David didn’t realize how much he wanted the victory until it slipped through his fingers. Sitting on the rooftop of the gym Craig owned, his hand wrapped around the neck of the Jack Daniels bottle, and he hesitated between throwing it or drinking from it. The latter option usually was his go-to move.
He’d lost to Garry Ray-Ray Bolamba.
David cursed under his breath, wanting to punch anything that he could get his hands on. On paper, he was technically the better wrestler. He was facing the Slap Champion of Nelson County, Kentucky. Of course, he should have defeated him. Of course, David had underestimated him, and that was his shortcoming. David always played to his competition, and he did it again.
Story of his life.
Fuck fuck fuck, fuckity fuck fucking fuckity fuck.
Why was this so difficult? Why was the taste in his mouth so bitter? The victory would have meant so much to him, to Rose. He’d let her down. He’d let himself down. His hand balled up, and his face grimaced at the thoughts dancing across his mind, and he bellowed at the top of his lungs, the sound disappearing into the Pacific Ocean.
You’re a fucking loser, David.
The words in his head weren’t his; they were his father’s. He knew this was the version of David the world would get, and he hated how right his father was at this moment.
The cap on the Jack Daniels slipped off.
I’m still a fan, even though I was salty
“Oi, oi, turn that shit up,” the words tumbled from Jamaal’s mouth, and before him, a shot glass filled with a clear substance. Tequila? Vodka? Gin? Rum? Sure. It didn’t matter the moment it slipped past his lips and slid down his throat.
“I just killed my ex,” he intoned, the words from SZA’s latest album bouncing through the metallic walls of the gym. The British accent mixed with a fit of laughter he found himself in as his hand wrapped around a bottle of alcohol and refilled his shot glass.
Gin? Rum? Tequila? Vodka? Sure.
“Mate,” his brother, Cory, pleaded. “Not this moody shit. Come off it, we’re celebrating.”
Jamaal whipped around. “Celebrating? Bruv, what? No, no. We’re mourning.”
Shawn, leaning against the edge of the ring, looked over at the brothers and shook his head. “Mourning what?” his voice like a low rumble.
“Our first loss. Fucking legendary, mate,” Jamaal responded as he slinked towards his new-found buddy. He offered the liquid in his shot glass to Shawn, who shook his head and pulled out a beer bottle from the front pocket of his black hoodie. He took a sip from it and sat on the edge of the ring.
“It’s not legendary, J,” Cory retorted. “David’s up there moping.”
“Yeah, but he does that. Even when shit is going good.”
Shawn shrugged his shoulders. “He’s got a point.”
Jamaal shook his head. “No, no. It’s good. Davey is good. He’s alright, ya know? Don’t get it twisted. He plays all ‘grrr’, but deep down, he’s a marshmallow.”
“J, shut the fuck up, bruv. Don’t tell David that. You’ll set him off.” Cory walked towards his baby brother and wrapped his arm around his shoulders.
“Truth,” Shawn added.
“You’ve got my boy all wrong. This man, he’s a beast. He’s a warrior. He’s just figuring out his next step.”
Cory laughed from the depths of his belly, shaking his head in the process. “I think I just heard that fucker up on that roof yelling. Nah, mate. It’s all good, though. Because we’ll get the first W for KING, and Rose will loooooove us.”
Shawn rolled his eyes. “You gotta get booked first.”
“We’ll get booked before you,” Jamaal returned at Shawn. “What do you even do anyways?”
“Whatever Rose tells me to do.”
Cory pursed his lips and cocked his head to the left. “And what exactly is that? You sweet on her?”
“Yeah, Shawn, big tough guy. You sweet on Rose? Can’t say I blame you, bruv. Beauty that she is. Where is she anyways?”
As if the universe deemed it so, the door to the gym closed shut, and the clicking of heels echoed throughout the hollow gym.
“Never fear, your fearless leader is here,” she joked, slipping her hands into her dark blue jeans. She wore a hoodie of her own, beige, with the hood up. She strolled to the speaker and tapped it twice before the haunting violin of “Escapism” filled the room.
Sleazin’ and Teasin’, I’m sittin’ on him.
“Fuck, that’s what I’m talking about,” she moaned before grabbing a bottle of dark liquor and pouring herself a small glass. Bourbon? Whiskey? Brandy? Cognac? Sure. She downed the liquor before grabbing the bottle she had previously and walked towards the trio of her closest mates.
“Anyways, what you lot going on about? How amazing I am? Thank you very much, because I am,” she chuckled as she leaned into Cory, his hand rubbing her upper back.
“Nah, just wondering where you at.”
“Ah,” she began before sipping from the bottle. “You missing me? Had to get Adeline down.”
“Lorelai with her?”
Rose nodded as she sat next to Shawn on the edge of the ring. She felt comfortable with the three of them; this group has helped pull her out of the funk that covered her since the beginning of the year.
“So, Rosie, what’s the plan for next show?” Jamaal inquired.
“First, what did I say about calling me that? Second, David and I are going to the next show. You two will come with me the show after.”
“When we going to throw some punches, though,” Cory chimed in.
“You’re not. We’ve talked about this. Honor. Integrity. Discipline. You handle your business in the ring, or we’re no better than the rest of them. Plus, I would think you two would want to get yourself acquainted with a couple of boys up there.”
“Not Jared and Justine?”
Rose shook her head before sipping a bit more from the bottle. It felt good as it coursed down her throat.
“Not yet. He’s got his own problems to worry about. No, no. Think about it, and you’ll figure out who I’m talking about.”
“So, love, we’re coming with you to 38? I like that sound of it, don’t you, bro? Going to Greensboro,” Jamaal continued.
“Where the fuck is that?”
Jamaal shrugged his shoulders and looked at Rose.
“North Carolina. We’ll have to buy you two a map, I see.”
“Did you see though where we’re heading in the New Year?”
The smile appeared on her face, knowing her boys would enjoy the latest news. Kinetic Innovation was going home, and she wanted to ensure they wrestled in front of their home crowd.
“Let’s make sure you two are on that card, alright? We’ve got some work to do, but I know you two are up to it.”
“For sure,” Cory responded.
Rose looked around, and a perplexed look crossed her face.
He still held the bottle in his hand, refusing to drink from it but coming far closer than he wanted to. David laid on the rooftop and looked up at the dark sky, lost in his thoughts, his self-pity.
“You want company, or you jerkin’ it to the sounds of the ocean?”
His head lifted, and he looked around for the source of the crude comment, knowing full well who it was the entire time.
“You come to kick me out?”
A low chuckle filled the silence. “Fuck no, boy. Why would I want to do that?” She laid down next to him and placed her bottle in between them.
“Lost the match to Garry.”
She pursed her lips and stared straight up. “You did.”
“Ruined your plan.”
“Sure, but plans are always going to be ruined, David. Stop beating yourself up over there; we knew it was a long shot. It would be a gauntlet with the likes of Cancer Jiles, Tony Gamble, and Jared Sykes on that side of the bracket.”
Rose turned her head towards David. “Still nothing. Shut the fuck up. Are you going to wallow, or will you man the fuck up and move on? Jesus fuck. Worse than a Karen whining about too much salt on her fucking chicken. Man the fuck up.”
His next words caught in his throat, and he simply nodded.
She smiled at him. “We’re going to see Tom. Gotta keep his interest; you know how ADD he can be. He’ll see a hurt dog and need to nurse it to health and fight the Dog Catchers Association of America.”
“I don’t think they have that anymore.”
“Then he will start it and bemoan anyone who thought we shouldn’t have had one all these years. That’s the thing with these paladin-types. They’re so hungry to be right and superior that they will create shit out of thin air. I need his focus squarely on you.”
Rose reached over and grabbed the Jack before taking a sip from it.
“You want some?”
“More for me then,” taking another sip from it.
“Adeline, go down, okay?” David asked.
“Yeah. I read her a few stories. Left her with Lorelai.”
The two lay there in silence for a few moments.
“Lorelai is whip-smart, books and street. She’s going to go far in this world.”
“Yeah, she is,” David responded.
“So don’t fuck it up. Just support her.”
David looked at her. “Did I do something to fuck it up?”
“Just your MO.”
He rolled his eyes. “Fuck you,” he jested before he took the bottle back and took a sip. A laugh escaped Rose’s mouth, and she placed her hand over it, trying to keep it in against all logic.
“Going to be the death of me, Rose,” he whispered before he leaned back and let her laughter wash over them.
Hours ticked by, and as Rose walked through the threshold of her house, she saw Lorelai lying on the couch. Her body language suggested she was fully in a deep sleep, and grabbed a blanket to cover her with. Rose lifted the book off her chest and saw the title was “Lessons in Chemistry.”
“Interesting,” Rose whispered, folding down the corner of the page she was on before placing it on the coffee table. She leaned down and kissed Lorelai on the forehead before she moved towards the hallway that led to the bedrooms. She passed the door to hers and paused in front of Adeline’s, looking down the hallway to her father’s.
Light shone from underneath it.
She hesitated momentarily before opening the door to Adeline’s bedroom and crept in, closing the door behind her. Rose slipped into the bed beside Adeline and wrapped her arm around her.
The seconds became minutes and hours, as they are wont to do. As she lay there, her brain wired and whipping through thoughts frantically, she felt her heartbeat sync with Adeline’s.
Before she knew it, the sun began to rise and bathed the room with light. A smile found its way to Rose’s face, and she buried her face into her daughter’s shoulder and closed her eyes.