::::SCENE: One of the conference rooms in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Ruler of Jattlantis is laying down on the smooth wood conference table in the middle of the room, in the darkness. He wonders if it is oak or pine. Jatt Starr is willing to think of anything to get his mind off the blatant disrespect had been shown less than an hour ago.
The HOW Hall of Famer is barely able to make out the shape of the ceiling lamps above him. Are they fluorescent? Perhaps they are neon. Perhaps blue or yellow or pink. Doesn’t matter. The only light coming from the moon’s light shining through the window and prefers to sit in the dark.
As the Champion of Jattanooga stares off, he is reminded when he was a young lad by the name of Simon Sparrow. When he was much smaller in frame, “thin as a rail” is what his Little League Coach said of him. Hurtful. Not that he cared too much. Baseball really wasn’t his game. In his room, he had bunk beds, it was “L” shaped with the bottom bunk horizontal and the top bunk vertical. Or vice versa. Depending on the point of view. It was mainly there for when his family visited, the relative would take his brother Ben’s room and Ben would take the top bunk. The bunk bed was set up with a shelving unit to the left of the bottom bunk where he would keep his Bloom County and Calvin and Hobbes books. The shelving unit left a little space on the right of the ladder, a cubby hole large enough for him to slide into when he needed to be alone.
The cubby hole was his Fortress of Solitude.
Got the belt? Into the cubby hole.
Got screamed at? Into the cubby hole.
Got picked on in school? Into the cubby hole.
Felt overshadowed by his sister and two brothers? Into the cubby hole.
He spent the better part of seventh and eighth grade in that cubby hole when the eighth graders nicknamed him “Simon Hymen”. That name stuck for a while. It certainly torpedoed his popularity. When his two best friends Tony and Jocelyn turned on him, that’s when the knife was dug into his heart and twisted.
He remembers the tears welling up in his eyes, his lips quivering, looking at Tony and Robyn, not an ounce of remorse in their eyes. Their eyes were almost glinting with glee. He remembers running into the boys restroom and hiding in one of the stalls. The feeling of helplessness, loneliness, the sheer sadness. That’s when it happened. The shortness of breath, the feeling as if he were being dragged down into the Great Coral Reef….the weight of the ocean depths crushing as he was drowning, gasping for breath.
It was his first anxiety attack.
The first one he remembers anyway.
But the cubby hole the Jattlantic City Idol had in his room under the foot of the top bunk, that was his sanctuary. There was always something comforting about the dark, as if the shadows were covering him like a security blanket. He was hoping that finding this room would be his safe haven.
So far, it has not.
The night started off somewhat promising (minus Hughie Freeman’s devastating loss). Jace Parker Davison defeated that vile strumpet, Lindsay Troy. Steve Harrison and Cancer Jiles became the new HOW Tag Team Champions. Not a horrible night.
That is, until after the show….
The door to the conference room creaks open as head pops in. The familiar voice of his daughter breaks his train of thought.::::
GILDA: Father? Are you in here?
JATT STARR: Yes.
GILDA: What are you doing?
JATT STARR: Pondering the great mysteries of the world. Stonehenge. The pyramids. Pauly Shore’s career.
::::Gilda opens the door wide, only the silhouette of her athletic figure can be seen from the lights beaming into the dark room from the corridor. For his part, the Jatti Master moves barely a muscle.::::
GILDA: What’s wrong? Are you mourning the death of Uncle Lee?
::::The worry in her voice is unmistakable, if misguided. The assertion that Lee Best is dead is merely another slanderous rumor being published as fact by the muckraking HOW media. A rumor that can only have been started by Dan Ryan. Dan Ryan has history with Lindsay Troy. Enough said.::::
JATT STARR: Don’t tell me you’re buying into that hogwarts and poppycock, are you? Lee Best is not dead. That blind old coot is probably sitting on a beach somewhere drinking mai tais from a coconut shell while recovering from Dan Ryan’s cowardly attack.
GILDA: I don’t know. You seem like you’re in one of those things, a, um, whatchamacallit, funk.
JATT STARR: I am the picturesque of mental health. Don’t worry.
GILDA: I grew up with a mother who had to go through a lot of….difficult situations, situations that she can’t even tell Gary about. I know that look on your face. I saw it a lot on mother’s face growing up.
:::The King of Grapple from the Big Apple lets out a long sigh. A child should not see their parents in the state he is in. But then again, she is twenty-five…or is it still twenty-four? Either way, he is not asking and she is old enough to know that sometimes in poker, you get the bad hand, the hand they call in the casino biz as “Craps”.::::
JATT STARR: When I lost the LSD Championship did I complain?
GILDA: I wouldn’t know, I wasn’t here for it.
JATT STARR: Fine, since you have returned, have you heard me whine or complain about losing the LSD Championship?
GILDA: Not really. Certainly not in comparison to the time we went to Chili’s and you got the Taco Rancheros and they put avocado on them.
JATT STARR: I specifically said “No avocado”!
GILDA: I know.
JATT STARR: Did I complain when StarrSek Industries lost the Tag Team Championships?
GILDA: Yes, quite a bit. Mainly about how Lindsay Troy, or as you put it, “that useless, goldigging whore bag” won a title.
JATT STARR: Whatever. Did I ever demand a rematch? Did I kick and scream about it? Did I throw a temper tantrum?
JATT STARR: Exactly.
GILDA: Can we turn a light on in here?
:::Gilda Starr-Ockelman reaches for the light switch against the door.::::
JATT STARR: No.
::::The Starr Progeny slowly pulls her hand away from the light switch and proceeds to fold her arms across her chest and she leans her left shoulder against the door.::::
JATT STARR: The darkness is the closest I’ll ever get to being invisible.
JATT STARR: I would follow Lee across the River Styx into Hell. I don’t see Narcotic or Lynx or even the Executioner still going at one hundred percent for Lee. I was not even supposed to have an LSD Championship match at ICONIC. It was supposed to be Jatt Starr versus Lindsay Troy. By sheer luck, she won the LSD Title and I was thrust in a Scaffold match against Hughie, Steve Harrison, and the Skank. I won it. At the same time, I was robbed of my one-on-one match. Teddy Palmer beats me for the LSD Championship and he pins Sektor to win the Tag Team Championships. All of sudden, I’m ostrich-fried?
GILDA: I don’t understand.
JATT STARR: I wanted Teddy Palmer or Lindsay Troy. I end up facing neither next week. Okay, fine. But did I draw the “Tin Codpiece”, Ray McAvay? What about Conor Fuse? Or even Zeb Martin? Nope. None of the above. Instead, I get….
::::The Sovereign of Starrgentina’s face contorts into a mask of repugnance and disgust as if he were witnessing maggots crawling out of every orifice of a cadaver as Gilda stares at her father, partially wondering why she did had not left the room and partially wondering how she can bring her father out of this melancholic haze.::::
JATT STARR: Bobby Dean.
::::The Baron of Boca Jatton spits out the name with same disdain and loathing as he would the words “cunt”, “Hitler”, or “Lindsay Troy”.::::
JATT STARR: Bobby flipping Dean. That is showing the Ruler of Jattlantis zero respect. What, was Bad Boy Pat busy? What about Barra?
GILDA: I don’t know who they are.
JATT STARR: Because you don’t know your HOW history. You would think that after everything he’s done to me and everything I have done for him, Lee would have accommodated my one, simple request. Nope.
GILDA: Because he’s dead.
JATT STARR: Give me a break. “Dead”. Lee’s not dead. This is a classic Lee Best double bluff smokescreen.
GILDA: I don’t know, seems pretty convincing….
JATT STARR: Lies.
GILDA: There’s nothing you can do about it. What’s done is done. As Gary would say “when life knocks you down, get up, brush yourself off, and move forward”.
JATT STARR: How did that work out for him after you knocked his kiester out?
GILDA: I’m here and not there.
JATT STARR: By choice.
JATT STARR: Gary sounds like a massive turdwaffle. He should know when to keep his mouth shut. He doesn’t know me. He hasn’t had the privilege of being in the same room as the Thane of Starrkarth. He doesn’t know what makes me tick, dang it.
GILDA: I don’t even know why this is bothering you. You go in, kick Bobby Dean’s deviant ass and move on. Stop being such a wet rag.
:::To Jatt Starr, Gilda sees Bobby Dean as easy “W”, but is overlooking the bigger picture. The Starrcelona Icon closes his eyes and just breathes for a moment. Gilda, confused by the silence, looks down at her feet, her new pink sneakers with a white Nike swoosh. A bit of a luxury purchase, but she’s been through a lot and earned these “kicks” dammit. Her Hall of Fame father breaks the silence.:::::
JATT STARR: It is a syntax error that is inherent within the Best Alliance and HOW in general. Instead of being placed into a match in which there could be real stakes, I am relegated to facing off against the HOW version of Bozo the Clown. I am being undervalued, marginalized, minimalized…
GILDA: You mean “minimized”?
JATT STARR: That’s what I said. You saw what happened last week when Clay Pigeon mocked me in front of the world. This week? Nary a mention of the Ruler of Jattlantis. Hughie, Steve Harrison, Jiles, Jace Parker Davison, they were all given matches of significance. I feel like an afterthought.
GILDA: There’s no reason to feel like—-
JATT STARR: It’s neglect, Gildy. Plain and simple. I know the feeling all too well. Trying being the second child out of four when you have an older brother that was constantly being doted upon for being so “nice and responsible”, a younger brother and sister both of whom were…are…gifted athletically and intellectually. Growing up, at home, I was constantly made to feel like I was either invisible or couldn’t measure up. At school, let’s just say I wished I was invisible.
::::Gilda, feeling uncomfortable at her father’s sudden urge to open up about his family, a subject he has been previously closed off about, looks up him, a shadowy figure laying on a table.::::
GILDA: Have you thought maybe this match was a gift? A, um, easy win, you could say.
JATT STARR: There are no easy wins. Bobby Dean DID beat male escort fashionista Sutler Kael. And if this match is considered a “gimme”, then what is that? A pity win? Am I that pathetic and useless in Lee’s or whomever’s eyes, they have to spoon feed me a victory? And what if I lose? I look like a massive nigmenog.
GILDA: A what?
JATT STARR: A sap. A sucker. A rube.
GILDA: Oh. Like a mook.
JATT STARR: Yes. Where do I go from here? I’ve beaten the likes of Trent, Ryan Faze, Silent Witness, and Kostoff. My opinion should matter and cast aside like used, snotty tissue. My history should entitle me to some respect. What do I need to do, drop a tampon into Conor Fuse’s mouth?
GILDA: What kind of sick, twisted freak would do that to another human being?
JATT STARR: You’d be surprised at what’s gone on during the history of High Octane Wrestling.
::::Gilda nods her head and vocalizes an affirmative “Mmm” in response, as such degenerate behavior does track with some of the stories the Marquis of MadagaStarr has shared with her.::::
JATT STARR: The point is, there is no one who has my back.
GILDA: “No one”?
JATT STARR: Besides you. You are bound by indiginous duty to support me. But it’s not the same. Just because my thirty-eight die hard fans, who have rooted for me since day one, cheer me on, does not change the fact that there is Anti-Jatt Starr sentiment swirling around the HOW.
GILDA: So, it’s a conspiracy now? Against you?
JATT STARR: No. It’s hard to find people you can trust who won’t stab you in the back.
GILDA: What about—-
JATT STARR: What? The Best Alliance? I’m just a number to them. An expendable number at that. They don’t see my value. If you don’t believe that, then I’ve just two words for you: Bobby Freaking Dean.
GILDA: I was going to say—
JATT STARR: Sektor? It’s complicated. Like high school algebra complicated, Like the Matrix sequels complicated. Like—-
GILDA: I get it. It’s complicated. But, we do have to leave at some point.
JATT STARR: There is no comradery—-
JATT STARR: There is no comradery in the Best Alliance. No one trusts each other. Hell, no one even likes me. If it wasn’t for loyalty and the money, I would be like Terminator Two and say “hasta vista, baby”.
GILDA: Can I tell you something?
:::There is no response. Her question is met with silence, but Gilda can sense that Jatt Starr is open to hearing what she has to say.::::
GILDA: If I have learned anything, it’s these three things. Most people are assholes. Sometimes, the only person you can rely on is yourself. And finally, fuck people. People let you down. A month or so after mother brought me to her home, I started going out. I met some people and, at mother’s request, went out. She wanted me to experience normalcy or some shit, I dunno. But we’re out, we’re eating, and Brandy, that was the girl’s name, just would not shut the fuck up about shallow bullshit. What Real Housewife she liked, who her favorite social media influencer is and then Melissa started in about her Instagram and YouTube channel and how she planned on getting “X” amount of followers by the end of the year. This was in October, sometime, by the way, and all I could think about was how fucking shallow and full of themselves they were that I wanted slam their faces into the table until their faces looked like my cocktail sauce.
JATT STARR: They would have deserved it, by the HOW gods.
GILDA: I realized, why the fuck should I care what people think of me. Am I really gonna get offended if some vapid bitch doesn’t like it when I say “the bee’s knees” or “aces”? No way. The thing about being alone is that you know who you are and who you can be and if other people can’t accept it, well, fuck’em. They don’t like you? Who cares? Fuck’em.
JATT STARR: Language, young lady.
GILDA: I’m just giving you the word from the bird, Daddy-O
JATT STARR: Don’t, uh, yeah, don’t call me Daddy-O.
GILDA: Just trying to add a little levity. Sorry.
JATT STARR: I know, I appreciate it.
GILDA: Besides, we’ve got to burn rubber, like pronto. They’re gonna kick us out or call the cops if we’re found trespassing.
JATT STARR: Let them do their worst. At least I won’t be sharing the air with Bobby Dean if I’m locked up.
GILDA: Do I need to tell mother you were locked up? She finds you to be a questionable role model as is.
JATT STARR: ARRRRRRGH!! Fine! Cheese and crackers….
::::The Ruler of Jattlantis rolls off the conference table and lands on the paperthin carpeting of the conference room with a “thud”. He slowly pulls himself up, muttering incoherently.::::
GILDA: Are you blitzed or something?
JATT STARR: I’m as sober as a muppet.
GILDA: “A muppet”?
JATT STARR: Have you seen Kermit the Frog or Scooter or Miss Piggy drunk off their asses? No. I’m picking the music, by the way. I cannot listen to N’Sync one more time.
GILDA: What about The Backstreet Boys instead?
JATT STARR: No. I’m feeling Chicago.
::::Gilda looks deflated like a balloon at the mention of Chicago. Jatt Starr proceeds to walk out the door from dark conference room to the bright hallway, he squints a bit as he heads down the corridor followed by Gilda feeling neither excited nor confident about his prospects within the dominant Best Alliance faction. But, what choice does he have but allow the shit to pile on his head and thank the powers that be for the hat. End Scene.:::::