The Long Road Ahead

The Long Road Ahead

Posted on February 1, 2023 at 2:35 pm by Stronk Godson

Stronk ambles through the gym, carrying a duffle bag. He sets it down on the floor, unzips it, and pulls out a can of Liquid Stronkumms. There is a poison symbol on the side of the can, emblazoned on the aluminum—a recently imposed requirement by the U.S Food and Drug Administration.

Poking his head through Stronk’s legs, Dog emerges with his tongue hanging from its mouth, panting, with a dumb look on its face. Stronk reaches down and scratches the top of Dog’s head.  The adolescent pit bull’s eyes slowly and contently shut, its butt wiggling happily.

Across from Stronk, affixed to an exposed brick wall, there is a sign.  

It reads: 

GET STRONK

Stronk lumbers down the sidewalk, Dog following closely behind, yapping at pedestrians and stopping occasionally to nibble on chewing gum stuck to the concrete.

Stronk keeps his head down, eyes pointed toward the ground, watching his short, skinny legs pumping hard to propel him forward. He strives to make it to the gym and back each day as expeditiously as possible as to avoid the judgemental eyes of strangers. Eyes that would gawk at him with pity. And when he’s not looking at the ground, he’s looking skyward, the sun burning his retinas until his vision is rendered blotchy and pained. 

Distracted, Stronk is knocked off his path, stumbling a few steps before finally righting the ship. Realization quickly dawns on him: someone has slammed into him with a beefy shoulder check. This would never, ever happen back when he was STRONK.

His eyes rise and he sees a four hundred pound neckbeard in a stained anime tee shirt and stretched-out sweatpants standing a few feet away from him, clutching a plastic bag filled with candy, sex toys, and erotic graphic novels. There’s another bag he’d previously been holding that sits on the sidewalk overturned, its contents (many, many pairs of WalMart women’s panties) strewn about the ground.

Neckbeard: “Look what you’ve done! You’ve spilled my bag!”

Stronk: “Stronk is sorry. Stronk will help you.”

Neckbeard: “No, you idiyawt! I don’t want your grubby hands touching my most precious of things. These are for my, uhhhh… mom. And sister. Or girlfriend. And now they’ve got grime all over them! I should kick your fucking ass! If I had my katana, I’d slice you to ribbons, fool!”

Stronk, in awe of the size of the unit slouched and wheezing before him, does something that would be wholly uncharacteristic of past-him: he begs off. Backs away. Throws his hands up defensively. Don’t want none, sir, please let me alone. Like a confidence-bereft coward.

Dog:Woof! Woof!

Roughly Translated? “FUCK YOU BITCH I’LL FUCKING KILL YOU I’LL POKE HOLES IN YOUR CHEEKS WIT MA DICK SO WHEN I PISS IN YO MOUTH YO FACE ACTS LIKE A SPRINKLER THAT WATERS THE LAWN ON WHICH I MAKE POOPS YOU WANNA DIE TODAY MOTHERFUCKER I’LL MAKE IT HAPPEN BITCH!!!

Before the neckbeard can advance on him and drop him with a move (probably) learned from Dragon Ball Z, a saviour appears. 

Blob/Bob: “You leave him be now, Skylar.”

The neckbeard halts dead in his tracks and lowers a clenched fist. The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique would not claim another victim. Not today.

Stronk looks and sees an even more enormous six hundred pound man confined to a motorized scooter. He can barely keep his head from slumping over to one side; every bit of strength and fortitude in his flabby neck strains to keep his melon aloft. Stronk cannot believe the mass the man has cultivated; it is equal parts shocking and impressive.

Blob/Bob: “If you want to remain a part of my monthly D&D campaign, you will collect your unmentionables and scurry back to your hovel.”

The aggrieved neckbeard huffs, scoops the panties back into the plastic bag, and walks off, muttering Japanese profanities under his breath.

Blob/Bob: “You must excuse him. He just circled back to the world after a stint in federal prison for sexual offences committed against a female minor. He’s forgotten how to behave in civilized society. Always trying to start some chow hall shit. I apologize on his behalf.”

Stronk nods. His attention is drawn to the tires of the motorized scooter, which are sagging beneath the man’s weight, appearing on the verge of bursting. 

Stronk: “You are the most magnificent human man Stronk has ever seen. If you were a female human, Stronk would make you Stronk’s girlfriend. How did you become so big? Teach Stronk. Tell Stronk your secret.”

The man gently tilts the scooter’s joystick forward and rolls closer to Stronk, taking his hand.

Blob/Bob: “What I’ve become cannot be taught. I am the product of parents that would not tell me no, a recently exploded hip, and thirty thousand hours of WoW.”

Stronk blinks. 

Stronk: “Okay.”

Stronk sits on a park bench later that day, next to an elderly black woman dressed in her Sunday best, the sun shining brightly above.

Beat tired from the anxiety coursing through his body, brought on by the earlier confrontation with the neckbeard, he’s decided to catch the bus the rest of the way home. 

Stronk: “Papa Lee always said… life was like a bottle of bourbon—you never know the hangover you’re gonna get. Stronk has a life hangover. Stronk enjoyed too much life and life made Stronk sick and Stronk’s brain hurt. Stronk thought about quitting life for good. But only weak human men quit life. So, Stronk will keep being Stronk, and maybe someday, one day, Stronk will be STRONK again.”

The woman takes out the AirPod in her left ear, annoyed.

Woman: “You say something?”

Back home in the penthouse being leased by Lee Best, Stronk sits cross-cross-applesauce on the living room floor. He tries to get Dog to eat a bucket of cow organs. MONGO used to love cow organs. He gobbled that shit up. But Dog won’t eat; he just sits there staring at the bucket holding them.

The cleaning lady that comes by a few times a week pops her head into the living room on her way out.

Cleaning Lady: “Missa Stronk, doggy need kibble—puppy food. Not organs. No, no organs.”

Stronk: “Where does Stronk get this food?”

She walks over and places a comforting hand on his shoulder. Though Stronk is never much for conversation, she’s grown fond of the simpleton over the past month. He reminds her of her son who suffered a head injury while snowboarding with his friends and now talks to the walls and argues with the ceiling. She knows he means well but is confused and aggravated by the complexity of the world around him.

Cleaning Lady: “I go. You sit tight.”

She pats Dog on the head and leaves for the pet store a few blocks over.

Later that night, Stronk makes his way across town to a seedy warehouse. From the outside it looks abandoned, an optimal place for junkies to gather to shoot up and have unprotected sex. But inside people scurry in a frenzy, coordinating logistics and operating hundreds of thousands of dollars of production equipment. This is the set of a new slap fighting league called THE CONCUSSION FACTORY to be aired on NBC later this fall.

A DJ stationed in an open office on the second floor bellows over the PA: “Welcome to the CONCUSSION FACTORY! Where we’re manufacturing CTE like automobiles and we’re General Motors in 1950s Detroit!”

Stronk walks unfazed past the area where combatants line up to compete. As he passes by the chalking station, he chalks up his hands and powders his balls. 

A man in a SLAP JESUS shirt, looking very much like Christ himself with the long hair and beard and gentle eyes, limbers up, outstretching his arms to reveal palms with crucifixion scar tattoos. Stronk pays him no attention.

Men stand on opposite sides of a Family Feud-like podium, taking turns pelting each other with slaps. 

Rotational, torsional damage to the brain is subsequently dealt, round after round, as Stronk continues to wander about the premises in search of the man with whom he was instructed to connect. He’s bored and confused by the whole thing.

In a back room filled with booze, cocaine, and barely conscious scantily-clad women, he encounters the owner and proprietor of THE CONCUSSION FACTORY, a bald-headed, red-faced, HGH-swollen man with a foul mouth and a hot temper.

Bald Tomato, as he is sometimes known to his detractors, reaches out and shakes Stronk’s hand upon his arrival.

Bald Tomato: “Ah fuck yeah, you must be Strunk Diddy. You come highly recommended by GREAT SCOTT. GREAT SCOTT is my kind-of therapist, but he’s not really a therapist, which makes it not gay. I met him in a back alley blackjack game. Like, I’m no f**, right? He helped me to feel better about beating the ever loving shit out of the mother of my children. Like, how I want to spend my hard-earned exploitation money is my business, right? So what if I wanna pay a hooker five grand to take a shit on my face? That’s my fucking business, ya goofs. Women want equal rights, but then they bitch and complain when you give ‘em an open-handed equal left. GREAT SCOTT is a great sounding board for me. He is very ARTICULATE.”

Stronk: “You should not strike female humans unless there is a referee present and a ring bell goes ding-ding. Also, you should not use such a word to degrade a human person’s sexual orientation. You have been warned by Stronk. Stronk will not warn you again.”

Bald Tomato: (not really paying attention) “What? Yeah, whatever. Umm… So I was thinking I’d put you with the big boys. Thought you’d be, uh, bigger, y’know? A lot bigger. Our heavyweight division needs bodies. I thought GREAT SCOTT knew that? Oh well, fuck it, we’ll throw you in with the light heavies. No biggie. Uh, no pun intended.”

Stronk:Light heavies?”

Bald Tomato: “Yeah. The small boys. We have weight classes for a reason. I don’t want some behemoth taking your fucking head off. Our broadcast partner doesn’t take kindly to on-air deaths. Lame, I know, but that’s society being a bunch of bitch-made f*****s for ya.”

SMAAAAAAAAAACCCKKK~!!!

Bald Tomato stiffens up and pitches over, falling to the floor in a fencing posture, arms stuck in the air, a giant red welt forming on the side of his lifeless face. 

Stronk shakes the feeling back in his hand.

Stronk: “This is very dumb and not smart. Good bye.”

Stronk steps down off the bathroom scale with a heavy, defeated sigh. 

Three weeks of hard work and sacrifice and he’s only gained a measly ten pounds. The road ahead is long and wrought with obstacles, but there is only one direction in which to advance, and that’s forward. He will earn back every single pound, as painstaking as they may prove to be. 

There was a time when ten pounds meant the world to him, but now ten pounds feels like the first mile of a marathon to be run in a category four hurricane. The streets are flooded with waist-deep water, making every step arduous and draining, and the makeshift raft that once carried you has capsized and sunk.

Now seated on the floor of the living room of the penthouse, Stronk tries to figure out how to update his weight journal, but becomes frustrated with the complex task of writing numbers, and snaps the pen in half with a deep exhalation.

As the pressure of his recovery weighs down upon him, he feels something wet and gritty lap at his face. He opens his eyes—Dog props his front paws on Stronk’s shoulders, and continues to lick his face in a show of unconditional love and support. 

Stronk scoops Dog up in his arms and cradles him to his chest. Hugs him close.

There was a time when Stronk could not safely do such a thing. Ever since Stronk became STRONK many years ago, and he no longer understood his own preternatural strength, he shied away from holding small things. 

The impetus behind this self-governance was a particularly grisly memory from when he was fifteen and found a bunny out in the field next to his family’s double-wide mobile home. 

He remembers how soft and fragile it felt in his massive arms. And he remembers the sound it made when he squeezed it tightly and lovingly.

And he remembers the ooze, with the consistency of a mass-gainer protein shake blended with chicken wings, that slipped through his clutches and stained his only pair of thrift store pants. An ooze that was once small and fluffy and cute and solid… that dared trust him with its life.

He crushed the poor thing. 

It was a sad day.

And so he never hugged anything smaller than a moose or a MONGO ever again. 

Stronk reaches over and pulls a bag of kibble to his side. He opens the bag and begins scooping handfuls of it out onto the floor in front of him, watching as Dog chows down voraciously. 

Stronk: “You are hungry, Dog. Eat. Yes. Stronk used to eat like that, but then Conor Fuse brutalized Stronk’s brain and made Stronk lose all his muscles and now Stronk cannot eat a lot because food makes Stronk ill. Stronk ate a chicken but then the chicken made Stronk shit violently for an hour.”

Stronk ‘reads’ the back of the kibble bag—he sees words he is vaguely familiar with, like ‘protein,’ and wonders how the kibble tastes.

He picks up a single morsel of kibble between his thumb and forefinger and examines it closely for a second. Dog growls faintly at the theft, but Stronk ruffles his fur with his other hand.

Stronk: “Stronk and Dog are friends and friends share.”

He pops it into his mouth. Bites down. Chews.

It’s fucking delicious.

A few minutes go by, and Stronk is back sitting on the floor with Dog, now with a giant mixing bowl of kibble clutched in one hand and a ladle in the other. 

He cracks a can of Liquid Stronkumms and pours it over the kibble like milk over cereal, and feasts until the bowl is empty. Then slurps up the remaining kibble-flavoured Liquid Stronkumm.

He has six more bowls, the bag of kibble nearly empty.

Stronk lays satiated on the hardwood floor, Dog asleep on his chest.

In just a few days he will return to the ring for only the second time since Conor Fuse nearly murdered him at Alcatraz. 

He won’t have GREAT SCOTT, his trainer and pseudo mentor, by his side this time.

No, according to a voicemail sent by Papa Best, it will be the legendary Dan Ryan. A man that, much like himself, once had everything only to lose it all and be forced to start back from square one.

And their opponents?

That idiot Scott Stevens.

And the female human with the vexing dumper that was once the object of Stronk’s desires. That is, until she and Conor Fuse (allegedly, according to compulsive liar and manipulator Abdullah Choi) assassinated MONGO, which, in turn, caused Stronk to lose his mind and violently attack her in the middle of the ring back in the fall of last year.

As the song used to go:

Stronk Daddy

Stronk Daddy

Stronk Daddy

He’s unnnsttttoppppabblllleeeee —

Well, now that remains to be seen.

Old wounds, they heal slowly, and sometimes not at all.

Stronk would rather hole up in his room than face Carey again. The last time he laid hands on her, it nearly cost him his life. 

And Conor Fuse is booked in the main event against Clay Byrd—he’ll be at the Mackey Arena—so what if he shows up to reignite their old rivalry and finish what he started?

Stronk gulps. 

His heart hurts (from, well, life in general).

His stomach hurts (from eating twenty pounds of dog food mixed with whatever the hell Liquid Stronkumms is).

His hand hurts (from smacking the shit out of a homophobic, misogynistic slap fight promoter).

And his back, arms, and legs hurt from nonstop training over the past month with little to show for it.

There will be no promo this week. His enemies will go unaddressed. He doesn’t have the energy for it. The ALL CAPS passion is gone (for now), much like the nearly seventy pounds of body weight he’s lost.

Everything hurts.

He is suffering.

But to suffer is to live.

And live he will.

For Papa Best.

For Dog.

For himself.

GET STRONK