SITTING ON THE DOCK OF THE BAY
UltraViolence returns from intermission to find the camera trained on The Anglo Luchador sitting on the loading dock, bay door open in the sultry Vegas dusk. He has a bottle of Crystal Head Tequila in his right hand, a quarter killed so far, no mixer in sight. In his left, the Intense Championship. His body is smeared with dried blood and welts from his war earlier in the evening. His eyes are glassy, almost vacant. He takes a slug of the tequila from his third favorite Ghostbuster and turns his head to his left.
TAL: One evil vanquished, and yet I don’t feel good about anything at all. You know all about that though, don’t ya, Caes.
The camera pans over to reveal the Intense Champion’s companion, the Risen Star himself, Nova.
Nova: I get it, bud. At ReVolution 101, I poured lighter fluid all over a ringside table, lit that table on fire, drank beer with fans in celebration of that fire, then shot a Roman Candle at Vangelus Olsig who was charging me with a yard rake, and then powerbombed that fuck Olsig through the fire-table to win that belt.
Nova pauses and lights a cigarette.
Nova: The Intense Title is such… a unique conquest, man. It’s this absurd bar of violence not just sanctioned but endorsed by a company that would otherwise prohibit if not condemn our use of that kind of violence…
He takes a drag.
Nova: …and so in that way they’re using us, right? But at the same time, we pursue that level of violence when we have to, because it’s cathartic, because it makes sense of a senseless world or environment, because we don’t give a fuck anymore and just need to bleed, right?
The Risen Star grins, takes another drag, and shrugs.
Nova: …and in that way, we’re using it, aren’t we?
The luchador’s eyes grew wide as if he was stricken by a meteor in his brain. He takes an uncomfortably long swig out of the skull-shaped bottle before wiping his mouth.
TAL: I was talking about MESSIAH, but, goddamn if that ain’t the most… appropriate description of that title I have/had.
Tom presses his right thumb and forefinger into the bases of each of his eyes, pinching the bridge of his nose.
TAL: You know the most screwed up thing about it is? I’m here, objectively a top guy in the company now, right?
TAL: …but I can’t stop thinking about her calling me an idiot. I’ve known Lindsay Troy for 20 years, almost. We’ve run in the same circles. I saw her hit her head on glass ceilings, deceive the world. She saw me fight wars inside the ring, inside my own head, inside boardrooms and locker rooms. She still thinks I’m a moron, but that’s not the worst part.
Nova: What is?
TAL: I think I might agree with her. I’m afraid that it’s all true, objectively.
Nova: I think…
He rubs his brow, takes another drag, and pauses for a minute.
Nova: …I think I don’t know that much about wrestling. I think I found this when I was a teenager trying to escape a dead-end road. I think I never really fit in, but I made my way in it, and I made something out of it. You…
He points a finger at the luchador.
Nova: …you are a student of the game. And with that relentless pursuit of knowledge and history comes the weight of self-imposed expectations in a way that others don’t have to deal with because the climb, the fight, it isn’t framed the way you frame it for yourself. And as for Troy…
Nova grins as his eyes grow wider.
Nova: Would I be sitting here if I thought I could speak for Lindsay Troy? All I’ll say about that is, you wanna know how Lindsay Troy feels about you, stand in a room with her. You don’t have to waste time on a forensic analysis with that one.
He reaches for the luchador’s bottle. The Anglo Luchador gives it a gentle nudge.
TAL: You’re still up later though, I gotta at least read you the riot act. (chuckles)
Nova grins, takes another drag, then snuffs his cigarette against the side of the dock.
Nova: One isn’t gonna hurt, Luch.
The luchador hands him the bottle and the Risen Star takes a swig, hands it back, and wipes his mouth.
Nova: What I was trying to say was, I’ll just hazard a guess that Troy doesn’t see you the way you see yourself through her eyes…if that makes sense?
TAL: …yeah. I guess. It’s not really about her though. It’s about you. It’s about me. It’s about… well, look at it this way. The guys who are stringing you around, right? Either they’re going to have the Universal Championship by the end of the night, or we have no Universal Champion because that eGG suckin’ dog ran off with it to Leecifer and MESSIAH fills the power vacuum.
He motions to Nova to slide the bottle back over. The Risen Star obliges, and the luchador takes a sip.
TAL: You got to the top of the mountain your own way. I know you can fight them if given a fair shot. I gotta be able to do it too. That’s what kills me every night. Looking in the eyes of madness and seeing in my rearview Atken. And Daniels. And Youngblood. And that other guy they fired. There’s no question that I need to get there so I can help save this place. There’s no question there’s a path forward.
He takes another uncomfortably long sip, nearly killing the skull of its agave-based brains.
TAL: The question is can I survive it without it ending everything?
Nova swings his legs around and stands up on the docking bay before crouching and putting a hand on the luchador’s shoulder.
Nova: You will. And I don’t think you have as many doubters as you think.
The Risen Star reaches for the bottle again, and the luchador, somewhat surprised, hands it back. Nova smiles as he takes a second (small) swig, leaving the last shot for his friend. He gestures with two fingers.
Nova: I meant two wouldn’t hurt.
Before turning to stand and go, Nova looks back into the luchador’s face, and for a moment, the Anglo Luchador sees tiny lights behind the Risen Star’s eyes that almost resemble bonfires on a distant hillside.
Nova: As for the Universal Title…Luch, I don’t care who holds it at the end of the night. They aren’t ultimately the person who is coming for me, and they aren’t the person who I’m ultimately coming for. My fight is different.
He pats the Anglo Luchador on the back and rises to his feet, backing away and lighting a cigarette. Before turning his back, he takes a drag and points back at the luchador.
Nova: But I may need you before all is said and done.
The Risen Star turns and walks away. The old luchador calls out to him.
TAL: You can count on me. And good luck tonight. I know from experience… you’ll need it.
Nova nods and walks off. Tom finishes the bottle, hops off the loading dock, and walks away from the MGM Grand Casino and Hotel with the Intense Championship around his waist.