I’ve been up in my room for hours, and so has Shawn. He hasn’t left my side for hours and would barely let me get out to take a piss about a half an hour ago. I’m packing for New York City and Shawn is completely taken aback that I’m going alone. Shawn’s been pissed ever since the announcement of the tag teams in the tournament. He and Clay Byrd have history, they were friends…albeit for a short period of time.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing anyway?!”
Shawn’s pissed. He’s out of the loop and he hates that shit with a passion.
“What are you packing for? We’ve got shit to do around here and you’re doing what? Going where?”
I just look up at him, smirk and go back to packing my suitcase.
“You coward. I don’t know why you can’t answer me and tell me exactly what the fuck is going on!?”
I squeeze the balled up pair of black socks that I have in my hand and point at him.
“He doesn’t want you there, don’t you get it!?”
I shout back at him, as loud as I can.
“You’re so full of shit. I know, full-fucking-well that he does. Everyone prefers me over you, Steve. Can’t you see that? That’s why you created me…that is the sole fucking purpose to my existence, Steve. You created me because nobody wanted you. You let down Lee Best, The Best Alliance. You won and lost the HOTv Title in the span of a fuckin’ week and you embarrassed HOW with your Hall of Fame induction.”
His elevated voice echoes through the room. Shawn knows how to push all of my fuckin’ buttons and this is a 101 class on how to do it.
“And now you’re going to embarrass yourself and more importantly you’re going to embarrass me, you piece of shit!”
“What about Clay?” I ask.
He cracks a smile
“Fuck Clay Byrd.”
I laugh at the response. He really doesn’t get it at all.
“What’s so fuckin’ funny?! Put that shit away!”
He rips one of my shirts out of the bag and chucks it against the wall on the other side of the room.
“Well, what?!” He asks, demanding an answer with his tone.
“You just don’t get it, Shawn. Fuck Clay Byrd is the kind of bullshit that’s earned you the reputation that you have. You’re the reason nobody wants you anymore, Shawn. And I’ll be taking in all of the benefits. This match that I have with Clay Byrd…I’ve been there before, and I’ve won this match before. Multiple times, even.”
He scoffs and folds his arms in front of his stomach.
“That’s bullshit. How do you figure?” He asks.
“Well, let’s see smart guy,” I say as I slam my suitcase shut.
“Just look at my record, you fuckin’ idiot. I”ve beaten Scott Stevens and I’ve beaten Black Mamba. And I did both, without you. I did both on my own, Shawn. I don’t need you anymore, and nobody wants you anymore,” I say, in a smart-mouthed voice, in a higher than normal tone.
Shawn doesn’t seem bothered by it at all though. He pulls a cigarette from his shirt pocket and places it between his smiling lips. He pulls a strike anywhere match from his jeans pocket and lights it right off his thumbnail. He fires up the cigarette and marches toward me. He gets the cigarette length plus two inches away from my face. The smoke burns my eyes, and they immediately begin to water.
“What are you gonna do if I go instead of you, anyway? Fuckin’ cry? Fuckin’ titty baby.”
I try to stand strong and remain in control of the situation, but truth be told: Shawn still scares me. He intimidates me like no other man has before and I don’t understand why…but he does.
“No,” I say as I stare down at the unfinished hardwood floors beneath my feet. My voice is low and nervous, and I never look him in the eyes.
Shawn takes in a deep drag of the cigarette, without taking it out of his mouth. He blows the smoke right in my face…he knows I hate that shit.
“Look, man,” I start, still sounding like a stuttering prick. He might fold under questioning, Joe Pesci says in my head as I continue to stare at the floor. My heart pounds through my ears and my blood runs cold and I gather up all my courage and go for it.
“Clay’s going to be here in an hour, and I’m the one he wants to team with, Shawn. It’s not you. I know you think you’ve earned some kind of fuckin’ fifty-fifty stake in all of this, but this is my life. Not yours. This is my body. Not yours. My brain. Not yours. It’s time for you to go!”
I get loud and right back in his face. I’m trying to scare him off.
But it doesn’t work. He doesn’t flinch, his eyes never wince, nothin’. No reaction at all; cool as a fuckin’ cucumber. He just continues to smoke his cigarette straight from his lips and blow the smoke right in my face. I fight off a cough in an effort to not look weak, but the tears rolling down my cheeks are canceling all of that hard work in an instant.
Suddenly, there’s a pounding at the front door. Both Shawn and I nearly break our necks as we both quickly look in the direction of the doorway.
BOOM, BOOM, BOOM!
Three more hammer fists on the front door tell the story of the behemoth on the other side of the door. They tell the story of a broken man in a cowboy hat. A man that’s here to get his point across and get business done in the ring.
“I thought you said an hour,” Shawn says as he takes a step back.
He knows just like I do, that Clay Byrd is at the front door. And he knows just like I do…that he’s shit out of luck.
We race for the doorway and hustle down the creaky, uneven, wooden stairs. He tries to cut past me, but I stiff arm him against the wall and reach the door knob first. I swing the door open and immediately step outside and slam it behind me. I snap off the door knob and turn right into the black cowboy hat and trench coat wearin’, 300 pounder.
“Clay Byrd himself,” I say, sticking a hand out for a shake. I peer over my shoulder and see Shawn standing at the window, giving me a big middle finger.
Clay stares down over me. He looks down at my hand and then back up to me.
“Steve?” He asks me. I can hear his first question hang in the air.
“That’s you, right?”
“Yeah, man. He’s in the house,” I say, staring down at the broken door knob gripped in my hand.
“I get it, man. It’s fuckin’ weird, but that dude really believes that you want him to go to New York.”
“Yeah… that feller. Ya got him under control? I need ta be able ta trust ya in there if we’re gonna be partners.” Clay runs his hand through his beard looking across the porch at me. His eyes drift and I think I see him looking up at the window Shawn is pounding against.
“You don’t see..? Never mind. Look, Clay…it’s me, Steve Solex. You’ve got no reason to be worried, not one bit. It’s me, the Soldier, the Number One Dad for fuck’s sake. I’m the M-F-I-C around this bitch. So don’t you fuckin’ worry…It’s all under control,” I rant, in a stern voice.
“Steve. I know that’s the feller I’m talkin’ ta now. I know yer the feller I want in the ring with me ta win this fuckin’ tournament. I can trust ya ta do what we need ta do in there, but I can’t fuckin’ trust the other you.” I go to speak but The Behemoth’s hand cuts me off with one finger.
“I know about you two sharin’ Steve. And I can’t trust ya when yer Kutter, Steve. And if he shows up, I’m goin’ ta beat the fuck out of ya until I get the only guy I can count on back. ‘Cause I can’t count on him, but I know I can count on ya.”
I look him up and down. I’m half tempted to scuff those black leather boots, but I’d rather not for now, so I’ll just take it in jest.
“Look, ya’ big, blonde asshole…we’re good. Like I said, no worries!”
I look down at my hand, still in his chest, waiting for the return, and then I look back up at him.
Clay smirks, and then looks down and shakes my hand with a firm grip. I pat him on the shoulder, and then look back at Shawn standing in the window…staring.