”Allow yourself to be a beginner. No one starts off being excellent.”
November 8, 2023
The Opry Mills mall is abuzz with activity, with patrons looking for early Black Friday deals and milling about. A young couple walks by, holding hands, an elderly couple walks by, also holding hands, a middle aged couple walks by but they are not holding hands because they just had a fight about one of them leaving their disgusting dirty socks on the floor in the bathroom.
At the East end of the mall, in what would in years past have been a Mervyns or a Sears or perhaps a very large Sound Warehouse, but is now a cheesy neon mini-golf establishment, there are several tables set up with long lines out front. It is clear that this is an autograph signing, and judging by the mass of people, is also for someone very important.
RAPID SCREEN BLUR.
♫♫ ”Alone” – Heart ♫♫
Across the street, in front of ‘The Slice of Life’, a local eighties themed pizza shop, is a plastic folding table, behind which are Scott Hunter and Craig Massey. Scott is wearing a mink stole for some reason, and he’s smiling, eagerly anticipating interacting with his loyal fans.
There is no one here.
Craig frowns at him and sighs deeply.
“How long are we gonna sit here like this?”
Scott shrugs. “I will stay here until every single person in line gets the autograph they paid for.”
Craig looks again into the parking lot. Literally, there is nobody there.
“Scott, there’s no one in line. You only had one person come up to the table, and it turned out he was just looking for change for a dollar. Then you ranted about how you aren’t going to change for him or anybody, and he called you a ‘fucking weirdo’.”
Scott points at Craig angrily.
“Whatever,” Craig replies. “And would you PLEASE take the stupid mink coat off? It’s eighty degrees out here and an animal rights activist threw a rock at me.”
Scott wags a finger at his ‘friend’.
“No way. I’ve been welcomed graciously into my position as an ancillary lackey slash beverage maker slash cobbler for Vae Victis and on Wednesdays, we wear…”
Craig’s face mushes up. “Wait… a Cobbler?”
“I made Lindsay Troy some shoes.”
Scott pulls out a pair of shoes. They are pink and there is a superimposed picture of an owl on the side of each shoe, wearing dark sunglasses, and the words, ‘Owl be back.’
“She’s gonna love these.”
“There is little to no chance she will do anything other than toss these right out the window as soon as you hand them to her.”
“That’s what you think,” Scott says. “I gave her a t-shirt that I made myself with glitter, sequins and bright colors on it and she keeps it in a place of honor in the back of her closet, behind her clothes, and also crumpled up and also torn to shreds because she said it was surprisingly attacked by a rabid wolverine that thought it was its mate.”
Craig leans his head back, then looks over at young Mr. Hunter.
“It seems extremely unlikely that a shirt you gave Lindsay Troy was destroyed by a rabid wolverine who confused it for his mate.”
Scott turns fully to face Craig. “What… so… are you saying… The shirt I gave her was NOT attacked by a wolverine and instead she hated it so much that she let her dog tear it to ribbons while sarcastically saying ‘oops’ and then laughed at me, mocked me and made an insulting comment about my new boots?”
Craig opens his mouth, not knowing quite what to say. Scott stares at him questioningly, and his eyebrows raise impatiently. Finally Craig shakes it off.
“Your new… no, I don’t think she made an insulting comment about your new boots.”
Scott leans in. “Then who did make an insulting comment about my boots?”
Craig leans in as well, and with everything he has, resists the urge to strangle the kid.
A small girl, age eleven, saunters out of the pizza shop behind them, her father in tow. She glances over at the table where Scott and Craig are sitting and her face lights up. She rushes over, putting Scott on guard and annoying Craig.
“OOOOH!!! Are you signing autographs?!”
“Why yes, kind civilian girl, I am.”
Scott sits up straight, beaming. Craig is typically unimpressed.
The dad squints his eyes a bit in semi-recognition.
“Are you that kid who’s been hanging around Vae Victis lately? The one I saw on the news the other day?”
Scott looks back at him, suspicious, because he does not trust adults or kids, only animals.
“I may have been on the news, but it depends on which news you were watching.”
“Just the regular evening news.”
Scott considers this, then relaxes a bit. “Oh, then yes, I think I did talk to a news person last week.”
The man has locked in on his recollection now and points a finger back at Scott, who recoils.
“Yeah yeah… you were the wrestler who they asked if he had ever worked on the indies, and you said ‘no, but I would love to meet Harrison Ford’. Man, me and my buddies laughed at that for days. How do you come up with this stuff??”
Scott looks perplexed.
“I don’t know what you mean. Who wouldn’t want to meet Harrison Ford?? He is a great actor and a fantastic pilot everywhere except Santa Monica.”
The backs up a step in surprise. “Wait… you were being serious when you said that?”
Scott leans over to Craig and holds up a hand to hide his mouth moving, and whispers.
“Get a load of this guy. He thinks I worked with Harrison Ford.”
Craig looks up at the man, almost apologetically, then leans back toward Scott.
“Scott, that’s not what he said or meant. I think it’s probably just best if we change the subject before he is too mesmerized by your vast intellect.”
Scott points and winks at Craig.
The little girl pipes up.
“So if you’re in Vae Victis, can you get me an autograph from Lindsay Troy?? She’s my favorite wrestler in the entire world!”
Craig holds up a hand. “Look, all of this is great and all, but…”
Scott puts a hand out, pushing Craig back in his chair.
“Craig, this little girl has obviously been a fan of Lindsay Troy for like twenty years or something. How can I turn her away?”
“Well for starters,” Craig interjects. “You are more likely to get trampled to death by a herd of runaway turtles on the beaches of Mazatlan than you are to be able to get Lindsay Troy to sign an autograph for you.”
Scott looks puzzled. “Mazatlan?? Why in the world would the lion from the Narnia movies have anything to do with getting an autograph from Lindsay Troy? Are you suggesting that she does not like the Narnia movies?”
Craig stares at him, then finally, just turns and faces the man and his daughter.
“I’m sorry, but Lindsay Troy isn’t here with us today. If you would like Scott to sign something… ?”
The man looks at Scott, ponders for a moment, looks at his daughter and notices her bored expression, and demures. “No I uh… I think we’ll just be going. Thanks for your time.”
They start to walk away, and the little girl points down.
“I like your shiny boots.”
They leave and Scott’s face brightens up.
“She likes my boots!”
“Scott… forget the boots. Look, here’s the thing. We’ve been here all morning. I think we’re done here, and besides, I set up a training session for you, and…”
“I hope I don’t have to fight a bear again.”
“No bears, Scott. It’s time you get serious, alright? You need to win some matches, and I know I have my work cut out for me. Okay? So, pack everything up and let’s go.”
Scott stands up, a sad look on his face.
“You don’t think I’m taking things seriously? I’m trying my best, you know. I work out, I train with bears, I create innovative submission holds…”
“YOU DIDN’T INVENT…” Craig stops himself and closes his eyes, squeezes them so tightly that it feels like they will pop out of his eye sockets. “Look, I know you’re trying. I’m just trying to make you better. Alright? Come on…”
He starts to lead him away from the table.
“Let’s get something to eat, then we can talk about your training.”
Scott looks up at the ‘Slice of Life’ sign.
Craig shakes his head vigorously.
Scott’s shoulders slump.
”The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack in will.”
I do not like your stupid name. You have two first names and you are supposed to have one first name and one last name. And another thing, I looked you up on the PRIME website and you don’t even have a body or a face! How can you even be a wrestler without having a body or a face?? Am I fighting a ghost this week? What is happening? Are you gonna Scooby Doo me and turn out to be old man McGillicutty down at the old lighthouse? Sure, old man McGillicutty was a fine amateur wrestler in his day, but does that give you the right to impersonate that poor man?? DOES IT?
The answer to that question is ‘no’, in case you were wondering.
And apparently you’re from somewhere called “ME”. How can you be from ME??? I’m ME!! You can’t be ME!!
I do not like liars, Logan James. You are not from ME and you look like a gray version of the Silver Surfer, but obviously without all of his raw sexual magnetism.
I have news for you, fake ME. Back where I come from, when people tell lies, try to re-enact Scooby Doo plots and dress like Marvel characters, we throw those people right out onto the street. But you would probably enjoy that, wouldn’t you? You look like the kind of person who smells like pee, so please do not get too close to me. I am willing to beat you up at a distance, but I will hold my nose and still put you in my very unique figure four leg lock and take my chances, and I will still beat you about the head and shoulders, which is also a dandruff shampoo that you probably need, so wash your hair!
And just so you know, I have lost less than four matches in my entire PRIME career, and that is something that no one else can say, and if they do say it, they are liars and should be killed according to Abrahamic traditions. If you don’t eat ham because of dietary restrictions, I apologize in advance, but I am not the one who makes the rules. What I am saying is that you will have to die.
It’s obvious to me that everyone in this company thinks I’m some sort of do-nothing clown, riding a bicycle that is much too small for me with bubbles blowing out of my hiney. Well I’ll have you know that never happens unless I’m in a bathtub. It never happens in a wrestling ring, so where do you even get off bringing that up? Have you been spying on my bath time?? Perverts.
That goes double for you, Logan James!
Or maybe even triple, I haven’t fully decided yet.
But here’s something I have decided. Not only do I not like your stupid name. I do not like you. I do not like your bald head or the weird way you speak or that weird mole on the bridge of your nose. Get that thing frozen off, for God’s sake. It’s like fifteen dollars at the dermatologist. You can’t just walk around with normal people having that big ugly mole on your nose! Don’t you have any respect for the people who did the smart thing and were born with good skin, like me? I worked hard at my complexion! It is soft and smooth, like a baby’s elbow. Yours is rough and coarse, like sandpaper, or like the deep grass on a golf… course. What I mean is I could grate cheese on your nose, but I won’t, because that is disgusting. Keep your filthy mole-nose out of my cheese!
Do you know what we do with weird mole nose people where I come from? We feed them to the alligators. I don’t think I have to tell you how uncomfortable that can be. So you just better thank your lucky stars that we aren’t having this match in Miami, pal. Because Crockett and Tubbs would root you out and have you in a cold hard steel jail cell by five o’clock sharp! There will be a potted plant and wicker furniture inside obviously, because it’s Miami, but otherwise it would be very unpleasant! You wouldn’t be able to watch Golden Girls or anything! Not even the one where Sophia leaves the house and just does her daily chores all day. And everyone knows that’s the worst one. But you can’t watch it!
Because of your nose.
Now let me talk about my affiliation with Vae Victis.
I’ll have each and every one of you know that Vae Victis is simply the greatest collection of wrestling talent in professional wrestling today. I mean, have you seen Kerry Kuroyama’s tattoos? Can you pull off full back tattoos like that?? I don’t even think so, pal. And look at Henry Keyes. Eventually he’s gonna get loose and destroy every last one of you. And you may say, Scott, Henry Keyes isn’t an active competitor in PRIME. And I may say, you are stupid. Also, I will say that I have him safely under wraps for now, safe in the Vae Victis compound, but eventually, if you don’t watch yourself and fix your skin blemishes, I will have to release the Kraken. That’s right. He’s a KRAKEN! Are any of you mythical sea monsters?? No, I don’t think so.
So shut up.
And then there’s Oscar Burns. He is a supreme trash talker, which is how he got his name in the first place. You know, like as in… oooooh snap, those were classic Oscar burns!! Get some ice and antibacterial ointment so that classic Oscar burn doesn’t get infected! Oh and also he is a really good wrestler and you can quote me on that because I have seen it first hand, and also he told me so.
But you, Logan James… you are no Kerry Kuroyama, or Oscar Burns, or Henry Keyes, or Lindsay Troy, or Sophia Petrillo. You are a simpleton who claims to be ME. I am a hard working, supremely talented young man who is not out here to make friends, even though I have made some friends accidentally. But I do not want to be friends with you, so even though no one told you life was gonna be this way, you are destined for a friendsless life, banished to the desert wastelands with the rest of your mole people.
I on the other hand will show the world that I am not just some poor country bumpkin from the small coastal village of Miami. NO! I am also adept at twirling. Maybe I will show you later. But I die grace. I am working hard. I know how hard it is to be truly good at professional wrestling and even though I am naturally talented and very handsome and only ever have intelligent looking expressions on my face, I know that it will not be enough. This poor Floridian boy standing before you came from humble beginnings. My mother died working in the pumpkin spice mines one very sad November and Thanksgiving has never been the same since. And my father died during childbirth. I don’t quite understand that one yet, but I think it had something to do with how a piano fell on his head while he was walking into the hospital to witness my birth.
So you can be sure that this means absolutely everything in the world to me. I will not let my family down, or my community, or the girl at Publix who gives me the good melons.
But I am very serious about this. This week I intend to start a brand new streak, and it will be a winning one, and it will be the greatest day in the history of my life, even though it is against a mole-nosed smooth headed comic book creature.
In conclusion, which is what you say when you are almost finished, let it be known that Scott Hunter is nobody’s pushover. I am a force to be reckoned with and Logan James is dumb, dumb, dumb dumb dumb. I mean, this is a guy who probably thinks Mazatlan is a city in Mexico instead of the Lion in the Narnia stories. Haha… noob. Tolkien would be so ashamed of you.
So get your rest, Logan James. I know we’re in Tennessee, but stay away from the moonshine, and I swear to God if you go anywhere near the sacred ground of the Ryman Auditorium, there will be problems. And I am talking about extra problems besides the one where I beat you up and tear ligaments in your knee. I will not stand for your desecration!
And so… since we are in the music capital of the world I have written a very special song for this occasion. It was written by me when I was inspired by everything about you, Logan James. So… remember, don’t sleep on Scott Hunter, or even near me… and don’t underestimate me, and get that mole fixed. For next week, I shall break your face!
In the meantime, this song… is for you.