The Best Arena
After The Bell
My head is ringing. My nose, I don’t even want to look at. Defeat has won the day. I have lost.
More than just a match, too.
The depths of my failure have already begun to weigh heavy on my shoulders. I know that to be true because of my utter refusal to look back at Mike and Dan while I’m leaving ringside. They are probably busy gazing into each other’s star crossed eyes anyway; trying to figure out who’s going to be on the receiving end of the other’s glory pegging.
I push my disappointment along with my wobbly ass up the ramp and through the curtain; my, I think to be broken, face hidden in my hands the entire time. Almost out of earshot, but not, I can hear Blaire approaching to get a word with me like I’m Plebeian Palmer. I push right past her, too. There’s no way I’ll be seen on camera looking like this.
I nose better.
Very much miserable and hurting, I lean my shoulder into the wall, using it like a stiff crutch to help keep my busted ego upright. I go on this way until my stagger of shame concludes, and I enter the confines of my locker room. I close the door behind me, lean against it, and release from the pit of despair bubbling inside my stomach, “FUUUUUUUUCCCCCK!”
I want to scream out, over and over again. But I can’t. Mine is a deep, guttural, never ending, roar for agony that leaves your throat raw and your voice scratchy.
It leaves you spent.
As such, it’s a struggle to do anything at first, but ultimately I succeed at the simple task of placing a folding chair inside the adjoining shower. I spark a joint, and proceed to smoke my bounced around brains out while sitting underneath a stream of steaming hot water. Of course, stoner me forgets to take off his ring gear so now it looks like I’m partaking in a wet pants contest.
At least I’d win that.
Then, because standing up seems so trivial, I fall out of my shower chair, and just lay down on the locker room floor— completely sprawled out on my back. My head spins. Possibly from Dan’s thunderbolt elbow. Possibly from the opportunity I lost. Possibly from the joint. Probably to it being from all of them.
Not before long, a distinguished, highly trained, TOP level, Senior High Octane Medical Officer stops by to make sure I’m not bleeding out from the ears and anus. Dan has a history of putting people in the hospital, so this is just standard procedure after competing against him. That’s what he’s telling me as he’s putting on the rubber gloves anyway. So I cough, and then the janitor wearing a stethoscope around his neck uses it to inspect my crooked nose. He unassumingly shrugs, hands me a tube of rubbing dirt from his push cart, and motions for me to go and get back in the game.
I reach out, and grab hold of the toothpaste sized tube. “Uhhh, what am I supposed to do with this? And did you change your gloves before inspecting my nose? All I can smell is shit.” He does not respond. “I get it. It’s fitting and all. Dan said I’d fall nose first in shit, and here we are. By the way, who is this other guy and can he please help me?” Luckily for me an actual certified EMT is also with Dr. HOW, and he is able to reset my nose. Poor guy almost took one on the chin for it though, so it should come as no surprise to learn he quickly scurries off.
Left with no other recourse, I ask unexpectingly of the Senior Medical Officer, “Any shot you got an ice pack and twelve Vicodin in that bag of yours? Or is it just dirt in there? I can feel my face exponentially swelling right now, and I don’t think this dirt is going to cut it.” Not surprisingly, all Dr. HOW has on him is more dirt. Surprisingly, he leaves and quickly returns with a giant, plastic bag full of ice cubes. Startled by his competence, I gladly smile and say, “Well I’ll be damned. Now, if you would be so kind, gently teabag my face.” I close my eyes and wait. And wait. And wait. I open them. There he is standing over me with no bag of ice and his pants down at his ankles.
I scream out in horror, “NO! I meant the ice on my face, not your balls! Where does Lee even find you guys?” Then, my attention is suddenly drawn to the plastic bag full of water teetering on the top of my foot. I let out a distressing sigh and chide, “You can’t be serious? Is my nose that bad you don’t even know who I am?” Turns out the idiot put the bag on my wrestling boot, like I have a sprained ankle. Of course, I’m so salty at the moment it melted the ice right through the plastic.
Victim of circumstance.
“Go get another one,” I cry out in torturous agony towards Dr. HOW. Without hesitating, he does just that and finally, I’m able to get some relief. “Okay. We’re good. You can go now.” I mumble to him from underneath the giant bag of ice. He does as requested, or at least I think he does since I hear the door close. I guess there’s a chance he could be standing there watching me lay on the cold, white, checkered tile floor, hoping I’ll give him the chance to teabag me once more.
Of note, my shades are sitting on top, and not underneath the bag because unfortunately my predicament warrants such egregious behavior. With my nose being the way that it is they just wouldn’t sit right.
“What fucking now?” I ask aloud, hopefully for no one to answer…
I am crippled.
What an utter, fucking, catatonic disaster.
It was right there for the taking. Immortality was a shoe in to be next. How could you let this happen, you screw up, belly-tatt bitch?
Fuck. FUCK. FUCK.
Of course crazy eyes Danny isn’t going to bite the guy holding his leash. He is man’s best friend, and he’ll only lose fair and square. Crumb bum ass, Mongoloid fucking scum. I don’t know if I’m saltier about botching my main event and ninety-seven point plan on how I’m going to beat Mike Best finally, or the fact I get to soften him up for Dan now.
What a dick kick either way though. I’m sure it will pass. Just not yet, I am still laying down inside my locker room after all. I wonder, how many puppy mills that elbow of Dan’s has been through to make it as deadly as it is? North of a hundred would be my guess. Fuck it. Screw him, and screw his elbow.
You need to focus.
Get it together… but, what in God’s name am I supposed to do now? I squandered my golden opportunity to wield the Hammer against Mike.
That was it.
Now……. look at you. Such a moron. Absolutely abysmal, one of one, mind breaking, ball dropping, moron.
Focus. It’s time to regroup. It’s time to circle the wagons, and pick up the pieces. Go out, and find the sunny side in all of this. It’s close to being over, yes, but it’s not over yet. What’s done is done. Must move on. Must press forward. Find something. Think, Idiot. Dig. The mud. The mud? Yes. The mud. I am the Emperor of the Undercard, I could make the case we are playing on a level field for once. I mean, Junior hasn’t opened a show since he held his Rewhatever Commemorative Coin Convention.
The Lion eats the Possum.
Alright. What else is there then? I’ve lost before. This isn’t anything new. Spin it. Time to ride the bicycle. Well, at least I get to be the first one to beat Mike, should I be able to do so. There’s that I suppose. I can take some solace in the fact I get to send him tail spinning into the fight or die cage against Dan, without his World Championship, and watch him try to deal with how I feel on a constant basis. Introduce him to my old friend Doubter before he can brazenly walk the plank aboard the USS Octane.
That’s not it either.
There are no silver linings. Mike would take them out while on a hot date. There’s got to be something. Think you idiot.
Wait… there’s only one way out of the lion’s den.
You escape it.
I don’t have to beat Mike. I have to beat the cage. Trying to beat Mike is futile, especially now that I’ve lost my golden advantage.
But… I don’t have to beat him in order to win.
I don’t have to pin him. I don’t have to submit him. I don’t have to climb a ladder. I don’t have to bury him alive. I don’t have to draw first blood. I don’t have to knock him out for ten seconds. I don’t have to strap him into an electric chair.
I have to focus on escaping.
This isn’t a death fight on the USS Octane. This doesn’t have to end with one of us on our backs while the other crawls through the exit. No, that’s not what this is at all. If I can best the cage, I best the Best.
That is how I win.
That is how I do the unthinkable.
That’s how I keep my fucking job.
I dunno. Escaping the lion’s den is one thing. Not getting bit is an entirely different story.
The cage. You’re spry. You get around better than he does. Use it to escape the lion. Scale the safety fence before he can sink his teeth into you. That’s your meal ticket. But, how do I throw him off my scent long enough to do so? It is his den, inside his Dad’s Zoo, and I’m out of curve balls.
How do I bait him, when I have nothing left on the hook? There will have to be an opportunity. When? What? How do I create one? Or does it happen organically? How can I help facilitate that? What if??? I know he’s ironclad… but during our bout he’s going to think about what awaits him. It might be for just a second… but how could he not? It’s his best, only, living and still around friend, eating a ham and cheese sandwich, waiting for him to come and play Thunder Cakes for dessert.
How do I get to that spot? How do I bring the greatest champion I’ve ever come across to question if the juice is worth the squeeze? How do I keep my head from getting kneed in the entire time?
I have made it this far. Granted, my nose may be casting a new shadow now. But fuck. I’m here. The cockroach might be on his back, but he’s not squashed yet. The fact this match is still happening is proof of that.
You can do this. You have to do this. It’s only your job, and everything you’ve ever been working for that’s on the line.
Against the Card Collecting, Prodigal Son.
The Best Arena
Still After The Bell
Still I lay, sprawled across the floor, with the ice bag on my face never melting since I’m cool by nature.
Well, as long as you don’t put it on my shoes that is.
Suddenly, and pulling me away from deep, inner problem solving, the door to my locker room opens. I can’t see who it is because of the giant bag of ice, but I sure could smell him.
“No. I’m not going back. I did my time. Fuck that ship. I’ll make you another paper airplane if you go away.”
I hear it hit the floor. I didn’t have to see it to know it was a toothbrush. At least I have this tube of dirt now.
“No. Not going.”
The bag of ice lifts from my face, confirming my suspicions. Laser looks at me and groans as dryly as humanly possible, “Boss says there’s a main event on the ship now, and the decks could use a scrubbing.”
All the way from the PA system on the USS Octane I swear I can hear Capitan’s cute, tracking cackle directed squarely at me.
Laser then continues, “And smile. Boss wants me to take your picture so if one day he gets his eyes back he’d be able to see the look on your face.”