BEST WESTERN OCEANFRONT
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA
I sit back in my worn and rusty mesh-styled Adirondack chair–faded Coleman logo and all–behind the hotel balcony’s guardrail. The white paint on each support bar is badly chipped and looks like it has been that way for a long time. Seagulls caw loudly and comfortingly in the distance as I look out into the vast ocean that furies in all its organic rage in front of me. Waves are particularly choppy on this day as the sun hides behind a diaphanous overcast of gray clouds. A can of Monster Ultra Black sits in a built-in cupholder on the right arm of my chair. My iPhone sits on the faceplate of my LSD Championship atop my lap as a voice emanates from the speaker mode I previously set the call to some twenty-minutes ago.
“Don’t underestimate him, Arthur. He’s hungry.”
These words echo inside my head as the voice from the other end of the line calls out from speaker mode and continues yapping.
“He may be a miserable person, but he’s aching for that one win. He needs it.”
Steve Harrison. Good ole Curtain Pants gets to stand in my way yet again. Should’ve expected it, to be honest. The way he cried in front of the world last week was definitely heard by The Two Michaels.
“Don’t be his one win.”
Again, I say nothing. What is there to say to that, anyway? He’s right. Fuckin’ eh is he right as rain.
“Just because you’ve beaten him before doesn’t mean he hasn’t learned a few new tricks to hide up his sleeve.”
Another truth bomb dropped on my conscience.
No matter who anyone faces in this great, and at most times, super-unforgiving sport of ours, everyone betters themselves from every encounter. It all just depends on how and in what capacity. You look at guys like Darin Zion, who are perennial punchlines in the face of Hall of Fame greatness like John Sektor or Bobbinette Carey, and even they eventually learn from their mistakes. Zion defeating the Best Alliance on his own in a 3-on-1 situation and pinning newly minted Hall of Famer Jace Parker Davidson is proof of that. Steve Harrison, with his flawless 2-and-Oh record to start off 2022, is another perfect example.
“Arthur? You still there?”
I shake my head as if to wake myself from a daydream.
“Yeah. I’m here. I’m just kinda taking it all in. ‘Cause you’re uh… you’re right. About all of it.”
I can hear a snicker on the other end.
“He beat a former HOW World Champion in a near squash-match. Sure, it was Brian Hollywood, probably among the worst World Champions there ever was in H-O-W, second only to Scott Stevens, but it’s enough of an accolade for someone like Harrison to capitalize on it and give him the confidence he so desperately needs.”
I nod in agreement. It goes without saying that we’re definitely on the same wavelength here. Steve Harrison has had so many failures and roadblocks in his career that it has made him dangerous.
“Oh, hundred percent.” I say, pausing for a moment, “That was pretty impressive. Even the shittiest of shitbags put up a good fight. I’ve seen Hollywood do it time and time again. But… there was something different about Harrison in that one. He was like a man possessed out there.”
“Good. You saw it, too.”
“This isn’t my first rodeo, you know.”
“I’m well aware. You called me, though. Just sayin’.”
“Yeah. I know. Trust me. I still can’t believe it myself.” I groan.
For a moment, there’s a silence shared between us. I take this opportunity to stand up from my chair and lean over the rickety railing. It squeaks and bends outwards about half a centimeter as I place my elbows on the thin metal. Jesus fucking Christ. Somebody should have a conversation with the hotel manager about safety protocols because this Best Western has to be one of the most unkempt hotels I’ve ever fucking stayed in.
Look at me; an advocate of violence and the macabre and to all the faceless Devils in between worried about safety protocols at a hotel. I laugh at the irony of this thought and shake my head.
Whenever I’m scheduled to wrestle in the south, be it deep, mid, or just below the Mason-Dixon, I make sure to pay a visit to Virginia Beach. There’s something about this place that relaxes the nerves. Decompresses me, even. For some reason or another, more popular places like South Beach or Daytona just don’t ‘do it’ for me. Whether it’s the type of inhabitants that deter me or the immeasurably larger concentration of people that make the introverted part of me feel uncomfortable, I couldn’t be sure. But Virginia Beach? It’s just right for me.
“You still there, kid?”
I heave an irritated sigh. I hate how condescending it is to be called ‘kid’. But being who it was from? I can understand why he’d be so inclined to call me that.
“Yes, for fuck’s sake. You’ll know when I’m not here. Trust me. Fuck you with the kid shit, by the way.”
“Well, I’ll let you go, then. You don’t seem to be-”
“-willing to be talked down to like some rookie just because I’m not a PRIME wash-out like you? How’s that arm of yours doing from Teddy Palmer, by the way? ”
Click goes the call as I press the red end call button.
I don’t know what exactly I was thinking when I decided calling my Dad was a good idea. He and I never had the best relationship even when we were teaming together in some dumb faction back in SHOOT Project last year. He’s set in his ways. I’m set in mine. It is what it fucking is.
And that’s just how it is between Father and Son sometimes.
Regardless, he made a lot of significant points. That’s probably why, by my age, he was already a 4-time World Heavyweight Champion and legend in some of the toughest circles. Meanwhile, at twenty-eight and a half years old, I’ve only just begun to find my voice.
Better late than never, I suppose.
In my pocket, I fumble with a few pieces of crust from a slice of toast I had leftover from my lunch over at Pocahontas (best fucking pancakes you will ever have, guaranteed).
Reaching up with my hand, I wave the piece of crust out over the balcony so all the seagulls flocking together, who are all looking for a handout just as much as the other, make their way in my direction.
Acting like I’m going to throw it in the direction to my right, a few of them are fooled and fly off in that direction. The few who remain flap their wings and keep afloat, waiting patiently for their piece. For a second time, I act like I’m going to throw it, but this time to my left. A few more seagulls fly off who had previously not taken the bait.
Only one remains.
Nodding my head, I toss the piece of crust out to him and he catches it before flying off.
I smile, reminded of the metaphorical value to this lesson. And also, a quote from the sixth President of the United States, John Quincy Adams; proof that I’ve been hanging around Jeffrey a little too much:
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
Looking out at the birds, I raise another piece of crust that I have in my pocket. The same bird from before is back in front of me again. I hold the piece of crust close to me.
Taking the bait, the lone seagull rushes forward, but I snag him by its scrawny neck, holding it in place.
It squawks loudly, ruffling its feathers all over as terrified as it can be.
Staring into the beauty of its orange beak and beady little eyes, I can see morsels of bread stuck just inside its beak. Such a beautiful bird.
So, so stupid.
Remember when I came back and you said I was leeching onto someone else?
‘Cause I sure as fuck do.
Then I remember that crestfallen look on your face when I lifted Chris Kostoff on my shoulders and delivered the Calamity Pain before we, The Devil’s Advocates, defeated your bitch ass.
And now? There you are, Harrison. Fucking leeching onto two of your betters and calling yourself a ‘Highwayman’.
Hahahaha… you fucking hypocrite.
But hey, that aside, look at you pulling up your big boy pants with a sense of belonging and shit. Only took you X amount of years to find something to help revamp a new attitude with that bland persona of yours.
Better late than never, I suppose.
Truth be told, I’m glad it’s you that’s challenging me first for my LSD Championship.
Hold up. FULL stop.
GOD that feels so good to say.
Let me… ahhhh… let me just say it again while the new car smell is still fresh in everyone’s nostrils.
My… LSD… Championship.
It must ache your heart to see me with this championship after you’ve been a part HOW for so long, even having been a member of the fucking BEST ALLIANCE, and to still have not won a singles title yet. That’s like finally getting the chance to climb into a Lamborghini only to find there’s no engine under the hood. Ouch.
Meanwhile, I come in and win a few matches, make it to War Games in only my sixth match, eliminate a Hall of Famer and put up a good effort before getting caught with your sneaky little roll-up, request my release from HOW, come BACK to HOW and dominate you and another Hall of Famer, and then win the LSD Championship.
That about sums it up, right?
Oh, and one more important fact; not only do I win it, but I defeat yet another Hall of Famer—someone who will go down as one of the greatest LSD Champions in history—to do it.
I can see why you’re so bitter.
I can understand how you’ve become so disgruntled.
I can empathize with how such misfortune has made you so miserable.
I get it, Steve. I really do. I would be all of those things and much, much more if I was as complacent with mediocrity as you’ve been since I first stepped foot inside an H-O-W ring.
It hurts, but the truth so often does.
But here’s some solace you can take with that sad fact, fuck wagon: I’m glad you’re the first one to step up to the plate. Why? ‘Cause Steve Harrison was the first person to legitimize me as a competitor in the High Octane Wrestleverse last year when everyone wanted to write me off as the underperformer who only seems to win against guys like Zion. Much like how you’ve been written off as one yourself lately.
Fast forward a year later and you’re the first desperate turd to name drop me after I become a champion. It’s fitting, really. ‘Cause at the end of the day, I feel like it’s only appropriate that you get the chance to be the first one to try to pry this championship from my unbreakable grasp. It’s only appropriate that you get the first crack at it because I can’t see another, more deserving person fail so magnificently as you will when we clash with one another for the third time in our careers.
And I’m going to savor every fucking second of it.
Because I saw the soapbox you majestically climbed on for your match against Zion last week.
Ugh. So fucking pathetic.
Bitching and moaning and cunting on and on about not being booked for March To Glory ‘cause your stupid ass wasted your money on Bobbi’s OnlyFans and apparently nothing else noteworthy to help elevate you to the next level here in HOW. Fucking crying politics like a child who needs his tummy rubbed after yelling at Daddy ‘cause you wanted your fucking animal cracker since everyone else got theirs. Pleading like the #97red-headed step-child of HOW to get your chance because everyone else says the same shit over and over again and is rewarded for it because of who they are.
Do you not watch back your own sniveling bullshit? I mean, it’s right there on HOTv if you’re ever feeling brave enough. ‘Cause you do a lot of whining for a guy who does the SAME. FUCKING. THING. he’s whining about. It’s not everyone else’s fault, least of all mine, that you’ve had about as lackluster a career as one could have around here. This misplaced blame and nonsensical, “I DON’T SUCK! EVERYONE ELSE SUCKS!” attitude is, in and of itself, a big neon arrow pointing down at you that exposes what you lack.
The will to finish a fight.
The stamina to push yourself past your own limits and go the extra mile to succeed.
The resilience to get back up, dust yourself off, and just… do fucking better.
Everything I have that got me to March To Glory.
Everything I have that made me the LSD Champion.
But here’s another first for you of which I’m proud of, Harrison. Something I will look back fondly on years from now: you’re the first victim of a new era in the LSD division.
Truth be told, no matter what I think of you as a person and competitor, (Hint: it’s astoundingly low), the first time we faced each other? I completely underestimated you. No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it. I looked at your dopey fucking face and insipid promos and thought, “Oh hey, this guy sucks. Easy win for me. NEXT!” and it nearly cost me. I mean, you beat the shit out of me in that match. From one post to another. In fact, I still have the scars on my ribs and back that serve as a stark reminder from when you tried to beat me at my own game.
For that? I have no choice but to respect you. Even if only a little. Nobody really ever does that to me, so props to you. You can dish out some serious pain when you want to. I can understand why Clay actually would want you and Big Daddy Solex in his group of perennial bridesmaids. Makes sense the more I think about it.
After all, misery loves company.
But with that in mind? You can’t finish a fucking fight with me if your pathetic, mundane existence depended on it. No matter how much pain you deliver to my doorstep, I refuse to let any of it into my house.
And at Refueled 93? It will be no different.
No matter how hard you try to bring me down each time we’re in each other’s crosshairs, or how unconvincingly you spout off at the mouth that I’m some kind of phony… I will keep getting up, I will keep begging for more, and I will keep fucking beating you.
You’re the Dan Ryan to my Mike Best.
Because that’s what I do. I finish the fight that motherfuckers bring to ME, and I embarrass those who are idiotic enough to look at me and pretend they are on MY. FUCKING. LEVEL.
And now? We’ve come full circle, you salty, pot-calling-the-kettle-black little fucking BITCH.
Now, if either of “The Two Michaels” allow things between us to get a bit, shall we say, sharp and pointy? Then I won’t think twice about throwing the fucking rules out and silencing you in advance from any future soapboxes. If this division truly gets to see a fresh start under my leadership, that means I get to take that shiny fucking head of yours, rip away the protective padding that surrounds the ringside area, and bash it repeatedly against the cold, unforgiving steel.
Maybe with a chair, too. Like you once did to me.
Maybe I’ll grab some front row veteran’s metal prosthesis, thank him for his service, and then beat you in the fucking head with it until I open up that empty, caved-in melon of yours.
Maybe I’ll catch you with a taser before the match even starts, like you did my old pal Yuri. Poor fucker hasn’t been the same since! That’s a Russian for ya.
Yeah. Maybe. To all of that.
But if this turns out to be a regular one-on-one match? Then so be it. I’ve got a guillotine choke with your fucking name on it all the same. Because it doesn’t matter how I do it. All that matters is that I WILL do it.
Imagine what can happen if I can choke out a bona fide LEGEND like the Machine? No, no. No hyperbole here. Just imagine, for one second, if I can put down the best of the best, what I can do to a malingering neckbeard like you.
So I’d like to (in)formally welcome you, Harrison.
To my goddamned division.
To my goddamned battlefield.
To my goddamned hell filled with constant torment and unyielding cruelty.
Welcome to the land of savages, ”Highwayman”. Where I am its most feared and revered champion.
A place where we knock the pathetic Jesse James and Billy The Kid wannabes off their cute little ponies and bury them in the motherfucking dirt.
BREWSKIES SPORTS BAR & GRILL
War Games season is upon us. Yesterday, it was revealed that there will be four Team Captains. MIchael Lee Best, Michael Oliver Best, Clay Byrd, and the HOW World Champion himself, Conor Fuse. I salivate at the mere thought of stepping into that cage again. Into both rings with my eyes transfixed upon whoever stands in my way.
My God, there’s no other feeling like going to war.
But whose team would I be on? That is, of course, if I was chosen to take part in the madness at all.
Better yet, what if I ended up being pitted against my best friend, Jeffrey James Roberts? Especially if, by then, we’ve beaten Sektor and Ellis for the HOW Tag Team Championships. Food for thought, for sure.
Being the LSD Champion means being caught between a rock and a hard place. Last year, Teddy Palmer was LSD Champion and sent Clay Byrd to the showers first. One year later, Dan Ryan is nowhere to be found. Teddy Palmer’s McKenna Blue over in Lindzland. Jace Parker Davidson is now a member of The Board. And Clay’s, well, still Clay, but a faction leader and a Captain nonetheless.
So many people have come and gone since then that it remains impossible to know who might make a comeback at this year’s big event. However, one thing’s for sure: I need to prepare myself for anything.
The fifteen balls scatter about the green felt after the sudden impact from the cue ball on the yellow striped nine-ball. I was never that good at breaking in billiards, but this time I sank a few solids right off the bat.
“Solids. Nice.” I remark to the tall biker-dude that stands on the other end of the pool table.
For some reason, this large man challenged me to a game of eight-ball when I was minding my own business back at the bar. I’m still not really sure why, but I can only surmise he doesn’t like the cut of my jib.
“You sank solids. So you’re solids.”
I turn slowly to look at him with my eyes unblinking the whole time.
“Yyyyyeah. I know. Not my first rodeo.” I said with sneering contempt for his patronizing demeanor.
Chalking up the end of my pool stick, I look at the playing field.
Having sunk Sektor at the start, I look at my next solid easiest to sink within my line of sight.
And there it is.
A #97Red solid three.
Aiming at the corner pocket with my pool stick, I narrow my eyes to filter out any extraneous clatter and to enhance my concentration.
Then, with medium impact, I send Steve Harrison down into oblivion.
“Something tells me you’re about to take me for a ride here.”
“Oh man, you have no idea.”
A few minutes later, the poor fucker sinks the eight-ball way before it was time to. Ka-Ching.
Counting the Benjamins outside Brewskies, I slide them into the pocket of my black jeans. At the same time, I exchange the money for my pack of cigarettes. In my other pocket, I withdraw my golden Zippo that has the initials “AP” on them in super bad ass Chiller font.
With the wind being as bad as it has been on the east coast for months, I instinctively place my right hand up to shield the flame of my lighter from the wind. My hair blows like I’m doing a commercial for Maxell VHS tapes; if only I set a tripod up in advance I could’ve caught the perfect shot for an advertisement during Refueled.
Making my way over to my car, I feel like someone is watching me. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a tall man wearing a cowboy hat. My first instinct is to hurl some insults at Clay Byrd and then run as fast as I can. But I quickly realize, just from the shape of him out of my peripheral vision, this person isn’t as muscular as Clay is. Without turning my head in his direction so as to not let him know he’s been “made”, I keep my focus on my rental car. A black Toyota RAV4.
“Alright, motherfucker.” I shout, turning around as I make it to the driver’s side door. Looking directly at the mysterious man, I snarl, “Who the fuck are you and what the fuck do you want?!”
He says nothing in return. Maybe he’s a mute?
The figure disappears into a Black Cadillac Sedan that had been parked near the entrance to Brewskies since I had arrived. He revs up the engine and peels out on the pavement, leaving me standing there in wonderment.
“The fuck kinda shit you getting me into, Jeffrey?”