IT’S SO HARD TO SAY GOODBYE TO YESTERDAY
And I’m fire
“Death Grip” by Watt White erupts in the MGM Grand Arena. The fans immediately rise to their feet and turn their attention to the top of the ramp.
Nick Stuart: Well folks, it looks like the time has come.
Richard Parker: We don’t have to do this, right?
Nick Stuart: What do you mean?
Richard Parker: I mean, does he have to come out here?
Nick Stuart: Oh, go away.
From the back emerges The Lost Soul, Dusk, to thunderous applause from the fans. He stands at the top of the ramp with his hair perfectly coifed while wearing a baby blue suit. He stands at the top of the ramp, looking out at the fans as they scream their approval of him.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Nick Stuart: Fans, if you’re not aware, a bombshell report dropped earlier this week that Dusk will be announcing his retirement live in the center of the ring here tonight, and it appears that time has now come.
Richard Parker: Look, it was time for him to go when Hank bounced him off the mat like a crash-test dummy.
Nick Stuart: Can you have some compassion?
Richard Parker: No.
Slowly, he begins to walk down the ramp, seemingly hesitant to do so, but willing himself one step after enough. Fans have their arms extended, looking for him to touch them, and he does just that as he takes in the moment, walking around the ring and greeting all of the fans. He eventually comes to the ring steps and walks up them with a bit of finality to it.
Dusk steps through the ropes and walks around the ring for a moment.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
Richard Parker: Will these fans shut up so we can get this over with?
Nick Stuart: The fans here in Vegas have come to say their farewells, Richard. Seriously.
Richard Parker: Yeah, yeah. Look, there’s better wrestlers in PRIME today than Dusk ever was. There’s no need for all of this. Just walk away and be done with it.
Nick Stuart: Easy for you to say, no one will shed a tear when you leave.
Dusk is then handed a microphone by Vince Howard and he stands in the center of the ring. He puts the microphone to his lips and takes a deep breath in.
Before he can continue though, the fans begin to chant even louder.
THANK YOU DUSK!
THANK YOU DUSK!
THANK YOU DUSK!
THANK YOU DUSK!
He pulls the microphone away and lets the cheers continue on.
Nick Stuart: These fans are showing their appreciation and wanting to take this in one last time.
Richard Parker: I’m going to vomit.
He puts the microphone to his lips again, holding up his hand as the fans start to quiet down.
Dusk: Thank you. Seriously, thank you for that. That means the world to me. Coming out here and competing in front of everyone here is a dream come true for me. Whether it’s been these last six months or twenty years ago, it doesn’t matter, it all meant the world to me.
Dusk: Now, I know Melvin is back there, panicking about how much time I’m going to take up, so I’ll calm you down. This won’t take long. I think everyone knows why I’m out here and I plan on keeping this short and sweet. The reality is, I came back to show that I still have it, and yet, I think I’ve fallen far short of that. The competition here in PRIME today is probably the best its ever been and that’s saying something.
Dusk: I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I’ve been with each loss, each opportunity that has slipped through my fingers these past six months. At first, I attributed it to rust, but I don’t think there’s any rust left to shake off. I then could attribute it to the beating that I received courtesy of Hank, but once again, I can’t blame that either. Simply put, I just don’t have it in the ring any longer.
Richard Parker: Why are these idiots booing? He’s telling the truth! That’s what’s wrong with this world today.
Nick Stuart: Dusk has been competitive in every single match he’s been in since returning to PRIME. His effort and skill are not to be diminished.
Dusk nods as he hears the jeers.
Dusk: I know, you don’t agree, but can I tell you something? I feel it every single week. The stars in this ring today are just passing me by and I can’t be surprised by that. Not in the least bit. I know I’ve given everything I have in order to compete here, to win these matches, but sometimes your best just isn’t enough. And I’m okay with that. Because I’ve had the best time these past six months, interacting with everyone in the ring, watching these young stars like Anna Daniels and Hayes Hanlon compete and tear down the building week in and week out. I wish beyond all belief that I could’ve come out here at Great American Nightmare and wiped that cocky grin off of Atken’s face—
Dusk: But, it wasn’t meant to be. Even if I wanted to continue to compete, my doctors have told me it’s not in my best interest to continue doing so. The concussion I received courtesy of Hank—
Dusk: —has done a number on me. I’m still experiencing headaches. I’m still vomiting. I’m still experiencing mood swings. I’m not me anymore and each time I come out here and compete, I’m at a higher risk for further concussions that could cause serious damage in the long run.
DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK! DUSK!
He lowers the microphone, tears welling up in his eyes, as the fans continue to get louder and louder.
Richard Parker: Oh my goodness, move on.
Nick Stuart: It’s getting so loud in here that I can barely hear myself right now.
Richard Parker: That is a bonus. For me.
Dusk closes his eyes as the fans continue to chant his name.
Dusk: It’s okay, guys, it’s okay.
He then opens his eyes again and looks out at the fans.
Dusk: This is the reality I’m faced with. I’ve got a daughter and a granddaughter who mean the world to me and I want to be able to enjoy those days without fear of what could be. I don’t want to lose control of my functions and my ability to be the person I need to be outside of this ring. And looking at PRIME now, I can say without a doubt in my mind, that it’s time for me to move on. It’s time for me to call it a day. And I’m okay with that. I can be okay with that.
He takes another pause, his throat tightening as he speaks. Eventually he walks around the ring and begins to speak again.
Dusk: With that being said, it’s with a heavy heart, that I must re—
Except, before the words leave his mouth, ”Pieces of Man” by Drown begins to play. The opening synth riff of the song builds to the first lyrics…
I was awake
Larry Tact emerges from the Argyle position toting a mic in hand and wearing his ring gear. He stands and allows the lyrics to continue uninterrupted.
The only love I knew
The only love I knew
You’re the only love I knew
And I was afraid
As the chorus kicks in, Larry moves his free hand across his throat.
Larry Tact: Cut my music, and while you’re at it, cut Dusk’s mic. We don’t need to hear more of this drivel a moment longer.
The music cuts out and Larry moves the mic around in hand, remaining on the stage as he watches Dusk in the ring.
Richard Parker: Oh good, Larry Tact is coming to get Dusk out of here so we can move on with our evening. That’s phenomenal.
Larry Tact: I wanted to play those opening lyrics of my music for a deliberate reason. I wanted you in particular to hear them, Dusk. Do you understand the significance? No, I doubt you would, and don’t bother trying to piece it together in that head of yours. We don’t need you having an aneurysm straining your brain, on top of Hank rattling it around in your skull.
Richard Parker: Oh shut it already with the booing. These people don’t have a clue, and I bet Larry knows a lot of doctors, being not only a New Yorker, but a Manhattanite.
Nick Stuart: He’s certainly showing his New York attitude, Richard, and I don’t think the PRIMEates like it one bit.
Larry Tact: The lyrics mean different things to different people, of course. But for you, it spoke to me so clearly while I heard you going on and on about how “It’s time.” As someone who took time off and returned, allow me to paint this picture for you, as it’s clear you aren’t looking with a wider lens. You’re going to wake up one day, and you’re going to be confused as to where you are. You’ll wonder where your family is, and why you’re alone. You’ll be struck with a profound sense of loneliness as the memories come floating into your damaged mind. What is it you’ll remember right then and there? How your family completely abandoned you. Your daughter? Embarrassed to be associated with a man who quite on the only thing he was good at, and the only thing he really loved. Your granddaughter? Left wondering how after twenty plus years, Grandpa decided the best thing you could do was to go out a total loser, not even willing to go down swinging. HOW PATHETIC!
Larry had to raise his voice above the chants that begin sounding off on him.
YOU SUCK! YOU SUCK! YOU SUCK!
Nick Stuart: I think the fans would like Larry to go back to being quiet backstage.
Richard Parker: I bet they would! But he realized how much of a pathetic loser Dusk sounds like, and decided to let him know what I bet most of the locker room thinks, too.
Nick Stuart: Come on, Richard, you know that’s not right. Dusk is hands-down one of the most highly respected wrestlers on the roster.
Richard Parker: These people are two-faced! Larry is the only one willing to step up and tell Dusk what people think around here.
Looking around with revulsion at the PRIME Faithful, Larry holds the mic out towards the crowd, walking to one end of the stage and bringing the stick back down.
Larry Tact: You hear that, Dusk? That’s a practically automatic response that these simpletons give when they have their cage rattled. They pay to sit here, or at least try, given the amount of fried foods and sugar-laced drinks they consume. They pay to squeeze into their personal prison for the night, probably next to someone they end up wanting to punch in the face. What they expect is for people like you, Dusk, to come out and satiate the void in their overworked hearts for someone trying as hard as they are to be good. Just good. When you ultimately fail in the manner you have, it’s an all too familiar feeling for them. Believe it or not, it makes you even more relatable, since they’re used to being pathetic at their jobs, their relationships… really, their lives in general.
As the PRIMEates resume booing, Larry crosses back over to the other side of the stage and repeats holding the mic out for a few seconds.
Larry Tact: By now, I know what you all are thinking. You’re thinking that I’m winless in PRIME. I haven’t had any success to date here. How can I say these things when I’m carrying a worse record than Dusk? Well, that’s exactly why you’re simpletons. The plain difference between myself and Dusk is that I’ve been harshly mistreated in PRIME, whereas Dusk is treated like a darling. Yes, it’s true. While I’ve been dealt multiple low blows in a match, and the referee somehow misses them all? Dusk has been awarded “ties” despite the fact I swear I saw him definitively lose in each of those matches. In a standard match, I was blatantly struck in the head with a barbed wire bat, yet who was given the loss? Me! Meanwhile Dusk, who even now only has two wins more than I do, was given an opportunity to receive a Universal Title match. The guy is batting .500 and you have the braintrust of Troy and Beauregard deciding he was “fighting hard” and “deserved” that opportunity against Phil Atken. But the worst of it, Dusk, is tonight. I couldn’t stand by and listen to your clearly melting brain bemoaning how you don’t have it, or think you need to look out for your health. Cry me an effing river, or in your case, an ocean. You think I buy for a second that this concussion is anything but a way to give you your graceful exit?
Nick Stuart: That’s a vile and preposterous claim being levied by Tact! How can he accuse Dusk of lying about a concussion?
Richard Parker: Maybe he has evidence! Like he said, Dusk is a loser who can’t go out fighting. He’s exposed Dusk’s true nature for everyone to see.
Larry Tact: You know what I say to your grand peroration about stepping away, Dusk? Not on my watch. If you think you can walk away from wrestling with a few soft words, and leave without giving your final pound of flesh to this sport, then I’ll tear it off you myself!
YOU SUCK! YOU SUCK! YOU SUCK!
Nick Stuart: Where is this all coming from? To my knowledge, Dusk and Tact have never crossed paths in their careers, but it sounds like Tact is out for blood here.
Richard Parker: Haven’t you been listening, Stuart? Larry got pushed over the edge by Dusk’s sob story and he’s about to give Dusk an old school exit from wrestling.
Larry Tact: I’m not going to allow you to have a graceful exit, Dusk. You said it yourself, you look pathetic as it is with the headaches, vomiting, mood swings, and excuses excuses excuses. I’ll give you something to really retire over, and it’ll make this existential crisis of yours seem like nothing but a sad, sorry memory. Remember this week, Dusk. Remember it fondly. I’m going to make it the most clear-headed one you’ll ever have again.
Larry smiles at Dusk as he waves and turns, leaving the stage and leaving Dusk standing in the ring.
Richard Parker: I’ve been waiting for the walls to come down around Larry Tact. This guy is done being dealt a rotten hand from a corrupt dealer.
Nick Stuart: I’ll agree that Larry seems to have suddenly shifted his thinking, and he’s decided that Dusk is a legend he can make his name off of. But I hardly think he’s been treated unfairly, and he may find Dusk is not someone to be trifled with.
Richard Parker: Either way, I’d like to see them beat the hell out of each other!
Nick Stuart: It sounds like Tact is going to try and make your wish come true. For now, let’s take things backstage where I hear we have Anna Daniels.