Disclaimer: I don't own
anyone in this story. The timeline is authentic to the best of my
knowledge. The theme of this story is based loosely on real events,
though creative liberties are obviously taken. This work of fiction
isn't to be considered a statement of fact on the real lives of
The comments in this chapter about wrestling the circuit, however, are entirely true. ;)
Lyrics credit: "The Kill" by 30 Seconds to Mars
Nothing's ever a secret in this business. Nothing.
In the six hours that elapsed between leaving JR's office, getting on my plane, and arriving back in North Carolina, I found the voicemails I knew would be there - tons of voicemails, and when my voicemail was full they sent text messages. They all asked the same question.
"What the fuck?"
I honestly debated chucking my cell phone in the nearest trashcan, maybe out the window of my car as I sped down US-1, away from the airport and away from everything I'd come to despise and back towards home. The last thing I wanted to do was sit around all night dealing with my co-workers…well, former co-workers…and I knew answering everyone's messages would keep the phone to my ear well into the wee hours.
I returned one phone
call that day and then switched my phone off for the rest of the
night once plans were set.
And then, on the first night of my freedom, I fell asleep with a smile on my face for the first time in years and slept for eighteen hours straight.
Matt came by the next
day. I still don't know how he managed to talk his way out of the
house show; I didn't ask then and it's a moot point now.
I remember the look on his face so clearly…so very clearly. There was no disappointment, there was no reproach; he looked sad, and he looked accepting. And we talked through the afternoon, talked about old times and talked about where things had changed.
"I can't do it anymore," I told him quietly, staring at the smoke rising from the end of my cigarette. "The love's gone and all I feel is pain. Too much pain."
He hugged me when I said that, and I nearly set his hair on fire when I hugged him back, cigarette still in hand. We laughed then like we laughed when we were young, when wrestling was still the alpha and omega of our lives.
After almost eight years seeing what the business was really like, my dreams long shattered, I smiled that night thinking how wrestling had become my theta.
"Thanks, I really appreciate it," I politely reply, phone in one hand and paintbrush in the other. "But I'm just not taking any bookings right now." The voice drones on in my ear and I have to fight the urge to sigh out loud. The calls keep coming no matter how many times I say no, and I know damn well the word's out everywhere that I'm not working.
Yet they keep calling. And I'm still polite to each booker, each promoter, and I don't know why I don't just tell them to fuck off. After the debacle with the Ring of Honor show in July, I don't want a thing to do with this shit.
Come break me down
Bury me, bury me
I am finished with you
Look in my eyes
You're killing me, killing me
All I wanted was you
I finally manage to end the call without cussing anyone out, my calendar still blissfully free of bookings but my creative mood shot. These last four months have done wonders for my back and sometimes I think I might want to work a match or two a month. The thought usually passes when I snap back to my senses and remember how things really work on the circuit – the filthy locker rooms, the egos, bookers who disappear come payout time, the endless driving from armory to gymnasium to warehouse, the disrespect, the egos…yeah, fuck that.
Shaking my head, I toss the phone vaguely in the direction of the couch and wander over to look out the front windows. Fall's coming; you can see it in the color of the sky. These months off haven't just done wonders for my back, they've done wonders for my mind too. I can keep my own schedule; I can work on whatever creative outlet catches my fancy for the day, and, most importantly, I can sleep.
No, wait. The most important part is not having to worry about random piss tests anymore.
It's nice. Kinda lonely, but…nice.
I tried to be
But nothing seemed to change
I know now, this is who I really am inside
I finally found myself
Fighting for a chance
I know now, this is who I really am
After watching the sun set, I wander over to the laptop and flip it open. One thing I haven't adjusted to yet is so much solitude; after that many years on the road almost constantly, it occasionally gets to me to not have people around all the time. I like my peace & quiet, sure, but, well…I miss some of those jackasses.
Adam's weekly email is waiting for me, grinding my connection to a crawl while it downloads the dozens of photos of blue-eyed blondes with big boobs he's thoughtfully attached. I laugh and light a joint, waiting for the damned thing to load. Why he feels the need to send me his spank material I'll never know. I guess it's some sort of tradition by now, considering I've been getting the same types of emails from him about every 7 days for months. A short note from Matt reminding me he'll be home tomorrow, some random gibberish from Shannon that looks to mean he wants to come over and drink with me soon…I'm probably the only person on the planet who can decipher that kid's emails… a picture of a fluffy grey kitten and no text whatsoever from Rhyno, and a half-dozen other bits and pieces of my former life finally make their way onto my trusty laptop.
I'm glad they're not forgetting me. I know how many people I left behind and forgot about, living that insane schedule and all, and I figure I'll become one of those left-behinds at some point.
For now, though, the cacophony of chaos my friends felt fit to send my way via email is enough to get me back in that creative frame of mind again.
Two pills and an hour later, my paintbrush is back in hand, and I am happy.
I know now, this is who I really am