David sat at the edge of a bed that previously belonged to his father and felt the exhaustion as it settled into his bones. The moonlight peeked through the blinds in the room while planted firmly on the hardwood floor were his feet. Before him, a series of boxes his sisters left for him to go through. A sigh escaped his lips as he inched forward and grabbed the box closest to him, placing it by his feet. He began to pull item after item out of it, trinkets his father collected over the years, charms that held no sentimental value to a man who, up until his father’s dying breath, operated under the belief his father hated him with a burning passion.
He knew that to no longer be the case, though it was challenging to put thirty-plus years of history aside and look at their relationship through a new lens. As he rummaged through this box of miscellaneous items, he wondered how his father would’ve reacted at the sight of his one and only son bashing his knee across the skull of an unsuspecting John Sektor. He wondered what his father would’ve made of him aligning himself with a man like Lee Best in the name of exacting revenge.
David would never receive the answer to those questions, and the life he lived with his father would shed no light upon them either. So instead, he remembered all the disappointments his father laid at his feet and figured this would be no different.
His fingers wrapped around a black satin cloth, wrapped around a wooden box. David lifted it out of the box and looked at it, interest piquing him quite intensely. He slowly unwrapped it and looked at the carved wooden box, which fit perfectly in the palm of his hand. David looked around the box for a latch but found none. Instead, on the back were two hinges. On the top of the box was a sheet of glass, and as he looked through the top of it, he saw a compass with wording on the top third of it; it read Marine Compass.
His mind raced furiously to recall any memories of his father being a Marine but found nothing stored. He slowly opened the box and took the compass out of it before he placed the box on the bed next to him. The first thing David noticed was the weight of the metallic compass. He let it sit in his hand for a few moments, taking it in and studying the unique design of the face. To him, it looked like a wildflower in bloom. The cold metal brushed against his skin, and it felt untouched for quite some time. However, the compass contained a variety of nicks on the side, and David felt a divot on the back.
David turned it over, and on the back, he saw the divot and additional writing; Marine Pocket Compass, 1920. As he held it in the palm of his hand, his fingers ran along the grooved edge and found that it moved slightly. David applied additional pressure, and the entire compass spun in his hand. David continued to turn the back of the compass until it came apart, and he lifted it with his fingers to reveal some writing peeked through the back half of the compass. A coat of dust covered it, and David gently blew upon it until it showed the full text; a poem.
He took a closer look at it, noticing the weathered look the metal had taken over the years. The top of it read Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken. Slowly, he read the poem below.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
He remembered, vaguely, reading the poem when he was in high school, but academics never truly held him. He read the verses repeatedly, asking himself where the compass had come from and the importance it held for his father. He took the wooden box in his hand and ran over it, looking for an inscription of some sort, but found none.
David held the compass and found himself wondering about the mysteries contained within such an object and its history. As he leaned back in the bed, looking at the compass and the poem repeatedly, he found himself drifting off to sleep, but the poem was front and center of his mind as his heavy lids shut.
* * *
There are many thoughts I want to share as the seconds tick down upon the impending doom that is War Games. So many fans watched in horror as I took out John Sektor and signed a deal with the devil himself. They wondered what happened to David Noble to have taken him down that path, and in short order, there will be answers.
The reality is, though, this match at War Games weighs considerably upon my mind. I wonder if I subconsciously wanted it so much that I willed it into existence. First, Conor eliminated me from contention weeks ago. Then, out of nowhere, I have a match against Bobinette Carey. The winner of said match goes on to face Steve Harrison to open War Games for the LSD Championship. The winner of that match is then the LSD Championship and a member of Conor Fuse’s team.
Disappointingly, I lost that match as well. That one stung, but not nearly as much as the one against Conor did. Not because of the stakes at hand, but because of how much I built that match up in my head.
Then, I have a match with Brian Hollywood, and I pull out the victory. Did I know at that moment what would happen at the close of the evening? Not at all. The entire cacophony of events that unfolded to close Refueled 99 occurred in minutes, and I had a choice.
Take out John Sektor.
Align with Lee Best.
Sign a contract with him.
Become part of his War Games team.
I wish I could say the decision was one I wrestled with, which left me wrought afterward, but it did not. There was no hesitation at the offer. I never knew how badly I wanted to be in War Games until that moment, and taking out John Sektor was the icing on the proverbial cake. I could tell you how satisfying it was to feel the crush of his skull as it pressed against my knee, how gratifying it was to get penance for what he took from me at March to Glory, but I won’t. It is what is at the end of the day, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. I promise you that.
Now, I’m on a team full of people I don’t know. People I wouldn’t trust if my life depended upon it. Maybe my concept of trust has eroded these past couple of months, though. Still, I will be sharing a ring, a team, with Jace Parker Davidson, Christopher America, Jeffrey James Roberts, Stronk Godson, Scottywood, and Tyler Adrian Best. Outside of Roberts, I’ve never stepped in the ring with the same side or opponents. My trust in them is minimal at best, and we all know the mission set out before us; win War Games or else. I won’t lie to you, the stakes are steep, but the rewards are far more significant.
My road to War Games is unique, quite different than anyone else on my team, but that’s okay. No one ever won a war without scrambling a few eggs first.
* * *
The Road Not Taken (#1)
David stirred after a few soft knocks at his bedroom door. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and slowly sat up.
‘Yeah?’ he groaned as his muscles stretched out. The doorknob to the bedroom door slowly began to turn, and the door opened to reveal Lorelai. She stood there, her hair in pigtails, wearing a pair of Peppa Pig pajamas.
‘Daddy! It’s my birthday!’ she screamed at the top of her lungs. David’s smile turned into a chuckle as Lorelai ran into his bed and jumped on top of him. He kissed her on the forehead and wrapped his arms around her.
‘And how old does that make you?’
She then held up five fingers. ‘Five! See?’ David nodded his head as he kissed her on the crown of her head this time. She leaned into him.
‘I can’t wait to go to the trampoline park. Then the zoo. Then the aquarium.’
David chuckled. ‘Got big plans for your big day?’
‘Yes, of course. Plus, I have birthday rules,’ she responded.
He looked over at her. ‘Birthday rules? Like what?’
‘Like, no tickles. Like, I get pancakes for my birthday. Like, you clean my room.’
David nodded his head. ‘Fair enough. Any other rules?’
‘We can do cake,’ he responded. ‘Should we call your mom first? I’m sure she is dying to wish you a happy birthday. Lorelai nodded her head, and David reached over before he found his cell phone; after a few clicks, the phone was ringing on the speaker.
It rang three times before there was a click on the other end. ‘Good morning! Is this my princess?’
‘Hi, mama! It’s my birthday!’
The woman on the other end chuckled. ‘Of course, it is, baby. Trust me, I remember.’ She then paused. ‘Hey, David.’ Her tone is genial at best.
‘Hey, Philly. Our little girl is all grown up.’
‘Isn’t it crazy?’
He sighed. ‘Crazy doesn’t begin to describe it when you put all of our story together.’ There is silence on the other end. Philadelphia didn’t want to talk about her affair, leaving David, or the subsequent custody battle. Even with all of that, though, they managed to put aside their animosity for one another to focus on co-parenting the diamond in their lives.
‘So, Lor, what is on deck for today? Do you have your entire day mapped out?’
‘I just told Daddy we are going to the trampoline park, the zoo, and the aquarium. And that he has to clean my room and buy me cake.’
Philadelphia cackled with laughter on the other end. ‘Good, make your day as special as it can be. Then tomorrow, you can celebrate with Mommy.’ There is a soft rasp in her voice. David’s mind quickly wandered to places it shouldn’t be but quickly pushed it out of his mind.
‘She knows how to make sure her big day is special,’ David offered. ‘I’m sure she gets it from you.’
‘Damn right,’ Philadelphia sighed. ‘No one will put you number one quite like yourself, baby doll. Isn’t that right, Lor?’
‘Exactly! Now, I love you, mama. I’m going to get dressed for my birthday!’
As the words flew out of her mouth, she exploded out of bed and ran back down the hallway. A smile appeared on David’s face.
‘You planning on having her around seven, right?’
‘Yeah, I’ll text you if I’m going to be late.’
There is silence on the other end.
‘Okay, sounds good,’ she finally responded.
‘Everything okay?’ Once again, there is a pause from her.
‘Yeah, yeah,’ she offered unconvincingly. ‘You two have fun. I’ll see you tonight.’ Then the line disconnected and left David to sit there, trying to figure out what was wrong with Philly. He quickly pushed the thought out of his mind as he stood up and proceeded to get dressed. As he finished putting on his shoes, the door to his bedroom flew open and bounced off the adjacent wall due to the force with which Lorelai rammed into it.
‘Are you ready yet?’ she inquired, full of sass and then some. David looked at her, dressed in a blue dress; her hair pulled into a tight ponytail with silver berets and a plastic tiara. He spun around and shook his head as he looked at her.
‘You are truly something else,’ he sighed.
He nodded his head. ‘Always. Ready for your big day?’
‘Yes. Are we having breakfast first?’
David smiled as he grabbed her hand, and she led him out of the bedroom, down the stairs to the front door of their home, and out the front door. As they stepped into his Audi R8, he looked over at his daughter, thankful for having fought when all seemed lost.
‘Alright, who wants pancakes?’
‘Me!’ she screamed. He laughed as the car roared to life and saw her eyes get big. Few things in his life gave him happiness, such as wrestling and traveling. But, nothing could compare to the time he had with his daughter.
* * *
The road not taken. It’s something that’s been on my mind quite a bit recently. I’ve had that opportunity to think about the roads I haven’t gone down and the mistakes I would rectify if I could. Such as fighting for Lorelai and ensuring I was involved in her life.
There will be people I’m familiar with across the ring from me at War Games. Xander Azula. Darin Zion. Bobbinette Carey or Steve Harrison.
Xander, let me address you first. You talk about how last year you joined a squad set on shutting up Lee Best, and this year you’re joining a team set on shutting up Lee Best. Let me correct you right out of the gate. Last year, you may be part of a squad to shut up Lee Best, but this year, you’re joining a team determined to protect one man and one man only, Conor Fuse. While I doubt you will hold your own in the ring, you are fodder until Fuse enters the ring. You talk about discovering your path to walk on, and I can’t help but wonder what path is that? Protecting someone who doesn’t give two shits about you? Hanging onto the coattails of more extraordinary men than you? Siding with Conor Fuse instead of Lee Best, as if you had a fucking choice, isn’t about fighting for the greater good. It’s about not being bright enough to understand when you’re a pawn. Keep walking your supposed path, Xander, because that path’s destiny will run you straight into a buzzsaw, and you’re simply the sacrificial lamb.
Darin, you’re next. The latest tag team partner of Fuse. I watched you defend Conor, and it couldn’t have been more apparent how blind you are. Have you not observed how Conor has acted these past months? Without principles, with disregard for everyone else around him? Darin, what do you think will happen when you’re of no further use to Conor? Do you think you’re going to be able to square up and fight him? Look at you, Darin. You’re a walking joke. You go where the wind takes you and hope you can survive long enough. I’ll give you this, you have endured. You have managed to thrive from time to time, but you are as inconsistent as the Golden State Warriors. That’s all you are to Conor, another body to throw in front of him when faced with impending doom. The only thing you’ll make sure happens is washing Conor’s clothes and turning your back to him on purpose so he can plunge the knife in your back with a smile on your face. Calling anyone else a pawn is the very definition of the pot calling the kettle black.
Bobinette, you may not even be in the match. We will find out if you or Harrison has a giant set of balls. As I’ve said before, I firmly blame you for the transformation we have seen from Conor. His supposed ‘BFF’. The one person who has put together the very blueprint of how to act like the entire universe revolves around you. Let me let you in on a little secret, Carey. You would be tolerable if you would shut the fuck up. Your ravings sound like a poorly edited insane person. You’ve managed to delude yourself that you’re actually of importance in this era of HOW. I get it; you’re a HOF member. You were stepping on the backs of better people to accomplish everything handed to you. The only karma I could see coming out of this is you stabbing Conor in the back when he least expects it.
I look forward to watching Harrison knock you the fuck out and put you back in obscurity as you belong. You making everything about yourself is as predictable as Russia doing dumb shit. That’s the beauty of it all; you rail on privilege and what a person deserves without recognizing you have become the thing you hate.
Then, there is Harrison. You know, in all honesty, I can’t wait to punch you in your righteous face. You think I lost sight of what is right in front of me? Please do me a favor and win against Carey. Please make sure you’re in that ring because I will ensure you are firmly in my sights. Before that Carey match, I was frankly looking forward to a match where we could just punch each other into oblivion. It sounded like fun; I’ll be frank. The title is a beautiful part of it, but you look like a motherfucker that enjoys being punched, and I’m a motherfucker who likes to hit. So please, keep running your mouth, you bland piece of shit. I grew up fighting for fun, fighting to survive. You strike me as someone who likes to fight for fun, so I look forward to it.
The thing with you, Harrison, is that you just don’t know when to shut the fuck up. You be at Pleasant? Kudos to you. Hell, his own tag partner did that to him in the most grotesque way possible. You’re not owed a fucking thing simply because you beat Pleasant. Your problem is you can’t stand playing second fiddle to everyone and you’re not even the best Steve here. You will always play second fiddle, my friend, because you simply don’t have what it takes to be the best.
The reality is, you four, you took the most predictable path. You groveled, begged, and lucked into your spots at War Games. You walked the road that everyone expected, and that’s why you’re primarily afterthoughts. But, to be remarkable, you have to believe in yourself, and that… isn’t who you four are. You’re about as unforgettable as they come.
See you at War Games.