December 20, 2002
At first he wasn’t sure what color he should use, then he decided the colors didn’t matter when compared to the care he put into it. Red hair, blue, black, or green, he would delicately draw line after line, making sure her hair flowed like the locks he saw in real life. He wanted it to represent the most realistic image possible.
He loves her and he hopes the time and effort he spent shows in his work.
He applies the finishing touches. The dot of her nose, the smile on her face. He grows tentative when he finishes an edge of her mouth, wondering if the smile is too big. As he takes a step back from the drawing, his heart skips a beat. The smile is too big.
He looks at the clock, he isn’t sure there will be enough time to fix it. He doesn’t have an eraser and now his hands are shaking. He also knows she typically goes out. She usually doesn’t return until the next day. If that.
Time is precious.
He decides it has to be good enough. After all, there was a kid in his class who drew a smile twice the size on his picture. Another kid who didn’t even draw a smile. They were still told their artwork was beautiful.
He sees the clock. He’s running late. She might even be gone by now so he snatches the sheet of paper and mistakenly spills the crayons off the table in the process. He races out of his bedroom and down the stairs, dodging the piles of clothes scattered across each flight.
He bursts through the kitchen, past the dishes that haven’t been washed for weeks and the fridge that’s a minor nudge open. He hurries into the family room, his heart pounding out of his chest, in the hopes she is there.
At first, he believes she is gone… until he hears a groggy sound on the couch.
He sees her. Laying. Arm out. Dangling.
He notices the glass bottles on the floor.
“Mom,” he says, softly. He approaches the sofa with caution. He understands the context: she may not be in a coherent state of mind. Typically, she never is.
But he hopes she likes his drawing, regardless.
“Mom,” he says again, even quieter since he’s that much closer. “Are you awake?”
She’s facing the other way but after a second inaudible groan, she slowly turns around. It’s a struggle. There are numerous liquid splashes on her shirt. Her eyelids barely lift and underneath them is nothing but bloodshot red. Howbeit, he doesn’t waiver. He stands calmly, with hope glistening in his eyes that he can catch one brief moment of her attention.
He decides this is his chance. He holds the picture in front of him, an image of two stick figures. One, a tall, lanky woman with vibrant multi-colored hair and a smile on her face, even if that smile is a little too big. Her right arm connects to a much smaller boy, with curly green hair, and a twinkle in his eyes.
“I love you, mom,” he exclaims.
Her gaze moves slowly across the room. With each inch her vision covers, it coincides with pain. The agony of being awake. The struggle of what she’s put in her system. The wish of death upon her body.
He doesn’t know any better. He merely hopes she sees the drawing.
A glass bottle tumbles off her chest and falls to the floor. Liquid starts pouring out of it and into the carpet. He’s about to kneel down to pick it up, although the reality is the rug has seen so many spills, this one wouldn’t be noticeable. Before he can, however, she sits up and captures his undivided attention.
“Uh, dear,” her first words can barely come out of her mouth without a heavy clear of her throat. “Now’s not a good time.”
His head lowers. He places the sketch behind him so it can no longer be present. Meanwhile, she stands and another bottle falls from the sofa. There’s a rustle from outside on the driveway, as something approaches the front of the house. Her ride. It’s here. She will leave for the night…
She struggles significantly to reach the front door, but she is determined. Not determined to have looked at his work. Instead, determined to get out of there.
A shaky hand pulls the door handle as she exits without saying a word.
And he… slowly paces to where he came from – out of the living room, past the open fridge and through the piles of filthy laundry, up to his bedroom, where he will place the picture on his drawing night table. He will pick up the spilled crayons, he will go to bed and he will ask himself only one question.
What was wrong with the picture?
— — — — —
LOVE CONVOY Locker Room
June 16, 2023
Why do we go back when we should be going forward?
He’s been here before. Specifically.
Jonathan-Christopher sits stoically in the corner of his locker room, fresh off losing to Ivan Stanislav. Vickie said she needed a moment, and sounds of sobbing from outside their locker room leak in through the crack in the door. Jonathan-Christopher hasn’t felt this sick for months. Yes, his nerves have got the better of him. He loses his appetite now and again. But the pit in his stomach, you could sink the entire PRIME roster in there.
Additionally, Hall was given the news of who he’s going to face at the pay-per-view. It’s not the five others he had hoped to have wrestled. Alternatively, it’s Rocky de Leon.
It’s the only thing keeping JC in one piece, without a complete and utter meltdown. He knows it. Outside of this night, if JC’s ups continue, Vickie’s hopes will be high. She can’t help it, it’s her little girl dream to be the most successful manager in the world!
With Rocky de Leon, at least this is an opponent The Timid Tiger has beaten. A match where he became ferocious. A victor. A winner. A man who undid the harm de Leon caused when the masked Texan toppled his cousin. Vickie was so proud. The look on her face that night, a smug and rightful demeanor. An attitude that pushed the critics away. One that said “Hold us down all you like but WE. ARE. COMING.”
Rocky de Leon, a key to Jonathan-Christopher’s initial run of success. A wrestler with a similar record and an opponent JC knows he can manage inside the ring-
“Oh, gosh golly, did you see?” Vickie says, collapsing herself on the bench right beside him. He didn’t hear her come in, he was so caught up in his thoughts. “I can’t believe PRIME put us against Rocky!”
There’s disgust in her voice. It’s pure and honest. She rubs away the leftover tears on her face, leans her head against the cold brick wall and stares into the ceiling.
“You already beat this tit! Where’s your rematch against Sage!? An opportunity versus Rezin!? Why does Rock Leon get a chance at a redemption story, but not you!?”
Jonathan-Christopher’s heart skips a beat.
“No. No. Noooooooo,” there’s a building of spite in Vickie’s voice. She’s moving from sadness and building towards the side of her Jonathan-Christopher struggles to handle the most. “They’ll give Rocky the moment; no progress for my man. This is the most pathetically booked place on the planet. Perhaps we should consider High Octane.”
She places her hand on his knee. She feels him shaking, although it seems like she can’t register his tension. Meanwhile, Jonathan-Christopher’s train of thought has flipped upside-down.
de Leon won’t be an opportunity to steer the ship in the right direction… it’s a chance for Rocky to steer his.
Jonathan-Christopher takes a deep breath. For the next half-an-hour, he will breathe through his diaphragm. This will help manage the anxiety. Yet one look over to his Amazing Life Partner and even he is surprised to learn anxiety doesn’t seem to be flowing through him at the moment.
Rather, he’s feeling…
Well, he’s not so sure he can place a name on it.
“We rewind,” Vickie says with bitter disappointment. “Back to Leon, back to a stupid wrestler nobody cares about and the middle spot THEY want us to be in. We’re going to lose time.”
She pauses and suddenly, she’s crying.
“We already are.”
It takes another moment for Jonathan-Christopher to realize his hands have rolled into balls of fists. He’s shaking but not conceivably with anxiety.
Time is precious.
And Vickie is right. They are losing a lot of it…
— — — — —
Meth Rehabilitation Outpatient Check-In Program
June 22, 2023
“My name is Jonathan-Christopher and I am addicted to meth.”
Once a month. JC returns to Louisiana once a month to clean out his grandfather’s home, where he spent his teenage years. In return, he’s found an outpatient program, one to be incredibly helpful through his disposition. For a man struggling to show the confidence and skills needed in order to be a wrestling sensation, these sessions have certainly helped. From the second JC walked into this very room last fall, without saying a word… now he stands front and center, almost looking forward to the opportunities this structure provides.
Attend. Speak. Never be judged.
With his friend Dora to his right and the session leader seated directly in front of him, Jonathan-Christopher collects a few more thoughts and then addresses the group.
“Meth has been very helpful lately,” a part of him wants to chuckle, as if saying this means sometimes meth isn’t helpful, and that could never be more true. “I was stuck in a certain perspective. I wasn’t able to understand there might be more to me…”
He scans the room. Everyone listens. They are all present. There’s no absentmindedness, no walking away when he needs the support.
“I have been nervous and scared lately, because I was close to my dreams…”
He reaches out. He lowers his head and drops his hand after.
“Yet I am so far away. So fucking far away…”
A tear wants to run down his cheek. He plans to shake with anxiety. Despite realizing he’s grown comfortable in this group, a sudden urge of running out of the room crosses his mind.
He powers through.
“And it hurts to be that far away. God, he has no idea how much it hurts. To have it dangled in front of your face and then someone who’s clearly inferior with nowhere near the story I have marches in and SNATCHES IT!”
The crowd has a few looks of concern. JC realizes he may have walked off the path a little too much.
“Nerves and anxiety. That’s what I am and nothing but. I spend my time this way because time is precious and it puts pressure on me. And here I am, wasting it. I love meth so much, it bothers me to know I’m not good enough for meth. I often wonder why meth continues to love a guy like me. What do I have to offer? What does meth see in me that I don’t!?”
Another pause. Jonathan-Christopher’s demeanor changes, ever-so-slightly.
“Well last week, meth gave me a different perspective…”
The wheels are turning, even though it’s difficult for JC to let these thoughts out. And it has nothing to do with nerves anymore, or fear of failure. What’s going on inside him is… different.
“I don’t know exactly what this feeling is just yet,” he mentions, seeing his hands roll into balls of fists like before. “But meth has been so loving and nurturing, it’s starting to unlock another way for me to look at things… another way to feel.”
JC releases his palms so they can easily stand by his side.
“Thank you for letting me speak,” he awkwardly turns around to find his chair and sits, while the group claps and Dora leans over, telling him he did great.
The session rolls on.
— — — — —
Hall Penthouse Suite
Las Vegas, NV
June 24, 2023
He enters through the front door, extremely conscientious to ensure he doesn’t make a peep. He wonders if she’s still in the bedroom, curled into a ball. She hasn’t shaken off her sadness. Yes, there are slight moments of spite but then it crashes back down to this unshakable depression, it’s something he’s never seen before.
He creeps past the stacks and stacks of production equipment. They were meant to be filming already but it’s currently postponed. Perhaps even canceled. Unless Jonathan-Christopher can find a legitimate direction to latch onto, the proposed 30 For 30 won’t see pre-production.
He tentatively places his gym bag on the ground beside the massive duffle bags of cameras and tripods. For the past five hours he’s been at the gym, putting in the work, as they say. In his right hand is the pretty pink© folder with the Rocky de Leon scouting report. If there was one blessing in disguise with Rocky, it’s that Jonathan-Christopher has already faced him and, therefore, Vickie never had to spend hours building a fresh report for a match.
Jonathan-Christopher continues to hold the folder. He carries this with him everywhere. He has studied it from beginning to end and while he still feels that rush of anxiety take over, like he mentioned in the outpatient session last week… lately, he’s also felt something new.
He hears a brief groan from inside the bedroom. Initially, he wasn’t planning to go anywhere near, he wanted to give her a chance to rest since life has been so hard on her recently. Nevertheless, after another inaudible groan, Jonathan-Christopher approaches the bedroom door tentatively and then pushes it open.
“Hi,” she mumbles, slowly sitting upright and rubbing his eyes in the process.
“I’m sorry,” he replies. “Did I wake you?”
She nods her head slightly, but also tries to brush it off like it doesn’t matter. “Yes, I think you did, baby. But that’s okay. Come in. Tell me how your workout went.”
Hall enters as Vickie sees the folder is still in his hands. This brings a weakened smile across her face despite the fact JC can tell she’s been bawling her eyes out.
“We haven’t had a chance to talk upon your return late last night,” she mentions. “How was your old home?”
Jonathan-Christopher isn’t sure Vickie wants to hear.
“It’s okay, darling,” he says softly, as he kneels down in front of the bed. “We can speak more when you’re fully awake.”
He opens the folder and flips through the pages.
“If I may, I’ll show you one quick thing,” he adds, while Vickie now sits upright. “Look what I found…”
It takes him a moment as he delicately lifts the paper from the middle of the stack. The tint of the page has yellowed over time and the corners are either folded or battered. Needless to say, Hall remains proud.
“I drew this when I was a kid.”
It’s a picture of a green haired boy, holding hands with a woman of multi-colored hair. Both of them are smiling.
“Way too big of a smile on my mom, don’t you think?” He asks.
But before Vickie can give a response, JC digs into the folder again.
“I got inspired.”
He reveals a second picture, this one on crisp, clean, white paper. There are once again two stick figures but they are seemingly of the same size. It’s a brown haired man holding hands with a blonde haired woman.
“I tried to get the smiles right for us. Hair, too,” he winks.
He holds both pictures out for her to see, knowing she’ll need a minute to clear her line of vision.
Vickie closes her eyes and lets out a puff. She carefully takes the pictures from her Amazing Life Partner and studies them further.
“Oh, Jonathan-Christopher,” she begins and then sets the drawings behind her, laying them on the center of their bed. She repositions herself and gazes into her man’s eyes… before looking down at the rest of the papers in the pretty pink© folder.
“Were you studying and working hard?” She wonders out loud with a tilt of the head.
He nods with a sense of passion and confidence not often communicated.
“Yes, my dear.”
JC glances around Vickie, to where the sketches lay.
“I simply used that as a break. Otherwise, nothing by Rocky de Leon is on my mind.”
She smiles, nods, and starts crawling into bed.
“Excellent.” She exclaims. “As you know, it’s all about progress. I’m sad you lost to Ivan but you did show progress. And you know progress is what we talked about being the most important direction.”
This warms Jonathan-Christopher’s heart, as Vickie continues.
“A loss to a man you already defeated, though, I’m not sure that constitutes as anything.”
Hall wholeheartedly agrees, although a minor part of him starts to feel some anxiety slip into the back of his mind. However, he’s going to squash it by leaning on the bed.
“Let me tuck you in, baby,” he declares, as he proceeds to do just that. “Then I will study your scouting reports more.”
Jonathan-Christopher hears a crinkling, as he looks down at Vickie’s feet, which have inadvertently started crushing his drawings. JC tries to rescue them when Vickie places a hand on the side of his cheek.
“Honey,” she says, tears starting to welt in her eyes. “Do you think you can win for me?”
It isn’t about the drawings anymore, Vickie needs to sleep.
“I’ll win, baby,” he states, “AND I’m going to show Rocky a whole new side of me.”
She is pleased. She closes her eyes while snuggling deeper into the mattress, the rustling of papers continuing until she has stopped.
“Time is precious. I need to show progress. And, of course, I love you,” he remarks and then leaves the bedroom.
— — — — —
Can you hear me God? It’s me, Jonathan-Christopher.
Last week you chose wrong. Ivan talked at-length about his family. Well I have a family, too. I care and cherish them, also. I am a good man, who is trying to do great things, for an amazing life partner, and I mean nobody harm.
Ivan is not a good man. But here I am, on the outside looking in, another failed attempt at the Forever Journey.
You are giving opportunities to your favorites. The wrong people. My Vickie is the right people. The LOVE CONVOY is the correct path. Deep down in my heart I know it is true. I just need a better way to show you.
Jared shows you. He shows you all the time. Julien, most certainly. Lord knows the champion whose name I still cannot speak does. This is because you enjoy their work and you are captivated by their stories. It’s also because you are heavily biased. You don’t like me, or you don’t like her.
From now on, God, you’re going to see an unprecedented Jonathan-Christopher and you’re not going to present trials and tribulations in front of us. You’re going to present opportunities, not knock downs. You’re going to understand why I am who I am. You’re going to love me, like I love her. You’re going to see.
And one day.
I’ll be placed on that pedestal you put them on.
I am not bitter, I want you to understand. I want you all to understand. That I love her and PRIME can’t be complete without her hopes and dreams coming true.
From now on, I’m going to show you a new side of me. First, I will show Rocky. Our previous match is erased, what transpired there is meaningless. This is a new opponent, for a potentially redirected Jonathan-Christopher.
Time is precious.
So you better like my story, God. Because if I fail, you won’t be able to hear me cry.
You won’t be able to hear…