Nine... ten...... eleven......... twelve...
The sound of metal on metal echoes in the cramped, dimly lit garage, as the 40 lbs. dumbell is dropped back onto the rack. Boxes of knickknacks litter the floor, which are difficult to maneuver, as an orange trap covers the only window, leaving a dim bulb hanging from the ceiling as the only source of light. The lone occupant, a young man, leans forward against the weight rack, catching his breath. We can see that he is diminutive, yet muscular; his long, blonde hair pulled back under a green and white, tie dye bandana.
The man eventually straightens back up and stares into the dusty mirror. He furiously wipes away the dust, revealing a reflection clear enough to see the sweat rolling down past his determined, yet forlorn eyes.
This is the new, and improved Lucas Greene.
Long gone are the days of smoking the reefer, fourteen months and twelve days to be exact. May 9th, 2017, that was the day Lucas decided to get serious, and get back into the wrestling ring. He came to the conclusion that he needed to replace the chronic with protein shakes, and his bong with a weight set.
You see, four years ago, after several unfortunate twists, turns, and company closures, Lucas's career as a wrestler took a nosedive. Without a steady income, and the limited skill set of smoking marijuana and launching himself through the air, he was forced to move back in with his parents. It took a couple of years for Lucas to finally realize that slacking off and smoking bud every day was never going to get him back in the ring. So, he made some hard, but necessary changes, and now, fourteen months later, he has a new outlook on life, and a contract with the Championship Wrestling Federation.
After a few minutes of quiet contemplation, thinking about what he has been through this past year, Lucas picks the dumbell up once more, and begins his next set of bicep curls. He grunts and groans with each rep.
One, two, three, four...
"Smoking a J never took this much effort," he thinks to himself, as he finishes a set.
Five, six... seven...
The burn sets in, each rep takes more and more effort to complete. The pain, that good pain that gym enthusiasts always talk about, shoots through Lucas's arm and shoulder. He closes his eyes and focuses on the task at hand, but suddenly, a voice calls out, piercing through the veil of concentration.
"Duuude, seriously?" the mysterious, yet all too familiar voice exclaims.
Catching Lucas off guard, he let's the dumbell hover mid rep, and quickly drops it when the pain becomes too much.
"Maaan, like, what happened to you? This isn't you at all. You've changed, bro."
Holding his aching arm, Lucas slowly looks up, and is more perturbed than shocked to see two reflections staring back at him; his normal reflection, and a second standing to his left... well, his reflection's left, it would be his right... oh, you get the picture.
This phantom reflection looks just like Lucas, except his eyes are a lot redder, his midsection is a little softer, and he is wearing a Gratfeul Walking Dead t-shirt. Looking a little... ok, a lot, under the influence, the reflection sways slightly from side to side, seeming like it'll fall asleep to the rhythm at any moment.
"Back in the day," the second reflection continues to lament, "you'd be partying it up with buds and bud before a big match. Now, you're L7 daddio, a total square, sitting here all alone in mommy and daddy's garage."
Lucas shrugs off the comments, and tries to get back to his workout.
"I'm not going back to that life," he defiantly claims, "and it doesn't matter how bad I crave it, you're not going to take control of me again!"
The phantom reflection gives a Seth Rogan-esque chuckle. Clearly, Lucas still has a deep-seated desire to dance with Mary Jane, which has manifested in this Stoned Lucas.
"Duuude, why you gotta be like that?" it asks, sounding a little hurt. "You and me used to be best buds... heh... get it? BEST BUDS?"
The laughter becomes more of a full on giggle fit now.
"Whoa, way to harsh my mellow, man..." he says sheepishly. "Why you gotta get all riled up like that for?"
"Because," Lucas snorts, as he storms over to his makeshift chin up bar, tripping over boxes as he does. He hastily begins to do chin ups, wasting more effort talking than doing the actual exercise. "This is a huge opportunity for me, a chance to fight for a World Championship. I'm not gonna screw this up."
"Distraction? Screw up?" scoffs Stoned Lucas. "Bro, I don't remember you complaining about smoking up when you earned your shot at the sVo Black & Red Title. I didn't hear any complaints when you beat that A-hole, Anti-Hero, to win the Extreme Title in Hostility."
Lucas drops down from the bar, and spins around with a verbal volley locked and loaded. However, no words come out as he stares, mouth agape, at the mirror.
"THIS IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT, YOU BURNED OUT REJECT!"
Now, along with Stoned Lucas, and his actual reflection, a third figure stares back at him from the mirror. Chest heaving heavily, this new reflection seems to be a barrel-chested, roided out version of Lucas.
"LUCAS NEEDS POWER AND FOCUS, NOT FUNIONS AND MIDDAY NAPS!"
Lucas tries to interject, but his pot driven subconscious beats him to the punch.
"Power and focus, I don't think so, man," Stoned Lucas says with a smirk. "I remember when Snakey Jake took on a guy named Ringmaster in a tournament like this. His bogus, born again Christian behind tried to focus, and drew strength from power of the 'Lord Almighty'... and you know what happened?"
"Snakey Jake?" Lucas ponders under his breath.
"That's right," Stoned Lucas continues, "he got his butt busted up faster than some bud in a coffee grinder. And to make things worse, that butt whoopin' transformed The Ringmaster into that Cold Stone Steve guy! And that guy was a badass! I'm not trying to be a downer here buds, but I don't think all the weights in the world are gonna help here. What Lucas needs to do is smoke some reef, and chill out brah."
"POWER! STRENGTH! POWER! PAIN!" screams Roided Lucas, not listening to anything Stoned Lucas has to say.
At this point, Lucas looks completely baffled. Maybe he's going through some sort of weird, delayed withdrawal symptoms, or perhaps he's been training way too hard lately. Hell, maybe he's having a stroke. Whatever it is, none of it is helping.
"Would you two just shut the hell up!?" he hollers at the phantom reflections in the mirror, finally having enough.
Suddenly, there is a loud banging on the garage door, which snaps Lucas back to reality.
"Lucas, honey," calls his mother from outside, "who are you yelling at in there?"
Shaking his head, Lucas glances over at the mirror to see only his own reflection looking back at him with a scrunched up look of confusion.
"Lucas?" his mother calls out again, "are you alright? You didn't get into my stash of mushrooms, did you?"
"No mother, I'm fine," Lucas ensures her, feeling a little guilty for lying, "I'm just... practicing my promos for wrestling. Yeah, that's it. What do you want?"
The large garage door begins to lift slowly, letting the bright sunlight in, along with Lucas's mom.
"Here dear, I brought you the cordless phone," she says with a smile, "you have a call."
Lucas quickly grabs the phone from her and shoo's her away before slamming the garage door back shut.
"Hello?" Lucas says into the receiver.
"Hello, Mr. Greene?" the voice on the other end begins, "This is Tina Jackson, from CWF head offices. I just calling to confirm your flight tomorrow from Redding Municipal Airport, to Newark Liberty International Airport. Your ticket will be waiting for you in Redding when you arrive."
"Uh, yeah," Lucas mumbles, still trying to wrap his head around the conversation he just had with himself.
"Great," Tina exclaims, "but I do have to ask. You're aware you won't be able to board your flight if you are under the influence, right?"
"Under the... influence?" Lucas stammers, a little shocked at the question. "Yeah, that's no problem. I don't really do that stuff anymore."
"Oh, is that so?" Tina questions with a hint of concern in her voice, "because word around the office is that the big wigs really liked your goofy, pothead schtick from back in the day. That's why they hired you actually. I guess they were tired of all the muscly meatheads, dark emo types, and straight up whack jobs."
"You've got to be frickin' kidding me?" Lucas thinks to himself with a sigh of defeat.
"Well, I hope you reconsider," Tina laments, "it'd be a shame to get fired because you weren't addicted to a narcotic. Either way, well see you in Uniondale on the 24th. Good luck!"
With that, the line goes dead, leaving Lucas in silence. He just stands there, resigned to the fact that the last fourteen months really meant nothing. All that work to get clean, and he's right back in the thick of things again.
"Well," he says, reaching up under his bandana, "I knew I stashed this here for a reason."
Lucas pulls a nice, fat joint from his bandana and sticks it between his lips. However, as he searches for a lighter, the phone begins to ring again. Lucas picks it up and hits the button.
"Hello?" he calls into the receiver. The voice on the other end can't be heard this time, leaving the caller a mystery.
"Oh wow, long time no talk," Lucas greets the person on the other end of the line. "Good news does travel fast... yup, CWF... yeah, my first match is in a few days... oh really?... that IS interesting... yeah, I hope to see you around too... will do... you too... peace out, bro."
After a short conversation, Lucas hangs up the phone and places it down on a box.
"Huh..." he snorts quizzically, "ain't that something?"
Whatever that was all about, it is quickly brushed aside as Lucas manages to find a lighter in one of the many boxes littering the garage.
"Might as well get back to my training..."
Lucas walks back over to the weight rack, and picks up the 40 lbs. dumbell once more. As he begins lifting the weight, he uses his free hand to spark the joint in his mouth.
"They want stoned and goofy, who am I to argue," Lucas ponders aloud. "But stoned or not, I still wanna bust some heads... starting with this Ringmaster clown... Stone Cold, or whatever his name is..."
Evolution is going to prove to be one hell of a show.