April 8, 2022
Buffalo, New York
The incessant pounding at the door takes a while but eventually wakes David from a deep sleep. For him, a good night’s rest only comes every once in a blue moon, and this happens to be one of those times. As the back of his hands rubs the sleep out of his eyes, he sits up and feels the cold wood against his back.
‘What? Who is it?’ he mumbles through a stifled yawn. He should know who is at the door, but the fog surrounding his brain is too much for him to put thoughts together.
‘Hey,’ Lorelai begins. ‘Sorry to wake you. Eliza just texted me. You should check your phone.’
A slight panic hits him in the chest, and he immediately feels the stupor he was in vanish. His eyes dart around the room, trying to find his cell phone.
‘What’s going on? Everything okay?’
There’s a slight pause. ‘Yeah. It’s not family-related. I don’t know how to talk to you about this stuff.’
‘W-what?’ he stutters, the adrenaline coursing through his veins at the thought of something terrible happening.
He shakes his head, and then his eyes land on his cell phone, somehow having ended up on the floor next to his bed. He reaches over and grabs it.
‘What are you talking about?’ David groans. He realizes he has several notifications, phone calls, and text messages as he looks at the phone. His right hand instinctively reaches to his scalp, and he scratches for what feels like forever.
‘I guess there was some big news last night? Did you fall asleep early?’
David opens his mouth and then quickly shuts it. He didn’t remember much of the day before, especially the evening before. Usually, when this happens, he knows to check his bed because he’d made a regrettable decision, but he was all alone.
Why had he fallen asleep so early and deeply? He pushes the thoughts out of his mind and unlocks his phone, trying to decipher the hundreds of notifications on the screen.
‘Anything or anyone I’m supposed to look for in particular?’
‘Yeah,’ Lorelai begins. ‘Look for Eliza’s text,’ she said.
He does this and begins to read it.
‘Congrats on your big match. Conor Fuse. For the World Championship. Next Sunday in Atlanta. We’ll all be rooting for you.’
David’s mouth opens, and it quickly shuts. Outside the door, Lorelai is standing there, unsure what is happening. A few seconds of silence pass before she hears the sound of something colliding hard with what she assumes is the wall. She jumps back in surprise, and then before she can do anything else, the door to the bedroom opens. Lorelai takes a quick look at David and realizes fury is written across his face; the gears in his brain are turning.
There is no way for her to know, though, that inside, self-doubt has set in. He remembers all the moments he’s come up short and how he would prepare himself physically and mentally, but it all was for naught. She can’t see the panic quickly settling across every inch of his body, the memories flooding in. Memories of disappointment and regret, not just for losing the match but also for everything between those moments.
‘Wait, what was that noise?’ she inquires before seeing the answer on the floor of his bedroom; his phone shattered.
‘I thought this was good news?’ Lorelai presses further, but David quickly shakes his head and runs his fingers through his hair before walking down the hallway towards the garage.
‘Get two plane tickets to Memphis for Sunday’s show. Credit card is on my nightstand,’ he sternly says.
He quickly yanks the door open and disappears from her sight. The garage has become his gym, and without warning, she hears the sound of fists slamming into what she can only assume is his heavy punching bag.
A small sigh escapes from her lips. ‘Well,’ she begins to an audience of none. ‘This is going to be a thing, I guess.’
* * *
November 1, 2006
A year after leaving home, David found himself in a gym with a ring in the center of it. Surrounding it was a series of workout machines, open spaces to stretch, and equipment. He’d spent every day in this gym simply because he lived here. Going from his parents’ home to this gym had been a journey, but being here now, this was the only place he felt safe.
As he stands there, a middle-aged man emerges from an office in the corner of the gym.
‘David, get in the ring.’
In his first week in this gym, David learned not to question Larry. He simply did what he was told, and that was it. Larry entered the ring and looked David up and down as he got in the ring.
‘You’ve been here for how long now?’
‘A year,’ David speaks softly.
Larry shakes his head. ‘Hey, fuckhead. I can’t fucking hear you. Speak up. Speak with some fucking confidence.’
‘A year,’ David responds, his voice louder though the tone wavering slightly. Larry shoots him a look, and David can feel the fury building in his chest, but it somehow remains constrained this time around.
‘Alright, hit the ropes and take me off my feet. Put everything you’ve got into it.’
David does as he is told, his body screaming at him as he feels the bruises on his back each time he hits the ropes and slams his body into his wrestling coach. Each shot barely budges Larry, and David can only feel the frustration in his arms. At nineteen years old, David is barely 165 pounds soaking wet. Even though he’d been in the gym every day, his body simply wasn’t developing at the rate he thought it would. It didn’t matter how much he lifted or worked out; it was all for naught.
‘Come on, pussy,’ Larry yells at him. ‘Knock me off my fucking feet!’
David roars off the ropes again, ignoring the nagging pain, and throws his body into Larry as hard as possible. Larry doesn’t budge, though, and instead, David finds himself lying on the mat. David immediately closes his eyes, upset at himself.
‘Fucking hell,’ Larry mumbles. As David opens his eyes, he can see the tirade waiting for him simply by looking at Larry’s eyes. Before he can begin, the door to the gym opens, and Larry’s head spins around.
‘Hey, we’re closed to outsiders,’ Larry roars, walking to the south edge of the ring.
‘Hell,’ a voice explodes in the gym. ‘Tony, did you get us lost?’ The man, with a mohawk, looks over to a more prominent man with a Game Boy in his hands. David slowly sits up and looks at the two men, standing side by side. He looks confused for a moment before he recognizes them.
Jack Harmen, otherwise known as High Flyer.
‘Holy shit,’ David mutters. He slowly stands up as Larry looks over at David and then at Jack.
‘I know you two, right?’ Larry continues to roar across the gym. ‘You two, I’ve seen you on TV before.’
David shakes his head. ‘That’s High Flyer. That’s Tony Davis. That’s Team VIAGRA.’
Larry smiles as he looks over at David. ‘Alright, don’t go creaming your pants.’ As he stands there, though, David can’t believe he is in the same room as two people he’s watched on television week in and week out.
‘Sorry,’ Jack continues. ‘My… partner… over here seems to have gotten us lost. But, look, we need a place to train. We got a show in town. Is it okay if we work out here and get some reps in?’
Larry shrugs his shoulders. ‘Kid over here seems enamored with you two, so it would be rude of me to turn you away. Maybe you can give him some pointers. Can’t even knock me off my feet with a shoulder tackle.’
Jack chuckles. ‘That kid? He looks pretty skinny. You look twice his size. I’m not surprised, in all honesty.’ Tony says nothing as he continues to game away and just sits down in the middle of the floor. As he does, David notices a third person with them; a woman. She has bright red hair that is tied into a tight ponytail. She is wearing a pair of glasses and looks to be reviewing a few documents in her arms.
David feels like time freezes around him as he looks at her.
‘Jack, I think you need to look at your contract a bit closer. You have to compete tonight or else—’
Jack shakes his head. ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s standard shit. Compete tonight, or we cut off your balls. Do you know how many times I’ve been threatened to have my balls cut off? A lot, and they’re still there. I think. Hold on, let me go check.’
He walks away from the beautiful redhead. She looks up, and her eyes lock upon David.
‘Hi,’ she greets him meekly.
He opens his mouth but immediately finds no words coming out.
A small laugh comes out of her mouth. ‘I’m Mary-Lynn.’
Larry looks over at David and shakes his head. ‘His name is David. But, unfortunately, he’s a mute.’
Mary-Lynn looks over at Tony. ‘Yeah, I know that life far too well sometimes with this one.’
Larry glares at David. ‘Alright, kid. Hit the ropes again. See if you can make me feel like you’ve got some strength in your body.’
He moves to the center of the ring while David looks out at Mary-Lynn. She just stands there, perplexed by this statue of a man, not speaking or moving in the least bit.
David immediately shakes his head, coming out of his stupor, and looks over at Larry.
‘Hit the ropes, fuckhead!’
David swallows hard, closes his eyes, and then nods his head. He immediately bounces off the ropes, feeling all of the rage inside while Mary-Lynn looks on. Then, suddenly, David turns on the ropes and slams his body into Larry. Hitting Larry any other time feels like hitting a brick wall. This time though, it feels like the easiest thing in the world.
Then there is a loud thud heard, and David looks to find Larry on the floor, shock etched into his face.
‘Holy shit,’ Larry mutters. He slowly sits up and looks at David.
‘Alright, kid, that’s what I’m fucking talking about.’
David looks at Larry and then back at Mary-Lynn, sheepish. Every fear in his body is immediately gone when he sees her smiling at him.
‘Mind if I get in the ring with you?’
He shrugs his shoulders. ‘Fine with me.’
She slides in under the bottom rope. ‘Alright, let’s do this.’
* * *
April 10, 2022
Memphis, TN – FedEx Forum
David drops the microphone in the middle of the ring and storms out, his chest heaving as he does. He feels anger like he’s never felt before as he goes backstage. There are several stagehands in the area. None feel like getting near him, considering the incendiary promo he has just unleashed.
As he emerges through the curtain, Lorelai stands there, her arms folded across her chest. A few of the stagehands were chatting her up just a moment ago, but they quickly changed their tune when they found she’s David Noble’s daughter.
David doesn’t stop as he walks through the curtain, and Lorelai rushes to keep up with him.
‘That was… something,’ she tells him. ‘I mean, wow. Some of the guys back here stopped and looked at the monitors in shock. Are you going to be in trouble?’
He shakes his head as they disappear down a hallway towards a doorway to the parking lot.
‘You seem rather upset. Do you want to talk about it? I mean, you’ve been pissed for days now. That doesn’t seem healthy.’
David glances over at her. ‘People fucking around and playing stupid games, and I’m the one that has to deal with it.’
She nods her head. ‘That’s fair, but shouldn’t you be happy? You have a World Championship shot. This should feel like the best feeling ever, right?’
David stops and looks at her. For the first time in days, she sees his eyes soften like they usually do when he looks at her. ‘You would think so, huh?’
He wraps his arm around her, intending to leave it at that. But instead, they walk towards the door to the parking garage, leaving her unaware as she was before.
* * *
August 16, 2009
Boston, MA – Fenway Park
Deep in the recesses of Fenway Park, David Noble sits on a steel folding chair and is leaning against a cold, stone wall. His head is down, eyes closed, and he replays the match he’d had earlier in the evening against Jonathan Rhine and Chainz. He can still feel the chain wrapped around his leg, tied to the ring, as he had to watch Chainz pin Rhine and take the Intense Title, a victory he had in his grasp and then violently taken from him.
He’d had the chance and failed. The story of his life.
As he leans there, he’s unaware of a certain beautiful redhead standing before him. She searched the arena for the better part of half an hour. Then, finally, she stumbled upon him without even thinking this was where he’d be. She runs her palm against his left cheek, cupping it slightly. He doesn’t open his eyes, but his left-hand wraps the outside of hers and pulls her into him.
‘It’s okay,’ she mutters, her voice soft and calming. ‘You will have another chance at this.’
He shakes his head. ‘You don’t know that. You out of everyone should know that nothing is promised.’
‘What I do know is that you are determined beyond all measure, and your star is only getting brighter from day to day, show to show. I’ve seen you these last few years compete with the best and prove yourself night in and night out.
‘And what do I have to show for it?’
He finally opens his eyes and sees a smile on her face. ‘I don’t know; I’m a catch if I say so myself.’
David chuckles. ‘That’s fair.’
‘Tonight just was not meant to be your night. You’re still figuring it out in that ring, and you went against a legend in Rhine and a maniacal, sadistic asshole that rivals Jack in some ways in Chainz. You’re not done, not by the stretch of any imagination. Those fans, they know you’ve got it.’
He takes the palm of her hand and kisses it softly. The way she makes him feel, he could go out there and fight Rhine and Chainz again. This time, he could win.
‘I don’t deserve you.’
She chuckles. ‘Oh, don’t I know it.’ She then leans in and kisses the top of his head. ‘Don’t beat yourself up over this. Don’t let this bring you down. You’ve climbed the mountain before. You’ll do it again. I will be there to help make sure you do.’
At first, there is no response, but then he slowly nods his head.
‘Good,’ she whispers. ‘Now, why don’t you take me out on a date, and we can go back to our hotel.’
He slowly stands up, wrapping his arms around her. ‘I like that idea.’
‘I thought you would. Your time will come, David, I promise you that.’
She wraps her hand around his and drags him out of the darkness, not for the first time, certainly not for the last time.
* * *
[The following is a transcript of the April 12th edition of the WrestleTalk show, aired lived on SiriusXM radio]
Wade Ross Sapp: Alright, this one we had to work for pretty hard, ladies and gents, but on the phone right now is David Noble, who will be wrestling against Conor Fuse for the HOW World Championship this upcoming Sunday down in Hotlanta. David, thanks for taking ten minutes to talk with us.
David Noble: Not a problem.
WRS: So, I know we only have a little time here. I would love to talk to you about your contract negotiations and your comments about Michael Oliver Best and Michael Lee Best. Still, I know what everyone wants to hear. Conor Fuse.
DN: What about him?
WRS: Well, you went in on him on Sunday evening.
DN: Lot of that was emotion. Look, I like Conor.
WRS: I don’t think there is any doubt about that.
DN: So, what’s your question?
WRS: You’re in a match with him come Sunday. You could be the new HOW World Champion when it is all said and done.
DN: You’re really earning your money here.
WRS: [laughs] Alright, smart guy. Let’s take your comments about him not picking you in the draft.
DN: He didn’t pick me. What is there to talk about?
WRS: Well, you seemed pretty pissed about it.
DN: I’m pissed because I would’ve picked him. I would’ve had his back at that moment. I said many things from the heart, but that doesn’t mean I’m holding a grudge against the guy. He did what he had to do. His actions simply led to this match on Sunday.
WRS: They did. Are you mentally ready for a match against Fuse?
DN: Yeah, why wouldn’t I be? It’s not like you can just erase the hell we went through in the months before. It’s not like you can just forget about nearly capturing the Maurako Cup. It’s not like you can just make those things vanish.
WRS: So, after Sunday, you two will be boys again? Partners? Even though you’re on opposite ends of the ring at War Games?
DN: Well, I guess it depends on how everything works out on Sunday, you know?
WRS: Can you explain?
DN: I mean, it’s a championship match. A pretty anticipated one at that. One of us will be the champion coming out of that match. It might be me. It might be him. I can’t speak for Conor after the match. He might be upset about how the match plays out; he might be upset if he loses. All I can control is myself and what the next steps are that come after that.
WRS: So, you will be okay regardless of the outcome?
DN: You’re asking the right guy. I have nothing to lose. I’m going into this match a massive underdog. Look at the odds; I’m confident I’ll be plus 500. If I win, it’s an enormous surprise. If I lose, it’s no skin off my nose.
DN: I can’t speak for Conor, you know? He wins; he did what he was expected to do. He loses; there might be animosity there. I will have taken his title, his spot. Even if he wins, he might not be happy with how he had to do it. Or the lengths to which I will go to win the title. I know how I’m going to be coming out of the match. You need to ask Conor what his mindset will be coming out of Sunday.
WRS: The way I’m hearing it, you think Conor won’t want to be friends after this?
DN: I’m not Conor. I can’t answer that. As you can tell, he makes the decisions in our partnership, and I just have to go along with it. [beat] Alright, gotta get back to working out, preparing for this match.
WRS: Fair enough; thanks for your time, and good luck this Sunday in Hotlanta!
* * *
November 18, 2014
New Orleans, Louisiana
Noble sat outside the DEFIANCE Wrestle*Plex, leaning against the wall, his head in his hands. Next to him is a bottle of liquor wrapped in a paper bag. The side of his head is throbbing, his ribs ginger. He reaches over, takes a swig, and groans as the liquor slides down his throat.
As he sits there for a moment, the New Orleans air hitting him, he feels anger build in his chest cavity. Then, the backdoor opens a moment later, and out steps that trusty redhead, though she has bandages around her head. Wearing a tan peacoat, she puts her hands in her pocket and looks down at David.
‘I appreciate your help tonight,’ she says in a pained voice. ‘Those three will be in for a rude awakening when Jack gets their hands on them.’
David looks over at Mary-Lynn and smiles before she sits down next to him.
‘I’m just glad you’re okay.’
She shrugs her shoulders. ‘You figure out how to manage week in and week out when you’re in this line of business. Plus, I work with Jack. So it’s always going to be like this whether I like it or not.
She reaches over and grabs the bottle, places it on her lips, and takes a tiny sip. The moment it touches her lips, her face cringes, and she shakes her head.
‘Oh, I have no idea how you drink this stuff. I feel like I’m half drunk already.’
David laughs before he takes a sip of his own.
‘Well, it helps with the demons.’
She shakes her head once again. ‘You and your demons. Let’s not tonight, okay? It would be nice to just have my friend for a night without… everything.’ She looks over at him. ‘I haven’t seen you in five years, and it hurts like hell. Don’t forget that.’
David nods his head. ‘I get it; I really do.’
‘And that shit you’re doing in the ring?’ her right thumb points towards the Wrestle-Plex. ‘Stop doing that shit. Whatever it is, you keep losing. You don’t have time for that shit.’
‘You’re telling me,’ he mutters.
‘Then stop it. You look lost, without confidence.’
He slowly nods his head.
‘At least I can always count on you to keep it real.’
She grabs the liquor bottle and takes another swig, her right eye closing as she feels it against her tongue. She leans into him, clutching the bottle, hoping the night will take the two of them away.
‘Always, David. Always.’