Goosport. The neighborhood that has been deemed ‘Most Dangerous’ in Lake Charles, Louisiana. On this day, however, there’s an unusual block party going on at the corner of North Prater and Augustus. Typically, the block parties are for holidays, birthdays, and celebrations of life. Unfortunately in this dangerous neighborhood, the latter is the most common. It seems as if there’s somebody shot to death or stabbed to death on a daily basis. Even if the numbers don’t provide evidence of that, it’s frequent enough to be a perpetual concern.
While the typical block party revolves around the celebration of one’s life left behind, this one is geared towards the celebration of one’s life to come. At the aforementioned corner of the neighborhood, there is a small cement basketball court. The hoops have no nets. The cement is far from perfect, with cracks all throughout the surface. Within the cracks grow stray grass and weeds. On one end of the court, a few of the neighborhood children shoot a ball at the hoop poorly, throwing it wildly into the grass behind the hoop constantly. At the other end of the court, tables and balloons are set up. Coolers are filled with adult beverages. There is a giant punch bowl full of a boozy liquid. In the middle of the center table sits a circular cake decorated like the ‘o’ in the HOW logo. In the frosting are the words ‘Congratulations, Desmond!’
The guest of honor, Desmond LeRoux, sits in a fold-up lawn chair surveying the company surrounding him. There’s a bit of irony in people throwing back adult beverages in honor of a 19 year old. This hasn’t escaped LeRoux’s mind. However, the biggest thing on his mind is the irony of who is around him. Men and women, most of whom chastised him not long ago for his ambition to attend Harvard University, are there to celebrate his new endeavors. In fact, these same men and women used to call him a ‘nerd’ and a ‘dork’. God forbid someone in Goosport be smart enough to get out of the hood.
One of the men in the crowd, Eddie, stands up and holds his beer into the air. It’s clear that he wants to make a toast. The party quiets a bit before Eddie begins to speak.
Eddie: “To Desmond LeRoux! The man who is going to High Octane Wrestling to make us all proud!”
The crowd cheers and raises their drinks into the air.
Eddie: “And probably very rich!”
Eddie laughs, as does the rest of the crowd. LeRoux stands up. He looks around as the mass of hypocrites smile at him and cheer for him. The cheering slows down exponentially as the grimace on LeRoux’s face continues to grow. Finally, the moment LeRoux has been waiting for: silence. LeRoux’s eyes peer from man-to-man, woman-to-woman… the children have even stopped playing ball. Finally, the guest of honor speaks.
LeRoux pauses to look at the silently-still faces in the group.
LeRoux finally shakes his head and tosses his bottle of water aside angrily.
LeRoux: “Oh how times have changed! A few years ago when I said that I was going to be the one to make it out of Goosport, you all laughed at me. When I said that I was going to get a degree from Harvard University, you all called me stupid and said it couldn’t be done. And Uncle Eddie?”
LeRoux gets up in what we now know is his uncle’s face.
LeRoux: “When I got a 34 on the ACT… when I graduated with a 4.0 GPA… you called me a SELL OUT. You said I had no right to be what I wanted to become. You said that it was my obligation to be what all of you are: criminals and thugs. Don’t sit there and think for one moment that I am about to carry Goosport out of poverty by being the next big wrestling star… Goosport is dead to me.”
The crowd turns sour. Many begin to shout obscenities at him. Some clutch at the piece at their side, ready to turn this from a celebration of life to come into a celebration of life’s past. Those few who were truly friends of his come to his defense. But LeRoux pays the group no mind. When he said the neighborhood was dead to him, he meant everyone within it, as well.
LeRoux turns and walks away from the basketball court. He leaves behind the arguments and fights that are beginning to break out. The only person affected by this is Uncle Eddie, who stares at the back of LeRoux’s head in awe as he walks away from the only life that he has ever known.
As LeRoux walks alone down North Prater Street, thoughts begin to pour out of his head.
LeRoux: “All my life, people said it couldn’t be done. What is ‘it’, you ask? ‘It’ is EVERYTHING. They said I wouldn’t graduate high school, as nearly none of them did. But I not only did it, I did it better than damn near anybody else ever has. They said that I wouldn’t go to college, since no one else in Goosport had done so. They said that I would never become anything more than the next Kingpin of Goosport. It was my ‘destiny’, after all. But not only did I choose not to do that, I rose above it.”
LeRoux continues his walk down the street. The familiar sounds of screams and arguments pour out of houses nearby, but they phase him none as it’s something that he has become accustomed to.
LeRoux: “There are very few who have believed in me in this short life. Sure, those that did said the right things and treated me the right way. And I may not be where I am now if it weren’t for them. But it’s those who chastised me and criticized me growing up that fuel my hatred for this place. And that goes the same for my time at Harvard. They told me a young black man from ‘the hood’ didn’t belong in the Ivy Leagues. They told me that it didn’t matter what I did in Cambridge, I would never fit in. That’s why I got out of there and that’s why I am getting out of Goosport. It’s very simple: don’t surround yourselves with those who hold you down. My decision to train and become a professional wrestler was an easy one. Because if I allowed my hatred to consume me, I WOULD end up just like them. Professional wrestling is an outlet for me to unload this frustration… this chip on my shoulder.”
LeRoux sees a familiar bus bench. Every day for four years, LeRoux boarded the bus to get to school. LeRoux dusts off some cigarette butt debris and sits down, facing North Prater and continuing his thoughts.
LeRoux: “Unfortunately for Sean Stevens, he gets to be the first one to feel how sharp this chip is. Of course, I go into this endeavor knowing nothing about anybody. But the beauty part about this is that the same can be said about me. Will I be green? Of course. But when has anyone ever been right when they said I couldn’t do something? That’s why I will be successful. No one is going to stop me, especially not Sean Stevens. I’ve seen a little bit on you, Sean. You’re about as typical as they come with regards to the type of people that I do not like. You’re not much different than all of those preppies and tight-wads that told me I didn’t belong at Harvard. You grew up in a decently affluent neighborhood, surrounding yourself with people that looked down on people like me. You, like most people in this business, were able to afford to go to wrestling school. Not me. That very basketball court that I just walked away from served as my ring. I had one person by my side willing to take the abuse of every move that I learned from YouTube. I had to climb up on stacks of crates just to perform my aerial attacks. Don’t try this at home? What if that’s all you’ve got?”
LeRoux looks to his left as a Cadillac drives in his direction blasting music. It drives by quickly down the street in the vicinity of the place he just left. LeRoux watches it drive down North Prater before it turns and comes to a stop on Augustus. He turns his attention away, knowing that things are probably getting ugly back down the road.
LeRoux: “I’m nothing like you, Sean… and boy, am I damn glad. Sure, life would probably be a hell of a lot easier if I grew up with your background. But as much as I hate Goosport, it’s what made me who I am today. Nothing will take that away from me. Try as hard as you can, Sean, but when you come face-to-face with the new Kingpin of High Octane, you have no choice but to bow down.”
A bus finally rolls in his direction. LeRoux stands up and pulls a small pocketful of change from his pocket. The bus stops in front of him and the rusty door swings open. He steps up into the bus and drops the coins in the slot. As the bus rolls away, we see “Greyhound Lake Charles” flash on the marquis of the bus as the scene fades out.