“Every decision we make has a consequence.”
That cheesy, yet accurate fact of life, heavily factored into my decision to expand my social circle with a handful of mannequins. I knew such a display had no fuckin’ chance of flying under the radar, it simply wasn’t designed to. It’s unconventional nature was going to reach through each and every television screen and slap the viewer in the face. It’s why I made sure my sickle was equipped, and was prepared to harvest every opinion and inquiry coming my way.
The attention I was aiming for was all but guaranteed.
‘They say thirteen is an unlucky number. Nah. I pity whoever draws fourteen. Ted is in the Goddamned zone!’
‘Ted just decapitated a mannequin. A mannequin people. This guy has lost his fucking marbles.’
‘That Farthington loss was a tough pill to swallow. But this? Palmer is clearly taking it harder than expected…’
Excitement. Confusion. Concern.
All anticipated. All desired. My message was clear and unwavering, but the setting and presentation unsettling. The most basic of intentions conferred, but the showmanship created its intended distraction. Idiotic, genius, or somewhere inbetween? That’s for you to debate and decide.
You see, war is much more than a physical battle. Physical capabilities and skills are important, sure, but the mental side of things, shit, that’s where the magic happens. Do you know how many battles are won or lost within those confines? And given the nature of this lottery, the mental aspect of any potential battle is arguably more important than ever.
Whether we are loved or loathed by them, we all listen to them, no matter what your Andy Murray’s of the world try to convince you of. The reactions I received were a mixed bag of what the fuck. Everyone and their mother had an opinion or theory as to what they had witnessed. Do you know what that means? Headlines. And seeing that anyone who has ever put on a pair of trunks has some level of ego, we all read the headlines.
Propaganda at its finest.
I wonder how an egotistical prick like Perfection feels being ‘overlooked’. Why wasn’t he chosen for the role of mannequin number four? I’m sure he’s not alone. Ryan, Flair, Kostoff yada yada yada. Remember that part about us all having egos? It comes into play here too. I’m positive that every ‘oversight’ welcomes the opportunity to serve up a tasty dish of fuck you for such disrespect.
If only they knew the respect that existed.
What was that word again? Oh yeah, ego. As asinine as the presentation was, it was perfect. We all love seeing our beauty shot so don’t think for a second that these men weren’t flattered. Except Kendrix, of course. Why was Mikey the face of the Bruvs? Is Kendrix the weak link? Maybe he’ll wonder as much. Maybe not. Is Red really in his own head? Only he truly knows. Does Murr reminisce about his career? Maybe there is a hint of regret to be exploited.
They aren’t the real prize, but ego will have them believe as much.
The biggest question mark in the entire equation. Pure fire at Refuelled, motivated and ready to take on the world. Fast forward seventy two hours. Cold and calculating in a police lineup room. Or was it an act of desperation? Possibly an attempt at humour. Choose the narrative you want to believe.
I’ll be the one to dictate it.
Pro Wrestling at it’s finest. Talk about psychology and structure. Only there was one slight hiccup. Turns out there is a second portion to that cheesy fact of life…
“We make our decisions, but we don’t choose our consequences”
Would of been nice to have seen the whole quote first, for fuck sakes. What’s that other saying? If you want to make God laugh, tell him what you’re doing tomorrow. Yeah, that’s it. And that applies to this bullshit right here: the status of my injured right arm.
“What’s wrong with Teddy’s arm?”
“That Murray beheading was weak as shit.”
“Anyone notice Ted’s arm go limp?”
Turns out that for every opinion and inquiry I wanted to feed into the intended false narrative, another came in creating a very real one for whomever draws fourteen. Three weeks after that brutal finish at March To Glory, and I’m still worse for wear, many miles left on the road to recovery. If attacking a mannequin had adverse effects, what will squaring off with an actual combatant result in?
I ain’t dictating shit…
April 16th, 2020
8:19 am – Toronto General Hospital
“It’s a partial distal bicep tear.”
I sit blank faced, shuffling my ass on that weird paper that covers the examination table. Dr. Legget sits across the small sterile room on his rolling stool, my file in his hand. The computer monitor on the desk beside him has the results to whatever test it was they ran, a red circle around a black blip indicating his diagnosis. At least I think that’s what it is.
“Partial?” I ask.
“Yes, partial.” He replies.
“So that’s good, right?” I ask with optimism.
“No, not really.”
“Well…better than fully torn, right?”
“Sure, but a partial tear is still quite serious.”
I begin to scratch the under portion of my beard, cocking my head to the right. Looking around the room and the various medical posters on the wall, I search for inspiration as to the next angle I’ll approach this with. As shit luck would have it, even for a schemer such as myself, there isn’t any real angle to spin other than ‘it’s not fully torn, so yeah, thumbs up’? At least not one I can come up with to end this awkward silent staring contest.
“I thought it was just an elbow dislocation?” I turn to in disbelief, questioning the man with a far superior education than me. “The doctor in Rome popped it back into place.”
“Yes, there was a dislocation.” He nods in agreement before continuing. “Unfortunately, they misdiagnosed the bicep, an easy mistake to make given the swelling and inflammation of the joint.”
Again, I search the room looking for a prompt of some sort. The man in the white lab coat, who can’t be much older than me, can see I’m struggling with the news. He places my file on the desk, and rolls his stool back so his back can rest against the wall, content to give me time to digest and consider my response.
“How long…” Is all I can muster.
“Given your profession, if you stick to the designed rehabilitation program, eight to ten weeks.”
Eight to ten weeks. Doing the quick math, that would be anytime between a handful of days prior to War Games to nearly two weeks after.
“Any chance I can do this rehab…..and compete in the meantime.” I ask, knowing full well how he’ll reply.
“I can’t recommend that at all. Rehab in itself is intense, going beyond that greatly increases the risk of a full tear.”
“And a full tear…how long?”
Dr. Legget seems to be perplexed that our conversation has veered in this direction. This certainly can’t be his first time dealing a shitty hand to an athlete, and partaking in the inevitable negotiation progress that follows.
“Immediate surgery with a recovery time of three to five months, so long as no complications arise.” He says, matter of factly.
Eight to ten weeks versus three to five months. My stock being at it’s all time high versus losing every bit of momentum I’ve scratched and clawed for since signing with High Octane.
“Fuck…” I mumble, slouching atop the table, the paper crumpling as I do so. “Not like I have a say in the matter…”
“I can only recommend treatment.” He replies, hesitation coming through with those five spoken words. “I have no control over what it is you choose to do.”
My slouch begins to disappear, my back stiffening up.
“It’s one hundred percent your decision.”
“I’m not medically disqualified?”
“I have no affiliation or say with your company, whatsoever. Even if I did, this type of injury is much different than say, a concussion. You can’t be medically disqualified for this. Even with a full tear, if you decide to continue and compete, that’s your prerogative.”
The slouch is gone. My back is stiff as a board. My ears have perked right up. I’m alert and fuckin’ excited.
“Even with a full tear?” I blurt out, to the dismay of the good doctor.
“With a full fuckin’ tear. I’m good to go…” I cut him off.
“Yes, but no. God no. It would be a terrible decision on your part. You tear that muscle fully and neglect to have surgery immediately, there’s no going back. The scar tissue that will develop, not to mention muscle atrophy, there’s no fixing that beyond the two week mark of a full tear. That arm will never be the same again.”
Not as excited when hearing out that scenario, but still.
I hop off the table, the sweat from my ass bringing the paper with me. I swat the clinger away, and pull up my shorts. Dr. Legget looks at me with complete confusion, holding his hand out while attempting some weird form of sign language, no words formulating and coming to his well educated mouth.
“This is excellent news doc. You just made my day. I’ll do the rehab, religiously, I swear.” I say, pulling my shirt on, which I suppose isn’t as odd to the doctor given the upper body nature of the injury. “But I’m not sitting out the eight weeks. I just can’t afford to.”
I stick my hand out to shake Dr. Legget’s hand, which he reluctantly accepts. He immediately looks at his hand afterwards with regret, remembering it was the hand removing the medical paper from my ass. He can’t squirt the hand sanitizer out of the pump quick enough as I slide my shoes back on, and grab my backpack off the floor beside them.
“Ted, just know this…” He says, stopping me in my tracks as I approach the doorway. “Everytime you enter that ring, you’re rolling the dice. You might make it through this unscathed. The odds though? They aren’t in your favor. Not at all.”
I can’t help but smile, which only adds to the confusion that has been his last five minutes.
“Not the first time the odds have been stacked against me…”
As I walk through the doorway, I turn to go down the hall. Walking with purpose, I hear a shout come from Dr. Legget in the distance.
“Why were you naked!?”
10:57 am – Maple Street Sign Shop
Admittedly, when I abandoned the mannequins and all my evidence at the 14th Division, Mike Best and Max Kael were the two men on my mind. And deservedly so. If my number gets linked to anyone else but them, it can be literally any scenario. Be it a random tag team partner or a potential cluster, there are too many unknowns to drive yourself crazy over.
Not with Mike or Max.
If either of those men are my draw, the mystery ends right there. One on one for their respective Championship. I’m not saying that it’ll be easy, not by any means. Both men are Champions for a reason. But setting up individual gameplans for both potential matches isn’t wasted time or effort, and really, is the smart way of approaching Saturday night.
“So the doctor, he cleared you?” Binh asks.
“Yes sir. Clean bill of health.”
Binh looks me up and down skeptically as we sit in the front foyer of Maple Street Sign Shop. I try to avoid eye contact, instead taking in the various displays they have, advertising their creativity and quality of work. The brace on my right arm is a little loose, so I readjust its position, and tighten the strap as snug as I comfortably can. Binh still stares, and I offer him a smile.
“Nice shop, huh?”
“Clean bill.” He says, ignoring my comment.
“That’s what I said.”
“Why the brace?”
“Preventive measure.” I reply with cat-like reflexes. “Given I’m coming off the dislocation and what not, just adds some stability to aid all the muscles and tendons and stuff.”
“Hmmm.” He ponders. “Makes sense. How long you going to wear it?”
“I don’t know. Maybe eight, ten weeks.” I slyly reply.
“Awful long time to wear something as ‘preventative’…”
“Can’t be too safe, Binh.”
The little Asian keeps eyeballing me. I know he’s impressed with my rapid fire in this game of Cat and Mouse. There’s no way he’s catching me, not today.
“I know you’re lying.”
“Bold statement for someone with no evidence.”
We again sit in silence. The shopkeep pops his head in from out back, holding up a finger to indicate ‘one moment’. I grab a magazine off the table top, ‘Reader’s Digest’ to be exact. There’s a mountain climber on the front, his story looks to be interesting.
“WHAT THE FUCK!” I shriek.
Binh holds his hand straight, his arms quickly retracted back in tight to his body. The little fucker just karate chopped my bicep. The muscle is throbbing, as is the anger in my chest towards my soon to be ex-roommate.
“I barely touched you.” He says, a smile breaking for the first time.
“No, bullshit you!” He replies with authority. “Clean bill of health my ass…”
“Here it is.” The shopkeep interrupts our violent quarrell.
I try to rub the burning out of my bicep, not taking my eyes off Binh. He keeps his hand cocked and loaded, admittedly striking a bit of fear in me. It might be a stereotype that all Asians know karate, but I’m pretty sure he does. Standing up, I shuffle past him to avoid another attack, focusing on the man behind the counter.
“It turned out great. Your friends will love this.”
Looking at the large metal sign on display, the pain in my arm disappears, or at the very least I forget about it when laying my eyes upon this masterpiece. Binh has stealthily joined my side to take a look at my pending purchase, quizzically cocking his head in doing so. I look at him with an ear to ear smile.
“She’s a beauty, huh?”
“I don’t get it…”
Seven Time Academy
“What’s not to get, it’s a tongue in cheek gift to Mike and Max.”
“I don’t get it…” He replies on loop.
“If I draw Mike Best, I’m indicating with this gift to him that I will beat him, ending his sixth reign as Icon Champion.”
“And he’ll be in pursuit of his seventh reign.”
“And what does this have to do with Max?”
“You see, Max is still pissed that Mike broke their tied record of five reigns. So if I draw Max and beat him, I’ll be sending his ass in pursuit of not only trying to tie Mike’s record, but breaking it. It’s the perfect nudge towards a shitstorm between the two of them.”
“I don’t get it…” Binh replies after a brief pause.
“Just trust me, it’s good.”
“How much?” Binh turns to the shopkeep and asks.
“Five Hundred Dollars.” He replies to a stunned Binh. “This here is the finest craftsmanship in all of Toronto.” He justifies his price tag.
Binh looks at me, shaking his head in disapproval. I shrug my shoulders, baffled by his reaction, but also not really caring.
“And if you don’t draw either man?” He asks.
Hmmm. Well. That would suck now, wouldn’t it?
“Do you by chance accept returns?” I ask the shopkeep.
“…No…” He replies trying to gauge the seriousness of the question.
“Well…” I say, turning to Binh. “A wise man once told me that sometimes you have to roll the dice.”