GORDON GODSON’S HOME
SOMEWHERE IN MINNESOTA
SOMETIME BEFORE WAR GAMES
The car ride proved long and uncomfortable. On more than one occasion STRONK attempted to grab the steering wheel and swerve them into a ditch or into oncoming traffic. He didn’t—doesn’t—like the idea of confronting his father for the first time in many, many years.
Shelley kept his head on a swivel, remaining vigilant through the awkward silence, making sure his companion didn’t purposefully kill them both as they drew closer and closer to their intended destination.
Every mile travelled tightened the knot in STRONK’s stomach. He tried belching, farting (almost shit his drawers), anything to quell the discomfort he felt, but nothing worked, his efforts were futile.
Hidden inside a lopsided mobile home located on a piece of swampland in bumfuck nowhere, weathered, bony fingers flip the pages of a 1970s titty mag. An unruly bush like a bullseye smack-dab between spread legs prompts heavy, perverse breathing.
A poorly customized Cadillac Deville rolls up outside, having turned off a seemingly never-ending dirt road lined by impossibly tall redwoods.
Its arrival doesn’t register to the creature in the half-sunken trailer.
Outside, Shelley Greene steps out of the car, turning his head slowly while squinting, taking in his surroundings: a rusted Ford Ranger, a small shed from which cache of boxed macaroni and cheese dinners spills out, an outhouse with an overflowing bucket of human waste, and beyond that… untouched wilderness.
Shelley hates the country. Birds have a predilection to both shitting on him and attacking his face with incessant pecking. One time, a crow attempted to take his eye, but Shelley hit him with the one-two-Canelo and dropped that fucker mid-flight, before proceeding to dance a jig atop its broken body, ruining a perfectly good pair of Yeezys (that he bought with STRONK’s money).
STRONK remains in the passenger’s seat of Shelley’s car, glaring at his childhood home.
“LISTEN UP, PRETZEL-BOY! YER DANG MUTT IS DEAD! I’M PUTTIN’ HIS FOOD MONEY INTO THE SLOTS FROM NOW ON! SHIT, I’M PUTTIN’ YER FOOD MONEY INTO THE SLOTS AS WELL! HOPE YAZ LIKE TREE BARK AND GRUBS! LITTLE BITCH BOY OF A SON OF MINE! FRUIT OF MY BALLLLLLS! SHOULD’VE CHOPPED THEM BASTARDS OFF WHEN I GOTS BACK FROM ‘NAM!”
Daddy Godson was a stern, perpetually drunk, brute of a man when STRONK last saw him. He wasn’t three hundred pounds of solid bulk muscle like the HOTv Champ, but STRONK’s younger self perceived him as large and intimidating.
Given STRONK’s own physical blossoming over the past decade, he wonders what his old man looks like now. He imagines a man twice his size, jacked to the gills, so pumped-up and veiny he appears ready to burst at any moment, wearing an Indy 500 crop top and cut-off blue jeans. This man drinks PBR and only PBR and can best everyone down at his local VFW in an arm-wrestling match. This man drives home at two in the morning and when he gets there, in a drunken stupor, beats his wife because she’s already asleep and hasn’t douched in the last forty eight hours. Also, his dinner’s fucking cold.
STRONK feels an unfamiliar rage bubbling up inside him. Not entirely unfamiliar, of course; he’d simply not felt this level of hate for anything or anyone in quite some time.
Greene: (poking his head into the car) Stronky Baby, you coming?
STRONK: STRONK HAS DECIDED HE DOES NOT WANT TO SEE THE MAN INSIDE THE TRAILER. STRONK WISHES TO LEAVE.
Shelley scoffs, his hands planted on his hips.
Greene: After we drove all this way? Do you know how much gas we burned getting here? Enough to pay for, like, a week’s supply of creatine for you. That can’t be for nothing.
STRONK: STRONK THINKS BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN IF STRONK IS MADE TO SEE THAT MAN. UNFORGIVABLE THINGS.
Back inside the trailer, a liver-spotted hand reaches for an oxygen mask.
Back outside, Shelley lights a cigarette in protest, not giving a damn what STRONK thinks about his dirty little habit—at least not on this day, not in this moment.
He knows if he can’t get STRONK to confront his father, he will not be a hundred percent come War Games. Now, under ordinary circumstances, that’d be fine; Stronk Daddy only needs, maybe, sixty five percent of his max potential to beat the level of competition he’s defeated over the past several weeks.
But there’s nothing ordinary about War Games, a match spoken about with such reverence that simply the idea of competing in it can psyche some guys out; and winning is regarded just as highly as any other accomplishment one can earn wrestling for HOW.
While Greene usually bends to the will of STRONK, especially when he forcefully puts his foot down on a particular issue, today he steels himself for the good of their future success together.
Greene: Big man, I’m gonna need you to get your ass outta the car right this second. I’m serious. Stop being a fucking pussy.
STRONK exits the vehicle as fast as someone his size humanly can, eyes burning with a desire for vengeance. He stalks after Shelley, backing him up in retreat.
Shelley’s made a mistake—nobody calls STRONK a pussy.
STRONK: YOU DO NOT INSULT THE STRONKEST MAN ALIVE. YOU ARE LIKE A PUNY HOUSE RAT THAT STRONK KEEPS SAFE IN HIS POCKET. STRONK WILL SLAP THAT POCKET UNTIL THAT POCKET GOES CRUNCH IF YOU DO NOT APOLOGIZE.
Greene backs up into the side of the outhouse, trembling hands held up, shielding his face.
Greene: I am soooooooo sorry, Stronk Daddy! I don’t know what came over me! I just think you need to see your dad and bring closure to whatever’s got your head fucked up. You are most definitely NOT a pussy. You are the massive dick that smashes pussies, rendering them useless to other men. Again, I apologize with all my heart! Please forgive me! Please!
STRONK lowers his fist and gives Shelley enough space to circle out around him.
Greene: I love you, big man. I only want what’s best for you.
STRONK’s eyes move from a hyperventilating Greene, to the trailer, then back to Greene.
STRONK: STRONK WILL DO AS YOU ADVISE. BUT THE CONSEQUENCES ARE YOURS AND YOURS ALONE TO OWN.
Greene: Fine. Whatever it takes. Let’s go.
Oh shit, son, it’s your boy Shelley up in the ether, doing his own monologue. Special treat for you silly bitches.
Stronk Daddy’s only got so many thoughts worth verbalizing. He knows what he needs to do—destroy everyone, win War Games, and bring home the HOW World Championship.
But me? I’ve got plenty to say.
I just popped an Adderall IR and boy is my mind a-racing!
In just a few short days, STRONK and I will make our way to the Ukraine. I haven’t told the big man yet, but we’re flying private with Team Best!
It’s the perfect opportunity for me to sit down and talk shop with Michael Lee Best.
He acts like he doesn’t really know who Shelley Greene is, but I know his acting like a pompous fuckhead is just his defence shell—he knows he really should’ve put some damn respect on the Greene name when he announced he was drafting STRONK, but whatever.
Not gonna worry about that. He’ll learn because I’ll educate him. Then maybe, who knows, he’ll sign your boy Shelley to a big-money on-screen contract, which will allow me to double-dip a teensy bit between STRONK’s pay and my own.
It’s only fair.
After all, I’m just as much to thank for STRONK’s success as the man himself.
Now, on the subject of War Games and traveling to the Ukraine… I’m not gonna lie—I’m pissing-in-my-pants scared.
What if our PJ gets shot down?
What if we get caught in some Russian-Ukrainian firefight?
What if STRONK gets permanently injured in the cage and can’t earn no more? 🙁
I hate the idea of abandoning the big man… but if he can’t earn, what use is he to me?
STRONK GODSON is a machine. The best machine on the market. Highest level of productivity out of all machines like him. There is no substitute. Now, imagine him churning out widgets in a factory. Management greatly values the machine because it earns them money at a rate that would be unachievable with any other machine… and so they do whatever’s necessary to maintain it and keep it in tip-top shape.
But all machines have a useful life. I know this because I failed out of an associate’s degree in accounting. Something about depreciation and amortization.
Say STRONK’s useful life in wrestling is, oh, ten years.
Ten years of solid, consistent, predictable output.
Well, War Games is like a tornado that blows apart the factory and sends the machine careening off into the distance.
Management searches and finds it broken apart in a parking lot two miles away. So they gather up its parts and weld it back together. But it never works quite the same way ever again; at least not quite at the level it once did.
STRONK is a machine. If he can’t earn, he’s simply a burdensome man-child that makes me wash his clothes, clean his house, buy and cook his food, and drive him wherever he needs to go. If he ain’t bringing in that superstar money, he just isn’t worth my time.
STRONK will win, I wholeheartedly believe that, but he’ll never be the same. Those ten years I would’ve had with him? Maybe it becomes seven, maybe five. Maybe shit goes array and War Games is it… the end of the line. No one can predict these things.
If I could predict shit I’d be shorting stocks and picking ponies, not managing a fucking pro wrestler!
I can’t predict things; I can only hope for the best. And I do… everyday I do. I pray that STRONK’s musculature is not ripped from his skeleton during one of his freakish feats of strength and stupidity. I pray that his knees don’t implode like a skyscraper being demolished when he tries to deadlift a Volkswagen for no good reason at all. I pray that beautiful dumb son of a bitch doesn’t ever learn what a credit report is or how the fuck to read one!
We must maximize our time in the limelight. Force Michael Lee Best’s hand. Get a morbidly obese new contract. Parlay wrestling fame into real fame. Run Hollywood and become the next Dolph Lundgren—only bigger and better and with better hair.
War Games will be a defining moment for STRONK GODSON. But what’s more, it will be a defining moment for me, Shelley Greene, manager of champions!
Yeah, I said it—champions. Plural.
Eventually I’m gonna have my wittle fingahz in a bunch of bunch of different pies, you see. Stronk Daddy will sit at the top, all awesome and belted up and shit. And my other clients will strut around the yard, pecking at whatever birdseed is left on the ground when the Big Cock has finished filling his tummy.
I ain’t gay—though, to be fair, I ain’t straight either—I just really like chicken analogies.
One day being me is going to be, like… pretty fucking cool.
I can’t wait.
GORDON GODSON’S HOME
SOMEWHERE IN MINNESOTA
SOMETIME BEFORE WAR GAMES
The front door of the trailer, busted partially off its hinges, hangs ajar.
Shelley looks at STRONK, who looks back at Shelley.
Greene: Do we knock or do we ring? Your dad a knock guy or a ring guy?
STRONK: PAPA GODSON IS A STAND-YOUR-GROUND GUY.
Greene: Best we announce ourselves then.
Shelley raps on the lopsided, tinny door with his knuckles.
Greene: Mister Godson, it’s Shelley Greene! I’m a friend of your son!
A raspy mumbling, very faint and laboured, comes from within the trailer.
Greene: What’d he say?
STRONK: HE CALLED YOU AN ETHNIC SLUR THAT IS NOT APPROPRIATE GIVEN YOUR ANCESTRY.
Shelley, again, knocks twice on the door.
Greene: Mister Godson, may we come in?
A fit of grunting and wheezing.
Shelley and STRONK cautiously enter the trailer, careful not to bump into anything, let the door slam shut, or otherwise make any loud noises.
The air in the trailer is pungent with the smell of bootleg cigarettes smoked down to the filter, old-man breath, and straight-up death. Picked-over TV dinners lay atop the faux marble counters of the galley-style kitchen, Salisbury steak in an advanced state of decay, suggesting several months’ exposure to the world.
Seated in a Lay-Z-Boy recliner, atrophied down to a shrivelled 95-pound sack of osteoporosis-riddled bones, Gordon Godson stares at them from behind an oxogen mask and a pair of Coke-bottle glasses that do just enough as to allow him to discern basic shapes and figures in close proximity to him.
The elder Godson uses a shaky hand to pry the oxygen mask from his mouth. He smiles, baring teeth that haven’t been scrubbed in months.
Gordon Godson: Ahhh… Stronnnk…
Greene: Yes sir, this is your son.
Gordon Godson is a man in his late seventies, maybe early eighties. He’s decrepit and foul smelling. His voice is so faint and muffled it’s a challenge to discern what he’s trying to say. Shelley wonders how he’s survived, seemingly all alone, in the secluded slice of rural Minnesota he calls home.
Gordon Godson: Commmmmeee… herrrrreeeee…
STRONK takes a single step toward his father.
“YA GET THIRSTY, YA DRINK YER PISS! YA DRINK IT ALL UP AND YA KEEP YOUR DANG MOUTH SHUT!”
Gordon’s face, ravaged by years of smoking, drinking, and nutritional neglect, turns toward STRONK, his eyes slowly focusing behind thick bifocals. His hand rises swiftly but gingerly to his mouth, and he coughs up a mixture of blood and mucus into his fist, wiping it on the arm of the chair.
Gordon Godson: You’re… so… smalllllllllllllll… you ain’t…. been eatin’…
STRONK looks at Shelley, then down at his own massive frame—bulbous chest, engorged arms, horse-like thighs—the desire to blast off a thousand or more hack squats right there, right now, beginning to overtake him.
Gordon’s smile morphs into a sinister grin, his teeth coloured pink by his own blood.
STRONK: WHERE IS MOTHER?
Gordon, as if taken aback, wearily guffaws.
Gordon Godson: She’s… layin’ dowwwwn… in thhhhe… baaaaaaaaack…
STRONK turns and marches down the length of the trailer, dodging various hoardings and empty bottles strewn about the floor. He opens a few doors along the way, the first to a closet, the second to a bathroom, before wrenching open the door to the bedroom at the end of the mobile home…
Shelley’s followed STRONK, and now stands behind him, looking over his shoulder.
Greene: What in the ever-loving backwoods fuck!?
There, laying on the bed, in a dust-covered church sundress, are the skeletal remains of STRONK’s mother.
Like a punch to the face, the stench hits them both immediately. Decaying flesh and New Car Smell air fresheners. The body appears to have died abruptly and been left there to rot for… years, maybe?
Greene: This is sooooooo fucked up. Like, this is some Norman Bates type shit. This is… wow. How did we not smell this from two miles out? My nose is fucked from all the booger sugar, but you, big man… I’m surprised—you’ve got a sniffer like a bloodhound.
STRONK: WE SHOULD CALL THE MEDICAL POLICE. THEY CAN DO THE BODY-SAVING MOVE AND GET MOTHER TO THE BUILDING WHERE SICK PEOPLE LIVE.
Shelley rests a comforting hand on Stronk Daddy’s back.
Greene: I, uhhh… don’t think CPR’s gonna help, dude. Think she may be a little bit… past… that point.
STRONK: DO YOU THINK SHE HAS EXPIRED?
Shelley nods solemnly, looking at the mummified remains of STRONK’s mother no more than five feet away from them.
Greene: I do. I mean, if she were a carton of milk, she’d not only be past her best-before date, she’d be a block of aged cheddar by now. I’m sorry, but it’s true. She’s dead, big man. Dead. Gone.
She’d been catatonic for some years even before STRONK ran for the hills and never looked back. He hadn’t been able to properly converse with her since he was a small child. She just sat in her favourite rocking chair, drool collecting on her blouse, staring lifelessly out an adjacent window. He used to sit at her feet and plead with her to wake up, put his old man in his place like she once did, but his cries were never answered. And now, here she was, long dead and seemingly forgotten, no final resting place, no burial, just left to wither away with each passing day—like his dog Velcro all those years ago in the dog kennel that continues to haunt him—the punchline to a particularly cruel joke delivered by his old man. Just another mechanism through which to cause STRONK suffering.
STRONK: OLD MAN. YOU DISGRACE YOUR WIFE AND THE MOTHER OF YOUR SMALL HUMAN.
STRONK storms back over to where his father is seated, knocking over random things in the process. Smacking odds and ends off counters and walls.
Shelley wedges himself between them, not wanting to see STRONK catch a murder charge when he inevitably pulls Gordon Godson’s limbs off one by one like the petals of a wilted rose.
Greene: Let’s take a breath, big man! Deep breath! Deeeeeeeeeeeep breath.
The old man points a rickety, arthritic finger at the HOTv title fastened around STRONK’s waist.
Gordon Godson: Is thaaaat… the best… cawksucker award? Heh heh heh… You cawcksucker… I knewwww itttttt…
The blood in STRONK’s body rushes to his face. His hands ball up into fists at his sides. He looks at his father’s head and imagines crushing it like a Jacko-O-Lantern a month removed from Halloween. His skin, like tissue paper, could be wiped clean off his face with a single swat of STRONK’s hand.
Greene: Actually, no, that is a highly prestigious pro wrestling championship, one your son won and has defended several times on national TV, I might add.
Gordon Godson: So it’s for the cawksuckin’ then… Heh…
Greene: No! Pro wrestling is a combat sport, not man-on-man fellatio, damn it!
Gordon laughs. It sounds malicious and vile and tortured by terminal illness.
Gordon Godson: Whaddayou want anywaaaaay? Why’d youuuu… come herrrrreeeee?
STRONK: STRONK DOES NOT KNOW. STRONK FEELS THAT THIS IS A WASTE OF TIME.
Greene: Actually, Mister Godson, we came here to get closure. From what I’ve come to understand, you may have mistreated your son when he was growing up. Bullied him, even. And so I think an apology is in order.
Gordon laughs, coughing up more blood, this time spitting it out nonchalantly onto the floor.
Gordon Godson: How about… uhhhhh…. get fawwwwwked?… ya string bean bitch boyyyyyyyyy… Gordon Godson doesn’t… apologize… for notttttthhhhhiiiinnnn’…
STRONK: STRONK FEELS WE SHOULD LEAVE. NOW.
Gordon Godson: ‘Stronk feels,’ ‘Stronk feels,’ wahhhhhhhhhh… still talkin’ ‘bout… yourself… like you’s someboddddddy… You ain’t somebodddddy… You’s a waste of cum… annnnd… efforttttttt…
Gordon’s laughter punctuates every wheeze and sputtering word, blood coating his lips, coaxing his tired old tongue from his mouth to lap at it like a dog.
Gordon Godson: Whaaaaattttt your old man… tell yaaaa… abooouuutttttt… feelings? They’re forrrrr… little girls… and weaaaak men… You’re still as weak as ya ever wasssssssss…
A shortness of breath prompts the old man to reach for his oxygen tank. His fingers splayed and outstretched, almost touching the top, preparing to drag it an inch or two closer.
STRONK’s gargantuan hand grips the tank.
STRONK: YOU ARE NOTHING BUT HOT AIR. YOU DO NOT NEED ANY MORE.
He pulls it fully out of his father’s reach, picks it up, looks at it inquisitively… then hurls it through the front window of the trailer.
Gordon Godson: Gimme… backkkk… myyyyy… aiiiirrrrrr…
STRONK: YOU WANT AIR, OLD MAN?
Gordon’s eyes suddenly show true concern, his situation rapidly becoming more and more urgent and dire.
Gordon Godson: Yesssss… give… meeeee… airrrrrrr….
STRONK stands up straight in front of his father, whose wheezing is louder and more onerous than ever… turns around…
…and farts the longest, most revolting fart ever unleashed in human history directly into his face.
It lasts for close to an entire minute, start to finish.
Shelley spins around, dry heaves, wiping the tears from his eyes.
STRONK lowers himself so that he is eye-to-eye with his father.
STRONK: BREATHE IT IN, ASSHOLE. FILL YOUR LUNGS.
Without a second thought, STRONK turns and walks out of the trailer.
Shelley follows behind, turning back only once to see the remaining life drain from Gordon Godson’s evil eyes before his body goes limp and his head slumps forward.
Holy shit, he thinks, STRONK just killed his father.
With a fart to the face.
As they walk back to the Cadillac Deville parked out in front of the trailer, Shelley wonders if what just transpired made things better… or made things worse. He can’t be sure one way or the other.
They sit in silence as they drive away from STRONK’s childhood home, en route to the private jet that will take them and the rest of Team Best to the Ukraine, leaving behind years of pain and trauma… and a dead man whose final seconds on this earth were spent huffing a giant man’s protein-packed flatulence.
Life’s crazy, right?
…TO BE CONTINUED…