Higbee’s Department Store – Cleveland, OH
Perched on top of a platform several feet above the floor of the store decorated in all its Christmas splendor, ‘Santa Claus’ peers down at what appears to be an endless line of hopeful children waiting for a chance to sit on his lap and tell him what they want for Christmas. He can hear the chatter from the fidgety children who anxiously wait on the two flights of steps decorated in icicle-looking tinsel and lights that lead up to the platform where Santa sits
One such anxious child has been place on Santa’s lap by his two helper elves.
Santa Claus (aggressively): HO! … HO! … HO!
Santa Claus: Get him down!
And just as fast, the hysterical child is whisked off Santa’s lap by the helper elves and sent on his way down the slide back to his waiting parents.
Santa turns to one of the elves.
Santa Claus: If they think I’m working past nine o’clock tonight, they’re insane.
The elf concurs with Santa and sneaks a peek at the clock on the wall- it’s 8:58.
The elf stomps down the steps to grab the next hand of the child in line while watching the time. He takes a hand and then freezes. It’s not a small child-like hand as he expected. The elf looks up and sees a six foot eight man dressed in brown flowing robes with a black scarf around his neck who seems to be as bewildered to be in line to see Santa as the elf is in looking up at him- in line to see Santa.
Undeterred and knowing that time is running out, the elf yanks on the hand and pulls the large man forward nearly dislodging his sunglasses.
Elf #1 (rudely): Come on kid!
The elf doesn’t quite drag the man up the steps because – come on – but still he leads him up the steps to a waiting Santa Claus who’s eager to move this along.
Santa Claus: Come on up! Come on up! HO! … HO! … HO!
Reaching the top, the elf pushes the big man forward. He doesn’t even try to lift him up and spin him around to place him on Santa’s lap because that’s just not happening.
The large man looks down at Santa. Suddenly, his mind goes blank.
Santa Claus: HO! … HO! … HO! And what’s your name…
Santa pauses, quite surprised to see a six foot eight man in flowing robes standing before him.
Santa Claus: …not so little boy?
This does not make Elf #2 very happy.
Elf #2: Hey come on kid! The store is closing.
The other elf standing behind the man isn’t very pleased with him either.
Elf #1: Come on! Listen, we’ve got a lot of people waiting so get going!
Santa redirects the man’s attention back to him and engages him again- this time a little more firmly.
Santa Claus: What do you want for Christmas, not so little boy?
His mind still not responding, the man frantically tries to remember what it was he wanted- the reason he was standing in a line of young children to see Santa. He was blowing it. Blowing it big time.
Elf #2 (sighs): Come on kid.
Then Santa comes up with a solution.
Santa Claus: How about a nice Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle?
Oooh. A Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle? Wait a minute. Won’t a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle shoot your eye out?
His unconscious will somehow overcame that minor concern and induced the big man to nod in agreement.
Santa rolls his eyes and turns to one of the elf’s.
Santa Claus: Okay, get him out of here.
Both elves shove the big man towards the slide and send him down. It’s only then he realizes what he must do.
Spurred to action, the man jams his feet against the side of the slide to stop and much to Santa’s bemusement climbs back up to the edge of the platform.
Man (speaking at a rapid-fire clip): No-no-I-want-to-win-the-HOW-world-title-by-defeating-Mike-Best-this-Saturday-night-at-Refueled-Fifty!
Then the man smiles and shows off his pearly whites.
Santa peers down at him.
Santa Claus: Mike is going to kill you, kid.
The man’s jaw drops.
Santa Claus: Merry Christmas.
Santa sticks his boot on the man’s forehead and with one quick push sends him on his way down the slide.
Man: No! No!…
Cut to the rear of Rah’s bus as the Sunshine God wakes up from the dream and lurches forward in the Golden Chair of Solitude.
The curtains rip open and Sports Entertainment Barbie pops her head through.
Sports Entertainment Barbie: What the hell is going on back here?
Breathing heavily and wired as all hell, Rah collects himself and leans his head back in the chair to respond to Barbie.
Rah: Rah is okay.
Barbie: Are you sure. The bus driver nearly drove off the road when he heard you.
Rah: Rah is fine. Rah has just had some very strange dreams the last two nights.
Barbie: Well, Rah also downed a bottle of Everclear in two hours after the Refueled show and spent Saturday night and most of Sunday sleeping it off on top of the bus.
The bus comes to a stop in what appears to be a suburban strip mall parking lot.
Barbie: We’ve arrived at the gym by the way.
* * *
18345 S. Halsted Street
Rah and his entourage exit the horizontally parked bus taking up several spots in the Lincoln Crossing parking lot and walk towards the entrance of a brick building housing Anytime Fitness – a franchise of 24-hour health and fitness clubs that is headquartered in Woodbury, Minnesota, United States operating over 4,000 franchised locations in 50 countries – on the north end in a strip mall. This would be the training facility Rah worked out at all week for his upcoming match with Mike Best for the HOW World title.
Barbie: We’ve got five good days to get you ready for Saturday night.
Rah nods as he walks, swinging his athletic bag back and forth like a pendulum.
Barbie: So I brought in reinforcements.
Rah: Reinforcements? Rah doesn’t need reinforcements-
Startled by the sudden sound of a whip cracking, The Sunshine God drops his bag on the ground.
Who’s waiting for him at the entrance of Anytime Fitness?
Dawn McGill (kittenish tone of voice): Oh, we’re going to have so much fun this week.
McGill’s dressed in all black with spiky black heels and taps the whip in the palm of her hand- kind of like a sado masochistic, wrestling trainer dominatrix look.
Barbie playfully elbows Rah in the side.
Barbie: You are going to have so much fun.
Rah knows this all too well having trained with McGill in the past. McGill whipped Rah into shape in 2017 when he formed a tag team with Halitosis (Joe Bergman) by putting him through a battery of intense exercise regimens that he’d never experienced before. She yelled at and scolded him and generally treated him in the same fashion she treated her trainees at Missouri Valley Wrestling.
However, Rah also knows that much of his success in Missouri Valley Wrestling, two tag team title runs with Halitosis was a direct result of McGill’s training.
Rah: Hi Dawn. Long time no-
He manages a weak wave.
The doors to the gym open and the manager, a wispy young fellow probably just out of college and happy to have his first management job, walks out to meet the group. He immediately recognizes Rah.
Manager: Hey, you’re wrestling Mike Best Saturday night aren’t you?
Rah nods in the affirmative.
Manager: Cool. Too bad he’s going to kill you.
Rolling his eyes, Rah makes a face at the manager as he walks by him and goes warily over to McGill. With great trepidation and, yeah, fear, the manager has an issue he needs to bring to Dawn’s attention.
Manager: Uh ma’am. Our rules state you’re not allowed to bring a whip into the gym.
He tries to look firm and authoritative but that’s hard to do when he’s looking up at McGill. Dawn’s already six feet tall without shoes. Add three inch heels and she absolutely towers over the manager. She glares down at him.
Dawn McGill: What?
Manager: We don’t allow whips inside the gym-
Manager: …but on second thought, never mind!
He makes a hasty retreat back into the building.
Dawn McGill: Let’s go! We’ve got a lot of work to do. The gym is open 24 hours a day and we’re going to need to use as much of that time as we can use to get you ready for Saturday night.
She motions again to Rah to come to her.
Dawn McGill: And besides, I don’t want Mike Best to kill you.
* * *
Later that night at the Motel 6 in Lansing, Illinois, Rah lays still on the bed, muscles throbbing with pain and discomfort, barely able to move after his first training session with Dawn McGill and zero motivation to do anything more than stay right there on the bed and listen to a live podcast on his phone.
What was he listening to? A familiar voice in the wrestling podcast universe.
Jackson C. Horne’s voice (from the phone): Hello again everybody, welcome to tonight’s live edition of The Horne Sounds!
‘The Horne Sounds’ was a weekly pro wrestling podcast hosted by legendary wrestling manager Jackson C. Horne. The description on his website reads: Jackson C. Horne is not only a legendary manager and wrestling entrepreneur but he is also one of wrestling’s most outspoken minds and mouths, hitting you with his blunt and uncensored takes on professional wrestling!
Kyle West was Horne’s right hand man on his podcast and sidekick.
Kyle West’s voice (from the phone): Aloha Jackson. Hello to everyone else.
There’s a quick mention of Horne’s favorite food of choice, a Turtle Pecan Cluster blizzard from Dairy Queen that he’d often eat while doing the show leading to the occasional, but humorous, instances where Horne would develop brain freeze in the middle of a monologue or rant and have to stop.
In between bites of his Turtle Pecan Cluster blizzard, Horne would take the next couple minutes to preview the episode before getting to the subject at hand.
Jackson C. Horne: …and speaking of things that will never change, let’s talk about this abomination that’s taking place at High Octane Wrestling this weekend.
Kyle West: The Michael Lee Best versus Rah HOW World title match?
Jackson C. Horne: Yes. Just when you think HOW has turned over a new leaf, they turn around and go full blown outlaw, mud show by booking Rah for a title match in his first match back.
Kyle West: What do you have against Rah? He’s mostly harmless.
Jackson C. Horne: Well, for starters, why in the fucking hell is a guy who’s accomplished absolutely nothing in this industry and just had his balls crushed by Lindsay Troy on their last show the guy who gets gifted a HOW World title shot on his first official match back in HOW?
If Rah is the least bit offended by what Horne is saying about him, he doesn’t show it outwardly. He remains in place, an unmovable rock, resting and recuperating from the grueling workout he endured courtesy of Dawn McGill.
So while Horne continues on his rant and rave about the match and openly pines for another Mike Best match against Dan Ryan, Lindsay Troy, or especially John Sektor, Rah relaxes by surfing the web on his phone – yes, he finally got the thing fixed – texting McGill, and sending money to her.
Jackson C. Horne: …but no, it’s fucking Rah who gets the first title shot of 2021? I don’t get it.
Kyle West: Mike Best did say on the radio a couple weeks ago that on off-weeks where he’s not competing in HOW’s DeNucci Cup he’s defending the title as much as he can and starting at the bottom.
Jackson C. Horne: Well, a title match against Rah definitely qualifies as *starting at the bottom.*
Again, Rah lets Horne’s harsh critique of his wrestling ability go in one ear and out the other. He’s too exhausted to care and content to look at pictures on the Sexy Pinup Pictures of Tiffani Amber Theissen website- a site Joe Bergman suggested to him.
Jackson C. Horne: It’s just a bad idea. Mike Best is going to kill Rah and knowing that company- he may actually kill him for real.
Rah does react to this line with another roll of the eyes.
Letting out a groan as his aching muscles become even more- achy, Rah grabs one of the pillows on his bed, places it over his head, and continues to listen to the show. Then a call comes in.
Jackson C. Horne: A call? We don’t take phone calls during the show.
Kyle West: Um. This is from your ex-wife.
Rah perks up.
Rah: Good. She got the text.
She is the ex-wife who just happens to be Dawn McGill. McGill and Horne were married for a few months before things just fell apart early last year.
Not that Horne and McGill broke up under acrimonious circumstances or anything…
(VIDEO- April 13th, 2020 – Wrestling Night in the Heartland on HOTv: Dawn McGill vs. Jackson C. Horne in a Divorce Match- loser has to agree to the winner’s terms for divorce)
….There’s a high-pitched scream.
The camera zooms in – Dawn’s cinched in the testicular claw on Horne and is squeezing as hard as she can while flipping her about to be ex-husband off with the other hand.
…but it’s never a good thing to have the end of your marriage booked on a wrestling show.
Kyle West: I understand that your recent interactions with Dawn haven’t been the most cordial…
Jackson C. Horne: That’s an understatement.
Kyle West: …but she wants to come on and talk about Rah.
Rah hears a big sigh from Horne. He sits up and listens when Dawn McGill comes on.
Dawn McGill’s voice (over the radio): Jackson.
Jackson C. Horne (awkward): Dawn. I’m a little surprised you called.
Dawn McGill: Oh trust me. I didn’t envision calling you until just a few minutes ago.
There’s a *ding* noise that pops up but so far, so good.
Dawn McGill: What is this bullshit you’re peddling about Rah?
…only lasts a few seconds.
Jackson C. Horne: Oh come on Dawn. You of all people should know what it’s like to be in the ring with Mike Best after he tore your knee apart in 2009.
Horne references a match that took place back in August of 2009 between Mike Best and Dawn McGill at the WWR Supershow. McGill’s knee gets injured during the match and while trapped in the tree of woe, Mike slams a steel chair onto the knee four times before Dawn topples off the corner, her knee in severe pain.
Dawn McGill: Yeah and I’ve got the reconstructive knee surgery to show for it.
Jackson C. Horne: You don’t actually think Rah has a chance against Mike, do you?
Dawn McGill: John Sektor wrestled one of the best tactical matches you’ll ever see at War Games 2019. Then a month and half later, he thought he could just walk into the ring and beat Halitosis, got a face full of Halitosis’s Breath of Death, and lost. Why couldn’t Rah be capable of doing the same thing?
Rah pumps his fist in the air. He approves of that statement. Rah then gets busy on his cell phone and sends another text to her.
Jackson C. Horne: With all the talent that’s been assembled at High Octane Wrestling, the Dan Ryans, Lindsay Troys, High Flyers, the Hollywood Bruvs, Conor Fuses, John Sektors, and the Jatt Starrs, there’s no need to go full blown outlaw, mud show and stick someone who has no business being in a title match in the first place into a fucking title match against arguably the best wrestler ever to grace a HOW ring.
Dawn McGill: You said the same thing about Halitosis a year and a half ago until I set you straight.
Jackson C. Horne: Oh pul-leeze. You most certainly did NOT set me straight. Joe Bergman at least had the good sense to ditch the whole goddamn Halitosis shtick, which I still maintain is wrestling’s worst ever gimmick EVER, and become a real wrestler. Bergman showed he could wrestle in the ring; Rah’s just a bunch of power moves and nothing more.
Dawn McGill: I disagree with that.
Jackson C. Horne: Besides, Bergman never faced Mike Best.
Dawn McGill: No but he faced Max Kael, Dan Ryan, Cecilworth Farthington.
Jackson C. Horne: And got his clock cleaned. Look, I like Joe. He’s a good wrestler. But he’s no Michael Lee Best. Best would have wiped up the mat with him. And Rah is no Joe Bergman.
Again, a *ding* sound is heard on the podcast.
Dawn McGill: Maybe not. I lost every single match I wrestled in HOW and then one night I faced Tim Shipley and shocked the world by winning the LSD title from him. No one knew who the hell Adonis Smyth was until he stunned HOW by upsetting Mike Best. And…
Dawn pauses. Rah can hear her whispering something as if she appears to be reading comes through. He motions his arm as if he’s trying to somehow help her.
Dawn McGill: …no one thought Lane Myer had a chance to defeat Roy Stalin on the K-12, especially skiing on one ski, but he did it.
Jackson C. Horne (confused): What?
Rah shakes his head and despairs that Horne does not know about the joy and delightfulness of the classic eighties movie ‘Better Off Dead.’ He feverously begins to text McGill again.
Dawn McGill: The point I’m trying to make is that you of all people should know anything can happen once the bell rings and that’s the reason why you wrestle the matches.
More awkward silence.
Dawn McGill: Uh…hold on.
Jackson C. Horne: What the fuck! Why do I keep hearing dings in the background?
Kyle West: Yeah. I heard them too.
Jackson C. Horne: Why do you sound like you’re reading a text?
Rah hides his cell phone. Why? Who knows. But he hides his phone as if he’s been busted or something.
Dawn McGill (defensively): I’m not reading from a text.
Jackson C. Horne: Wait a minute! Did Rah tell you to call me tonight?
Dawn McGill: I have no idea what are you talking about.
Jackson C. Horne: Rah put you up to this, didn’t he?
Rah pulls the bed sheet up and hides under the covers of the bed. Why? Again, who knows.
But this isn’t quite going the way he’d hoped.
Dawn McGill: Yes. It’s common knowledge that I’m training Rah.
Jackson C. Horne: Yeah?
Dawn McGill: And yeah… (Under her breath): …he may have thrown me a few extra bucks to come on and stick up for him.
Jackson C. Horne: I KNEW IT! You coming on my show to speak up for your goof of a wrestler was just a con, just like our marriage.
Dawn McGill: Oh don’t give me that, you sanctimonious, hypocritical, congenital lying sack of shit!
Jackson C. Horne: You deceitful, two-timing, two-faced shrew!
Dawn McGill: Oh bite me.
Jackson C. Horne: Everything about you is a lie.
Dawn McGill: You don’t want to go there.
Jackson C. Horne: Oh really?
Dawn McGill: Yeah really. Who’s the one who told me – PROMISED ME – that once we got married we were finished with wrestling, huh? Oh yeah. That would be YOU. And then you just had to go back on the road to manage your friends The Kings of Old School.
Jackson C. Horne: Oh yeah? You kept working at Missouri Valley Wrestling!
Dawn McGill: It was the only time I got to see you! And it was the only way to keep you away from the ring rats you were fucking in every town!
Kyle West (voice projecting the innate discomfort he’s feeling at the moment): Um, guys…maybe we shouldn’t be talking about this right now.
Dawn McGill: I’ve worked at MVW for a lot of years. You’re a fucking idiot if you don’t think people weren’t coming up and telling me all the shit you were pulling on the road.
Jackson C. Horne: Like you weren’t doing the same thing.
Dawn McGill: After we split up, asshole. Big difference.
Kyle West: You know guys, a marriage is work.
Dawn McGill: No kidding. I lost thirty pounds before we got married so I could fit into all the outfits Jackson wanted me to wear for him and yet he still went out and fucked everything else in sight.
Kyle West: Marriage takes work. Compromise.
Dawn McGill: Exactly. I was ready to give up my wrestling career for good. But Jackson wasn’t.
Kyle West: Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to find the right balance.
Dawn McGill: That’s right!
Kyle West: Because it’s selfishness that causes the most problems in marriage-
Jackson C. Horne: KYLE!
Kyle West: Yeah, sorry.
Jackson C. Horne: Whatever. It’s over. Dawn, we’re over. And this interview, such as it was, is over! Go back to Rah and prepare him for slaughter because Mike Best is going destroy him Saturday night.
Dawn McGill: Thanks Jackson. The more people keep saying that, the more I get to use this to help motivate Rah.
Jackson C. Horne: Oh, I’m sure you’re doing a lot of things to motivate him in your own special way.
It takes a few seconds but McGill finally picks up on her ex-husband’s insinuation.
Dawn McGill: Fuck you.
Jackson C. Horne: Hey. You said it, not me.
Dawn McGill: I’ll have you know that when it comes to training or managing a wrestler, I am one hundred percent professional about my job.
Jackson C. Horne: Whatever.
Dawn McGill: But since my deal to train Rah ends Friday, I guess there’s nothing stopping me from doing that…or him.
After several minutes of hiding under the covers while the ex-couple bickered heatedly on the podcast, Rah’s ears suddenly perk up and he reappears from underneath the sheets.
Rah: Wait, what?
Dawn McGill: So how’s this for motivation? If Rah wins the title Saturday night, I will go to his hotel room after the show and fuck his brains out. There, happy?
Rah throws the covers off, sits up straight in bed, and peers at his phone in wonderment at the words that’s coming out.
Jackson C. Horne: It’s still not going to matter.
Dawn McGill: Oh yeah?
Jackson C. Horne: Yeah. Mike Best is still going to kill him.
Now newly extra-extra motivated, Rah swiftly gathers his ring gear in his hotel room and gets ready to leave.
Dawn McGill: Well, I guess we’ll just have to see about that, won’t we?
* * *
Two minutes later, Rah slams the door to his room shut causing enough noise that Sports Entertainment Barbie sticks her head out the door to see what’s happening.
Sports Entertainment Barbie: Rah?
Rah: No time to talk!
Barbie: Where are you going?
Rah: To the gym!
Barbie watches him sprint down the hallway towards the elevators.
Rah: Gotta get ready for the match!