We open, dear reader, to a still shot of Rob Williams winning the 5 Star Championship Title. What a voyeuristic thrill to witness it all from this angle. None of the participants in this panoramic shot knowing we’re hiding here on the peripheral of reality. Let’s take a look around, shall we?
Panning 360 we’re afforded a genuine look at the moment from every angle, every experience. Various flashes from fans capturing the moment that shouldn’t have happened line the outer band of darkness, appearing almost galactic in their luminance. The darkness. It edges closer and closer to the ring, enveloping Richard Parker and Nick Stuart and their screams of disbelief. That stupid look they’re making. Is this what the Philistines’ faces looked like as David redecorated Goliath’s head and neck region? What was it “The Legend” said when you were first introduced?
Let’s take a quick look back. I’m a sucker for nostalgia.
The lens nearly fogs up with Rob’s breath as he gets intimately close.
Rob Williams: Witness me, PRIME, for I am enduring.
Abruptly the camera drops to the ground, watching Rob’s snakeskin cowboy boots disappear from view before cutting back to ringside.
Oh, yes. Enduring. Let us return to the enduring one.
All that remains inside the now square frame of the ring is Cecilworth Farthington on his back and Rob Williams is on his knees, the cool gold of the 5 Star Title pressed against his forehead. A crown for a king. Eventually even Cecilworth disappears. “The Legend” is alone.
Just him and his gold.
What comes next is inconsequential, dear reader. It cannot cheapen nor devalue what happened here. Wins and losses are likely moving forward from this. Your life is made up of peaks and valleys. This is the very pinnacle of a peak. When the tape gets played back this specific moment will shine brighter than almost all others in Rob’s life. The highlight reel of your story, at best, features a few small crumbs from the beard of Father Time with as much weight as what we are now bearing witness to.
Good job, kid. Hold the fuck on.
“We did it.”
Rob Williams is finally alone in the locker room. His arm hurts. It more than hurts, baby. It feels like it got the full Aron Ralston treatment.
But sitting in his lap is fifteen or so pounds of gold, silver, and leather.
Is this what women feel like after giving birth?
“No, that’s much worse.” The Father grins and sits next to Rob, cigarette still burning. Rob yearns to smoke again. Not to have a cigarette, mind you, but to be a smoker. He’s smoked countless times since “quitting”. It’s not the same anymore. Tastes like when he was a kid stealing his mom’s Marlboro Reds, smoking one after another under the giant Southern Magnolia behind his grandmother’s apartment. Forcing himself through the nausea because he wanted to like them. All the toughest guys did.
“Well, if that’s hell this has to be purgatory. That little son of a bitch was aiming to take my arm off.” Rob says as his fingers trace the stars on his new belt.
His new belt. The very thought of it is enough to turn the lights on in the fractured, busted out dopamine factories of his mind.
“He may have been. That’s over now, though. This battle has been won and it is time to turn our gaze toward the big prize: destroying the false prophet Don Winters. You’ve had your time to enjoy this, it’s time to get to work. We do not rest on our laurels.” The Father says from behind a plume of smoke.
“Fuck Don Winters.” Rob says, and he means it. He means it more than most things he’s ever said. Why would he worry about this pipsqueak now? “Winters barely fucking beat Rose. Not only is she a beanpole, but she’s a rookie. This guy isn’t worth our time. Let Lem or one of the new recruits see to him.”
See to him? More and more it seemed some of the Father’s vernacular was taking root in Rob’s.
“Oh, child. You show such promise. And then you have moments where you’re like a lame runt that should be drowned in an act of mercy.” The Father snaps at Rob. “Pride goeth before the fall. You had best remember how you got here lest you be nothing but a stop on the route of its history. Donald Winters is all that matters right now. Make whatever alliances you must, take whatever actions you have to, throw caution to the wind. There is nothing more important than exposing the rot underneath the veneer of HiS wOrD and LiGhT.”
“But, why?” Rob questions, not out of defiance. He’s sincere. Why should Don Winters matter?
A smile crosses the Father’s face as he whispers, “Quid pro quo.”
Of course Rob didn’t think this was all out of charity, right?
“You’re using me?” A slight undertone of hurt escaping Rob’s words.
“My child, I have told you: YOU are MY war club and weapon of war. With you I will break into pieces the shepherd and his flock. This is necessary for your ascension. In order to remove the ego that blocks you from what you are to become you must learn the spirit of service, beginning with destroying Donald Winters. He is a lie, an infection. His fraudulent ways are the pus swelling and boiling below the skin. You must drain PRIME of this infection. Expose him and free him from this charade. Your metamorphosis is tied to his and just as you have only found the sunlight through the bottom, so will Donald. But he’ll never get there without you.” The Father’s speech is calm and slow despite the vitriol of the words, like a bow on top of pipe bomb.
Rob looks at the Father, to the 5 Star Title, and back to the Father.
“I will be of service.”
Their ranks have grown. The seeds that started out as Rob hitching a ride from a few freaks in a chance encounter while hunting Don Winters has blossomed into something of a following. A movement.
Lem has very been busy.
He has a special assignment.
Lem’s always been special. He gets people, can read them like a book. Especially those skating the thin ice of desperation. Sure, Lem has spent the better part of the last decade as a railyard ghost, but do you have a clue what it takes to survive in that element? The life expectancy for selfish assholes is almost exceedingly short. And it’s a mighty convenient set up for disposing of bodies.
Although Lem is a wrestler himself, and quite a talented one despite the morass of self pity Rob found him in after losing at the Belmont, he hasn’t watched any of Rob’s matches. Nope, he’s been on his own hunt. Bolstering the ranks. Stacking the bench. Lem has been visiting countless Anonymous groups and rehabs and even cruising the streets of Kensington while they were in Philly. Only the most desperate. They can be on either side of the needle or bottle, but they have to be right there on the cusp of oblivion. After all, if drinking doesn’t bring you to your knees, sobriety will.
And who has been there to help those critical souls back up to their feet?
You guessed it. Lem.
Not all approached join. But the seed is planted.
“Look at them, Robert.” The Father says without taking his eye off the group below them. Down there the air is electric from the energy generated by twenty or thirty faceless men and women working in unison. “They work with purpose, inspired that they’re giving of themselves in order to be a part of something bigger. The spirit of service.”
They’re building something.
“What the fuck are they doing?” Rob asks while squinting his eye and trying to picture what the end result of all these efforts may be.
The Father smiles lovingly, “It’s a surprise. A special gift for Donald Winters, to help him find the pain he requires to be cleansed. And you, my child, you get to deliver it to him.”
He senses Rob is a little perturbed at being left in the dark.
“Don’t worry, Robert. More will be revealed. For now you focus on meeting your new teammates and have faith that I am preparing every step in your journey to delivering Donald Winters to the absolution he so reveres.” The Father says and pats Rob on the back.
A worker down below stops, wiping the sweat from his brow and looking up to Rob. It’s Lem. He smiles a toothy grin at Rob before returning to his charge. Something strikes Rob about this. He realizes Lem is playing his part, that Lem may not even know what the finality of his work will be. Yet he toils away faithfully.
Could the walls of self-reliance and defiance finally be eroding? What is the Father planning for The Revelator? Who the hell are all of these people and who’s feeding them?
Time will tell.