August 11th, 2022
Huntington Beach, CA
Steve Solex and Jack Karter sit across from one another at the table. Both men have empty dinner plates in front of them and each have a knife and fork placed on the table on either side of their plate. They both have freshly ironed cloth napkins over their laps and a single chafing dish is set and covered in the middle of the table, separating the two. Jack – Steve’s current strength, conditioning and wrestling coach – stares at the dish. The look on Jack’s face is one of confusion, giving away the fact that he has no idea what’s under that chafing dish cover.
“Hungry?” Solex asks, almost in a sort of joking manner.
Jack scratches his head, unsure of how he should answer the question. He rubs his belly and lets out a deep breath.
“I’m starved, bro. But…what’s in there? Tell me it’s eggs and bacon, I need some fuckin’ breakfast!” Karter says, rubbing his stomach.
Solex laughs and reaches over his plate, grabbing the chafing dish cover handle. He gives one more smile in Karter’s direction, and even a very deliberate wink before he snatches the top off the dish.
“Bird!” Solex shouts out in a burst of laughter.
Sure enough, there was a bird. About three and a half feet tall and perfectly cooked to a golden brown.
“What the fuck man?!” Karter shoots up out of his chair like he has a rocket in his ass. He throws his napkin down on the table.
Karter looks around the room frantically, searching for something.
“Where’s the black box, bro?”
Solex stares up at his monstrous friend with a smile.
“Not a fan of poultry?” He asks, leaning back and laughing in his chair.
Solex grabs a hold of a carving knife and a meat fork and begins to carve the bird right there in the middle of the table as Karter looks over his old friend with a look of absolute shock on his face.
“Dude, that’s a fuckin’ bald eagle!” Karter shouts out pointing down at the bird with one hand and covering his mouth with the other.
Solex takes a piece of the cut bird and tosses it into his mouth. The world championship challenger sits there with a big smile on his face as he chows down on the chunk of white meat. Karter, still in disbelief, cautiously sits back down in his chair.
“How does it taste?” Karter asks.
“Like freedom,” Solex responds with a smirk and a laugh.
Karter slams his elbows down onto the table and buries his face in his hands as Solex takes another bite.
“Oh, yes,” Solex says with a heavy breath.
“What?” Karter immediately asks.
“That piece tasted endangered,” Solex jokes as he chews the piece with his mouth wide open.
“Bro, at least close your mouth when you chew,” Karter pleads as he stares at his friend through the gaps in his fingers.
“I can’t, man. You can’t contain liberty,” Solex continues to joke as Karter just stares on in disbelief.
“What the fuck was that?” Karter asks as an eardrum bursting screech fills the room.
Solex doesn’t respond, he just laughs hysterically as he leans back in his chair, balancing on the two back legs and smacking away on the piece of bird he’s been working on the last few seconds.
“Bro…is that the fuckin’ eagle in the back?” Karter asks, still in shock but now somewhat relieved.
Solex just continues to laugh wildly as Karter begins to put the pieces together.
“You’re a fuckin’ asshole, man!” Karter shouts in a much more light hearted tone than before.
“So, what is it?” Karter asks as he grabs hold of his knife and fork.
“Turkey, man. You really think I’d eat a fuckin’ bald eagle?” Solex laughs.
“I didn’t, but you really had me going man,” Karter breathes a sigh of relief and nervously laughs as he reaches over and cuts himself a few slices of white meat.
“Yeah, I can’t kill the bird, much less eat it. I need it,” Solex explains.
“Why’s that?” Karter asks.
“Have you been living under a fuckin’ rock? He’s got Valor and he wants to execute a trade. Wild west style,” Solex continues.
“Wild west style? What the hell does that mean?” Karter asks before taking a giant bite of eag…turkey.
“Bro, I have no idea what this guy is trying to do. You’d think he’s the one with brain cancer the way he’s been acting lately,” Solex garbles with a mouth full of food.
“What do you mean?” Karter asks before stuffing his face as well.
“I mean, his relationship with the world title is really getting odd. Caressing it, fondling it…if he hasn’t put that thing on his dick yet, I’d be fucking shocked. Like he got the Contra Code and blew his load, real weird,” Solex explains.
Karter laughs it off, but Solex isn’t laughing at all.
“For real, man. I’m pretty fuckin’ worried about taking the belt off that dude. Not just for his mental health, but mostly for sanitary reasons. Gonna take about 20 gallons of Purell to sanitize that thing before it goes around my waist, so let’s make sure we got that on hand in Tombstone,” Solex continues.
Karter laughs again, but Solex just stares at him with his knife and fork in hand.
“I’m not kidding, bro. I’d rather go back to burning human shit in Iraq and Afghanistan than touch anything with any amount of that dudes … DNA … on it, if you catch my drift,” Solex says, completely serious.
Karter shakes his head and continues to scarf down the turkey on his plate.
“I can’t…” Solex tries to continue but he shakes his head and shivers in disgust instead.
“When are you flying to Arizona?” Karter tries to change the subject and Solex bites.
“Saturday morning. I’ll fly into Phoenix and a couple of old Team buddies from Yuma are going to meet me there and we’re driving to Tombstone that afternoon,” Solex says with a suspicious smile that stretches from ear to ear.
Karter laughs as he tries to figure out why Solex has that look on his face.
“What?” Karter asks, totally confused.
“My boys…they’re bringing an MRAP and we’re riding that bitch right into the middle of Tombstone, front and fucking center,” Solex slams a fist into the table with excitement.
“Fifty-cal up top with a gunner, full ammo load out. Shit’s gonna go down, brother,” Solex says, slamming his fist into the table with every syllable.
“For real?” Karter asks, his jaw nearly hitting the floor.
“For real, for real,” Solex responds. “I already got clearance from the Area Commander, and every police station in the area will be aware of our presence. No worries on any of those fronts. Shit is ironed out and clean, son. It’s gonna be a blast…literally,” Solex says, still smiling.
“You’re a fuckin’ mad man, you know that right?” Karter asks rhetorically.
Solex laughs as he takes another bite of turkey.
“Well, and then you got this old prick, Lee Best, setting me up for a Meet and Greet that I’m contractually obligated to attend with some bullshit HOW fans. And to top it off, it’s going to be a fucking Century Club,” Solex says, shaking his head.
Karter laughs wildly at the idea of Solex taking 100 drinks in 100 minutes with a group of nerdy fucking wrestling fans.
“Those fans…they’re in some serious trouble,” Karter says, completely failing at holding back his laughter.
“Bro, I don’t know how they expect these fans to survive a night with you. You’ll have massacred the entire group by drink 50!” Karter slaps his knee as he continues cracking up.
“Oh, you better believe it,” Solex warns. “They’ll either be dead by alcohol poisoning, or fallen victim to the motherfuckin’ hands, son. The only problem for Lee Best, is who’s going to be legally liable here? I am all for trying to give your guy an advantage, which…I mean…it kinda seems like he’s going to need any kind of advantage he can get, the way he’s been looking as of late. But to put fans’ lives in jeopardy. This is gonna be great.”
Karter tries to bring the conversation back to training with the clap of his hands.
“Until then, we still have work to do, bro. Let’s get back in the gym, you’ve got 3 more days and you’ve got to rest at least two days, which makes this our last day to train. We’ve got one thing left to work on and you’ll be one-hundred percent set up for success,” Karter says as he stands up from his chair and finishes his last bite.
“One last question,” Karter says. “Did we just eat turkey for fucking breakfast?”
Solex laughs and tosses his napkin onto the table.
August 11th, 2022
Huntington Beach, CA
Solex hasn’t been on this beach in years, and unsurprisingly everything looks exactly the fucking same, right down to the bagged up shower heads that are closed because of the never ending drought in this once prosperous state. Solex was enjoying himself on the beach under his umbrella, even taking in a couple of rare evening waves on his surfboard before his phone started to blow up…again. Constance, his wife, has been at his throat for the better part of 20 minutes giving him the metaphorical business over the phone.
“I told you, Constance…there’s no other option here, I have to fight. I have to win. I won’t be able to live with myself if I sit this one out, so I guess I’ll have to just die trying,” Solex says into his Airpods.
Solex has been on the beach since finishing his latest and last training session with Jack Karter. His phone has been ringing incessantly for three days, all calls from his wife, Constance. Every voicemail she left says the same thing, repeatedly.
“If you’re going to leave, just do it, Constance. I’m sorry you feel this way, but this was my life when you met me. This was my life when we took in Scotty. I’m a wrestler, that’s what I am, and no cancer – terminal or not – is going to stop me from doing what I do best,” Solex yells into his phone.
The breeze from the ocean keeps Solex calm, but he refuses to relent to her demands. It’s just not his style. People like Christopher America call it toxic masculinity, but in reality…it’s simply called being a fucking man.
“Oh, is that right? Do you not remember Shawn Kutter? How about Logan Tyler? Either of those names ring a fucking bell, Constance?” Solex asks mockingly as she questions his health from the other side of the phone.
“One thing about me…no matter what anyone calls me, there’s one thing they can’t…they can’t call me a liar. My integrity and consistency is as solid as my word. So let that bitch run his mouth all he wants to on TV, I really don’t give a fuck.”
“None of it…NONE of it is going to matter when that shitbag is flat on his back staring at the stars in the Arizona sky when I pin him in the middle of that ring.”
“I do, I’m sorry. I know that hurts, but I can’t help how I feel. I love you, but this is something I’ve worked my entire life for, so I’m really sorry to tell you this…but it does mean more to me than you do. The HOW World Championship means more to me than you do, I’m sorry,” he says, as serious as can be.
“Him too. He’s not even my real son for fuck’s sake. He’s the spawn of a shitty wrestler that I’ve beaten hundreds of times and he was found in a building that Clay Byrd burned to the ground. He matters to me and I love the kid, but it doesn’t compare. Don’t you get it?”
“Not only that, this event was tailor made for me and The Highwaymen. We’re at the top of the fucking marquee. Not Christopher America, not that sack of shit Tyler Best…The Highwaymen. You think I’m gonna let my boys down by not showing up? Think again, Constance. Think again. I owe it to Bergman, I owe it to Byrd and I owe it to Harrison.”
Solex pulls the phone away from his ear and lets his arm go limp. The audible from the other end of the phone is loud, but unreadable. Solex looks down at the phone, stands up and then chucks the iPhone out into the ocean.
“Fuck that, and fuck her. I’ve got a motherfucking championship to win.”
August 11th, 2022
Huntington Beach, CA
Springhill Suites by Marriott
Solex is seated at the lone couch in the lobby of the Huntington Beach Marriott…not the Holiday Inn, just so we’re clear. Jack Karter walks through the automatic doors and Solex springs to his feet. The two men shake hands, and Solex pulls him in for a big bro hug.
“I tried to text ya’ before I came over, didn’t get a response,” Karter says.
Solex just laughs and pats Karter on the back.
“This is it buddy. I gotta be at John Wayne Airport at 0500 for my flight, big dawg,” Solex says, seemingly excited.
This is Steve’s first pay per view main event since joining the company, at least in a one on one match, and the moment is not lost on him. He knows the importance of it and he’s going to make the most of it. It’s written all over his face.
“You’ve done great, man. Exceeded every single one of my expectations and you did it inside of a month. You’ve never been more ready than you are right now, at this moment. The World Championship is yours to win…please, please don’t blow it,” Karter says with a hand on Solex’s shoulder.
“I got you, brother,” Solex says, trying to provide reassurance that this wasn’t all for nothing.
“You’ve hit the bag, you’ve hit the mitts, you’ve learned some new submissions, I’ll say it again…you are ready,” Karter says, really trying to drive the point home.
“I just have one question for you, Steve,” Karter says, keeping that hand on his shoulder and giving it a squeeze.
“Shoot,” Solex responds, literally ready for anything.
“Are you sure this is what you want to do? Will it be worth it, no matter the outcome? Whether you win or lose, live or die, stay married or get divorced. Are you sure you want to do this?”
Solex takes a step back and paces the lobby, drawing eyes from all the guests and desk staff. His erratic movements are concerning and not normal. In fact, the way he is acting is downright terrifying. Suddenly, he comes to a stop right in front of Jack.
He looks up at his much bigger friend.
His eyes have gone blank and are completely bloodshot.
He’s hardly recognizable.
Karter knows something is wrong.
But it’s too late.
Solex looks him dead in the eyes, and says only one thing:
“We are ready.”
August 11th, 2022
Huntington Beach, CA
The waves crash in on the beach. It’s pitch black outside, except for one thing pulsating light at the coastline and blaring the sound of an alarm.
It’s an iPhone.
It’s Steve Solex’s iPhone.
A message is displayed on the screen as it continues to pulsate light and ring out.
Take your meds. Evening dosage.
The phone is then swept back into the ocean by a crashing wave as the scene fades to black.