I'm going to be honest, I haven't been myself lately. I've been dealing with a multitude of things that have really seen me act out of character.
For starters, I had been in one of the biggest slumps of my career. Tasting defeat more times than I actually care to speak about.
One slip up from Byson and I'm on my back staring at lights. Ryan once again having my number. My rival Mia got the better of me at Golden Intentions and that's just the things I've been going through in CWF. Don't get me started on the downward spiral that I seemed to be going through at the moment.
Then on top of everything, my children were born hours after the pay per view. So the term 'restless' is truly an understatement.
I missed the birth by the way.. Incase anyone was wondering.
But truthfully speaking, I've probably been out of character more times than I should. You know… do things that are uncharacteristic of Duce.
I haven't been getting sleep lately though. Actually, I hadn't been to sleep since I lost the World title. Studying film whenever I could, taking bookings elsewhere to bring extra income, while still maintaining a gig at Lowe's.
I'm so thankful for vacation days.
Then Sierra giving birth has really kept me on my toes. Like, I've never understood the concept of taking care of one newborn and here I was with two. Two lives in which I was responsible for. For the rest of their lives, they had to depend on me.
Out of all people…
Duce 'Muthafuckin' Jones..
I'm thankful that Pops was able to be around for some of my childhood and even stepping up when Mom passed away. But now it was my time to step up and take responsibility for my actions. Besides, everything was so simple when they were in the womb.. but now that they are out..
Shit just got real.
Constant crying.. wailing if you will, disturbed any chance I dreamed of getting sleep. So coffee and weed had been my own personal, keep me up. I called it my break-fast..
It wasn't enough though to keep me on my toes during the night while Sierra slept. While one twin slept peacefully, the other was up and louder than a freight train barreling down on a small town. Then, when I was finally able to get one down.. the other would wake up and start their own shitstorm..
Changing pampers, bottles, rocking, singing… hell, even going for late night rides didn't do the trick. Literal nightmare.. I probably could attribute my last defeat to the kids because my mind was definitely not in the fight.
I can talk tough but my heart is slowly fading from the business. I remember nights waking up from bad dreams and Pops being off at some random arena while I was stuck in some hotel having to console myself. I just can't see myself doing that to my kids.
Leaving them at home with Sierra while I go fight to collect a check. The only time they would get to see me was on a television screen because of a hectic travel schedule. Or whenever I was able to get some time off of the road to spend time with the family.
But this business.. this business was in my blood. It's all my family had ever known.. They made those sacrifices to make sure the rest of the tribe was okay.
If I were to be serious though. What type of financial stability could I get out of Lowe's? I mean sure, the benefits were good but was it somewhere I could see myself being for the rest of my life?
Whoever came up with Lowe's made himself a muthafuckin' brand.. got himself to the point where he no longer has to slave for anyone else. He 'pays' people to slave for him.. meantime, he's probably somewhere on a rooftop with his feet kicked up sipping mimosas.
Land of the free… okay…
I just can't see myself as that guy who sits by and does his job while some unknown prick eats the fruits of my labor.
Fuck that shit mane..
It was time for Duce Jones to become a brand.. although I wasn't cool with people working under me. Nature of the world I guess. It was time for me to 'go into business for myself'..
The right way of course.. But why would I care about a brand right? For it to get ran through the mud with bullshit fabrications and half truths? Or for people to simply make fun of the name instead of respecting the resume?
I get it though.. nature of the business.. I'm still learning the ropes of how things work in America..
Japan really spoiled me. Or maybe it was the language barrier.. who knows.
I was once a man of respect and honor.. now.. I'm just some cat who seems to piss in everyone Cheerios.. half the time, I don't even understand it. But they also say that people hate the truth.
Always want to be oblivious to the things that are right in their face. Only for the facade that they've created in their own mind.
I'm guilty of it.. but I can admit that.. I'm nowhere near perfect but I also understand my faults. I know for a fact that I'm not better than everyone but facts are facts at the end of the day.
Known Duce Jones fact.. he never makes sense about the things that go on in his mind because my thoughts are always scattered.
It's like a mailroom at crunch time when everything has to be sorted out in a matter of seconds.
Maybe it's because, I legit haven't been getting any sleep. So any type of coherent statement from me would be like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
Not likely to happen but still pretty cool to see.. even if you know it's complete bullshit.
Maybe it's because, after Byson was set free, a lot of the others really didn't take too kindly to it. So it's a constant struggle to keep shit together.
Then the dreams whenever I am able to go to sleep.. you know what, I'll leave that for another day.. Just thinking about them gives me chills but i still maintain.
Don't have a choice.. especially now.. two feeble lives depended on me keeping my shit together. These last couple of weeks along have made me question how Pops did it.
But he did it..
I was finally able to get some rest.. both of my kids sleep. Sierra on standby just in case either one awoken. Meanwhile, I took refuge on our back patio, trying my best to catch up on at least a wink of shut eye. For as many days as I had been woke, this sleep was about to be epic. Just me, the fresh air, this comfortable as fuck recliner and…
"Oooo! SAY CAAAN YOOOUUUU SEEEEEE! BY THE DAWN'S EARLYYY LIIIIIIGGGHHHHTTT!"
"WHAT SO PROOOUDDLY WE HAAAAILLLEDDD! AT THE TWILIGHT'S LAST GLLEAAMMM-ING!"
This can't be happening..
"WHO'S BRIGHT STRIPES AND BRIGHT STAAAAARRRRSSSS"
"THROUGH THE PERILOUS FIIIGGHHHHTTT!"
"O'er THE RAAAMMMPANTS WE WATCHEDDDDD!!!"
"WERE SO GALLANTLY STRREEAAMMINNNGG!
"SHUT THE FUCK UP! NOBODY WANNA HEAR DAT SHIT!"
The horribly scratchy female voice becomes silent.
I don't know what the fuck her problem is but it's 2:30 in the fucking afternoon. People are trying to sleep..
"AND THE ROOCCCCKKKETTSSSS' RED GLAAAAARRRRREEE! THE BOMBS BURSTINNNGGG IN AIIIRRRR! GAVE PROOOFFFF..
"BITCH! IF YOU DON'T SHUT THA FUCK UP! I'M GONNA PULL YO THROAT THROUGH YO ASS!"
I couldn't really pinpoint where the singing was coming from but it needed to cease immediately. Nothing against the song, I just needed sleep and she was butchering it anyway. Sierra catches my attention as she steps out of the patio door.
"Damn bae.. who are you yelling at? I can hear you all the way at the front of the house."
"Some bitch out here, yellin' tha Star Spangled Banna'.. she kno' damn well ain't no call fo' dat shit."
"It is a free country bae.."
She rolls her eyes, knowing where this conversation is about to go. But with a deep breath, she responds.
"Baby.. we've had this talk countless times.. Just because you feel strongly about something doesn't make it true."
"What about facts? Blatant facts dat are right there in yo' muthafuckin' face?"
"First off.. who is you cussing?
My head falls with shame.
"My bad baby.."
"Second off, you have to realize that you have to be a bigger person and accept the good with the bad. We all gotta coexist on this planet together."
"All I'm sayin' is.. what kinda crazy bitch steps outside an' scream.. not sang but scream a song dat loud?"
"One who loves her country."
My eyes stare daggers through her beautiful face. But I accept defeat… live to fight another day I guess.
"I guess I'm just stressed out bout work.."
"Shiddd… Allum.. Si.. I'm really not in tha best'a headspaces right now.. missin' tha kids bein' born.. tha slump I've been on.. it's all just becomin' too much, y'kno'?"
"This was what you wanted though, right?"
"What? T'be in a slump?"
"No.. be a professional wrestler?"
"I mean.. yea.. of course but only fo' tha love'a tha sport.. I rememba' those days when tha thrill'a competition excited me. Then one day, it was like a switch had clicked an' dat excitement was gone.. Dat thrill was no longa there."
"Why not though.. haven't you've gotten to face some of your childhood heroes?"
"Dat's tha thang… they were only heroes meant fo' my childhood. Take fo' example Jarvis King.. Someone who I've respected fo' a long time in dis business. Even befo' I stepped foot in CWF.."
"What about Jarvis?"
I take a deep sigh.
"I haven't spoken ta bruh since Golden Intentions.. apparently he felt some type'a way bout how I interacted wit Mia afta' that Rumble.."
"Why does he have a problem with that?"
"Oh I unda'stand where he comin' from cuz dat's some shit uncharacteristic'a me.."
"So you're above showing respect to a better opponent?"
"Its not dat.. Mia keeps my name on her tongue like a freshly rolled blunt an' here I am.. shakin' her hand an' wishin' her luck.."
"What's wrong with that?"
"I could give a fuck less if she beats Ryan.. what good is dat shit gonna do me? Me.. showin' respect ta a person who runs my name though tha mud cuz'a one word..
Jarvis was right.. I am a fraud.. we had a code an' I broke dat shit. We honor tha code'a real respect an' not just bowin' down. But how can I explain to em dat I wasn't myself dat night?"
Sierra cocked her head sideways at me.
"What do you mean… not yourself?"
I take a deep breath, ready to drop a bombshell on her.
"Well… when I was younga'.. I was diagnosed wit D.I.D.. which in a nutshell means I suffer from multiple personalities.."
Her mouth drops, her eyes shifting up and down my body.
"So it's like a bunch of people living inside of there?"
She points to my head. I nod in agreement.
"Yeah.. it's fucked up but I deal wit it.. but tha stress I've been goin' through lately must've triggered it. Durin' tha rumble I blacked out.. I was so focused on winnin' dat I was outta my body.."
"Why haven't you seeked help?"
"So I can become some doped up guinea pig? I'm good.. marijuana is tha only thang I need ta help me cope."
"A.J. you can't be serious! You need to go talk to someone about that? I can't believe you hid this from me for so long. Are my babies able to have this condition?"
"Maybe… Pops passed it down t'me.."
She scoffs. But I quickly intervene.
"Si.. I got it all unda' control.. It ain't nothin' but pent up frustration dat I need ta release."
"And let me guess.. You're going to release all that frustration on your friend, Jarvis?"
"He lost his respect fo' me.. maybe I can beat it back in em.."
"You sound crazy."
"Did I not just tell you my condition?"
She rolls her brown eyes and folds her arms across her chest.
"Real shit baby.. sometimes.. in dis business, ya gotta do thangs dat ya not cool wit. Accept all consequences fo' ya actions. I lost Jarvis' respect an' now I gotta earn it back."
I nod in approval of the statement.
"I'm cool wit dat.. Ya see cuz I've realized somethin' bout dis business.. everyone is cool wit ya until they not cool wit ya. An' dat shit can come from outta left field. Especially when ya squared up one-on-one wit somebody.. I mean.. if ya speak ya mind about anythang on what ya believe ta be true.. dat's when tha true colors begin t'show..
It's cool though.. I still gotta earn my stripes.. put in dat work where respect will be placed on my name instead'a tha venom dat's constantly spewed on it. An' if dat means kickin' Jarvis' ass ta prove a point. So be it.. cuz I've come to see tha bigga picture.."
"Yea and what's that?"
"Doesn't matta' bout tha shit I've accomplished.. People outside'a CWF barely kno' who Duce Jones is. But I'm slowly turnin' heads an' soon it's gonna be a name dat nobody can deny. An' it won't be because I've won multiple titles.. nah.. it'll be because I've proven single handedly ta each an' every muthafucka dat eva talked ill about Duce Jones.. dat I'm not dat same kid who walked through them doors two years ago. Ya don't automatically get my respect cause'a ya name. Cause in my eyes.. they're only dat. A muthafuckin' name.. none'a em put any type'a fear in my heart! An' I will go ta war wit whoeva' they decide ta put in front'a me. Cause just like I gotta earn their respect, they've gotten earn mines. An' if dat means puttin' my knee through Jarvis' face so he, along wit everybody else can get tha picture..
Respect goes a long muthafuckin' way.. so maybe dat's why I shook Mia's hand at tha end'a tha rumble. Cause at tha end'a tha night she beat me.. am I happy? Fuck no but I can respect it and just maybe fo' dat moment in time, she earned it. Just like win, lose or draw I'd shake his hand if he were tha betta' man. I've fought plenty'a friends befo', we butted heads, fought an' got ova' dat shit. I believe Jarvis an' me can settle dis shit like men, shake hands an' be cool.. if not.. fuck it.."
I throw hands up and shrug my shoulders. I soon take a seat back on the recliner, Sierra standing overhead, looking down on me.
"But if I plan on doin' any'a dat shit. I need ta get some rest.. don't need my body goin' on autopilot again.."
I force a laugh, she's not impressed.
"I don't know what you've done with A.J. but you need to bring him back.. I don't like the way you're talking right now. I mean baby are you really that upset about your reputation?"
"It's like I am but I'm not.. folks are gonna run they mouth all day, everyday.. it's human nature.. especially when they feel they're right about something. There truth is there truth if ya will."
"Baby.. I mean this in the most loving way possible.. but you sound delusional."
I chuckle because she's right.. I felt like a meth head who had gone on a binge and lost track of the days. Nothing really made sense anymore but fuck it..
"I might be.. but I got two kids dat I gotta look out fo' an' I'm gonna protect they future by all means.. how I do dat? I do it by doin' what got my name hot in tha first place.. an' dat's beatin' one ass at a time.. friend or foe.. Fo' those two."
I point towards the house, implying the children.
"I'll go ta war wit anyone.."
Sierra seems upset but she understands where I'm coming from. I know deep down she would do the same for them. So she did the only thing she could do, nod and go in the house. I closed my eyes, letting the calmness of nature consume me. Though the wind was at a high pace, it soothed my body in ways I couldn't imagine. Somewhere down the line, I lost my way.. tried to mold myself after those I idolized.
Idolizing is for the weak though.. because if you're not gonna love yourself and embrace who you are. Why try to be something you're not. I wasn't a great wrestler but I could talk shit with the best of them. But if I tried to follow in the footsteps of others, who is Duce Jones really?
"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."