Several individuals have been telling Tom, how much better he as been lately but Tom doesn’t seem to take any joy these complimentants, not showing any pride or energy. His skill set is, without a doubt improving thanks to Dr. Sweatt. Well, everything was going well until Amanda’s revolation. There is little that can pull his mind off what she said in that bathroom. Her actions the day before he found out still perplexes him. That more than any of the other questions he has, is what worries him the most. He knew she, at times, made questionable decisions, but he NEVER thought she would be so irresponsible to drink while pregnant. That was not a place he thought she would ever go, but here they are, dealing with the effects of that decision. Both the current effects of that decision and the effects that still haven’t revealed themselves, but are still consuming current resources. The last words he has heard from her still ring in his ears, even above the ringing from the match. They haven’t had a real conversation since she blurted out her deepest secret. He hasn’t had the strength to have that conversation. He needs all the strength he can muster, otherwise, who knows what will happen. He knows that he will not be able to keep his emotions in check, leading to a terrible decision. Leading him to act counter to who he really is. Until he knows he can keep that in check, he isn’t going to have that conversation. She has tried to have one, but he has resisted and turned her away. He knows, that by doing this he is hurting her, making her worst fears come true, that she is going to be abandoned again. His worst fears are coming true, as well, his belief without a family, he is nothing. He goes through his post match routine on autopilot, all the way until he makes it back to the hotel bar. His home the last few evenings, drinking himself to a point where he can barely make it back to the room without passing out.
“The usual bud?”
The bartender pours Tom’s choice of beverage, the same that he has been drinking for the last several nights, Southern Comfort on the rocks. Not sure why he orders it with the ice, as it never stays in the glass long enough for the ice to have any effect. Though between drinks he does enjoy listening to the ice clank about the glass as he absentmindedly twirls the glass around. The bartender talks to concerned waitress who has seen Tom come in every night she’s worked.
“I’m not sure what is going on, but it's big. He doesn’t say more than one or two words. I’ve tried to engage him in conversation, using the classes they’ve made me take, but I can’t seem to get through to him. He drinks just to the point where he might pass out, but knows his limit. I don’t know if there is anything else I can do for him. He won’t let anyone in to help him with his burden.”
“It is such a shame. He seems like such a nice guy. He always tips well, is very polite, and kind of cute. You can always tell about a person’s personality by how he treats wait staff.”
“Yeah, Even in his current state, he tries to be appreciative and kind to all of the staff here. That’s why I allow him to keep coming every day and I keep serving him. He has got to be dealing with something big to put him in this funk.”
“Maybe you should stop serving him and force him to deal with whatever it is that is bothering him. Take away his crutch and make him face whatever it is that has him like this. Besides, how am I supposed to comfort him, if he keeps using alcohol to numb the pain.”
“You are terrible.”
“Well, everyone says I need to find a good man. He seems to fit the bill”
“Yeah, that isn’t going to end well for either one of you. But I gotta go, he wants a refill.”
“Ok, but seriously consider cutting him off until he deals with whatever dark cloud is hanging over his head.”
“I will take it into consideration”
The bartend takes the waitress words into consideration as he pours Tom another drink.
“Buddy, you’ve been here every night for the last four or five days. You have come down and tried to drown whatever it is that is bothering you, but I can’t sit by as another human and watch whatever it is tormenting you allow you to slide into a dark place in which there is no coming back from. So, after this drink, unless you start to talk about whatever it is that has you hear, I can’t in good conses serve you any more. You are too good of a man, and I know you won’t find the answer in the bottom of any bottle.”
The bartender shakes his head and goes back to work cleaning the bar. When the waitress gets a spare minute, she stops to see the progress of the mysterious troubled man. She is excited to find out what the bartender found out.
“So what is the issue that is causing a good man to fall into a bottle?”
“Don’t know. I gave him a last warning. So we shall see what comes of it. But, I wouldn’t hold my breath. There are plenty of other places he can go to drown his troubles.”
“Well I might have to work some womanly magic, to get to the bottom of this.”
“Yeah, that isn’t asking for trouble.”
“What do you know?”
The waitress snaps a towel at the bartender and goes to take care of her patrons. As she does, Tom finishes off his beverage, put enough cash on the bar, to cover the drinks twice over. The waitress sneaks a peak, as Tom gets in the elevator, returning to his room earlier than he initially planned. Maybe, he thinks, the bartender is right, and I need to talk this out. I can’t do it tonight, but tomorrow after work.
The Game Warden, sitting in front of a mansion that could be classified as a castle, if it was built in another time. The front yard, while immaculately manicured was expansive. Benji, as usual was sitting at her feet, awaiting his next command.
“So, as you look around, you will notice this immaculate place that me and my pet are at. This is isn’t our usual stomping ground, as we tend to be on the other side of the tracks. But yet here we are. So what is the purpose? Us sitting in front of a place, not for the good hard working blue collar types like me and Benji here, no it is more fitting of royalty.”
“What is it boy? Royalty?”
“Ah yes, royalty. That is what stands in our way to meeting Ms. Raven. A woman, I might remind everyone, that Benji has put in her cage once before. In his first professional match…”
“That is correct. I am sorry. In his first ever match. He was able to secure a victory over the former champion, of which there are a few too many to name. But, I digress…..what was I talking about again?”
“Woof woof..woof woof bark bark...woof”
“Oh yeah, royalty and how they stand in the way. Good boy”
The Game Warden pulls out a dog biscuit and tosses it on the grass a few feet from Benji. Benji sits up a little straighter, wanting to go after biscuit, but, like a good dog, waits for the command. The Game Warden nods her head, and Benji streaks off to receive his treat.
“So this Tuesday, Benji has to face royalty. PJ Blake, offspring of some historically relevant family within this business. Uncle so and so, former champion of this and that. A protected daughter who wants to rebel against her parents, against the status quo. To take a step on the wild side, to experience what you think of as fun, as a good time, as roughing it. Well, sister, for some, this is life. This is what we wake up and have to deal with. No, we don’t wake up on a tempurpedic memory foam bullshit. No, some of us have to battle, fight for each and every step we take. We worry about taking the wrong step. For us, there is no mommy and daddy to save us from ourselves. To save us from a bad day, week, month, moment. To save us from that one small thing that can topple our precious fragile psyche from falling into a dark pit, so long and far that the chances of overcoming it are slim and none, with slim having just left. Oh, I know precious little PJ. You too, can suffer from depression and fall into your own deep dark pit. Yes, but since you are royalty, there are people who won’t let you fall into the pit. No matter what, little girl, you have a safety net. You can try and convince yourself that isn’t the case. That you are really on your own. You really think that if you fall, that someone won’t pick you up? Even if you do, at least there is someone higher to reach down. For those of us who live here daily, the only support we have is here with us. If we fall, there is no one from above who can save us. No, we just more people we can pull down into the darkness with us. “
Benji returns from eating his biscuit and returns to the Warden’s feet, jumping up on her first, to give her a sign of his appreciation for the treat.
“As for you Mr. Youngblood. While you do not have the lineage that Ms. Blake does, you too are royalty within this business. You left while you were on top of the world, to quote find yourself. Benji, have you ever had the opportunity to realize you weren’t you?”
“Arf ark woof woof”
“No, me neither. You see, those of us who aren’t as privileged as others, don’t have a chance to realize we aren’t ourselves, to think there was a chance that we could change life to be something else. For those of us who have to work for a living, we only focus on making it until tomorrow or the day after. We don’t have the luxury of whether or not we are the best versions of ourselves, that we are the happiest. We are too consumed on surviving day to day. Worried about putting food on the table, having reliable transportation to our meager jobs, having a roof that doesn’t leak, or if it does, not enough to cause any problems. We can’t worry about what to do when something else fails, we don’t have time to worry. If it fails, we deal with it then. So, Mr. Youngblood, I hope you found yourself. I hope the both of you enjoy “slumming” it with us common folks.”
“That is right, boy. They have the talent, they have the training, and they have the pedigree. But the one thing they don’t have, and never will is the drive. They are royalty, they don’t have to survive. Yes, they can be backed into a corner, but the drive, the drive is when you live in the corner day after day. While a cornered animal is one of the most dangerous, it is the one that needs its basic needs met, that will win the battle. It doesn’t have a choice. Mr. Youngblood, Ms. Blake, you guys may have the talent, but I guarantee what talent isn’t enough to beat Benji when you stand in the way of his next meal. And Benji plans on dining on the Impact title.”
The Warden releases a rabbit, which runs for its little life. After a second or two headstart, she signals to Benji to hunt it down. Just as Benji catches the rabbit in his mouth and begins to thrash, the scene fades.
With Animal Control’s duties completed for the day, the couple packs things up, and before going their separate ways, Tom asks Amanda to meet him at the hotel bar so they can finally discuss the current situation. The time has come for them to have what they both were dreading.
At the set time, Amanda makes her way into the bar, finding Tom already at a table with a glass of water. The table that Tom was seated at, just so happens to be in the section of the waitress who took a special interest in Tom the other day. She joins Tom at the table, sitting with saying a word. She begins sipping on the water that was on the table for her.
“What can I get the two of you?”
“We need a few minutes”
With that, the waitress skips off to attend the other tables. Amanda picks up the menu and starts studying it. After a few minutes, she puts the menu down, and the waitress stops by.
“So are you folks ready?”
“Can I please get the cobb salad?”
“Sure, and for you sir?”
“Can I have a burger, with no onions but extra pickles?”
“Fries as the side?”
“Coming right up.”
Once the waitress leaves, the silence becomes overwhelming and uncomfortable. Tom finally breaks the silence
“So how long have you known you were pregnant?”
“A few months”
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Why didn’t you say something when you knew or when there was a question about it?”
“Because I was scared. You know of my past, and how this news had, for lack of a better term, ruined my life. I was afraid that you would do the same.”
“I thought you knew me better than that.”
“I know, but past experiences made me so very afraid. Things were going fairly well for us. We are on a good path, on our way to being successful and prosperous. I couldn’t stand to lose it all again. To have my life in shambles, not again.”
“I understand why you were scared. I wish you had still come to me. I would have done what is right.”
“I know, I was too scared”
“That I understand. Now, the main reason I’ve been so upset with you. How could you put our baby’s health at risk like that? Allowing yourself to get drunk, never mind having alcohol.”
“I just couldn’t handle the stress anymore. Keeping this secret from everyone. Not knowing when the other shoe was going to drop. Nothing else has ever worked for me, to settle my mental health. I just couldn’t anymore.”
“Even more reason to share the news with me.”
“I know. I screwed up.”
“Okay, now what?”
“I don’t know. I guess that depends on you?”
“What do you mean?”
“What are you going to do?”
“Exactly what I need to do. I’m not going anywhere. I have a responsibility to this kid and to you.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
“So where do we go from here?”
“Well, I have a doctor appointment coming up that I would like you to go with me. I get treated worse as a single mother, then I would if I was married.”
“Ok. I can do that. From now on, I need you to be open and honest with me about things. If this is going to work, that is the only way.”
“I know. I’m sorry”
As things settled into a new uncomfortable silence, their food appears.
“Hey whatever happened to Chuck? I haven’t seen him in a while.”
“Oh, he left.”
“He left? Why?”
“Oh, it was something about our last promo being good enough that we didn’t need his tutelage anymore.”
“I guess that makes sense, still kind of shitty of him. Just because we had one good one without him doesn’t mean we don’t have more to learn. But whatever. I didn’t really care for the guy all that much He seemed to be more interested in other things rather than helping us.”
“He helped me quite a bit.”
“I guess. Well, regardless, we have to have a promo or two ready for the upcoming rumble.”
“I’ve been working on a few things, so I have some ideas that we put together that should be good.”
“That’s good, with our chance at the Impact title at Paradise, we will need something new and fresh.”