We’ve become a nation of mediocrity.
We used to be a nation of greatness and exceptionalism. A nation of winners forged by hardwork and the patriotic duty to do what’s right, no matter the cost. Former President John F. Kennedy Jr. once said that we do things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”
I know, it’s played out to talk about participation trophies. I get it, I really do. But the damage that’s been done to our once great nation because of it is still worth talking about. It has been sewn into American belief that everyone is now a winner. That everyone deserves to be on top of the podium. That everyone deserves a fuckin’ medal. But I’ve got news for you. If everyone’s a winner, there are essentially no winners anymore.
There are only losers.
And every single one of you dickheads entering the War Games match are exactly that. Well, unless you have a letter jacket of course. That alone makes you a winner…that is of course, unless your name is Evan Ward.
Evan Ward, you self-serving douchebag. Do you not think that entering War Games as a member of the Final Alliance immediately puts a target on your back and now, for some stupid fuckin’ reason, you’ve essentially turned your back on the Final Alliance? Do you actually think that the rest of the Final Alliance is just going to overlook the shit that you’ve been saying? That you’re just going to get a pass, because you’ve stood next to us at a press conference here and there? That maybe you’ve given enough swirlies and wedgies to these fuckin’ nerds that we’ll just forgive and forget?
I get the idea that there are no friends in War Games. But alliances are real, that’s how you make it to the end. That’s how you win the fuckin’ match. You will not make it to the end without the Final Alliance, I will 100% stamp that shit guaranteed. You couldn’t even rally your team, you think you’re going to be able to convince the Final Alliance to get your back when you need it? You’re an ineffective, sad leader and a poor excuse for a man. The only thing you have going for you is that the HOW World Champion, Christopher America, is on your team. Honestly, he’s the real captain here; he’s the fuckin’ hero. I say that as someone who hates the fuckin’ shit out of him. But you know what he has that you don’t? My respect.
And what do you think the World Champ thinks of you? A member of your team.
The only thing saving you from being eliminated in 2 minutes is the order of entry. You had better hope that by the time you get in the ring, that I’m gone. I can’t guarantee that I’ll win War Games, but I can guarantee that you won’t. I will do everything in my power to ensure that you don’t win.
So, while you’re out there running your mouth and acting like a bitch, just remember…we have a STRONK. And if I have my way, STRONK and I will be ripping that letter jacket right off your back and shoving it right up your fuckin’ ass.
Saturday, May 19th
Middle of Fucking Nowhere
Southwest of Odessa, Texas
The scorching sun, on this unusually hot day in the middle of May, beats down on Solex’s black Ford Raptor pickup truck as it tears through a winding dirt road in the desolate desert of West Texas. The dry wind whips through the open windows of the truck as Solex firmly grips the leather wrapped steering wheel with both hands, his jaw clenched tightly and his eyes locked on the bumpy road in front of him. Solex is leaned forward in his seat, his restlessness is palpable and has become a concern for Hank, who’s along for the ride to Mexico.
It started about three hours ago, in the middle of fucking nowhere, man. One minute, we’re cracking jokes and talkin’ shit, speeding down the backroads in the boonies and slamming Coor’s light..and the next thing I know, he changed. Something inside of his head snapped.
He started talking crazy, man.
Started talking about the Army. Started talking about the lives he took. His missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but he was talking about it as if he was someone else. Like it was some kind of out of body experience. I didn’t really get it. It was fuckin’ weird, that’s all I can say…well, it was weird and it was scary as shit.
He rambled on for a good thirty minutes about how he regrets nothing and he did what had to be done. But he hasn’t said a fuckin’ thing since then. He just keeps muttering to himself over and over, talking about some dude to come and help him at War Games. He keeps saying he needs him…but for what and why now? I’ve never heard Solex mention this dude, not once. And why is he talking to himself? Why does he keep answering himself?
I don’t know what the fuck is going on, but I need to stay on my toes…cause this motherfucker has done lost it.
Who the fuck is Kutter?
“You good, bro?” Hank inquires, his voice shaky and nervous.
Hank leans against the passenger side door and has a foot propped up on the seat in a bit of a defensive posture, keeping as much distance between himself and Solex as possible in the small confines of the truck cab. Hank fidgets with the release button on the Garmin knife in his jeans pocket as the tension in the truck continues to grow and the silence between them stretches.
Solex glares over at Hank, his eyes transformed into something that no longer reflects the man behind them. Suddenly, a subtle smile tugs at the corner of Solex’s mouth and with a swift blink his eyes change.
“Yeah, man!” Solex exclaims, with a warm and friendly voice.
Hank is immediately taken aback by the change in Solex’s eyes and tone. Solex notices Hank’s concern and kind of leans back in his chair, dropping one hand off the steering wheel and
“What’s up? You gettin’ tired, you fuckin’ nerd!” Solex quips with a laugh.
Hank doesn’t respond immediately which draws a cross look from Solex, but it’s quickly shaken off as the MERCDAD reaches into the Yeti in the back seat. Keeping his eyes on the road, Solex fishes through the icy water of the cooler and yanks out a cold Coor’s light; the mountains as blue as can be.
“You want one?” Solex asks Hank, holding the beer up.
Hank stays quiet, and just stares at Solex with a look of deep concern. Solex shrugs it off and pops the top before taking a hearty swig of the cold nectar of the gods.
What the fuck is going on, man?
This motherfucker has lost his damn marbles. We haven’t talked for 2 fucking hours and he’s suddenly normal again? I can’t be alone in the desert with this man, I’m gonna end up buried out here like Joe Pesci in Casino if I’m not careful.
I’ve got my knife, but Solex is strapped.He carries that fuckin’ Glock with him everywhere he goes, and it’s holstered right underneath the steering wheel. I know that, not because I can see it, but because he told me it was there. He told me not to worry about the cartel’s because if the shit hit the fan, he’s got Lucille and she’s got one in the chamber, ready to rock and roll.
Hank adjusts himself in his seat, attempting to appear comfortable and at ease. But underneath the surface, he’s a nervous wreck and ready to defend himself if necessary. He keeps a firm grip on the knife in his pocket, ready to draw it in the blink of an eye if the situation calls for it.
“Sorry. Uh…nah, man. I’m good. Think I mighta had one too many already, know what I mean? My stomach is kinda fucked up, might be these crazy dirt roads mixed with a belly full of beers,” Hank finally responds, his voice still shaky as he attempts to sound as normal as possible.
The late response draws a mocking chuckle from Solex. “You fuckin’ pussy. I knew you were a lightweight,” he says, his tone laced with a playfulness Hank hasn’t heard in a few hours.
Solex’s banter gives Hank a moment of comfort, but he knows deep inside that he can’t trust Solex right now. He’s never seen him like this before and not only is he concerned for himself…he’s concerned for his friend.
“Check it out,” Solex says with a giant white toothed grin.
Solex points out in front of the truck, directing Hank’s attention to the giant metal wall that stretches out as far as they can see on either side of the horizon.
“The motherfuckin’ border,” Hank says with a laugh, finding comfort in the fact that they’re getting closer to their destination.
Solex reaches over and playfully slaps his buddy in the chest as he presses the gas pedal down as far as it will go.
“Take it easy, man! We’ll get there!” Hank shouts out, his voice a mixture of concern and panic. He instinctively reaches up and grasps the grab handle above the door, like a toddler grabbing ahold of his security blanket, completely forgetting about the knife in his pocket.
“Calm your bitch ass down! This rig was built for exactly this!” Solex shouts out with confidence and a hint of swagger. Solex stays in firm control of the truck with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand holding his beer steady.
Hank becomes more and more concerned and Solex drives the truck relentlessly in a direct path to the border-wall. A disturbing and sadistic grin grows on the MERCDAD’s face as he continues to firmly press the gas pedal to the truck floor. Hank’s grip on the grab-handle tightens, his knuckles turning white as he braces for what seems like an inevitable collision.
“Bro!” Hank shouts out in panic, his voice filled with desperation as he tries to coerce Solex into slowing the truck down, or at the very least change its course.
Hank’s eyes dart between the approaching wall and Solex’s menacing expression, which sends a terrified chill down Hank’s spine. Solex looks over at Hank, winks and takes a long swig of his beer, taking his eyes completely off the road as the truck continues to race toward the wall.
With a sudden flick of the wrist and a booming stomp on the brake, Solex wrenches the truck to the right, bringing it to a screeching sideways stop mere feet away from impact with the imposing wall. Adrenaline courses through Hank’s veins as his heart pounds through his chest. The sudden stop has left him completely breathless as he knows in his heart of hearts that he just narrowly escaped death. Hank frantically reaches under his shirt and pulls out his Cross necklace. He fumbles with the chain before finally getting a firm grasp on the Cross and giving it a kiss as he closes his eyes tightly. He takes a deep breath, seeking comfort in saying a quick prayer under his breath, before tucking the necklace back into his shirt.
“You fuckin’ asshole!” Hank erupts, in a mixture of anger and relief.
Hank trembles as beads of sweat form on his forehead as he attempts to regain control of his breathing. A cloud of West Texas desert sand swirls around and finds its way into the open windows of the truck as Solex laughs maniacally. The cloud of dust fills the truck, essentially rendering Hank blind.
What the fuck is he doing?
We could have been killed! I don’t know who this man is; this isn’t the Steve Solex I know. This isn’t the man that my brother told me about. This isn’t the man that saved my brother’s life. This isn’t the man whose life my brother saved. I don’t know who this man is.
But it sure as shit, is not Steve Solex.
This version of Solex isn’t something that I was prepared for. Hell, I didn’t know that there was another version. The fact that he nearly killed us both tells me that he either has a death wish or just has no respect left for life at this point.
Truth be told, it’s concerning. This is a man that is about to be let loose in a steel cage with a bunch of other men, and possibly a woman…the likelihood that he kills someone during that match is shockingly high, and if I was Jace Parker Davidson, I’d be scared shitless.
Ever since he lost to Jace at March to Glory, something has happened to him. He hasn’t been the same. He was a sure thing to win that match, and somehow…he lost. And that has driven him off the deep end.
I’ve got to put a stop to this, but how? How do you save a man whose sanity seems to be slipping away with every second that passes? What if he doesn’t want to be saved?
As the dust begins to settle and clear out of the truck, Hank regains his vision and gets a clear look at Solex. Hank’s heart skips a beat and the blood drains from his face, turning him a stark white, as he sees Solex sitting in his seat with his Glock in his hand. Solex, a highly trained Soldier, minds his trigger discipline as his finger runs along the slide, clear of the trigger and he keeps the barrel pointed up at the roof of his truck.
“What…what are you doing?” Hank asks, barely able to get the words out as his voice trembles with terror.
Solex’s expression goes from blank to a smile as he bursts out in laughter.
“Just fuckin’ with you man!” He exclaims as he reholsters the pistol under the steering wheel.
“That shit was like a fuckin’ move, right?!” Solex asks, as he bursts out with excitement.
“What the fuck?” Hank whispers to himself as he rubs his forehead in disbelief.
Solex laughs hysterically as he moves the truck from park to drive and begins to slowly cruise along the border-wall that separates the United States from Mexico. They drive steadily as they watch person after person sneak through openings in the wall. Solex shakes his head as he watches Border Patrol agents do nothing but sit idly by.
“Can’t blame them, they’re only doing what they’ve been told,” Hank says as he watches Solex shake his head in disgust.
“Yeah?” Solex asked, his tone laced with sarcasm.
Hank shrugs, not knowing how to answer that ominous question.
“What a load of bullshit,” Solex says, his voice filled with profound disgust.
Solex suddenly slams on the brakes and the truck stops on a dime. Hank jerks forward and then slams backward into his seat. Hank immediately reaches for his knife, but before he can react to anything Solex kicks his door open and hops out of the truck, putting Hank’s rising anxiety to levels to ease. Relief washes over Hank as he realizes that Solex isn’t going after him, but something else outside of the truck.
“Where the fuck are you going?” Hank shouts out, his heart still thumping.
Hank opens his door and stands up. He peers over the top of the door and watches Solex walk down a sand dune and out of view.
What the fuck is he doing now?
This is too much. I have to find a way out of here. I can’t take it anymore. If we make it to Mexico, I’m in deep shit.
Solex comes marching back to the truck, but he’s not alone. He’s got a man by the back of the shirt and Solex is forcing him toward the truck.
“Who is that?!” Hank shouts out, a tone of confusion and curiosity in his voice.
“It’s Lupe! Get in the fuckin’ truck!” Solex shouts as he shoves the dirty and poorly dressed man in the direction of the truck.
Solex tears open the back door and Lupe, following Solex’s demands, jumps into the truck and takes a seat. Solex is quick to hop back into the driver seat and start the truck back up. He slams the gas, causing the truck to briefly peel out in the sand before it takes off, still adjacent to the border-wall. Hank, speechless and in disbelief, looks to the backseat at Lupe and then at Solex, and then back to Lupe once more before once again asking, “Who the fuck is that?”
“I told you, that’s Lupe,” Solex says, seemingly confused as to why Hank is asking him the same question twice.
“Who is Lupe?” Hank asks.
Solex scoffs at the question.
“Were you never deployed? What the fuck?” Solex mocks, knowing full well that Hank has deployed on multiple occasions.
Hank rolls his eyes and responds with a middle finger which causes Solex to erupt in laughter.
“We’re going to Mexico, dipshit. We need a ‘terp,” Solex says, still mocking Hank.
“An interpreter? It’s fuckin’ Mexico, man. We don’t need a fuckin’ interpreter,” Hank says as he shakes his head in disbelief.
“Do you speak Spanish? I didn’t fuckin’ think so. You might not need a ‘terp in Mexico City or fuckin’ Cancun, but where we’re going tonight…we definitely need one,” Solex says, keeping his eyes locked on the road in front of him.
“Now where’s that fuckin’ opening,” Solex mutters to himself.
“What opening? Does this guy even speak English?” Hank asks, pointing back to Lupe.
“Ask him!” Solex shouts back.
Hank sarcastically turns back and asks, “Well?”
“Si,” Lupe responds.
“Jesus H. Christ,” Hank complains as he buries his face in his hands when suddenly Solex jerks the wheel to the left right through a gaping hole in the border wall.
“Well, bitches, we’re in Mexico!” Solex exclaims as he laughs maniacally.