“Get your ass over here. What the hell is wrong with you? I said with wings. I wanted the ones with wings. What does this day? Does this say wings? No it does not you pathetic worthless piece of garbage. It says tabs. T-A-B-S. Tabs are not wings. Why do I keep you around? Jesus Christ. Go away I don't want to see you right now."
A fairly attractive woman, by trailer park standards, berates her beaten down significant other. It is clear from his body language this is typical for him. He slouches almost as if she has ripped out his actual spine, rather than a metaphorical spine. He walks the fifteen steps from the " bedroom” to the “living room” and plops down on the threadbare couch, in front of the CRT television set with metal hangers for the antenna, letting out a sigh of defeat letting you know he knows his life isn't going to get any better. He turns on the TV and for once good fortune smiles down on him as his favorite sport is in. Wrastlin.
“Do you like wraslin’? Do you think you have what it takes to be the next superstar? Why not come on down and give a try. This Saturday, one day only, come on down to Red’s gym and show off for the scouts what you've got. Now you maybe asking yourself self what is in it for me? You mean besides the fame and glory of fulfilling your boyhood dream? Yeah besides that. Well there is the $100 a match you are guaranteed with the possibility of bonuses based on attendance and performance. We have a few stars who can earn over $3,000 a show. Yes you heard me right. You can earn stripper money. “
“What’s that I hear about stripper money? There’s an opportunity for you to earn the money I was making before I decided I’m to good for that. That’s why you are with me. I was the top of the class at Eden’s Apple, to good for that place. I know money is tight, but I’m looking for a place worthy of talent, skills and beauty. So what do you have to do?”
“Well, they said on the TV that if I’m good enough I can make that much. I just have to go Saturday and try out. If I make it, $100 a per night to start. But since your cousin’s wedding is Saturday, I can’t try out. “
“Screw that fat hefer. She’ll understand this is more important. Let’s get you to the gym so you can make the cut. You’ve got the size and the strength. You are lacking personality, but we can work on that. You’ve got the physical tools, so that should get us the $100 per match. Don’t fuck this up for me.”
The woman goes back to the bedroom, mumbling something about Lewy V , coochie and channel. The man hangs his head, knowing this is going to be another chance for him to find success, that she will just push her way into, and turn rancid. Like she has done with his home, his car, and his bank account. A look of regret, disappointment, shame and defeat, passes over his face, as he slowly accepts what his life has become, and there is little that is going to be able to do about it.
Several days later, the man is in the space that would be classified as the living room, doing just a few stretches, preparing for his try out in a hour or so. He is dressed in a basic pair of jeans, and a plain green t-shirt.
“Tommy, are you ready?”
Out from the bedroom walks what was once the apple of his eye, before her true colors came to the forefront. By then it was too late, she had her hooks in him deep. She is some of her finest working clothes. Tommy looks disappointed and slightly shakes his head, hoping she would approach this opportunity with class. He should have known better, she has never shown class. When they first met, all he saw was the damsel in distress and he had the skill, ability and the need to help. He could finally fulfill his longing need to be needed. He could cement his place as a hero.
“I said are you ready?”
“Sorry dear, yes I am”
“That’s what you are wearing? Ok, it’s a little late to change but it is just a try out. Do you have in mind a character?
“No, I was just going to go in and show off physical talents. I’ll let the character come later”
“You need a personality. You need something to fall back on, if you fail the physical part. For some, that’s their way in, they have the personality to overcome other shortcomings. Honestly, I don’t know why I expected you to make it. You are of average strength, and have the personality of a doorknob. Well, we gave up my cousin’s wedding for this, so let’s make it happen. “
The ride to the try out is uneventful, typical drive, where Tommy driving and his partner complaining about anything and everything. From traffic, to how others drove, to songs on the radio and the internal temperature. Instead of allowing him music to focus his mind and to get his juices flowing, she turns on music that she could dance to, if they ever let her come back to Eden’s apple. That’s another exaggeration, that she concocted in her mind. He never figured out why she does that, making stories worse than they really were, each and every time she told them. But he couldn’t worry about that now, he had to get his mind right for his tryout.
His tryout went about as bad as he expected. He got tossed around, and beat every which way from Tuesday. Amanda, his significant other, was loud and obnoxious, verbally beating him down more than his opponents. Tommy, dejected, goes to the locker room to change and freshen up when the event is over. After a few moments, gathering his thoughts, reflecting on how this time, it was his own shortcomings that denied him this opportunity. Gathering himself, knowing the verbal assault that was coming. He should have known that was coming, regardless of the outcome, but he let his hope blind to that possibility. He gets into the car and sure enough, it starts.
“Well that was a waste of time. I can’t believe you did so terrible. Were you even trying? I mean, god damn, I could have done better. How the hell are we supposed to get the finer things in life if you keep pissing away opportunities? And to think, I gave up my cousin’s wedding, my favorite cousin, who was like a sister to me, so you could piss all over this chance. I should have known you would have failed. You always fail. That’s why we live in a crappy trailer, in a crappy part of town, with none of the finer things in life.”
He has learned, it’s just best to let her rant and get it out of her system. This way it is easier. If he says anything, it just feeds her rage. Instead of an hour of lashing, speaking out will make it last days. So he stays quiet, knowing for once, she is right. This was his fault. This was his failing, him and him alone. He had an opportunity and he let it slip right through his hands. Maybe he isn’t supposed to succeed, this is his lot in life. He needs to learn to accept this. Accept life for what it is and learn to love what he has. Finally, he arrives home, and hopes for a reprieve from her verbal beating, especially after the physical beating he just received.
“I am so disappointed and piss at you, that I don’t even want you around.”
“Where am I supposed to go?”
“I don’t know and I don’t care. Just be away from me. This was our chance to get out of this place, and you screwed the pooch. I should have listen to my mother, she knew you were headed nowhere. I just need some time.”
Before he can respond, she leaves the car and storms off into the house, leaving the car door open. He stares at the door, not being surprised that she would do that. He decides to shut the car off and go for a walk. He ends up at the edge of the great lake. He is able to find a bench, and is able to watch the sun, taking in the beauty that exists, as the golden sun, melts into the lake, leaving behind a kaleidoscope of pinks, oranges and blues. As the sun, sinks further and further below the horizon, a sense of calm fill him. Almost as if he is finally accepting of his life, and is choosing to be happy with it. He decides to trek back to his home, and the woman whom he shares it with. A woman, who despite her faults, has her fair share of positives as well. There were reasons why they were together, times in which they were happy. He needs to just accept the good that is in his life and be grateful for it.
As he walks in the front door, it starts again.
“Where the hell have you been? You took the car keys, so I’ve been stuck here with nothing to do and nothing to eat. How could you do that to me? You inconsiderate prick.”
“I just did what you asked. I gave you the space you wanted.”
“I didn’t mean for you to leave for hours. Where did you go? It doesn’t matter, since it’s Saturday, where is our pizza and wings?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t think to order them since I wasn’t here.”
“Well order it now. Here’s the phone. You know what to get. And I want cinnamon twists this week too. I don’t care if its not in the budget. After the way you treated me, I deserve them today.”
She slams the door in his face after throwing the phone at him. It hit him in the stomach, leaving him no other option but to catch it. After he gets his wind back, he looks at the phone trying to decide what to do. When he finally gets up the nerve, or loses it, depending on your point of view, he is about to hit a button to dail, when the phone rings.
Once he recovers from the shock of the coincidence of it ringing, he is able to answer the phone.
“This is him”
“This is Ted Dyson, we met earlier today at Red’s gym.”
“Right, of course Mr. Dyson, what can I do for you?”
“Simply put, you can say yes. But in order for you to do that, I must first ask you the question. Before we get there, there is a bit of background I need to get through.”
“Ok I guess”
Tommy sits on the porch steps and listens into Ted’s sales pitch
“Well, you were one of several participants as you know who showed up for the tryouts today. And as you know, those tryouts were hosted by IPWW, a small regional outfit. Most of the superstars you know have started out with promotions like this. Well, the IPWW has a bit of working relationship with Hostility. As such, there was a scout from Hostility, looking for a person to fill a character they have in mind. Between you and your wife, he felt you guys had what it takes to bring that character to life in the way they imagined. Is this something you guys would be interested in? Now, this involves more traveling, as Hostility is a global brand, while IPWW is just regional.”
“Well, I mean I guess will have to think about it, as it requires quite a commitment from me, leaving my current job and whatnot.”
“Of course, I realize that it would be a big risk on your part. If this is something you are remotely interested in, I would like you guys to come in and we can discuss the details a little more. I just wanted to know if you were open to the idea to even have the conversation.”
“I think that would be a good idea. There is some interest on our part to move forward with this.”
“Great. How about we meet up next Saturday at the diner down the street from Red’s. We will make it a lunch meeting, my treat of course.”
“Sounds good. See you then.”
Tommy ends the call and stares at the phone for a few minutes, not believing what just transpired. Zombielike, he walks back into the house.
“Where’s my goddamn pizza?”
“Um...I forgot to order it”
“What the hell? How could you forget to get me my dinner?”
“Well, I received a phone call just as I was about to order and I got a phone call.”
“What could have been so important that you forgot food?”
“Well, it was Mr. Dyson. He introduced himself to us at the tryout. We have a meeting with him this coming Saturday”
“What does he want? You were horrible? You just got your ass kicked up and down the gym. What could they want with you?”
“Well, there was a scout from Hostility who saw us, and has an idea that would they thought we would be perfect.”
“They thought we would be perfect? Perfect to do what, get laughed at?”
“No, they liked your personality and your attitude.”
“That’s great. I knew I had what it takes to get out of this place. But why do they want you? I’ve seen hogs at the fair wrastle better than you did.”
“Apparently the hardest part of the job is learning to take the bumps. I was able to show that today. I was able to take the beatings and not get hurt. They said a star can only be super if they are around.”
“Well holy shit. We are doing it. We are going to be famous.”
“Wait, I don’t know yet. I didn’t accept it yet.”
“WHAT!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Why the hell not you stupid fucking idiot? That is our chance to get out of this hell.”
“It involves a lot of travel, a lot of time on the road. Hostility isn’t some local outfit where we are always within a few hours drive of here. They are world wide. Accepting the job would mean leaving everything behind. Friends, family, these memories, everything that we have here and built. Everything that we know, would just be left behind, for the slim possibility that of success. We are more likely to end up worse off if this fails then we are now.”
“You are such a negative asshole. Leaving everything from here is a GOOD thing. There is nothing here for me. I am so much better than this place. I deserve the fame and fortune that will come our way. I have the looks and personality to be a real star. Hell, I was able to outshine that turd you laid enough to not only get us an opportunity, but an opportunity with a global brand. Hot shit. WAHOOO!!!!!!!! There is no way we are not taking this. I swear to God if you ruin this for me, I will make your life a living hell.”
Tommy looks as if he is about to say something smart back to her, but bites his tongue. He knows she is again on a roll and sees nothing but the positives for her.
“Yes dear. We meet on Saturday at the diner for lunch to go over the details then.”
The week pasts quickly, with their hopes high for a positive outcome of the meeting with Mr. Dyson. Amanda hasn’t been able to shut up about the fact that she was picked out for her acting and that the big promotion wanted her. He let her have her moment, but he was concerned. This was going to be much more than he thought when he had his tryout. This will have to be their full time jobs. It was going to be hard to keep her from jumping at this chance, regardless of the risk.
“Alright Tommy let’s get to our meeting so the lives we deserve can start”
“Please keep in mind, this is going to a big change for and it is a big risk. We are giving up everything here for this chance. Our odds of success are a little better than the lottery. We have some control, but it is going to be hard. It is going to take a lot of hard work. No one is going to hand it to us.”
“Quit with negativity already. The picked us. They saw something special that will give us success.”
The drive to the diner, was the longest 10 minutes of Tom’s life, as Amanda would not stop talking about the fame and riches that were coming their way. Ignoring the work that is going to be required, or the high probability of failure. Well they are good at surviving failure, having nothing. His life has created a great ability, the ability to find the negative in any situation. It was a real problem at times.
As they enter the diner, Mr. Dyson waves them over to the booth he was at.
“Welcome folks. Let’s order some lunch and then we will get down to business. My treat on this by the way”
Amanda’s eyes brighten up a bit. As she glances over the menu, settling on one of the more pricier dishes, a t-bone with salad and a potato. She of course, swaps the salad out for fried okra. Tom orders a simple burger with fries. Ted orders the country fried steak with vegetables. After some small talk while waiting for the food, it finally arrives, with the small talk continuing between Ted and Tom, while Amanda shovels her food into her mouth, not taking the opportunity to actually enjoy the flavors. Once the plates are taken away and a few cups of coffees are delivered Ted begins his sales pitch.
“Well folks, just to let you know of my role in all of this. I will help you with the initial contract. After that, you will be on your own to either find a different agent or do it yourself.”
“Why do you only do the initial? I would think the money would be better with the subsequent contracts? What’s in it for you?”
“Nothing. I do this out of the kindness of my heart. I had a cousin who joined this business, who ended up committing suicide because of the poor deal he had as his initial contract. He signed with a terrible agent, who took advantage of him, and an unscrupulous company who did the same. I do this so it doesn’t happen again to anyone. This allows people the opportunity to find an agent, get to know them first, get to know the company before signing anything else. It prevents someone taking advantage of new people, who can only see the dollar signs.”
Amanda scoffs at this poor man who is missing an opportunity to earn some serious cash. Tom responds, “That is very noble cause that you have taken up. I’m sorry for the loss of your cousin. We appreciate the help you are providing to us.”
“Thank you. So I have been speaking with Hostility on your behalf already, getting the ball rolling in case you guys decide this is the step for you.”
“Oh it is, there is nothing that is going to stop us” interjected Amanda.
“Well,” Ted responds, “This is a big change for you guys. This is also another reason I do this. To help temper expectations and to show the other side of the of the business. The less glamorous side, the stress, the extra hard work, the cheap motels with crappy beds. All the dark side of the industry that the day to day employees see, but you never see or hear about. The things that create the stories that make for good books. Days that make you question whether it is all worth it, whether still living check to check in hotels across the country are worth the stress. Whether the toll it takes on the body, the aches and pains, that are amplified by the travel and cheap accommodations.”
“We won’t be there for long, before our talent is recognized and we start rolling in the dough” Amanda respondes.
“The money doesn’t come until the second contract if that i the case. There is no incentive to offer you one until they have to. It’s not like you can strike. Remember, out of sight out of mind. That is why I help with this first contract. To make sure your careers get off to a good start.”
Mr. Dyson, continues his warnings and business discussions giving them all the details he can. Amanda is lost in her thoughts of fame and fortune. Tom listens intently thinking the disadvantages and challenges that life on the road isn’t going to be something he can’t handle. It won’t be much worse than his current situation, coming home sore from his construction job, to sleep in a crappy bed without air conditioning. At least the motels will have hot water, and air conditioners. He is sold on the life style. He is ready to give up what he has, for the unknown. The worst of the unknown isn’t much worse than what he currently has.
“Ok, let’s do this” Tom finally says. “With one condition.”
“I would like you to keep a portion of the money we earn.”
“Wait - What?” Amanda, in shock asks.
“I would like him to keep a small percentage of what we make and set it aside for us, to be used to get home. So no matter what happens, we have a way to get out and get home.”
“That seems reasonable.” Ted responds.
“Fine, we can do that. It won’t be much either way. But there is that negativity I’ve come to know. So when can we start?”
“Give me a few weeks, and you’ll be all set. You will join Hostility on the road somewhere, so make sure your bags are packed. Oh, and another thing Tom. They want you to have a trainer to work on your offense. Other than that, you guys will be all set. You should be hearing from the creative staff regarding the rolls they have for you. “
“Thank you Mr. Dyson. I appreciate your assistance in getting this started for us.”
“My pleasure. I wish you guys the best of luck. You’ll need it as this is a tough industry.”
The two new potential members of Hostility go home, sharing a nice evening for once. The hope of new possibilities, the slight chance of superstardom and riches. Any differences between the two of them, any problems they had with each other, gone while they celebrate. The spark that drove them together, that ignited the flames of passion they once held for each other, reignited. For once, they remembered why they were in the relationship to begin with.
As the night winds down, one of the better ones they’ve had in a while, their thoughts turn to the hopes of the future that this chance will bring them. For her, the fame and fortune she believes she deserves. For him, finally, the life he always wanted, a loving family, a fulfilling career and to be wanted for who he is rather than, just being the only one available.
Then suddenly, they are both woken up by the ringing of their phone. Her back to her normal grumpy pissed off mood, him back to his subservient self.
“Answer the damn phone already, I’m trying to sleep.”
“Hello, I would like to speak to Mr. Marrow. This is…..”
The scene opens up again, with the the Warden standing over her pet Benji. She is kneeling down, petting her dog on the head.
Warden: Well well, my pet. We have made quite the impression here already. I knew management needed us, but I didn’t realize the status quo was so scared of us. Not only do we open the show, we go against a former world champion. What a debut for us. What an opportunity. My pet, are you ready to face Raven?
Benji: Woof. grr grr woof woof arf arf
Warden: Yes, soon my pet, I will take your leash off, and let you run wild. You get to go hunting, and it’s fitting you get to chase down a Raven. Bird hunting is one of your favorite past times. Do you remember when you would run in the field chasing those crazy birds?
Benji: barq bark
Warden: That was a good time. But it might be more appropriate to bring up our first job together. Do you remember Los Angeles? How we were tasked with getting rid of all of those pesky birds. The sea gulls that were making a mess of park. Those good for nothing birds, that just shit everywhere, and the noise. Oh god, do you remember the squaking. Constantly, day and night. Night and day. You couldn’t hear the freeway. But after, what was it, a month, we had that park quiet again. So quiet that you could hear the gun shots from the gang wars. It had gotten so quiet that you could hear the prostitutes asking if anyone whats a good time.
Benji: grr grr arf arf
Warden: I know, they were filthy, disgusting animals. That city was full of disgusting animals. It was like it breeds them. Everything that I have ever seen from there has been nothing more than filthy disgusting animals. Well, Ms. Raven. We took care of a park full of rats with rings. They posed no problem for us. So taking care a single raven, a slightly larger rat with wings, will be no problem. Doesn’t matter if it was a former world champion. There is a reason why it is opening the show. What a lot of people consider the weakest spot on the card. So Benji, come Evolution, you will get to cage your first bird here. You always had so much fun playing with the birds, until it was time to snap their necks. So quote the raven….never again.
Benji: Woof Woof Woof bark bark bark bark.