Hard to imagine that there was once a time where gettin’ kicked in the face or bein’ choked out on live TV didn’t really get to me.
Bein’ the “fall guy”.
Something I came to accept, cause historically speakin’, gettin’ my ass kicked seems to be the only damb thing I can do reliably in this world.
But then, of course, I hadda go and fuck errything up by winnin’ the Universal Championship, and openin’ the door to all these stupid and delusional thoughts about bein’ better than what I thought I was.
Seemed like I had finally broken through and set a new standard for myself.
Turned out to be bullshit.
A few months later, and… I’m not even in the runnin’ anymore.
Back to bein’ a nobody.
Midcard chum for the show’s designated “piss break” spot.
We can all see now, based on the way I’ve consistently been fallin’ short of whatever “standard” that was set, that I didn’t break through shit, and that my run with the championship was just a fluke.
The fact that the locker room still insists on seein’ my as “the dirtball junkie” only further proves that nothing was changed by it.
Irony is a bitch, ain’t it?
My career has become something of a self-fulfillin’ prophecy.
Worked my ass off to not be remembered as the guy in PRIME who shit his pants, only to ensure that I’d be remembered as the guy who royally shit the bed.
Now, I’m giftin’ this company an epic fall from grace the likes of which they ain’t ever seen before.
There’s no tellin’ when or where this downward spiral ends.
And there’s no tellin’ where I inevitably go when it’s all said and done.
Even now, I have no idea where I’m goin’.
I started a joke, which started the whole world crying
But I didn’t see that the joke was on me
Right now, he’s going to the parking lot.
Because while the thirtieth broadcast of ReVival has only just begun, for curtain-jerker extraordinaire Erik Black–hurt, humiliated, and also in dire need of a shower–the job is finished, and the show is over.
And he knows that there’s no point in hanging around where he isn’t welcome.
His hand, buried down to the wrist into his forest of a beard, fervently rubs at the sore spot left on his jawline courtesy of one Mr. Jiles.
The pain is nothing compared to what’s going on his mind, as the searing pinprick of harsh reality settles in. His spot in the Turmoil match is now officially lost. And, assuredly, any chance of taking back the Universal Title has gone with it.
His rubbing expectedly does nothing to make his jaw hurt any less, which only serves to anger him further. Punishing himself for his own inability to do anything about it, he pushes his hand into it harder, flaring up the pain to an even worse level.
Suffer, asshole. You deserve it…
The match went how he expected it would, especially after a hectic and distraction-filled week that included trying to survive the wilds of Mexico. But even if the result didn’t exactly come as a surprise, he is by no means any less pissed off about it.
Pissed off about everything.
It shows in his incoherent grumbling and angry, determined stomps through the backstage area of the Footprint Arena. Members of the production crew swiftly and silently clear themselves from his path. They’ve worked this business long enough to know a human powderkeg when they see one, and based on the brooding and dour expression etched on his face, Black has the look of someone that just needs any reason to go off.
Shoulda never signed up for that PWA bullshit…
A sharp kick forces the doors to the parking lot to fly open, and he makes his exit, leaving behind the stuffy confines of the arena’s backstage for the dry, desert heat of the open night air. Outside, the lot is virtually devoid of life, thanks in part to the show now being in full swing.
Finally away from the prying eyes inside, Erik finds the post-match spliff he’d been saving and plucks it into his mouth. He knows the smoke won’t do anything to change the situation, but he can at least go for an attitude adjustment.
His hands search his pockets for the lighter, while his eyes search the silent rows of vehicles for his ride, Rocko’s rickety Park Avenue. The ancient 90’s Buick barely made the cross-country trip from Indiana, and Erik feels like it would take a small miracle for it to get him to San Diego.
Maybe that’s not a bad thing…
He finally spies the car and makes his way over. As he does, he becomes aware that the joint has been left hanging in his mouth, as his hands have yet to find his lighter to put it to work.
Where the hell did I leave that thing? Do NOT tell me I left it in there…
Further annoyed that he would have to wait to smoke, he abandons the search for fire to instead fish out his keys. If Rocko’s shitheap was good for anything, at least it was built in a time when automobiles still came with cigarette lighters.
Unfortunately, the keys don’t come willingly.
The ring stubbornly clings to a loose thread in his pocket.
Cursing, he spastically jerks at his key fob in an effort to pull them free…
Only for yet another disturbance to occur in his pants.
This one, from his back pocket. Where his phone begins to vibrate.
Can I just get ONE. GODDAMB. SECOND here!
The free hand reaches back to pull out the phone.
He can see by the horned helmet icon on the touchscreen that the caller is Ollie.
But with one hand still caught up in his pocket, the other struggles to simultaneously hold the phone and swipe a finger in the required pattern to unlock the screen.
Come on, it’s a Zee! A ZEE! How fuckin’ hard is that?!
The rage boils over. A sharp yank from the hand on the keys causes the thread to snap, and pulls them free.
Along with the elastic in his waistband.
Everything happens in the blink of an eye.
As he pants drop, the keys come out.
So does the lighter that he was unable to find earlier.
The utterance slips out of him reflexively.
In doing so, the spliff falls from his mouth.
He only half-notices, as his hand drops the keys to catch the lighter.
In his other hand, the buzzing phone bobbles itself free from his fingers and shatters on the asphalt.
He stands shocked and helpless, looking down at the disaster at his feet.
Then he watches the fallen joint rolls its way down a sewer grate.
He looks at the small, red lighter in his hand that had caused so much trouble.
He suddenly decides doesn’t want to look at anything anymore.
He throws it across the parking lot.
He picks up his keys, and they follow the lighter.
“FUCK THIS WORLD!!”
He picks up the pieces of his phone and wrathfully flings them as far as he can throw them.
“FUCK THIS WORLD!!”
When the hand has run out of things to throw, it puts itself into the driver’s side window, breaking the silence of the night with the rupturing sound of shattering glass.
“FUCK IT ALL!! FUCK EVERYTHING!!”
In the wake of the outburst, the silence quickly settles back in.
Tremoring and panting heavily, Erik stares at the trapezoidal void where the window used to be, and the glinting shards of glass now covering the seat beyond it.
He’s thankful he can’t see his reflection.
Just makin’ it worse… cause you’re a fuck up.
Always have been, always will be.
“Arr y’FINNUSHED, BOAH?!”
He is suddenly come to the realization that he is not alone.
But by the time he turns around and comes to notice the squat figure that has been standing behind him, a fist as hard and heavy as a kettlebell buries itself into his midsection.
It hits him like a cannon, and leaves him in a heap on the asphalt, gasping for air in a state of wild-eyed shock.
“THA’S f’r makin’ muh come awl th’ waay t’ ARRUHZONUH, BOAH!” bellows the garbled voice of the stranger from above him.
Suddenly, the fact that he’s just been attacked hardly seems relevant. The thick, gargled drawl opens up a floodgate of deeply repressed memories now clawing their way back into his mind.
“You…” he wheezes from his place on the ground. “I… know… you.”
The stranger stoops over to grab him by the scruff of the neck to pull him back to his feet.
“Ah ‘spect yuh do, BOAH! Bluhd regguhnahze BLUHD!”
He takes in the gray-bearded elderly man, standing as tall as he is wide, built like a sturdy boulder.
Both of his eyes are covered with eyepatches: The face of the Reaper engraved on the right, and the face of the Devil on the left.
The resemblance between them is uncanny.
“Are you my…”
Erik pauses before he can finish the question. He’s waited many years to speak these words.
The old man spits, and slaps Erik so hard it sends him back to the pavement.
I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing
Oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me
Ya know what’s really been fuckin’ with me lately?
This idea I got… rollin’ around in my head, and refusin’ to go away.
This idea that deep down, I mighta kinda wanted all this to happen.
That maybe, on some unconscious level, I was set on sabotagin’ myself.
As if the pressure to live up to the standard was too much to carry on these shoulders.
As if years of acceptin’ myself as a failure had settled my mind into a place where I couldn’t be comfortable with anything else.
I’ll be honest with ya right now, gang…
That idea fucks with me HARD.
Knowin’ after all this time, and all this effort I put into trynna change my ways, I’m still my own worst enemy.
Knowin’ that no matter how much a part of me wants to succeed…
…another part of me is set on seein’ me fail.
All just to stay in that comfort zone.
Where am I goin’?
The question ain’t all that relevant, if I can’t figger out who I am.
Maybe you, Sage, can help me find out.
Maybe YOU can give me… VISION.
I looked at the skies, running my hands over my eyes
And I fell out of bed, hurting my head from things that I’d said
“Naw, BOAH… if’n yuh whurr MAH pup, I’da DRAOWN’D uh runt lahk yuh b’foare yuh eber left th’ criyb.”
Erik is still seeing stars from the skillet-sized slap that just rocked his face, but nevertheless feels himself being brought back up off the ground.
“Buht seeyin’ as Louise wuhs muh duhrrly duhpawrt’d SISTUH,” continued the sight-deptived leder. “Ah’m oh-BLAAHGED t’ cawl yuh kin!”
Erik processes the information as best he can. He’s still struggling to breath after the earlier shot to his gut, even though he hardly registers the lingering pain down there.
Moments ago, he was just pissed about losing another match. All the sudden, his entire world had been flipped over.
I have FAMILY?!
“So, wait…” he stammers out. “You’re sayin’ you’re my uncle?”
The blind man snorts, and presses a fat and stubby thumb into his barrel chest.
“Name’s Billy Black. Thah’s ‘BIG’ Billy Black. Eym-fuh-suss awn th’ BIG, cawse thad’s whud Ah AMB, an’ thad’s haow Ah TAWLK, an’ thad’s whud AH’M uh-BAOWT! Hurrd muh, boah?”
Erik blinks in confusion. Outside of the introduction, there wasn’t a single word in that statement that he could reasonably make out.
“DAMBIT, BOAH, D’YUH UNNERSTAAN’ TH’ AYNGLISH LAYNGUGGE, OAR ARR YUH JUS’ STOOPID!!”
‘Til I finally died, which started the whole world living
Oh, if I’d only seen, that the joke was on me
On the other hand, Sage…
What good is enlightenment?
On any given day, the truth in my world can change.
Maybe vision is overrated.
Maybe I don’t need any light to lead me to where I need to be.
Maybe the best of me is when I truly don’t care.
Maybe I’m better off livin’ in ignorance.
Bein’ blind to the truth.
Blind to what I am.
And, subsequently, blind to all the lies that lead me away from bein’ all I wanna be.
Seems to be the only way I can get ahead in this world.
I wish I could tell ya I’m bringin’ my best to San Diego…
But I dunno what “my best” even is anymore.
I’m just bringin’ myself, and my ever-burnin’ will to fight, and all the inevitable failure that comes with it.
Do with it what you will.
Otherwise, come join me in the VOID.