“S’got to be up here somewhere…”
That muttered statement leaves chapped lips as the visual fades in on the cluttered, organized chaos of the Gordon household’s attic, stacks of cardboard boxes intermixed with large Rubbermaid totes of various colors and other brick-a-brack that inevitably accumulates. It’s hotter than Hell outside, making it even hotter in the third story space… and the Oncoming Storm doesn’t bother trying to make it seem otherwise. No attempt is made to hide the sweat that gleams upon her skin, to cover up the dirt and other assorted stains left behind from a long morning’s work upon her cut-offs and plain black tank top since, in Erin’s opinion, there was no reason to. Why hide the signs of exertion when they are proof of a job well done? Now if only she could find whatever-it-is she’s looking for… then she’d really have something to be proud of.
Si always was the more organized one–no, now ain’t the time to get distracted.
“Goddamn it, I coulda’ sworn–”
And the clearing of the cameraman’s throat had her looking up through the sweat-stuck strands of her hair, a brow quirking in silent reproach.
“Oh, hey. Let me guess, my boy let you in?”
The camera bobs up and down as if to approximate a nod–his means of not leaving the viewer out of the conversation. Erin sighs as she sits back on her heels, a forearm rising to shove those errant strands out of the way of the storm-cloud gray of her eyes.
“Figures. Well, I wasn’t gonna address my debut yet, but I reckon now’s as good a time as any. I know you probably drove a Helluva long way to get out to my particular part of nowhere. Go ‘head and grab that chest behind you and pull it over if you wanna sit down. Not the first time it’s been a seat, and it won’t be the last.”
Another of those bobs of motion and there’s a moment of disorienting motion as the cameraman takes that load off, the focus returning to the Oncoming Storm who has taken the opportunity to re-do her ponytail so her hair stays out of her way. One can assume there’s a gesture for her to continue since she’s nodding before continuing to speak, her eyes returning to the task at hand.
“Anyway, you caught me in the middle of tryin’ to figure out where the duffel holdin’ my ring gear went since I don’t think it’d be sportin’ of me to show up in my shitkickers. Cut-offs and a tank top, sure… but I don’t think the ring crew deserves to be dealin’ with everything on my daily boots, y’know? Even I dunno what all’s on’em at this point. Anyway, I thought it was in the closet in my bedroom, but it wasn’t there–and it wasn’t in any of the other usual suspects, either, or even in the unusual ones. That leaves up here and… well, I don’t like my chances much, not when there’s so much to dig through. One of the things about growin’ old that they fail to warn you about is just how much stuff you wind up holdin’ onto–and I don’t just mean the clutter surroundin’ us right now, either. I think the mental version of it is part of why it gets harder to remember shit as the years go by, though I reckon the main difference is that there’s certain mental possessions that’re harder to let go of, forget the details of. Things like the first time I heard Benson cry all those years ago, the sight of what was left of Si in his coffin…”
Trailing off, her gaze goes a little–far away, a deep breath taken to bring her back to the moment at hand. A shaky exhale and she’s shaking her head a little, gaze flickering to the camera’s lens as Erin draws herself together and reminds herself of what she’s supposed to be talking about.
“…the feeling of my hand bein’ raised after my first win.”
A bit of a nod and she’s going back to rummaging about, a huff of a grunt leaving her as another box winds up being the wrong one. Rising up onto her knees, the next box is uncovered and popped open, the search continuing.
“I remember more’n just how the ref’s hand felt as it grabbed my wrist gently and hoisted it upward, of course. I remember the aches and pains, the way my lungs burned and how my knee was bitchin’ at me… but above all else? I remember the deep-in-my-bones satisfaction that I felt at provin’ that not only could I win, but that I had done it. No one could take away that first taste of glory, small of a morsel as it was–and even if I wound up swallowin’ bitter defeat same as everyone else? That first samplin’ of victory stuck with me even as I switched companies, gutted my way through recoverin’ from an injury… it even stuck with me when the last outfit I was with closed right out from underneath me, leavin’ me adrift. Even if it took damn near a year for me to find somewhere worth lacin’ up my boots for, what matters is that I did–and so here I am in HOW, the odd woman out on a whole mess of different levels.”
Erin pauses, another sidelong glance given to the camera as the corner of her mouth ticked upward.
“…pun not intended.”
Another box is closed and moved aside, yet another is opened and rifled through.
“It ain’t the first time I’ve stuck out like a sore thumb–though I gotta say, bein’ the odd woman out in this business sure feels different. Usually, stickin’ out like that puts you square in the middle of everyone’s attention, smack-dab in the spotlight… but not in wrestlin’. No, bein’ the green around the edges rookie–and bein’ an older woman besides–seems to be a ticket straight to bein’ overlooked by damn near everyone on the roster. That used to stick itself right in my craw somethin’ awful, to tell you the truth, but as time wore on, I figured out that it’s just the nature of the beast. It’s the peacocks and the loudmouths that get attention straight out the gate, sure, but how often does that last once someone punches’em in the mush and they go quiet? Not near as long as you’d think. Naw, I’d rather earn my way into the minds and mouths of the competition the ol’ fashioned way. Y’know… by bein’ the one that does the punchin’. It ain’t failed me yet, so I see no reason to fix somethin’ that ain’t broke–oh, hey!”
For a moment, her attention is wholly returned to the box she was rifling through, though it’s not a gear bag that she pulls out. Instead, it’s a very chunky piece of video game history the likes of which’d fetch a good price on eBay if she cared about such things.
“Wouldja look at that… it’s J.C.’s old Game Boy. I forgot he gave this to me to give to Benson, let him give it a whirl since he’s so big on video games. ‘Course he lost interest in it after ‘bout five minutes or so since it wasn’t no Call of Warfare or whatever-the-Hell it’s called, but I liked it fine enough when I was his age. This sumbitch is tougher than a dollar steak, considerin’ the Hell me and my brothers put it through as kids. Barely got a ding on it.”
There’s a moment’s pause as she turns the relic of gaming day’s past over in her hands before she’s finally looking over at the camera properly, holding the Game Boy up as if to illustrate her point.
“I reckon that’s why you call that brick shithouse of a man at your beck and call Game Boy, right Conor Fuse? Cuz he’ll take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’, or somethin’ along those lines. And from what I’ve seen of the man, I gotta say that I’d agree with you on that. He’s the kinda’ opponent you better pack yourself a lunch to deal with… but he ain’t the one I’m facin’, now is he? That ain’t to say that I can just forget all about him, o’course–why else would you be drawin’ so much attention to him if you weren’t lookin’ to dangle him over everyone’s head like some kinda’ musclebound threat?–but it ain’t his shoulders I’m aimin’ to pin to the mat, his jaw that I gotta find a way to introduce to my fist as many times as it takes to keep him down. It’s yours, and for all that I ain’t remotely familiar with what video games have become, I do know how to handle myself in that ring. Sure, there’s no rust in these ol’ gears of mine, I’m not sewin’ myself short, neither. If me losin’ was a foregone conclusion, after all, then there ain’t no way Lee Best woulda’ let me sign the dotted line.”
Her search for her gear forgotten for the moment, the Game Boy is shoved into a pocket as far as it’ll go before she leans in, a couple unknown games retrieved from the deeps of the past before Erin shoves them into the other pocket.
“So while you call me a bot for whatever reason and enjoy your Kool-Aid while your Game Boy stands in the background all threatening-like, I’m gonna do what’s worked for me since day one, and I’m gonna focus on what matters here–the wrestling. I’m gonna watch every match of yours that I can find no matter the company it was with, I’m gonna beat on my hangin’ bag ‘til I work all the rust out, and when Refueled comes around? I’m gonna do exactly what I said I’d do last episode. I’m gonna tape up my fists, lace up my boots–once I find the Goddamn things–walk down that ramp, get in that ring, and I’m gonna fight like my family’s future depends on it. And after the dust has settled, whether I’ve had to make an attempt to break that Game Boy of yours or not, you’re gonna know you’ve been through one Helluva bout. Oh, and one more thing. Take it from me, Conor… you really oughta’ keep an eye out for Nor’Easters.”
Returning her attention properly to the camera anew, The Oncoming Storm leans in a little, the faintest hint of a smirk gracing her lips as her gaze unflinchingly meets that of the lens.
“Rumor has it they can come outta nowhere.”
With that, Erin closes the box before she rises to her feet, one hand hovering over the exposed end of the Game Boy–just because it’s been dropped God only knows how many times over the years doesn’t mean she needs to drop it again. The cameraman rises as well, the video fading to black as parting pleasantries are exchanged.