get any better than this.

Then…

Sunday Evening June 16th – Wrexham, Wales
The cold bite of the Welsh breeze was nothing compared to the chill of uncertainty that crept down Drew Mitchell’s spine as he stood before the Fat Boar, a pub steeped in local legend and significance.  Drew had arrived in Liverpool early in the morning with Sunny following the five hour overnight flight from Boston.  Drew’s mother Siobhan Mitchell picked them up and they traveled down the road into Wales.

Tired from the long flight and needing some sleep, Drew’s gaze, normally sharp with the intensity of a man who owned the ring, wavered upon the larger-than-life mural of Paul Mullin on the side of the building where the Fat Boar was located.  The mural of Mullin, the talisman of Wrexham’s football team who’d just won a second straight promotion to League One, and a Wrexham icon whose painted eyes seemed to challenge Drew from their place on the old brick, covered the entire side of the building.

Drew’s mother put her hand on the back of his elbow.

Siobhan Mitchell: Go on then.

Siobhan’s soft voice broke through the tension, her hand warm on his elbow, grounding him. He could feel the weight of her words, echoing the hopes she carried for him since he first laced up his boots.

Siobhan Mitchell: He’s waiting for you.

With a deep breath that did little to calm the butterflies dancing a main event in his stomach, Drew rolled his shoulders back, the motion as familiar to him as the roar of an approving crowd.

Drew Mitchell: I got this, Mum.

The corners of Sunny’s mouth curled into a knowing smile, her eyes shimmering with unspoken encouragement as if to say, ‘You’ve faced tougher opponents.’

Sunny O’Callahan: We’ll be right here.

Drew’s hand found the door handle, cool and solid beneath his grasp. He pushed it down and opened the door, crossing across the threshold, the aroma of hearty fare enveloped him, momentarily replacing the adrenaline of anticipation with the warmth of nostalgia.

As the door swung shut behind them, sealing off the chill of the outside world, Drew felt the full weight of the moment settle upon his broad shoulders. His mother’s touch on his arm, the slight tremor in her grip, pulled him back from the precipice of his thoughts. Drew straightened up, the familiar feeling of resolve flooding back.

The door’s gentle thud behind him, Drew’s gaze homed in on the figure by the window. Andy Hallman sat ensconced in the low light, his features etched with time. Grey streaks marched through what was once a rebellious mane, much like Drew’s own. The air felt charged, as if before the clash of titans beneath the bright lights of the ring.

Andy looked up and saw the son he’d never met before standing before him.

Andy Hallman: Andrew?

Drew Mitchell: Drew.

Drew’s tone of voice was laced with the edge of a man who’d learned to hold his ground against any challenge.

The space between them closed as Drew approached closer, each step measured and deliberate, mirroring the calculated pacing of his ring entrances.

Their hands met, the grip tightening as though vying for control in a grapple. Muscles tensed, the handshake quivered under the weight of years and might-have-beens.

Andy Hallman: Right. Drew.

His lips twitched upward, acknowledging the pushback with the respect of a seasoned fighter recognizing a worthy opponent.

Both men eased into their seats, the scrape of wood on floor stark against the backdrop of murmured conversations and clinking cutlery and masked the quick feet of the waitress coming towards their table.

The Waitress: Can I get you gentlemen anything?

Andy’s eyes briefly flicked towards Drew for approval.  Drew managed a curt nod, the simple gesture belying the swirl of emotions he wrestled with internally.

Andy Hallman: Two pints, please.

A familiar restlessness took over; Drew’s fingers, scarred from battles on the mat, now toyed with the menu’s edge as if it were an opponent’s wrist, searching for a hold.

The Waitress: Right then.  Coming right up.

The waitress, oblivious to the charged atmosphere she left in her wake as she retreated into the background clatter of the restaurant.

The pause gave Drew the briefest respite, but then Andy leaned in, narrowing the gap. Drew studied the man across from him.  Andy’s features were like a blueprint of his own, each line and contour shaped by experiences Drew had never shared.

Andy’s square jaw, so like Drew’s, spoke of resilience, a testament to blows absorbed both in and out of the ring. Their gazes locked, and Drew recognized the intensity in those eyes; it was the same look he used to pierce through opponents before a bout, only Andy’s seemed to reflect back the years, shadowed with echoes of could-have-beens.

Drew’s own eyes, usually alight with the brazen confidence of youth on the hunt for triumph, momentarily dimmed. Here sat a man carved from the same granite, yet marked by the passage of time… a living embodiment of paths diverged.

Drew Mitchell: I’m here.  What do you got to say?

Andy cleared his throat. The moment hung heavy in the air, thick with unspoken words and revelations that had taken too long to surface. Andy’s body language spoke volumes, a visible testament to his internal struggle. His posture shifted, an almost imperceptible movement, yet it screamed repentance louder than any admission of guilt could. The leather groaned beneath him, echoing the weight of years he carried—the burden of a father who had abandoned his post.

Drew’s eyes were locked onto Andy, sharp as a referee’s gaze during a championship match, missing nothing. He was coiled tight, every sinew ready to unleash the pent-up anger of a lifetime spent in the dark about the man sitting across from him. This was no wrestling ring, but the tension was palpable enough to charge the very air between them.

Andy Hallman: Look, Drew…

There was a tremor there, slight but undeniable, hinting at the tumult just beneath his composed exterior.

Andy Hallman: I was young, full of myself… strong-headed and stupid, really.

A pause lingered, stretching out as Andy sought out something… anything… in Drew’s stony facade that might resemble forgiveness. Drew remained silent, his expression a mask carved from stone, betraying none of the chaos that undoubtedly roared within him.

Andy Hallman: Back then, I thought I had life figured out, but when your mum… when Siobahn told me about you, I…”

He flinched, a momentary lapse in the control Andy seemed so desperate to maintain. His gaze dropped, a tacit submission to the overwhelming tide of remorse. His hands, clenched tightly upon his thighs, were pale, drained of color by the vice-like grip of a man grappling with his past.

Andy Hallman: …I bailed.

The words hit the space between them with the force of a knockout punch. Each one landed with precision, heavy with the weight of missed years and what-ifs.

Andy Hallman: And there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t regret it.

In that confession, Drew saw Andy’s admission as more than a statement; it was an offering, laid bare with the hope of reconciliation.  He remained motionless, his response held back as though he were sizing up his opponent, waiting for the right moment to strike or to show mercy.

The silence stretched on but the clink of pint glasses shattered the thick air between them, a temporary reprieve from the emotional grapple. Drew’s gaze briefly danced over the golden liquid before locking back onto his father’s weathered visage. Andy seemed a heavyweight contender in life’s unforgiving ring, each line on his face a scar from battles fought and lost.

Andy’s fingers trembled as he lifted the glass, the froth kissing his upper lip. The beer went down like a bitter draught of reality.

Andy Hallman: Time passed, and I guess I started to grow up.  Went to university, got myself a decent job.

He looked at Drew, seeking some sort of absolution in his son’s eyes.

Andy Hallman: It was there I met Lili-Beth. We married, and we have two kids… Robert… he’s got a lot of his mum in him.

Drew’s chest tightened. Step-siblings. His mind reeled, grappling ropes of a lineage he had never been privy to.

Andy’s scrutiny was relentless, searching Drew’s stoic facade for a tell, a twitch, anything. But Drew was a fortress of solitude, not betraying the inner chaos- the clash of abandonment and curiosity, resentment wrestling against the lure of newfound kinship.

Andy Hallman: And Maisie, she’s got this fire in her, just like you-

Andy’s voice suddenly trailed off, the words hanging suspended, uncertain if they’d land a hit or miss entirely.

In the silence that followed, Drew felt the world around him dim, the restaurant’s hustle fading until all that remained was the phantom image of a family portrait, vibrant and complete—sans one vital member.

The oak’s grain felt almost alive under Drew’s fingertips, each line and whorl a silent testament to time—time that had slipped through his own fingers like so many grains of sand. His knuckles, white as the spotlight that often bathed him in the ring, were a stark contrast to the wood’s dark patina. Across from him sat a ghost from another life, a specter now flesh and bone, whose presence unnerved the very air around them.

Finally, Drew spoke.

Drew Mitchell: Why now?

Andy’s discomfort was evident, a physical manifestation of years spent grappling with choices long past. As Drew watched, the lines etched onto Andy’s face appeared to deepen, like the grooves on a well-worn title belt, each one telling its own story. The silence stretched, elastic and tense, before it was finally broken by Andy’s admission, low and tinged with a reverence that spoke of missed opportunities and late-night replays of matches he had never witnessed in person.

Andy Hallman: I… I’ve watched you in the ring.

The voice carried the weight of unspoken history, the acknowledgment of a career followed from afar.

Drew’s retort was swift.

Drew Mitchell: Followed me?

His words sliced through the confession with the precision of a well-aimed strike, his British accent coloring the confrontation with an exotic edge.

Andy Hallman: Followed you.

Andy’s gaze dropped, a subtle flinch as if Drew’s words were a physical blow. His fingers drummed an anxious rhythm against the polished wood, betraying his inner turmoil.

Andy Hallman: Yes, I’ve seen what you’ve accomplished, Drew.”

His eyes flickered with a mix of admiration and something deeper, darker.

Andy Hallman: And every time you stood victorious, a part of me felt… I just-

Drew Mitchell: Regrets?

Drew’s interruption had cut through the air, sharp and swift as a clothesline. The chair creaked beneath him as he leaned forward, the intensity in his eyes unyielding.

Andy Hallman: Deep regrets.

Andy clasped his hands tightly together, as though they could somehow bridge the vast expanse of lost years.

Andy Hallman: I can’t change the past, son.

The voice wavered ever so slightly, but his resolve did not.

Andy Hallman: But I understand why you’d question my motives, why you might doubt me now.

He inhaled deeply and braced himself.

Andy Hallman: I wanted to take a chance. So I rang your mother up…

Andy’s voice tapered into silence, his gaze lifting to finally meet Drew’s.

Andy Hallman: …and here I am.

Drew’s posture relaxed, a visible release of tension that rippled through his muscular frame. For a moment, the clamor of the wrestling world—the roar of the crowd, the electric thrill of the spotlight all faded into the background. Here, in the quiet corner of the Fat Boar, there was a father and son, their personal showdown eclipsing the staged dramas of the pro wrestling world.

Drew Mitchell: Here you are.

The simple acknowledgement was heavy with a lifetime of unanswered questions. There was no need for dramatic gestures or eloquent speeches; their dialogue had become an intimate dance within the squared circle of their shared past.

Drew Mitchell: So… now what?