Private: Pete Whealdon
Where we left the story…
Pete Whealdon had been bounced unceremoniously from the Ultratitle Tournament, a gambit on making the then Orphan feel completely inadequate and unqualified by forcing him into his more popular person of Seymour Almasy ending up as empty as the bottles of booze on the floor of the very expensive hotel room DEFIANCE had put him up in.
Following this sordid couple of weeks of Debauchery and Bridge Burning, Pete Whealdon found himself unwelcome in DEFIANCE. He also was given a rather large tab for the previously mentioned hotel room.
After dodging this bill through what he described as a [redacted for disgusting analogy]. Pete Whealdon found himself in the enviable position of visibility and agency. He found himself in the dual space of the inevitable position of being entirely unhirable and untrustworthy because of the following:
A substantial concern in “the pill game”.
Constantly taking paychecks and then being as difficult to track down as Sasquatch, with a similar rumor mill and conspiracy theory following.
A growing number of restraining orders and other legal ephemera needing to be settled.
So Pete Whealdon decided to do what he did best.
He slummed it.
The Alphabet soup of losers and never-weres he dealt with was not befitting of the man who once nearly shanghaied Dan Ryan with a tube of baby oil. The man who had worked Chris Hopper into the kind of smooth-brained rage that took himself out of the game.
This was not the hand that should be dealt to the man who stole the limo of the boss of DEFIANCE and joyride it with a friend and enough fire-water to give a contact drunk to the driver.
It was like he had been dealt the deadman’s hand, only it was all bad second and bottom deals and he was the dealer, and he was giving away the house.
This all changed when out of the past he was given a tenth second chance at the big time. PRIME Wrestling came knocking to hear Pete Whealdon tell it, down on their collective knees, begging the sultan of sleaze, the only man named Magnum to return to wrestling’s main circuit.
Of course, if you want to believe that raft of bullshit. That’s on you. To hear the heads at PRIME tell it. Pete Whealdon came with a clean piss test, and several sworn affidavits covering the litany of legal limbo, he was trying to get under.
They weren’t impressed.
After what could be generously described as “negotiations”. Which consisted of a rigorous and several weeks-long drug testing regimen. Followed by a brief and excruciatingly low-balled offer. Pete Whealdon conceded that not only did he need the money to cover the aforementioned legal kerfuffle currently weighing on his financial mind.
But those sick-as-fuck Hawaiian shirts didn’t buy themselves.
Before deciding to and almost immediately regretting to sign one “Magnum” Pete Whealdon, they put one final caveat in his contract. Presented herein for your inspection:
“Under no circumstances, is one Peter Jack Whealdon, herein named in full, allowed to have on his person, nor in his possession at a PRIME event, baby oil, coconut oil, olive oil, water-based lubricants, or any other substance designed to decrease the ability of an opponent to grip him.”
Naturally, this condition was called the Dan Ryan clause. It caused Pete Whealdon to flummox and flabbergast and filibuster his own signing.
But Pete Whealdon was no dummy and saw the pot filled with mostly vinegar wasn’t getting any honey, and he wasn’t going to waste any more time.
He could hear it like Willie at the Wall. It was in his dreams more often than he wished to admit, and much like a cliche in keeping with the constant reminder of failure. He would wander to his bathroom. In his home in West LA that was bought by wrestling money, flanked by palm fronds, vegan restaurants, and the nightlife that could best be described as a lululemon mom wine bar and washed his face with cold water.
He would then stare into his mirror and ponder.
White Sheets and Black Curtains and all other manners of things were designed to keep a boy from the Pacific Northwest who even after a decade never acclimated cool at night.
Ambling through the one story he would often find the one vice he still had left. Tapping the small carton hard against the counter and producing a lighter, would shorten his life by some unknown amount of time.
Empty Liquor cabinets he hadn’t bothered to remove. Photos with people who were as good as dead in practice, if not in reality. Smoking in the pre-dawn unlight, smoke mingling with the settling haze on his back porch. The marine layer coming in early.
Post-nicotine sleep was always fraught at best.
He had seen a movie called “The Bad Sleep Well”.
Total and unforgivable horseshit.
Having spent enough time not buying into romantic notions of forgiveness and absolution, more selfish horseshit from people who couldn’t handle who they were, own their mistakes, and pay the legal fees to rectify them.
The same people buy cryptocurrency and gamble on sports and NFTs. Idiots. Every single one of them.
So what do you do?
You lay in bed awake before dawn and you deal with it. Moment by moment. Know what you don’t do? Hop on your knees and pretend that you can make any of it right.
The sun was shining through the obligatory Palm Tree scattering light like so many fractured and dead dreams in California and patterning further the already florally patterned button-down shirt of Pete Whealdon. He is also wearing khaki shorts barely teething past the four-inch inseam length, boat shoes, and graphic socks that for what can best be described as reasons feature the face of Bobby Dean.
If you weren’t aware of what Pete Whealdon looked like, he has a mustache straight out of the eighties, hair quaffed impeccably with a part and slight wave, and sunglasses that had previously masked the eternal hangover that was chasing him. Now, it’s because of the sun. Ashing his cigarette, there sits a manilla folder, designed to hold many many pieces of important paper, this one is labeled:
Whealdon takes another long drag on his cigarette, the smoke pluming into the sky like a miniature industrial chimney.
Whealdon picks up the manilla folder, which is clearly quite empty.
“Right here buds, it’s everything you’ve managed to accomplish in your time in wrestling. All of the good, the bad, and the whatever else.
This is everything of consequence you have ever accomplished.”
The folder flops open, supported by the brief breeze blowing in off of the ocean. Whealdon’s face doesn’t change from mostly obtuse boredom. He lets the folder go into the wind, like the feather from Forrest Gump. But way, way more annoying as it goes over his fence and into his neighbor’s yard.
The response to this is the neighbor heartily yelling “Fuck you, Asshole” and tossing it back over the fence. Whealdon’s response is another drag on the cigarette.
“At some point Solomon, you’re gonna cross the wrong path, get stuck in the drive-through window trying to get your hamburger, or whatever.
And on that day, someone is really going to give a shit about what you’re made of, who you are, and all that jazz. You could probably put it together, but today isn’t that day. I don’t know who you are, and I could not really care less. PRIME was kind enough to send over some footage of you fighting, for me to take a look at…”
Whealdon shrugged. He clearly had opted to just leave the mail unopened on his front porch, along with several other packages from various well-wishers. He had considered getting a P.O. Box but the effort of ignoring two mailboxes seemed a bit past the pale.
“… I’m not contractually obligated to care about you, so I’m not. I won’t be watching you flail your way to a record so impressive you have been described by wrestling insiders as “Who?”.
We’re going to engage in a business transaction that will end with you looking for the affordable dentist who is going to fix your smile when I kick your teeth in. I’d like to stress it’s not personal. It’s just business, and you’re in the way, as it may be stated cleanly.
In advance, you’re welcome. “
Whealdon rose from his seat and gathered the Manilla folder, casually tossing it back over his fence into his neighbor’s yard. A dog barks idly as he reenters his house.
Whealdon’s voice wasn’t shakey, but it wasn’t strong either.
“Yeah, I’ve.. I’ve never really tried this before. It’s the kind of bullshit I have to sign off on though if I want to be employed at this point.”
Whealdon is pacing around a small office with a chair, and a low table covered in magazines that no one would care about.
Whealdon himself has set his sunglasses on the table, light spilling through a ground-level window, slowly shifting with the arrow of time.
Whealdon reached for the cigarettes in his pocket, but another man, bearded, scruffy, and dressed entirely for the wrong era tapped a small “no smoking” placard on the small table. Behind him was a computer and enough books to convince someone this was an ancillary wing of some library. Some of the books were…
Noticeably quite thick. After tapping the placard the man gestured for Whealdon to continue.
“Since I quit the drugs and the drinking. Since I quit the whoring, I keep having nightmares. Real vivid in the flesh stuff.”
Whealdon’s voice is uncharacteristically shaky.
“I don’t know.”
He scratches his day-old stubble idly.
“I’m about to go to Las Vegas and presumptively, PRIME would like me to work the crowd into a frothing rage and anger, and all I can think about is the darkness that lives inside of me.”
The other man nods assuredly.
“So, on one hand, I’m here because PRIME thinks I need counseling and therapy and wouldn’t pay me a cent unless I signed this provision.
But on the other, I am not. Okay. I haven’t been since he died during the pandemic. I see him, and I see me, and I see us. You can’t spend fifteen years fighting with and against one another to not be shook when, poof, He’s suddenly gone.
That’s when I decided to dry out. I still have royalty checks unopened and uncashed.”
There is a thick quaver in his voice. He knuckled his eye reflexively.
“Here’s the thing that has been fucking with me the most. He knew he was dying, and he extended the olive branch. He didn’t have to do that. I could’ve kept drinking, and doing drugs and being a general fuck up.
We were talking about doing the convention scene because for whatever fucking reason there was some nostalgia around what we were doing that time. Signing t-shirts and other shit for idiots. Like we were the fucking marks for believing in ourselves.
I don’t know. I see the forests around Bend, the trees, the lack of underbrush, The Sisters on the horizon, and he’s there. He is always fucking there. Every. Single. Night.”
Leaning forward while Whealdon paces the other man strokes his beard thoughtfully, noticing the pause extending, he extends the following query.
“Do you think it’s guilt over not getting to say goodbye?”
Whealdon smacked his forehead.
“Of course it is, WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT!? Well, I’m cured, no more nightmares for me and I can go back to just kicking people in the head super hard with no guilt or regret.
PRIME wrestling better watch out, THERAPY FUCKING WORKED.”
Used to this kind of abuse the other man reclined in his chair. His voice remained calm and a little intense.
“Maybe the nightmares are hinting at something deeper. You lost someone and you reacted. What if this is about the loss of something? I have your file, but why don’t you tell me when you started drinking. When did you start carousing with women regularly?”
Whealdon continued pacing wiping his mouth with disgust. Practically spitting his own past out like bile.
“I started drinking when I was a teenager, same as just about every other alcoholic. You know at first it was to fill the time, listen to music, something to do after the gym… I don’t think there is much there.”
Whealdon looked at the clock. A man caged. The doctor let this moment slowly bloom, like the first pour-over in on a cold morning before dawn.
“But, let’s be honest, the old man drank. I don’t buy into that cycle of abuse bullshit. I consciously chose to pound Miller High Life and smoke weed back when it wasn’t legal in Oregon.”
The doctor nods, his voice is calm, yet firm.
“Of course, you don’t believe in cycles of abuse, why would you? You started on your own, and you have entirely quit drinking on your correct?”
Whealdon’s retort was soft.
“Yeah, the bottom of the bottle, bottom of the barrel. I dried myself out the old-fashioned way, in a zero horse fuck all town in Alaska where the bar wasn’t allowed to serve me and the grocery store didn’t have beer in stock. It wasn’t like I was gonna smooth talk the local pharmacist either. He was ten whole hours away when the road was in. This was after Ultratitle Mind you after DEFIANCE gave me my walking papers for being world-class at something. It just so happened that something was being a towering fuck up.
This was well past all of that. I still remember January one, twenty-one vomiting up bile because I couldn’t eat. Had there been someone to hold my hair back, I’d have probably told them to fuck entirely all the way off. It’s a cliche to stare into the mirror and ponder the “what in the fucks”, but I did it. Every single day.”
Whealdon instinctively reaches his empty hand towards his mouth, before trying to cover it by waving it off. He continued to pace, his eyes glancing from his watch to the clock, a man in need of a cigarette.
The doctor leaned forward elbows resting on knees, hands clasped.
“Think a lot about those days don’t you.”
It wasn’t asked nor intended as a question.
“I think about having the shakes from my first sober night in a decade. I think about him reaching out and trying to dial me one last time. I think about us both being bonafide fuckups. DEFIANCE tossing us both out like so much garbage.
I think about how he couldn’t walk those last couple of years and he never bothered to tell me or reach out.
I can’t fucking stand that I couldn’t reach out, because I was too fucked up man.
I was too fucked up. I don’t believe in absolution. But it’d sure be nice to fucking wake up not terrified of what’s in my head now that the fuzz and the barriers hangovers gave me are gone.”
A single tear ran down Whealdon’s face. He snuffled loudly and tried his hardest to wave away the feelings.
The doctor stood up and placed a supportive hand on his shoulder.
“That’s what I have fucking nightmares about. Every. Single. Night.”
A firm and a friendly pat on the same shoulder follows this announcement. The Doctor’s voice is warm.
“Well, that’s your hour this week. Why don’t we pick this up again next Tuesday same time.”
Whealdon laughed weakly and allowed himself to be escorted out of the building, which turned out to be Santa Monica College, where he immediately produced a cigarette and lit up against the sky blue sky, and wearily puffed smoke into the least caring sky in human history.
He sighed heavily and walked toward the boulevard to begin the mile and a half hike home to Montana Avenue…