The Crooked M Ranch
When they say, “In SouthEast Texas, it’s not the heat it’s the humidity”. Well, first and foremost it’s not a joke, it is the real deal. The first thing the camera catches is the road, you can see the heat rolling off of it in waves.The “real feel’ is already ninety seven degrees fahrenheit. The camera pans and you see two men stripped to the waist working with shovels and post hole diggers. The larger of the two has shoulder length red hair, a very well defined physique, muscles rippling with each strike of the post hole digger. He’s dressed in jeans and black work boots. The smaller of the two, he has similar clothing for this type of work, only with shoulder length dark brown hair and a full beard. A few feet away lay the headless bodies of three cottonmouth snakes. In this part of the country, they kill these types of snakes on sight, they are aggressive and extremely poisonous.
We’ve been working since before the sun came up, Dad wouldn’t hear of using an auger like Mom suggested. No, we have one, it’s just never been used as far as I know. Old fashioned hard work Dad would always say. We’re now both stripped to the waste, laying siege to the soil with post hole diggers and shovels. It’s not glamorous work, but very satisfying to say the least. I clear the last of the broken razor wire and catch pops eyeing me out of my peripheral vision.
Jimmy Allen: What’s on your mind Dad?
He grunts as he towels his face off and gets more water from the cooler.
Alex Walker: Well, I’m trying to figure out why you would insert yourself into someone else's business.
Now it’s my turn to grunt and then towel my face and hair as I join him at the cooler and grab some water. I smile at my Dad.
Jimmy Allen: I’ll answer your question with a question, can you say without a doubt that you would have done anything different?
He raises his hand up with index finger extended as he is about to preach to me about something or other. He opens his mouth to speak and then clamps his teeth shut. I wait, he lowers his hand and shakes his head in dismay.
Alex Walker: Good point son, I can’t say that I would have….but the Uncles?
He continues to shake his head, I clear my throat and respond.
Jimmy Allen: They called me Dad, they offered their help. No commitment from me and no reciprocation. This time it was out of friendship.
Alex sighs a heavy sigh.
Alex Walker: I hope you’re right Jimmy, I don’t remember them ever doing anything for anyone that didn’t cost the person dearly.
I slap him on the shoulder and give him my best imitation of the Mac Bane grin, which causes him to cringe.
Alex Walker: You know I hate it when you do that….
I laugh out loud.
Jimmy Allen: No other reason I can think of to do it Dad.
Our conversation is interrupted by a cloud of dust in the distance. The hum of the road noise grows closer and we don’t have to wait long to see a black SUV arriving.
Alex Walker: I guess we get to find out sooner, rather than later what that prices is?
I shake my head disagreeing with him, knowing they don’t drive those types of vehicles.
Jimmy Allen: No, I don’t think so Dad, I think this is someone else.
Somewhere between Jasper and Dallas, Texas
It’s kind of late in the evening to head back home but there is still a lot for me to do. It’s only a four hour drive from Jasper to our home in Wylie, I can almost make this drive in my sleep. The cracked windows allow the night air in, and after a weekend of working with your hands. It feels, like the proverbial breath of fresh air. It is a welcomed feeling on my skin as the highway noise drowns out the radio. I turn it up in case anyone calls. Now it’s just me, my thoughts and the Dodge Challenger, well, and the radio.
Jimmy Allen: Goggle, activate cam
Google Assistant: Now activating Cam, recording…..
“This week there was a lot of talk about demons, Autumn has hers to deal with. I made peace with mine a long time ago. While she continues to try and crawl out from under the shadow of hers. Well, I realized that there is no escaping the shadow that my father casts. I accepted that a long time ago as well. The real way to do it, is to cast a bigger shadow than those before you. She hasn’t figured that out yet, and I’m still figuring out how to do that.
The last thing she said was that she needed that victory. Not me, I didn’t need it, I wanted it. Wins and losses are important but there is more to it for me than that. Unlike many of the people here, I grew up in this business, Raven, I literally cut my first teeth on ring ropes. I’ve been around it, surrounded by it my entire life. I’m fairly certain that canvas runs thru my veins and not blood. Myself and my family, we owe this industry everything. It owes us nothing. That is the reason that I do my very best to act in a way that is respectful to not just the company I work for but the industry that helped to mold me.
It’s more than that though. Aside from the debt I feel I can never repay to this business. I can say this with no shame or regrets. I love every aspect of what we do. The grind of traveling from show to show. The work to get the ring rust off, and get back in shape, the appearances to sign autographs, the opportunities that come about because of what we do for a living. Yeah, I’m talking about commercials and movie deals. They all happen when the work is put in. It all happens for you when the business feels we’ve earned it. Yes, I talk about it like it’s a living person, because for me it is. This business is like a lover, some are good for you, they care for you and nurture you. Others are bad for you, they tear you down and leave you for dead.”
My train of thought is broken by the Mopar Uconnect
Uconnect: Incoming text message from Kris, would you like to listen to it now?
I press the play button on the HUD.
Uconnect: Jimmy, the new card is up, you are teaming with Panda something or other against Dorian and J...I mean Ataxia.
I press the reply button and begin recording the response.
Jimmy Allen: Thanks babe, we’ll talk about it when I get home. I’m on my way and about 2 hours out.
I press the “send” button on the HUD, and I continue to record via the assistant.
“That’s quite the segway to something else I’ve been wanting to talk about. Ataxia and I have known each other a number of years. His reaction to what was done to Mia Rayne in addition to the way I’ve been treated by their group as a whole. Well, let’s just say that it changed my perception about The Forsaken. When you are on the outside looking in, The Forsaken are perceived as this dark group of villains. Ataxia probably more so than the others. I’ve known that man behind the burlap. That person that I knew some 4 or 5 years ago was a much different version than the man who wears the mask today. I don’t know if it’s even the same man to be honest.
There are many things that still don’t add up for me, but time and patience will sort that out. The same can be said of my old friend Dorian. I guess you didn’t tell the rest of your new family that you were fluent in Japanese I take it? That’s okay big man, we all have our little secrets that really don’t matter. I was glad that The Forsaken enjoyed the gift, I’m sure that I made some brand spankin new enemies by doing that. You know me man, I’m like the honey badger….I don’t give a shit about that. This match is coming at a good time, I’m starting to hit my stride, I’m starting to feel like my old self again.
What does that mean for this tag team match? There are so many variables aren’t there? I mean the last time I was in a tag match, well, that was K. Carlton Davison III as my partner. That match ended with tag team gold around our wastes. That was a good night, but there are no titles on the line in this match. Hell, I don’t even know if my tag team partner will show up for it. This could rapidly turn into a two on one handicap match. I’m okay with it either way, I mean, it’s who I am. I’m used to having to work my ass off to defy the odds. It’s in my genetic makeup, it’s what I’ve done my entire life. I’ll just have to put my faith in Panda and that he shows up ready to fight. As long as he does that, then we’ll get along fine. I’ll have his back in this match and hopefully he has mine.Will the Glass Ceiling attack and interrupt our match? I damn sure hope so, if I know Ataxia and Dorian at all, they are ready for some fucking retribution.
The thing that matters most to me is the same here as it has been everywhere else. Shattering glass ceilings is what I do. What happened to Mia was one of the most heinous acts I’ve ever seen in this business. Trust me, I’ve committed a few myself. It wouldn’t take much for me to go there again. You can consider this my only warning, for the people who attacked that young woman and left her for dead. Should our paths cross, I’ll not only be the bane of your existence. Your existence will be ended.”
Buffalo, NY KeyBank Center
Thursday 12:30 PM
It’s a long flight from the Dallas Fort Worth International airport to Buffalo, but I arrived at the venue without incident. As usual I arrive in business attire, black suit, tie and shoes and check in with security. The guard at this venue, dressed professionally greets me with a smile. On his name plate it says Gary.
Gary: Good afternoon sir.
I return Gary’s smile with one of my own and present him with my i.d.
Jimmy Allen: And a good afternoon to you sir.
Gary checks my identification and then his notes on the tablet he has in front of him.
Gary: Ah, Mr. Allen there is a package waiting for you in the locker room.
I know my reaction to this news must look funny to him as he cracks a smile.
Gary: It says here that it’s a care package from home.
Still confused by this turn of events I simply nod, I know I must look like a fool but I cannot think of anyone who would send me anything at the venue.
Jimmy Allen: Thanks Gary, I appreciate it sir.
I never forget respect and kindness, I slip Gary a twenty dollar bill. He tries to refuse my offer so I then stuff it in his lapel pocket behind the pink handkerchief.
Jimmy Allen: Have a drink on me when you get off duty.
I say as I continue to my destination, navigating the venue is very straightforward and I arrive at the locker room. Propped up against the locker is a long package, the sending address is Jasper, Texas.
Jimmy Allen: A care package eh Pops?
I say to myself, obviously, no one else is here yet. I Open the package to find dad’s sledgehammer. The same one he used for over a decade, it was his trademark. The head of it badly burned from all of the specialty matches over the years. It still had razor wire wrapped around the head. A note falls from the package.
If you are going to stick your nose where it doesn’t belong and follow in my footsteps, you should have an equalizer. As you well know, no one fights fair, this should help to even the odds.
I smile as I hoist the sledgehammer up with the head of it now eye level.
“What better way to shatter a glass ceiling than a fifteen pound sledgehammer that belonged to “The One Man Wrecking Crew” Mac Bane.”