You must be ashamed of yourself. Forty six years old and you're out there trying to survive, only to fail over and over again.
What happened to the good old days - when Harley was able to stare the competition in the eyes and make good on his promises?
Broken promises aren't worth dick.
They're laughing at you. You don't see it because your vision is blurry by blood, or sweat, or ignorance. Time is passing you by, as it should. There's a younger generation that's playing hopscotch on the roads that which you paved.
Don't be selfish.
You had your time in the sun. And eventually, that sun doesn't want to apply all of its attention on the faded existence. When you're old, you're old - and it doesn't hurt one bit to admit to this.
So why won't you?
Loki had her way with you, as expected - and you think that anything is going to change moving forward? What's the expectation now, Harley? What standards have you set in your mind that we have to eventually make clear to you that you're not going to reach?
It’s exhausting being the conscience of a man that just doesn’t know how to let go - even more exhausting when it’s clear that you know that it’s time. The world has no time for antiquated, wrinkled-finger quinquagenarians roaming around with tired bones and somber eyes.
You have the money - and you lived through the fame.
So it’s time to go home.
To live the life that you deserve at this point - a life that doesn’t involve heating pads and ice baths - a world that doesn’t involve three-hundred days of beating your body up, never having time for family, and the up and down swings of success and failure.
You’re ashamed of yourself, this I know - but that doesn’t have have to be the case.
Hang it up, old man. The buzzer’s going off.
[Harley sits up - sweat dripping off of his head. At first, he doesn’t know where he is. He searches around for something that looks familiar, until he sees a half-empty bottle of Jack Daniels sitting on a weathered Parsons end-table, surrounded by cigarette butts. This was the proud property of Mac. In fact, this was Mac’s house. Harley had been bunking in Mac’s extra bedroom for the last couple of weeks, specifically because it was directly above his gym and allowed for convenient access.]
[Every day, Harley would wake up, eat breakfast, and march down to the gym for his next lesson. Today, it was hours past the point of matching up with his normal routine. And he didn’t care. He didn’t want to exercise today. His bones hurt, his mind was foggy, and he was entirely over the objective of success. It became much more a chore rather than anything else, and Harley could only think of when things started to seem old and complacency began to settle in years ago in first-generation CWF. He ended up in jail.]
[He couldn’t do that again. No way in Hell. Harley lays turns toward the window, draws the shade, and lays back down. That’s when the door pops open, with an arms-folded Mac in the middle of the doorway.]
“The hell is this? We taking a vacation day?”
[Harley looks up at Mac, rolls his eyes, and then covers his head with his blanket.]
“If you’re looking for pity, you ain’t getting it from me. I’ve got a headache and the runs - and you know what? My pudding ass has been up since 4:45 this morning. We’ve got things to do.”
[Harley laughs.] “I don’t have jack shit to do, old timer. I’ve paid my dues. If I want to lounge around, I can do it.”
“Oh, not on my watch, you can’t. This is my house, my Goddamn gym, and I’m not going to stand around and let some lucid piece of shit play the lazy game in my home. The last person that did that was my son, and I kicked him to the curb. Lessons are there to be learned.”
[Harley quickly sits up in the bed.] “You know what? I get the whole hard-ass gimmick, Mac, but it doesn’t sit well with me. I got people laughing at me - fuckin’ news articles saying that I’m gassed out. This isn’t time for some legend to come out of the woods - this is time for the fresh blood to make an impact. I’m not fresh anymore, Mac. I’m taking 2000 miligrams of Ibuprofen nearly every night, and having heart palpitations from the ice baths. This isn’t who I am anymore.”
[Mac walks into the bedroom lazily, grabbing ahold of the bottle of Jack Daniels. He lays off the gas of his aggression and opts to take a seat at the other side of the room.] “You know…” [Mac takes a swig of whiskey.] “When I was in my forties, I gave up too. I let a few injuries convince me that it was time to give in to age. And then came the drugs, the alcohol - this shit - and before I knew it, I was knocking 70’s door down. And that’s when the regrets started to emerge through the cracks.”
“Regrets…” [Harley says under his breath, as he stares down at the bedroom floor. Mac flashes Harley a serious look, with eyebrows raised.]
“You’re damn right, regrets. We aren’t talking about, I wish I went to prom or I wish I had fucked that girl in the back of my truck when I had the chance. This is the type of regret that makes you question life. I had all of the capability to get my ass back into that wrestling ring and find my ground of success again. Sure, it would have came with pain - but so what? Now? Now, I can’t. Physically, it’s not going to happen again - I can’t let myself and the Doctors refuse.
[Harley continues to look down.] “You sound like me.”
[The old man shrugs his shoulders.] “If you were dying, you smart ass, you probably would.”
[Harley looks up at Mac - a shocked expression on his face.] “Dying?”
“I’ve been dying, Harley. Cancer. Terminal blah blah bullshit. They wanted to turn me into a microwave and I told them to go fuck themselves.”
“You---:” [Harley tried to process this.] “So, wait, you refused chemotherapy?”
[Mac nods his head.]
“Thoroughly. It’s not for me,”
“What’s that, Mac? Living?”
“I’ve lived long enough, Harley. To watch the guy that will likely be my final understudy give up because of the rigors, devious mechanics, and chaos that is our sport is a tragedy. Nobody can save you from this pitfall but yourself - not even God himself.”
[Harley gets to his feet and wanders over to the window that overlooks Brownstone Avenue in Brooklyn. He lets out a deep breath.”
“Why didn’t you tell me, man?”
“Tell you what?”
“That you had cancer.”
“Because we haven’t reached the fucking campfire story level of friendship yet, Harley. What difference does it make whether you knew or not anyways? Death is inevitable, but you want to be able to go out content with the decisions that you’ve made. The angels, man - they’ll have the last laugh in the end. If God feels like you need to be punished, he’ll send an angel to come take care of that business. You want God to be… happy, Harley. Satisfied with the legacy that you’ve built out of his creation. You’re missing the point to all of this though.”
[Harley turns toward Mac.] “Oh yeah? What’s that?”
[Mac takes another swig of the whiskey and slams it down on the table.] “You’re not dead yet, you fucking moron. And you don’t have cancer. Your lease on life is still pre-existing - not set to expire - so it’s time that you take advantage of that before you don’t have the time to take advantage of it anymore.” So what that you couldn’t defeat Jarvis. So fucking what that you could overcome that Loki freak - BIG DEAL. Life isn’t just filled with wins - it’s filled just as much with losses - because that’s what the balance of existence is all about. My life? FULLY balanced with goodness and bullshit. Ever think about how boring life would be without the bullshit?”
[There’s a slight pause before Harley speaks up.] “...No?”
“BORING AS DOGSHIT ON CONSTRUCTION PAPER.”
“So what do you want me to do then, Mac?”
“I want you---” [Mac starts to hack up a lung - once again bending over to hold onto his knees and brace himself.] “...I want you to look at the opposition - and every single loss - as a lesson to be learned - and once you’ve learned that lesson, you’ll be that much better. You’ve loss a lot in life, haven’t you?”
[Harley thinks back to everything that’s happened. Ex-wife, jaded family, millions of dollars slipped away, a career bagging groceries at Walmart before he knows it if he keeps walking down this petty road. He sits back down and rests his elbows against his knees.]
“More than I care to share right now.”
“Exactly.” [Mac snaps back.] “You were made for this business - and nobody is going to tell you different. Not that jackass Jarvis King and his henchmen of dildos - not Loki and her circus - and most especially not some fake, scripture-saturated sacrifice of a good man that we all call Azrael. And if they beat you? Then they beat you. This is part of the swings of what we do, kid - and you know that better than any of them do. But then you sit here, and you tell me that you’re old? That you’re fucking tired? You’re nearly 30 years my junior and all I am hearing is how willing you are to be labeled as the one that ran away.”
“I don’t want to run away.” [Harley speaks up, staring Mac right in the eyes.]
[Mac shrugs his shoulders.] “So don’t, Harley. Persevere. The world is short on heroes like you - short on true men of valor like you. Today is not the time for the obnoxious, childish fool - today is the time for The Accelerator.”
“Really?” [Harley questions.]
“Fuck yes. It’s time to get out of the shadows of this room, back into the gym, and prepare yourself for what’s to come. Clearly, there’s unfinished business.”
“And his masquerade of queens, kid. Don’t forget about all of those pieces of shit that have decided to sign a life contract to hang off of his nuts.”
“Yeah…” [Harley says, thinking back to being attacked by Jarvis and his cronies - watching The Ringmaster get the dogshit kicked out of him - having to suck it up and watch Jace Valentine get destroyed because he was far too drained to even contemplate saving the day. This wasn’t Harley - this wasn’t him at all - this was his conscience giving up on him because of his actions.]
[Mac pushes the door that leads out of the bedroom and points.] “Out there? That’s where the battlefield is, kid. You can’t walk away from that battlefield - not when the weakened are expecting you to smash that glass ceiling. They’re out of control - don’t you see that? And the world? The world of wrestling, that is, needs someone to step up to the anarchy and abolish it once and for all before it turns into some viral infection.]
“I can do that.” [Harley starts nodding his head as he can feel the blood begin to coarse through his body.]
“It’s not a matter of whether you can, kid.” [Mac says, shaking his head. He walks out of the room with the door swaying closed behind him. That is until he stops the door with his cane. He turns to look back at Harley again.”
“It comes down to whether you will. The can and can not doesn’t hold a fucking candle to reality, Harley, and in your existence, you can attest. All that truthfully matters in the grand scheme of things, my boy, is the will and will not. So what are you going to be today?”
Yeah, what will it be?
You want to keep up this morose, manic depressive ride at the final stretch of your career? Or do you want to make something out of all of this?
It’s your decision. And only yours.
It’s easy to take the train out of Dodge - and even easier to ignore the tail that’s between your legs - but your ignorance won’t stay. It has no residence in that mindspace of yours.
You aren’t a selfish man, Harley.
You are the man - but your conscience can’t support that if your mind doesn’t invest the time and energy it takes to believe in it.
So you get up out of that bed - you wake up - and you live as if today is the last chance to breathe. You work not only for the people that love you, but for yourself. You follow the footsteps of Mac - because he’s been where you are several times over - and you learn.
The lessons that he offers - you will take - on the road that leads to the vengeance you deserve. Azrael stands before you - but it’s wall similar to the thousands that you’ve effortlessly climbed over before. And it was effortless because there was something to reach for at the end of the road.
That glass fucking ceiling.
You want every bit of him? Or them, don’t you?
So go out and get them - before it’s too late.
[Harley stares at the half-open door, where Mac was once standing. He lets out a deep breath, cracks his neck and then grabs for the handle. He signs subconsciously.]
“Getting too old for this shit.”
[Harley reveals a half-grin, before exiting the room, en route to the place where everything begins again - and again - and again - Mac’s dusty, dilapidated, beautiful gym.]