Dark and oh so dangerous
Backstage After the PPV
I slam my fists into the locker room door with a resounding clang as it shoots forward almost hitting a trainer who had been on his way out. I quickly apologize to the guy, not his fault.
He looks at me and smiles and nods, “No blood, no foul.”.
He hurriedly continues on his way, and I take a seat on one of the long benches. The smell of sweat of human bodies and the crispness of the starched clothes comingles to create a very different aroma than what most people are used to. That is unless you are in this business and that smell, let’s you know you’re at home once again. It can be a very calming thing, a paper airplane comes out of nowhere and hits me square on the nose. I look down and recognize Ataxia’s handwriting.
Hai Old Frand!
I’ve decided that you need something more challenging!
So, I’m giving you “The Shadow”
Only the Shadow knows...
Ahahahahahahaha!!!! You know the rest!
I smirk at the note, “Some things just never change.”. With that I hear maniacal laughter down the hallway almost as if he’s running. “Probably jumping up and clicking his heels as well.” I quip to myself. I realize that now is the perfect time to put my debut match into perspective. So, that being thought I reach into my bag and withdraw my cell phone and start recording. It’s perfect since no one is around….
“So, the debut didn’t go quite as planned obviously, but hey I’m not mad about that, I may not have won that match but I didn’t lose either. So, there’s that. More importantly though, I already have my next assignment. I’ll speak on that more later for now though, congratulations to Bobby Dean on his hard fought victory.”
Yes, I said that, and yes i said it with a straight face. Not missing a beat I continue on…
“First match in five years, it was not a long match, it was far from glorious and I’m sure that it will probably hurt like hell tomorrow. I’m good with that, it felt good, it felt clean. I haven’t felt that in forever, inside of a wrestling ring. I would say that I want more of that, but in reality I need more of that. I’m a man who is hungry, I’m a man who is desperate to feel again. I think Dorian can relate right about now. In the past for me it was about the groups I was a part of, I never made that about me, it was always about them. About the team as a whole. I can say without a doubt that this is about me this time. Old friends have moved on and have new “Families” so to speak and don’t have time for me.”
I reach back into my bag and tug my wallet out of the side pocket, flipping it open I find what I’m looking for. An old picture of a very young Jimmy Allen and Dorian Hawkhurst.
Talking to no one in particular, “You always were the kind to do what you thought you needed to, right or wrong didn’t really matter.”
I smirk at the photo and put it back away, tucking my wallet back into my bag, I turn the camera off. Before stripping down and heading to the shower I send the video off to be produced.
Dallas, Texas - The Next Day
I spent the morning on the plane back to Dallas, my initial assumption was correct. I hadn’t been in a match in a long time and I was feeling it all morning. By the time I had boarded the plane though, most of the soreness was gone. Of course, the upcoming 4 hour flight, that would likely change that. Sometime later when the plane finally landed at DFW Airport, my assumption is unfortunately reaffirmed as my muscles scream. I ignore them and stand, finally making it off of the plane.
The Chaos that is deplaning at DFW would make ringling brothers proud, but all of that is nothing when my little girl comes running up to me with her arms out. Fiery red locks and brilliant green eyes wash away the fatigue and the muscle soreness as my 4 year old daughter slams into my legs. I drop my bag and scoop up Charlotte as she begins planting kisses on my cheek and squeezes my neck tightly.
I give her a big smile, “hey baby girl, did you miss me?”
In return she beams at me, “So glad you’re home Daddy!”
The perfume hits my nose long before my wife Kristen approaches, she slides up beside me and wraps an arm across my shoulder and kisses me softly on the cheek. She whispers to me, “I missed you too, Daddy.” The result of that is well, rather personal, let’s just say my goosebumps get goosebumps. “I missed you too darlin.”, I respond in a soft voice and pull her tighter to us.
“Yay!!!! Group hug!” Charlotte squeals with delight, causing us both to laugh.
Kristin asks, “So who’s the next assignment?”
“The Shadow”, I reply. She arches an eyebrow, like me, she wasn’t expecting this so soon. We were under the assumption that it would be a little while before I faced off against a main event talent. “Oooooh…..he’s scary.” Charlotte chimes in. My eyebrows arch up and without even asking who, “Don’t be mad at grandpa….pleaaaaseeee….”. Kristin and I laugh at the pleading, and the puppy dog eyes. I acquiesce to my daughter. “Okay princess, I won’t be mad at grandpa for letting you watch wrestling. That doesn’t mean that mom can’t be mad at him.” I chuckle as I let that sink in with Kristin putting on a stern look. It doesn’t last long however as we all laugh and make towards the exit.
Wylie, Texas - 2 days later
After spending a couple of days training at the crooked M ranch, and listening to far too many of pop’s stories we finally arrive home. Yes, we took the scenic route, don’t judge. I’m always happy pulling into our driveway. The Woodbridge Community is a quiet one, not as quiet as Dad’s ranch but quiet all the same. I’ll have to fly out in a couple of days so the down time is important. The time with my little family even more so. The car is in park, Kris and Charlotte have made their way into the house as I pull my bag out of the trunk.
“The Shadow knows….does he puppet master? Does he know what he’s stepping into the ring with? Pain can be sensed in others, especially if it is deep rooted. In another lifetime Tax, you taught me that. I can see why you would gravitate towards someone like him. His pain dwarf’s your own. You have created a family dynamic with these 3 people, I’m both impressed and disgusted at the same time. I remember what your family means to you. More than most people realize and a lot less than those three can possibly understand. At least with you Tax, you’re a devil I know all too well, and hey, you’re consistent. There is a lot to be respected with that.”
I sling the bag over my shoulder and make my way into the house, I hit the garage door opener on the wall to start that in progress. I stop by the door until I hear it complete and right on time the water softener and it’s weekly cycle begin, if you’ve never heard one it sounds like this horrible screeching from a banshee. I shut the door so I can hear myself think. Kris begins on supper and Charlotte plops down in front of the television. I lay my bag on top of the washing machine in the utility room and get that started.
The doorbell chimes, interrupting my thought about the upcoming match. I look at Kris and she is still dicing green onions and make my way to the front door. I look thru the eye glass that some people call a peep hole and see two young men. They are literally dressed in their sunday best. I sigh heavily, “Great they are selling Jesus door to door.”
I open the door and the young man begins aggressively, “Sir, how much better would your life be if Jesus were a major part of it? Can we talk to you about our lord and sav…”
I cut him off in mid speel, “Our dark lord and savior Cthulhu?” I quip to him and his cohort and the results are instant. The two young men, both already white turn a few shades more pale than they originally were. Their jaws drop open and I shoot them a wink and a grin. “Do you boys want to come in?” I ask in earnest. They continue to stare at me like I’m a demon that literally just climbed out of the abyss.
Stammering the young man finally gets words to form, “No….n….no sir, we need to be on our way.” He finally manages to get out. I smile pleasantly at him and finally respond as they are struggling to get their legs to work. “Y’all have a blessed day.” With that I shut the door and laugh as I make my way back to the utility room.
Kris winks at me as I return through the kitchen, “Cthulhu?”
“Cthulhu” I confirm as I begin dropping dirty clothes into the washer. With that completed it’s time to get to work on my promotional for this week. So, I make my way to the den where my home studio is set up.
The red light begins blinking and I sit down in my office chair….
“The Shadow, an intriguing man to say the least. One half of the former tag team champions. A man in a very dark place personally and professionally. On the surface he appears somewhere between The Crow and a dead man. A man who has been for sometime and continues to go through the grieving process. It’s a long hard road, certainly not an easy one. I will certainly offer no disrespect to someone who has obviously lost so much.”
“Grief is a powerful thing, it can lead to a fork in the road….or tunnel vision. The darkness can be an overwhelming and negative thing from which you never return. The Shadow though, he’s not overwhelmed is he? No, he appears to be perfectly at home in his turmoil and darkness. It’s almost as if he is at peace with it, or he’s dead inside from the trip that sent him down this path. I’m not sure which is the case but I intend on finding out.”
I lean back deeper into the chair and bring my hands up in front of my face, steepling my fingers before finally folding them. I rest my lips on my hands for a moment before I lean back and continue.
“Shadow, you have had many successes here in CWF. You are a former impact champion, a former tag team champion and in most organizations would be considered a contender for the world title. The real question I have for you, is why are you not considered a contender here, in this place? Is it because you have no interest in pursuing it? Is it because you and your partner are focused on regaining titles you should never have lost, or could it be that the company has no interest in allowing you pursue the title. Probably all for the best, since you’ve become a tag team specialist. Imagine what it would feel like, you crawling towards your corner only to realize that there is no one there to tag. I only use this as a hypothetical situation for you to consider, perhaps you should bring your partner to the ring with you if for no other reason than your own comfort.”
I pause for dramatic effect, allowing what I had just said to sink in for anyone watching.
“Of course you won’t do that, too much pride in play for you to ask her to come with you to the ring. Not to mention you risking offending her with i don’t need you or looking less than you are to your cohorts. I mean you wouldn’t want to feel week or be perceived as weak to them or more especially to her. There is a reason I’ve chosen not to align myself with anyone, to stand on my own. Is it harder with no one to watch your back? Yes absolutely, but perception is a thing.”
I pause once again, this time when I speak I lean in closer.
“ Professional reputations are built and destroyed based on who you surround yourself with. CWF is no different in that aspect. It’s the same way in life away from the ring. So many aspects of life are represented in that one simple fact. You really should be very careful of the company you keep. You’re not rookie and I’m certainly not trying to drive a wedge between you and your “family””
“I completely understand the bonds of friendship, a sense of family, that dynamic, it’s important. It’s a feeling of belonging when there is only despair otherwise. That sense that your tag team partner has your back no matter what. That the others you associate with will have your back no matter what. That they will come to your side when you need help, or that no matter how often you lose and whom you lose to. They understand don’t they? Of course they do, because they are family.”
I unclasp my hands and lean back in the chair again, I smile a feral smile. Then I spread my hands out to the sides.
“I hope you’re right. I hate being wrong, but you would it hate it far more than I, if I was. I think it would be the most devastating thing that could happen to you. Even more devastating than losing to me. I guess we’ll find out one way or another very soon Champ.”
I wave my right hand in front of the camera causing the screen to go dark. I spend some time reviewing the footage, the final product pleases me so, I package it up and send it in to be produced.