Jack the Ripper. The Wildcard. High Flyer.
The Friendly Neighbourhood Lunatic.
Now you’ve got my attention…
But then again, you’ve always had my attention, Jack. I used to watch you in the independents when I was 8-bit and you were the up-and-coming megastar people intended you to be. You never disappointed. You lived up to all those “unrealistic” expectations they gave you.
I could only contemplate what that amount of pressure would feel like. I can barely hold my own in HOW right now and it’s been five months!
In the early days, you were my hero. You were a high flyer. I wanted to be you.
If you look at my skill set, I’d like to think a part of me is you.
Just a part.
When I heard Big Boss is pitting me against you this week on Refueled, a smile crossed my face.
I need you, Jack. I need you now more than you will ever know.
I don’t need you to give me hope. I don’t need you to be my hero. You don’t even have to be a high flyer right now. You don’t have to do any of those things I once found so endearing.
I simply need one aspect of your personality.
I need you to be The Lunatic, more than ever before.
Please be The Lunatic, Jack.
I need you to bring your best to the table this weekend. You see, Socttywood has channeled something different inside of me. Something I have never felt before.
I’ve only got a few weeks to lean into this new perspective I’ve unlocked inside my head. I’m already wearing Scotty’s blood on my chest, so that’s a new DLC outfit for High Octane Wrestling. It’s pretty neat.
giGGle giGGle giGGle
Sorry, I didn’t mean to get all silly there. I think I’m going crazy.
Seeing people die… seeing so much blood shed. It’s wild out here! Plus, a man stalked me for three weeks. THREE. WEEKS. Why did he stalk me, you ask?
PFFFT, your guess is as good as mine, Lunatic. Can you get inside his head? Perhaps you will have more success. I’m trying but ultimately failing. I didn’t do a damn thing to the guy! I carried on with my day. You know, did the stuff I typically do. Game. Watch. Game & Watch. I even dabbled in some wrestling with Hughie.
But it all came crashing down. Scotty’s chosen me… and I’ve been trying to think why he has. Maybe it’s because he’s unhappy with his own life. I heard he lost a love, recently. It’s called the LSD Championship. I, too, have lost a few loves. It’s hard, I get it.
Or maybe he sees me as an easy target.
They ALL see me as an easy target, Jack.
That’s why I need your help. That’s why I am oh-so-thankful I’m fighting you in a few short days.
giGGle giGGle giGGle
I know you’re the right Boss to do battle with. I knew it from the moment I first saw you.
I’ve said since day one, I feel like I’m on an island in HOW. Everyone has alliances and everyone has their friends. But you and I can do something special together…
You can help me… and I can help you.
Don’t worry, I’ve got your back too. It’s not just about me. I won’t let one of my heroes down.
Care to listen to a bedtime story?
I know I do. It’s right in your wheelhouse, I promise.
December 17th, 2001
It’s cold outside. I don’t have to look out my window to know this. I can hear the wind against the side of my bedroom wall. Snowing? I’d be surprised if it wasn’t, either.
The rest of my house is asleep. I already know this, too. No one gets up as early as I do on a day-to-day basis. My brothers don’t… care as much, for lack of a better term. Sometimes I wonder if I take up all the excitement in the home.
And even though this is a special day, I am in no mood to celebrate it with anyone.
On the edge of my bed, I dress in clothes that will keep me warm enough but don’t make me look like a total n00b, either. Style is key. Style is always key. Grabbing my dark blue Adidas hoodie, I throw it on overtop of two layers of t-shirts and waste no further time. I race out of my bedroom, without a care for the sounds I leave in my wake. Like I mentioned previously, it’s not going to make a difference.
Taking the house keys beside the shoe rack, I slip on a pair of lime green boots, which is starting to become my favourite colour and I’m out the front door.
It is snowing… albeit lightly. The sun has slowly come up and the streets are extremely quiet, at least in this part of the residential neighbourhood. As I start my journey, I look around and see rows of houses, all in the same cookie cutter design, lined up for as long as my peripherals can take me. The snowbanks are piling up on the side of the road, too. When I was younger, I remember not being able to see the houses over the banks of snow when I was in my parent’s car. That’s how much we would get on an annual basis.
I continue down the path. You can hear the slush crush beneath my feet. Sometimes, I could slide all the way down the sidewalks without lifting a foot. It was fun to see how far I could go… everyone would say I could gain such momentum.
Sorry, I feel like I’m rambling about nonsense. That happens a lot, I’m coming to learn.
Anyway, I make a few turns and find my way out of the neighbourhood. Even though it’s early on a Monday morning, everyone’s getting to work… and now that I’m out of the residential location, the main street is nothing but a fury of cars and honking.
Such impatience. All of this for the idea of clocking into a 9-to-5 job no one wants to do.
“That won’t be me…” I mumble to myself as I flip my hoodie over my head, keep my head low and shift focus into my own world. “I hope he has them.”
I’m a few blocks away from my destination. There’s nothing but large buildings and loud noises around me. It’s almost as if it’s not snowing in this part of the city because you can barely see the sky unless you look straight up. I pass the local coffee shop, people going in and out quickly, grabbing their coffee, all of them in need of that extra motivation to start their days. I feel for them, I do. I wish they could be as energetic as I am without the need for an artificial substance.
Stopping at the busiest intersection, I wait for the lights to turn before I cross the street. Keeping my head down the entire time, I don’t have to look up to know where I’m going. I pass a group of people in suits, or at least I think they’re dressed nicely because of the shoes they are wearing. They speak about how much they hate their boss and how they aren’t looking forward to their day. One guy mentions something about an escort… not really sure why he’d need someone to show him the way to work. Doesn’t he know where he’s going?
Finally, one block further and I am here. Craig and Barry’s Corner, the convenience store I have become quite fond of.
Diing, diing, the door chime sounds as I step into the building, drying off my boots on the carpet in front of me. I keep my hood up, though. I like my hood up.
“Hey, Conor…” A voice says from behind the checkout table. “And not a moment too soon, I unlocked the door seconds ago.”
I glance at the clock behind him, 7:01am it reads.
“One minute late.” I snap my fingers. “Thought I had this one timed out perfectly.”
Barry stands behind the counter. He’s a burly man in his mid 40s. Looks like he’s hard-nosed with his slicked silver and jet black hair, a goatee that could rival anyone and tattoos up and down both arms, telling some really cool stories. There wasn’t time to hear one today. I am already wasting precious seconds.
“So?” I begin. “Do you? Do you have it?”
Barry seems dejected. “I’m sorry…” He starts but I know he’s got a terrible ‘poker face’. I don’t know what poker is yet, my mom won’t let me play it but I think ‘poker face’ is slang for being able to tell a good lie.
Barry, dude, that’s not you. Even I know this.
“Show me them, show me them!” I race to the counter. He sighs, knowing he didn’t have me going, not even for a second.
“Okay. Alright. Hold on, kid.” He mentions before bending over and digging into one of his cabinets behind the counter. “Here ya go…”
He lays them out on the glass table. “Five packs, right?”
“Yeah! Five packs.” I already have the money on the countertop for him, exact amount, tax included. I did the math yesterday. “I can’t believe you got your hands on these, they’re sold out everywhere.”
Barry laughs. “I know, kid. Got a little lucky. The other packs are already called for… so, don’t tell anyone I let you buy five, alright? I have a limit of two per customer.”
Although I can’t see myself in the mirror right now, I know I have a mischievous grin from ear-to-ear. I’m lucky to have one pack, let alone five. “Your secret is safe with me.”
I take the packs and put them in my pocket. Before I leave, Barry tries to remind me of one important thing.
“Hey, Conor…” He says. I look back with one hand already on the door handle. “You know he’s a hard one to find, right? Even in five packs, your odds aren’t high…”
“I know, Mr. Barry.” I give a wink and head out. Making sure the packs stay in my pocket, I wrap my right hand firmly around all of them. They aren’t going anywhere… and I will not view them again until I get home.
“Step one, complete.” I said to myself. “Onto step two…”
December 17th, 2001
I’m even further into the downtown core now. You’d think traffic would have slowed down but it’s only picked up. How many people work in this city? It’s crazy!
My hoodie covers me well. I think it’s stopped snowing by now but like I mentioned before, the buildings are too tall to take notice.
Keeping my head down I walk past person after person. The sidewalks are crowded and everyone, even those with nowhere to go, are in a rush.
“Why do people care so much about attending a job they don’t want to do?” I can’t make sense of it. I figure there’s something I’m missing and I’ll understand when I’m older.
Finally, I arrive at my second target. I take a moment to glance up from the ground…
“KICK-ASS WRESTLING SCHOOL.” The sign reads.
I have been waiting for this opportunity all year long.
“Won’t be late this time.” I said to myself, looking over at the big clock pasted to the side of the nearest building. Once it hits 8:00am, I approach the doors. The man inside is surprised to see anyone there as he starts to unlock them.
“Hi, kid?” He asks as I enter. The man is in his 30s, balding, clearly. God I hope that doesn’t happen to me. I love my messy blonde hair. The man seems pleasant enough but still trying to process what someone my age would be doing here. “Can I help you?”
“Yes. Hi. Yes.” Clearly, I need to calm down. Get it together, Conor, get it together. “I’d like to enroll in your school, first class please.”
The man hasn’t stopped staring at me. Perhaps he wonders if this is some kind of joke. I ensure him, it’s not. “Yes, sir. I have money up front if you’d like it. I’ve been saving all year. I only need a few classes. Perhaps you can assess me and tell me if it’s worth my time to continue or not.”
The man simply stares at me, as he walks away from the door and further into the lobby. He’s not exactly shoo’ing me away but he needs to do other things, I can tell. That being said… he hasn’t stopped looking at me like I’m some kind of alien.
“I promise, I will listen to everything you say. If you say I suck, I’ll work harder. If you say I’m too slow, I’ll be quicker. If you say I’m too small, I’ll grow more! I won’t be this height forever, I swear!”
The man walks into the hangar of the building but I follow while continuing my sales pitch. It’s quite a good speech, if I do say so myself. I’ve been working on it all month, reciting it in the mirror each night after I brush my teeth. Nothing has me ready for this moment though because… I drift off, finally taking in what’s in front of me. There are four wrestling rings, all in their own corners of this gymnasium. The balding guy is checking the middle turnbuckle pad on one of them. It’s then he notices I’ve stopped speaking.
“Hey, kid… you were saying?” I can’t hear him, not yet. I’m in ‘awe’. “Kid? KID? Hey… KID!”
He waves his hand directly in my face and I get the message. “Oh, sorry about that. I-”
I think by now he appreciates the effort I’m trying to put into my sales pitch. I also think he realizes this is the first time I’ve been so close to an actual wrestling ring.
“Listen, bud, I appreciate the gesture, I really do. Let’s cut to the chase, okay?”
My eyes go wide, excitement flows through my body. “Okay!”
“First off, shouldn’t you be in school right now?”
“Ummm, no.” I snap. “It’s Christmas break. We’ve been out since Friday.”
“Alright. Then what’s your wrestling name, huh? Everyone needs a wrestling name.”
“That’s easy, I’m ‘The Amazing’ Conor.”
“The Amazing Conor?”
“That’s it? That’s your name?”
“What’s your last name?”
“I haven’t thought of a good last name yet but I like The Amazing Conor.”
I think I’ve overstayed my welcome and he’s done ‘patronizing’ me. I learned later on what this word meant; I think it fits the context of the situation. Regardless, the man gives a heavy sigh. “Kid, how old are you?”
“Nine. I turned nine today.”
The man clicks his tongue a few times. “Your birthday’s today?”
“Yeah… well… it’s no big deal. It’s just a day. So when can I start?”
He walks over and puts his arm around me. It hasn’t sunk in this is one of those ‘rejection conversations’ I’d learn so much about later on in life. But hey, at least this guy didn’t have long blonde hair or anything. (He had none, ha!) “Kid, you have to be at least nineteen to start training. I can’t take you on right now. I love the spirit, the passion, the idea you came all this way at eight in the morning instead of opening up birthday presents at home, I really do. Come back to me in ten years. Until then, play some video games or something…”
“I like video games, yeah.” I reply quickly. “Game Boy is my favourite system. I usually don’t leave home without it… but wrestling, wrestling might be my biggest passion yet!”
I didn’t realize it but the man has walked me all the way back to the entrance doors. “Here’s my card.” He hands me a business card reading ‘Reed Young Sr., Owner & Wrestling Trainer’. “You’re welcome to check in from time-to-time. I can’t train you yet but if you want to… I don’t know… help me clean this place, we can figure something out, okay?”
I don’t know what to say. I’m pretty sure he can see how happy that made me. Yeah, my dream about training to be a wrestler is postponed but the idea I could do other stuff… well, I could think of more depressing things! In the end, this was a pretty sick offer!
“Now go run along.” Mr. Young says to me. “Enjoy your birthday. Ask your mom for a GameCube or something. I hear they’re all the rage. That’s what my son plays these days, that and the Sony PlayLocation thing or whatever it’s called.”
“Thank you Mr. Young!” I remark as he pushes me out the door.
December 17th, 2001
Back home in the living room, I am situated directly in front of the television screen. My dad is at work and my mom is back and forth between the kitchen and the laundry room. My two older brothers… well, I don’t know where my oldest brother is but my other brother is sitting behind me on the couch, sprawled out, not really caring what’s going on.
“It’s almost time… it’s almost time…” I keep saying quietly to myself, although I’m being louder than I intend to.
“Honey, did you clean your room this morning?” My mom sticks her head into the living room.
“Yes, mom.” I lie, I didn’t.
“Good, dear. Then when your father gets home you can open your presents.” She says as she leaves the room.
“Pfft.” I turn to my brother Tyler and give him a head nod. “I don’t care what mom and dad got me… look what I scored.”
And then I pull them out. All day I’ve been holding onto them in my pocket for this very moment.
Five packs of IWO wrestling cards.
Tyler rolls his eyes. He remains disinterested as he says, “whatever loser. I don’t care about wrestling.”
But he’d come around. It took a few more years but he did.
I scoff at my brother before I spin back to the television screen. The show is about to start…
The replay of last night’s IWO show.
The voice on the TV is heard… “WELCOME to another edition of IWO and we have an action-packed line up for you tonight!”
The names on the card are relayed but I have tuned them out. I only care for one…
“And in the MAIN EVENT, [name not focused on] takes on HIGH FLYER in what is sure to be an outstanding battle!”
It’s funny because even though I am covering the entire television screen by sitting in front of it, I swear I can see Tyler’s reflection behind me. His head perks up ever-so-slightly upon the mention of the IWO legend… but then, trying to maintain that “cool” level of composure, it goes back down.
As I wait for the main event, I’ve decided I can’t hold out any longer in terms of the IWO trading cards that are in front of me. I open the first pack.
“No… no… no…” I start shuffling through them. It’s a pack of ten cards. “No… no… no… no… no… no… no.”
I open the next one.
And the next one.
Let’s fast-forward to pack #5. “No… no… no.” Disappointed but not devastated, I know there’s one card left in the pack and still no sign of who I was looking for. I close my eyes and pull the card out… slowly opening them to see…
“Damn.” I snap my fingers. “Another Tony Davis. That makes eight Tony’s.”
I place the Tony Davis cards in their own stack as I focus on the TV. The main event is not on yet. … … … That’s when I realize there’s an additional IWO package, seemingly stuck to the last deck I opened. There’s no way Barry made this mistake. He gave me an extra one… on purpose???
In fact, as I investigated further, he did indeed.
“Happy birthday, Conor.” Says a small little note, held in-between a piece of tape, ensuring this surprised sixth pack of trading cards was stuck to the fifth one so I wouldn’t notice in the store.
“Thanks Mr. Barry!” I exclaim.
I open the deck. Although the first six cards were not what I was looking for (and three more Tony Davis’ by the way)… the seventh card…
“Oh my God…” I exclaim. “Bingo!”
There, in my hands, was the wrestler who was also making his way out in the main event as I shifted my eyes between both versions of…
“We don’t know if he’s in a calm state of mind!” Says the announcer through the television screen. “Jack could be playful and fun or reckless and dangerous! I guess we’ll find out momentarily!”
My memory fades from this point. I’m not sure if High Flyer made his opponent bleed and beg for mercy, or if he had an Aerial 101 on display. Either way, I know I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t remember my presents. I don’t remember the rest of my birthday… but I remember getting my hands on that High Flyer trading card and one day hoping I’d go toe-to-toe with the legend…
And here we are.
It’s all true, Jack… but I feel like you knew that by now. We’ve had a few (very) minor run-ins in the past, although none of this has been brought up before.
I didn’t join HOW to find you specifically but it is certainly a cool bonus. You were one of my major influences… and now, my friend… I am calling on you once more.
Let’s set up expectations for the match. You can understand where I’m coming from and I’ll leave the rest for you to decide.
WHAT I WANT…
The Lunatic. No funzies, no sugar coating. Bring your A Game and all those voices inside your head. I know you are searching for your reboot story and I so badly want you to take down John Sektor at Iconic. The Best Alliance is an evil group. They don’t deserve the success they have gotten. Sektor may be a legend in HOW but you are a legend in life. You’ve travelled the system starting at 8-bit, all the way to 4K.
WHAT I NEED…
I’ll be blunt. I need to see my own blood again, Jack. Jatt made me bleed. Scott made me bleed. This seems to be a recent trend developing and yet… it’s like I can’t remember the details.
Is my blood red?
I thought it would be green.
Either way, I need you to inflict some pain.
Both at the same time would be wonderful.
I have to show Scottywood I am not someone to be messed with. It’s unlikely he gets that message but any STAB in the right directly couldn’t hurt.
Wait, yes it could…
giGGle giGGle giGGle
WHAT YOU’LL GIVE ME…
A good fight.
If you need motivation, tell yourself all I did was rip on you. Tell yourself I didn’t respect you, that I smack-talked your ass into next week. Lie to yourself. Say I’m looking past you. Say I wanted the Tony Davis cards and not the High Flyer one…
Or I could play video games and you could rip on me for that.
giGGle giGGle giGGle
Jeez, I gotta stop laughing like this. Perhaps I’m The Lunatic now. However, as long as you bring YOUR Neighbourhood Lunatic in full force, I’m sure we’ll have no problem.
I don’t have many chances to make a statement. Sure, I can load up on Lives and Continues. That’s no problem, my friend.
But someone as twisted as this Scottyman is… their gaze can only last for so long.
He ambushed me and in many ways, I guess I ambushed him.
I digress, Jack. I laid out the expectations. I hope you can deliver.
But if you need a short and sweet recap, I can be clear one, more, time.
Hurt me, Jack, my hero.
Make me bleed. Inflict pain. Make me suffer in the dark abyss. I’ll get you ready for John Sektor… and you steer me off in the right direction for Scotty.
Hurt me, Jack, please.
I’m begging you.