April 25th, 2022 – The Womb, Parts Unknown
Noelle Rivers: No, you absolute douche canoe, that’s not a thing.
Noelle was laughing off my explanation that the reason I did not attend last week’s show, where she took out Daron Zion against the odds, was because the older guys in the locker room had told me about only being present when called upon. I tried to tell her that the guy who had been showing me the ropes before had told me to keep my head down and make myself scarce unless there was a specific reason for me to be in the building, that the board members don’t like to see the young guys mooching from the green room food arrangements when they aren’t even booked, and if they heard that we were taking our per diem just to come and watch, they’d not be best pleased at all.
She rolled her eyes, and said that the owners were rolling in it, they weren’t penny pinchers, and they didn’t even keep track of who was at the arenas. She called me an idiot for believing everything anybody told me and once again, for the fifth time (this week alone), asked me why I didn’t question the fact that somebody told me to neatly fold used towels into the laundry trolley. I sighed, avoiding the question again, because no matter how many times I tried to explain the relationship between a young boy and a senior member of the roster and how it wasn’t my place to question why, only to do as I was asked, she would always burst into laughter, and ask why she isn’t stuck scrubbing dried semen from the lower lip of Jace Parker Davidson.
I’d been professing to her how proud I was with her dismantling of her opposition, and how I was looking forward to officially getting to team with her, should I get past my own roadblock in Eli Dresden, and her response had been indifferent. Defensive, deflective, guarded. Out of one side of her mouth, she said she didn’t care that I wasn’t there, but in the next breath she’d accused me of not caring about her because I didn’t go. And of course, it didn’t matter because she “didn’t even want to win”.
If she really didn’t care, why’d she kick the guy’s ass?
She was harping on a minor point about my involvement (or lack thereof) because it was her only way to get away from the very valid points I was making about her being too cool for school and what not.
Noelle Rivers: No, I don’t care about War Games, I don’t even know what I get from winning besides the herp from those fuckers they expect me to team with. Not only that, it’s in being held in a fucking war torn country. First of all, who the fuck approved that? Secondly, what the fuck do they expect to happen? The Russians are just gonna call a time outsies and everyone is going to fucking hold hands and kumbaya around a wrestling ring? Is this We Are The World? Hands Across The Ukraine? Who the fuck is even the target audience for this shit?
More avoidance, changing the topic, you know it. She should be a politician. I mean, if she actually knew anything.
Wait, that’s not fair. She is pretty smart, if she could get past her blind rage to show it. And politicians are no shining example of the type of person to aspire to be, anyway. Whatever. She knew how to play the game, she knew how to talk around a point long enough that the other party ends up giving up.
JJ Starfire: Whatever. You care.
I slide that one out of my mouth with a sideways glance. She gives me the death stare. The one where I know it’s time to back off, because the next sideways comment comes with a heavy object projectile locked on for my head. She’s terrible at video games but IRL I swear, she has some Elon Musk Neuralink aimbot patch installed because she..never..misses.
Fine, I resolve, looking back up at the screen and unpausing God Of War. The heaving behemoth with a red stripe of warpaint hobbled forward as I pushed the analog stick forward, and then I nearly jumped out of my seat as Wulver charged from around a corner and nailed Kratos in the head with a ferocious paw. The controller hit the linoleum floor, and the DualSense haptic feedback gamepad vibrated ferociously, letting me know that the great Spartan’s days were well and truly numbered.
By the time I could reach down for the controller, he was overwhelmed, and I had to go back to the previous checkpoint.
I guess that is enough for one night, eh?
I mean, I have plenty on my plate. And now the pressure’s on. Noelle was first up, and whether she thinks they screwed her into the War Games team or not, she had made it, there would be no video replay to verify the authenticity of her victory, the call had been made. And now it was on me to do my bit, because how bad would it look on me if she made it, and I fell short?
So maybe I should start getting some early nights, start taking a few extra sessions with Vhodka Black in between the planned ones with Coach E. Maybe I should leave Kratos in time out and, y’know, 420 was almost a week ago now, so probably stop getting so baked every day.
I pulled myself off the sofa and stretched myself out, as the dull glow of the television going off lingered for a moment before all of the light pollution disappeared. Noelle peered over the bridge of her nose, which was illuminated in the AMOLED glow of her iPhone. No doubt she was trolling somebody on Twitter, or looking up new and interesting insults to try out on Asher the next time he surfaced for a hot cross bun. I nodded my head back at her in acknowledgement as I walked toward my room.
As I passed Asher’s room, I paused briefly. I thought about going in to check on him.
Asher Jules: Don’t even fink about it.
He saw my feet outside of his room in the crack of light that crept under his door.
Asher Jules: I told ya once I’ve told ya a million times, you can’t fix it. You can’t make it better. I don’t want a hug or a bloody pep talk. Just do one.
At least he was speaking. Sort of.
I just wish I could fix it. There’s no way what happened was his fault, and no matter how I try to explain it to him, he won’t hear me.
That sounds familiar. Why don’t any of them listen to me?
I collapse into my bed and immediately regret that decision. This cot had barely any give, and it hurt to lay in it, but almost every night I forget, and flop into it with all my weight and end up with bruises all over. My threadbare sheet offers little warmth but it is a comfort nevertheless, and as I kick off my boots and peel away my socks with the large toe of the other foot whilst laying on the cot, I start to close my eyes.
It’s a big week.
And Eli Dresden is sort of an unknown. I mean, when she tries, she can put people to the sword. She’s got a sharp tongue, but I know a thing or two about how to handle the ones like that. Every day is a battle, and if I can survive Ms Rivers persistent onslaught, then I’m sure the words out of Dresden’s mouth will roll right off.
And anyway, it isn’t the words that hurt. The fight game is full of people who learned how to craft a mean promo, but what’s funny to me is that so few of them learn to really back it up. When I made my debut a couple years back, I had no experience and I couldn’t talk my way out of a paper bag. The guy who trained me, Josh Manhunt, laughed at me as I stood there in a Halloween costume of Mary Poppins and told my opponent “toodle pip, motherfucker.”
But then I got in the ring and beat one of the most respected people in the company, and everyone was shocked. Because I seem like I’m beatable, like I’m such a nice fellow who has nothing but good vibes and not a vicious bone in my body, and they don’t see it coming.
It’s not that I have a mean streak, or a competitive streak. I don’t. Not really. I just want to do well, and I want to be good at the chosen sport, and I don’t want to let down the people who have believed in me. If it’s a choice between upsetting my mentors, or upsetting a stranger who has been thinking of interesting and creative ways to tell me that I am the big suck, then there’s not really a choice to be made. But I’ll still offer to do duos with you in Warzone after. No biggie.
And it’s funny, because after that match at Halloween in 2020, I didn’t really wrestle again for a long time. My best mate talked me into walking out on Big Tony, because he was tryin’ to rob me blind from everything I was getting paid, and then Vhodka and Vincent said they’d help us. Started as a boot camp type thing, and then they had this guy that Vincent was trying to help – that’s Asher. And then Noelle turned up. She was never a wrestler, never wanted to be one either. Vhodka’s mum’s fellow church-goer had reached the end of the road with her nonsense kid and wanted to keep her out of trouble, and Beulah figured that her daughter could set her on the straight and narrow.
Which, if you’ve ever met my beloved mentor, Vhodka Black, you’d realize how ridiculous that seemed. But mothers see their children through a bias lens, probably.
Anyway, my mate ran away last year after her dad came sniffing around and found her. And the whole keeping Noelle out of trouble and getting her to fall in love with wrestling thing was going as well as expected, too.
Asher and me? We’d been about ready to make a real go of things, before what happened… happened.
So where was I?
Oh yeah, I stopped wrestling because of the boot camp, and then Mexico, and a whole lot of mess. (I promise I will get into this. One day.)
But then history repeated itself, sort of. See, I’m this young kid, and I’m not quite so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I was when I wrestled Ophelia Pain on Halloween, but nobody knows who the hell I am. I look like I don’t know my ass from my elbow, and I got lost about four times in a fifteen foot locker room. And standing across from me is somebody I watched for years, somebody who’s in the hall of fame, somebody who is here to give me the warm welcome to the big show. And by warm welcome, I mean a stiff forearm, I mean she’s gonna rough me up, she’s going to make sure that the up and comers are not making THEIR name off HER’S.
But then I beat her.
I’m not sure how I surpass expectations in this manner, or whether I can continue to do so. I do know that a motivated Eli Dresden can do damage, and why wouldn’t she be motivated? This is WAR GAMES. She doesn’t strike me as the Noelle-type, who is disinterested and disengaged. She will bring her A-Game, because she will want the opportunity that War Games can offer. Of that everyone can be sure, and I will be doing my best too.
I’m new here. It will be the first time I experience the phenomena in the flesh, and if you think there is any part of me that wants to do so from the sidelines then perhaps I have not made myself clear yet. Being good at something is not something that has come natural to me, it is not something I have been blessed with frequently in my life. I was often reminded about how inadequate I was in virtually every aspect of my life for as long as I can remember and as a result, the one and only thing that drives me beyond anything in this world is the validation of the people that I look up to.
This is something that I am good at. For some reason I am as yet unable to ascertain, I am particularly gifted at the sport of professional wrestling. Everybody who watches me perform remarks about how talented I am, even if I am a little bit of a rough diamond and make mistakes here and there. You can tell when somebody ‘has it’ and when they don’t, and unanimously people agree that I am somebody who has got it.
I will do everything in my power to make certain that I meet and exceed the expectations of everybody who believes in me. I am desperate to expand the pool of people willing to validate me because it fills the void in my chest every time another new person tells me how unexpectedly talented I am. And what better way to do that, than to qualify for the War Games match, and put myself on display in front of the entire world, shoulder to shoulder with the best of the best that High Octane Wrestling has to offer?
Put anyone in the ring opposite me, it won’t matter. I’m going to War Games.
Dresden can bring her A-game, her B-game, and her boyfriend, too. She can watch all the tape she wants of me teaching Bobbinette a thing or two, if she likes. Sure, the ‘element of surprise’ might be gone, but not every trick in the book was unveiled. Because that’s the thing, there isn’t really a book. I’m just making it up as I go, and it all seems to just work.
I guess that’s what’s good about natural talent.
Natural talent… and a really unhealthy desire for every single person you ever meet to never be disappointed in you.
Toodle pip, motherfuckers.