Episode 4: 番痛い時は一度だけそれは もう 訪れているのかな...
“Anata no tasuke ga hitsuyōdesu…”
“Hai. Sensei, watashi wa mayotte imasu.”
It could be any town, and it could be on any night where the summer haze hangs thick around the throat of the descending sun choking the cool night breeze into some other time and some other place.
But it’s not any town, it’s Washington, D.C. littered amongst the detritus of the failing west, a man half loped, half walked down one of the many accusingly bright streets, looking for a favorite haunt.
The back streets.
The dingy corners where society stops being polite pulls the napkin from its lap and decides poorly to have another few rounds of drinks.
Where doors have a little less paint than in proper, and the pipes leak a little more than they should.
The type of place you would look for a drifter to hang out. Cliches and all.
“See the thing Andy Murray, is while you were dancing around in Japan, I was drifting in the shadows, just around the next corner.”
Black Leather Jacket.
Black Tank top.
“I’m sure, you are patently disappointed. That instead of getting Bronson Box, Eric Dane, or MJ Flair...
You got Pete Whealdon.”
Aviators at night, leaning against the cold concrete wall of another useless trophy of democracy in its infancy. Lighting a cigarette, next to a pretty obvious “No Smoking” sign.
“I can hear it in your voice. Congratulations on winning Golden Intentions, by the by, That was a staggering victory that has allowed you to become the actual End Boss of the CWF…”
Orange glow, the scent of American Spirit.
“.. Or not.”
Stick between forefinger and thumb, Whealdon knocks against the wall with his free hand. Rapping gently at the concrete.
“In retrospect, you should’ve seen this coming. You should’ve connected the dots. Screaming at the heavens, heaving hail mary’s at the empty sky. While you have been talking about taking the CWF.
The Paradigm shifted.
While you and your flock of future nobodies in your safety blanket training gym were exchanging the idlest of words, we swept in. We made your return irrelevant, we got under your skin, we got you to give up a shot at Summer Games. It will never be said that Andy Murray doesn’t deserve every career accolade when he returns to retirement, where he so graciously belongs. No. There is very little that can take away what you have done. What you have been.
But no one is going to accuse you of being especially all that bright either.”
Whealdon stares stark into the distance, an oppressive oven breeze twisting through his dirty blonde locks.
“You wanted to be the End Boss. You wanted to fight someone who matters. Instead, this is what you’ve been handed. In these less than ideal circumstances, Eric Dane has maneuvered you to exactly where you belong. Do you think I lace the boots up because I care? Do you think I pull the tights on because there is some hollow glory to all of this Andy Murray?
Do you think beating me, moves you closer to Eric Dane?
This isn’t stage one. This isn’t level one. This isn’t the beginning to the next glorious chapter of your career.”
Whealdon stubs the cigarette against the wall. It falls forgotten and limp to the ground, a crumpled mass of waste. Whealdon rubs his chin briefly, idly picking a fly out of it, and harmlessly flicking it to the ground. He produces another one from a jacket pocket.
It’s at this point a security guard comes moseying along.
Only there isn’t a security guard, and Pete Whealdon will continue smoking in a No Smoking zone as he had been much before. Because that’s how these things actually go. Well placed scripted security guards don’t actually exist.
“I’m sure in spite of your years of experience in ignoring the absolute values of the obvious you saw I wasn’t present at Evolution. The Golden Paradigm knew you would blow your stack about being forgotten, again, amongst the flotsam and jetsam of the lowest common denominator that I suspect has been passing here for quite some time.
While your inner monolog is set firmly on self-masturbation. Let me fill you in on why exactly you aren’t pulling parking duty with Azrael or Autumn Raven.
I chose you.”
Whealdon wipes away detritus from the breeze with his forefinger.
“ _You_ don’t get to choose the Golden Paradigm.”
“Perhaps your own blinding ego, stupidity, lack of perceptive skills wouldn’t allow you to see the pieces being moved on the board.”
Another long drag.
“When I got the call from Eric, after the whole ‘debacle’ that led to the rebooting of the most previous evolution, we agreed. We needed to press you into a corner, make you lash out.
Make you challenge us.
But the moves, as they so often are, were made for you. The best spot to maneuver you to was with me. Don’t get me wrong, I would’ve taken no pleasure in dismantling the remains of Allen Jones’ career. But messages need to be sent, and the Jones’ boys on the whole need to know where they stand in this pecking order.
Instead, Eric told me to cool the jets. He wanted me to sit on my hands. We have bigger plans, and as you so obviously pointed out, they require being in control.
Not GM control, nothing so farcical.
Real control. The control people pay attention to. “
Whealdon raises his cigarette, smoking drifting lazily away.
“This is what control looks like. You’ve done exactly.
To the dot.
What we wanted.
If you’re a little confused, I’m not surprised. You played right into the Paradigms hand. So while Eric Dane has the road to his title cleared, made easier. You’ve been put in the spot he wants you.”
A mechanical flick of the ash.
“There are two things that are guaranteed moving forwards Andy.
The first is you are going to wrestle fest.
I asked Eric, point blank if he wanted me to alter that course. He didn’t.
The second is me.”
Whealdon looks directly at the camera. His face is muted, the cigarette intermittently glowing the only real indication he is even here with us. The slow seep of smoke from nostrils like some atavistic myth come alive. The cigarette comes out of the mouth. Reeking humidity and the buzz of insect life cascade.
“Boxer is a good chap, but he’s going to brain you a couple of times, and I think we can both agree the amount of good or bad that will do to you is negligible at best. MJ Flair is a worthy new cohort, in likely need of proving herself.”
The teeth bare in what some might call a smile. Other might run fleeing for the hills.
“Another time for that perhaps.
You get to learn why I make Boxer uncomfortable.
You get to learn why Eric Dane pulled me out of exile.”
Whealdon pulls the collar up on his jacket as he flicks his cigarette away, two black leather pointed fingers directly at us.