“Y’know having a child is a big responsibility? You can't take that type'a thing for granted.” Pops said to me as I drove through the streets of Memphis.
“I already kno’..” I responded nonchalantly.
“Boy you don't hear me! I was seventeen when I had you, shit changed my life.”
“Did it really? Well maybe I need a lil change in my life.”
“You need something, cause your ass been tripping lately!”
I ignored him as I kept driving, I felt where he was coming from though. But I loved the direction my life was going in, hell he had his family, it was time for me to have mines.
“All I'm saying is that the time isn't right for you. Your career is just starting to take off with CWF, the last thing you need weighing you down is a kid.”
“It's not like I can take it back Pops.. Besides it's y’birthday, let's just enjoy tha day.”
It was indeed Pops’ birthday, he was turning the ripe old age of forty. I could tell it was kinda getting to him, all he's ever done is wrestle, and not too many men continued on at a high level after reaching that age.
“So what’re y’gonna do now?” Pops questioned.
That was the ultimate question..
“I dunno Pops, but I'ma make tha best of it. Too late t'be panickin’ now, I'll get tha shit handled. But like I was askin’, it's y’day, what y’wanna do?”
“I haven't been to the school in a while, especially since the official name was added to the building.”
“Cool Pops, dat’s where I was headed anyway.”
It had been a while since I've been there as well. I've been in living in Memphis roughly eight months, give or take, and the thought hadn't crossed my mind. I had to give Pops credit, he had done a lot before the age of forty. He was a Hall of Famer, multi-time World Champion, owned a radio show, including a strong school. It wasn't much but it was something for him to fall back on whenever he fully retired.
Derez Deshon’s song Hardaway banged through my speakers as I cruised down Elvis Presley Blvd. Other than the tunes playing, the car ride had become fairly quiet, both of us lost in our thoughts. If anyone were to find any similarities between us, that would definitely be one. The silence was finally broken as Pops sprung to life, as if a lightbulb went off above his head.
“What if I started my own promotion!?”
“My own wrestling promotion! I mean Kris did it and he's got money falling out his ass!”
“I thought y’said it was need never bout money in dis bizness..”
“Heh.. It's not, but I had a vision of something that could change wrestling as a whole.”
“I feel ya Pops, how would y'get it jumped off?”
“I already have the school, and since it's been moved to the rec center, it's more than enough room to do some shows. If our Jones legacy is gonna continue on, then we need to make moves towards the future.”
“So y'doin dis f'tha baby? How y’even kno’ they gonna be into wrestling?”
“It's in our blood..”
“I guess ole man,” I said jokingly. “So what are y'gonna do bout getting a rosta’ togetha?”
“I got the students..”
“Mane! Ain't nobody gonna pay money t'see rooks wrestle!”
“My students are more than capable to hold their own. Take you for example, you've been doing fairly well since you decided to come back to the states.”
I nod my head in approval.
“Speaking of which, when are you gonna get another World title shot, you more than deserve it.”
“Eh.. It's not always bout World titles mane, y’taught me dat. Whetha’ I win belts or not, folks are gonna rememba’ tha name Duce Jones!”
“I understand that, but don't you want at least a chance to know if you're better than MJ?”
“I wouldn't mind facin’ her one on one, she's probably tha only person, besides Cali, who I wanna see if I can beat em. No extra bodies, no extra curricular activity. None’a dat! But if we eva do get’a chance t'go at it again. One thang f’certain their be a clear cut winna’.”
“I hear ya boy.”
Pops responded laughing to himself as we pulled up to the aptly named ‘Sunnie November Recreational Center’, coined after my younger sisters. Pops was real big on family, and made sure everyone knew it. Or at least Uncle Kris know, but that was a story for a different day.
Exiting my vehicle, we both headed for the door to the building continuing our conversation.
“So a wrestlin’ promotion huh? Really tryna prove a point?” I questioned, knowing the history of the rivalry between him and unc.
“In hindsight, it's not even about him no more, it's more of a point to prove to myself.”
Darkness was all our eyes could, the building pitch black from the lights being turned off. Pops soon yelling out.
“FUCK’S GOING ON ROUND HERE!? I KNOW I PAID THE FUCKING LIGHT BILL!”
We both were soon blinded by the burst of illumination as the lights sprang to life.
The both of us were in total shock, the inside of the building was decked out in decorations and banners all celebrating Pops’ special day. I look around the spacious room, that was shift filled to capacity with family and friends. Looking over to me, Pops questioned.
“You have something to do with this?”
Remember when I said we had a select few things in common? Yea, we both hated surprises.
“Fuck no, these muthafuckas bout sent my heart through my back..”
“I didn't think so.. Which one of you fucks responsible!” Pops exclaimed, upset and cheerful at the same time.
“Father,” a voice said from the back of the crowd. “It was I!”
We both scanned the crowd, trying to single out the voice. When the owner finally revealed himself, we both had to pick our jaws up off the floor.
Awkward would be an understatement, I knew why he was here, but I wanted to talk to him in private. I should’a known better though.
Darkness surrounds me, I stand there confident wearing a burlap sack, similar to the one Ataxia wears. The only thing keeping the room lit is a single candle as my heavy breathing is audible through the sack. Only silence fills the room, that is until the sound of two glass bottles can be heard clanking together at a steady pace.
COME OUT AND PLLLLAAAAAYYYYY”
Faint laughter can be heard, the flame glowing off the sack.
“I must've hit a nerve’a somethin’, I mean I had too… Last week tha Forsaken lucked up on a ‘W’. So I figured y'all muthafuckas would be somewhere jacking each othas dicks.
I guess Taxi has some unfinished bizness wit tha kid.. I’m cool wit dat.. But befo’ I get t'ya Taxi. It's one’a ya boys I wanna get at first.”
I soon bring the candle up closer to my masked face.
“I don't know if y'all notice, but tha flame doesn't cast a shadow.”
I bring the candle down.
“Why? Why? Why?
Dat's tha question right? Why did Freddie and me turn our backs on everythang? Why did we attack Mia?/Why did Jones and Styles clique up wit Jace and Jarvis? Why we kick Jace out?
Just why, why, why!”
“It's gettin’ t’tha point where why doesn't even matta’ anymo’. Shout out ta Az fa why.
I mean I could stand here and tell ya reason fa reason why we did what we did. But it would fall on deaf ears.. Ain't dat right Shadow?
I mean, I find it fairly amusin’ dat y’called Tha Glass Ceiling the new Oreos when I was tha first t’lay dat burden at y'all doorstep. T'me it seems like blatant delusions.
Y’see Tax, y'send your threats of takin’ tha titles, bannin’ us from competing f’tha belts. Just all types of bullshit, and y'really thank any of dat shit would matta'.”
A silhouette of my head shaking from side to side in shame can be made out.
“It don't.. Cause, no matta’ what anybody may say or thank bout TGC. They know for a fact dat dis company would be nothin’ wit out us. But y’know dat already, don't ya Tax? Jarvis, Freddie and me are tha reason why those folks pay they money every week. They wanna see what Tha Glass Ceiling is gonna do, which move we’re gonna make next.
We put those assess in tha seats, cause nobody wants to see Tha Forsaken plastered on their screens every week. Seriously Taxi! No one wants to see dat shit. Check dis out, how bout fulfilled those threats and promises. Strip us of the gold, have us fight no name scrubs every opening match of every Evo from here on out.
I guarantee ya one thang, those ratings gon drop.. Those seats dat's filled now, would f'sho be empty in due time. Y'wanna kno' why, cause y’gave ya main event at the beginnin’ of tha show.”
“Dat's just bad bizness, and y'kno' it, dat’s why those threats mean nothing. Cause those folks pay t'see Tha Glass Ceiling. Which is also why y’made dis match.
C'mon Tax.. Admit it.. Every time tha of us step between those ropes, instant magic happens. I see tha twinkle in y'fucked up lil eyes.. I feel dat energy, don't you? But as many times we've stood across dat ring from each otha’, it was neva one on one. But now it is, and it's No DQ! I kno’ fa a fact y’had a hard on makin’ dis match, cause I sho as fuck got one my damn self.
Or maybe your still upset bout the whole Mia thang.. Yeaaahhhh….. Dat might be it…. Whatevs… Sorry…. Not Sorry…
Semi Colon, Right Parenthesis…
Y’know I actually wrote dat down on paper f'tha first time? Neva knew it was a winking smiley face. Hahahaha!!!! Dat Mia sho was clever..
One mo thang, don't kno' why I wore tha sack, it held absolutely no significance t'anythang.. Besides felt like I've done it befo’.. Anywho….”
I continue on rambling to myself, soon taking the sack off and picking the candle back up. With one final glance at the camera.
"The concession stands are now selling those cheap hotel room round soap disks that I have personally blessed for $100’s a bar….AND SINNERS….I suggest you buy one, and use it, because if you think your God wants you in his heaven smelling like a 3am New York City uber ride you got another thing coming."