NOT FATAL, NOT FINAL
It’s been two weeks; let’s check back in with our handsome heroes, shall we?
The mood in this corner of the locker room is quite a bit different since we last saw our beloved Toppy Troppy Turmy Bois. Back at Troppy Turmy…er, Tropical Turmoil, the mood was tense; the lads had a daunting task ahead of themselves.
But now that task is over…and they failed. The malaise of that failure hangs over all three of them.
For Hayes, there was no comeback. Instead, an early exit at Tropical Turmoil. A glimmer of hope after taking down Ivan was swiftly taken away by the stiff boot of Cancer Jiles. The result? A droopy mustache, and a quiet, hunched figure dressed in black. Flicking through his phone, and only here in Washington, DC due to contract obligations.
For Jared, this was another missed opportunity in a career that’s seen dozens of chances go to hell, though unlike the two men he shares this space with he no longer has the benefit of youth. The timeline shrinks; fewer days ahead then behind. It’s not something he’d vocalize, at least not in his present company, but the question of whether he’ll ever know what that success feels like again. Instead he occupies his time by fidgeting with the sling, the one his right arm is supposed to be in so that he doesn’t aggravate the shoulder again.
For Nate…honestly, who knows? He stares blankly into the open locker in front of him. He’s been like that for a few minutes now. You know how sometimes you’re hungry but you don’t know what you’re hungry for, so you open the fridge and just kinda stare and then eventually you get yelled at for trying to refrigerate the whole house?
It’s like that.
Jared Sykes: If you’re waiting for it to grow teeth and eat you then I have a feeling we’re gonna be here a while.
Nate’s head turns slightly, offering only a minor acknowledgement that someone was speaking to him. But it did push him into action at least, and he starts unloading his ring gear.
Jared’s eyes dart from Nate to Hayes and back.
Jared Sykes: Guys, I get it. We gave ourselves a mission, and we… well… you know, I’m just gonna go with “were less than completely successful.” It sucks, but it’s not like someone died here. Besides, if you believe the internet – and you shouldn’t – then crying is sorta my thing, and I would hate to have to bring y’all to court for gimmick infringement. Plus as wrestler lawyers go, my options are either Gavin Yum or Dr. Badguy, so really I’d just be burning money.
Nate Colton: I get it. The old…
He suddenly falls silent, and takes a moment.
Nate Colton: I’ve…heard people say, you can’t let failure define you.
Jared Sykes: Nope, but if you give it an opening then it’ll kick the fucking doors in and rub its feet all over your couch.
He rolls his right shoulder once, testing it, and contemplates putting the sling back on. He doesn’t do it of course, but the fact that he’s thinking about it at all is a big step.
Jared Sykes: There’s a song I’ve been listening to a lot lately. It’s called “Skybreaker.” Metal stuff. Loud guitars. Dunno if it would be your thing. Anyway, the chorus has kind of stuck with me. “Failure is not fatal. Success is not final.” There’s some other words in between there, but you get the idea.
Hayes replies with an indignant snort, his eyes remaining on his phone and drawing a little bit of side-eye from Sykes. Colton, however, nods at the notion. He stops unloading his bag for a moment, and swings around the bench to face the other two.
Nate Colton: Yeah, probably wouldn’t be my thing. But I like the idea. Hayes…you’re a baseball guy, right?
Hanlon, quiet and seeming uninterested in this conversation, lifts his eyes to Colton.
Hayes Hanlon: Uh, yeah. Once upon a time. Why?
Nate Colton: Back in college I had a gym buddy who was on the baseball team. He used to talk about different mindsets for the players, and the one that always stuck with me was what he said about relief pitchers. About how they learned to pretty much forget whatever happened the last time they played.
Hayes Hanlon: The old “be a goldfish” thing.
Nate Colton: That’s the one.
Hayes Hanlon: Well, unfortunately for me, I played first base.
The Event Horizon pushes himself to his feet, pocketing his phone.
Hayes Hanlon: And relief pitchers don’t get MVPs.
He heads for the door, leaving Sykes and Colton to share a concerned glance.
Jared Sykes: Hey, bud. Where you headed?
Hayes Hanlon: (shrugging while opening the door) I dunno. Wander around. Kill some time.
Jared Sykes: You good? You want some company?
Hayes Hanlon: Nope.
He steps into the hall without another word, closing it behind him.
Jared Sykes: I always forget that folks handle this shit differently. Well, on the upside, at least things seem to be going pretty good for you outside the ring if everything I’m hearing is true.
Jared’s question is answered with the heavy slam of a locker.
Which is odd, because half of Nate’s gear is still in his bag.
Nate Colton: Doesn’t matter.
Jared Sykes: Oh. Did something happen? Are you guys still…
His question is cut off, and the tone of voice warns to not ask again.
Nate Colton: Doesn’t. Matter.
He says it through gritted teeth, so you can tell he means it.
Nate Colton: Just gotta focus on what’s in front of us. For me, it’s beating the hell out of someone who deserves it.
Jared slowly stands and moves towards the door.
Jared Sykes: Alright, yeah. I’ll let you get to it, then.
The Next Diamond takes a deep breath, followed by a heavy sigh.
Nate Colton: Time to go be the good guy.
Colton starts peeling off his shirt, and you can practically hear Melvin Beauregard shouting “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” as the shot fades out.