“You’re talking a lot but you’re not really saying anything.”
As we edge ever close to that large cage and those double rings upon the shores of Normandy, the lyrics to Psycho Killer have never rang more true.
So much talk.
So little being said.
You’re old but deadly.
You’re rich but you’re also poor.
You’re bratty but humble.
But what it all comes down to is the oxygen poured out from one person to the next on Captain General Lee Best’s War Games Team or CGLBWGT for short, has all been wasted.
Oh, you want to win War Games? Oh, you’re going to try really hard.
Omaha Beach can be quite a tranquil place, somewhere to stand and let the magnitude and scale of the death and devastation of World War 2 wash over you. The English Channel gliding in and out of the shore, alone with your thoughts. You stand alone, contemplating the scale of the event that happened on the very sand currently coating your feets.
The HOW World Champion stands close to the edge, letting the occasional wave drift in and out, splashing his toes with colder water than would be viewed as optimal. The rush of cold, salty sea water running up his feet to his thighs sends small shivers down his spine but doesn’t seem to deter him in, he chooses to remain in place.
Farthington: Something doesn’t feel quite right about War Games happening upon this beach. No matter how much we play tribute videos, no matter how many respectful messages our announcers share… this was the site of a massacre. On a single day, more than twenty thousand men, on both sides, senselessly slaughtered by the instructions of their Generals. They were told they were there to fight for their country. They believed they were, they wanted to destroy the evil with their tanks and their bombs and their guns. They knew chances of survival were low. The biggest aspiration was the hope to die a hero. All because people in offices decided they should die. The ones calling the shots lived on, the architects of the mass death and destruction. It’s humbling to stand here and think about all the potential wasted.
The World Champion watches a couple of children running around on the beach, tossing the occasional handful of sand at each other, giggling as their parents look on, not intending to intervene at any point.
Farthington: It’s nice to be a General, isn’t it Lee? Stand back, bark orders and let others do the fighting for you. A casualty here, a casualty there, you can pull a sad sombre face and tell their families that their death was not in vain, that it served a greater good. All the while, you remain unblemished, safe, sleeping and breathing easy as you slumber upon a bed of corpses.
In the background, the slow rumbling trucks containing equipment shipped from America start to trundle towards Farthington’s location. Very near and yet very far at the same time.
Farthington: Did you let Andy Murray and Perfection into the little secret? Did you let them know that their lives are about to change in ways no one can predict? Of course not, you did as any military general does, told them sweet little lies about the heinous opposition and pointed them towards the battlefield. If a mine sends a variety of body parts shooting ten feet in the air, that’s just hohum for you. A war is on, of course there will be fatalities, isn’t that right General?
The sun starts to glisten down upon the HOW World Champion, the beam catching his 97Red championship with just the right glint. The shine is almost angelic in its glow as Farthington looks out into the sea.
Farthington: The truth is, you couldn’t give a single, solitary little shit about what happens to any of them. All you care about is teaching your son a lesson through The Minister. The era of “tough love” was it? I suppose it’s typical of someone of your supposed rank. Claim the small victories as children lose their fathers.
Farthington begins to slowly walk along the beach, making his way towards the stone memorial, marking the location of the landing.
Farthington: You broke me, Lee. You fucking broke me. I don’t even know what I am any more. Last year I fought and I fought hard to wrestle control of the company away from you. I wanted to end an era of murder, of shitty deathmatches, of careers ending in an instant. Situations that could be avoided. I wanted HOW to turn into a proper wrestling company, one we could be proud of. One where wrestling was at the forefront, one where we knew who the best man was.
You can see a tank in the background as Farthington, remaining shoeless for this period of time, stops and stands at the stone monument, looking up in a mixture of confusion at admiration.
Farthington: I was so desperate to beat you, so desperate to wrestle away that two percent that I became a hypocrite. I used extreme tactics, I started holding people’s very livelihood in my hands and it all started at War Games. Benny Newell, Kostoff, Teddy Palmer, Doozer, Dan Ryan, Lindsay Troy, High Flyer… they deserved spirited wrestling contests… well maybe not Benny… the rest though. They deserved better. That rope that… that rope under the ring. It just felt right. It felt like it was a natural match. The endorphin reward was spectacular. You put that rope there, I know you did. You sought to corrupt me. I just never figured out why I fell for it.
The champion’s face is not one of arrogance, it’s not one of conviction. It’s one of confusion.
Farthington: Generals fire up the troops, Generals push them to their very limits, Generals make men do things that man should not do to fellow man. When the war is over though, they care not a jot about those they broke, those they turned into monsters, those whose families would not even recognise their child if they were blessed enough to make it home. They get to claim their fat pension and move into a luxurious retirement home, free of consequence and treated as heroes. Statues erected, museums built. It’s a good life, that of the General.
Farthington looks like he’s about to spit down on the ground in sheer rage at the situation that has been created by HOW’s owner, he opens his mouth and starts to grind his teeth, using the teeth grinding as a substitute for the low key defacing of an important monument.
Farthington: Unlike the Group of Death’s rather mouthy opponents, I can’t stand here and make proclamations. I can’t proclaim to know the future because when that bell rings, anything could happen, literally anything. When I stand in that cage and do what I have been programmed to do, even I’m not sure what I’m capable of.
For the first time on this little side trip, Farthington turns and faces the camera directly. The bags under his eyes are more obvious that ever, his skin is basically translucent in its paleness. A closer look at his eyes, bloodshot and dead. The light that once existed has clearly been extinguished.
Farthington: That should scare your team Lee, it sure as shit scares me.
The camera begins to fade on a shot of Farthington, head tilted upwards, staring at the monument, completely unmoving, as if a statue himself.
People often hold Lee Best in the highest of regards. The enduring owner of High Octane Wrestling, the man who has brought us employment, money, gold and glory over the years. To have survived in this business for almost twenty years must take a special kind of man, people tell themselves. You must be smart as a whip to be the ringmaster to one of the world’s biggest circus.
Lee Best is pretty smart, we know that. I’d be a fraud if I stood here and pretended his was a big dumb dumb who poop his pants and drooled all over the floor. Inaccurate and unfair.
Sometimes though, a genius at work can make a few mental slips in his excitement to score a precious point. One day a few weeks ago he got all hopped up on fun juice and decided to excitedly hype up his War Games’ team. I mean that makes sense, the captain, the General… he wants to build his troops, hype them up, get them ready for an upcoming war. I can hardly begrudge a man doing his duty.
Yet, in his eagerness, he made some mental pairings to prove his special lads and ladette were the odds on favourites. MJF and Lindsay Troy, because they both possess functional vaginas – seriously, that’s all I’ve got on that one, please let me know why else you would make the comparison. Dan Ryan and Perfection because Dan Ryan recently murdered Perfection’s neck, so that makes them perfect dance partners, I guess…
The Minister and Mike Best. Now that one makes sense. Those two are locked in their own war for souls and salvation at the moment so I can’t argue. A chef kiss is what I give you there El Generalisimo, perfect pairing, like red wine and steak.
Me and Andy Murray though. That’s a bit of a curious one.
Maybe we are very alike, I can’t say. Maybe Lee knows better because… I haven’t seen much of Murray. Different circles, different matches. It’s not that I don’t view him as a threat, it’s just that until this match I just haven’t had enough data.
I guess it’s only fair to begin at the beginning.
Hello Andrew, I can call you Andrew right? It seems so formal and yet oddly appropriate. We’ve never been properly introduced but I am Cecilworth Farthington, the High Octane Wrestling World Heavyweight Champion.
I hate to start off our first proper exchange by being so rude but I feel that I’d be doing you a disservice if I was to hold back my honest opinion.
You bore me, Andrew.
I don’t mean to be harsh, truly I don’t. It’s not that I question your talents, the illustrious records that you possess far and wide throughout the industry are a testament to your raw ability. It’s just… well… I’ve seen this play before. A different accent, sure, a different attitude, certainly but the script…
It’s a jukebox musical and you seem to want to play the hits.
You’re an addict like Teddy Palmer, trying to show the world you’ve overcome it and channeled it towards wrestling instead.
You’re a monster, like Dan Ryan, letting those big words come right out about how easy it will be to toss me around like a little play thing.
Your knee is bionic, just like little Eric Dane. You’d think that would give a bit of an edge in a War Games match and yet history would point to the contrary.
You are trying to use War Games because you can’t quite face up to the fact that you have a family member on the edge of death’s abyss.
Just like me, when I think about it.
I could have let my father live, I could have saved his life. All I needed to do was handle the Eric situation. At least your one still has a pulse.
You’re not the greatest wrestler in the world, you’re a tribute. Pulling at the strands of better men and yelling “me too” like a toddler playing dress up.
This act of yours, the aggression, the bile, the absolute certainty that you cannot be beaten, you are setting yourself up for a fall that you cannot possibly return from. We’re talking an Everest level plummet here. All because you just can’t admit that you don’t quite have it any more.
Well, to be more exact, you don’t have it all. It would be ridiculous if I was to say that your achievements in High Octane so far were meaningless, that pointless pissing on legacies and success seems much more of a 24K skillset.
You’re the old dog that barks the loudest because it doesn’t quite have the strength in its bite any more. You can growl at the postman all you want Andrew, he knows that the bitch two doors down awaits and damn, she’ll fuck him up. You’re just an amusing sideshow. Scrappy fucking Doo, yelling “lemme at ‘im”.
The sheer arrogance on display, the absolute hubris to think that you’ll easily dispose of the entire Group of Death in HOW’s hardest challenge. Maybe if you pretended you had a target, a focus, a plan… maybe we’d start to see the bite.
Instead, your saggy sad sack is pissing all over the rug.
War Games will be the rolled up newspaper to the nose.
The High Octane production trucks gradually rumble towards the small street across from Omaha Beach and from the very nearby D’Day House, Cecilworth Farthington looks on from the restaurant patio. Slowly stirring his mocha, watches as the truck doors begin to open, catching a glimpse of the steel structure within.
As the truck opens wide, he feels a cold chill enter the air but he can’t quite put his finger on the heavy atmosphere. The World Champion just gets the sense that the truck contains the heart of evil itself. Another sip as he admires his World Championship, resting as it does as the centre piece to his small dining table.
Farthington: I can’t believe I’m doing it again. Sure, much like last time, as a HOW champion, I’m contractually obliged to be here, to enter that… thing… but I just… I just can’t accept that we’re here for a second time. The locale is different, the danger the same. Still, if I am to enter the cage once more, I couldn’t be happier with the team that I will stand shoulder to shoulder with.
Farthington pauses for a moment, looking down at his phone as he does so.
Farthington: Well, I could be a little happier. I don’t know why you did it Max, I don’t think I ever will. This should not be and yet it is. Aligned with the likes of Perfection, Andy Murray and Marinara Sauce… even The Minister inside you must find that to be painful. He doesn’t strike me as the kind of man to suffer fools gladly in my very brief interaction.
The visions of the white suit dances across the mind of the champ as he continues to stir at his now almost empty mug. There’s nothing much to stir but god damn it, he’s going to stir nonetheless.
Farthington: I have stood across the ring from Dan Ryan too many times during this era of High Octane. I know what he is capable of, I know the lengths he will go to when he wishes to assure his victory. I never won matches against the man, I survived them. It stuns me that Perfection could experience Dan Ryan at full force, be dropped directly on his neck and still make trite old man jokes. Then again, considering the fact our bleached blonde friend is spending more time sniping about the booking of the tag team division than facing up to War Games, it would certainly imply that The Hammer of GoD scrambled a few marbles of the perfect noggin.
The first piece of the cage is slowly lifted out of the van and the ring crew are rushing and yelling instructions at each other.
Farthington: Lindsay Troy has never been more determined to prove herself than at this very moment. I don’t pretend to speak for her but I can see the glint in her eye, that only appears when you have murderous intent. This may be the biggest match of her career and when you think about the scale and the scope of that career, that is remarkable, you must admit. Do you think a legend of her stature enjoys having stupid snide remarks being sniped from the sidelines of the 24K brain trust? Of course not. She’ll be looking to cut off that nonsense lickity split and I’m glad I’m not on the other side.
A clatter echoes around the patio near the beach as the chain link fencing is dropped in the car park just next to the beach. The champion’s head recoils as the sound brings back memories from the year before. The ring was deconstructed at Lee Best’s orders in the final moments of the match. That deconstruction started it all.
Farthington: Last year, my best friend watched on from the sidelines, he picked the team, thinking he was out of the business. Realistically, I think we all knew better than that. We knew it was only a matter of time before Mike Best abandoned the office life and laced up his boots once more. I’m not quite sure what would have happened if Mike had taken his rightful place on the team last year. Perhaps we would have never picked John Sektor, perhaps the betrayal never happens. Perhaps I actually kill MJF. That’s quite concerning really. If the mood strikes this year, there’s no one to stop me, to stab me in the back…
Another chug of the mocha and now the mug is completely empty. That does stop the mindless stirring as the champion’s eyes remain transfixed on the structure within the vans – the evil within feels like it is calling to him.
Farthington: That’s the thing about the Group of Death. We may have self-interest bubbling in our hearts but we understand what must be done for the greater good. We are, after all, a team. For all of the bravado and machismo oozing out of the opposing side, do they even know how they are going to work together? Communication is everything in War Games and it seems to me that no one on Lee Best’s team knows how to take charge. A team of captains and no soldiers… it’s not a winning combination.
As some of the cage starts moving to the beach itself, the situation starts feeling a little bit too real to the champ. His body tenses, his muscles stiffen, slowly he turns into a human statue.
Farthington: The Group of Death may be a business arrangement but that means we are all invested in the brand. If the brand fails, we fail. Maybe Dan Ryan is getting ready to shiv me, maybe Lindsay Troy wants to boot me in the balls so she can claim the World Heavyweight Championship. Do you idiots think he’ll do that BEFORE we get rid of the riffraff? Think on that, Andy, ponder how much you can rely on others, can you even be sure your own stablemate will be able to afford the fucking airplane fare to Normandy anymore? Consider those you have surrounded yourself with, Margaret… your illustrious General never let you know you were cannon fodder, instead trying to build hope. You are pawns to whims of The Minister, that’s the reality we face. You’ll thank me for saving you.
Farthington grabs the World Championship of the table as the camera starts to fade on him walking towards the beach once more, this time with a very specific purpose in mind.
Almost a year has passed since the last time I ran down to that cage. I find it difficult to believe what has happened over that period myself. The success, the success has been spectacular. To know that I have finally established a legacy in this industry and etched my name into not one but two record books over the past year is enough to give a man the warm and fuzzies.
Andrew Murray is not the first person to try and draw a parallel between myself and Patrick Bateman in High Octane Wrestling. I’m sure as I continue my career, he won’t be the last either.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of this analysis, I would recommend against proclaiming yourself as a threat to my throne Andrew. The guy trying to undermine Patrick ended up with an axe to the face, the last words he heard were “it’s hip to be square.”… do you like the music of Huey Lewis and the News, Andrew? A legend of your stature should not be begging to be axe murdered, it’s sad. If you want to be Paul Allen in this scenario, I’m not going to be the one to stop you.
The main crux, the main analysis, that’s what bothers me.
Patrick and I – we’re both highly driven pretty boys, holding ourselves in high regard and seeking to prove we are higher of stature than any other. We construct carefully considered facades, using a wink here and a smile there, you’d almost believe we were real people. It’s all designed to be disarming, to put your mind at rest. If you’re at ease, you won’t be wondering why the living room is covered in plastic tarp.
Over time, we both lost our sense of identity – we no longer know who we once were. Acting the role of a human because we’d end up in prison otherwise. Neither one of us are particularly aware of where our limits are. One wrong interaction and suddenly we find ourselves in our new lives as serial killers.
I haven’t quite hit that point yet but I can feel it in my bones, I’m close.
Both of us lust for consequence, for penance, for redemption and yet it never comes.
For a year now, I’ve had to live with the idea that I almost murdered another human. For a year now, I’ve hoped that maybe someone would absolve me of my sin. I can’t help myself, sheer inertia keeps me competing but there’s always that hope there’s someone who will deliver that much needed loss. Someone will stop me, someone will stop what I have become. I hope beyond hope that I don’t end up like a military General. I hope that I don’t bring a permanent end to someone’s life, while I remain free of consequence, living the good life, high on the hog. Yet, I can’t be certain. I can’t make that promise.
Patrick Bateman confessed the the murder Paul Allen and was told that his soul bearing was nothing but a harmless prank, after all, Harold Carnes had just had dinner with Paul Allen in London.
He never got his catharsis.
Neither will I.