Sunday, November 5th, 2018
I look down at my feet, ashamed of myself as the looming figure stands in front of me with his arms wrapped in front of his chest.
“So that is all you have to say for yourself!? Do you have any idea what could have happened out there? That’s it Franklin, YOU’RE FIRED!”
Deeply sighing out of resignation, I turn away and begin walking towards my tent.
“That’s right, get your stuff and go. You’re lucky that this hasn’t gotten out to the public or we would be ruined!”
Saturday, November 4th, 2018
Although I had been a volunteer scout leader for the Union County Boy Scouts for several weeks now, this would be my first full weekend on the job. There was a training process to have to go through, an especially rigorous one for a job that only pays in the smiles of the children that you teach. But as I find myself and two other scout leaders readying our squad to go out into the great outdoors for a three day, two night trip, the feeling deep inside me is indescribable.
All the years standing on stage in front of thousands of people telling my jokes? None of that compares to this.
My run in Championship Wrestling Federation where although I may have lost many more matches than I won at the end of the day, I had several memorable feuds with the likes of Jarvis King and Elijah that helped vault their careers to where they are today. Guess how that measured up to the way I felt when I look down at the thirteen boys that we have prepared for weeks for this day? It simply doesn’t.
This is my moment.
“Well Franklin, you ready to get on the road?”
Sam asks candidly as he places his right hand on my shoulder, patting it gently.
“All the kids have been waiting for this moment for a long time, our first big trip of the season.”
“I couldn’t be any more ready.”
Hours pass after we pile into the several trucks and jeeps owned by the scout leaders, and now we all sit at the camp assembled by our own scouts two hands. The wind begins to pick up just enough to make the flames of the fire swirl in the night, lighting the children’s eyes as they continue telling ghost stories to one another.
“Okay children, I think we have had just about enough fun for tonight. I’m sure you’re all exhausted after gathering up branches and shrubbery to build this shelter. We have a lot of exciting activities planned for tomorrow morning, so the earlier we get to bed; the earlier we can start in the morning.”
The elder leader Chris says as he leans forward and grabs the cast iron pot full of water, ready to douse the flames for the night.
I vocalize as I raise my hands in the air, my black hooded sweatshirt waving as I get to my feet.
“I think I’m going to sit out by the fire for a little while longer, if that’s alright with you.”
“Well Franklin, usually as a Boy Scout Squad we all hit the hay as a unit. But if there is something troubling you, you know you can always come to me...right?”
Contemplating his words for a couple seconds, I nod and take a deep breath.
“No, nothing’s wrong. I just really love to sit by the fire at night time, it’s like a lose myself in the flames, you know? There’s something magical about a fire, the beauty of it is unlike anything else.”
By now the boys and the rest of the leaders have made their way to the shelter, leaving just Chris and myself. He looks me in the eye, first showing no emotion before the slightest of smiles grazes his lips.
“Okay, Franklin. I will give you tonight out here, but the one thing I ask of you is to please make sure the fire is completely put out before you go to sleep for the night. These kids may seem all well and innocent so far, but without the right guidance? They can be little devils. And devils make hell, and that’s the last thing we need here on this trip. You got me?”
I look up at Chris, faking a smile as I nod back at him.
“I got you. See you in the morning.”
Chris once again pats me on the back before walking behind me through the dark, heading back towards his spot in the shelter. I turn my attention back to the flames in front of me, licking shades of red, blue and yellow. As I sit on the large rocks made into homemade chairs around the fire, it is almost as if the large fire in front of me turns to images of my past. I can see thousands of fans, or so I thought they were, booing me as I told one of the funniest jokes I’ve ever written. I can see them getting out of their seats. I can see them throwing fucking soda cups on stage aiming for my head. And I can see myself in the wrestling ring, making an even bigger mockery of myself. I can see myself joining CWF, and losing to Jarvis King as he made his ascent up the roster.
I can see myself falling into nothingness yet again, for years on end not being called by a single person. The flames flick into the air, wind pulling them in every direction. As every emotion courses through my body like blood through my veins, it is like the flame in front of me causes the long lost flame inside me to ignite. The flame ignites.
The flame has engulfed me.
I am on...fire?
Shooting up my pant leg like a dragon through the sky, the fire quickly ignites the denim in my jeans. The wind caused the fire to reach an unmanageable height, raging it’s way past the stones we had set up to contain it and right onto my clothing. As the realisation finally sets in, I let out a blood curdling scream and sprint at full speed away from the camp. My mind blanks, the only thing I can think of is getting away from the flame. But the flame follows me, rolling up my clothing almost instantaneously. Finally I drop, rolling as I would teach the scouts to do, but the darkness of the night only revealed me rolling down a steep hill after it was far too late. After several feet of rolling I smack dab into a tree, knocking myself out.
Sunday, November 5th, 2018
I turn back around one last time, tears in my eyes as I see the shelter burned to the ground.
Shaking my head, I enter the driver’s side of my Ford truck and turn on the engine. I knew that I had fucked up, but I had no knowledge just how much until I saw the shelter burned to the ground. Seven out of thirteen kids had injuries of some kind from the accident, fortunately none of them were severe.
“Why the hell can’t I ever do ANYTHING RIGHT!?”
I slam my right hand into my wheel, punching it with all my might. Frustration courses through me as I turn on the radio, the song immediately being interrupted by my system telling me an incoming call is coming in. The Caller I.D. surprises me as “CWF” comes through in a digital voice. For a second I think about letting it go right to voicemail, I mean what would that company want with me? I’m sure they just want to bring me in for another one night event, make me look like a complete fucking joke again, right? Well…here’s nothing.
I listen on the other end as Jon Stewart, co CWF commissioner gives me his entire speal on the other end of the phone. After driving for about thirty seconds I pull the truck over to listen to the rest of his speech, the pit of my stomach churning as I hear the words he speaks. They want me back.
“So you want me to open your Northern Crown pay per view event, against and as of now unstoppable giant, seven foot beast in Austin Bishop?”
Stewart continued on the other line, using his quirkiness and abnormal ways to try to inspire me to feel good about this match. I have to admit that no matter how hard I tried to ignore his words, it worked.
Stewart thanked me on the other line as I re-started the engine of my truck. I looked towards the mirror, confidence surging through my veins at this point. I’ve got this, I tell myself.
This is my moment.
Those motherfuckers think I’m a joke? I’m about to make that seven foot bitch my punchline.