Lying on my cot, in my cell, facing the drab concrete wall, I am awoken by the clanging. Rolling halfway over I see The 4th Wahl casually standing there knocking the ring on his finger against the metal bars. He’s posted up, leaning against the joint where the cell bars embed into the concrete. A sinister smile plastered on his face.
Sighing, I roll back over and face the same wall I’ve been staring at for however many days I’ve been locked in here.
“Awww come on now, don’t be like that buddy.” The 4th Wahl says with a chuckle. “Here, I come all this way to share some good news and you’re going to try and ignore me.”
I don’t offer a response. I guess he sees some humor in my silence as he chuckles to himself. “Here I get word from the powers that be, that ole Bobby Dean got himself a reprieve from his cell. But, I guess if you don’t want it…”
After all this time locked in this cell, being force fed like I was some sort of prize swine being plumped up for auction, any sort of reprieve would be welcome. But this is HOW. There’s always a catch.
“If he doesn’t want it, I’ll take it!” a raspy voice calls out from the adjoining cell. “Shoot, doesn’t seem right to lock me up in here while there’s guys like Zion, and Jiles running amok out there! How is that fair!?”
The voice of my neighbor surprises me. I guess it really shouldn’t considering I knew there were others sharing the cells around mine. But I do have to wonder, when exactly did they move this newcomer to this particular cell?
“Now, now, you just wait your turn over there old man.” 4th Wahl offers, turning his attention back to me. “Come now big guy, don’t you want a little time out of this here hole? Get some fresh air in your lungs? Some sun on that pasty skin of yours? Maybe, if you ask nicely, they’ll even take you out to one of those all you can eat buffets you liked so much?”
The mention of foods makes me retch. I swallow the small amount of vomit that comes up, but still I refuse to look at my tormentor. Staring at the wall in front of me, I try to tune the words out, but they just keep coming.
“I hear you got yourself an appointment on the 11th coming up.” 4th Wahl says as if he’s got the world’s biggest secret and he’s just dying to tell someone. “Yes sir, I hear you got an appointment with the same man who put you in a world of hurt the last time you two met. The same man who’s been talking a lot of mess about what a lazy sack of shit you are, and how you can’t follow through with golden opportunities that he tees up for you to knock out of the park.”
“Boy that sounds like someone I know…” my neighbor offers with a whimsical sigh.
“You sure you don’t want to know who you’ll be meeting in just six days?” 4th Wahl teases. “No? Still going to ignore me? Alright, fine, have it your way.” 4th Wahl pushes himself off the wall and begins to walk away, shaking his head in dismay. “I’ll see you in thirty minutes for your next feeding.”
All I want to do is ignore it. Ignore him. Ignore this cell. Ignore this entire situation that lead me here to this point. But, in the end, I just can’t seem to help myself as I softly call out, “Who?”
I hear the 4th Wahl stop, but I still refuse to turn over. Let him play his games, but don’t acknowledge that his torment is getting to me. I hear him walk back to my cell, but he doesn’t say a word. Even when his footsteps stop, he simply stands there. Waiting. Luckily for him, he doesn’t have to wait long, as I roll over, glaring at his smiling face.
Two words. Two fucking words, that spins my already topsy turny world, even more into chaos. Two words I had hoped I would never hear again.
Michael mother fucking Best.
“Oh shit!” my neighbor offers in awe, as the 4th Wall begins to walk away again, laughing uproariously, as I simply lie in my cot in complete disbelief.
I don’t know how much time has passed, a few meals have been consumed. But that’s not a good indication of time, all things considered. I remain in my cell, this time lounging with my feet hanging off the edge, my back up against the wall, simply sitting there unable to turn my brain off.
“Mike Best huh?” the familiar voice of my neighbor calls out, for the umpteenth time. “Go figure, eh? You get all the luck Bobbo.”
The endearing name hits me like a ton of bricks.
“Dooze?” I ask in disbelief.
“Duh.” he answers, the sound of hurt in his voice, as if I should have known it was him all this time.
“What are you doing here?” I ask, as my mind continues to whirl in a million directions.
“Currently?” he asks rhetorically, but answers nonetheless. “Currently, I’m sitting here contemplating my life choices. Wondering where I made that wrong turn in the fork. Probably the day I met Lee and didn’t go running, screaming for the hills! Hell, this never would have happened in DREAM, would it?”
I never know what to say when he talks about DREAM. Sure, I was in that place with him, but that was so long ago I wouldn’t even have remembered it if he didn’t bring it up every other day. I just can’t believe he’s here, in the cell next to mine.
“You and Mike, again, huh buddy?” he continues his one sided conversation, completely oblivious to my silence. “You have all the luck, don’tcha buddy?”
I scoff at the idea of me facing Mike would somehow correlate to my luck in any sort of positive manner. Mike is my kryptonite. Bad things ALWAYS happen when I face him. It’s not the surety that I’ll lose that I question, it’s what horrific outcome will accompany said loss?
Never getting another title shot again? Double Check.
The scorching third degree burns from his hateful words? Triple Check.
Why do I have to do this again?
“What I wouldn’t give to be in your shoes Bobbo,” Dooze says wistfully.
“What size are you?” I ask, finally answering him, which causes him to stop his ramblings.
“Eleven and a half inches…” Doozer answers cautiously, following it with an obvious “Why?”
“You want to be in my shoes so bad, take ‘em.” I say with some heat in my voice. “I never asked for Mike Best. I’d much rather face Black Mamba. Or Kostoff. Or Zion. Or Stevens. Hell bring back Bobbinette Carey, she’s got to have enough rust on her, she probably doesn’t even remember how to get into the ring anymore.”
“Bobby…” Dooze begins cautiously, soothingly, as if he has never heard the mounting anger in my voice before.
“Fuck Mike Best. Fuck Lee for making me fight against Mike AGAIN.” my voice rises with every proclamation. “People want to go on and on about my potential, as if I wasn’t aware of all the disappointment I’ve caused. They want to go on and on about how, if only I would put some effort into this shit, maybe then I could be like the old me. Talking like I need to bring back the “Beautiful” in “Beautiful” Bobby Dean? Has anyone ever stopped and thought to themselves, “What if Bobby doesn’t want to be like the old “Beautiful” Bobby Dean?” What if Bobby Dean was happier in life without all the expectations forced upon him? What if Bobby Dean doesn’t want your life?”
Doozer is speechless as my ranting continues. I’m now on my feet, stomping back and forth across the cell. The small roll of fat around my stomach wobbles with every step. My fucking budding man tits shaking infuriates me even further.
“Why do people think, just because I’m in HOW, I want to be the best in HOW?” It’s my turn to ask a rhetorical question. But I don’t think Doozer understands how rhetorical questions work, because he answers anyway, “I think people feel like, if you’re not trying to be the best, then why are you here at all?”
“Maybe because I get off on the abuse Lee gives me?” I answer, unsure if his response was a rhetorical question in response to my rhetorical question. “Or maybe because every time I disappoint, Lee is dumb enough to bring me back? So now I’ve taken it as a personal challenge to see when he’ll finally tell me to fuck off?”
I spin around and see the 4th Wahl has returned, casually leaning against the wall, rapping his knuckles against the bars once more. He’s smiling at me, as he slowly reaches up and begins clapping.
“I’m happy to see you up on your feet big guy.” he touts. “Maybe you’d like a little yard time? Burn a little of that excess fat, and get back in ring shape?”
“I’d like some yard time…” Doozer offers anxiously.
“No, the yard time is only for our friend Bobby here, seeing as how he’s got a big match coming up, and you’ve got… Well, you’ve got bupkis.” he laughs, as Dooze mutters, “why can’t it ever be me…” under his breath.
“So what do ya say big guy,” 4th Wahl offers, unlocking the cell door and swinging it wide open in invitation.
Staring at the large behemoth, I simply sigh, and slowly walk back to my cot. Sliding back onto the uncomfortable steel bed frame, rolling back onto my side, to stare at the drab concrete wall once more.
“What a disappointment.” 4th Wahl says, slamming the cell door shut once.
Mike, Mike, Mike. I want to say you were my favorite Mike of all time, but it’s Unlikely true. You and I have done this song and dance time and time again. I spit fire, you decimate me. I put minimal effort into this, while almost beating you, and you treat me like I’m Max God Rest His Soul Kael.
You’ll do anything it takes to win, Mike. And I have to finally admit, it’s pretty fucking pathetic. It’s pathetic to me how much this all means to you. You’ve accomplished everything you could. You’re a Hall of Famer, BEFORE you’ve even retired! You’ve held every title imaginable. You’ve faced and defeated every name to have ever graced these hallowed halls. And don’t get me wrong, you’ve earned every accolade, every victory, every title! You’ve shed the blood, the sweat, and the tears. I don’t take any of that away from you. But…
I have one question for you, Mike! Just one, that I just can’t seem to find an answer to…
Why the fuck are you still here!?
Retire! Ride off into the sunset! Hang up the boots! Go to your shitty, exclusive school, and train tomorrow’s champions. Why steal the thunder out from under the new generation, when all they’re trying to do is emulate you?
You try too hard my friend. You do whatever it takes to win, and it’s absurd to me, because you’re doing it against a guy like me! What will you do this time around?
Do you, perhaps, have another house to burn down? Maybe you’re thinking about hopping off the wagon and shooting up again? Or you can walk us through another one of your drug addled episodes? Explain how the smoke burns so good in your lungs? How the gummy tastes so yummy? Maybe talk about how the white powder makes your nose bleed, but makes your dick hard?
Let’s see, you’ve put me in a coma. You’ve bit the tip of my dick off. You’ve stolen my entrance theme. You’ve pulled the rug out from under me and killed any momentum I tried to mount at Six Time Academy, all the while, spinning it to where I’m the loser who wastes golden opportunities?
The fact is, you got worried that I’d outshine you, so you sandbagged me. You can’t share a spotlight, so instead you shut the power off and the spotlight simply goes away. Problem solved. Bobby is back to being the waste of space.
There is only one Mike Best… But maybe one Mike Best is one too many?
I know I had a few questions for you, Mike, and I sincerely hope you’ll answer. But, there is one question you should be asking me.
“Why do I even bother, especially against you?”