I don’t drink very much these days, but I’m going to enjoy this one. I study the bottle of Jameson in my hand as I sit in my leather brown recliner in my living room. I spin the top of the bottle off with a flick of my thumb and down a full gulp. I wipe my moustache clean with the inside of my elbow, and place the bottle on the end table to my right.
“Fuckin’ eh,” I say, tasting the whiskey for a second time as I let out a big exhale.
“Everything alright, dear?”
I might have dropped the #1 Dad shtick for now, but Karen…well, she’s always been this way. But I guess that’s what you get when you’ve lived your whole life in white suburbia without venturing further than the grocery store three miles away.
“I’m good, Babe.”
I reassure her with a pat on the butt as she walks past. A girlish giggle escapes her lips as she puts a little pep in her step. I noisily get to my feet with a grunt and popping joints that sound like they’ve been put through a cement mixer for twenty fucking years. I swing a leather jacket over my shoulders and throw my arms in the sleeves all in one motion as I move toward the front door.
“I’m goin’ out for a bit!” I shout to no response. She’ll figure it out, I say to myself in my head as I exit the front door.
For a moment, I’m a Dad again as I pause before twisting the handle on the door knob. I look back over my shoulder at the open bottle of whiskey I left on the nightstand. For a moment I worry about my son, but instead I just snarl at the inanimate object and exit the house.
The bright sun squints my eyes half shut as I walk out onto the front lawn. I pull a pack of smokes from my pocket and fire one up. I hear my neighbor Robert trimming the hedges in his front lawn as I walk out to my truck. He calls for me, but I ignore the stupid fuck and get inside my truck before he has the chance to start up any kind of conversation. Fuck him. I start the ignition, and the straight pipe exhaust scares the ever living shit out of Robert as he drops his clippers to the grass. I laugh as I stare him down in my rear view mirror before speeding off down the street.
It’s been a few years since I’ve had this kind of attention…or heat, as they say, and I can’t let that go to waste. I’ve found myself floundering the last eight or so months. I’m not going to lie to myself about it either, it’s because of Joe Bergman. It’s all his fuckin’ fault. Well, him and motherfucking Andy Murray. But I can’t worry about that right now, I’ve got a fight in front of me that’s actually been booked…and that fight is with Zeb Martin.
The kind of feedback that I’ve gotten since Refueled has been extremely typical of the wrestling fan-base these days.
My thoughts keep me occupied during the short drive to the local watering hole. I park out front next to a few Harley’s which makes me smirk just a bit as I walk past them and into the bar. I push past a pair of swinging saloon style half-doors and cut into the thick layer of smoke in the room. Everyone at the bar looks over as the doors swing wildly behind me.
This is normal.
I reassure myself every time this happens, otherwise it would just piss me the fuck off. A mixture of whiskey and PTSD are a lethal combination, I have to keep control of myself and remember that this is a local spot. I don’t want any trouble in here and neither do any of the people in this shithole.
I take a seat at the bar and drop a closed fist onto scratched mahogany. The bartender walks over to me, drops down with his forearms onto the bar, getting eye level with me.
“What’ll it be, stranger?”
“Fuck you, Jerry. Every time with that stranger shit. You’re not Sam Elliot, no matter how hard you try to be, you dumb fuck.”
Jerry smiles, showing off his baked bean looking teeth.
“Whiskey and brew, Jerry. The usual.”
Jerry knocks a couple of times on the bar and heads toward the back wall of bottles.
“What do ya’ say, Steve?” Asks the overweight bearded fella’ to my right.
“I don’t say much, Reggie. I don’t say much at all.” I’ve known Reggie for a few years. He’s a Veteran as well. Reggie did some time overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he was a network tech…the fucker ran cabling in the FOBs while the rest of us left the wire and got shot at daily. But good for him…if I only had a time machine, I might have done the same.
“Saw the shit you pulled last week, Steve. There’s got to be a better way, brother.”
Jesus. Here comes Reggie with the holier than thou speech.
“Shut the fuck up, Reggie. You don’t know what it’s like out there. I’ve got to have an edge on these fuckers, and there are no rules in combat. You should fuckin’ know that you fat fuck.”
Jerry slides the shot to my knuckles, and without hesitation I slam it down. I take a swig of the beer he’s also placed in front of me, and then rotate my stool so that I can stare Reggie down.
“Oh no, Steve Solex drugged someone. hE’s tEh WuRSt KiNDa PURSEn!”
Mockingly, I start in on Reggie.
“Yeah, but what do you say to the critics, Steve? People’s children watch that show.”
“Fuck them. I say to them: Shut the fuck up. That’s the name of the game and if you’re judging me – you social justice fuck – while watching a brand new episode of Refeuled every single fuckin’ week…you’re just flat out lying to yourself and trying to convince yourself that i’M aH GUD perSEN! And if you let your kids watch that shit, that’s your fucking problem. Don’t try and point the finger at me. There have been far worse things that have happened in a HOW ring that I had no part of.”
Reggie shakes his head, but it’s not gonna stop me. Not now. Probably not ever.
“Mike Best has cut someone’s head off in the middle of the ring. Mike Best killed his brother live on television. Mike Best has…”
I pause for a moment, rethinking my whole fucking career.
“Holy shit, he is literally every example of every bad thing that has ever happened in HOW…and he’s the world fuckin’ champion. I need to step my game up if I’m really going to be a villain in this wrestling world. But that’s really besides the point right now.”
Reggie shakes his head with disappointment, I can see that on his fat fuckin’ face.
“And for that sorry sack of shit, Zeb Martin: Your life is like if Instagram had a fake-ass redneck filter designed by Florida Georgia Line, you overrated, unrelenting, twice stuffed bag of horse manure. You ain’t country, Zeb. As the squirmy, malnutritioned, anxiety riddled, pussy depraved, skinny jean wearin’, perm hair havin’ versions of men these days might say…let’s keep it one-hundred.”
I’ve got the full attention of everyone in the bar now, as I begin to rant and rave.
“So you’ve been to a Bass Pro Shop or a fuckin’ Cabela’s, that shit don’t make you country Zeb. So you’ve tried on a Mossy Oak hat and orange hunting vest at your local Walmart while holding some ratchet ass fishing pole for a selfie. You’ve done all that and guess what? You still ain’t fuckin’ country.”
Reggie tries to get up and escape the situation, but I’m cuttin’ this fuckin’ promo whether he likes it or not.
“You’ve lined danced to Copperhead Row and so has every other twenty-something year old bitch in a country bar lookin’ for a man in a cowboy hat. You still ain’t fuckin country, but maybe your true personality is starting to unravel.”
The bar has gone completely silent now, even the juke box has been unplugged. These fuckers are loving it. Well, except for Reggie’s bitch ass.
“I know the real-deal, Zeb…and you ain’t it, brother. You’re like Taylor Swift standing next to Johnny Cash. Willie, Waylon and David Allen Coe would shake their heads at someone like you…standing there, in your Levi Garret hat lookin’ like Hardy vomited onto a television screen.”
A few laughs in the bar keep me going.
“Your fake southern twang might excite the thirteen year old girls who think that an accent can make a man, but the grown women looking for a real man…they know the truth. They see through the plastic and they know what a real man is when they see one adn you ain’t it, bud.”
Reggie takes a sip of his beer, continuously shaking his head.
“That’s what I’d fuckin’ tell those people, and that’s what the fuck I would say to Zeb Martin.”