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Sitting in black swivel office chair in front of the closed locker room door, Magdalena absently let her chair turn from side to side. She’d been there for a bit, but being so early for the show, she didn’t have anything more pressing than what was happening in the locker room. She had done this at 13, and then 14, giving the Deacon the time he needed to handle his business. One of the hands approached. With a quick shake of the head, she turned the hand away. Like a doorman at a nightclub, she thought, not for the first time. Except she was maybe 140. And the man she was protecting? Well, he was over 300.
The door opened and she spun in her chair toward the opening. The Deacon wasn’t standing there; he never was, and just like always, the lights were off. She stood up and opened the door wider. The Deacon rummaged in his bag, putting his cell phone into his bag & grabbing the mask that covered the lower portion of his face – the true mark of a Mute freak. He didn’t say anything to her. She never could tell if that meant it was a good moment or bad one, so she stepped into the room. She left the lights off, allowing the light from the hallway to provide what illumination she needed.
“Any way I can help?” She asked for the thousandth time.
The Deacon only shook his head then stopped, his body still as if rethinking. He reached up and grabbed the beaded necklace wrapped into his bag’s handles. Prayer beads.
“Certainly,” she said. “Anything specific?” She asked the question, but she could tell he was not in the mood to answer her. Seemingly to punctuate that fact, he put the mask over his mouth. She took a step closer and reached a hand toward him. He let it touch his elbow and then he moved his arm to readjust the mask.
His fist shot out and slammed against the locker. The resulting crash should have scared her, but she had grown accustomed to this. He slumped forward, his whole body vibrating with effort. After a few more moments, and calming breaths, forced to inhale & exhale evenly, he pulled the hand back, his fist still clenched tightly as when he had lashed out with it. Except now, blood ran over and between the knuckles on his hand like serene rivers through a valley. She knew it was not serene though; nothing around the Deacon was serene now.
“You should bandage that,” she said. “I shall see to speaking on tonight’s match.”
She left him alone in his darkness, leaving the room and closing the door behind her.
Mister Best had offered Brian Bare as the interviewer, but given the option, Magdalena knew it was best to go it alone, and so she prepared herself, first by rewatching the Black Mamba versus Teddy Palmer match from 13, and then by doing just a bit of reading about Palmer to close it out. The ideas ruminated, and before long–
MAGDALENA: “You… Teddy, opened up your return to the ring with punches. You & Black Mamba, two gifted technicians, opened with trying to mug one another.
Magdalena smirked, letting her tongue turn her lip ring.
MAGDALENA: Please, PLEASE… Teddy, do so with Deacon. See how hard the Deacon’s chin is. Test how hard his fist will feel against your chin. If you do, I promise, you will once again learn exactly what a High Octane fight feels like.
Magdalena had taken up space in front of a black curtain, her white hair a stark contrast, just as she had planned.
MAGDALENA: Fortunately for those watching a technician such as you… Teddy, the fistfight didn’t last too long. You switched it to something more expected by those in attendance & picked up the pace toward a victory. So, that gives me hope for tonight. If you survive more than 3 seconds after your opening salvo of punches, then your best bet is to pick up the pace.
Magdalena gave a pause, allowing her smirk to grow almost devilishly.
MAGDALENA: Pick up the pace
Magdalena lightly bit her tongue.
MAGDALENA: And run.
She stuck her tongue out and allowed the piercing to rest just outside her teeth. Playfully, she sucked in as her eyebrows arched.
MAGDALENA: You… Teddy, are a good runner, are you not? From what you expressed to Blaine.
Magdalena stopped, her playful air giving way to a glare that would have made Deacon proud if he would have been there to see it.
MAGDALENA: Like the testosterone-fueled over-compensator you appear on screen, you are a guy with endurance, spending 5 years running to the bar to POUR tap instead of making others tap. But you’re back and better than ever because all that running led to finding your smile.
A quick shake of the head, and Magdalena continued.
MAGDALENA: Congratulations… Teddy, but Deacon did not leave because he lost his smile; Deacon returned to find it. You might think he has already found many reasons. He survived his first match back in the ring against Crash Rodriequez – Deacon’s road to his goal was made straighter. Then, last week, Deacon clarified his statement against Max Kael, and though Max has been one of the most unflappable combatants for years, Kael stumbled, even if only a little bit – and Max’s goal was made more… complicated
She paused, her eyes glancing to the right momentarily before continuing.
MAGDALENA: So sure, Deacon has his reasons to smile, but it will take much more to change his mood. But that’s his business, not yours.
Magdalena tilted her head subtly, flexing her fingers at her side.
MAGDALENA: And tonight, this business will be all you can handle… Teddy. Unlike from your last run in the ring, the Deacon is not going to stagger from you punches. You will pick up your pace, and at some point, the Last Call will run straight into an Altar Call.
The sparkling playfulness returned to Magdalena’s eyes.
MAGDALENA: and after watching how you prostrate yourself in front of Blaine… Teddy. I am certain you at least know what it is like to be feel alone on your knees.