Title: Everything Begins Again.
Featuring: Harley Hodge
Date: 9.1.18
Location: Rehabilitation Center.
Show: Wrestle Fest IV Wrestle Fest IV



[We zoom into a brick sign that says, Harmony and Hearts Rehabilitation. Behind the sign, a twelve-story building sits. From a distance, a doctor pushes an empty wheelchair through the sliding entrance doors. And then a voice.] 

“Being a wrestler sucks sometimes. I know - what a weird preface. I don’t think I know a single person in this business that would disagree though. And, you know, as you get older? As you get older, things get a little bit more interesting. If you want your body to perform, you have to push harder. At the same time, you can’t push too hard - because then your body gives you the big middle finger and pushes as hard as it can on the brakes. There’s a different, uh - you know, a different kind of resting period to it all as well. I remember being in the gym for hours - substituting sleep for iron - and feeling like a wild horse. Time isn’t your friend though, man. And time will tell the internal ticker when it’s had enough of your careless ways. And when that wind of change occurs, you change.” 

[We appear to be inside of the rehabilitation center now. And there’s Harley, sitting on a bench, with sweat dripping from the tips of his blonde hair, while he grunts through each curl. There’s others around him - mostly younger - but they’re distracted by the big man of the hour.] 

“The looks they give you, man. You wonder what they mean. Hey, look at that old fuck trying to relinquish dreams of youth - you can’t help but feel like they’re heckling you on the inside. I’ve been reassured by many at the center though. They adore me. They feel more comfortable being out there in the gym, recalibrating tired bones, and rediscovering themselves after horrific injuries or other various instances that landed them here. An inspiration. I just… I just don’t know about that anymore.” 

[Fade. Smash open to a different place - an office, with a couch, a standing grandfather clock, windows that bring in splashes of summer sun. Harley rests on the couch, his legs crossed and his hands resting behind his head. This has been Harley’s life for several months now. After reinjuring his back, his neck, and nosediving into a ground zero that he had once recovered from, Harley made the decision to essentially disappear. He cut ties from everything - let the stream of money go away, held onto what he had - and hit the reboot button. Today, he’s half the man that he once was - but this is going to change. It’s all a matter of keeping his mind where his feet are; and this was square one of that state of mind.] 

[The media has been anxious to talk to Harley - especially after what transpired on Evolution 29. He declined several offers at first, somewhat bounded by his own reclusive redirection, until he received a call from CWF’s very own Tara Robinson. With all of the love that he has for CWF - the fact that they are honoring him with a Hall of Fame induction - there was just no way that Harley was going to close the door on Tara. It was clear that people wanted to know what’s going on - what’s going to happen - and if there was anybody that Harley was willing to reveal that to, it would be Tara Robinson.] 

[So there she sat, directly in front of Harley, with a notepad and a beautiful smile on her face.] 

“Mr. Harley Hodge.” 

“Ms. Tara Robinson.” 

[They both smile.] 

“Firstly, I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to sit down with you. I know that it’s been a long ride to recovery for you, but it looks like that recovery is paying off.” 

[Harley lifts up his head, with eyebrows raised, and looks at his body.] 

“Physically?” 

“Well…” Tara takes a second to think this through. “In every way.” 

[Harley sighs.] “Hesitation.” 

“What?” 

“Oh, it's nothing. You just hesitated. So, you weren’t being exactly truthful. Nevertheless, I’m actually fine with that. Truth of the matter is this, I’m getting old. I mean, old as dogshit left on a porch that Old Man River sauteed with his piss. Sometimes, half-truths are better than the full, bottom-dollar deal, you get my drift?” 

[Tara grins while nodding her head.] “Clearly your sense of humor hasn’t faded with the rehabilitation. In fact, it sounds like it’s even more vibrant than ever before. Let’s cut to the chase though, Harley. CWF has missed you, and they’re ready for you to come back. I can’t compare the whistling that was going off in my brain from the reaction of you coming out on Evolution 29. How did that reaction make you feel?”

[One of the associates of the rehabilitation center arrives with a cup of tea. Harley sits up, gives the guy a high five, and then takes a quick sip.] 

“I feel good, you know? I’m not going to say that I feel like a million bucks, but it feels like I have a new lease on life. The aches are starting to go away - the breaks have faded off into the sunset - and I’m ready to do what I do best; wrestle.” 

“So the whole Nerezza thing…” 

[Harley laughs, holding his hands up.] 

“These are the things you do when you’re under a contract that you can’t get out of without severe consequences. I had to leave - point blank. When you sign your name on a dotted line, this type of sudden movement isn’t easy to understand. I get it. Whatever. So, I had a meeting with the powers that be to figure out a way to settle the swelling that my manic swerves had caused, and the conclusion we came up with was Nerezza. Nerezza wasn’t me however; it was a body double - and the writers just lost their fucking minds with the whole thing. It was kind of - I don’t know, kind of an unorthodox chain of events, but I left it in their hands.” 

[Tara is shocked by this news - completely unaware of any of this.] 

“So, you weren’t present for anything Nerezza-related?” 

[Harley sighed, took a sip of his tea, and then looked down at his feet.] 

“I was in a way that I don’t wish to air publicly, Tara. Strung out, a mess, completely out of control of my life - and lifestyle. It was no good. No good for me, no good for the fans, no good for television. CWF didn’t deserve the shit that I was putting myself through, so I had to cut the umbilical cord and run through the desert for a while, metaphorically speaking. Everything in regards to Nerezza was in the hands of CWF Creative - at the time, I was just a fucking lost cause.” 

[Tara nods her head and then points her pen toward Harley.] 

“You know what though?” 

[Harley looks around.] “What do I know? I feel threatened.” 

[Tara laughs.]

“It was all for the greater good. You gave yourself a chance to breathe.” 

[Harley doesn’t respond immediately. Instead, he thinks that over.] “To breath. Hm. Yeah, to breath. I kind of like that.” 

“So…” [Tara continues.] “Flash forward to Evolution 29. The Ringmaster is getting destroyed by The Glass Ceiling, Duce, and eventually Jarvis King. And then….” 

Evenflow.” [Harley takes another sip of his tea.] “Fuckin’ Pearl Jam. Mr. Vedder brought me back to life - balanced, at peace, and ready to do some damage. You know what I’m tired of? I’m tired of these Goddamn alliances. These clans? Back in the day - we’re talking the mid-90’s in the independent circuit, nobody needed an alliance. We were all ‘One Men Warriors’ - self-sufficient even when our backs were against the wall. We didn’t need this circle jerk mentality bullshit; where every one of the dudes from the shower party up because their own dick isn’t big enough to stand up to the opposition. I come from a place, Tara, where if you choose to pick a fight, it becomes your responsibility. No one else’s. And sorry for the ‘dick’ part.” 

[Tara waves Harley off.] 

“You’re fired up, Harley. No need to apologize. I won’t be the only person to say this, I can assure you, but your presence that night was electrifying. It also felt right on so many levels - like the original man of CWF had finally made his way back home.” 

[Harley lets out a humble laugh and gets to his feet. He walks over to one of the vertical windows, with his tea in his hand, and looks outside.] 

“You’re buttering me up. Leave that for when the cameras go off.” 

[Tara rolls her eyes, as she follows Harley.]

“In all seriousness though, Tara. I do feel like I’m back home. And you know what? I’m going to show the world that at WrestleFest. The Ringmaster is out of commision - and who knows for how long, but I was honored to have had a nice conversation with him. He’s shipwrecked, man - quite relative to where I was these last few months - and though I barely know the man, I’ve been watching him from a distance in this rehabilitation center. 

He’s one of the good guys that just hasn’t had a fair shake, and then this shit happens to him? He gets ganged up by three dirty douche-asses? Not on my watch, man. Not on my watch am I going to sit and let that happen. And you know what? There was no plan for me to come out and address the crowd that night. There was no plan for me to run out and attack anyone, or do anything shocking. I was there, essentially as a fan, trying to reconnect with that world. Fan or not - attempting to reconnect or not - I’m not going to sit in the backstage and hold my nuts while hoodlums try to ravage one of the good guys.” 

[Harley puts his cup of tea on the windowsill and turns around toward Tara. There’s a different expression on Harley now - one that speaks motivation, frustration, anxiousness.] 

“I’m one of the good guys, you know? I’m there to win, to succeed, but most importantly? I’m there to defend CWF from filth. And you know what? Kids like Jarvis? That Glass Ceiling fool? Duce? They’re filth, man. Non-biodegradable garbage left at the summit of the landfill for everyone to smell. You don’t do that shit - you don’t walk out and attack someone that’s simply trying to make it like everyone else and then justify it as an example. 

I don’t have time for that petty, elementary, backyard, blacktop bullshit. If you needed to discuss something with Fitzgerald, then you could have easily done it behind the scenes - man to man - and finished it off with a handshake, like real men do.” 

[Tara tries to get a word in.] 

“I can sense the anger, Harley, and the drive----” 

[But he cuts her off.] 

“It isn’t anger, Tara. It’s fucking disgust. Excuse my language, but that’s what it is. A spade is a spade, man, you know? I’ve dealt with this kind of petty macho-man ruthlessness before. I’m sure you can recall at least one relative run-in.” 

[Tara doesn’t hesitate.] 

“Ripper.”

[Harley nods his head, smiling at first, and then swinging his back-hand directly into his tea-cup, sending it smashing against the wall. Tara jumps back a little bit. Harley looks at the cup, and tucks his lips into his mouth.] 

“Well, that’ll be tacked onto the hospital bill. Fuck me.” 

[Tara tries not to laugh. Harley looks back up at her and shrugs his shoulders.] 

“Work in progress, right? Anyway, Ripper. Yes. That sorry sack of sour shit. Jarvis King, Duce, The glass guy, Ripper - these are the punks of the world. They’re the types of people you’d never want to play cards with, because they’ll always have that ace up their sleeve. They’ll always have the edge that cheats the system, that beats the game, but in the most unpatriotic way possible. 

Ripper broke into my damn house and beat the piss out of me - did I reward him? Of course not. Instead, I met him in the ring - like a man does - and ruined his little party once and for all. You get Ringmaster in that ring with Jarvis and I guarantee you everything that’s still somewhat sparkly about this career of mine, the Circus King brings that Internet Icon to his knees.  He can’t do that now though, can he?” 

[Tara doesn’t say a word, opting to let the man have his moment. Harley lets out a deep breath through his nose and takes a seat in one of the rocking chairs at the opposite side of the office. He crouches over, planting his elbows against his knees, and clasps his hands together.] 

“The Ringmaster deserves retribution. He’s in no way able to do that - but I am. And I will. And when I win that title? It’ll be dedicated to him, because it should be around his waist. He’s a good guy, Tara, you know what I mean? There aren’t many of us left - but we’re the real men of this great society we call sports entertainment. We live to defend - to stand as the protagonist at all times - and be ready no matter the circumstances. I wasn’t well for a long time, and who knows if that shit comes back to haunt me. Presently? I’m back to where I belong - and I’m coming home with vengeance in my mind. This type of scum has far too long found themselves as the authority in the locker room - it’s overtaking the show like some sort of new world order, and I’m not going to sit here and simply let that fact digest. 

I’m going to debunk it instead. 

I’m going to turn all that is what is into an erased memory so that no one has to remember this tyranny. They can simply clutch onto what’s to come - the future. Because let me tell you something, Tara, it looks bright. And you know why it looks so bright?” 

“Why?” [Tara asks intently.] 

[Silence, as Harley smiles. He closes his eyes and breathes in through his nose again.] 

“Because I hold the light.” 

[Tara smiles, and extends her hand out towards Harley.] 

“I think I speak for many when I say this - welcome back Harley. One more day and then you’re done here, right?” 

[Harley nods his head and places his hands on his hips.] 

“Hard to wrap the ole’ mind around that, really. It’s been a journey, man. But yeah - yes, final night at the rehab joint. I got a lot waiting for me on the other side - like, putting a hole through Jarvis’ face, maybe finding some romance…” 

“Huh.” [Tara reacts, tilting her head.] “Sex and violence.” 

[Harley starts to pick up the shards of his shattered tea cup.] “I mean, they don’t have to be in that order exactly - but if you’d like to get things started now….” 

[Tara gasps.] “Wait, what?” 

“Huh?” [Harley plays the shocked act as well.] “What the hell are you talking about?” 

“What the hell are you talking about?” 

“Listen lady, slow your roll.” [He holds up his hands.] “Let’s do lunch first.” 

[Tara giggles and shakes her head in amazement.] “Thank you for your time, Harley.” 

[Harley stops what he’s doing, stands up, and smiles, before reaching his hand out for that shake.] 

“The pleasure was all mine, Tara. See you behind the scenes.” 

[Tara raises her eyebrows.] 

“You certainly will - and this time, take care of yourself.” 

[Tara turns around and exits the office, leaving Harley to resume picking up his mess. He lets out a sigh as he bends over and starts to whistle.] 

“You still got it, soldier.” 

[And the whistling carries us on into the fade.] 



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