“There is no better moment than this moment, when we're anticipating the actual moment itself. All of the moments that lead up to the actual moment are truly the best moments. Those are the moments that are filled with good times. Those are the moments in which you are able to think that it is going to be perfect, when the moment actually happens. But, the moment is reality, and reality always kinda sucks!”
- Lewis Black
The room was dead fucking silent. We all just stared at the contents of the flash drive: a single video file. The description said it was only two minutes long, but it was going to be the longest two minutes of our lives.
The video was the final deposition of Madman Szalinski, sealed within a safe deposit box until after his death (which happened three days before this.)
“....fuck it, I’ll click on it.”
I went ahead and opened up the video file. We were all crying before it even started to play.
Final Deposition Of Madman Szalinski (real name witheld)
Video leaked to several hosting sites, removed from many due to TOS violations
“It’s recording? Word. Let’s get this shit goin’. I feel like my chest has gonorrhea.” The blue and red phoenix mask is well known to wrestling fans, but the frail man wearing it is barely recognizable.
“Welcome to the Thunderdome. This is my final deposition, recorded on June 14, 2017. I do so freely and willingly, without coersion or force. My name is [BLEEEEEP] but you know me better as Madman Szalinski. True story: I almost had my name legally changed to Madman in order to protect the intellectual property, but then all this shit happened.”
With oxygen tubes in his nose, the man takes quite a few breaths in between speaking. “I’m doing this now, because I don’t know how long I’ll still be able to talk. It’s getting really hard to breathe. Like, REALLY hard. I can’t smoke weed anymore, I can only vape the oil. And even that’s getting to be difficult. I just ordered some butter, so maybe that will help…”
He coughs several times, grabbing an old T-shirt to cough what appears to be blood into. Madman looks at the shirt, then smirks a little bit. He turns it to show the camera that he just spit blood into a High Octane Wrestling shirt.
“Heh. Yeah, always wanted to see what I looked like in ‘97 Red. Guess that won’t be happening…” He allows the shirt to fall to his bedside. “I’m so sorry. There was so much I had left to do...but it looks like I have no choice but to leave it in your hands.”
“The only people watching this should be my wife, Ariel...my brother and best friend, Graham Clauson...and my son.”
“Ariel...I love you, but go live your life. Go be free, go find new people and go do new things...you’re free now. Free from being a prisoner to me, and to the wrestling business. Run away, and don’t look back.”
“Graham...bro, the same goes for you. None of you are gonna be wanting for money, I made sure of that. Get out of wrestling, find something else to do, and be free. Be happy.”
“Finally...my son, I am beyond regretful that I wasn’t the parent I should have been. Your mother and I...we thought you could have a better life without us. We were so wrong….”
“I’ve already split off my assets and shit, that’s all taken care of. YOU are taken care of. All I ask of you three now is this: whatever you do, be happy when you do it. Don’t let anybody control you like they tried to control me. You are free.”
“Soon, I will be free too. I’ll finally be at peace. And when I get there, I’ll be watching all of you...very closely.”
I rolled out of bed, directly onto the floor. This is the third time in a week I’ve dreamt about that fucking video...seeing the man I loved on his deathbed, telling me with his dying breaths to go find someone else to love. Seeing him tell his best friend and tag team partner to not go after his legacy. And seeing him tell the son he never met that his biggest regret in life was sacrificing his son for a career in the wrestling business. A son that not even I knew existed, and I was with him from 2006 until 2016.
My new tag team partner, Wesley “The Guru Daddy”, was still asleep. We were running roughshod in the tag team division of Action Wrestling, a place that tried to make me a fucking jobber until I had enough and started snapping on people. I didn’t want to wake him up so I dusted myself off, snagged a drink of vodka from the pint on the nightstand, and snuck off to go raid the continential breakfast downstairs in the hotel lobby.
“Phone…” Can’t go anywhere without a cell phone these days. Fuck the room key, I’ll blow up Wes’ phone until he wakes up and lets me back in. On the way to the elevator, I begin to check messages.
“Son of a BITCH!” I received a text from Mr. Rishel, asking me if I had done any promotional work for CWF this week. “FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK!” Indeed, I had not. Now I was forced to improvise…
Video Posted To CWF Website
“HI! I’M ARIEL!”
A cold-open that gives you no time from clicking Play jump-starts the scene, with Ariel waving into the camera doing a sarcastic wink.
“Good morning, CWF!”
Ariel Shadows appears as if she had just woke up.
“Alpha. No, not that jock with the jacked up truck and six cans of protein shake powder on top of his fridge at home. Not that kind of alpha. Alpha as in the beginning, the start, the very first letter in the Greek alphabet. Tuesday night, Charleston, South Carolina is my beginning. The Alpha block is the beginning of my alphabet soup of accomplishments, bragging rights, championships, and dance moves.”
The Dreamcatcher, inside an elevator, presses a couple of buttons. She shakes her head at herself. “Dance moves? Who the fuck do I think I am, the Michael Jackson ghetto rapper gimmick they got over in Trinity Wrestling? See, this is why I signed over here with CWF. Y’all got great technical wrestlers like Lindsa…..er, MJ Fl….okay, how about Dan Ry…..” Ariel shrugs. “Fuck it, I’ll just get high with Duce Jones and kick everyone else in the head. That’s probably the best way to go about this. Okay, back to the part where I talk shit about Starlight.”
Deep breath. “If you think this is where I tear into you for dropkicking somebody through a fucking multi-dimensional portal in your last taped interview, you’re wrong. You all seem to forget that one time in OCW where I tried to throw a fireball at Queenslayer Legion because I legitimately thought she was going to split into all six of her multiple personalities all at once, so if it was gonna be a handicap match I wanted to come prepared. To be honest, I almost thought this was the same chick. Almost.”
“But it doesn’t matter to me. It’s just someone else to throw down with. Either I kick the shit out of them, or they figure out a way to get around my kicks. Most people just cheat to beat me, honestly. I haven’t lost a one-on-one match fair and square since like, 2015 or something. Yes, I left out the fact I hadn’t wrestled from 2015 to 2019. No, you’re still a bitch if you think any of that means something.” Ariel laughs, reaching her floor and exiting said elevator. She walks around, just talking into the camera while ignoring the hotel’s passer-bys that do briefly stare her way. .
“Every time you step foot in the ring, the counter resets to zero. Sure, you take momentum from the last match with you. Emotion carries on from town to town, show to show, match to match. But strip away the politics, the rankings, the networks and the ratings...and you’re left with two people beating the piss out of each other while a bunch of people who’ve never even fought with a stapler sit there and critique it. And either of those people are capable of winning, or losing, depending on how they carry themselves in the face of difficulty. Oh shit, Ariel Shadows kicks HARD! What in the world am I going to do? Starlight, hopefully you don’t decide to run and hide. Hopefully you decide to stand toe-to-toe and give me a run for my money. Because otherwise, it’s gonna be a long night for you. My Alpha could very well be your Omega, if you don’t get your ass in gear. I don’t need to open a portal to Hell. I’ll bring Hell to you.”