October 31st, 2020
It was a grey and dreary day in the Lake of the Ozarks. The rain clattered against the ceiling of my cabin. The wind audibly wailed it deafened the sound blasting out of my sound bar. I couldn’t sit still. Between the glaring pain shooting throughout my back or the stiffness in my legs and neck; I kept having a mini wrestling match with my couch. After hearing the couch cushions squeaking beneath my legs for an hour trying to find the perfect spot to relax; I had to stretch my legs. The Best Alliance obliterated my body making a statement to Eric Dane. If I moved around enough times throughout the day, the couch and my ass would have merged to become one entity.
If that happened my only career option would be letting some girl name Belle sit on my face. No way Matthews hits Broadway and joins Beauty and the Beast being background furniture.
I staggered around the couch, I continued relishing one of the greatest matches in HOW history. While I struggled to stretch out my tense quadriceps the sweetest sound pierced my ears as metal pierced metal and a man dropped to his knees taking his last breath. Every muscle loosened throughout my body as I look up to see Max Kael’s lifeless corpse collapsing to the ground as Michael Best went silent. I softly muttered under my breath:
“Freedom! Sweet freedom! Thank you, Mike Best. Finally, after 6 years of knowing you; you did something I can respect.”
I treasure my freedom from a man who constantly oppressed me for the last two years. I once had solace in my life sitting peacefully behind a desk slaving away pulling reports, but Max Kael time violated me. HE TIME VIOLATED ME! My spine still burns every time I hear his name after he released the video to me exploiting my vulnerabilities for his own personal gain.
He spent time spinning a web of convoluted lies to convince me I could change HOW. He exposed my vulnerabilities to the world on camera. My face turned beat red as I closed remembering the elation and promise I had in my heart returning two years ago.
Now I lay awake in bed every night going through my own Vietnam flashbacks to how he successfully destroyed my life HOW closed its doors. He lured me in with the hopes and dreams I held dear to my heart. He vehemently crushed my innocence and vigor and cackled his way to the grave knowing he stole the only real shot I had at beating Mike Best and holding the 97Red Championship above my head.
CLOP! CLOP! CLOP!
Meredith’s high heels resonated through the hallway near the kitchen breaking the disturbing chain of thoughts rushing through my mind. When she entered the kitchen, my jaw dropped straight to the floor. The black dress extenuated her best features highlight her blonde hair and the red lipstick she wore. Never had I seen her dress up like this. No longer did pins and needles shoot throughout my body. My legs felt like Jell-O. Grabbing the couch as I collapsed, I flash her a smile as she asked me “are you dead set on missing out on Max’s funeral tonight? He did have an impact on…”
Pain singed down my spine at a rapid rate as she said his name. I sternly shouted, “I didn’t stutter earlier. I don’t care what he did the in the last era of HOW. Don’t pay attention to all the hope I once had for that man back in the day. I’m not going. Make up some excuse. I had too much pain medicine or I can barely move around. Don’t let Lee know I’m coming back to beat his janky henchmen Diet Danny Trejo and the Poor Man’s Pillsbury Doughboy. Let him deal with my absence. You’re my substitute. You do the dirty work!”
Meredith folded her arms across her chest: “Come on, Darin! Do the right thing! Everyone would appreciate it,” as she tried to coerce me more, I just shook my head at her while my face burned bright red like a Kryptonian sun.
“I don’t give a shit what they think, Mer! They don’t know what it’s like to have a man time travel and unravel your entire life. You don’t know how that feels. It’s better he’s dead now. He let the AI take over his mind. He paid for his sins. In my mind, the only good Kael is a dead one after what he spent the last two years doing to my career. I refuse to celebrate his accomplishments. I’ve got closure now that I don’t have to worry about anyone from North Kaelrean coming to fuck up my career anymore. It’s a new day, new opportunities! Color me blessed over his death!”
Our eyes glared at each other for a moment before Meredith huffed as she stormed off leaving me in peace to replay the Rumble at the Rock main event in peace. Finally! Maybe I could enjoy the closure to the worst 2 years of my life.
November 22st, 2020
The sunlight brightly radiated down on the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. A brisk, cool wave of wind gently whisked through the air setting the tone for a perfect fall day. Bells, laughter, and excitement echoed throughout the Fairgrounds. It was Ozark AutumnFest—a tradition all Ozark natives celebrated yearly before Thanksgiving. While families from all around gathered to fill the rides, eat Turkey Legs to their hearts content, or see the exhibits; my “family” participated in games. Decked out in matching flannel shirts and jeans; we had to embrace the culture of AutumnFest.
Meredith, Lexi, and I walked up and down the Game Corner searching for the next game Lexi wanted to play. Hopping up and down hardly able to contain her six-year-old heart from sugar induced hyperness; Lexi excitedly asked Meredith “Can I go play the ring toss? Can I? Can I? Can I?!!”
I’d never seen Meredith’s smile so big. It glowed brighter than LED boards across the game corner. Her eyes glowed with life as she experienced the childhood she never had. She bent down towards her daughter and nodded. Like a blue blurred hedgehog from a 90’s Sega game; Lexi darted towards a booth within sight. As Meredith pulled herself back up; she couldn’t contain herself. She wrapped her arms around me. As I slightly blushed, I pulled back and reserved myself.
“Wha…what was that for? I didn’t do anything special. I just thought maybe…you and Lexi wanted to enjoy a nice afternoon after I signed autographs. It’s really nothing,” I exclaimed.
As she pulled herself back, she continued fidgeting with her hair as she gazed into my eyes, “I know, Mr. Missouri Valley Celebrity; it’s just Lexi’s own father doesn’t spend this kind of time with her. And between my job and her school; we don’t get moments like this as often or at all. Plus it’s nice not seeing you constantly working out in a gym like some boring fitness yahoo.”
As she continued to stared, my eyes awkwardly waivered towards the ground as I swayed back and forth responding to her while ignoring the slight jab she threw at me : “You’re doing your best! I’ll admit I didn’t do you any favors when Hollywood and I teamed the last 70 days…”
She immediately cut me off; “You had to do what you needed to do for us. You needed to provide us with a means for a paycheck. I get it. Been there, done that! I forgive you! She does too!”
I let out a long-drawn sigh as I roll my eyes continuing to speak ignoring the fact that she cut me off, “Like that paid off any dividends. Brian Hollywood hasn’t called back after saying he wants to go at things alone and Lee hasn’t booked me since I lost the HOW World Tag Team Championships in my first defense. It’s like I take two steps forward and five steps back. I keep getting caught off guard when Lee’s thugs scramble my brains and cheat to steal my spotlight.”
While Meredith’s smile fades, her eyes continue to shine warmly towards me as she nods. “You’ll get there, Darin. You’ve put on some of the best clinics in years. Just because you learn life lessons doesn’t mean you won’t have failures along the way. You can’t keep beating yourself over things you can’t control,” she spoke as she continued to reassure me while she rubbed my back.”
“I get that after all these years. It’s just I feel like I’m being punished. I feel like there’s something still unresolved,” I said as the ringtone on my IPhone awkwardly blared. Meredith looks at me rather perplexed as I pull my phone from out of my back pocket. As soon I saw the name on my phone; my eyes widened. My heart sank. Sweat slowly rolled off my forehead as I gulp and read the name while Meredith peers over my shoulder: it was Lee Best. Furiously I rush to open the message:
“Hey Fuckstick! I booked you on this week’s card. Maybe try not to shit the bed like you did against John Sektor!”
I couldn’t hide the vein protruding from my forehead of the back handed insult. But it didn’t matter; my body relaxed. My body quaked as I shook my fist elated, I had a chance to prove myself. I could erase last week’s mistake to prove my worth not only to Hollywood, but to Lee. That’s all I ever wanted; a new beginning to my career. I fumbled my way over to the HOW website to see the opening match: Darin Matthews vs Sutler Reynolds…….KAEL.
The color immediately flushed from my face. My pale white face would have blended in nicely with Mike Best’s personal cocaine vault. Paralyzed and silenced I felt an intense flame burning throughout my entire body as every scene with Max Kael revibrated through my brain all at once. My right eye began to twitch while my body uncontrollably shook as the images of the scrawny, small, yet powerful Sutler Kael flooded my memories. The sight of him viscously contorting Kevin Capone in 6 seconds caused sweat to profusely pour down my face. Immediately Meredith pulled back as her eyes glowed bright knowing the trauma bolting through the synapses of my brain.
“Darin, it’s alright! He’s not like Max. He loathes the man. Remember, he’s different. His father tortured him and brainwashed him. He’s…”
The color instantly returned to my face as it radiated redness brighter than my face ever could ever turn. Clinching my fists and whipping around seething, I glared straight into Meredith’s eyes and lashed out, “Sutler was trained by that worthless, heartless machine in North Kaelrea. Max corrupted that kid and he’s just like that worthless piece of shit that time violated me. How dare you side with a Kael. How dare you degrade my hatred! The only good Kael is a dead one, Meredith. DEAD!”
As I try to control the anger and trauma while pulling at my short hair. Meredith rests her arm around my shoulders. She pats me on the back while desperately trying to calm me down. “Let it go, Darin. Let’s just enjoy the rest of the day here at AutumnFest. Lexi’s wanting to win a giant-sized stuff horse and that should cheer you up.”
I close my eyes and shake my head as angry tears slowly roll down my cheek. Pulling away from Meredith I softly say “I can’t. I need to end this chapter once and for all. I can’t have fun now. I…MUST end the Kael regime here in HOW. You just don’t understand.”
Without saying a word, I tossed her the keys to my car and callously, rush off desperately knowing I had to put everything into surviving this match, let alone beating young Sutler. I knew training under two legends put him ahead of me. As Meredith’s screams of my name echoed through the fairgrounds; I didn’t look back. It was now or never for me to put closure on this trauma of my past. I was going to put everything into beating young Sutler Kael no matter what the cost.
We both know your father was calloused, narcissistic, vein bastard. We could share stories for days about how he traumatized us both. Both of us witnessed is reign of terror in High Octane Wrestling for years. I’m sure we both want to distance ourselves from the torture he put us through…
But wait, you really don’t want that do you?
Let’s face it, Sutler, some might consider me stupid, but I see right through that façade of yours. You claim you’re a better man than Max, but you come out on HOTV and embrace HIS surname, the week after his passing no less. Ruining his funeral while taking a shit all over his legacy is a move he would pull. His dark and tortured soul wouldn’t let anyone else have the spot light. He consistently spent time destroying hacks left and right on this roster in sadistic ways just like you did. Hell, I’m sure your ‘grandfather’ Lee Best eagerly danced while the ink on your new contract dried knowing the special code word to trigger Max’s newest sleeper agent. All he’s got to do is yell the secret word and he’s activated the next line of statistical Kaelrean sleeper agents to do his bidding, just like he did with your father.
Sure, you’re not biologically Kael just like Max wasn’t truly biologically part of the Best Family. But he trained you. He natured you. He brainwashed you. He created the tortured youth that stands before me ready to twist me up like pretzel like some edgy emo 16 year does at Auntie Ann’s on the weekends. Yet you can’t see it. You’re blinded by that teenage rebellion of yours ready to pathetically spite your dead father because he burned that ugly mug of yours. You’re pissed he toughened your ass up for the world he wanted you to inherit. Yet you’re still blind to it all.
You can’t see the hatred I have for your namesake.
You didn’t witness the hell your father put me through for 2 straight years keeping me from all my hopes and dreams. You didn’t witness him soiling my name after I earned 24 different accolades throughout my 15-year career. You never experienced him time violating you which is a fate worse than death. He never costed you your one and only opportunity at your life’s dream. He fucking handed you his world on a silver fucking platter. You’ve only profited from the sins of your father while I paid the price. I’ve let his emotional and psychological torture plague me from the moment I stepped back into HOW nearly two years ago when Grandpa Lee flipped back on the lights. I let your father’s words hold me back.
And every time I see HIS surname; I snap. I lose control. I lose sleep at night dreaming of the day I end the reign of Kael. I’ve obsessed nearly two years craving the moment I get my revenge of the Kael Clan. And this Saturday, I get to make good on those words I truly mean from the bottom of my heart:
‘The only good Kael is a dead one.’
I may not have a legal team as deep and wide as the Best Family does to get out of murder and I certainly don’t have access to the time traveling technology your father did. But I have the present. I have the here and now. I get to step into the ring with the scrawny ass punk he trained to take his throne and unleash every pent-up bit of frustration your family has caused me. I have the opportunity to kill your six seconds of fame. I get the chance to take all the slander and bullshit your father used to oppress me. When I beat you, I get to take all those spiteful calls of “average, mediocre, and worthless” he called me and stick them straight to your career. I beat a Kael I’m no longer the “other guy of the Hollywood Boyz.” I finally earn my keep, my dignity, and my confidence back.
You and your dead father don’t get to write the epitaph to my career in HOW. I do!
I want this win more than any other championship in HOW, kid. I’ve craved 97Red for years, don’t get me wrong, but I only get that path by going through a Kael. I want nothing more than to beat your crispy ass face to a bloody pulp. I want nothing more than make you squirm for embracing your father’s surname. You chose this path kid. You’re fighting someone who’s desperate to hit the reset button on his career. You’re fighting a man who is hungry and desperate for a chance to prove to Lee Best his worth. You’re fight and man who’s not afraid to look into those dark, depraved, and destructive eyes of yours and beat the hell out of you because your surname is Kael. While your legacy proceeds you and you backed it up last week; I will no longer let my fear of your name and your pedigree hold me back.
It’s my spotlight now, Sutler, not yours. I’m taking it from the Kael Clan. And I promise you I’m no average joe. You’re going to see a different side of Matthews, one that your father never got to see. I’m pissed off, angry, and damn well determined to earn a win this week. It might be an uphill battle against a family that’s battered and broken my spirit, but damnit I’m going to beat a Kael. I’m going to beat you at all costs.
It’s my story now, not Kaelrea’s, not yours. It’s mine. And I’m damn well going to put an exclamation point on it when I beat you this week. And when I do beat you kid, you better be ready to take all the hell your father put me through. Because its next level compared to all the shit you endured for decades prior to this.
I promise you, you won’t like everyone constantly laughing at you after the “mediocre” guy turns you into the Six Second Boy Wonder.”