IF YOU COULD ONLY SEE THE WAY SHE LOVES ME, THEN MAYBE YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND
Posted on 04/01/23 at 6:48am by Jonathan-Christopher Hall
Event: CULTURE SHOCK 2023 NIGHT TWO
IF YOU COULD ONLY SEE
An origin story
An honest friendship
Not everything starts off poorly
— — — — —
It wasn’t always like this.
June 4, 2015. New Orleans, Louisiana. Superdome. From just outside the 640 section of the upper level concourse, mild cheers from deep inside the pit of the stadium leak through the entrance way. There, a young, long haired, fresh faced -but with the odd pimple residing in the wrong area-, twenty-year-old Jonathan-Christopher Hall patiently wanders his eyes around the empty concourse, wishing the hour away. He wears a yellow branded Superdome usher jacket, as he leans against the side of the cold cement wall. Most of the fans are in their seats enjoying the spectacle, if you even call it a spectacle. The Louisiana Superdome has a capacity of over seventy-thousand strong but if JC would peek his head into the bleachers, he’d only see about ten-thousand of them. The upper level concourse is extremely quiet. It’s as if the wrestling promoter booked a venue far too big for the appetite of NOLA.
The youngster looks down at his Timex, noticing he has at least two hours left at his post, which is funny because it feels like time has stood still. The reality is, he looked at his watch a minute ago.
Jonathan-Christopher isn’t sure what he wants to do with his life, but he knew he had to get a summer job before figuring it out. A short-term usher role at the Louisiana Superdome is perfect. There are an infrequent amount of work dates which gives him just enough money in his pocket, plus he doesn’t have to put up with unruly football fans, since it’s not NFL season. JC never cared for sports. It was too intense for him and reminded himself about his terrible upbringing. Usually the summer meant concerts, not athletics. Sports brought out the worst thoughts. It rattled him significantly. The yelling… shouting… the sheer intensity of the situation. This is why he’s stepped away from inside the bleachers and onto the concourse side. It’s too much.
Growing up in Folsom, his parents were poor. They struggled in their marriage and they struggled even further outside of it. They fought often and weren’t around much, which ultimately was a positive, considering their disposition. JC’s father was a drunk and his mother was verbally abusive. Hall was an only child, left to fend for himself, many days after school returning home and finding his dad passed out in the middle of the staircase after a drunken stupor. His mother, on the other hand… usually nowhere in sight. It’s scary to think these were some of JC’s earliest memories. Later, around age thirteen, Jonathan-Christopher moved in with his grandfather who owned farmland a little outside of Folsom. Hall’s parents never complained about the decision. In fact, if his father was ever sober, he’d have welcomed the move. It meant one less problem to worry about.
JC’s teenage years were also misguided. His grandfather was a decent parent but he had significant physical limitations. Jonathan-Christopher was often left to fend on his own but at least it was a quiet environment. He became a good cook, he drove years before he officially received his license. He was often described by others as quiet or shy when in reality, JC was so busy looking after himself, he didn’t have opportunities to interact with others. He lived much further away than his schoolmates. He was the first one on the school bus and the last one dropped off. Jonathan-Christopher’s passions were… well, Jonathan-Christopher didn’t have any passions. He went with the flow and tried to survive.
JC glimpses at his Timex again, only a minute has ticked off. More time to himself, more time inside his head-
Jonathan-Christopher takes a moment to collect himself. He thinks he heard a voice but on second thought, he isn’t sure. No one is in front of him.
Jonathan-Christopher looks behind him but knowing the empty concourse has an echo, the voice could be residing from anywhere.
“You look bored.”
Finally, JC shifts his eyes to his right. He sees a young girl, a short girl… an awfully short girl, standing beside him. Long blonde hair, freckled face. Although she’s a good foot and a half shorter than he is, the girl looks to be approximately around the same age. She wears a vintage white tank top with a picture of Corey Hart on it, faded/ripped blue jeans and hot pink running shoes. They look like pretty running shoes-
“So, hey,” she interrupts his thought pattern again by leaning forward and nudging him playfully. “Are you bored?”
JC doesn’t know what to say because he doesn’t know if he is or not. Probably. Yeah. Yeah, probably.
The blonde woman giggles as her eyes bulge out of her head.
“You don’t talk much, do you?” She inquires. However, she’s going to give Jonathan-Christopher space to answer. Eventually, the pimple-faced kid gets there.
“Ummmm, not really,” he shrugs. Looks around. Can’t maintain good eye contact. “I guess you’re right, I’m kinda bored.”
JC motions his head to inside the arena. “I can’t get into this stuff.”
He looks at his Timex again. The blonde girl quickly places her hand over his watch. This startles JC, in fact it almost frightens him. His eyes follow her hand, up her arm, onto her shoulder, across her shoulder blade, up her neck, chin, nose and mouth… and then he finds her big blue eyes.
“No need to be bored when I’m around,” she retracts her hand and rolls her shoulders forward, as if trying to hide behind them. It’s playful. She’s trying to be cute.
“So my name’s Vickie,” she greets, extending her arm for a hand shake. JC is tentative but he shakes her hand in return while the girl with the pretty pink shoes continues.
“Vickie Young,” she adds with a heavy sigh as her eyes dart towards the bleachers. “That’s my father’s wrestling promotion.”
Another heavy sigh.
“Gosh golly, it’s tough to be the owner’s daughter.”
She leans forward and lowers her voice, as if she’s trying to tell Jonathan-Christopher a secret no one else is privy to even though they’re the only two in the area.
“You know how many promotions he’s closed because of incompetency? Like, a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. There was Pro Wrestling NOW, Canvas Wrestling, The Circled Square… jeesh, all went POOF so fast. When I was very little he also owned and operated Action! Wrestling, that was his most famous company. But it also failed, go figure.”
Vickie rolls her eyes in a clockwise direction. You can tell she’s legitimately rattled. This is no longer a “show” to gain attention. For a brief moment she opens herself up…
Then she rolls her eyes counterclockwise and seemingly rediscovers her coy approach.
“I suppose when you have billions of dollars… guess you can do whatever ya want, huh?”
Her question is rhetoric, likely an attempt to capture his attention further.
“Anyway,” she begins with a tilt of her head and a glance into Hall’s eyes. “What’s your name?”
This is something the young man is able to answer.
“Jonathan-Christopher,” he states in a monotone voice as Vickie places an index finger on her chin and starts stroking it. She’s contemplating if the boy’s name meets her approval.
“Why the double first names?” She inquires.
“Well,” Jonathan-Christopher begins, starting to open up and feel a little more comfortable. “My mom wanted to name me Jonathan and my dad, Christopher. They could never get along- I think they refused to give in to each other and both wrote what they wanted on my birth certificate.”
She rolls her shoulders forward again. She giggles. She brushes his arm.
“You’re funny,” she states. “I like you, Jonathan-Christopher.”
Hall continues to stand there awkwardly, but he’s comfortable enough to speak up.
“Actually…” he starts, taking a deep breath and sigh of his own. “I prefer JC.”
Vickie waves her bushy eyebrows up and down.
“Hmm. Adorable.” She thinks out loud. “I like your full name, Jonathan-Christopher…”
Hall looks at his watch again, realizing ten extra minutes have ticked away… … … …
— — — — —
Meth Rehabilitation Outpatient Check-In Program
March 28, 2023
“My name is Craig and I am addicted to meth.”
“Hi, Craig,” is the collective group response.
As Craig goes into his story, Jonathan-Christopher counts down the men and women around the circle before he’s due to speak. Hall has been coming to these outpatient programs on and off for approximately seven months. His first session, in early September of 2022, was an eye-opening experience. Jonathan-Christopher initially thought it would be easy. Attend a program… any program, where he would receive emotional support for his current disposition. That disposition: stress, anxiety… significant trauma. He spent six years training to be a wrestler when he caught a break and signed a short-term developmental contract with DEFIANCE. This led him to PRIME, as the owner Lindsay Troy was also wrestling in DEFIANCE and she needed numbers to complete the Almasy-
Hall is going to pass on the history lessons. It’s only going to create more anxiety. Needless to say, Hall was institutionalized after a mental breakdown over the summer. His wife had temporarily left him because he was inconsolable. Jonathan-Christopher understands. Christ, he completely understands!
Hall counts the people in front of him and that number is dwindling.
Now on the mend, Jonathan-Christopher found a program situated close to home. Every two weeks he takes a trip to his grandfather’s old place in Louisiana, either to sell or pack what’s left of his own belongings, as he and Vickie recently relocated to Las Vegas. Hall also makes sure his trips coincide with a group therapy session. Not that it matters. Jonathan-Christopher has spent countless meetings outside these doors, unable to participate. Initially, he thought this would be helpful.
He’s only three people away from speaking to the group.
Yes, he’s only made one friend. Dora. She’s calm and well spoken but she has her demons, too. Many demons. Everyone in this room does. Dora has been addicted to meth, among other drugs, for years. She’s battled homelessness and abuse. Yet she approaches life with a sense of hope, an ability Jonathan-Christopher wishes he could possess.
Dora sits on Jonathan-Christopher’s left while the circle is moving to his right. This was done on purpose as the two of them had discussed their seating arrangement prior. Hall was encouraged by Dora to speak up because deep down inside Jonathan-Christopher wants to open up.
He just doesn’t know why it has taken so long for him to do so.
One person away. Hall doesn’t dare to move out of this chair now, does he?
His heart pounds. Sweat rolls down his forehead. He’s half-listening to the man beside him. The man’s name is Jett. Jonathan-Christopher thinks it’s with two T’s, or maybe one. It’s a silly name but he can be no judge. He has two first names all rolled into one.
Now he’s the one. Jett’s done speaking.
It’s Jonathan-Christopher’s turn.
Hall slowly looks around the room. He sees a few familiar faces by now and others, drifters. He likely won’t see them again.
“You can do this,” Dora leans forward, although she doesn’t physically touch him. She’s careful of setting boundaries and not actually nudging him further.
“But if you can’t, that’s okay…” she backtracks, realizing Jonathan-Christopher is nearly shaking out of his chair.
Hall closes his eyes. He breathes through his diaphragm, just like he learned when he was institutionalized. He attempts to clear his mind – knowing this is virtually impossible. Once intrusive thoughts get in, they don’t exit easily.
And then suddenly… he’s on his feet.
“My name is Jonathan-Christopher and I am addicted to meth.”
“Hi, Jonathan-Christopher,” the group greets him collectively. Unlike the first time he did this, he finds the group’s response empowering.
“I have been addicted to meth for many years,” he’s surprising himself, he doesn’t know where this is coming from.
“Seven. Seven years.” He states from out-of-the-blue.
“I have been addicted to meth for seven years but…” he pauses and stares at his shoes. He sees his legs are still shaking, his hands are trembling. And yet he’s doing it. He’s not backing down. “…but I enjoy meth. I love meth. Meth gives me hope. Meth gives me purpose. Other people think meth is bad for you and, yes, sure, yes, yes, okay, meth can be bad for you if you use it in the wrong context.”
His eyes remain on his shoes but his legs have stopped shaking so much.
“Meth gave my life meaning. I had no meaning before meth.”
His legs have stopped shaking entirely.
“Okay, sometimes meth speaks for me and it tells me things I don’t want to do but meth is always there, particularly when others have not.”
By now, Jonathan-Christopher is speaking with confidence.
“People judge meth. They say it’s a bad thing. They say it’s not good for you, it could kill you. But I’d ask any of them…”
Jonathan-Christopher raises his head and starts making eye-contact with some of the group members.
“Have you ever tried meth?”
He sees the group leader nodding his head. Others clearly connected with parts of Hall’s speech, feeling trapped within the illicit substance.
The room remains quiet while Jonathan-Christopher takes his seat.
Dora leans over again, albeit ever-so-slightly.
“I am so impressed,” she whispers. “Thank you for sharing.”
Dora stands and greets the group.
“My name is Dora and I am addicted to meth.”
And the session rolls on.
— — — — —
Backstage Interview Set
San Antonio, TX
March 24, 2023
Vickie speaks, they listen. That’s the plan, that’s always the plan. Jonathan-Christopher remains in the background beside his cousin, Tristan-Crispin and best friend, Darin. However, he can sense something is off. Darin is pissed. Pissed about losing a match earlier in the night and not just any match… a tournament match.
There’s that word again, tournament. Jonathan-Christopher can’t get it out of his head when it’s jumped in there.
All of a sudden, he witnesses Darin interrupt his Amazing Life Partner and Vickie showing signs of frustration.
But Jonathan-Christopher can’t move. He’s frozen. Stuck. Caught in the downward spiral from the word tournament bouncing around in his head. Worst of all, Jonathan-Christopher can’t help but think this all started with him. Darin’s frustration is his fault. Vickie’s is most certainly on him. After all, he lost in the first round of the Almasy Tournament. He was kicked out of tag team Survivor immediately. Darin and himself fell short of the Tag Team Championships.
If any one of these matches had a different outcome, maybe there would be no infighting. Darin would be happy; Vickie would be thrilled!
That’s not reality, is it?
“Be that as it may, Zion,” he hears Vickie speaking. She’s no longer addressing the rolling camera, she’s talking to Darin directly. “You’re still the Tag Team Champions… no?”
No. They aren’t.
Jonathan-Christopher loves every aspect of his ALP but he needs to take ownership of their setbacks. They are not Tag Team Champions, they hold no accolades whatsoever. It’s time Hall took a stand and said no to the fever dream. It’s not like there won’t be other opportunities. Hell, there’s a MAJOR one pending.
The Culture Shock Battle Royal.
Wait. There’s more anxiety creeping in and it stops Jonathan-Christopher from intervening. Perhaps, for a split second there, he looked like he was going to say something to Vickie regarding their “tag team championship reign”.
Nevertheless, it’s gone. Vickie’s back to addressing the fans through the camera lens and Jonathan-Christopher lowers his head. His mind continues to flood with depressive thoughts. He feels himself shaking. Soon after, the broadcast feed stops rolling and Vickie stands in front of her man.
“Jonathan-Christopher,” she says with a sense of impatience, “you didn’t speak up for me when Zion interrupted with nonsense.”
“I’m sorry,” his eyes remain on the floor, ashamed of himself.
“You better be, Jonathan-Christopher. I need my man to be strong, okay? Plus, your match is up next.”
If there was a tail to tuck between his legs, he’d tuck it. The two of them walk towards gorilla.
“I know you’re under immense pressure because redemption is dawning. The day is coming, the chance is almost here! It’s what we worked so hard for, when we can finally wipe the slate clean.”
They continue down the hall.
“I know you want to get out of it but I also know you can do it. You will do it. So don’t ask me again if you’re in the battle royal. Sick and tired of answering. You are. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve said this.”
— — — — —
New Orleans, LA
August 20, 2022
[events leading up – last scene]
“I am willing to take you back, Jonathan-Christopher,” she states firmly. “I want to be together.”
She reaches for his hand. She caresses it lightly… but then, she pauses as her bushy eyebrows slant downward.
“Under one condition…”
Her shoulders roll backwards. She’s not playing coy, she’s definitely not giggling. She shows a true, honest expression. A sense of passion. Frustration. Even anger.
“I need you to hurt this person.”
She slides a picture across the table and his eyes fixate down upon it.
“I need you to fucking obliterate him for me. For us. He ruined our entire journey. We used to have such a carefree, honest relationship, Jonathan-Christopher, do you not remember? I do. I remember that boy I met in New Orleans at my father’s wrestling show. I loved that boy.”
Her pupils open. It’s a side of her Jonathan-Christopher hasn’t seen in years.
“I gave your life direction. Purpose. Meaning. You talk like me; I talk like you. We like the same things. We love wrestling and I love you.”
Her eyes scan the picture. She can’t help but sigh heavily.
“I need you to hurt this man and make him fucking pay.”
Vickie takes her eyes away from the mug shot on the table.
“Now, I’ve spoken to Darin and he’s back on board. Your cousin is going to be joining our team, too. He’s been training to be a wrestler for years. Those two are mere cannon fodder for us though, but we’re not going to tell them now, are we? They will protect you because they won’t know any better.”
Jonathan-Christopher is surprised at Vickie’s sheer openness.
“Of course we’re going to start fighting others first, because there are others first to fight,” she continues. “But this man has the ultimate bullseye on his back and when the time is right, I want you to channel everything that has brought you into this facility.”
She stops and puts particular emphasis on the next sentence.
“I want you to remember who started our misery.”
And now, with a sense of cleverness, she places her left palm over his right wrist where he used to wear a Timex watch. Today, however, his wrists are bound to a chair by a pair of tight leather straps.
“I know you have it in you. All bullshit aside, you wrestle your heart out because you wrestle for me. We wait and when the opportunity presents itself, you strike. I know you’re going to do it. And you have to defeat him.”
Vickie retracts her hand, as if displaying through body language her physical closeness is limited.
“I need to be cherished, loved and adored. You are the man for me and you’re going to fucking show it.”
She methodically pushes her chair back.
“The doctors have said you’ve made progress. I can’t wait to hold you forever again.”
She stands and collects her belongings.
“I love you.”
And she calmly exits the room, leaving a heavily drugged Jonathan-Christopher in the exact same place she found him. If his body could tremble, it would. Momentarily, he may need another injection to relax his nerves, since his eyes are stuck on the picture Vickie has left behind.
The one she wants to pay. The man she demands suffers the same fate as they did.
The picture of Brandon Youngblood.