“Do you remember what you did to me that day?..”
I’d waved off my pal Jimmy and his mom after they dropped me off home after high school wrestling practice. I was tired and angry with myself for earning a roasting from the coach for a sub-par performance. I was team captain and expectations were high. Even in those days I was setting the standard.
As I walked through the front door of our home estate, I made my way into the kitchen to grab a drink of squash. There was my mother, perched in her usual place at the kitchen bar with a tall glass of gin and tonic in her hand. She was well oiled, as she always was at that time of day. I gave her a quick glance but tried to avoid contact with her drunken eyes to save myself from a nast engagement.
“You’re little girlfriends here,” he drunkenly croaked.
“Jessica?” I asked, surprised because she hadn’t stayed behind after school to watch me train. “Where is she?”
“Last I saw she was heading into Jason’s room,” she explained, smiling drunkenly as though she enjoyed hurting me.
My stomach sank. My brother and I hated each other and he would always tease that he would steal Jess from me. I didn’t think he would actually do it, and she had reassured me a hundred times that she thought he was a loser and wasn’t interested.
I flew up the stairs as quick as I could, heart in my mouth and shaking with nerves. I remember staring at his bedroom door, summoning the courage to barge through it because I was scared of what I would see when I got on the other side.
I feared the worst. Jessica was my first love and I was jealous and overprotective to the point where I would later in life realise that I was pushing her away. Still, I hoped that I was wrong, as I had been all the other times when I would check up on her to see if she was where she said she was.
With a deep breath and pushed open his door. There they were. After a ruffle of bed sheets they both reared their heads. One smirking from ear to ear and the other looking like she’d seen a ghost.
I stood and stared at them in stunned silence. Jess clutched the sheets up to her chin with a look of remorse and self disgust, while Jason placed a hand behind his head like he was about to light a cigarette.
“Heyyy, Johnny” he laughed. “How’s it going bro?”
I was humiliated and heart broken and could feel the tears coming. I didn’t want them to see so I ran out of there and slammed the door behind me, running to my own room and locking the door so that I could break my heart properly into my pillow.
“I always kick myself for not having the courage to beat the shit out of you that day,” Sektor explained, gazing out of the window at the garden area. “I doubt it would have made me feel better, but you’d have deserved it.”
The LSD champion turned around to look at his brother.
“I guess Karma took care of you in the end.”
Debilitated, his brother sat opposite him in his wheelchair, his eyes occasionally flickering to Sektor whilst otherwise staring out at various points of his room. The rasping sound of air coming out of the plastic tracheostomy in his throat was rhythmic. Sektor regarded his brother’s tragic state for a moment, as he always did when he occasionally visited. His hands planted on either arm of the chair and wrapped in splints to stop them becoming spasticated. His legs atrophied and strapped to the stirrups of the chair.
“I wonder if you feel any guilt now, in that scrambled brain of yours?” he wondered, narrowing his eyes.
The Gold Standard reached a hand towards his brother’s face, grazing the stubble on his cheeks gently with the back of his fingers.
“You need a shave, brother,” he explained, reaching into a small duffel bag on the table to the side.
He pulled out a cut-throat razor, flicking it open and looking at his own reflection as the light from outside glistened off it. He delicately placed it on the table next to his brother, which caused a certain reaction in his eyes.
“It’s a funny old thing,” he continued, preparing the rest of the shaving tools. “Guilt..”
The champion began to fill a small plastic bowl with warm water, testing the temperature with the tips of his fingers before shaking them off as he placed the bowl down on the table.
“Guilt is the dance partner of greed in the grand theatre of emotional indifference. It is a biological necessity in a well functioning society, for it gives us the ability to keep ourselves in check rather than relying on others to police us. If you feel no guilt when you have been rotten to others? – Then you are on course to becoming a zombie.”
Sektor stood in front of his brother, mixing the shaving cream with a brush as he lathered it up. He then soaked a flannel in the warm water and began to delicately moisten the cheeks and throat of his older brother. He then picked up the cream and brush and began to paint it on his brother slowly and methodically.
“Guilt is a matter of balance. When you need to feel guilty it will show you how to become a better person, less rotten, more healthy. When you go too far with it, it becomes like a heavy bag you were supposed to put down once you’d learned whatever lesson it came to teach you,” he explained with a pause, checking that he had covered all the necessary skin with the cream. “Forgiving yourself is necessary to enable further personal growth.”
Sektor positioned himself behind his brother, holding the razor in front of his eyes. All he could do was stare at it helplessly, likely hoping that he wouldn’t use it for revenge. He then pressed the steel of the blade against the angle of his jaw on one side.
“This is being human.”
He slowly grazes the razor on his cheek, the sound of stubble being sheared like a muffled velcro being separated.
“This is how we are wired.”
He rinses the razor in the water before lining it up for a new strip of stubble.
“As you can probably guess,” he continued, carefully shaving his brother’s cheek. “I am carrying a great deal of guilt myself.”
Sektor finished another patch of cheek and rinsed the blade once again. He caught his own, obscured, reflection in the steel and took a good hard look at himself.
“I betrayed and hurt a young man who is very dear to me,” Sektor sighed. “At the time I thought my motives were true and earnest. Thought I was being cruel to be kind,” he explained, the guilt written all over his blurry reflection.
Raising his eyebrows gently he went back to shaving.
“I slept with the girl he likes,” he blurted, sharp and to the point. “I did it, knowing who she was and how he felt about her and I still did it. In my defence, at least he wasn’t actually with her, so it’s not quite the same as what you did to me.”
The remorse on his face doesn’t seem to fade as he stares blankly at his brother’s face from above.
“Then again, I hated you anyway,” Sektor admitted. “But Adam? Adam looked up to me. He trusted me and I’ve gone and betrayed him in the most awful way a man can. So in many ways it’s worse.”
“I came back here in search of him. He’s been off the grid since the incident, and although it’s only been a couple of days I’m worried. I couldn’t find him, so I realise now I just need to give him some space and hope that he returns. Otherwise everything is fucked,” Sektor explained, angrily flicking the foam and stubble from the blade into the bowl of water.
Taking a deep breath he shrugged and forced a smile.
“So, I figured I’d come see my big brother!” he said, gripping his brother’s shoulders and giving him a fake show of affection.
“When I can, I find it’s better to vent to a friendly stranger, someone who can listen and walk away feeling the same as they did before the conversation. That way, I can hear it myself without the anxiety of the other person’s emotions, I stay responsive rather than reactive. Then when I do finally speak to Adam it’s easier to hear his perspective and learn from one another, making our bond all the stronger.”
Having finished his cheeks, Sektor moved around to his brother’s front and crouched down, edging the blade toward his top lip and holding it there as he paused for thought.
“I couldn’t handle it at first. The guilt..” he continued, making gently downward motions with the blade from below his nose to his top lip. “I’d mistaken it for weakness. I told myself that I was supposed to be a strong leader, and any sign of weakness in the presence of my student was only going to delegitimize my stature.”
Sektor let out a long and frustrated sigh as he placed the razor down and ran his damp hands through his hair. Leaning against the cil of the window, he looked helplessly towards his brother.
“I guess I did it knowing he would find out. I keep telling him that women are poisonous. Nothing good ever comes from them. Look at my track record – Jessica? Helen? Kirsta Lewis? Regan,” he smirked, looking at his brother with cruel eyes. “You know all about that one, don’t you bro?”
After the short lived enjoyment at his brother’s expense Sektor returned to his sombre state of grief.
“I was trying to protect him. I need him focussed. A broken heart at his age could be terminal for his career. He has so much potential but this is the time that he needs to knuckle down and be tunnel visioned. Women just.. get in the way.”
“I fear I’ve fucked everything up. I’ve blown his trust. He may never look at me in the same way again. Shit, he might not even want me training him any more,” he explained, planting his face in his hands and looking lost. “Damaging relationships is something I do better than anything else it would seem.”
He stood upright and shook his head, clearly frustrated.
“I’m just not used to feeling these emotions, hermano. I’ve spent so long pushing people away and only caring about myself that now I’ve grown this bond with Adam I can’t bear what I have done. If I don’t fix this, how can I focus on these matches? How can I be ready for a threat like Arthur Pleasant?”
Sektor looked at his brother as though waiting for him to answer. All he could hear was the faint rasping whistle of his tracheostomy as his brother looked at him warily, glancing away once he made eye contact. Sektor reached for the blade and slowly brought it towards his throat.
“It didn’t seem to affect you. You never showed so much as an ounce of guilt or remorse for what you did,” he began, breathing heavily through his nose as he pressed the razor against the side of his brother’s jugular. “I’m wiser. I have the clarity of mind to realise that guilt doesn’t have to be a negative emotion. It can become my master in the sense of being a great and loving teacher. Through it I can evolve. It is so very vital that we listen to these emotions that come to school us.”
His eyes narrowed, fingers white at the tips as he tightened his grip on the blade.
After an intense moment of pause he smiled and let out a relaxed sigh, beginning to gently shave his brother’s throat, being careful to pull the skin taught so that he didn’t cut him.
“Then we move onward, guilt-free. Learning is hard. Learning can feel as if you are being punished. This new freedom I have for my brain, for my soul, I earned it!”
Sektor was trying to remain upbeat and positive about this situation. Positive had been his energy source throughout his LSD campaign and if broken would undoubtedly lead to that reign coming to an end.
“When I look at Arthur Pleasant? I often think of you,” Sektor explained, not in a positive way. “He’s the type of kid who likes to pull the wings off flies to deprive them of the one bit of enjoyment they have in this world. I don’t know much about his past, but from the bits I’ve heard he’s had a rather unorthodox and turbulent childhood, just like we did,” he explained. “He’s rotten to the core. I honestly think he wants my LSD championship just to take it off me. I don’t buy the bullshit about rediscovering its origins. He just sees something successful and wants to tear it down and enjoy the thought that it was done by his hand.”
He sighed and finished his last patch of stubble to shave, wiping his brother’s face with a clean towel and giving it a gentle tap.
“He has no conscience. Just like you. In fact, he fits the typical MO of a sociopath. Probably why he likes hanging around with JJR is because people are drawn to similarities.”
Sektor pulled up a chair and sat opposite his brother, feeling troubled as he stared at a vacant point in the room.
“I’m scared, brother,” he admitted. “I look at Pleasant’s eyes and I listen to him talking and it’s like looking in the mirror. He is so motivated to beat me. He is obsessed with beating me. I have no doubt that I am the first thought he has when he wakes up in the morning and the last one before he goes to sleep. He won’t stop until he beats me.”
He crossed his legs and began to stroke his moustache, processing all of his troubles and trying to work through them.
“I can beat him. I know I can. But without this?” he explained, pressing a finger into the side of his own head and glaring at his brother. “I’m fucked.”
He shook his head.
“The most important thing I have discovered throughout my journey in life is my mental strength. It was only last year, right before I beat Teddy Palmer for the LSD championship that I realised how powerful a tool positivity can be. It has served me so well up to now.”
He began to squeeze his own cheeks gently, chewing the inside of his lip.
“Pleasant can smell weakness from a mile off. If I get in the ring without my head being in the right place then all it’s going to take is one look in my eyes and he’s gonna know he’s got me.”
This thought troubled him as he shook his head slowly. Eventually he uncrossed his legs and gave them a purposeful slap before standing to his feet. He paced around the small space of the room, shaking his head defiantly.
“I can’t go out like this. Pleasant cannot win. I won’t allow him to undo all of the work I have done. Not like this!”
He landed at the window, staring out at the beautiful sunlit gardens and finding a small slither of peace.
“The situation I have created is a bad one,” he began. “But that doesn’t mean that good can’t come out of it. There is a lesson to be learned and we can come out of this stronger.”
He turned to face his brother, feeling the positive vibes beginning to flow.
“A fundamentally good person transforms their guilt into gold for others. That is what I intend to do. I intend to be the mentor he deserves and lead us to the tag team championships. I intend to harvest all these emotions and turn them into the energy I need to retain the LSD championship against Pleasant.”
“I refuse to end up like. Like him. I am changing. I am evolving. I am becoming a better person and that is not a weakness. It’s strength,” he emphasised, clenching a strong fist.
A menacing smile slowly crept across Sektor’s face as he began to enjoy looking at his brother’s tragic and pathetic state. He began to walk towards him slowly.
“Pleasant is destined to end up just-like-you, brother.”
He stood less than an arms length away from him, looking down at him in his chair.
“Nobody to love him..”
He began to lower himself down to his knees to be at eye level.
“Nobody to care about him..”
Face to face, he began to stroke his brother’s freshly shaved cheek.
He cocked his head to the side, a twisted act of compassion with an underlying tone of torment.
Chuckling silently, he cupped a hand around the back of his brother’s neck and pressed their foreheads together.