“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius
June 28, 2020
One Day Post-Refueled 30
The cicadas are screaming.
Normally, the summertime pests begin their high-pitched, incessant buzzing at dusk, droning in the trees for a few hours until they stop on a dime and neighborhood peace is restored. But for some inexplicable reason, they’ve started their bullshit much earlier in the afternoon and it’s driving Lindsay bonkers.
Thanks to Eric Dane’s savagery in the Allstate Arena parking lot the night before, she can’t even escape the house to go do something and get away from it. Not easily, anyway. Not when a steel pipe kissed her head and her kneecap was forced sideways like a crab scuttling toward the ocean.
The Queen reclines on an oversized grey chaise lounge in the living room at the back of the house, her right leg sandwiched between an ice pack and a multitude of throw pillows. One hand also holds an ice pack to her head. The wall-mounted SmartTV above the fireplace is on, tuned to a classical playlist on Spotify to try and drown out the insects and quell the turbulent sea that roars inside her.
Debussy’s Clair de lune is proving unsuccessful.
A glass of water and a bottle of ibuprofen sit on a serving cart next to the chair; a pair of crutches mock her from their place against the couch. Her follow-up appointment at Northwestern is the next morning and with every hour that crawls by, Lindsay’s rage grows.
Rage not only at what Eric did, but at her own stupidity for letting it happen.
The Only Star’s return to the Land of High Octane was another inexplicable occurrence. Last year, Eric had quit just days before Rumble at the Rock after mounting tensions between himself and Michael Lee Best came to a boiling point and Dane said ‘fuck it’ and walked. Lindsay didn’t even hear it from Eric first, HOW management beat him – and the rest of their Industry compatriots – to it.
He was supposed to be her partner at the pay-per-view. They were supposed to defend the High Octane Tag Team Titles together.
And while she was upset, and knew she’d have to think quickly to come up with another plan, a part of her wasn’t surprised. Eric and High Octane Wrestling were always going to be a marriage made in hell. The man hated GOD, hated the Son, hated HOW’s roster during its past incarnations, felt the company he started – DEFIANCE Wrestling – was superior, and had a chip on his shoulder as large as the City of Big Shoulders. Even though DEFIANCE, today, is under new ownership, the fact that Dane even joined HOW for the Refueled era was a shock to the wrestling world. Fuck if he wasn’t going to waltz into the House that Lee Best Built and live up to his Antagonist moniker.
The man is nothing if not a firestarter.
For the longest time, she was the gasoline.
The two of them were never supposed to be allies in High Octane. Their backstage battles in DEF were the stuff of legend; where some members of the roster didn’t feel comfortable standing up to Da Baws, the Queen showed no hesitation, earning her both the distinction as a locker room leader and the ire of Dane and his business partner. While she was defiant in words and deed, the Only Star would eventually have the last laugh, playing a part in costing Lindsay the promotion’s top belt, tearing up her contract extension, and kicking her out the door.
Lindsay could have fought him, gotten lawyers involved, taken back some semblance of her dignity, but with her family in tatters she had bigger things to worry about and turned her focus there.
A return to wrestling two years later, and the prospect of a place on the Best Alliance – the precursor to the Industry – for the return of War Games saw Eric make an overture and offer an apology for past transgressions. Not only could Lindsay not believe it, but she actually accepted it and signed on for the battle.
Perhaps that was her first mistake in all of this. Believing he’d changed.
Her second one was not going out to the ring for the Group of Death’s War Games celebratory speech.
Mike didn’t have to tell her ahead of time what he was planning on saying once he had the mic in his hands; she already knew: that War Games was a team event and that GoD all came out winners, despite how they placed; a glorious Three Musketeers, ‘one for all and all for one’ speech for the ages, delivered like only the Son of GOD could.
The problem was, Lindsay didn’t feel like a winner. Not because she wasn’t the sole survivor, or because she didn’t leave with a title, or because she was the first one eliminated – although that absolutely played a part – but because she hadn’t been pulling her weight since March. And maybe there was some truth to everything that 24K and even the Minister had been saying: that she was the weak link in the Group of Death. That GoD’s co-founder – who schemed and plotted in secret with Mike and knifed MJ Flair and Jack Harmen in the back to seal the deal – didn’t really belong there; that she’s the false idol amongst deities.
And when the Queen took a good, long look at how things have played out since the spring, with losing the tag belts at March to Glory, and gaining no ground over 24K, and two losses to Max Kael, she didn’t feel like she deserved to be out there with her brethren.
For the first time since she signed with HOW, Lindsay Troy felt like she didn’t belong.
She has always been excellent. At everything. But even the greatest athletes and teams in the world suffer through slumps, and go on losing streaks. This string of losses affected her more than she allowed herself to let on and the cracks in the facade were showing.
So she stayed behind. Mike thought her reasons were dogshit, and nobody believed she was GoD’s weak link or that she shouldn’t be out there with them, but there was no changing her mind. Not about that, nor about grabbing her keys, wallet, and phone and heading for the door after watching the Snort Heard ‘Round the World.
That she didn’t figure on. Nevermind know about.
Rapid-fire thoughts ran through her mind as Lindsay watched Mike do the coke line off the 97Red Belt. First, Wait what? and then, Is that? and finally, Oh fuck this silly shit. She shouldered past staff, stormed through the halls, and blasted through the Allstate Arena’s back door, avoiding the ricochet as it crashed against the side of the building and swung back toward her. Irritation pricked at her temples. Her fists balled up at her side, and she raised them up to her eyes in frustration; a distressed growl escaped her mouth as she did.
She stopped a few feet away to catch her breath and collect herself as best she could when her phone pinged.
A text from Eric. Out of the blue.
Her third mistake was not ignoring the message, hitting block, walking to her car, and driving away. For even giving him the time of day. For letting her emotions override her sensibilities. For not realizing it was a trap. For letting him use her former student against her, because even though Graysie Parker left her training against Lindsay’s recommendation to cast her lot with the Only Star, he knew she would help Graysie – or any student – if needed. That’s what Mom does. Has always done. A weakness to be exploited.
Her third mistake was letting Dane back in.
Bad things always happen in threes.
Now, less than 24 hours later, as Lindsay navigates the pain of an injured knee, an injured head, and the sting of betrayal…as her fury builds the more she replays the events of the past year in her mind…not-so-inexplicably the pain of her professional inadequacy begins taking a backseat to a motivating desire for revenge and reclamation.
Yes, she has struggled, but those struggles do not define her. She’ll be damned if she allows anyone to let her believe she is less than again.
Her fortieth birthday is imminent, and while time waits for no one it doesn’t mean she’s dead, or her career is over, or that a second renaissance isn’t possible.
Lindsay Troy may not feel very GoD-like today. She may need to prove to herself that she deserves to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her chosen allies, she may need to scorch the earth and stand alone to do it, but she blazed this trail solo once before.
It may be time to do it again…
June 29, 2020
Northwestern University Hospital; Downtown
Dr. Emily Jones has only met Lindsay once before, when the latter felt she needed to establish care with a local doctor as a semi-permanent resident of Chicago. Emily’s specialties in sports medicine and internal medicine were what the Queen was looking for, and the young doctor has a progressive approach to treatment that she liked as well.
On the night of Dane’s attack, Lindsay was not treated at Northwestern; she was sent instead to Advocate Lutheran Hospital, a mere 15 minutes from the Allstate Arena. As the doctor reviews Lindsay’s intake and diagnosis from Advocate Lutheran, she peeks over the file and watches her patient fidget on the exam table, drumming her fingers along the edge of the cushion, drawing small circles with her left foot.
Something has her on edge, and it’s not just these injuries.
“You got banged up,” the doctor says, and rests the file against her thighs. She tucks a strand of honey colored hair behind her ear. “How’s your head today?”
Lindsay, lost in thought, is looking at a print of the musculoskeletal system on the white, sterile walls. “Huh? Oh.” She fixes her gaze to Dr. Jones and refocuses. “No nausea or vomiting. No blurry vision. Headache’s about gone.”
“Good. I’ll have a look at those stitches first, then your knee.” She pumps some antibacterial lotion into her hands and rubs them together, working the solution into her skin, then walks over to where her patient sits. Lindsay turns her head and the doctor gingerly moves her curls aside to inspect the area where Eric bashed her skull with a pipe. A lump still remains, although ice and ibuprofen have been doing their job to make it seem less unsightly, and the stitches are aiding in the healing process.
Next, to examine the black and blue painted canvas of the Queen’s right knee. Emily examines the placement of the kneecap to ensure it’s been realigned correctly (it has), ascertains her range of motion (not much) – which is not done without much wincing on Lindsay’s part – and finally she takes a step back and smiles.
“Well, the good news is we won’t have to amputate.”
A couple seconds pass before the doctor’s words click. Lindsay snorts, amused, and returns the doctor’s smile with a half-one of her own. “Neither my head nor my leg, right?”
“No, neither. You’re gonna make it after all. You have a nasty bump on your head but the stitches are healing well. They’ll dissolve in a few days. The bruising on your knee will take longer to go away but you should be able to get back to regular activity within four to six weeks.”
Lindsay quickly counted the weeks in her head. Four to six means she’d be back before No Remorse.
“Four to six … I can do that.”
“There is one thing, though.” Dr. Jones’ expression turns serious. “With this injury, you have a 33 percent chance of recurrence without some kind of protection. Once you’re cleared to return, I strongly advise you to start wearing a knee brace to reinforce your patella. It will keep it in place and prevent a second dislocation.”
The Queen considers this. Considers the very obvious target it will paint, thanks to Eric. Considers that she could ignore the doctor’s suggestion, but it could mean that she won’t get cleared to compete if she doesn’t do it. She could easily lie, but she doesn’t think she wants to take that risk.
She considers that another slipped kneecap could mean the end of her career, and she’s not ready to hang up her boots yet. She knows there are still good years left in her. If she wants that second renaissance, if she wants her retribution and to get back on a winning path, she’d better stop seeing this as a weakness and look at it as an opportunity.
It’s going to take work and being adaptable. Maybe going with a different approach and adjusting to a new way of thinking. In retrospect, opponents have been targeting her legs for years anyway. When her offense was primarily aerial, they’d go for her legs to keep her grounded. More times than not, she figured out a way to stop them.
She’s done it before. With a little ingenuity, she’ll do it again.
The brace isn’t a weakness. The brace is a strength. It will keep her knee intact and let her keep fighting. It will show that Dane might have put her down but he didn’t take her out. Joining the High Octane Brace Brigade doesn’t change anything. She’ll become a better competitor because of it.
“If I wear this,” Lindsay starts, “will I be able to do all the things I’ve done before?” She’s already thinking about her double knees, about how she wants them to be the reason Eric’s teeth are permanently lodged in his esophagus, but she doesn’t come out and say it. Doesn’t want to get her hopes up.
“It will depend on how your PT goes, but provided it goes well and you do what you’re supposed to do I don’t see why not.”
A wave of relief washes over the Queen. “Then that’s all I need to hear.”
Tank tops, workout shorts, sports bras, and arm tape are all hastily pulled from a dresser and tossed haphazardly onto the bed, some finding their mark inside a suitcase where jeans and tees already reside while others fall onto the comforter in a pile. A couple hoodies are tossed over too, just in case.
Lindsay grabs her crutches from against the wall, resigned now to her fate to use them for however long is deemed necessary, and crosses her bedroom to the closet. She pulls some nice tops and slacks from the hangers and flings them over with the rest of the clothes.
This is not the behavior of a woman told to rest, ice her injuries, and prepare for physical therapy. But Lindsay has other plans, and those plans don’t include staying in Chicago for the next four to six weeks.
Seattle, Washington is calling her name.
At the end of her appointment earlier, she tells Dr. Jones that she wants to do her rehab at the University of Washington Medical Center. Says she has a friend out there who can help her through her recovery and she feels this is the best choice she can make for her health.
“There’s no one out here who can help you?” Dr. Jones asks. “No friends or family?”
Lindsay smiles and shakes her head. “They’re a little busy; I don’t want to impose.”
While the doctor goes to make the arrangements, Lindsay books the first flight she can get a seat on and a hotel room overlooking the bay. When she comes back, she tells Lindsay that U of Wash can squeeze her in for an initial consultation on Wednesday, July 1st. Can she get out there in time?
“Shouldn’t be a problem,” is her reply.
Her flight’s in three hours, leaving her just enough time to pack, throw out any perishables from the fridge, close up the house, call an Uber, and fight traffic to O’Hare. This is an incredibly impulsive decision, one that Lindsay wouldn’t normally make, but given the circumstances it’s the best course of action to take.
She’ll do her rehab. Put her heart and soul, sweat and tears into it. Double sessions, if required. Seeking out alternative therapies to make the healing go by faster. And the moment she’s able, Lindsay will be looking up that old friend of hers.
They bring out the best and the worst in each other. Tag partners turned bitter enemies turned frenemies. He won’t be helping her with physical therapy. He won’t be cheering her on as she bends her knee and rides an exercise bike to test its range of motion. He’ll be helping her prepare for Eric, just as he did twelve years ago when Lindsay went toe to toe against a woman who stole her title, stole her identity, and terrorized her family.
He just… doesn’t know it yet…
July 18, 2020
Silver Lining Wrestling Academy; Morning
“Mom, how do you know Sonny will even help you?”
“Yeah, he’s kind of a dick.”
Lindsay glances over at her daughter, Ami, who poses the first question from the passenger’s seat and her son, Kaz, who makes a very good point with his follow-up from the back, as they sit in their rental car in Sonny Silver’s reserved parking space. The kids had been planning to fly out to Chicago after their mom got hurt, already booking their tickets and wanting to help her if she needed it, but once she told them that she was heading out of town they insisted on meeting up with her in Washington State instead.
Two full weeks of PT have been going well; combining that with the prior week of staying off her leg as much as possible and icing her knee has put her recovery ahead of schedule. She’s been cleared to resume light workouts and, if all goes well this upcoming week, she’ll be cleared to return to work at the four week mark.
The four week mark meaning next Saturday night.
Ami’s question lingers in the air and Lindsay smiles. “Sonny’s helped me once before when I needed it, and we’re more friends than rivals now. He can be persuaded.” She turns to face Kaz now. “And there’s no ‘kind of’ about it, kiddo; Sonny Silver is a dick, like most people are in this business. You either find the ones you can tolerate the most, try to find the rare unicorns who aren’t, or make your way alone.”
“Is that what you’re doing? Hanging with the ones you can tolerate the most?”
She stares at Kaz, who looks eager for his mother’s answer. Something gnaws away inside her stomach. During her time away from HOW, the boys in GoD have gone a little … off the rails, to put it lightly.
“Something like that,” she mutters, and turns back around.
“I don’t think Sonny will be too happy that we’re in his parking spot,” says Ami, “but that is probably by design?”
“The gym isn’t open yet and I need to get his attention some–oh, this might be him.”
Up ahead, a silver (of course) Audi R8 pulls into the lot, pauses, and then guns the engine forward, heading toward them.
“Can he see us?” Kaz scoots to the other side of the backseat to get a better look. Sonny’s car, presumably, has screeched to a halt perpendicular to theirs, blocking them in. “Our faces, I mean.”
“I’m not sure. The front’s pretty tinted but…” Ami answers her brother. “Maybe?”
“You two won’t have to say or do anything, just let me handle this.”
The Audi’s driver’s door aggressively swings open and, indeed, the Silver Lining himself rises from inside. At six-foot-three and 49 years old, Sonny has long since retired from competition but still has a physique to indicate that he could still throw down if he wanted to. His black hair is peppered with grey with a beard to match, and his face is a thundercloud at the audacity of some motherfucker acting brand shitting new and parking in his goddamn space.
“THE FUCK IS THIS?” he roars as he approaches the invading SUV. “Can you READ motherfucker? This space is RESERVED for Sonny ‘KING SHIT’ Silver. Go park in the fucking BACK!”
Sonny raises his fist to pound on the offending vehicle’s driver’s window, but before he can make contact it begins to lower. Lindsay side-eyes her colleague…antagonist…frenemy…friend of sixteen years, then lifts an eyebrow.
“Really should’ve had that say ‘Fuckhead,’ Fuckhead.”
It takes a couple seconds to register just who is sitting before him, but once Lindsay’s long-time nickname for him hits his eardrums, Sonny can’t help but laugh.
“Jesus. The Amazon Bitch,” he says, using his own nickname for her, “of course.” Sonny leans his arms on the open window ledge and shakes his head. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, you know. Summertime and the livin’s easy.”
“So they say.”
“And I say that’s bullshit,” another laugh from Sonny. “I know we live to torment each other, Lindsay, and nowadays it’s mostly in good fun, but you don’t just show up out of the blue to do that. Don’t make me ask again.”
Lindsay holds up her hands in surrender, ready to end the witty repartee for the time being. “Okay. Truth is, I’ve been going through some shit in the ring performance wise and it’s affected me mentally. A few weeks ago, I wound up on the wrong end of a bad beating. You helped me turn it all around when I went through something similar twelve years ago – you were there, you remember – and I need some help catching lightning in a bottle again.”
Silver considers this. “This sounds like some Princess Leia/Obi Wan Kenobi shit.”
Lindsay can’t help herself. “Well you’re certainly looking the part these days.”
“Oh, you’re about to go over the hill yourself, bitch, if memory serves me correctly.”
“Hey!” both Kaz and Ami yell from their respective seats. Sonny and Lindsay look over, with Lindsay giving her kids an ’I told you I would handle this’ scowl.
“These must be the twins.” Silver says, nodding at the Troy offspring.
“Yeah. They insisted on following me out here.”
“Look, Sonny,” Lindsay turns back to him. “You don’t have to help. I probably should’ve called but things happened kinda fast and I made a snap decision. If you do, though, I’ll owe you one.”
“Now that might be worth my while,” he says, standing up and away from the window. “You got yourself a deal. You want to start today?”
“The sooner the better.”
“Good. I’ll move my car out of your way. Get out of my space and let’s get inside. We’ve got work to do.”