I may have lost…
… I almost died…
… but that was fun.
Cold dank and musty. Exactly the kind of place one would love to rehab injuries from open wounds. Surely, no sane man would remain in this dingy, backlot sound stage from the 1940s.
A little history of this nice little hovel hole in Hollywood… for those film buffs out there. The Paramount Studios backlot has been around for over a decade, dating back to the early 1900s. Very secure, and at this late time of night, almost empty. A few shows have night crew, who occasionally roam the streets enjoying their evening smoke. Security guards passing by on golf carts, shining their flashlights. Empty fake buildings surrounded by empty fake people.
But in one stage, Stage 32, the same stage used for such classic films as the Godfather, or tv shows like Star Trek and Community, Jack Harmen’s rented out a little slice of paradise.
No, he’s not filming anything. The only stories he has to tell are in the ring. No, the silence, the peace of the backlot at the end of a busy and loud day has a soothing effect. Not to mention, the Hollywood cemetery just on the other side of the back exit.
He’s told Mary-Lynn he now has a nice ghost friend.
The sound stage is empty, minus one small room that’s been wheeled in here on a platform. For those that are fans of Community, you might know this room as the Imaginarium. For those who are not familiar, it’s a small constructed sound stage of a room with black tiles and white grout, covered from floor to ceiling. Truly, it’s empty, except for what you imagine.
Squatting in the corner, back perched up against the wall is Jack Harmen, better known to the wrestling world as High Flyer. He gingerly rubs his wounded leg, taped up with an immense amount of bandages. His face obscured by his long flowing hair, and the scene is sharply lit so the side of Harmen furthest from the camera is obscured. There’s a deep inhale, before an extremely long but slow exhale. Flyer pulls ever the smallest amount of strands of hair out of his face so just his one eye looks toward the camera.
He pulls both hands up to cover his mouth, as one hand clenches the other’s fist.
The corner of his nostril flares ever so subtly.
High Flyer: I just need to get this off my chest. Max Kael is no coward. We are blood brothers, whether he likes it or not. But, he truly broke me. And then, I looked to the heavens, I saw the arena lights. I heard the three count. But what I heard in that moment?
Flyer throws both hands out like he’s a Saturday morning preacher.
High Flyer: It was the voice of God. And God chanted. He called forth his avenging angel, the man named DEACON…
Just the mere mention of Deacon sent a shiver down Flyer’s spine. He tried to stifle it, but it was clearly noticeable.
High Flyer: I still don’t believe it…
Flyer trails off, his eyes glossing over ever so slightly. He almost shrinks into himself. After a few moments, Flyer snaps out of it, looking at the camera.
High Flyer: But I can’t worry myself with Deacon. I can’t. I’ve got a match with MJ Flair. We’ve got to all stick it to Mike Best. The Industry has to be united…
Flyer shakes his head.
High Flyer: But how can we remain a united force when we’re divided amongst ourselves, required to square off in that squared circle. How can I remain impartial to violence? How can I hold back?
Flyer hides his face back into the shadows.
High Flyer: No. No. This is why I came to HOW as High Flyer. I didn’t come here as Jack Harmen. I didn’t come as Thirteen. I came as the happy joyful superstar of the nineties. The highest of fliers. The craziest of Lunatics. I didn’t come as the destructive wave. I came to live out the rest of my career… to show that I was still loved. That I loved others. That I wasn’t always so selfish. That I was a good person.
Flyer nods as he hugs himself.
High Flyer: I think I’m a good person.
High Flyer: But everyone thinks they’re a good person. Please. Tell me. HOW. Tell me. Please let me know if I’m a good person. I try to be. I want to be. I think. But I’m not. I’m not a good person. I can’t be…. Deacon…
High Flyer looks up to the camera, revealing both sides of his face. We see now, one of Harmen’s eyes, the one struck repeatedly by Max Kael’s Brow Beater, has an extended pupil that almost looks like a cloud. The white usually surrounding a iris is a scratched red.
His good eye looks directly into the camera, sincere, focused, requesting empathy. The bad one?
It doesn’t seem to react at all…
The pupil just… sort of… floats there.
High Flyer: Do you think I’m a good person?
Tears begin to well up, but only form and drip from his good eye.
High Flyer: MJ… am I a good person?
He closes both eyes. His mouth curls and flinches in pain.
High Flyer: I hope… I hope I am.
There’s a deep sigh.
High Flyer: I want to be at least…
Dan Ryan’s music plays in the background.
Our match must be over, it’s Dan and Cecil now. I can tell something’s wrong. I can’t stop blinking. This is ICONIC. Ow. My leg. I smell sterile, so I must be with the meds. God knows where Max Kael is. I’m sure he has some North Kaelian doctors on standby to patch him up. Add some metal and nuclear material to turn him into an A-Bomb. Whatever. Doesn’t matter. That was fun. But leg hurts… Lost lots of blood… LOTS… Where am I? I can’t see straight… My left side is blurry. Why can’t I see my right hand?
Wait. Deacon. I saw Deacon. Or did I? How much blood did I lose. Where am I? What year is it? Did Benton Cross do something to me?
Oh right. Dan Ryan’s music. Yes. I hope he beats Cecil.
Wait. Did 1999 me do something to me?
Already happened. Can’t stop it. I have a feeling I didn’t beat Max. I know Lindz lost to Best. Means Mike Best controls his own fate. Probably going to do some shenanigans. Said the Industry will fight each other.
Can’t think about that now.
Why can’t I see my right hand?
“Get away from me!” I shout as I shove the closest person away from me. I stumble off, landing face first into what I can only presume is a wall. Either that, or HOW just hired a beast of a wrestler. “I can’t be here.” I can’t. It’s true. I fumble on the wall like a teenager in the backseat of his car on prom night tryin’ to unclasp. I don’t know what I touched, but I hope I’m not part of the me too movement now.
Whatever. Get those quacks away from me. If I only get 72k a year, I bet med bay makes that as a department. Bunch of med school drop outs.
Where’s Iris? She knows how to take care of someone hurt…
Where am I again?
I thought HOW didn’t travel.
I don’t know what city I’m in anymore.
Was that Deacon?
Why can’t I see my right hand?
“HEY!” I shout at the blob standing before me. “Where’s Deacon?” I say as I turn to him.
I just hear a shout. A shriek. I hear a few footsteps echo into the distance. He’s a wuss. Hasn’t ever seen a distended eye before. Maybe it’s out the socket. I don’t know. I can’t see it. I can’t feel it either. At least they got the drugs in first. Quacks.
Wait, no one here knows who Deacon even is. He never spoke. I might have just imagined him…
Was it really him?
No. Couldn’t be. I must have imagined it.
“Is Deacon here?” I say. “Do you know a Deacon?” I say again, no response. “Please tell me if you see Deacon.” Again, no response. “Alright. You probably just ran away.”
I keep fumbling on the corridor wall as I make my way to the sounds of the parking lot.
“If I touch you, it’s because I think you’re a wall!”
That’ll keep me safe.
I slam into another door. Wait, is this a door?
Why can’t I see? I mean, I can see shapes on my left side but…
And Mike Best is gonna make us fight each other in this invitational.
And I can’t see.
Was that really Deacon?
I feel metal on my hands, it has a give. I push, and it feels like one of those large warehouse doors. I enter another room, and I hear car engines starting up. A few only at first.
Did I make it out?
I mean, sound echoes a certain way. Hell, there’s even a smell difference in an underground parking structure.
Maybe I’m Daredevil now…
What city am I again?
I fumble with my phone. Why can’t I read my twitter?
Twitter would tell me if that was Deacon.
I click a button on my phone. “Bixby. Was that Deacon?”
I hear my phone reply back “If you’d like to set up Bixby, please proceed with the onscreen prompts.”
“Bixby! I can’t see you.”
I wait for a response. Nothing.
I throw my phone and it clatters in the distance. I instantly regret my impulsiveness.
I fall to my knees, one hand clutching my thigh, the other over my eye. My head throbs. My brain feels scrambled.
I’ve got to fight the Industry now. It’s me versus Troy. Me versus Ryan. Me versus Flair even…
Why can’t I see my hand?
I’ve got to fight Mike Best.
I get to fight Mike Best.
That was some violence. I’ve never felt more alive!
Was that really Deacon?
I could really use some help…
I lie down. I don’t care where I am. I just need… I need a few moments.
I need help.
I hear cars honk. I shout “FUCK YOU!” and I keep lying here.
The concrete’s cool to the touch.
I like it here.