The Monster from Plainview sat in the pilot chair of ‘The Coach’ as it rumbled along I-40 through Oklahoma. The radio was tuned to country music and Clay Byrd, for the first time in months, sat in the driver’s seat of the camper smiling. He had even begun to sing along with Garth Brooks.
“OOOOOH! I got friends in low places!” The Behemoth shouted, his ear to ear grin impossible to contain. Clay readjusted his Cancer Jiles BA shades as he continued careening down the interstate. His head still ached from the sunlight. The long lasting effects of the concussion were still there for Clay. Even if it was a month and a half since having his skull caved in by Mike Best. And now, the terrible Miracle Enterprises Sunglasses were on clearance.
“The whiskey drowns and the beer chases my bluuuueeeessss away!” The Monster from Plainview finally had his entire plan come to fruition against Teddy Palmer. Sure, it hadn’t gone exactly like he had planned it, but all the goals had been achieved. Leaving the bottle in Ted’s locker, knowing he didn’t have the will power or the fortitude to keep himself sober. The demands of main eventing, of being the top of the card, the punishment he had endured. It had all been too much for High Octane’s favorite Canadian.
“And I’ll be okay!” The constant pressure, leaving the bottle there for Ted. All of it had sent Teddy Palmer’s downward spiral in motion. John Sektor had made his brief, fluke appearance in the story and had seemingly altered the direction. He had wanted Clay to share in the glory, Sektor had wanted to take credit for all The Behemoth’s hard work. That’s why Refueled had gone the way it had. Clay wouldn’t share his revenge with anyone. Especially not with John Sektor.
Teddy Palmer had lost everything. His sobriety, his relationship with Ms. Troy, the LSD championship, his shot at the World Championship. Ted’s world had come crashing down on top of him, and Clay Byrd was there to make sure nobody could put the pieces back together. He thought back to Refueled, that glorious, fantastic scene in the hallway.
He had almost let Ted walk through that curtain; the original plan was to break Ted at Bottomline. But the scheme had worked too well, and Palmer had fallen apart far before that. A mentally weak Teddy Palmer should have been enough to take care of John Sektor. But Ted breaking early was one part that Clay hadn’t expected. So you have to adapt, you have to make changes. Destroying Ted at Bottomline meant sharing in the revenge, and revenge is a meal for one.
There was no need for Sektor to be involved, his pathetic reasoning for revenge didn’t matter to Clay. Sektor’s need for self validation would not supplant Clay Byrd’s need for maximum carnage. That trip off the broadside of the USS Octane, there had to be a reckoning for Teddy Palmer, the receipt that was given that day had finally come due.
The chair he had saved from the Octane, the one that Ted had used to smash over Clay’s skull for Lindsay Troy’s revenge. Clay had saved it for that exact moment, he had retrieved it from under the ring in Tokyo. That night it had remained unused, but at Refueled that was not the case. Whispering ‘Equal Rights Bitch’ in Teddy’s ear after three shots with a chair. It had taken a weight off of Clay’s shoulders. The end of the mission was in sight. The end of The Grapplers Local had finally been achieved. Each blow that Clay had rained down onto Teddy Palmer’s skull had washed Clay’s sins away. The Canadian’s blood acted as a baptism, cleansing away the months of anguish and disappointment.
So The Behemoth continued down I-40, with plans to return to the start of the journey. He’d return to his family home a conquering hero.
Johnny boy… I know I’ve been actin’ mighty different lately. I’ve been a bit out of sorts, obsessed with my revenge. Troubled with the plannin’, infatuated with the execution, engrossed with the details. Everythin’ had ta go perfectly.
And you jeopardized that, John.
Your impatience, your lust for short term gains imperiled my revenge. You inserted yourself into Ted and I’s blood feud, where you were an unwanted pest. A vermin that needed to be exterminated, that Ted needed to eliminate. Our mutual allegiances left me with no choice but ta allow you ta continue meddlin’ in affairs you couldn’t possibly comprehend. I had ta watch as ya took advantage of the positions I put Ted in. For my own safety John, I had ta let yer situation play out. I had ta react and adapt, I had ta continue ta prepare knowin’ that yer interference was a detriment.
Ted and I’s relationship was complicated, John.
Much more complicated than our own.
We don’t like each other. That much is clear at this point. Most people think it started when the war ended, when all we had ta do was clean up the remains of The Grapplers. Punishin’ the last few bands of miscreants and vagrants, beatin’ them inta submission.
But let’s be real with each other for a minute, hermano. We haven’t liked each other for much, much longer than that. The people who are smarter than that, who can reach back and remember that night I was tossed off the Octane might think it started with that cute little promo you cut with Jatt. You were jealous of me then, John. Ya made it crystal clear, before I had even had my first encounter with Teddy ya were tryin’ ta set yerself up ta be next in line.
But that wasn’t where it started, was it, John? When Lee had gone out and decided that he liked his new toy better than his old ones wasn’t the moment. When Jatt started… well, whatever it was Jatt was doin’, I think it might have been tryin’ ta bang my imaginary sister.
But that wasn’t the moment either, was it? That’s not when John Sektor had drawn the line in the sand ‘bout his feelin’s on Clay Byrd. Some would look at that night ya and Jatt worked the boys in that card game. Clay Byrd was mysteriously absent from the festivities. Sure, ya had texted me the night of, minutes before ya sat down at the card table. ‘Member that night, John? You, Harrison, Jatt, Hughie, and Solex runnin’ amok on the town? Excludin’ me like we were in high school and I wasn’t allowed ta sit at the table with the cool kids.
But that wasn’t it either, John. That was just a symptom. A symptom of the actual disease. The affliction that burned inside of ya, that ate at yer insides. Someday Sek, this’ll be the answer ta a crossword puzzle.
Why does John Sektor hate Clay Byrd? When did the animosity start? Refueled 49 John boy, it was at Refueled 49. Sure, it wasn’t a wrasslin’ match John. It wasn’t your specialty, but that moment I knocked you out in that cage was the moment John Sektor’s ire for Clay Byrd started. I’m sure at March to Glory when Lee and I made our deal ya were fumin’. Because it was at that moment you saw the writin’ on the wall: John Sektor was no longer the alpha of The Best Alliance.
So here we are John, here we fuckin’ are. Two boys who were out huntin’ starin’ down the barrel at the same target, and I shot first. I pulled the trigger and put Ted Palmer down, because I had ta. I had ta do it ta keep myself sane. I had ta rob ya of that moment, of that personal vindication. Fer me John, there wasn’t ‘nother way. There wasn’t an option where I could look at Ted fuckin’ Palmer tappin’ out in a stretch and feel satisfaction. There wasn’t an option where I could stand ta see ya victorious at Bottomline.
So I took it from you.
It won’t be the only thing I take from ya John. We’re gonna start with the championship that should be ‘round my waist. As much as the record books say it, Ted Palmer did not defeat me at War Games. I kept Ted Palmer’s shoulders to the mat fer a three count. I kept his shoulders there till the bitter end. I may have been unconscious, but even unconscious my body was programmed fer one thing: Keep Ted Palmer’s shoulders on the mat. And I did exactly that.
Sek, hermano, amigo, friend. We’ve both changed since Refueled 49. I’ve been in High Octane now fer eight months, and I want ta tell ya somethin’. Ya were right, only the strong can survive here. Only the battle tested, the fuckin’ true warriors can survive in High Octane. I’ve proven myself, I prove it every night. I proved it when I took Cancer Jiles out like the garbage he fuckin’ is. I proved it when I smashed Lester Moregrimes inta a bloody pulp, and I proved it when I destroyed Ted Palmer.
I belong in High Octane John, that’s the thing ya were wrong ‘bout all them months ago. I belong here, I’ve bled for Lee Best just like ya have. I’ve gone ta war fer Lee Best, I’ve been thrown off a boat fer Lee Best, I’ve smashed the Grapplers fer Lee Best, and I’ve taken out the fuckin’ garbage fer the man.
I do what I’m asked, John. I do exactly what I’m asked. Lee Best wanted to make sure the LSD Championship stayed within The Best Alliance? Problem solved. That’s what I do, that’s what my skill is. As big and as strong as I am, I’m a problem solver. I see the pieces ta the puzzle, and I go outta my way ta make sure we put it together perfectly.
I didn’t just defeat Ted Palmer like you did.
I destroyed him.
I did it because I was asked.
What do ya think my instructions are for you?
Interesting predicament we have here isn’t it?
Lee Best hasn’t told me directly ta make sure ya don’t come back, but I can read between the lines John. I can read the sentences hidden in the words. Lee Best knows that we do not like each other. Lee Best knows that we do not get along. Lee Best knows that we would love to kill each other.
So I know my instructions John. It’s killed or be killed in that ring. There’s no Carribean vacation on the line, there’s no endless nights sittin’ in a beach chair starin’ at the stars. It’s the right ta be the conductor of the violence. The right ta be the right hand of GOD. The executioner who destroys based on his will.
I want that, John. I want that LSD Title. I want it all.
And I’ll fuckin’ take it at Bottomline.
The Behemoth spun the steering wheel of ‘The Coach’ like a school bus driver turning at a stop sign. He hadn’t realized it, but subconsciously the pedal had been almost to the floor the second he started seeing the signs for Plainview, Texas. From the time he was in college, until he had returned to live at home to take care of his father; Clay loved coming home to the ranch. Boys in the barn training to be men, working on holds and moves, his father bellowing out commands and encouragement, criticism and ire. Sure his father wouldn’t be there, but Claude would follow the program. That was the deal when Clay had left.
He looked to his right as he drove up the road. He had just passed the Miller’s farm, and knew he’d be coming up on the old fence soon enough. He cranked the window down and smelled the air, the Texas heat hit him first, but the smell of the country was next. It was a distinct smell: grass, pollen, a slight twinge of farm animals.
It smelled like home.
As Clay came around a bend and went across a bridge he could barely make out the old fence line. The hay grass was far too high to be useful, and obscured the fence. Clay punched the dash, the ranch produced thousands of dollars in bales every year. Another manner of keeping the income flowing into the wrestling school. Claude’s apathetic nature towards the chores around the ranch had frustrated Clay.
“He was still the best choice,” The Behemoth mumbled as he rolled down the lane. Choosing to keep his eyes on the road now, the grass pulled him in his peripheral vision. His headache had creeped up on him, the brief moment of anger caused his head to begin to throb. His first thoughts were to rip Claude apart, maim him over the loss. Make him understand the financial implications for the ranch…
But Clay was in far too good of a mood for that. He had eliminated Teddy Palmer two nights ago. He had smashed him into submission, destroyed him with his bare hands. That was enough, that had fed The Monster from Plainview. The two men would need to have a talk about Claude’s commitment to the ranch, make sure the boys staying there earned their keep and put in the work.
It was everything Clay had been trying to avoid by going back to work. The administrative duties, the mindless droning, the apathetic nature of everyone around him with the farm. He had left to get away from it all, and here, now, it came storming back as he pulled up to the driveway.
“Son of a bitch,” Clay mumbled, the grass around the house that his father had meticulously manicured for years was just as high as the hay grass. He could hear his father’s voice in the back of his head as he stared. He’d asked his Dad as a young boy, why he had to cut the grass around the house, why couldn’t they just let it grow like the rest of the farm.
‘It’s what separates us from the animals,” Clay smirked to himself as he pulled into the long, winding driveway. He’d save that line for Claude later if he asked.
The driveway hadn’t been maintained the way it should have been, and Clay quickly found himself battling heavy ruts as he tried to make it up the path. The tires pulled this way, and that way. Struggling against the barely half a road. Finally, The Behemoth managed to pull the RV up onto the sides, away from where the spring rains had carved the lines into the driveway.
He could feel the hair on the back of his neck standing up, his face beginning to become red. The little voice in the back of his head, begging and pleading for him to rip his friend apart. He took a deep breath, calming himself down. In High Octane that voice was your friend, it would lead you to greatness. In the civilian world that voice led you to prison.
The Behemoth finally continued forward after the pain in his skull had finally subsided a bit. The #97Red glasses weren’t working like they normally did. He pulled up the drive, and caught a glimpse of the house on one of the bounces caused by the ruts. His foot pressed the pedal a little harder letting ‘The Coach’ dig in on the slight incline and straight away. Truthfully, he couldn’t wait to see everyone. Even if Claude had let the place go to shit, he was sure he would be impressed with the young men he was training. Including Clay’s own nephew Dalton.
He pulled up beside his black F250, he’d left it with Claude to use for the farm. It was filthy, covered in bird shit and stains from the rain. He slammed the RV into park and jumped out spinning around. None of it mattered, he was finally home.
“HELLO!” The Behemoth bellowed. Normally the trainees would come running to see who had just shown up. He walked over to the red barn and noticed the giant padlock on the barn doors. He walked around to the side door. Stepping through the overgrown grass. Peering through his sunglasses looking for snakes.
“That’s odd…” Clay said as he tried the side door. Based on the high grass, it seemed nobody had used the door since the spring. The Behemoth spun on his heels and walked back the way he came, heading towards the house. His brisk walk quickly turned into a jog, then a sprint. His heart began to pound, in succession with his skull. Each second felt like it took minutes. The forty foot run to the door felt like it lasted forever. He twisted the doorknob.
“Dammit!” he shouted. He’d never seen this door locked in the entirety of his thirty-eight years on the planet. Clay fumbled with his keys trying to remember which one went to the front door.
“What the fuck… what the fuck…” The Behemoth kept stammering as he ripped through the key ring trying different keys. Finally he found the key that fit, his panic elevating, his breathing escalated, his face flush again. The Monster twisted the key and the knob at once. He stepped through the door and walked straight through a cobweb.
“Where the fuck is everyone?”