Nobody Praying For Me

Nobody Praying For Me

Posted on July 21, 2023 at 11:30 am by Shane Reynolds

Rust is showing on my armor
I am wheezing like an old man done
I’m a product of my anger
I’m the bullet in a loaded gun…


What? No opening, rambling internal monologue, this time?


No extended ramblings about Jatt and how you are going to collapse him like the Starr he is?

Nice pun, but nope.


Shut up!


The hotel room door burst open, slamming hard against the opposing wall as Shane Reynolds barely let his key-card activate the lock. Were there anybody in his vicinity, they would have been overwhelmed by the amount of whiskey on his breath. People tend to call it drowning one’s sorrows but Shane had drunk enough to drown every single emotion, with enough left over to drown an additional elephant. As such, the only emotion that survived the alcohol onslaught was anger.

That anger rose up again as he staggered over the threshold and was greeted with the luxurious environs provided by Hotel Who Gives A Fuck. He kicked out at the door behind him, missed, nearly fell, cursed under his breath, and tried again. It ended up being third time the charm, the door finally slamming closed. Shane immediately regretted the move, as shooting pains ran up and down his leg – serving to reactivate the various pains that had set up permanent shop in the rest of his body.

Yes, he had retained the HOTV championship. But at what cost?

Shane pondered that question as he put the chain in place on the door. It really had been a hell of a night, with battling Trent and Evan Ward only being the start. He had previously thought that the match would ultimately be inconsequential, just another stepping stone on the road to 97Red. But no, Shane knew better now. They had instead proven to be the first domino in what was going to be a truly tumultuous week.

Shane groaned, “I never should have come back!”

He rested his head against the door for a moment, when groaned again at letting such a thought come to the surface. He slammed a fist against it, damaging both the wood of the door and his shoulder even more.

“Fuck,” Shane yelled, then composed himself, standing back up straight. “No, none of that!”

He backed away from the door and turned back into the room. He once again grimaced at the sight, of the huge, flat-screen TV, the elaborate custom-made coffee table that once held beautiful flowers until Shane had cut their heads off, and the designer couch and recliner chairs. He hated it. He hated it all. The privileged bullshit that really did make one go soft. He missed home, the harsh reality that he and his followers had risen up to take control of. He missed the padded walls and the shared open spaces, laced in equal parts misery and hope. He missed how it had sharpened them into weapons of not mass but precise destruction.

“Now look at you,” Shane muttered, as he limped passed a full-length mirror on the way into the living room area of the suite.

Yes, he had executed a brutal attack against Nettie Carey. But at what cost?

Shane limped ever onwards, towards and into the brightly-lit bathroom. Without pausing for breath – and avoiding another glance in another mirror – Shane disrobed down to his shorts and scars. Pain raced across his back, shoulders, arms, hips, and legs with every move. His eyes were pleased, however, to see that everything had been arranged to his specifications – based on the call ahead that he had made. Looking down, Shane saw that the entire bathtub had been filled with ice. He lifted a leg and dipped a literal toe in before forcing the whole foot to the bottom. He slowly repeated the motion with the other and then, with a quick few breaths, submerged himself completely.

“Holy shit!” He stuttered, before giving in to immediate shivers as the cold rapidly grasped at every inch of his broken body.

A few days before, he had tried a recommended bath of Epsom salts. They are worked a little, but nowhere to the degree he had been hoping. Certainly, nowhere close to the morphine he had pilfered, which was now starting to run out and Shane had vowed to stay away from. He needed to find another way to keep his body going…even just a few weeks more. Shane continued to shiver as his body felt comfortably numb. Maybe this was actually going to work. It was then that his phone buzzed. It was yet another “modern convenience” that Shane detested and wish he didn’t have to rely on.

“Ignore it,” Shane ordered, as he fell himself starting to drift off as the pain miraculously receded to parts unknown. As he did, however, Shane couldn’t resist glancing out the corner of his eye – refusing to move even a muscle, just in case. All he saw, just as the screen returned to black and Shane’s eyelids fell crossed, was a single name:



Shane couldn’t decide whether his unconscious mind had landed in a dream or a nightmare. Whatever the case, the pain was gone and it was a blessing he welcomed with two proverbial open arms. Equally seemingly gone was the entire population of whatever city he was already walking towards. There was neither sight nor sound of a single person as he trudged mile after mile, though each seemed to pass quicker than the last. Nor did a single car pass in either direction. It was equally bliss. It was then, however, that he came upon a sign. That was when the debate between dream and nightmare officially began to rage. It simply read:


If Shane’s eyes could roll back into his head, they would have at this moment. Then he realised this had to be a dream and so they probably could. As he tried, though, dream logic refused to kick in and he simply eye-rolled a normal amount before marching on towards the city on the horizon. As before, he reached it in far quicker time than was humanly possible. As he went though, he couldn’t help but notice the details of the place – details that literally befitted Jatt Starr’s astronomical ego. The trees were sculpted to resemble the self-proclaimed Sultan and more. Looking up, the clouds already represented his visage and, by quick glance, Shane saw that Jatt’s actual face loomed within The Sun like an even creepier version of the Teletubbies baby.

“Can I just wake up now?” Shane demanded of his subconscious.

Receiving no answer, that led to an even more worrying thought, however. The spectre of Jatt looming everywhere could be as much a sign of Shane’s obsessiveness than Jatt’s ego. After all, if Jatt was to be his next opponent – and the chances were that he was, since he used his phone for match-related alerts and little else – then his mind was destined to think of little but Jatt Starr for the next several days. Whatever the case, Shane pushed on. The first building he came was an odd marble structure that stretched incoherently towards the sky. With pillars of either side, they framed a staircase that led up towards two pairs of huge, oak doors. Between them dwelled another shrine to Jatt Starr, this one carved as though by Michelangelo himself. He rested on a throne with the HOTV championship draped over his shoulder, perched almost in parallel to his smirking face.

“Over my dead body,” Shane muttered, before setting off towards the marble staircase as though he could do something about the statue with his bare hands.

He’d barely reached them and set foot on the first step, when he heard the first sound in this place that wasn’t his own thoughts and voice. Bizarrely, it was the neigh and whinny of a horse. Although, that sound paled in comparison to the oddity of the sight that awaited him when he turned around.

“Well, howdy there, partner!”

The voice sounded familiar, but Shane couldn’t place it as he turned. He saw the horse first, decked out like one of those belonging to the NYPD. His eyes ventured up and then it all clicked and made sense – well, as much sense as it could in this fucked up subconscious realm that Shane had found himself. Sat awkwardly atop the horse’s back, like something out of Planet of the Apes but infinitely weirder was an alpaca. And not just any alpaca, but one known infamously as Gary Cooper – hence, Shane now realised, the familiar voice.

“What’sa matter, son,” it…he…whatever asked. “Viper got yer tongue?”

Shane still couldn’t find the words to respond to such an absurd sight. He was simply surprised that he wasn’t already laughing at the way the alpaca was somehow holding the reigns.

“Well, the nice thing about silence is that it can’t be repeated.”

That can’t possibly be true, Shane thought, emphasizing that point by still not saying anything and bringing back the silence to echo between them.

“So, what brings you to our fair homestead, son?” Gary Cooper the Alpaca pressed further. “And what made you dare to set foot on the steps of our sacred temple. Did you not see the sign?”

Gary pointed one of his hoofs to Shane’s right. He turned and, with a groan, saw that it read: “Jattanites Only!”

“Maybe I am a Jattanite,” Shane finally said, taking his foot off of the temple steps.

“Are you really?” Gary inquired with excited surprise.

“No,” Shane answered abruptly. “Jatt Starr is a cunt.”

Shane had just enough time to register the look of shock in the alpaca’s dark eyes, and the gasp emanating from his toothy mouth, before instinct told him to run. As though to add insult to injury, the direction Shane chose to run was directly up the steps towards the statue.

“BLASPHEMY!!” Gary Cooper yelled before somehow pulling a whistle from a pouch on the horse’s coat and blowing it with at an impossible decibel level. “We’re going to skin you for that!”

“With hooves?” Shane yelled back. “How the fuck can you even hold a knife?”

“BLASPHEMY!!!” He yelled again, as he roved back and forth at the bottom of the steps as Shane continued climbing, once again happy to be pain-free.

If only it were possible to live permanently in dreams, Shane thought, a few steps away from the top now. That was when all of the doors opened, each revealing a dozen of so other alpacas behind them. Veering from Planet of the Apes and into Being John Malkovich territory, though, these weren’t on horseback and fully dressed in various outfits. Some dresses, some suits, some casual wear and even flip-flops on their hooves. Unlike Gary, they also weren’t capable of full speech.

“Jatt…Jatt Jatt….Jatt?!?” They said in unison. Whether it was a question or a statement or something else entirely, Shane had no idea. Nor did he care, he just stared them down with a smirk.

“Is it true you kiss your horses?” Shane fired off, offering up the only Gary Cooper reference he knew. “Or has Jatt just trained you to lick peanut butter off his dick?”

“JATT!” one of them yelled and charged forward.

Thankfully, walking upright on two hooves hindered their movement and speed. As such, Shane was able to knock several of them over as he rushed headlong into the group. Moving swiftly passed them, he made his way deeper into the temple. Manoeuvring through corridors at random, Shane passed several paintings of various styles, from cubist to portrait, all depicting Jatt Starr. There were also countless more statues of various sizes, all depicting the equally endless successes of Jatt’s career. It was then that an emotion besides anger surged within him – though he couldn’t quite put his finger on what it was.

Instead, he carried on running, taking another random left, and realising he was in a wing dedicated to all the championship belts he’d won. Over each was a plaque of whom he had won the corresponding title from and the date that he had done so. Before long, Shane came to the shrine that prematurely declared Jatt Starr had beaten Shane Reynolds on July 23, 2023. Unlike the other plaques, this one then continued: Jatt then proceeded to waterboard Shane with piss as Gary Cooper bit off his penis and pooped on the stump. Shane Reynolds then died of embarrassment right there in the ring.

“I don’t fucking think so,” Shane yelled, his previous anger returned with a vengeance and he grabbed the HOTV championship off the wall. “The only one tasting piss will be Jatt!”

Shane had barely got the words out when an alarm suddenly sounded. It was joined by a bright flashing light that intermittently flooded the corridor with a bright red. He’d also not even been able to take back up running, when his feet were suddenly forced together and swept out from under him. Caught in some kind of booby trap activated when he removed the belt, he flipped upside down and hanged helplessly from the ceiling. Even if he could reach up to the wire, he had nothing to cut it with. All Shane could do was hang there, clutching the title tightly to his chest, as the alpacas finally caught up to him.

“Jatt! Jatt! Jatt!” They all kept repeating, except for one who was randomly making Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt references. “What white nonsense is this?!?”

Despite the obvious futility of the action, Shane tried to move away from the horde of alpaca people. And as they somehow grabbed the HOTV championship with their hooves, Shane fought desperately to keep it with him.

“No!” Shane yelled, gripping the belt equal parts tighter and more futilely as more and more of the alpaca army added their might to pulling it away. Eventually, Shane was holding by his mere nails when it finally slipped from his grasp. The image of Jatt Starr on the nameplate flashed across his gaze as it went. “You fucking abominations!”

The crowd suddenly parted as Shane spat those words. Down the line strode Gary Cooper still on his horse. Shane noticed now that he was also wearing a Stetson. It sat impossibly large on his alpaca head, threatening to cover his eyes. Regardless, he steered the horse straight over to where Shane was hanging, defeated, literally and metaphorically. Shane then spat, for real this time. His saliva hitting Gary Cooper between the eyes.

“That ain’t nice, pardner!”

“I’m done with this shit!” Shane yelled, then, looking every up towards the ceiling as though to his real, slumbering self. “We can wake up now!”

“Wake up?” Gary Cooper imparted. “Oh, son. I’m afraid it’s time for you to sleep!”

Shane could barely react before Gary nudged his horse, which immediately struck out one of its legs and kicked Shane square in the face. He immediately fell unconscious and, he assumed, towards another Inception-style level of dreaming. Whether or not that was true, he couldn’t fathom, even as he woke up what felt instantaneously.

“What the—” he muttered groggily, as his eyes opened once more to the world.

Shane was outside now, the scent of freshly cut grass filling his nostrils as he saw a park stretch out on all sides around him. In the distance, just before the grassland gave way to the trees at the edge of a forest, Shane could see several alpaca lying about – having picnics in groups or reading alone or just sunbathing. He once again found it to be insane. However, it failed to compare to sight directly before him. The same alpaca that had pursued him once again amassed in a group, with Gary Cooper at the head of them. This time, they were carrying actual torches and pitchforks. All accept one, who was somehow holding a piece of parchment, which they read from.

“Jatt…Jatt Jatt…Jatt Jatt, Jatt Jatt Jatt!” He exclaimed.

Thankfully, Gary Cooper cleared their throat and translated. “For crimes against the Ruler of Jattlantis, we sentence you to death!”

Shane laughed. “Oh really? Let me guess… you’re gonna burn me at the stake.”

Gary Cooper brayed in an attempt at a laugh of his own. “Oh no, these are just ceremonial. You’ll figure out your fate sooner enough – just as soon as you regain sensation in your arms.”

Shane suddenly became acutely aware that his arms and shoulders were once again hurting. Even in the dream. He turned his head to the left and realised, however, that the pain wasn’t from injury but a new source. Through both wrists, a spike had been driven, impaling him to the wood of a cross. He immediately became aware of pain in his ankles, where he had been similarly spiked, completing the crucifixion process.

“The torches are ceremonial,” Gary Cooper continued, “so we can watch your demise into and through the night.”

At that moment, all Shane could do was let out a pained and desperate scream as the alpaca, in unison began once again to chant the name Jatt Starr over and over again.


The repeated chants of “Jatt” slowly faded, and were replaced with a different name, as Shane drifted from his torturous sleep to an uncertain reality. That name was his own, calling out to him from somewhere beyond the bathroom he found himself now occupying. Shane stirred, and immediately groaned at the familiar pains wracking his body. He wiped away the drool on his chin and again tried to move, as his memory worked to disentangle the haze that had wrapped it. He remembered ice, but, as his eyes adjusted to compensate for the dust in them, saw that there was only water. It had melted and, acclimatising to his body temperature, become lukewarm.

“Aww, for fuck’s sake!” Shane groaned again. He had no idea how long he’d slept, but it had been enough to offset the initial effects of the ice. And now, his joints felt stiffer than ever. As such, his whole body screamed in resistance as he tried to lift himself out of the tub.

“Shane!!” The voice called again; their tone now inflected with panic. “Are you there?”

Further and further awake, Shane recognised it as Riley (aka Phantasm). Since their encounter days before, Shane had begun to think she was getting too familiar. The same she was calling “Shane” instead of “Sir” did nothing to help her case.

“In a minute!” Shane yelled at the top of his voice, with as much authority as he could muster through his pain. Thankfully it seemed to work, as she shut the hell up and didn’t call again.

Eventually, Shane managed to get to his feet and step out onto the cold, tile floor. I really shouldn’t take this much effort just to be standing, but that was rapidly becoming his new normal. He looked towards the medicine cabinet, where he had stored the last shot of morphine left to him. He had been saving it for his match with Bobbinette Carey. But now he wondered if he should use it to train for and then battle Jatt Starr. This, after all, was the final hurdle and he couldn’t afford to stumble here anymore than he could at the pay-per-view. He’d defeated Zach Kostoff, Steve Solex, and Trent with Evan Ward to capture and retain the HOTV championship. To lose it to Jatt Starr would be an embarrassment. Not because of the man himself, so to speak, but because he wanted to face off against Carey with an unbeaten record. Rust or no rust, he wanted Nettie, if that’s what she wants to call herself, just what kind of man she was up against. Not so much a man at all…but an unstoppable force.

With these thoughts in mind, Shane glared at himself in the mirror – missing eye, countless scars, and burns, and all. “I need to beat Jatt Starr!” he said, with as much bravado as he could muster towards the reflection of his hideous face. “That’s all there is to it.”

The details of the dream came once more, unbidden, to the forefront of his mind. He obviously knew that he wasn’t going to be crucified by alpaca people. But what they represented was all too clear. He was on the precipice of being defeated and humiliated by Jatt Starr. It was a pattern he knew all too well – going right back to his unfortunate “2Xtreme” days. It was going to take everything he had to make sure he broke that pattern once and for all.

“Shane!” Riley called again, giving in to temptation. “Are you okay?”

“But first,” Shane muttered, almost imperceptibly under his breath. As he spoke, he reached out and grabbed his mask. Fixing it firmly to his face, he limped out of the bathroom and composed himself as much as possible before he got back to the hotel room door.

“Are you even there?” Riley continued as Shane moved towards the door, desperately trying to exude strength rather than the ever-collapsing meat-sack he felt himself to be. “Fuck this!”

Her face moved back from the gap between the door and its frame. It its place, a pair of bolt cutters emerged and made quick work of the small chain. Though it was wholly unnecessary, Riley then kicked the door at full force, rattling the hinges. She then charged in like a bat out of hell, but stopped short as she saw Shane merely staring at her.

All she could offer in response was: “Oh!”

“Where did you get bolt-cutters?”

She placed them down, tilting the blades against the wall. “It doesn’t matter.” She rushed up into Shane’s personal space. She cupped his masked face in her hands. “I thought you might be in trouble.”

Shane gripped her hands and pushed them back down to her own sides. He then turned away and walked back into the room. He had neither time nor inclination to engage her physically right now. “I’m fine,” he muttered back in her direction. “Well, comparatively speaking.”

“Did you see the news?”

“Of course, I did,” Shane curtly answered.

“Then what’s wrong?” Riley asked, pushing the door closed and following after her master, who had stopped to stare out the window as the sun continued to rise on the horizon. “I thought you’d be pleased.”

Riley took a seat conveniently in one of the chairs Shane could see reflected from his current angle. She was once again not wearing her mask, looking every bit as radiant as Shane remembered from their extended encounter the other day – though she was dressed now in torn black jeans and a faded band T-shirt, rather than naked. Shane shrugged that memory aside and went back to his expert-level brooding.

“That’s because you don’t know Jatt Starr!”

“The guy with the alpaca?” Riley asked, perplexed, not noticing Shane’s unconscious shudder at that final word. “I know him. The man’s a clown.”

Shane’s throat offered an inexplicable sound that hovered somewhere between a chuckle and a scoff. Never had a description been so equal parts apt and utterly foolish.

“A clown, maybe,” Shane eventually replied, “but not one your parents would get you for your fifth birthday. Not the one McDonald’s used to reel out. No. Jatt Starr is a clown the way The Joker is a clown… the way John Wayne Gacy was a clown. Sure, Jatt might not be anywhere near as murderous. But he’s still not a clown you should ever turn your back on. And he’s certainly not one you should underestimate.”

“Duly noted,” Riley solemnly replied.

Shane turned dramatically, seemingly not even registering that she had taken his words onboard. He stared at her again, his gaze burning the distance between them.

“Jatt Starr was the reason I even got into wrestling,” Shane stated, unsure whether he had ever revealed that facet of his history. Either way, his voice was edged by a certain vulnerability. “He was my idol.”

The look in Shane’s eyes then suddenly darkened and his tone once again lowered to match it.

“And then he became my Achilles’ heel.” Shane continued. “No matter what I did, no matter what I tried, and how many counters I learned to his moves, he always found a way to defeat me. Mocking and humiliating me in the process. And, all the while, the people laughed along with him and cheered him in the process. Besides Max Kael, there’s nobody who can take credit for the man I have become. Nobody but Jatt Starr. All my rage and bitterness and emo-fuelled seriousness emerged, in part, because of him. And do you want to know the irony in everything?”

Riley could only nod, enraptured by Shane’s overwrought monologuing.

“Not even that will be enough. I despise Jatt Starr with every fibre of my being. And yet, he’s still going to beat me. And mock me with some sickening act involving that fucking alpaca. And everybody will laugh. And they will cheer. Two decades later and nothing has changed. He’s going to win on Sunday and not a single person is going to be praying for me. Nobody is going to be cheering me. It’ll be all about the clown and whatever hijinks he has in store.”

Riley stood up and looked solemnly towards her master. “I’ll be praying for you. I’ll be cheering for you.”

She took a few steps closer, though didn’t dare approach her master, who had turned back to his out-of-the-window brooding. She wasn’t sure if her words were consoling him, but she pushed on regardless.

“Not that you need it. And you want to know why? Because if he’s The Joker, and apologies for the corniness, but then that would make you Batman. And, though The Joker may knock him down time and time again, Batman always wins in the end. Just like you are going to on Sunday. You are going to make every single person that cheered for and laughed with him look like fools. Sure, the road has been longer than most, but that doesn’t change the destination.”

She placed a hand on Shane’s shoulder, having subtly lessened the distance between them. Shane surprisingly didn’t mind it. As such, he didn’t make to remove it this time.

“I never thought of it,” Shane said. “Although I don’t think your logic entirely holds up.”

“Whether it does or not is irrelevant,” Riley replied. “Somebody once told me that we make our own realities.”

Shane gaze her a sideways glance, recognising the words being pointedly thrown back at him.

“And on Sunday, you are going to bring to life a reality in which you’ve defeated Jatt Starr. In which you are still the HOTV champion. In which you have an unbeaten streak going into 97Red, where you will end Bobbinette Carey’s career.”

It was then that Shane realized what the unspecified emotion was from the dream. It wasn’t just doubt that Shane felt regarding his abilities compared to Jatt Starr’s. It was much more primal than that. It was fear. He’d never acknowledged it before, and he’d never spoken it aloud, not once in 20 years. He feared Jatt Starr. That realization, however, made him clench his fist. Even as pain shot up and down his arms, he squeezed until his knuckles turned white.

“I’m going to win on Sunday!” Shane in defiance and with a surety he’d never had regarding Jatt Starr. As he stared out the window, he imagined his fear pouring out of him and flowing away on an unseen breeze. In its place, there was just a new found confidence he never thought he was capable of. “Thank you.”

Riley did a double-take as those words hit her ears, and also did another as Shane placed one of his hands on top of hers.

“No thanks needed,” she replied. “Not ever. And if there’s anything I can do to help ensure your victory on Sunday, you have only to say. The same goes if you still have some frustrations you need to take out in the days before that.”

Those final words were more purred than spoken. Unfortunately, even though Shane’s mind was suddenly flooded with the memories of the other night, he knew he had to decline. He patted her hand affectionately.

“In due course,” he replied, with a hint of promise for the coming days. “For now, however, I really need to start training.”

As the words left his lips, Shane doubled down on the decision that he would use the last of the stolen morphine for his match with Jatt – both the training for it and then competing. As for what that meant for preparing for the pay-per-view and the match with Bobbinette itself, he would have to burn that bridge when he crossed it. Jatt Starr was too important an opponent to face off with at anything less than one hundred percent.

Though Shane had gained a new lease of confidence, he wasn’t about to be complacent as well. As, he vowed not to count and lament the minutes spent on his training like he did with Solex. Shane vowed to spend as much time as possible preparing for the match with Jatt, however many minutes and hours and day they eventually amount to. He would dedicate himself to double the amount of time if that’s what it took to defeat Jatt Starr. Every minute counted, had to be made to count. Because the only regret to be had, in this case, was losing.

“Can I help with that?” Riley asked.

Shane shook his head, already having another task in mind for her.

“No, you can track Jatt Starr and find out where he’s staying in Argentina.”

“One step ahead of you,” Riley proudly replied. “Jatt hasn’t gone to Argentina yet.”

“What?” Shane exclaimed, finally shrugging her hand from his shoulder and turning to look down at her slim 5’7 frame. “Where did he go?”


Shane loomed characteristically in the shadows cast by the tall buildings on this Mississippi street. It was bustling with activity but Shane paid no attention to any of it. His eyes were trained solely on his enemy, standing across the street at a diagonal angle from Shane’s position. Shane sneered at his obliviousness as he went about his business – literally.

“I really should just put him out of his misery,” Shane muttered, once again thinking about the insane dream he’d had. As well as the pleasant image of Jatt Starr coming out to find Gary Cooper dead. “Nah it’s too obvious.”

Shane instead, looked up at the building that Jatt had disappeared into. He had no idea what was transpiring inside but he was willing to bet that it was something utterly ludicrous. In that moment, Shane allowed a regret to seep in. He regretted ever worrying about being complacent when it was Jatt who was the one guilty of such sins. Here was he with muscles sore from yet more hours of training and sparring (but thankfully not in agony, thanks to the morphine). And there was Jatt once more being the clown that Riley referred to him as.

“Why was I ever fearful of this guy?” Shane groaned rhetorically to himself.

Whether it be ego or age or a combination of both and more besides, it didn’t matter. Shane was simmering with rage nonetheless. Where he’d previous fretted over everybody cheering against and laughing at him, he realized now just how much Jatt and everyone else was underestimating. And Shane was more determined than ever to make them pay as much as possible – culminating, fittingly, with The Original Sin. But first…

“Excuse me,” Shane said politely, stopping a meter maid as he wandered by. He was startled by the words echoing out of the shadows and then again by the masked figure who spoke them as he emerged into the light.


Shane nodded across the street to where Gary Cooper the alpaca was still secured, mindlessly eating grass. The meter maid turned to follow Shane’s gaze, surprised at what awaited him.

“Is that an alpaca?”

“Indeed, it is,” Shane answered. “And I’ll give you five hundred bucks to give it the highest possible ticket you can.”

Shane watched him go as his phone annoyingly buzzed, alerting him to a text that stated he was now at number seven in the official HOW rankings. He smirked beneath the mask, noting that a win against Jatt Starr could potentially send him into the top five. And with that, his resolve grew at least three times stronger. He may not be as funny and entertaining as Jatt. He may not be quite as experienced. He may not even countless things that Jatt is. But it mattered not…

He glanced back over his shoulder to see the man applying the ticket to Gary Cooper.

…because sometimes you just had to entertain and amuse yourself and call it enough. Furthermore, because, come this Sunday, he was going to win and retain the HOTV championship – no matter what it took to make that vision a reality. It didn’t matter who did and didn’t cheer for him anymore. Or even if nobody wanted him to win. Because he was going to win. And finally crushing Jatt Starr in a championship match would be pleasing enough. And on the back of that victory, maybe the rest of High Octane Wrestling would learn that he was the one that should be feared. With that thought on his mind and a smirk on his lips, Shane vanished down an alleyway on his way to the next training session, and then Argentina beyond…