Do you ever dream?
Do you ever see things the way you wish you could see them?
Do you ever close your eyes tight and see a loving family, a successful career and a future bright with a true destiny?
I know I do. I have the most vivid dreams sometimes. Mostly they are wonderful; visions of what I want and what I hold most dear. Other times they are sad, memories I want to go away or feelings manifested into something tangible inside.
Strange though... When I look at you, Ataxia, I don’t know what you must dream about.
Tell me what happens when you dream Ataxia?
What happens when you close your eyes and try to see your future?
Do you ever see your world the way the people like me try to with hope and promise… Love and joy…. Passion, purpose and understanding?
It’s much bleaker isn’t it?
You only see your world in shades of blackness. You don’t allow your world to have their joy because you can’t have yours. You have ruined your world for the sake of not allowing them to feel something you can’t. We all have our dark areas but you somehow think your darkness is worse than ours.
Do you think you are the only one with pain Ataxia?
Do you think you are the only one who has had their world shattered by death, anguish and hate?
I don’t want you to dream anymore.
The camera opens up with a shot of the dark night in a dirty and grimy street. We pan forward until we are outside of a little, rundown bar on the outskirts of Sacramento. The dimming sign identifies it as “The Rusty Nail” and we go through the front door to take a peek inside. The bar itself is a poorly kempt, desolate place where the rift-raft of the city-limits come to drown their sorrows in cheaply made liquors. Strands of the song “Black Velvet” come from the jukebox as we pan to the far-side of the bar where a lone figure sits sipping at a Chivas Regal Scotch. We pull around to the side and see that it is none-other-than “The Blast” Jack Michaels. He stands out like a sore thumb in the bar but nobody bothers him. His face is tired; an empty shell of what we have been used to seeing. A three day old beard hangs on his cheeks and his cream suit hangs lifelessly off his body. He motions to the bartender who pours him another two-fingers worth of Scotch as a man walks up and orders a beer from the bar. Jack stares at him for a second before bursting out…
“WHO ARE YOU CALLING A LOSER, FATBOY? YOU THINK EVERY WOMAN SAYS YES THE FIRST TIME?!?”
“W-who me? I didn’t say anything man…”
The man quickly grabs his beer and bolts away as the bartender comes back up to Jack. The bartender is a short stocky man dressed in a two sizes tight polo shirt but one who seems to have seen a lot in his time.
“Look Mr… Michaels was it? I know you said that you are having a rough time but you can’t have these outbursts here…”
Jack sits there for a moment either uncomprehending or simply not caring about what was said.
“You know Chuck…”
“My name’s Steve.”
“Who cares? Anyways, my life has become a lot like this glass of Scotch. On the outside, it looks like a beacon of hope. A beacon that beckons you to try new things and to allow it to take control of everything by simply taking a drink. It is full of wonder and beauty my friend... The only problem is… Once you take the faithful drink…”
Jack downs the drink and makes a slight face.
“Is that once it is gone… You have nothing left but a few lacy drops of self-pity. You understand what I am saying Frank?”
“Uh… Again, the name is Steve and I don’t understand a bit.”
Jack rolls his eyes.
“Of course not, you're just another ball-jockey touting the last legal drug in the United States, what the hell do you know?”
The bartender seems a little agitated by that comment but seeing the size Jack is, lets it slide. Jack motions for another drink and takes a hit off it. He grimaces again but nods his head.
“I love her you know. I mean I love Kyra so much and I know she loves me too but she just can’t commit. Well, not until I win the CWF World Title apparently. I would give her the world but man… Combine that with the President of Carnage putting a bounty on my head to whoever bumps me out of the tournament and every other piece of crap going on in my life… It’s a lot to handle you know?”
The bartender just stares blankly.
“I don’t know what the hell you are talking about but… Well... Look… Life can’t be all that bad. I mean look at your life, sure you are down in the dumps, but now you have a new chance at things. I mean… If life is like that Scotch... Yeah, it is empty when you drink it all, but you can always fill it back up! I don’t know about this Kyra girl or what kind of work you do but keep pushing forward. It will fill back up.
The bartender refills Jack’s glass to illustrate his point. Jack turns his glazed eyes up towards the bartender and lets out a belch. The bartender looks at Jack with mild contempt.
“Oh come on… You don’t need to be an assh…
Jack suddenly cranks up his neck as the bartender gulps.
“Err... I have other customers to attend to.”
Jack grumbles to himself as the bartender wanders off down the bar. Jack looks into his drink and sighs out loud.
“What am I doing here…?”
“That’s a damn good question.”
Squinting in the light, Jack sees himself. It is a younger version of himself, "The Blast" Jack Michaels from his heyday in the late 90s and early 2000s. He has burst through the bar doors and walked up to Jack with purpose. Unlike the today version of Jack, he is wearing a t-shirt over jeans and looks more like he is ready for a fight then anything else. Jack swivels in his bar stool and narrows his eyes.
“What is this? Some kind of joke?”
“No joke old man... Other than what I am asking you. Is this what you are going to do these days? Drink away your problems?”
The older Jack sits in stunned silence as the younger Jack furrows his brow.
“Well? You going to answer me or are you so far blitzed that your capacity for speech has gone too? What a sad sight… I never thought I would get older and then just let the world crush me under it’s foot.”
The older Jack takes another drink and looks down sadly.
“Yeah Jack... I let you down... I'm sorry.”
The younger Jack laughs sarcastically.
"’Sorry?’ ‘SORRY???’ You sorry piece of trash... DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOU HAVE DONE!?!?!?”
The older Jack looks back up at the younger Jack and frowns deeply, obviously confused from this outburst.
The younger Jack holds up a hand.
“Shut your god damn mouth and listen closely... You came into CWF expecting to be the top dog and that nobody was going to have problems with it? You are almost 52 years old Jack, your time is done in a lot of peoples’ eyes even if they are dead wrong. Furthermore, you asked Kyra to marry you when you know damn well she has had the world’s rug pulled out from under her by the other dipshits she has had in her life. Can you really blame her for asking you to win the world title here? She wants you to succeed but also damn well knows that it’s no small task. Now you are in here drowning your sorrows like some 5th street bum instead of gearing up to rip Ataxia apart. Christ old man... The guy couldn't find his dick with two hands and a flashlight and the way you are drinking he is going to destroy what is left of your legacy. Tell me honestly... What the hell is wrong with you? How can you of let this happen???
The older Jack stands up slowly, stammering a bit.
“I-I-I got distracted... I mean everything is going so well and I just figured it would of all continued to fall into place. It’s the the pressure and the everything else. I needed to lose myself and this seems like the best way to…”
“‘Lose yourself?’ You do realize that situation you are in yeah? You are the most talented son of a bitch in this tournament and yet you are here acting like a god damn fool. The fact is you have degraded yourself in the eyes of everyone who cares about you by resorting to… To this mess. You degraded yourself, you degraded the Mean Machine School of Wrestling and most importantly you degraded me. Your own god damn legacy. So here is what you are going to do old man... You're going to pack your bags and you are going to go home. You have no right to step into the ring again as far as I am concerned.”
The older Jack looks confused and shocked as he holds up his hands.
“But I have to continue in this tournament. I have to win the CWF World Title. I have to…”
The younger Jack laughs again.
“Like you have a chance… At the rate you are going, that dickless wonder Ataxia is twice the wrestler you are and three times the man. You are damn lucky you are getting a chance to run just like the BITCH YOU ARE.”
The older Jack suddenly goes from looking sullen to looking pissed.
“Wha... What did you say?”
“You heard me punk…”
The older Jack suddenly reaches forward and grabs the younger Jack by the throat before driving him into the wall.
“NOBODY CALLS ME A BITCH!!!”
The older Jack attempts to hit the younger Jack with a right hand but YJ gets a knee up and pushes OJ back against a pool table. The bar patrons start to scatter as the two square off. OJ blindly rushes YJ again who simply sidesteps and sends OJ crashing into the pool table.)
“You are a JOKE old man. You are lucky you got this far in the tournament. You think you can stop Ataxia when you can’t even touch me? Hell, I... OOOF!!!”
OJ blasts (no pun intended) YJ with a lightning quick blow to his gut. YJ doubles over as OJ kicks YJ square in the face! YJ reels back from the shot, obviously hurt from the blow. He rushes forward and tackles YJ up against the wall. OJ releases YJ and looks around for something to hit him with but YJ retaliates with a right hand across OJ’s skull. He grabs him and hits a quick suplex on the bar floor and stands over the hurt Carnage champion.
“Come on old man... Is this all you got??? HUH??? What the hell did you train to do huh? What did we spend years working on... YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS. Get up and show me what you got!”
YJ kicks OJ in the ribs who tumbles on the ground and tries to regain his composure. YJ just laughs as OJ scrambles to pull himself up on some chairs. He rushes forward again to kick but this time OJ manages to pull one on him. He slams a fist into YJ’s gut, knocking the air clean out of him. He backs up and gives OJ an opportunity to get to his feet, OJ slam him back into the wall with a shoulder block. OJ quickly continues to be on the offensive as he ducks a wild blow by YJ and hooks him in a half-nelson. He slams his face first into the wall and then wrestles him hard to the ground. OJ starts to let his anger and confusion out as YJ struggles to get out of the hold.
“Why are you doing this???”
"*Huff... Huff…* Because you need to regain some damn purpose... You are not some drunk who takes a few curveballs to heart... But damn it man... You need to get angry again... I was great once… I was the best who ever walked in the sport. But now? YOU ARE NOTHING!!!”
YJ slams his head back and caves in OJ’s nose with a vicious head butt. OJ immediately releases the hold and grabs his face as his eyes begin to water and blood begins to run. YJ bum rushes OJ and tackles him through the door which lands the two out in the street. The two brawl as OJ mounts YJ.
“‘The Blast’ my ass... Come on old man… Give it up. YOU ARE HORSE SHIT!”
OJ flips YJ over and gets into the full mount position. YJ tries to cover up as OJ begins to unload right hand after right hand into YJ’s head.
“I AM GOING TO KILL YOU!!! I AM JACK MICHAELS GOD DAMN IT!!!”
OJ continues to hammer away as Jack rolls out from under the blows. He manages to get up to his feet and puts up a hand.
OJ lets his fists drop and he looks at YJ in confusion. The air of hostility is high but the look of sincerity on YJ’s face is enough to realize that he isn't playing a trick.
“What the hell is this really about Jack?”
YJ smiles, a small bit of blood forming from a cut on his head.
“This is a way to get you to realize that a few road bumps are not the end of the world Jack. I am always going to be a part of who you are and I know how you get when you are depressed. You are not an alcoholic. You are not a loser. You don't need to drown your sorrows in Scotch after Scotch. You just have to realize that as pressure filled as the world is right now… You still have the one part of you that you can rely on. When you were me, do you remember what we used to do?”
“We got... Brutal?”
YJ’s smile takes on a sadistic persona as he continues.
“I got mean... I got vicious... I got deadly. I hated when I felt like the world was too much so instead I took out my aggression on whoever stepped into the ring with me next. Now you have a match against Ataxia and the fact is I don't want you think you are just going to fight him... Oh no... I want you to be like the Jack Michaels that just attempted to rip my throat out... I want you to beat him... I want you to bash him... I want you to cripple him and I want you to end him. The folks in Carnage need to see it, the folks here in CWF need to see it and you need to FEEL it. You need to show the world that you are the single best competitor in the CWF... And frankly... The only way to do that is to make your next opponent wish he was never born.”
OJ nods and wipes away a drop of sweat and blood from his brow.
“Okay Jack... I see what you are saying… I need to not allow the shallowness of a few bits of pressure play counteraction to what I set to achieve. The world pushing me down this path isn't a setback... It is a rebirth... And I plan on showing everyone that it is not easy to keep a man like me down.”
The YJ smiles.
“Smart man... And Ataxia?”
“He thinks he knows hat pain and suffering is about? He thinks he understands what being bad and evil entails? He doesn't know ANYTHING. He is going to find out what true destruction is. I am going to bulldoze through him and then continue on... I am going to break his damn neck with the Last Blast and if it doesn't snap the first time I'll do it again... And again... AND AGAIN.”
OJ cracks his knuckles and YJ nods his head.
“The desire of a warrior... And the drive of a champion.”
“You think so?”
“I KNOW SO. You don't seem to realize the big picture these days. I know you know you have talent but I don't think you realize how much potential to be the future of this business you have. Wrestling is in a steady decline and you sir... You may be the way back out. When you go into your match against Ataxia you remember what you told the members of Paragon. You make an example out of him for all of the millions of people who watch you around the world. Don't try to be a hero... Don't try to be a villain... Just be who you are and be as good as you possibly can.”
“Absolutely... And when I am done with him… I will keep plowing forward for Kyra, for Carnage and for the rest of the world.”
“With attitude like that... You remind me of another great wrestler from back in the day.”
“Who is that?”
The two share a laugh and YJ puts an arm around OJ’s shoulders.
“All right... Enough of the horseplay. Lets get cleaned up and get you back to the gym. You got a match to get ready for.”
“Can I finish my drink first?”
YJ stops and slaps OJ in the back of the head.
“What the hell did I just tell you???”
The older Jack suddenly opens his eyes and we realize that the whole thing was a bit of a fever dream as he sat at the bar. A small smile comes over his face as he reaches into his wallet and produces a few bucks.
“I am only joking.”
He slaps the money on the bar and stumbles towards the door and the scene fades to black…
It’s funny how the most unlikely of advice can come from within.
There are times in this life when we need a kick in the ass and a punch in the gut to remember what it is we fight for. It may come from an unlikely place but the fact remains that the most important person to any of us is ourselves. We will fight for our self, live for our self and die for our self. Don’t push yourself aside… Embrace who you are and remember who you were…
It could ultimately save who you are.