January 30th, 2023
“We’ve got to talk about your match, son,” Dick says as he walks into the living room of Solex’s Tennessee ranch home.
Solex immediately stands straight up from his seat on the couch and gives his dad a cross look and asks, “Jesus, here we go. What about it? What kind of impactful insight are you going to have on it?”
“It wasn’t your best performance, son. I’m just trying to be straight with you here,” Dick says, his voice a little shaky but not enough to be considered a nervous shake.
“Did you not see the match? Brian Hollywood was dead on arrival, and he knew it. I could see it in his bitch-ass eyes. Couple shoulder blocks and the Clothesline from Heck, right in the middle of the goddamn ring and your boy advances to the finals of the tournament. Maybe when I buy you a ticket to an event, you can actually watch the fuckin’ match? I know the seats weren’t great, but damn man…have a little respect for the gift,” Solex boasts.
Dick appears to be frustrated as he just stares with a blank look at Solex. Solex, sensing his awkwardness, stares back at him with a confused look on his face.
“What?” Solex asks, in a higher than normal pitch for the MercDad.
“This can’t be real life, right now,” Dick mutters in disgust, but just loud enough for Solex to hear it across the living room.
“What the fuck did you just say?” Solex fires back immediately.
“You’re not seriously bragging about that win are you?” Dick sneers as he folds his arms across his chest.
Solex gives his old man a cross stare and quips, “What the fuck are you on about now you old fuck?”
“You barely beat, and I mean…BARELY, by the skin of your fuckin’ teeth, beat Brian Hollywood. Just be thankful that you’ve advanced. But don’t get ahead of yourself, you’ve got Darin Zion to deal with next, and he’s on a bit of a roll himself,” Dick asserts in a parental, nagging sort of tone.
Solex rolls his eyes so far in the back of his head he nearly falls backward onto the brown leather couch behind him.
“Let it go, old man. I won, and that’s the only thing that matters. Not to mention the fact that there’s not a mark on me. I’m just as whole as I was before I got in that ring. Brian Hollywood never stood a fuckin’ chance. I was like Jordan in the flu game; sick as can be, but untouchable and instead of scoring 38 points, I pinned Hollywood in the middle of the ring in front of 20,000 people,” Solex says as he walks through the living room and finds a seat at the bar in the kitchen.
Dick trails after Solex and positions himself opposite his son at the bar. He firmly plants his palms on the polished marble bar and tilts forward, locking eyes with his son.
“Yeah, but instead of the flu, your ass was drinking whiskey all fuckin’ week. That shit will not fly against Darin Zion, I’ll tell you that. You’ve got a few days to get your shit together and work on a game plan, son,” Dick affirms, pouding a fist into the bartop.
Solex begins to seeth as Dick lectures him. Solex wonders where this type of parenting was when he was a young kid who was lost without direction. The thought of Dick being an absent father only enrages Solex further and causes an uncharacteristically emotional reaction. Solex stands up from his seat and presses both of his fists into the bar top. He leans forward, almost close enough for the two men to touch noses. Solex clenches his jaw as rage burns from his eyes to his dad’s.
“Don’t make me regret giving you a place to hang your hat at night, old man. And don’t call me son. I’m the #1 Dad around here, not you and don’t you fuckin’ forget it. You ain’t shit but an advisor at this point, a consultant. What the fuck am I saying? You’re a motherfucking assistant at best. So don’t you fuckin’ start trying to act all fatherly around here, or I’ll send your ass right back to the rock you crawled out from under to be here,” Solex shouts down his old man with stern authority and a hellfire in his eyes.
This is all part of the plan though. DIck, even though he was an absent father, knows exactly how to push his son’s buttons and giving him unsolicited advice is at the top of the list.
“I’m not gonna tell you again! I’m not your son, you old prick!” Solex blurts out, cutting off his old man.
Solex points a finger right in Dick’s face, almost touching his nose.
Dick doesn’t flinch, nor does he react. He just stares at Solex’s finger and patiently waits for his son to lower it from his face.
Dick raises his eyebrows and asks “You done?” He stays cool as can be, hoping that his mellow reaction will calm Solex down.
Solex takes in a deep breath and lowers his finger as he sits back on his bar stool.
“Listen…Steve, Darin Zion is a real threat. I’m not saying that to piss you off and I’m not saying that to get some kind of a reaction out of you. I’m saying that so you will take this match seriously. You have still not lived up to your potential and you’re almost 40 fuckin’ years old. The gray hairs are showing, and you only have one singles HOW championship to your name. That’s not what you want and that’s not what I want for you. I’m not here to right any wrongs. If you don’t forgive me, that’s fine. I’m sorry. I’ve told you that hundreds of times, but now I’m done. I fucked up when I left you and your mother; I own that. I don’t expect forgiveness from you, I just want you to realize that I’m only here to help you get what you want,” Dick says.
“All of this,” the elder Solex continues shooting a gaze around the beautiful Tennessee home, “, all of this is replaceable. You can live without all of this, but a man can’t live without knowing that he gave it his absolute best shot. We have one try to get this life right; we’re all on borrowed time. Time is the only thing in this world that is undefeated and you’re only a year or two away from realizing that, cause like it or not…you’re getting too old for this business. Every morning it’s getting harder to get up and train, isn’t it? I know it is, I went through the same fuckin’ thing. So please…I’m begging you, I’m pleading with you..let’s do this the right way. Finish strong and get the fuckin’ job done, son! And like it or not, it starts with that fuckin’ idiot Darin Zion!”
Solex soaks in the lecture from his old man. Sitting there with his fingers clasped and pressed against his chin. He looks up at Dick and quietly says, “I said don’t call me son.”
Solex slaps his hands down on the marble top, stands up from his stool and heads for the front door.
“Is that it? Is that all you’ve got to say?!” Dick shouts out, slamming a fist into the bar top.
Solex doesn’t stop however, and swings open the front door. The bright, Tennessee sun beams through, leaving only a silhouette of Solex standing in the middle of the door frame. He peers back over his shoulder, giving his dad one more look as a gust of cold, country win rushes through the front door. He looks at his dad for only a moment before stepping outside and slamming the door behind him as the scene fades to black.
January 30th, 2023
Dr. Cole’s Office
Ever since his match with Bobinette Carey, Solex has had a weird kink in his neck. He’s been trying to figure it out and let it heal, but nothing is working. So, here he sits on the examination table in the office of his new doctor, Dr. Emmitt Cole. The doctor just walked in with a couple of x-rays in his hands and the look on his face isn’t…well, it’s not good.
“Your neck is in good shape, Steve. But your neck isn’t the problem,” Dr. Cole says.
“Quit beatin’ around the bush, doc. What’s up with my neck?” Solex asks, a bit of concern in his tone.
“Well, Steve, I’m afraid I don’t have any kind of good news at all here. Like I said, it’s not your neck,” Dr. Cole says as he hangs x-rays of Solex’s head and neck on one of the clips on the lightboard.
“Not my neck?” Solex questions, as he rubs the back of his neck. “Then what the fuck is it?”
A look of worry comes over Solex’s face as the doctor pulls out a laser and shines it right on a white mass that extends from the top of Solex’s head to the back of his neck, near his spinal cord.
“I’m extremely sorry to tell you this, but the brain cancer has returned and it’s more severe than ever,” says Dr. Cole. “This is arguably the most virulent and aggressive tumor I’ve encountered throughout my career.”
Solex hangs his head low in disbelief as the blood is sucked from his face and a cold chill runs down his spine.
“What the fuck…” Solex mutters to himself at an extremely low volume.
“This is bad, Steve. It was bad before, but this is on a whole different level. Within the next couple of months, without treatment, that tumor will latch itself around your spinal cord, rendering you completely paralyzed. You will not be able to wrestle, Steve…you won’t be able to do anything on your own. We need to start treatment today,” Dr. Cole says, his eyes welled up with tears.
Solex puts his hands over his face and lets out a giant grunt.
“I’m not doing the treatment doc,” Solex whispers.
“There is no other option Steve. This will 100% kill you in a matter of months, if not weeks. If you do not start treatment today, I suggest you start planning your funeral, cause that’s the only way out of this,” Dr. Cole says as he pats Solex on the back.
“I’m this close, do. This fuckin’ close to winning this tournament and becoming the LSD Champion for the very first time, and you’re telling me that I need to start chemo today? Ain’t no way, doc. I have goals, I have things left to do. Is there any other option here? What can I do that’s natural?” Solex asks, trying to keep it together.
“There are a few options for natural treatment,” Dr. Cole says, “but this tumor is far too aggressive, Steve. We have to go at it hard.”
Solex stands up from the examination table he’s been seated on and begins to pace the small room. He quickly mulls over his options with his hand on his chin. He knows that if he starts chemo he won’t be in Chicago this weekend to wrestle Darin Zion in the finals of the LSD Championship tournament, and he knows that chemo at his age is essentially a career killer. Without wrestling and without HOW, Steve Solex doesn’t exist.
“I can’t do it, doc,” Solex says at a volume barely above a whisper. “I’ve got some short term goals that I have to take care of now, and I can’t be sidelined for something that may or may not work.”
Dr. Cole lowers his head in disappointment and yanks a sheet of paper from the clipboard he’s been holding.
“This is Sage Ananda’s contact information,” the doctor says, holding the paper out for Solex to grab.
Solex takes the paper and quickly looks it over and asks, “Who the fuck is this?”
“He’s a natural healer, you know…Eastern medicine. Hot yoga, traditional Indian and Chinese medicines, stuff like that. If you don’t want to do chemo, Steve…which I highly recommend you do, this is the only other option. Give the guy a call and he’ll schedule you an appointment. He’s a good man,” Dr. Cole says, almost begrudgingly.
“This is some bullshit hippie stuff, I know. Believe me, doc…I get your point of view on all of this and nine times out of ten, this wouldn’t even be a fuckin’ option, but I can’t stop now. I’m too close to getting where I want and getting what I want, and if I lose to Darin Zion this weekend because of fuckin’ chemo, there’s not a single fucking chance that I ever recover from that. If I can’t be trusted to beat Darin Zion, what good am I doc? Lee Best might as well take me out back like a fuckin’ dog and shoot me with his 12-gauge,” Solex rants.
“I understand, Steve. And look, I get it. You’re a grown man and you’re going to do what you want to do, I can only advise you…I can’t force you. So, give Sage a call…”
“What kind of a name is Sage? Jesus, I’m sure this is gonna be a fuckin’ shit show,” Solex interrupts.
The doc smirks at Solex’s comments and continues, “And make yourself an appointment. The sooner the better.”
“Thanks for all the good news, doc,” Solex quips as he reaches for the door and the scene fades to black.
February 2nd, 2023
Solex Ranch – The Gym
“Look, Dick. I know you were impressed with my last performance, we don’t need to keep having that conversation, I get it. But Darin Zion…I’ve got a personal vendetta against that asshole, I promise you, this will be nothing like Brian Hollywood,” Solex proclaims before pulling the barbell from the rack and thrusting it up over his head.
Solex whisper counts to himself as he executes rep after rep of overhead press. The weights clink and clank with each repetition. The whispers echo off the damp, cement walls in his specially designed basement gym.
“What makes Darin Zion so much different than Brian Hollywood, Steve? They used to be best friends, shit, they’re like the same fuckin’ person, Steve,” Dick wonders, seemingly confused his words cutting through the musty air, pushing the smell of mildew around the room. Solex reracks the barbell to the power rack and looks over at his old man.
“With, Darin Zion, this shit is 100% personal,” Solex says.
DIck raises his eyebrows in a manner that would indicate he’s asking for more information, and he presses further by holding his arms out to his sides.
“Why is it personal?” Solex asks.
“Uh…yeah,” Dick responds as he continues to look bewildered.
“It’s personal because Darin Zion is every thing that is wrong with this fucking country right now. Old Real Love has no idea what it’s like to be in the actual trenches of combat and he has no idea what it means to actually struggle. Darin Zion doesn’t know what it means to give your entire life for something, like I do. I know what it’s like to get on a rickety-ass airplane with 200 other brave men and women and land directly into a combat zone and fight for something that I believe in. And on the other side of that, I know what it’s like to get on that same fuckin’ plane, land and come back to a country that has completely forgotten who you are and all of your efforts. I know what it’s like to come back to a country that doesn’t give two shits about its veterans and would rather send billions of dollars overseas to corrupt nations and for what? So these greedy fuckin’ politicians can launder that money back to the shell corporations that lobbied for them? So they can line their own pockets?”
DIck laughs for a second, but straightens up as he notices that Solex is strictly business right now.
“It’s not funny, you old bitch. These are facts…motherfucking facts. And what has Darin Zion ever done anyway? That weak chin and floof of hair look absolutely ridiculous, but they make perfect sense when you think about what kind of man he must be. Have you ever seen the look on a real man’s face when he gets back from operating overseas – doing Real Man shit? It doesn’t look one fucking bit like Darin Zion’s, I can tell you that. There’s a reason why people call me The Last Man in Wrestling, it’s because I am. It’s because I’m surrounded by a pussified group of androgynous boys wearing hearts on their fucking wrestling tights. Darin Zion is the kind of guy that you stick in the back of a humvee and hope his ass doesn’t have to get out and cover your six, because you know that if he does…you’re dead and so is everyone else on that mission. Zion could not be anymore of a wrestling stereotype. Couple of months ago, he was rich. This week, he’s a lady’s man. What’s he gonna be two months from now? Some flippity, flip flop, indy fuck? He’s about the right height and weight for that shit. Jesus, if I see one more five-eleven, hundred and ninety pounder I’m gonna fuckin’ puke,” Solex says.
“He’s six-foot, two…” Dick begins, but Solex immediately interrupts him.
“Yeah fuckin’ right! That motherfucker ain’t no six-feet. I’m six-three and if that bitch was standing right in front of me I could throw a right hook and that shit would go right over his dumbass head and he’d never have to duck,” Steve shouts out.
Dick laughs wildly, and points over to the bar bell.
“Next set tough guy,” Dick says sarcastically as Solex gives off a giant smirk.
“It’s true, asshole. That’s the real love,” Steve says with a grunt as he yanks the barbell from the power rack one more time and begins his next set as the scene fades to black.