Private: Tyler Adrian Best
Lucky me, Tyler Two Shots.
Unlucky you, I guess. PRIME Wrestling has clearly hand picked not only its next Five Star Champion, but its next Universal Champion, too. Forty motherfuckers sent to enter one ring, and I come out at thirty seven. Thirty seven. Number thirty seven. Read that again, in case you’re fucking slow.
I come out at thirty seven.
I fought for that right. I won that right. Before anyone starts doing that tacky “Oh Tyler gets handed everything” bullshit, run that match with Tommy Talented back and watch me hit two Streets Sweepers in a row. Watch me pin him in the center of that ring. Watch me wipe him off the top five and earn the right to saunter into that battle royale long after you human pit stains have worn eachother out with hugs and headlocks. I am a generational talent. A once in a lifetime athlete. A third generation professional wrestling prodigy, and it’s about time that it gets properly acknowledged.
I mean, let’s talk about what I’ve accomplished.
I’m not one to brag about what I’ve done in other companies, but sometimes history has to speak for itself. I was the co-winner of HOW War Games in my second ever pro wrestling match. Do you know how hard that match is to win? Do you know what you have to survive? Walking out of that match at all is an accomplishment, much less doing it with your arm raised. And I didn’t stop there. I won my next match. And my next match. And my next match. I’ve won every match I’ve had in PRIME, too. In fact, I’ve only ever lost one match in my entire career, and I’m young enough to bang most of your daughters without getting canceled for it. C’mon, Youngblood. Don’t hold out on me. I know your pull out game isn’t that strong.
Where’s she go to college?
How’s them titties?
Seriously, folks. I’m nineteen years old and doing shit that some of you haven’t figured out well into your thirties and forties. And I can already hear you rasping into your fucking CPAP machines about respect and wisdom and experience, so let me just make something super, super clear:
I don’t give a fuck.
I don’t give a fuck.
You soggy old windbags can have all the experience you want, while you drive slow in the left lane toward your 2:30 early bird specials at Shoneys for a late dinner. Look at me. LOOK AT ME. I am a furious mass of youth and cum and fucking raw athletic power and I am coming for every single one of you. Forty men, women, dogs, cats, whatever you want to throw at me… night two of Culture Shock, your NEW Five Star Champion is going to shock the culture of PRIME.
BAWWW TYLER IS BURYING THE ROSTER.
Nah, I’m just being honest.
Past Their PRIME Wrestling is made up of two different types of wrestler: Motherfuckers with youth but no experience and motherfuckers with experience but no youth. I started training when I was fifteen years old, and I’ve trained under the entire Group of Death. Do you know what the Group of Death is? Probably not, because it’s outside of your little safe wrestling bubble, so let me educate you:
Lindsay Troy. Mike Best. Dan Ryan. Cecilworth Farthington.
Those are my teachers. Those are my mentors. Those are the people who educated me on the craft of professional wrestling, and no matter what you think of them personally, there is no better learning tree to sit under in this business. Full stop. End of statement, zero disputing it. Who the fuck is the Colton Family, compared to the Group of Death? How many generations of the Talented family does it take to match nearly five years of training under literal wrestling GoDs?
They are the Mt. Rushmore of Wrestling.
And I am their greatest creation.
So no, I reject your disingenuous, inevitable complaints that I am “burying” the roster. MMA fighters don’t compliment their fucking opponents before the fight. Political rivals don’t talk about how much the other has done for the community. Nobody is out there at pressers before the Super Bowl talking about how fast the opposing wide receivers are. Am I going to look like an absolute moron if I call the entire roster a bunch of goobers, and then lose to those goobers? Sure. But let me wear that cross. Let me make that my burden. Because that’s the shit that fuels me. That’s the shit that gets my dick hard.
All or nothing.
Win or die.
I am writing a big fat check that says I am the single most talented wrestler on the PRIME roster, and at Culture Shock, it’s my job to cash it. It’s my time to pay up. Forty enter, one leaves, and you can call me the King of the Thunderdome. You can call me Highlander. But more than anything, you can call me the number one contender to the Universal Championship. You have all talked a lot of shit at wanting a chance to shut my fucking mouth, right?
Well, the champ Champ is coming.
Be careful what you wish for.
“You’re really sure I gotta do this?”
For some reason, his palms are sweaty. Knees weak, arms are— oh, sorry. It’s just the sweaty palms. Tyler Adrian Best stands outside the closed door of a hospital patient room, nervously tapping his fingers against the waistline of his jeans as he avoids anything resembling eye contact.
“It’s going to be fine, Ty.” Penny puts a hand on his shoulder, reassuringly. “Go in, crack some jokes, hang out with the kid, you’re in and out in an hour.”
She furrows her brow, as she rethinks her statement.
“Actually, no jokes.” She clarifies. “Absolutely no jokes.”
She gives his shoulder a squeeze, hoping he’ll at least crack a smile. Instead, Tyler stares vacantly at the door in front of him, swallowing sand. He’s clearly been a nervous, anxious mess since the second they walked into the doors of the children’s hospital, and truth be told it was kind of unnerving for Penny.
She’d never seen him so human before.
Tyler clenches his fists at his side, clearing his throat as the vacant expression quickly leaves his face. It’s replaced with a snide smirk, the kind that drags across the center of your face like a jagged scar. In an instant, it’s evident that Tyler is gone… TAB has arrived.
“Aight, bet.” TAB nods, with a short. “No one-liners about dead kids. Got it.”
It seems immediately evident to the both of them that he doesn’t “got it” in the slightest, but the mask is already firmly over his face. Tyler turns the handle on the door, stepping into the hospital room alone and closing it behind him. Penny can only offer up the smallest of prayers that this isn’t a tremendous disaster, as she slowly sinks down along the wall and sits next to the door to wait it out.
The kid asked for Tyler alone.
“Maybe this was a mistake.” she mutters, to no one.
And if it was, it was her mistake. Tyler was nineteen years old, and as much as he liked to brag about that fact to anything that walked and had muscles, it also meant that he had the emotional maturity of a nineteen year old. He wasn’t legally old enough to buy beer or rent a car. He didn’t have an established credit history. It’s something that she, and perhaps many others, often forgets about Tyler Adrian Best.
He’s literally a child.
“Hey little guy, heard someone wanted to meet their favorite wrestler!”
The words are as sweet and sickening as sugarless candy, and just as filled with bullshit poison. They feel stupid coming out of his mouth, and Tyler can’t imagine that they sound any better entering the ears of the child lying in the bed. He’s definitely younger than Tyler, though not by much– shaggy curls hang loose, barely covering his eyes and he winces at the man who just walked into his hospital room with a handful of helium balloons.
“Holy shit dude, I’m thirteen.” he replies, almost looking embarrassed.
And that’s it.
That’s the energy that hangs in the air, as Tyler Adrian Best and a probably-dying-child stare one another directly in the eyes. They’re gazes are transfixed as though whoever blinks first will die of utter embarrassment, and neither of the boys is eager to die first.
It’s so quiet.
Someone say something.
“Now you say words.” Dying Kid says, slowly. “That’s how a conversation works.”
The utter audacity and condescension of the young teenager is enough to break the tension, as Tyler’s head practically whiplashes at what he’s just heard. He spends a solid five seconds contemplating a flying knee directly to this child’s throat, but finds that the sound escaping his throat is… laughter.
“Hey, fuck you.” Tyler shakes his head, cracking up. “I’ve never done this before.”
The teenager crosses his arms in front of him, smirking.
“What, talked to a ghost?” he rolls his eyes. “Relax, dude. I’ve got a month and a half to live. If you hurt my feelings, they aren’t gonna be hurt for that long, so just miss me with the poor widdle guy shit.”
The words come out so effortlessly for him, like he’s said them a thousand times. He’s heard doctors say it. Heard his mother and father say it, even when they didn’t think he was listening. He’s become accustomed to that series of mouth sounds– a month and a half to live. For some, it would be a very uncomfortable thing to hear. They wouldn’t know what to say, or how to respond. They might get awkward and quiet. But Tyler? Weirdly enough…
He gets it.
“Aight, bet.” Tyler laughs again, letting go of the balloons. “Well, what’s your name? Or you just want me to call you Dead Kid?”
The teenager slides upward in his bed, turning to face the chair that sits next to it. It’s an unspoken invitation, and that’s all that it needs to be– Tyler plops down in the chair, sitting back and crossing his leg over his lap.
“I’m Jake.” he answers, uncrossing his arms. “I’ll be honest, man, I didn’t figure you’d actually show up, but it’s kinda fucking cool that you did.”
Tyler can see right through him.
It’s a strange mirror to look into– Penny has told him a thousand times over that his “too cool for everything” attitude was a defense mechanism, but this? This kid has a month and a half to live, and he’s no selling it. It’s uncomfortable how comfortable Tyler is in this moment, as he reaches forward and gives Jake a quick little fist bump, smiling back at him.
They were only six years apart.
Children comforting children.
“You want me to be honest?” TAB leans forward, elbows on his knees. “I wasn’t gonna. A very evil pink haired woman threatened to tell the world something very embarrassing about me if I didn’t come do this shit, so here I am. I know you’re probably not supposed to tell people shit like that, but people have probably been sugar coating shit for you for like… a long time, huh?”
Sitting forward on his bed, Jake slowly nods his head, trying to take in the full weight of the truth bomb that’s just been dropped on him. Tyler is right, of course– the eggshells people have been walking around him for the last couple of years have started to grind their way into the carpet. Whole fucking room smells like eggs.
It’s kind of nice to meet someone who doesn’t.
“Oh shit.” Jake laughs, shaking his head. “You know, they tell you not to meet your heroes, and maybe they’re… maybe they’re right. I mean, THE TAB is… pussy whipped? SAY IT AIN’T SO!”
The Grandson of God leans back in his chair, rubbing a hand across his jaw over his mouth. Certifiably roasted by a teenager in a hospital gown. Flame broiled. He can feel the heat rising from his neck, turning his cheeks a new hue of scarlet.
“Okay, fine.” Tyler eats the inside of his inner cheek. “Alright. Okay. Fair.”
Glancing back at the door, TAB wonders if she’s still literally just waiting outside. Maybe she went down to the cafeteria. Maybe she’s outside, sneaking one of those cigarettes that she thinks she’s still keeping secret.
Not that he cares.
Why’s he even thinking about that shit right now?
“So what’s the secret?” Jake asks, cocking an eyebrow. “Must be pretty big, to drag the mighty Tyler Adrian Best down to Middle School Death Row.”
“Jeeeeezus.” Tyler breathes out, physically taken aback. “Man, you’re kind of a fucked up kid, you know that?”
Laughing quietly, Jake slings his legs around to sit facing Tyler. His feet kick idly beneath him, as they hang off the edge.
“Yeah, well.” he shrugs. “I don’t know, man. I’ve got like six weeks to find a new kidney, and there’s too much shit wrong with me to make me a top contender for a transplant, soooo. I dunno. Whatever. The fuck am I gonna do, cry about it? Now spill it. Tell me the secret. I’m a corpse by Memorial Day, who am I gonna tell?”
The moment is uncomfortable, but not because it’s honest… it’s because it isn’t. He knows that tone. He knows that attitude. This kid hasn’t made peace with his own death, he’s just too smart for his own good and too bullheaded to tell anyone that he’s afraid. Teflon Tyler and Jokey Jake, sitting no more than four feet apart from one another, like they’re staring into the same mirror.
Tyler looks at the ground, the smile falling off of his face.
The last couple of days, he’s learned a lot of things about himself that he isn’t ready to process. Honestly, he wouldn’t even know how to begin. He feels like he should say something– tell Jake that everything is going to be alright, or give him a fucking hug or something. Tell him that it’s okay to be afraid. But how in the fuck is he going to put that in words? How is he going to sound like he believes it, when he doesn’t even entirely believe it himself, just yet? This is the most important place he could ever choose vulnerability, and yet something in him just won’t allow it. He wouldn’t even know how.
…well, maybe there’s something, anyway.
“I’m a virgin.” Tyler says, quietly.
He doesn’t look up.
Immediately, Jake bursts out laughing– of all the lies told to him by adults, this one is clearly the most egregious. It’s an entire day early for April Fool’s Day, and while he might die tomorrow, he was absolutely not born yesterday. He looks up, waiting for Tyler to laugh at him, but Tyler doesn’t laugh.
He just… looks at him.
“Just never happened yet, I guess.” Tyler shrugs. “Most people fuck in college. I didn’t go to college. I went to wrestling school. Like, fucking, almost when I was your age. And that’s really all I’ve been doing since then, so… yeah. I don’t know.”
“Bro.” Jake blinks, blankly.
Tyler almost laughs, and probably would, if he wasn’t morbidly embarrassed. He shrugs again, weakly, finally managing to look up at Jake.
“I mean.” Tyler swallows, mostly his pride. “Yeah. But like, now if you were self conscious about dying a virgin, or whatever, you know that at least you have a decent excuse. Better than cause I was learning how to do headlocks, anyway.”
An accidentally condescending chuckle leaves Jake’s mouth– he tries quickly to cover it, but the cat is out of the bag.
“Brooooo.” Jake laughs, this time aloud. “You think I’m a…? Brooooo. College? You think most people wait till college? I’m on the floor.”
“Wait.” Tyler’s eyebrows shoot upward. “You mean you– you’re not–”
“OF COURSE NOT!” Jake now BURSTS out laughing, nearly falling on his side. “Holy fuuuuuck, dude. That’s embaaaaaarassing. Whoa. No wonder you showed up today. Oh my God. I’d literally kill myself. Literally.”
Tyler’s feet shoot up from the chair, as he begins to instantly pace in front of it. He has no actual destination in mind, it’s just that his body will not physically allow him to stay still. It feels like there are a thousand spiders crawling right beneath the surface of his skin– his face feels white hot, as the anxiety pumps loudly through his veins to the sound of his own heartbeat.
“If you tell anyone, I’ll kill you.” Tyler mumbles, realizing instantly how stupid it sounds. “I mean, if your stupid useless kidneys don’t do it first.”
This somehow only makes Jake laugh harder.
“A FUCKING VIRGIN!” he roars, nearly cackling. “Ohhhhh fuck, I needed that. Holy shit. Bro that suuuucks, I’m sorry, man.”
Tears are actually welling up in Jake’s eyes, as he wipes one away with the corner of his hospital gown. Tyler takes a deep breath, shoving his whole body back down into the chair and sinking down into it, avoiding eye contact.
“Whatever, man.” he sulks. “You wanna play Madden, or some shit? I dunno. Seriously, don’t fucking tell anybody about that. I’m serious.”
But they both know he isn’t going to.
Jake tosses the TV remote over to Tyler, not even bothering to address it in the first place. It means something to him, that TAB would entrust him with something like that. And while it’s hard to put into words, he understands why he told him.
“PlayStation’s broke.” Jake mumbles back. “Dad said he’ll get me another one once they’re back in stock, but if we’re being honest, I think he’s just letting the play clock run out on this one.”
Tyler laughs, flicking on the television.
“Yeah, well.” he shrugs. “….dad’s sure love to lie..”
“Please tell me he’s still alive.”
The tone in her voice implies that she’s joking, but there’s a little something in her eyes that begs for reassurance. The door shuts behind Tyler, as he walks wordlessly past Penny Lane and out into the hospital hallway. He pulls his phone out of his pocket, quickly smirking at a text on the screen.
“Tyler.” Penny says, more sternly this time. “Not funny.”
He stuff the phone back into the back pocket of his jeans, grabbing his hooded sweatshirt from her hands and slipping it back on through both of his arms. He’s processing a lot right now– he’d performed a fucking Make A Wish today.
His dad never did Make-A-Wish.
Of course, his dad never did a lot of things.
“It was fine.” Tyler grunts, beelining toward the elevator. “Not bad, for a dead kid.”
He hurriedly jams on the down button, remembering exactly how uncomfortable hospitals make him. It didn’t feel like he was in a hospital for the last couple of hours, but suddenly he was again very, very aware.
“You’re such an asshole.” Penny rolls her eyes, standing idly next to him.
“Look, I don’t know what you expected.” Tyler rolls his eyes right back. “That I’d go meet Tiny Tim and have some life changing Christmas Carol moment or something? Fuck, Penny, don’t be so naive. It’s a terrible color on you.”
And there they stand, in the silence.
Tyler barely turns his head, glancing at Penny out of the side of his eye. She’s staring ahead at the elevator doors, looking tired. Exhausted. Probably just worn out from working all day, but then… well..
He is her job.
It was something he’d been more and more aware of every day, as of late. That he must feel like a full time job… because he was a full time job. He shuffles his feet awkwardly in place, still trying to make sense of the fragments of conscience floating around in his brain.
This was a terrible fucking feeling.
After what feels like an eternity, the silence is broken by the distinct “DING” of the elevator– the door slowly rolls open, as the pair step inside and hit the button for the ground floor. Tyler clears his throat, as the doors begin to close.
“Hey uh.” Tyler says, abruptly breaking their silence. “Do me a favor, please. I, uh. I lost a bet. Take my debit card and, uh.”
She looks over at Tyler, raising an eyebrow.
“…send the kid a PS5.”