Lot of good that’ll do me soon.
Sure, I wrestled in front of thousands of people in stadiums across the globe. I headlined pay per view events against some of the greatest athletes of my generation.
Too bad it’s 2020, just like my hindsight in the moment. People talk about wanting to be remembered? Me? I’d rather be talked ABOUT.
Man… looking back at all the angst and worry of my past self in the 20s, I talked myself out of so much. Contracts, matches, stocks, education, family… Lots of what ifs.
Can’t really contemplate those now. Nothing you can do. Some might say you can work to change the future…
But you’ve got your plans set already.
Backstage, post my violent three way.
Male Male Male though. Ew.
They’re stitching me up. I don’t see why. I made up my mind. They’re wasting their time.
I just gotta work out some specifics.
I gave the gym to Mary. She’ll run it great. Tony’s there, D and K’ll help out a bit more. They’ve really stepped it up.
I don’t have anything left to prove.
Not in my life, not in my career.
Kate’ll be fine.
I always thought it’d be in the ring, like my dad.
Guess the lethal lottery wasn’t lethal enough.
A few rings of a telephone. The receiving end picks up.
“Hi” The voice of Jack Harmen started.
“Jack.” A female voice, recognized as Harmen’s wife, continues.
“Call me Fly.” There’s an audible grit of teeth. “One last time.”
“Uh…” A stammer. “Fly?”
“That was weird.”
BRRRRRR. BRRR-after the second, a click.
“Jack, not now, I’ve got the plumbers here cause Tony thought he’d try to flush a ham down the toilet.”
“I PUT IT BETWEEN TWO SLICES OF BREAD!” Tony shouts from far away.
“THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT A HAM SANDWICH!” Mary yells back. Followed by a loud sigh. “Seriously Jack, what is with him? He has the intelligence of a stupid gerbil. WHY WOULD YOU FLUSH HAM SANDWICHES?!? TOILETS ARE NOT GARBAGE DISPOSALS!”
“THEY’RE THE ULTIMATE DISPOSALS!” Tony shouts back. “THEY DISPOSE OF-”
“I KNOW WHAT THEY DO TONY!”
Another sigh. Flyer just lets out a weak laugh.
“Then the D is sending D pics to girls on instagram, and one of them is 17.”
“SHE’S 18 TOMORROW!” The D continues where Tony left off, shouting from a far distance.
“He got served earlier.”
“SHE DOCTORED A PASSPORT!”
“Then Klein is trying to get all the students to write actual letters rather than email ‘cause technology is evil… DON’T GIVE ME THAT LOOK KLEIN! WE ARE NOT AMISH COUNTRY!”
No doubt, Klein walks away as if he’s Charlie Brown being extra sad.
“Thanks.” Jack said, softly.
“So, when you comin’ back?” Mary-Lynn continues. After a moment, she stammers. “H-Hello?”
She audibly shrugs.
I’m standing here on the precipice of doom. It’s a nice evening. The moon is large, shining overhead. Almost feels like daytime.
It’s weird. Nobody commits suicide during the day.
Well, not nobody. I mean, I didn’t do the market research. There was no focus grouping.
Not important. Why are even my last thoughts so sporadic? I should have tried that medicine Cambridge told me about…
I should… I should figure out who I am before I’m not.
My name is High Flyer. A man who’s failing career turned around when a bunch of children called him a falling star. Who rose to unprecedented heights, main evening pay per views, becoming a respectable Hollywood stunt man, voice actor… a life many would dream of. A man who dies by falling off the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
High Flyer can’t fly.
Ironic, I think?
Is it? I don’t know. That Alanis Morisette song always confused me. And then Kevin Smith casts her as God. This is a weird world.
Man. I hope someone’s randomly recording down there on the street, just so the world can see High Flyer go SPLAT.
Talk about a memorable end to an amazing life, eh?
I’ve been up for forty eight hours. Haven’t slept since Max Kael bled me like a pig. I’m like that Cure song. You angels.
I dunno, I think the beginning of the end was when I capitulated to Lee, entered HOW not as myself, but as High Flyer. I didn’t even know who he was anymore.
WHO IS HIGH FLYER?
I mean, I’ve been Jack for over a decade now. It’s like going back to a high school reunion. No one is the same as they were. Time does funny things to us.
Makes people a ghost of their former selves.
But High Flyer? He could have been anyone now. Yet I just fell into the same patterns, becoming the man behind the persona. The man who’s been forged by fires and molded into a dangerous violent sociopath… and then I go and try to be a good man after years of anything but.
The only difference between the me of now and the me of before is that fact. That I’m TRYING, honestly TRYING, to be my best version of myself. And I don’t mean in that ring, between the ropes…
… I mean as a PERSON.
I don’t know how good this all is. I know it’s frowned upon, mortal sin and all, but if I can’t wrestle anymore… If I can’t be my best self. If I can’t be a good person… AND wrestle… and WIN?!?
Why even bother.
Too bad about the life insurance.
I’m not drunk, by the way.
This breeze is nice. I might miss the breeze.
“Ahoy hoy,” I said, picking up my phone. Why did I answer?
“Dude! You still the time travelin’ snow salesman? Do you even own a watch in this century?”
Oh sheeeeeeet. That’s MJ. She’s much more excitable than I imagined. I should have told her something first… Made some excuse. I let out a half-hearted chuckle. “Time is relative. I’ve, been busy. Contemplating mortality.” I responded, watching the traffic pass below my dangling feet.
“Dude,” There was a sigh. I could tell where this was going. “We been gettin’ knocked around a lot this year. It happens, right? It sucks, but it happens. And ya can take it on the chin and keep movin’ forward, or ya can fetal position it and go home.”
I found a third option.
She continues. “But that ain’t you and that ain’t me, man. You’ve had a career that I’m fuck envious of, and anyone in the life would fuckin’ covet. CO-VET.”
I could feel she felt the sadness in my silence.
“You fuckin… Jack Harmen, man. Don’t forget it, and don’t let those assholes forget it either. Maybe we win the tag belts, man. Maybe we lose. We can do our ish, we can’t control what those fuckers do, but that’s life. Dude. Even if we lose, do ya really wanna say that ‘they’ made ya step out? These assholes, they want us to crumble. They want us to give up. Every time we get in that ring, it’s an act’a defiance against the assholes punchin’ down.”
I let out a deep sigh.
She ain’t wrong.
“Don’t make it easy on ’em.”
Man, this is a dingy little hovel. I wouldn’t say that outloud to Mariella. Wouldn’t dare say it to Eli. Tell you that much.
Then again, murder is covered under my life insurance policy…
I’m let in and I just smell stale takeout and the opposite of five star catering. Smells a bit of death.
This is weird. I shouldn’t be here anymore.
I scoff as she tosses her keys aside and rushes to the bathroom. I’m cool with it, what else was I gonna do ‘cept kill myself anyway?
She tells me about beer, tequila, vodka, but I’m just really hungry. I didn’t eat. Didn’t want to shit myself when I bit the big one. I haven’t eaten in as long as I haven’t slept. I ask for a sandwich. I’m told there isn’t, that most of the food is probably bad, and there’s vodka in the freezer.
When in Rome.
I turn around and feel like I’ve already walked through the entire apartment.
Man, New York is small.
I stumble through awkward conversation, ask her if her dad lived here. She talks about Eli with such respect. I just think of the guy who spent every night of his career trying to brand me over the head with steel chairs to eliminate me.
She talks about Eli a bit as she showers. It’s weird, I can hear the water drip, cascading across Eli Flair’s daughter’s skin. And he would kill me. Shut that shit right down.
Be like Eli fucking my daughter.
I shudder. At a certain point, I stopped listening. Can’t tell you when. Should change the conversation so she doesn’t notice. I look over and notice some pictures hanging on one of the walls. This place looks to literally be a shrine to the history of the Flair’s. These are really cool pictures though. Half the people I don’t recognize, the others are music Gods. She describes a few of them, revering the metal heads with as much fandom as her father. She gets to the one picture that stands out to me the most, and describes what I can only assume is her youngest memory.
You rearrange me ‘til I’m sane.
We talk a bit about her family, music and all. It’s odd, I would have expected her to be much more of a ring rat growing up. I guess Eli’s career has been over for longer than I realized…
I ask, why didn’t she go into music?
She mentions a cover band, says she can’t sing, and just isn’t creative enough to come up with riffs. But give her a music sheet or tell her to play someone else’s jam and she’s a genius virtuoso, replicating herself a masterpiece.
I say she creates in the ring. That’s where she makes her masterpieces. She smiles. There’s a moment where…
I know she wanted to say the same.
Somethin’ I woulda done.
The HOW World Tag Team Championships.
The catalyst to the dismantling of the Industry.
I WANT THEM.
I don’t care what everyone’s been saying about me. Oh, he’s past his prime. His best days are behind him. He’s enhancement now. He’s just, a shell of his former self.
And they’d be right.
I was THIS CLOSE, this close to throwing it all away. I chalked up my worth, my value, my desire to continue, and I thought, nah, I’m good. I’m done. I felt I had done everything. And I felt I had just lost… everything.
This is NOT the way my world ends.
I knew my days were numbered. I’m a forty four year old man who calls himself “High Flyer.” Just think about the state of my knees, plus all the chair shots and the scars and the broken bones?
No reason to speed up that process. I’m not going to fall apart in front of everyone at HOW. That’s what they expect. I’m going to do what I always do, pick up the pieces of my shattered spine, stitch them back together with crazy glue and determination, and ATTACK.
Not with a whimper… but with a bang.
ANDY MURRAY, the SCOTTISH KING. A man older than sin, and I can throw the first stone there. You look like a homeless man who eats the skittles he accidentally dropped in his beard these days. LISTEN, I’m sorry how we last left things. We used to be friends, a long time ago. But you know what, I still think of you as a friend, even if you’ve become an elitist monster. I usually bond with my friends by the use of incomparably sadistic violence. I hear you want to kick some heads in. Good. Men cut of the same cloth, you and I.
But you do so out of anger, out of worry, that maybe you hitched yourself to a failing entity.
Mikey, Stevie, they care more about their Oreo Frappes than they do about you.
Perfection? I don’t know him well, but seems he only really cares for ‘imself.
Leaves you, a good man playing the part of a bastard. I know how that game goes. It never ends well. Judgment, thy name is thynself. You can spend your tiime being a man you aren’t, or you can try being the man you ARE Andy. But listen, we’re both slipping toward our final days, aren’t we? I don’t have time to guide you back to the light. You can enjoy your shadows for as long as you feel hollow and empty inside. But one day, you’ll look at the company you keep, and realize…
They are huge pricks.
All that being said, you make your own choices. In the end, we’re both playing with house money. We should have been out of this business ten years ago when Eli first hung up the boots, but no, we’re still out here, killing ourselves, putting our bodies on the line for our love of the sport.
Our love of being proclaimed the best.
Of raising that heavy golden albatross of a championship high above your head, the sheer joy of the screams of the crowd fueling you, keeping you going.
Keeps you alive.
I get it Andy. But once the dust settles and the bell rings, and MJF and I are handed the tag team titles, you’ll have to find a new reason to keep yourself alive.
It’s actually a blessing in disguise you got Joe in your corner these days. Joe could be your role model. He cares about the legacy of the HOW tag team championship. It’s more than just a token to say you’re the “best.” It’s history. It’s a symbol of HOW’s longevity, of respect from your peers. To hold the tag team championship in your hands, to call yourself champion, etching your name into the marble of the title’s past, of defining the championship for the future? There’s nothing more important than that.
Joe gets it. He’s the one man in the locker room that I haven’t had the pleasure of truly sitting down and having a conversation, but from what I can tell, Bergman is a good man. He treats this business with respect, honor. I know I don’t need to expect shenanigans from him. If we were allied, I would never have had to worry about my back like I did when I was in the Industry, for all the good it did me.
Listen, Joe, I dig your game. There’s a reason you’ve held the big belt here multiple times. If there was a man who I’d pick as my Vice President, it’d be you. An everyman, who’ll get the blue collar voters out. THE, everyman, who perseveres, who persistently pushes himself until the world finally gives in to his dreams. Joe Bergman, who when you see his reflection smile in a HOW championship belt, you know it’s genuine.
I’m sorry MJF and I will be the ones to take that transcendent joy from you.
But know we’ll appreciate it just as much as you did.
And if you ever want a rematch, either of you, you’ll know where to look.
I will not be an echo fallen in the sands of time, swallowed by my own legacy. I will slam the desert of HOW and leave it with a Grand Canyon. I will stand up, I will persevere, pick myself up off the asphalt, and do myself a BERGMAN.
‘Cause he’s a good role model.
And ‘cause he’s right.
AND I WANT YOURS.