The white plastic of the spork scraped against the side of the cardboard container. The cardboard shuddered in The Behemoth’s hand, as he ripped at it with the takeout silverware. He’d sat here all day, it had been his plan for months. No, the to-go Chinese takeout ‘Turkey’ fried rice was not the plan. Yet being here, being at roughly this location had been his plan for months. He looked longingly through the window of the brick structure.
He watched them walk around inside, he watched them come in and out of the room. He could see what they were watching on television, he could see their faces, he could see their fake smiles. But he couldn’t see her, every parking spot with a view of the room was taken. He shuddered as he scraped for the remaining contents of the container, his hand started to pulse and throb as he opened and closed it.
Breaking Jiles had made him feel alive, but only for a moment. The yolky one had rolled over to die, he took the punishment almost willingly, almost too willingly. The fleeting feeling of satisfaction had vanished in an instant, there was no accomplishment from smashing Cancer Jiles into dust. Years ago? Clay would have felt on top of the world, he’d have felt invincible.
It didn’t matter. Another win, another tally in the box. A year of collecting checkmarks trudged on, check marks falling one by one, marching forward, one after another. But the checkmarks didn’t make him happy, not like they used to. Now they were more irritating than a sense of accomplishment. The parade of filth and garbage was never ending, they marched forward, onward, each one meeting the same fate.
What he’d give for the people in that room to march on in front of a Texas Lariat. Five seconds, he’d give a year’s salary for five seconds alone with Roy. That little fucking vulture, he’d never met the rat faced little fuck, but he had looked him up. The internet was amazing, and finding Roy hadn’t been that difficult. Not after what he went through to find her, all the searching, the historical addresses, phone numbers that no longer existed.
That little fucking cunt had his face plastered on his LinkedIn profile, his smirk, his receding hairline, his desperate attempts at clawing back his youth. The little gremlin’s profile was plastered with photographs of him standing beside men that were bigger, and stronger than him. Every photo the conniving little fuck was looking up, a 5’4” nothing, in a sea of 6’2” heavy jawed neanderthals with slick backed hair and definition that could only be seen when they flexed real, real, real hard.
The Monster smashed the cardboard container in his hand and dropped it onto the passenger floor. That little goblin-faced shitbird probably mixed a plan of Tai-Bo and starvation into a fitness regime. All his kicks and lifts brought his self-confidence to the forefront. Clay snarled, as he watched through the window. He’d seen her family come and go, his estranged aunts and uncles, her grandchildren – his cousins, filter in and out throughout the day. Some stayed a few minutes, some stayed a half hour, and some – like he would have sat with her for over an hour.
Those people were his family, he’d met Diane, he’d met Susanne, he’d met Billy, each one took the time out of their schedule for their mother and grandmother. Even the less frequent flyers, he’d at least heard of them. She’d talked about them, or he’d talked to them on the phone. They made an attempt, they cared, or at least they cared enough to pretend to care more.
She deserves that.
She’d been so loving, from the moment the two hugged for the first time, her frail arms wrapped around his enormous torso, he felt acceptance. The pain would wash away, the smiles and the laughter were all that remained. She was sharp, she was quick, and she had a sense of humor. Her children and grandchildren were the same way.
At least most of them.
They all talked about ‘Roy’ in hushed tones, he was the new patriarch of the family since his father had passed. They questioned his decisions out of his grandmother’s earshot. She had been somewhere nicer once. Further outside of the city, closer to her family before ‘Roy’ had taken over.
She deserved better.
So he sat in the parking lot, waiting, thinking, ruminating, smoldering. The Behemoth hadn’t had a real Thanksgiving in forty-one years on the planet, his father had tried his best. But a trip to Bob Evans wasn’t what normal people did on Thanksgiving. In the last five years since his death he’d spent the holiday alone. A day of celebrating thankfulness was just another Thursday for The Behemoth.
He’s not wrong.
Everything I touch goes to shit, first it was The Best Alliance, it was War Games ‘21, it was Bottomline that year, then it was Iconic 2021. This year it’s the tag title tournament, it’s War Games, and… I was furious watching in the back last week, watching as America and his cronies made a mockery of the proceedings. But Harrison and Solex, it was Stevens and Jace. One of them doesn’t deserve to be in the same ring with the two of you, and the other, well, some weeks Jace has it. Other weeks he’s too busy wandering around looking for what plug Samantha Tolson or whoever has in their ass this week.
You two are legends, one of you is a Hall of Famer. This should have been as elementary as a second grade spelling test. It should have been a foregone conclusion. We’ve ridiculed and destroyed Stevens for the last eleven months. Brutally abusing the man, making his own son hate him, and you two let him breathe some respect back into the sorry dilapidated shit show that was his career?
I thought you two were different from the others.
We’ve been teammates and compatriots since I walked through the door. We always put it all on the line for each other, no matter what. That’s why Lee had to invent a best of seven to get the tag titles off of us, he had to come up with a gimmick, and bring in a team from the outside to get the job done. Getting the belts back off of the egg boys was a foregone conclusion. It was just a matter of time, and Harrison and I handled that business without breaking a sweat.
But the first time we get to face a board tag team since Dead or Alive, we walk out there and shit the bed?
I hope you both are as furious as I am.
I’m disappointed, I’m stunned, I’m lost for words.
We’re the team that’s functional, we’re the team that doesn’t have egos. We’re the workhorses. We’re supposed to go out, week in, and week out, and be pillars of consistency in High Octane, we’re supposed to be out their fighting, live or die, for each other.
And instead, we let them have them.
We let HIM have them.
You knew they weren’t going to let Stevens join the band of idiots, they weren’t going to let him carry the torch forward and represent whatever the fuck theycall themselves now. He’s the outside begging and waiting to get in, not cool enough for our club, and not cool enough for their club. Stuck in the land between. They dropped him the first chance they had. Chris America took that tag team title from Stevens faster than Speedy Gonzalez steals the cheese off of a mousetrap.
He shouldn’t have that, he shouldn’t get to take that from us. He shouldn’t get to just walk away, laughing, cackling at our misfortune. That’s not how this works, that’s never been how this works. And this is the second time you’ve both let him do it. This is the second time you both have let him walk away with something that should have belonged to us.
That’s why I have to do it. Like when we needed to win the belts in the first place. Like when we needed to win them back, everytime we needed something we went back to the well. Get the big fella, he’ll take care of it.
I’m tired of cleaning up your messes.
I’ve got my own mess to clean up, I’ve been dealing with my own disaster, week in, and week out. I’ve got Lee handing me the garbage like Frank Dylan James, I have you two fucks passing the buck on Christopher America to me. I have my own problems, I have my own issues, I want to kill Mike Best, I want to kill this fuck Roy, I have to skullfuck Jatt Starr for the second time this year.
I don’t have time to be worrying about the two of you.
You two are my brothers, you two are the two that have stuck by my side, through hell and through high water. You two are the ones that agreed to go on this journey first, you two are the ones that said we’d do whatever needed done. We all agreed, that we’d do whatever it took.
Now I need you to honor that. I need you to handle the issue for once. Because I have problems of my own. I have things coming at me from every direction, I can’t go lay out Conor Fuse for you, I can’t go win back the Tag Titles. I can’t do it all.
I have to finish the mission.
The parking lot was dark before the blue Ford Expedition pulled into the parking lot. The Behemoth was in a daze, asleep on his vigil. The egg fried tryptophan had worked its way through his system, and the Cowboys game on the radio had sung its best lullaby to put the big man at ease. His eyes sagged, he could feel the rings under them, pulling on his cheeks. He was tired, he’d been tired, but now, finally, he felt exhausted.
His body slowly lulled to sleep by the national broadcast announcers, he’d tried to fight it, his arm rested on the open car window. His left hand was buried in his sideburns, his index finger pulled on the eyelid trying to hold it open. But the tryptophan had wormed its way through his bloodstream. The lights of the Expedition finally pulled him back in. The little worm wriggled from the driver side door, but it took The Behemoth precious moments to come out of his turkey induced haze. He fumbled with the door handle, but by the time he finally grasped it, ‘Roy’ had already passed inside the nursing home entrance.
The Behemoth snorted, his upper lip curled back into a snarl. He could make out the silhouette of one of his cousins through the window. Finally Roy entered, he slunked over, Clay could see his fake smile from here. Nothing about Roy felt honest, everything he’d read about the man online was positive. People that worked for him nearly worshiped him. But there, buried under the compliments were the truth.
‘Criminal’, ‘impossible to work for’, ‘bottom feeder’, ‘creep’, ‘jerk’, just like every powerful little man he’d ever met. Roy’s true biography was about his own insecurity, his uncomfortableness in his own skin. The expensive clothes he wore, the focus on appearance, it was all a part of the charade of confidence. None of it was real, it was all manufactured. The morning quotes, the workout routine, it was there to give people belief in him. Because he didn’t have it inside of himself.
He watched through the window, his blood pressure rising.
He watched the silhouette move over, he watched as she stood up at the end of the bed and wrapped her frail arms around ‘Roy’ and hugged him, just as she had hugged him the first time they had met.
He started the truck and left.
We were friends once, Jatt. Do you remember that day on the boat? You and Sektor drinking in the sun while I prepared for Teddy Palmer? You tried to take the edge off for me that day, tried to be the veteran that was calm, cool, and collected. While I was the nervous newcomer dealing with a traumatic experience. You knew then, that it was another day at the High Octane office. For me, it was the most important moment of my life, for you, it was day 3,437 of working for Lee Best.
Maybe I should have listened to you that day, maybe I should have walked to the end of the aircraft carrier and had a drink with you and Sektor. Maybe if I had, I wouldn’t get beaten by Teddy Palmer. Maybe I’m there in the tag team match and can keep Dan Ryan from shaking you like a bloated corpse getting dragged off a beach. Maybe I can keep the Jattlantis City Idol around in the match, maybe, maybe the degenerate Best Alliance can keep it together there and I don’t have my first monumental failure in High Octane Wrestling.
You might have been looking out for me that day Jatt.
Maybe you were trying to do the right thing, make sure I never took this place for more than paycheck. Making sure I never fell in love with the #97RED, because you knew what was at the end of the road. You knew what was at the end of the road for me, you’ve seen people like me come and go, you’ve watched us go to war and battle year after year.
To you, we’re all just blinks and flashes. Some brighter than others, but we all burn out in the end, we all get ground up and turned to dust by the machine. You’ve watched what this place has done to me, you’ve seen it rip me apart, you’ve seen me lose everything. You remember when the boss liked me, and now you’ve seen when the boss hates me. You watched it change in an instant, his will and favor changing faster than the direction of the winds of a hurricane.
And now here we are.
One more step for me to my destiny at Iconic.
And there you are, cashing the check, still alive, trying to find your way back to the top.
You’re in my way now Jatt. And for that, my old friend, I apologize. I’d love to have different circumstances to this, I’d love to have a different moment between two men who respected each other once. But I have to do what I have to do. I have to break you at Chaos. I have to destroy you. You won’t tell the story of Clay Byrd the folklore hero anymore, I won’t be that kid that needs to lighten up and enjoy the ride to you, there will be no more strippers and songs as memories.
You’ll remember The Monster, The Behemoth.
I’ll be everything he made me.