“So, you see, doc, there’s this clown, right? And he smashes you in the face with a pie… it’s like a cream pie or a pork pie, I can’t remember which. And he’s the ref. But there’s also this zombie chicken, hanging from the top, which is like the whole point of it. Without the zombie chicken there’s not really any point in it.”
Evan Ward was lying on a therapist’s couch, idly solving a rubix cube as he spoke. It was very comfy, if he wasn’t so tense and anxious about spilling his guts to a guy he hardly knew he might have felt like he could fall asleep on it. Thankfully it was tasteful cotton upholstery, not squeaky and weird leather like a lot of these couches and, thank all the gods in the world, it wasn’t velour either. Evan physically shuddered at the thought. The feeling of velour and other velveteen fabrics made his skin crawl, evoking a similar reaction to watching someone have their fingernails ripped out with pliers. He couldn’t stand it.
The therapist noticed the shudder and raised an eyebrow, thinking it was related to what Evan was telling him.
“And this frightens you?” He asked in a thick German ac- sorry, a thick Jersey accent. Not New Jersey. Just Jersey. The channel island off the coast of the UK. A therapist who sounded like a 1950’s farmer, and dressed like one too, was certainly an experience. Evan wasn’t sure whether if the less-then-professional image he projected put him at ease, like chatting to an old boy down the local over a pint, or if it made him more tense under the expectation of the guy grabbing a 12-bore and yelling “Ge’ orf me land!” To be fair, it was probably a bit of both.
“Bloody right, it frightens me.” Evan replied indignantly. “Would you like to be locked in an inescapable cage with that while a certified lunatic is trying to bludgeon you? Bugger that for a bag of chips, that’s some true nightmare material if ever I saw.”
“Uh huh, and when did you begin ‘aving these dreams?” The therapist asked gently.
“Yes, about the clown and the zombie chicken.”
“Oh, no, dude, you’ve got it wrong.” Evan waved his hands emphatically. “That’s not a dream, that’s the wrestling match I’m having In God’s House.”
“A match?” The therapist frowned and scribbled some notes down. “Interesting.”
“Yeah, I didn’t come up with the idea, I’m not mental. Jatt Starr did.” Evan explained while he scrambled the cube again.
“The Ruler of Jattlantis?” The therapist asked.
“Yeah, the Earl of GlouStarr.”
“The Sheriff of Jattingham?”
“Indeed, the Duke of Jattinburgh.”
“Oh, the Butler of Jattingham Castle?”
“Yeah, that’s the one. He’s totally off his nut and thinks coming up with some totally batshit crazy gimmick will throw me off my game.”
“And has it?”
“Obviously! I’m freaked the shit out about getting in that cage with that zombie clown!” Evan exclaimed,throwing his hands up in the air.
“I thought the chicken was the zombie? Wasn’t the clown the ref?”
“Whatever, it’s still some freaky shit.”
The therapist put the notepad down on his lap and looked concernedly at his patient. “Evan, let’s put your career to the side for a moment and talk about yourself. It is great you have finally made time to have this appointment but, as the cliche goes, this is a process and not a one-and-done deal. You need to address the trauma you suffered not just since being forced into a catatonic state but since your medical condition sent you down that self destructive spiral. I have kept an eye on your progress over the last few months and it doesn’t look like you’ve even acknowledged it beyond flippant comments and anger towards those responsible.”
“How can I talk about myself without talking about my career? Most of that trauma was because of my career. If want to talk about what was done to me and how I’m dealing with it then I’ve got to talk about all the abuse I suffered being forced to wrestle while so medically unfit I wouldn’t be signed off to work in a focus group watching adverts all day, let alone fight in a brutally competitive sport.”
“No, Evan, I don’t want to talk about the events or to repercussions you think people deserve. I want to talk about you. Let’s start simple, how are you feeling, right now, about yourself and your life?”
“Pfft, I’m fine. What’s to complain about? I’m alive, my body’s getting back to peak fitness, albeit not as fast and supple as it used to be, I’m starting to get some money in the bank again. It’s all sooooooo hunkydory.”
“You sound bitter.”
“Damn right, I’m bitter.” Evan sat up and put the rubix cube down on the couch. “I woke up from a super long nap only to discover that my life had carried on being lived without me. I woke up to find the guys I had thought had my back were now looking to end my life. I’m so bitter you could serve me in a pub and call me an ale. Honestly, what sort of dumbass observation was that?”
“And how does that make you feel?”
“Uh… let’s see… bitter?” Evan said sarcastically with a roll
“No, how does that bitterness make you feel? How do you feel about harbouring all that resentment?”
Evan opened his mouth to make a cutting remark but stopped and considered the question. How did he feel? Evan had become so accustomed to burying his feelings and dismissing them with jokes and snide comments that he really didn’t know how he felt anymore. Obviously the surface level emotions, like that bitterness, anger, joy, all of that stuff was clear as day for the world to see, but deeper down? Those feelings were hiding away in some deep crevice of Evan’s psyche, protecting themselves from the world around it and protecting Evan from their existence. Or some psychobabble bullshit like that, probably.
“Eh, honestly?” Evan dug around inside himself for an answer. “Helpless. Like anything I do doesn’t help. Chasing after the Final Alliance, warring with Lee Best, going out for revenge, none of it really feels like it’s helping me resolve any of it. It’s just endless, a never ending circle of violence. I take out my anger on them, they attack me back, I seek revenge, they seek retribution, on and on and fucking on. Where’s it getting me, really? It feels like I’m just spinning my wheels, regardless of how much I win. There’s always someone else to beat, someone else to return the favour to. That well of bitterness never gets full, the edges just get worn away every time I dip into it, growing and growing. It’s like I’m free to live my life and do what I want, but mentally I’m still stuck in that war chair, never moving forward.”
“Interesting? What? I was on a breakthrough there and all you have to say is interesting? Give me a break. What, next you’ll want me to talk about my father and how I have tons of unresolved issue about how he forced me into this business when I didn’t particularly care for it but had it so drilled into me that I couldn’t do anything else?”
“Oh, so you still have unresolved issues with your father then?”
“What? No, stop it!” Evan protested, sounding slightly embarrassed. “I came here to get my head sorted, have you tell me how I need to change how I think about things and focus on the positives in my life instead of wallowing on past regrets so I can move on and get out of this post-catatonic rut and maybe give me a prescription or something, but all you’ve bloody well done is manipulate me into talking about my innermost feelings, all while sitting there saying ‘interesting’ and scrawling in that notebook!”
“Interesting, so you feel that changing the way you think to have a more positive outlook would help?”
“NO! That’s what YOU should be telling me!”
“You know, if you would let me write a paper on you I think I could gain some quite nice accolades for this case.”
“Bugger off, this is meant to be a private session! I don’t want my squishy mind stuffing spread out for the world to read about. You’re not writing a paper on me. This season is between you and me.”
The therapist frowned. “Then why is he here?”
Evan looked behind him at Trent, who was sitting quietly on a hilariously tiny stool. “Hey-oh!” He waved.
“Him? Well someone had to move that couch and I didnt see you volunteering.”
“Yes, well, I didn’t really see the need to have a therapy session on the beach, especially not if you want privacy.”
“What are you talking about? This is Miami! Of course we’ve got to do it on the beach. Everyone does everything on the beach down here!”
“But aren’t you concerned about all the onlookers hearing what you’ve been saying?”
“No? They’re my fans, they need to hear from their idol!”
“And the cameras?”
“I’m a wrestler, aren’t I? I’ve got contracted air time to promote the pay-per-view, it’s not my fault this therapy session was booked for the same time as I’d booked the camera crew.”
“… but you booked the session explicitly for this time.” You could almost hear the therapist losing the will to live as the tone of his voice dropped.
“It was the only time Trent could do, or he’d be busy with his job. Since XPro has been off the air he’s been doubling up as the camera crew’s boom mic operator.”
“Oh shit, I fucking knew there was something I’d fucking forgotten!” Trent stood up and ran across the beach to get the boom mic from the production van.
The therapist rubbed his temple with a thumb in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure he was feeling. “Evan, it feels like you’re not taking this particularly seriously. After what you’ve said today I really think we could make significant progress if you put the time in and really commit to the process.”
“Urgh, give it a rest.” Evan rolled his eyes as he stood up and stretched with yawn. “This is boring as hell and, honestly, I only came because I thought it was a quick fix and everyone’s been nagging the hell out of me to do it. If you’re not just going to give me the answer and let me crack on then what’s the bloody point?”
“Evan, there is no single answer and even if there was one, I wouldn’t be able to just give it to you. This isn’t a hospital where you come in, get some stitches for a cut or a cast for a bone and go on your way. This is therapy, the whole point of it is your own self discovery of your own problems and coming to your own decisions about how to solve them. I’m here to facilitate that and guide you but only you can find your own answers. The mind is such a complicated beast. Evan, and while we understand the framework it exists in, everyone is unique and what’s right for one is undoubtedly wrong for another. If I just tell you to go do something because that will fix you then you might as well just watch a random quack on YouTube giving cookie cutter advice which won’t… help… you… Evan, what are you doing?”
Evan looked up from his phone. “Oh? I’m looking up random quacks on YouTube. Brilliant advice, dude, I really appreciate it!”
“No, I was saying that would be a bad thing! Evan!” The therapist stood up to beckon his patient back, but the patient had run out of patience and had begun wandering off watching a knobhead babble on about self-actualisation from his LED rainbow barf filled home office. The camera crew followed him. “You’ve still got 20 minutes left in the session!”
The therapist stared at the back of Evan as he wandered off down the beach, ignorant of the angle taking him towards the sea. He didn’t even clock it when he was wading through the knee-high tide. The therapist sighed.
“The fuck has everyone fucking gone?” Trent’s sudden booming voice made the therapist jump out of his skin. He had returned with the boom mic he was supposed to be operating, “They all fucking left without me! What a bunch of cunts!”
The therapist looked up at the giant. “I don’t suppose you could help me move the couch back into my office?”
Trent looked down at him and shrugged. “Yeah, why the fuck not?” And he hoofed the couch up onto his shoulder, walked down the beach and lobbed it into the sea. “Evan, wait the fuck up!” He yelled, running after his friend-slash-colleague-slash-boss, who was now up to his waist in salt water, eyes still glued to his phone screen.
The therapist looked to be on the edge of tears. “I still have 5 payments left on that couch.”
Sadly we had to leave the therapist there, because neither our protagonist nor his trusty sidekick were near him and the camera crew were too busy trying to stop Evan from drowning to keep the poor man in shot. As we all know, this meant he no longer existed and, much like the nurse from the hospital after 97Red or the physio from a few weeks back or Evan’s wife and two kids, he will never be heard from again. Such was the way of bit parts in the professional wrestlers life.
We leave that currently non-existent therapist and magically warp all the way over to Evan Ward further down the beach, who was now back on dry land thanks to the efforts of the two remaining camera crew (unfortunately Barry the b-roll guy had got swept out to sea. We salute your sacrifice, Barry.) Trent finally caught up, puffed out of breath, when Evan’s phone began to ring. Everyone froze and looked at it dramatically as it played a dramatic ringtone.
Evan slowly answered it, the screen lighting up with the video call showing a dark, shadowy wood, all creepy with sharp branches and faces in the trees as lightning lit up the night in the distance. It was obviously one of those background filters because it was Sunday lunch time.
“Seven daaaaaysssss…” A whispered avian voice floated from the speakers.
“What? Seven what?” Evan asked, confused and terrified in equal measure.
“Seven daaaaysssss…” It replied, louder and cluckier.
“Oh no.” The colour drained from his face. “It’s the return of the curse.”
“What fucking curse?” Trent asked.
“It’s the return of the curse of the zombie chicken clown’s ghost!”
“BUHQUAAAAARRRRKKK!” The zombie chicken clown jumped into shot on the camera and everyone screamed, running off as the phone was thrown into the air, landing next to Barry’s discarded b-roll camera. Showing zombie clown Paco in all its gory glory!