We haven’t had a chance to meet yet, hello Evan. I’m Clay. I get it, I’m new here. I’ve only been around for a little while. You know, mostly doing some menial tasks, I think when Lee first hired me he wanted me to update the website or something. I think that was the original job, he was looking for some big giant fucker with a beard to be his webmaster. He was very insistent I learn some internets, I guess the old man just has a type. But yeah, from you know, working my way up amongst the High Octane machine for just a little while I could understand how you just glanced me over.
I mean really, what the fuck do I matter anyway, Evan? Who the fuck am I to some big bad Hall of Famer like you? I’m sure I’m just that guy that Lee doesn’t like very much, I’m just the big ornery fucker with some weird agenda marching around, drinking a bunch of booze, you know. Doing my usual. Wandering around, just aimlessly trying to find myself. Just off riding around in my truck, doing truck things. I drive it, I park it, I reverse it. It goes vroom.
Yeah that about sums me up.
Man, I sure am glad you’ve been paying attention the last few years. When was the last time you put all your shit in your bag and left the arena and swore you were never coming back? Probably like 2019 or some dumb shit nobody cares about anymore. Oh boy, you even had a little group that was really famous for being famous. Had all these big time guys in it, it was the very best, everyone really enjoyed everyone’s company. It was the best.
I’m glad you came back. It’s neat when fossils like you drag themselves through the door. You all come back the same way too, just sucking at the teat of Lee like it pumps out liquid gold. It’s always the same, ‘OH LOOK IT’S BEFORE WAR GAMES! LETS SEE WHAT SOME DICKHEAD WHO WAS LAST GOOD IN 2012 CAN DO NOW!?’ It’s like our favorite game, we get to play it every year.
Sure, sometimes it works out and Christopher America goes on some real big world title run. But I mean, do we all remember Carey coming back to be a part of War Games that year? (Sorry Carey, we’re on the same team. It’s fine.) I mean, there’s really two sides of this coin, and lets just say based on looks alone, you look like one more than the other.
See here’s the thing Evan, I do not give a flying fuck what Hall of Fame rock you crawled out from under. I don’t give a fuck what vat of acid you pulled yourself out of. I do not care what fucking asteroid flew you to earth however many decades ago. I do not give a fuck. I do not care about your wife and kids, I don’t care about your feelings. I don’t give a shit about your old friends.
Rhys Townsend? Ain’t seen him since he was sitting out back slinging tacos 2 for $5.
Silent Witness? You mean the gambling columnist?
Sure, sure, sure, we’re supposed to celebrate all the big names. Run around and clap for all of the Hall of Famers. Tell them how great they were, give them their flowers. But really Evan, I absolutely do not give a flying fuck. Never have, never will. I can’t bring myself to do it.
You’re just some fucking asshole back for another shot at the big show. You put yourself together like a blind kid in kindergarten building a popsicle stick house with some Elmers. I’m sure you have a dodgy limb, or some checkered injury past. I’m sure you did something really cool one time. I’m sure it was all very neat, and very, very, very, cool. Some would dare say it was the coolest thing that anyone has ever done.
But I didn’t see it, Evan.
And if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around does it still make a sound? So yeah, listen, all that stuff about shit that happened four years ago, or ten years ago, it’s really great and all. But maybe it’s time to come back to reality. Get yourself off the fucking nostalgia rollercoaster and drag yourself back to the present. I know it’s less fun here; of course it’s less fun here. But this is where we are, Evan, this is what reality looks like.
So let me introduce myself. My name is Clay Byrd. I’m the wrestler of the fucking year in 2022. I’ve main evented the last two Iconics, I’ve been a War Games captain the last two years. Some would say that while you’ve been off in magical mystery fantasyland, I’ve become some kind of a big deal. And no Evan, this isn’t like the movie Hook. You don’t get to come back as the fat, balding, greasy man with a touch of jaundice and take over the lost boys while they fight for Neverland.
This time Rufio stabs Peter Pan in the fucking heart.
Sane people have mirror collections. Very sane people keep these collections somewhere that makes complete sense. Maybe they have a mirror room, or they keep them stacked in boxes or crates. Somewhere that makes sense, somewhere that they won’t be damaged. Somewhere they will be dusted and cared for, their rich patinas looking different all throughout the day based on the lighting.
Clay’s mirror collection?
Well I tried to explain what sane people would do with a collection of fragile, easily broken objects. Clay’s not a sane person though, he hasn’t been for a long time. He’s been broken, he’s been kicked to the dirt, his face rubbed in the mud. The manure on the bottom of a farmer’s boot has been scraped across his face. He’s been betrayed, he’s been beaten, his self confidence? It’s non-existent.
So what drives him? What keeps him going? Why does he keep sauntering forth to the rings of High Octane? He could go home, he could pack his bags up and leave, he could be like all the rest of them. But instead, he stays, he fights, he pushes on. Once where self-confidence and the want to be the best in the world were fuel, now lies a much simpler and easier to satiate combination. Alcohol and spite.
The alcohol was in plentiful supply, a handle of Jim Beam sat on the tailgate of the truck. (Yes America, it’s another Clay and his truck story. You can turn it off whenever you’d like.) Beside the handle of Jim Beam sat our Behemoth. Clay was shirtless, covered in sweat. Where once he was nearly three hundred pounds of sheer ass kicking human being, now, he’s become leaner, trimmer, a more svelte Monster. The lack of decent nutrition, as well as an inability to be sober enough to work out had done a number on the big man.
His blonde beard began to show signs of salt white streaks, his age finally becoming apparent. His formerly immaculate body sagged while he sat down. Once an incredible physical specimen, now reduced down to a more manageable frame. Sure it was only a few pounds, but they always say the first ten are the most noticeable. His face was gaunt, it looked almost sunken from its former robustness.
The only thing keeping Clay from bloating out into a giant fat pile of garbage was the heat of the Texan spring, and his latest project. He’d managed to find an old vanity at one of the thrift stores in town. He’d lifted it in the back of his truck, to the shock of everyone without the help of another person. The vanity was so large and curved that it had to sit at an angle, it’s drawers sticking up towards the sky. He’d brought it out here, because where else could he take it?
What else could he possibly do with this monstrous old vanity? He didn’t have a home, he’d burnt them down. He didn’t have friends anymore, he’d burnt them down as well. All he had left was this field. And it wasn’t even his, he’d given it away to a neighbor. Clearly they hadn’t been out to tend it, or they’d have found the campsite of the insane Behemoth. However, they hadn’t and they wouldn’t. That’s why he’d dropped this vanity right beside the fire pit. He’d gone to the hardware store and found the supplies he needed to start working on it.
See this story is all about the mirrors, the vanity is the important background information you need to know before we get too much more into it. Remember how we’d talked about what sane people would do with mirrors? I mean, he just put an antique vanity that probably cost him north of two-thousand dollars in the center of a field he used to own and doesn’t anymore. He’s clearly not right in the fucking head.
Anyway, he’s thinner, fucking crazy, and his beard is finally starting to look like it belongs on a man who is nearly forty-one. And he’s been busy, sure, he couldn’t be fucked with showing up to the arena, because he’s been busy. He’s been working on his masterpiece outhere in the Texas scrubgrass. He’s been hard at work hammering away, pounding away, nail upon nail. And sure, screws probably would have been better for the task, but you don’t get the same satisfaction you do out of beating the fuck out of something with a hammer.
So Clay hammered and pounded away. His newest fascination became part of his last one. Each little handheld mirror, slammed and bashed into position. Nails driven through their frail, finally made wooden handles. The first day he’d lined the edges of the vanity. All the way around, front and back. Then the big man had to really become a carpenter, and extend the support boards up, making a second ring to hang the mirrors from. Like the men who built the coliseum, Clay just kept building upwards. A thousand tiny mirrors, their handles decimated by the hammering and the nails.
Nothing could make him feel right, nothing could make him feel happy, nothing could make him feel normal. He didn’t even know what normal really felt like anymore. What was normal? Was this his new normal? How did he get here, what was the journey like? How did this place, how did this thing break him like this? He took a swig from the handle of Jim Beam. Swig, gulp, same thing. He sat the bottle down and meandered his way up to the vanity. The last vestiges of the morning twilight still hung in the air. His firepit crackled behind him. It’s dying embers, fading with the morning light. He walked forward, leaning forward and placing his hands on the center of the vanity.
The thousand antique mirrors reflected his figure back to him. The Behemoth didn’t recognize the man that looked back. He looked at each image of his face, his eyes darting around to make contact with the thousand reflections. Each one seared into his frontal cortex, each one replacing what he believed himself to be. He had to be the loser, he had to keep himself down. But as he looked through and analyzed his face over and over again he could see it. He could see the embers.
They could bring him back from this, they burned low, like the ones in the firepit, but they still burned. Some kindling, a little more fuel, and a fire could roar again. The Behemoth took a deep breath, trying to drown the embers in self loathing. But there they were, they stared back at him, he could feel it welling up in his chest. He could feel it taking over every part of his body. He could feel it coursing through his veins. He could feel it all over again. The intrusive thoughts, the self-confidence, the self-respect, they ached to be released from their self imposed self detrimental prison.
He roared, at least that’s what he felt as he pulled back and screamed into the morning sun. He hadn’t spoken much in months, so the roar croaked and cracked out of him, but nonetheless, it was a roar of anguish. A roar of sorrow. A roar of frustration. He cried out a second time to the setting moon, he knew he couldn’t stop what was inside of him. He knew he couldn’t stop the embers. As long as they were still there, as long as they were still warm enough to cause a spark there would always be plenty of fuel.
He hated it, that’s why he cried out. He loathed his addiction, he loathed his feelings, he loathed his needs, he loathed his desires. But the spark was there, the fire had started, the kindling had ignited. And now an inferno roared forth, forward, lashing out in all directions. A mirror shattered and exploded into a million pieces as his colossal hand planted in it’s center. Another cracked and shattered as his other smashed through its front and its backing. He pulled his arm out, scratches and cuts forming down his forearms. He kept throwing his fists, kept willing himself forward. Each one smashing and breaking, each visage of hope slowly disintegrating into nothing.
But the inferno still roared on.
You were supposed to fix me Chris. You were supposed to make me better. Either way it went in that ring, I was supposed to leave with the satisfaction, I was supposed to leave knowing who the better man was. Sure, the result could be upsetting, it could rip me apart. But I was supposed to know Chris, I was supposed to be sure. I was supposed to be sure you were the better man. I was supposed to be sure you were the better wrestler. I was supposed to be sure you were unbeatable.
I was going to walk away broken if I lost. That was never out of the question, but it would have been easier if there wasn’t hope. If you hadn’t given me hope. But you couldn’t just watch the embers smolder into nothingness. You couldn’t fucking extinguish them. You had to let them stay ignited. You could have drowned them, packed them away forever. Dismantled and destroyed them.
But instead, you let them flicker.
You did that Chris.
I shouldn’t think about her anymore. I shouldn’t think about the red lady, she shouldn’t dance through my dreams, she shouldn’t be a part of my nightmares. I’m not supposed to dream of touching her, I’m not supposed to dream of dancing with her. It’s supposed to be over Chris. My relationship with her should have ended that night at Iconic. My desire for her should have been silenced forever. My forbidden longing for her attention and her praise should have died in 2022.
But you had to go and disappoint her father. You had to go out, and take the largest, American sized shit possible. You had to go out into Los Angeles, California, at PWA-1 and lose to that giant Russian fuck. And not just lose Chris, you were fucking decimated. Beaten at your own game, beaten within an inch of your life by some RELIC from a Cold War genetics project.
You were supposed to be the best Chris.
You were supposed to be the best of us. You were our champion. You were the one person that could carry the standard for HOW forward. You could make your new family proud by defending their honor. I didn’t want to disappoint you Chris, I didn’t want the night to be marred by a High Octane loss. I went out and beat a Hall of Famer, I beat their former Universal Champion, I beat their big tournament winner.
I beat their fucking hero, Chris.
I did it for you, I did it so you could have what you wanted. I did it to honor our battle, I did it for the family. I did it for High Octane. And here you are, disappointing her. Disappointing her father. A disgrace.
Nobody here will say it, they are too afraid, they are too scared. They fear you Chris, but I know how close I was, I know how close she was to picking me over you. We were the real final two, the apples of her eye. The ones that could steal her away forever, the ones that could walk off into the fire and defend her honor.
And you let her down.
You lost to the guy who lost to a bastard child of John Sektor.
I didn’t do that, Chris. I brought honor to the family. GOD looked down and smiled on me that day, he gave me a pat on the back when I walked through the curtain. All the animosity in the world, all the pain and suffering. But he knew, he knew I did good. He knew I did well. He knew I did it for her. Not because I wanted another chance, but because I wanted her to be happy. I wanted her to be happy with her choice, I wanted her to be satisfied, Chris. I wanted you to bring that big Russian back home, and have him stuffed and mounted in the parlor so she could look at it every day.
So she’d be proud of you.
But I can see it Chris, I can see it cracking. I can see the facade splintering. The happy couple, the marriage, the prom. I see the red lady, she’s ready to run. She wants another way out.
You know I’m a suitor. And you know Conor is a suitor.
Evan might not know, but you do. You know how much I love her, how much I covet her, what I’d be willing to do for her. She knows I wouldn’t lose to Ivan Stanislav, she knows I wouldn’t get beaten down by the giant Russian. She knows I’d deliver her the victory she desires, she knows I can do it. She believes in me, Chris.
Does she still believe in you?