Private: Ria Lockhart
An autograph signing. For wrestling promotions like PRIME, these aren’t unique events. They’re publicity, a way to get their roster out there and mingling with the public. You give a child an autograph and a few kind words, there’s a chance you’ve made a fan for life. It can also be a pick me up for fans that need it, a way to see your heros and forget how crappy the everyday rigamarole is.
It can be a great experience for the wrestlers as well. Some get a chance to see rare memorabilia from years past, a chance to relive moments seemingly forgotten. For less popular grapplers, it can be encouraging just to see you have fans, people who care. If for no other reason, it at least gives one exposure, gets your name out there.
In the case of Ria Lockhart, the last point is why she agreed to this particular event. In the past, there was a very good chance either of the first options would’ve been Ria’s driving force. She had always been pretty selfless with her time; any signing she had done previously was either free or had the proceeds donated to charity. She was a very involved and outspoken member of the LGBTQIA+ community, after all.
Ria was no longer that person. Instead of the somewhat shy but still affable woman she once was, Ria treated this as a business opportunity. Unsigned 8x10s were $10, $25 signed. There were also t-shirts, keychains and other crappy trinkets with a price slapped on them. She had made it clear to both PRIME and the event runners that she wouldn’t be signing priorly purchased items; if you wanted her time or her signature, you’d be paying to compensate her.
Ria was situated behind a table, sitting in what looked like a high end office chair. She wore a white tank top, tight denim short shorts, sandal wedges and, of course, her Louis Vuitton sunglasses. Her makeup was immaculate. The process went as follows: A fan would walk up, pay the teller for merchandise and then approach Ria for an autograph. A few words and the fan would be politely instructed by staff to move along. Time is money, money is power, etc etc…
A number of fans that weren’t aware of Lockhart’s change in attitude were left disappointed. Where was the woman that was happy to stand up for the downtrodden, those outcasts with good hearts? The trans woman that showed no matter your background, you could still live your dream? Could this callous lady that could barely be bothered to look up from her phone just to say hello be the same person?
The pattern went on for a while. Then she showed up… A thin teen girl with thick black hair, subtle makeup, a black dress that bordered on risque and some knee high Converse boots stepped up. She paid the $10 and moved forward, grabbing a glossy picture.
“Thanks for your support.” Ria droned out, focus on her phone. The girl didn’t move on, glaring at Ria.
“Is that all you have to say to me?” The teen asked, her voice sounding a bit… off. Ria sighed in annoyance. She turned the chair towards the girl and raised her gaze from her phone. Lockhart leaned back slightly before using her right hand to shift her glasses down her nose just a bit. Her eyes squinted, as if her mind was processing memories.
“Do I know you?” Ria asked. Typically, when Ria asked this question, her tone was cold or unpleasant. In this case, she seemed genuine. Did she know this girl? Why did she seem familiar? The teen put her hands on her hips, picture still in hand and glared at Ria.
“Krystal.” The name caused Ria’s eyes to open wide. Whether it was due to surprise or being directly confronted by someone from her past was unclear. The reaction didn’t last long. Lockhart was quick to compose herself, sliding her sunglasses back into proper placement.
“And?” Ria coldly responded. “That’s not an uncommon name. You’re gonna have to give me more to go off of, dear.”
The words themselves weren’t just cutting, Ria’s tone was also dismissive. Arrogant. A look of shock crossed Krystal’s face, soon giving way to one of hurt.
“So I never actually mattered to you…” Krystal lamented. For those that have forgotten, young Krystal was spotted in a Forever 21 by Ria during her Nightshade days. She had bought the trans teen a number of clothes while doing her best to be supportive of who Krystal wanted to be. The adolescent fan had worn an outfit that day at the mall designed to keep attention off of herself. It seemed that in the time since then, Krystal had gained the confidence to truly express herself.
Had Krystal watched ReVival 32? Was she looking to meet with the goal of shaming Ria? Or had she caught wind of the signing, expecting to see the woman that had helped her, finding this diva instead? Anger or disappointment… Neither were ideal. Ria leaned forward, propping her elbows on the table as she stared Krystal down.
“Life lesson, babe.” Ria harshly started. “Putting your faith in others is naive, foolish. Only one person will always have your back. Sooner you learn that lesson, the better off you’ll be.”
An awkward silence hung in the now heavy air. It didn’t last long. Krystal quickly lifted the picture up, taking it in both hands. The girl began to shred the photo in her hands, face reddened, eyes watering, breathing rapid. Krystal pushed the torn bits into Ria’s face before storming off, doing her damnedest to keep from openly bawling.
A stunned Ria looked down where the fragments of the picture lay. Her surprise was quickly overtaken by anger, her face twisting into a snarl.
“That little bitch…”
When looking for certain services, it’s not uncommon to cast a wide net. You never know where the perfect applicant might come from. The autograph signing had shown Ria a truth; she was in need of a bodyguard and she didn’t plan to wait long to get one.
There was no telling what might happen the next time a crazed fan got too close to her. What if a piece of that picture had managed to fly in such a way that it cut her face? She’d be disfigured, physically scarred in a way from which she might never recover! Yes, that doesn’t usually happen with paper cuts, but there’s a first time for everything!
That’s why Lockhart had rented this firehall out, for the purpose of holding interviews. She’d usually leave such mundane activities to her agent, the eternally overworked but always appreciative Aubrey Azure; A smart girl that’s unfortunately easily intimidated, there was one thing Ria valued about her above all else… Her rate was cheap.
Ria couldn’t leave this search to Aubrey. She wasn’t looking for some pushy bitch that just bullied Aubrey into hiring her. Two personalities like that under the same camp wouldn’t work. This had to be handled personally, whether Lockhart wanted to do it or not.
So here she was. Again, Ria was sitting behind a table. No fancy office chair this time. Instead, she was seated on a metal folding chair. She wore a light pink tube dress with the hem ending just above her knees. White open-toed booties with her standard makeup and glasses completed the outfit. She sat in the chair sideways, legs crossed while she played away on her phone. The table had a printout taped to the front, proclaiming ‘BODYGUARD TRYOUTS’. Fancy? No. But there wasn’t much of a chance for confusion.
The turnout was about a dozen women. Despite the desire to be the constant center of attention, the pro-fem tendencies of the old Lockhart still remained. It’s why her agent was a woman (and the cheap rate, don’t forget that part) and why she wanted a female bodyguard. Now it was just a matter of finding the right person.
First up was a rather hard looking woman, dressed in a loose tank top, sports bra fairly visible underneath and some basketball shorts. Her graying black hair was pulled into a tight, small ponytail. She crossed her arms on her chest, her steely gaze fixed on Lockhart.
“Name?” Ria asked in a rather bored tone, not bothering to turn to face the woman.
“Brandy Shale.” Brandy grunted out.
“Qualifications?” Lockhart blandly continued.
“A 3-1 MMA record.” Brandy answered. “Brown belt in BJJ. Various training in other martial arts.”
“Hm.” An unimpressed Lockhart responds. After a moment of silence, with Brandy growing visibly annoyed, Ria spoke. Again, she didn’t bother to face the woman. “Do you know who I am?”
The question seemed to break Brandy’s concentration.
“Uh, no.” Shale’s tone was part hesitant, part confusion. An annoyed huff emanated from Ria.
“NEXT!” Lockhart emphatically called out. Brandy’s eyes widened and her jaw dropped. A second later, she scowled and stomped off. Next up was a rather plain looking woman, dressed in a tasteful light blue t-shirt and khaki capris. She was holding the hand of a little girl standing next to her, dressed in a cute black and white striped sundress.
“Name?” Ria started the process over.
“Olivia Smail.” Olivia answered. Ria spun around in the chair, looking at the woman and her daughter. She put on a smile, which she made no effort in hiding its authenticity.
“Aww! She’s so cute!” Ria gushed in a patronizing tone. “What’s the little trash monster’s name?”
Olivia’s face twists in horror at having her child addressed in such a way. The child glared at Ria.
“My name is Celine, you jerk!” Celine spat out, drawing a giggle from Ria. Lockhart’s focus goes to Olivia.
“Qualifications?” Ria asked, an amused smirk resting on her face.
“Well,” Olivia began. “I’m a mother of one. I’ve been told I make very good peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I’m diligent with my house work. I certainly know my way around a vacuum!”
Olivia did a little shimmy with her ‘joke’. The amused smirk fades, Ria’s lips curling in distain.
“Bitch, I need a bodyguard!” Ria snarled. “If I wanted a housewife, I’d hit up my ex’s sister! Let me guess… You’re one of those dumb broads that heard about this and ‘thought it would be fun’, without actual thought on the matter? Am I right?”
Olivia looked utterly aghast at Ria’s outburst. Celine furiously stepped up, Olivia trying to pull her child back.
“My momma is great!” Celine objected. “If you weren’t such a dummy, you’d hire her!”
Ria cruelly chuckled, her gaze now on the child.
“I like you, kid! You’ve got moxie!” Ria stated. She leaned back, arms crossed on her chest. “I kinda want to yeet you across the room like a Chucky doll, but I respect your gumption! Now both of you get out of here before I make that a reality.”
Olivia scooped up the irritated Celine, sending a dirty look Ria’s way before hastily making an exit. A few more applicants came and went, none impressing Ria in any meaningful way. Lockhart was back to barely giving this search its due consideration when the last woman stepped forward. She gave a polite but awkward wave to the uninterested Lockhart.
“Name?” Yet again from Ria, who was looking down at her phone.
“Um, Kohime Mori.”
Ria’s head immediately picked up. She rapidly turned in her chair. Indeed, standing in front of her is the Moé Monster.
“What the hell?” Ria questioned. “Why are you here? You’re a wrestler.”
Kohime nervously laughed, rubbing the back of her head.
“See, I’ve been doing some thinking.” Kohime said. “I don’t really think I like competing. I’m not exactly a competitive person at my core. I’ve also been picking up some injuries lately… But I don’t wanna just leave wrestling. I still like it. I still like my friends… I’m not ready to leave.”
Ria leaned forward, propping her chin on a fist.
“What do you want as far as pay?” Ria inquired, drawing a shrug from Kohime.
“I dunno… A living wage?” Kohime answered, sounding like someone told her that’s what she should say. A malicious chuckle escaped from Ria’s throat.
“I’m sure we can work something out.”
Ria strode into her new, lavish Las Vegas condo. She tossed aside her keys (no thanks to Matt Mills), sunglasses and purse onto a small table near the front door. Things were coming together. She’d be making her re-debut at ReVival 33 and now had a bodyguard secured. Things were looking up. Ria walked into her living room and collapsed onto a massive couch, closed her eyes while raising her arms above her head. A content sigh escaped her lips. Nothing could ruin this.
“You stupid bitch!”
Ria’s eyes shot open and she bolted upright. She held her breath. Silence… Silence that didn’t last long.
“You fucked everything up!”
That voice… It had been over a year since Ria had heard that voice. Lockhart dashed off towards the bathroom, almost falling on her face in the process of getting off the couch. She haphazardly opened the medicine cabinet, eyes darting around the two shelves. They soon settled on an orange bottle with a white top. She snatched it up, struggling to open it momentarily in her panic.
Once she did, she dumped a small pile of pills into her hand. Pushing all but two back into the container, Ria was quick to pop them into her mouth. She turned the faucet on with a hard flick, letting it run for a second. Lockhart used her hand to funnel the water into her mouth, swallowing it down with the pills a moment later. She turned off the water, put the bottle back in the cupboard and pushed the cabinet door closed.
Ria gripped the sides of the porcelain sink, her breathing finally calming. She closed her eyes tightly.
“She’s gone…” Ria mumbled out, her voice lacking confidence. “She’s dead… I got rid of her.”
With a heavy sigh, Lockhart’s posture straightened up. She adjusted her hair in the mirror before striding out of the bathroom. She settled back down on the couch, but her exuberance from earlier had been shattered. Her eyes darted around the room. Quiet, solitude. Ria hesitantly scooped up the remote to turn on the television.
“Those pills won’t work forever. I’ll be back, you pompous whore!”
A sharp inhale of breath from Ria. Her shaking hand clicked away on the remote before swapping it out for an Amazon fire stick controller. She put YouTube on and clicked on a random video for background noise. Her image was no longer one of haughtiness, but one of reserved terror. Lockhart had put in so much work back then, without even discussing her recent efforts. She couldn’t lose that all now, she couldn’t begin to spiral.
Ria leaned forward, elbows on her knees, her face resting against her hands. She had seen her booking for ReVival. Bobby Dean and Daytona Diamonds; one sounded like a porn star and the other one was Bobby Dean. Regardless of any feelings Ria had, this was her comeback. Losing wasn’t an option, at least not if she wanted to make headway. Focusing on the match would push this garbage out of her head.
Ria got up and grabbed her laptop. She unfolded it and put it on the couch. Grabbing the power cord off the floor, Ria plugged it into the designated port. After the prerequisite boot up period, she began clicking away. She opened two tabs on Chrome, pulled up Google Docs and began typing. There was work to be done. Ria would not fail.
Are you… fucking… KIDDING ME?! Seriously?! This booking is unacceptable! Now, it’s not the fact that I’m facing the human embodiment of lard and some nobody that has me irritated. No, it’s the placement. The opening match?! Clearly, there are very stupid people making decisions when it comes to match placement.
Listen, I’m a commodity. A very valuable resource. I should be pampered, treated as an investment. Do you know how long it takes to achieve perfection in human form? It’s not some insignificant amount of time. I’m not like Justine Calvin, using cheap-ass bottom shelf Walmart makeup. I have people taking care of me. You’re rushing artistry, you plebs. It’s wrong and should be condemned! You can bet my agent WILL be contacting Wade about this!
Much like a bathroom scale, I will not be taking Bobby Dean lightly. He’s an idiot, an absolute buffoon… But he knows that. Oh yeah, make no mistake about it, Bobby will take advantage of the fact that people don’t always take him seriously. Subterfuge at its finest. I respect it, really. In saying that, I’m also too smart to fall for that crap.
I might be able to run and wrestle circles around Bobby, though they’d have to be very very wide circles… but he’s experienced and he has the size advantage. Pretty sure even legally blind people can see that. Getting the big guy off his feet will be challenging. Once he’s down, though? I figure he’s gonna be like a beached whale.
I don’t know a damn thing about Daytona Diamonds. Like, literally. A name. That’s all I have. On one hand, that’s concerning. On the other hand, I figure I would’ve heard SOMETHING if this person was worth a damn. On the third hand for you mutants out there that have them, it’s frustrating. Is this person some kind of CIA or KGB operative that needs special protection?!
I don’t care if it’s preferred secrecy or some incompetent idiot not updating PRIME’s site (I’m blaming Wade for that). I know what I’m capable of. Even if this person of undefined gender or origin is actually pretty good, I know I’m better. Hell, I can bitch slap a good portion of the roster, that’s where I’m at. What can Rochester Ruby do? Maybe if I typed the name in PornoHub, I would’ve gotten to see them in “action”.
To me, this is just a warm up; a way to knock off some rust, get reintroduced to the PRIMEates. This match is about me, it’s my showcase! Bobby Dean can go skulk back into Cancer Jiles shadow. Evangelista Emeralds can find work in some low end strip club. Neither of them matter, nobody will be talking about them afterwards. Just me. Just Ria. Get used to that, PRIME. You’re gonna get more Ria than you can handle and you’re gonna learn… There is indeed too much of a good thing.