San Francisco, CA
Raindrops pounded the windows like a million tiny hammers, while brilliant flashes of lightning split open the grey sky. I directed a fierce gaze out of the ferry’s small window, glaring out at the sheets of rain as if I could change the weather by the sheer power of my will. I let out a long, drawn-out sigh when, of course, the rain continued to batter the window.
I said my goodbyes to Mickey and Adam just yesterday, catching my flight to Sanfrancisco whilst Adam headed back to Missouri for his next set of matches. We’d put some good work in during our time with Mickey in the old sweat house, putting some new stains on the canvas and learning a little more about ourselves.
I set off this morning to spend a little time on the Island by myself before the crew arrived. Soon it would be full of life and orchestrated madness to prepare for Rumble at the Rock. I wanted to experience it in its preserved state, soaking up the atmosphere of the ghostly shell of where I would be about to create another career defining moment with my old pal Jatt.
My phone began to hum in the pocket of my raincoat, which thankfully I decided to wear. Fishing it out I felt a sense of curiosity as I saw the name ‘Sonny Fletcher’ flashing across it. He must have found something interest whilst stalking Regan.
“Sonny!” I greeted, pressed the phone against my ear.
The line was shitty and breaking up. I looked at my phone and signal was down to its last bar and flickering. I looked around at my tin can surroundings and sighed as I realised I’d have to above deck in the rain.
“Sonny, hold on a sec would ya, I need to get a better reception,” I explained, pulling my hood up over my head and moving towards the steps of the ferry. I was the only one on board because HOW owned the island and had cancelled all tours until after the event.
The coat did my face no good as the wind blew shards of rain at me from all directions. The water was choppy and I struggled to find my balance as I clung onto a greasy rail.
“Is that better?” I asked, holding the phone to my ear.
“Can you hear me alright now?”
“Loud and clear. What’s up?”
“I’ve been tailing your girl all week and as usual she just did her boring routine. But today she parks up outside of a fancy looking nursing home. Rose Cottage. That mean anything to you?” he asked.
“Not a thing. Who’s she seeing there?”
“Ah, I was hoping you could tell me. I couldn’t get past the rat at the front desk. Tried paying off but he wouldn’t give me a peak at their guest book. Could it just be her mother or something?”
“Could be,” I replied with skepticism.
“What you want me to do?”
I racked my brain for a moment. The rain made it difficult to think, but I remembered Adam and what he would be doing that night.
“Listen, Sonny, go to my office at the Academy. I’ll let my guys know to expect you. In the top drawer of my desk under some papers you’ll find a key. It’s the key to her house,” I explained.
“Ohh, this is serious. She got you a key cut,” he mocked.
“Not exactly. She doesn’t know I have it. Look, get the key and wait near her house. She’ll be going out tonight and that will give you a good few hours to go and snoop around. She must have something there to give us some answers.”
“Alright. But if I get caught the jig is up, you know that right?”
“Alright. I’ll call you when I know something.”
With that the line went dead and I found myself squinting in the rain as I could just about see the Island and prison coming into focus. The ferry ride was about a mile and a half and usually had plenty of beauty to see around San Francisco bay.
The island was little more than a big jagged rock in the middle of the Bay. I couldn’t imagine anyone trying to swim to shore in the frigid waters, not if they expected to survive. It seemed impossible, although I’d seen a recent documentary that claimed men had escaped on a raft and made it to shore, even though the government claimed for years that they hadn’t.
Once the ferry docked I quickly skipped up the rocks and into the ‘impenetrable’ fortress of Alcatraz itself, in a bid to get out of the rain. Wandering the cold, ghostly, corridors reminded me of all the past event’s I’d competed in. Nothing will ever compare to the ambience of having a wrestling match inside these walls.
Inside the walls it’s dark and depressing. It’s a prison after all. Everything looks creepy and old and outdated, as if you’ve stepped back in time. Being there for a few minutes makes you glad you can leave whenever you want to. Imagine being locked up in a dark eight-by-eight cell with poor ventilation and no comforts for years and years, or for your entire life without any hope of ever getting out! The cells are in tiers and the cells on the upper tiers are no more inviting than the lower-tier cells. It looks exactly the way you’ve seen it in movies. I made sure to stay away from the block housing the seven inmates for the HOTV title match. The so called ‘sinners.’ We were all sinners, and I was amongst the worst.
As I stood outside of solitary confinement I was brutally reminded of a time when I was an inmate here myself. When I wasn’t afforded the luxury of knowing when I could leave. I was locked inside the small confines with nothing but my own, dark, thoughts for company. In many ways I feel like that experience changed me for life.
As I laid down on the old cot bed, I made sure I’d left the door open. It was just as I had remembered it. The top part of the walls were painted white, now faded and blistering from damp. The bottom half and floor were painted puke green. There was no window, there wasn’t even enough room to properly pace. Three steps from the cracked toilet to the door, and a step and half from the cot to the wall. That was it. How did they stand it, I wondered. Living their lives cooped up in a room like this? It must have driven them to madness. My own short stint in the can was a breeze compared to what prison life must have been like here.
I began thinking about why this place was built. Alcatraz was for the most hardened criminals and was considered all but escape-proof. Most of the inmates had been in other federal prisons before they ended up on “The Rock.” You wouldn’t have wanted to spend any up-close time with any of those people. They were considered the worst of the worst.
They were no different to the inmates of HOW. Everyone who has stayed around long enough to be considered a veteran, is probably the worst of the worst in the wrestling circle. There’s something which bonds us all in this crazy place, and it’s because we all share the same depraved nature. Some of us can admit it easier than others.
Thing is, as I looked around at the emptiness I’m reminded of what Mickey had said to me about selling Jatt out. I could feel myself becoming overwhelmed with sadness about what I had done. What was happening to me? First, my feelings for Regan? Now regret over Jatt?
I’m supposed to be cold and selfish. I embody the sins which are the theme of this year’s event. Greed. Envy. Pride. Lust. Whilst I cut Jatt out because of his Slothe-like work ethic and gluttonous tendencies.
That’s how Jatt sees it.
But there’s more to it than that.
I hurt you Jatt..
You’ve gone the long way about it, but that’s what I’m taking away from everything you’ve said and done in the lead up to this match. I want you to know, it wasn’t an easy decision. I valued our friendship very dearly, and still do, but I know you’re not the type of man who can see beyond the red mist. You drove me crazy at times, but you were a good friend and I know you genuinely cared about me.
I thank you for that Jatt. A great man once said to me, that you find out who your real friends are and you hold on to them. Well I didn’t do that. I let you go. Hell, I threw you away and caused all of your abandonment issues to flair up, and now you’re lashing out at me like a teenager whose Dad walked out on them.
I don’t blame you for feeling the way you do about me. I expected it. But I expected more from you. But we’ll get into that. For now, let me try and explain things from my point of view.
Jatt, you asked me if I knew that you had a need to be the center of attention. Well, come on Jatt, we all have that need. That’s why we chose this platform, because it was the only place guys like us stood a chance of being there. But some of us need it more than others. When we were a team I allowed you to be at the centre of it in the public eye. I appreciated your gift of the gab and your role in our team, which was the talker. You took our brand and sent it to the moon with your words and merchandise ideas. I’m a man of few words and if that had been left down to me our team would have about as much charisma as a Scott Stevens promo.
That was your role. My role? It was my job to be the brains of the operation. I came up with the tactics. I organised the training. I tried to make sure we both got to a physical level of being able to keep up with the rest of the roster, because when we first teamed up we were nothing but a pair of saggy old men. A couple of Dad bods embarrassing ourselves with our guts overhanging out tights as we tried to compete against the youth.
I tried to push you. I tried to motivate you into getting your body right. I dragged you to beasting sessions with personal trainers. I gave you a nutrition plan to follow. But you half assed every second of it. I was busting my ass trying to get in the best shape of my life and all you were focussed on was making mugs with our name on it.
It dawned on me that I was never going to motivate you as my partner. As long as we were on the same side of the ring? We were never gonna succeed. We need each other Jatt, whether you want to admit it or not.
Think back. Go all the way back to the golden era, when you were at the top of your game. Where was I? I wasn’t standing next to you. I was standing across from you. You and I? We were each other’s motivation. Both trying to prove that we were the best. Our pursuit of that forced each other to get better. We pushed one another.
We needed each other like Ronaldo needs Messi.
Like Federer needs Nadal.
..like Ali needed Frazier.
Was this my plan all along? Fuck you over as some kind of clever scheme to get you to improve yourself?
Of course not.
But that’s what happened, isn’t it? I mean when I was your partner you were a fat slob who only got bigger, not better. Now? I haven’t seen your body looking so good in over a decade. You are arguably getting in the best shape of your life and what triggered you to make that change?
Me cutting you loose, amigo. Because you were right all along. I was holding you back. Even though I didn’t intend for it to happen, I ended up being a toxic influence on you.
Now here’s the part I don’t understand. Ever since War Games you have gone out of your way to get healthy. You got sober. You got on the treadmill. You lifted some iron and you grinded in the gym. But what was it all for? To prove that it could be done?
I thought you were training for this moment all along. I thought you wanted your vengeance against me but you were smart enough to realise that you couldn’t beat me as a fat potato, so you did the smart thing and play the long game. You focussed on the body first and then built yourself back up to a place where you could physically challenge me. The rest of the tools you already had.
But the challenge never came..
What were you afraid of Jatt?
You shouldn’t have to picture me screwing your daughters brains out to motivate yourself to hurt me. I gave you enough ammo to last you the entire war. But instead you cry into a glass of scotch because I’ve caused all of your anxieties to flare up by forcing you to face your demons in this match. That’s what I am right? Your demon? The physical representation of everything and everyone that has tried to destroy you?
You think you’re the good guy in this story? I’m sure many might agree but I’m also fairly certain that the Nazi’s thought they were the good guys too.
I’m not the bad guy Jatt. I’m just tired of you pussy footing around because when the time finally comes that you grow the balls to come and face me I’ll probably either be retired or dead.
So I blackballed you into accepting this match. Oh what a shame for you Jatt, you have to compete in a historical Iron man match at Rumble at the Rock with the opportunity of becoming LSD champion. Not only that? You get the chance to get one over on the guy who wronged you.
Seems all I did was literally push you into the arms of another man.
God you’re pathetic. Mario? A guy who we pretend actually achieved something worth a fuck here? Just because he’s considered a ‘nice guy’ behind the curtain. Sure, whatever, enjoy your new BFF, buddy but all you’re doing is repeating the same patterns you always do.
You latch onto people, Jatt. You even talked about your obsessive neediness and now you’re sinking your claws into Mario, as though that washed up ‘never-has-been’ has all the answers for you.
You need to step away and try being with yourself. Take a good hard look at yourself and do what I did. Tear yourself apart and face up to the cold hard facts that eat away at you every second every day. It’s hard, believe me. But you have to give yourself criticism in order to build and move forward.
I walked away from you because I was tearing away the mould. Negativity spreads but like any partnership Jatt, it works both ways and I was just as bad for you as you were for me. I’ve done the hard part. I’ve taken a long hard look into my own soul and I’m rebuilding.
You’re still lost, hermano.
Even Mario asked you why you wanted to beat me so badly and you couldn’t answer him.
You want to beat me because I hurt you. You want to beat me because you want to prove to yourself that you can do what I did and do it better. You can come back from the brink of career death and still achieve great things and it all starts with the man who told you you couldn’t do it.
It shouldn’t be this hard Jatt.
You say my biggest fear is being irrelevant. Well, that may have been true five years ago, but I have a Hall of Fame ring that says that will never be the case. Guys like me and you will never be irrelevant Jatt. If you took this LSD title from me you wouldn’t give my legacy. It’s immortalised.
The only thing I fear is the day the curtain comes down.
Perhaps, with that in mind, I now fear you.
This LSD championship has brought me my confidence. That’s all. It has proved that I can not only still win championships but that I can defend them, and elevate them. The LSD title has more prestige with me than it has for a very long time.
I’m not disrespecting the LSD title by changing its identity, Jatt. It’s identity is mirrored by its keeper and right now that person is me. John Sektor. Not a man known for getting creative with a bunch of D.I.Y tools, but a man known for making a transition look like a ballet step. A man known for making a reversal look like a piece of art. I am a technical wrestler. It takes no skill at all to bend a chair over someone’s back or throw them through a table or set them on fire.
What I do?
I honour the sport that you and I both learned the fundamentals of many, many years ago.
And I honour our sport with the LSD championship.
So please, Jatt, come and take it from me if you think you can do a better job. Try all the clever tricks you want. All those creative things you talked about. Give me everything you’ve got.
If you can.
Let me tell you what I’m going to do..
I am going to do what you fear me doing the most. I’m going to make you tap out. I’m going to make you quit. Because that’s what you do best Jatt is quit and you can’t face that truth so instead you medicate it and surround yourself with goons to take your mind off it.
I make that vow to you right here and right now, amigo. I will not use any other means of obtaining a fall victory over you. Any points I earn will be either with the sound of your hand pounding on the canvas or your voice telling the referee that you QUIT!
I’m not being egotistical. This isn’t me throwing my dick around and being all cocky. If that was the case I’d do the complete opposite and vow that I won’t use a single submission hold, because for me that would be the equivalent of chopping off my own hands.
No. I’m going to play to my strengths. I’m a submission expert Jatt. I don’t need to waste my time trying to pin you. I will win this match by forcing you to yield to me.
Now, I have gone all in on this match Jatt. I’ve put my championship and my ego on the line so that we can find out once and for all who the best man is. So that we can lay our card out on the table and let our animal instincts take over inside one of the most brutal structures ever created.
There is no escaping Alcatraz my friend. Sooner or later, your gonna have to plant your feet and find out the answer to the question that we fear the most.
What happens when we lose?
“Hey Sonny. You find anything?”
“Yeah I snooped through her house like you said. Didn’t find much at first. Few bills, the usual. The girl likes her sex toys by the way…”
“Yes I’m more than aware. Can we cut to the interesting part?”
“Ok well, I found a safe.”
“Okay? Were you able to get in?”
“Come on, man. It’s not often I get to basque in my own greatness. So it was a digital lock with a number keypad right? So dusted the buttons down and four of them had a thicker layer of prints than the rest of them. Clever right?”
“Very..get to the point!”
“Well that’s where I’m upto. I figure I get three chances at this combination before it locks out, then the jig is up.”
“[Sigh]..what are the numbers?”
“One, Seven, Eight and Nine.”
“That’s gotta be a year, right? Try Nineteen eighty-seven.”
“Hang on…..no cigar amigo.”
“Well try Nineteen Seventy-eight.”
“Bingo! That year mean anything to you?”
“No. I was born in seventy-nine. Regan’s a good five or six years younger than me, that’s why I tried the eighties first. What’s in there.”
“Bunch of photo’s…ooooh, here we go.”
“John, you’re not gonna believe this. So I found two documents. One’s a wedding certificate. The other is a legal receipt of a change of name. Only one of them has Regan Marsden on them. Wanna guess which one?”
“So she’s changed her name. She as good as told me that. So what’s the name on the wedding certificate?”
“This is the good part. It’s Maria. Maria, Fitzpatrick!”
“Correct me if I’m wrong, John. But didn’t you say your real name was…”