The ink is hardly dried and Linus Stark can't believe what he has done.
What have I gotten myself into?
Why did he do what he just did?
After faithfully serving a company, Sooler INC., today Linus Stark was given a pink slip after 18 years of service to the company. From appentice electrical technician to electrical technician to night classes to IT to leading the charge in the security business, specializing in arenas. The office he is working on...The Championship Wrestling Federation. He'd been given his pink slip, but he had one more order and he was going to honor that. He was going to do his last job...and after a brief talk, finds himself as a signed fighter. He was unemployed for an hour and a half and even during that unemployment he was still finishing a job that he had.
What have I gotten myself into?
Linus doesn't know how he is going to tell his family. Linus looks at his contract...Evolution 29...opening match...Azrael...
Azrael? I know that name.
A knot seizes in Linus's stomach...that's why it was so easy for him to get signed to this contract. He's being fed to Azrael. Azrael is a talented wrestler. Azrael...is a little bit crazy...lot a bit crazy. The columns of fire...the music of Halestorm...Linus Stark knew exactly who this was. Linus liked wrestling. He tunes in from time to time, but it's hard to watch it full time because of work and family life. He folds his contract into the right pocket of his coveralls. He looks at his hands...scars from years of work...but also scars from his youth.
Looks like I'll be needing these again.
Flashbacks to fights in school. He wasn't big enough to play football, nor did he have the time. But on Friday nights, no matter how bad the team was, word got out about his evening activities. The ball team lost the game, but Linus Stark was 5-0.
...The ride home was long. No radio. A/C quit working long ago. Linus needed to fix it, but timing was an issue. There was always work to be done at home.
Abelia Stark had a stroke a few years ago...2015 to be exact. She loves Linus, but her memories aren't what they used to be. The twins are grown. They're moved out of the house. Attending college. Truth be told, they're glad to be away. The mental issues made for turbulent times. The twins loved their parents, but getting away was going to be a respite...one that Linus didn't get to have. Though he was happy for the children, he knew now that interactions would be difficult with him being the only one home.
He still loves her. Loves her with all of his heart. But life is different. It'll always be different.
The door shuts and he hears a voice elevated in volume only to be heard from the other room.
LINUS! WHY HAVEN'T YOU RETURNED MY PAGE?
Linus can't help but to snicker to himself. He hasn't carried a pager in 17 years. Explaining it to her would be a burden that was never worth the ensuing argument and proof that he no longer carries a pager.
I'm sorry, bride. It must not have come through. Are you okay?
He puts his keys, cell phone, wallet into the dish by the side of the door and wipes his hands on his coveralls. He goes down the hallway and turns to the right to see his Abelia, a shell of who she once was, sitting in her night gown at the dinner table reading the newspaper...the same newspaper...every day for a week until the Tribune Gazette comes out...Every Tuesday.
Did you have a good day?
She smiled at him and nodded her head and got back to reading. She quit asking him about his day years ago.
What did you need me to get?
Abelia had already forgotten why she sent the phantom page. She finished reading the article that she had probably read 15 times this week and got up and hugged him around the neck.
Welcome home, Linus. When do the kids get home?
Linus kissed her, spun her out and brought her back into a dip and kissed her again. She laughed and forgot whatever question she had just asked.
Stark was happy that he made his wife happy, even if only briefly.
And as if he had forgotten completely about everything, his recent life choices make their way back to a reality that settled as a lump in his throat...what has he done? This woman needs to be taken care of...and that's why he signed up to be a wrestler, to pay the bills, to release some aggression...but what if he gets hurt? What if Azrael does to him what he is going to say he will? If he gets his shoulder torn out of socket, he's going to be out of not only a job, but unable to perform menial duties. Abelia deserves better than that.
Hey sweetheart, why don't you read the newspaper? I have some things to take care of before I cook dinner.
Abelia kisses him on the cheeck and looks at the newspaper like she's never seen it before. Excited to read. He looks at her. He misses her even though she is there. He misses the kids because they aren't there. He walks back down the hallway, he walks back outside to his car and reaches in and pushes the garage door opener. It moves up seemlessly...he smiles to himself. A recent project was successful. He fixed the garage door that always clinked and clanked open. He sees a lot of memories from the past. The old hospital bed that Abelia had to sleep in when they thought they were going to lose her. The bleeding on her brain stopped. She regained strength and she now can sleep with him again. He sees relics from happier times as well...and he sees his work out bench.
I haven't seen you in a while.
He takes the boxes off of the bench and rearranges things so he can grab the dusty weights. He picks up a dumpy punching bag and hangs it on an ancient chain. He pulls on it. It's sturdy. He throws a punch...it sent shockwaves up his arms and into his shoulders, all the way up to his neck. He loosens up a bit and throws a few more punches until it feels good again...not that they look exceptionally good, but he isn't hurting anymore. He rests his forehead on the bag.
Looks like I'll be seeing a lot more of you.
He still can't believe how impulsive he was. He signed a contract to be a fighter and he hasn't thrown a punch in years. Not only that but he will now face men and women who have dedicated their lives to fighting others...and Azrael is his first opponent. How do you prepare for someone so unpredictable?
You just be the best you can be. That's in everything. Regardless of if it's a 9 to 5 or a midnight shift. A salary job or by the hour. Or now, in his case, a job where you practically fight for your life. All it takes is one good hit. Even the mightiest can go down.
It's time to get to work.