WHO WEARS A HOODIE IN VEGAS IN AUGUST, IT’S A BILLION DEGREES OUTSIDE
Post match. Buster Gloves waves to the fans in attendance as he climbs down from the apron and on to the floor. He’s covered in sweat, wincing in pain. He holds the back of his left with his left hand as he reaches out to the crowd with his right. As he passes the fans he connects with them, giving high fives.
Standing at the top of the ramp are two of the four hooded figures that had beaten up Buster backstage a few weeks ago. Buster’s legs become rooted in the ground as he squares up, scans the arena for the other two figures and waits for their move. Excitement grows in the crowd as they encourage Buster to charge up the ramp and settle a score.
A third hooded man, who had emerged from under the ring, crushes Buster with an unprotected steel chair shot to his upper back. The other two finally begin their descent down the ramp. Once reaching the crumbled body of Gloves, all three of them unleash a flurry of stomps and wild haymakers. A little more prepared this time, Buster gets to a knee and lifts one of the men with fireman’s carry and dumps him into the other, knocking them both to the floor. He turns to go after the third, but the numbers are just too much for him.
A steel chair is rammed into Buster’s gut. Then another shot on the back to drop him again. The two hooded figures collapse on him, as the three of them roll him into the ring, drag him towards the far rope, and twist his arms up into the ropes. Once they are convinced the ropes will hold, each one of them faces the ramp and kneels.
At the top of the rampa, a fourth hooded man stands. Slowly and methodically, we begins down the ramp, nodding his head with approval. He simply tilts his head as he enters the ring and then cuts his head towards the tied up Buster. Then waves the men out of the ring. The last remaining hooded man sits down right in front of Buster.
Man: I told you it wasn’t safe to walk around here alone. You told me ‘No’. That was brave of you. And stupid. I told you that ‘No’ isn’t an option, but that is a lie. I’m a liar, Buster. Everyone in this room is a liar.. No is always an option. Hell, ‘Yes’ was even an option. You can say whatever you want around here and it doesn’t matter. Regardless of what you said, regardless of what you do, you were always going to end up right here, with me, just the way we are.
The man pauses for a second and scoffs into the microphone and puts a hand to his head.
Man: Why do we have to end up like this? Why? Why? Why? It’s not that I don’t like you.. No, it has nothing to do with that. It has everything to do with the fact that you placate yourself to the fans. You crave their gratitude. You feed off of their energy. You’ve convinced yourself of this lie that you need them. You still haven’t seen the light, and that’s okay. You’re going to get there. And I’ll help. I’ll show you that these fans are fickle. They are weak-minded sheep. Repeating the rehearsed lines. Without an original thought in their fragile little minds. They don’t actually like you, Buster. They just do whatever their masters tell them to, so they won’t have to suffer anymore than anyone else.
The hooded man adjusts himself so that his back is to Buster, and his face is to the Tron.
Man: Come on, Buster. I know you have it in you. To feed off their energy. Using it for your own selfish gain. Free yourself. Break your chains. Rise up. Bring the fight to the gates of your enemies. Do that and you’ll never spend another day in your cage of self-pity and loneliness. Prove to me that these people actually care about you and I’ll admit that I was wrong.
The man holds his arms out wide and waits. Buster gives up the struggle. Averting eye contact while he tries to unpack the things this man is saying. Buster can’t just free himself. It’ll take the assistance of someone else. Either a savior or a captor. Defeated and broken, Buster waits, but nobody comes to help him.
Man: Just as I had expected. By the time these fakers are in their beds, they will have already forgotten about you. They won’t remember how you bled for them. They won’t recognize what you’ve sacrificed for their entertainment. Your name will hardly be a whisper in their meaningless lives. It’s not that you don’t stand out enough as a wrestler. It’s that you don’t stand out enough as a human being. You stand in line. You wait your turn. And you hope for the best. And the world breaks you into dust! You still have an option, Mr. Gloves. You can be reborn. You can be fixed. You can be saved. By me. You are like a rose wilting, all you need is a little water and sunlight, and you can be brought back to life.
The hooded man looks to one side of the arena, then the other. Then slowly lifts the hood from his face. Revealing… Shawn… Warstein.
Shawn takes a deep breath as a sinister smile stretches across his face. He begins pointing with one hand as he holds the mic with the other.
Shawn Warstein: Look at me, Buster. These people forgot about me. They turned their backs on me. I’ll show them what happens when an animal breaks its chains, escapes its cage, and goes on the hunt.
Shawn smirks, proud of himself, as he sets the microphone down and gets right in Buster’s face. Buster withdraws and kicks wildly as Shawn moves in close to caress his cheek. Buster barks a few words to Shawn, but the mic is unable to pick up what he says. Shawn only shakes his head and smiles bigger at how predictable this whole interaction has been. There is a second where it looks like Buster is about to spit in Shawn’s face, but he doesn’t. He holds it back and swallows his pride. Shawn drops to his back and rolls out of the ring, while Buster can only spit a bloody mess onto the map. The eyes of Buster Gloves are averted shame as he can only wait for a friend, or co-worker, or employer to come release him from this inhumane entanglement.