Private: Terry Woods
“But it is the same with man as with the tree. The more he seeks to rise into the height and light, the more vigorously do his roots struggle earthword, downword, into the dark, the deep – into evil.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
V O I C E – O V E R
I had a girlfriend once.
She liked to fight.
She would have been a warrior, in a different time, but in this time, she just danced a lot.
Got to get that rage out, somehow.
One day, she says to me, “Terry..
You can’t stand the face in the mirror, so you put on a mask.”
At the time, I just laughed it off, because my pride wasn’t going to allow her to have a point.
I think about it now, and..
She’s still wrong, but she was on to something right.
I certainly have a mask.
I have a mask under that mask, too, though.
Mask under that, as well.
I’ve got so many masks, that I don’t know who the face in the mirror even is, anymore.
It’s not that I’m disappointed in my reflection.
I genuinely can’t find it.
I’m not playing pretend to get away from my true self, because I already did that.
I did that a long time ago.
My true self barely ever existed, honestly.
I remember as a kid, something was off.
I knew what normal was, I knew what right was, and I knew I wasn’t either of those things.
It’s not like I aimed to be strange, or I aimed to be wrong, I just was.
The other kids didn’t like it when I was strange.
My mother didn’t like it, either.
So, I learned to pretend.
I had a kid I used to play with.
He lived next door.
We were in first grade.
We played three to five times a week, for hours, outside in the driveway.
We would race hot wheels, break action figures, have a good old time until his mama made him go inside for the night.
This went on for months.
One day, my mother comes up to me slowly, and she sits me down.
She says, “honey, your friend was in an accident.
He’s not going to be home, anymore.
His mama won’t be, either.
Your friend died, Terry. They’re both gone.”
I remember looking in my mother’s eyes, and she was so sad.
She kept rubbing my arm, and she was staring at me like a hawk.
She was ready to help me grieve.
She was ready to lend her shoulder.
Just one problem, though. Just one little bump in the road…
I didn’t really give a fuck. Mentally, I was on to the next friend.
I remember looking at her, and I knew she expected a somber reaction.
I didn’t have one.
I remember thinking, “Terry, it’s times like this…
You’re supposed to be sad.
Why can’t you be normal?”
So, I walked away.
I had no idea what the hell to do.
An hour later, my Grandpa shows up.
He wants to talk to me.
I come out of my room, and he’s sitting on the stairs.
He said, “That was your good friend, wasn’t it, Terry?”
I didn’t feel like crying, but I knew that’s what he wanted.
I didn’t feel like lying about my feelings, either.
I just approached him, and I said nothing.
I had no idea what the hell to do.
That must have been enough, because he abruptly pulled me in.
He held me harder then I’ve ever been held by another man.
I remember thinking, “this is what love is.
This is compassion.
This is care.
Why can’t I do this?”
I buried my face in his shirt, and I pretended to cry.
I was ashamed that I didn’t actually want to cry.
I was also ashamed that I pretended to cry.
He started to pray, holding me in his arms.
I did not want Grandpa bringing God into this.
I was obviously bullshitting.
God would certainly know, as well.
But, I knew God was listening, because my Grandpa was a bad motherfucker.
Everybody listened to Grandpa.
He asked God to ensure my friend made it to heaven.
He asked God to make sure his mama was with him.
And then, he asked God to comfort me.
Little did he know, I didn’t really need any comfort.
So I whispered to God, and I said, “Don’t tell my Grandpa I’m not sad that my friend died.”
God didn’t say anything in response, and nobody ever found out that I was pretending to be sad.
I didn’t want to hurt my mother’s feelings, and be strange.
I didn’t want my Grandpa to feel like he came over for no reason.
I was just a six year old kid that wanted to be normal.
I wanted to be sad.
I just wasn’t.
So, I learned to pretend.
[< o >. .< o >] IN THE DIRT, SHE GROWS
Paw-paw loved to take an afternoon nap.
If you arrived at the corner of Pawnee and Greenwich around two-thirty, and you focused your gaze about fifty yards east of the bullet-hole riddled stop sign, you’d see a weathered old man slumped on his patio, with a shotgun between his legs, and a half-full mason jar of sweet iced tea in his hand.
Paw was notoriously difficult to wake without fireworks. He was a large man, and he slept heavy. He claimed he was being protective of the property on the porch at all times, but Wildflower knew she could probably rip the cord on a saw, and fully trim a riverbirch before Paw would come to consciousness.
This was exactly the time to tell him what she had done.
He wasn’t going to be happy, and she knew that, but she did it anyway.
He was going to ask her to pump the brakes, but she had her foot on the gas, and had no interest in yielding.
She still wanted to tell him, though, so might as well do it while he was hardly coherant.
His eyes were wired shut, so she leaned down to whisper.
“I got tickets to see Terry wrestle, Paw.”
His eyes flickered.
“Say that again, Wildflower?”
She cleared her throat, and started to stammer. She wasn’t expecting him to be so concise.
“I bou-bought tickets to see my dad wrestle.”
PAW: Whyever the hell would you do that? Who pays money to visit the devil?
WILDFLOWER: I have to see him, Paw.
Paw takes a long gulp of his iced tea, and looks off into the trees for a moment.
PAW: Listen here, young lady. You twist the lid off your ears, and you pay attention. You were entirely too hard to raise, to be taking chances on your daddy. Your daddy wouldn’t drop a nickel in the plate to see Jesus do a cartwheel, Wildflower. The porch light is on, but ain’t nobody home. Nothing more I can do about that, nothing more I could do about that. Paw done had him some talks with the Lord on this, and we came to an accord: your daddy simply ain’t for here, you understand? He not supposed to be. The doctor said he came out his mama, but Paw wasn’t looking at the time, and the devil got tricks. That’s what I think. Devil snatched my boy, and replaced him with whatever the hell your daddy is, but your daddy not you, Wildflower. Your daddy not me, either. He low down. He real low. Hell above him.
Wildflower twiddled with her fingers, unsure of what to say to get Paw to calm down.
WILDFLOWER: I know you think he’s evil, but I’d like the opportunity to figure that out on my own.
PAW: You’re seventeen years past an introduction with that boy, honey. He not ever coming for you. You go to him, he gonna run. Why pay money to watch your daddy run?
Wildflower lowers her head.
WILDFLOWER: What if he doesn’t run, Paw?
PAW: Then you’re gonna need to run.
WILDFLOWER: You really don’t think he’ll like me?
Paw puts his hands together in prayer.
PAW: I pray every day that boy never bothers to like you, Wildflower.
Wildflower’s eyes get stern, pleading.
WILDFLOWER: This is the first time I’ve ever known exactly where he was, Paw. I have to go, and I have to try!
Paw shakes his head.
PAW: He gonna break you in two, Wildflower…
Wildflower clinches her heart.
WILDFLOWER: I’m already broken in two, Paw! I’ve got a father out there, living his life, and he doesn’t want anything to do with me… I have to know why!
[< o >. .< o >] BUCKING the STAGE
Bucky approached quickly, gripping on Terry’s blood-dripped hand with his own, before Terry could even realize Bucky was next to him.
BUCKY: Well, if it ain’t the Manhunter himself! How you doing, old blood? Great to see you!
It had been fifteen years since anybody had called him that. It made him want to dip into the gimmick a little bit.
WOODS: You got a sacrifice for me?
BUCKY: Hey now, put that gimmick down! No gimmicks here, sir!
BUCKY: I got a guy, but he’s no dime a dozen. He’s got potential. He’s gonna be a solid test for you.
Bucky smacks Terry across the chest.
WOODS: Fantastic. Smaller guy?
BUCKY: Smaller guy, like you said, MDK. He’s a hell of a pitcher, too. Got some college offers.
Terry’s eyebrows raise.
WOODS: He a righty, or a lefty?
Bucky scratches his head.
BUCKY: Righty. Why are you asking that?
WOODS: Just curious.
Bucky shakes it off, and eyes the physique of the Draw.
BUCKY: Alrighty, well.. You’re looking big as a house, Terry!!
WOODS: Yeah, it’s not beach muscle, either. Makes me wonder how strong I could have gotten in my prime, if I just focused on it. All I did back then was take steroids, do drugs, drink, and all sorts of other stupid shit. I’m different now.
BUCKY: You ready for your debut over at PRIME this week?
WOODS: You asking new me, or old me?
BUCKY: Asking both!
WOODS: Old me was always ready. New me, well, let’s see how it goes. I’m just going to wing it.
Bucky shakes his head.
BUCKY: You’re winging it?
WOODS: I haven’t been in front of the camera in fifteen years, and I’m no longer in my prime. No point in trying to think too hard about it, I’ll just let it be what it is.
BUCKY: So, you’re not in your prime, in PRIME?!
Woods rolls his eyes.
WOODS: You should do stand-up, Buckshot.
BUCKY: You think you can win?
WOODS: That’s not really a concern, Buck.
BUCKY: You’re not concerned about winning, Draw?
WOODS: Buck, this is wrestling. I’m the bad guy. The bad guy doesn’t have to win.
BUCKY: Looks a lot better for the bad guy if he does..
WOODS: The bad guy just has to be remembered, that’s all.
BUCKY: Have you scouted your opponents at all?
WOODS: Nope. They’re a couple of smaller guys, and that’s all I know. Ace looked them up.
BUCKY: Ace… You talking about Ace Valante?
BUCKY: Why are you talking to a guy like that?
WOODS: He’s my guy like that.
BUCKY: If somebody offers him ten grand to take your finger, he’ll have a knife in his pocket the next time you see him.
WOODS: Well, if you knew him like I know him, you’d know that Ace gets squeamish around blood.
BUCKY: Whatever you say, Manhunter. Gear up, and tape up. You’re on deck in thirty. Everybody is waiting.
[< o >. .< o >] FEAR
As suddenly as the blood-splattered hands of Terry Woods spread open the doors of the fridge, a cackle is heard.
Are we grabbing a snack, Terry?! Just a harmless treat!!
Terry observes the collection of nutri-grain bars in the far corner.
It’s a little late for that, isn’t it?!
Terry pulls out his phone, and eyes the time.
The food won’t process in your system correctly if you go to sleep after consumption, Terry! You’ll gain weight!! You’ll be so slow!!
Have you looked at the ground?! Simple mind!!
Terry glances down, putting the phone away.
What if she broke another cup?! Shattered it?! Silly Samantha!!
The glass will cut your feet, Terry! It will gouge them!!
He lifts his bare feet up, checking for debris.
Forget the floor, check out the windows!!
He whips around.
Why are the blinds open? Wide open? Completely open?!
What if somebody is outside? Somebody evil? Somebody vile, Terry?
They might come in, once you leave with that snack!
Terry eyeballs the windows of his house, gripping a kitchen knife.
They might gut Samantha like a fish with that kitchen knife while you’re in the shower, Terry!!
Hide that kitchen knife!!
Terry puts the knife in a drawar.
Check the locks!!
Terry walks around the area slowly, making sure everything is fastened shut. He returns to the fridge.
Oh, checking out the milk, instead? You’re so sporadic!! Why isn’t it skim? Whole milk is fattening!!
He unfastens the lid.
Have you looked at the expiration date?!
SOUR MILK IS FUCKING DISGUSTING, TERRY!! CHECK IT!!
He looks, and then takes a swig.
YOU BETTER TWIST THAT CAP ON TIGHT WHEN YOU’RE DONE DRINKING, MOTHERFUCKER!!
REMEMBER WHEN YOU DIDN’T, AND SAMANTHA SPILLED THE MILK?!
SHE FUCKING HATED YOU!!
YOU WERE SUCH A PIECE OF SHIT THAT DAY!!
He twists the cap on tight, and shuts the door.
[< o >. .< o >] THE BAD GUY
Woods props his above-the-ankle egg-shell white boot on the bench, and starts to loosen the knot.
A lit cigarette creates an ambience of smoke that unironically fits the theme of the utility closet he sits in.
Old, out-dated, musty, and tattered.
His hands, always covered in blood, appear to have collected a fresh new strain this evening.
His chest, covered in sweat and emotion, glistens in the dim light.
Terry appears tired, but satisfied.
The closet door opens abruptly.
In walks Bucky Covington, a senior wrestling trainer that helped train Woods when he was a teenager.
He isn’t happy one bit. He’s alarmed, even. His eyes are bulging out of their sockets.
BUCKY: What the fuck happened out there, Terry?
Terry smiles, and takes a drag from his smoke.
WOODS: Just letting Jesus take the wheel, Buck.
Bucky stomps, screaming.
BUCKY: No, no! What the fuck is wrong with you?! Why did you do that?!
Woods rolls his blood-smeared eyes.
WOODS: Kid had it coming.
BUCKY: He had it coming?! You broke his fucking arm, Terry!
WOODS: I know. Pitching arm. Probably won’t get those college offers, now. That’s life.
Bucky starts to unfasten his belt.
BUCKY: That’s life?! That’s fucking life, Terry?!
WOODS: If he stops wrestling because of a broken arm, then he was never going to make it, anyway. This is simply a test for him, and he’ll thank me, later.
Woods watches Bucky aggressively strip his belt from his pants, curious.
WOODS: Are you going to try and hit me with that, Buck?
BUCKY: Oh, I fucking should, Draw. I really fucking should!
Woods shakes his head.
WOODS: I’m not going to let you hit me with that belt, Buckshot. Calm down a little bit.
Bucky whips the belt into the wall, violently.
BUCKY: Why?! Why did you break that poor kid’s fucking arm?! His mom was out there. His girlfriend is out there. My whole class this season is out there! They’re asking me why I brought a monster into the gym to hurt Jessie?!
Woods rubs his hand across his chest, his bloody fingers dancing across his tattoos.
WOODS: No, don’t do that. That ring is conflict. That ring is a battle. He brought his loved ones to war, and now his loved ones are upset at what they saw. I got nothing to say to that. If they thought he was safe, they were wrong. If he thought he was safe, he was wrong. The kid signed a waiver, right? You’re fine. Things happen. This happened, and that’s okay. It is what it is, Buck.
Bucky shakes his head, pacing back and forth.
BUCKY: It’s because the kid pinned you, isn’t it? Terry Woods couldn’t handle losing to some kid that’s just starting out, so he breaks his arm. I can’t believe you’re that weak, man..
Terry takes another drag from his smoke.
WOODS: He got me with a roll-up, Buck. Roll-ups don’t work for me.
BUCKY: What? It’s a pin, Terry! It’s a fucking pin!
Woods shakes his head.
WOODS: You think when God finally squares up with the Devil, God’s going for a roll-up, Buck?
BUCKY: What the hell does that have to do with anything, Terry?! He’s not God! You’re not the Devil! This was a fucking exhibition match!
WOODS: Then we agree to disagree, Buck. You’re right, he’s not God, and I’m not the Devil, but this is good locked with evil, and good went for a fucking roll-up. That’s not a finish. That’s not a story worth telling, so I reminded good that evil don’t have to pay much mind towards technicalities. Yes, good got the technical fall with a roll-up, but evil took his fucking arm in response, so who won, Buck? Good, or evil?
Bucky shakes his head.
BUCKY: You’re ridiculous, Terry. You really are.
Woods scoffs, sparking another smoke.
WOODS: No, you could never look past the moves and technicalities, and that’s why you never got to where I got, Buck. There’s psychology in this. That ring is a stage, and we are performing. There’s a good guy, a bad guy, and a story needs to be told, in every match. You’ve got that kid out there spitting out moves, but he’s got no mind for the business. I asked him out there, I asked him if he thinks he’s the good guy, and he said he was, but I didn’t see it. I started grinding my elbows into his fucking eyes, and do you know what he did? He cowered a little bit. He got nervous. He’d never seen that before. You put this kid in the water with a shark, Buck, but you’ve only ever had him around dolphins. There’s a difference here.
BUCKY: No, you’re just rationalizing your Manhunter bullshit, Terry. You’ve got blood tatted all over your fucking hands. You’ve got emotions tatted all over your fucking chest. You dress in all-white, you wear glasses inside, you smoke fucking cigarettes, and you want to be the coolest motherfucker that ever lived, but you’re not, so you pretend. This is all pretend bullshit, Terry. You broke that kid’s arm for no fucking reason, Terry. None. You’re trying to use these metaphors, analogies, or whatever type of bullshit you can think up to justify the fact that you broke a kid’s arm in front of his mother during an exhibition match that wasn’t televised after the bell rung. There’s no story to be told here, and there wasn’t any fucking cameras. Nobody fucking saw it.
WOODS: There were people in the stands, and they have eyes. So do you. So did that kid. That’s all the camera that I need. Trust me, a story was told tonight, and he’s going to remember it. So will you, and so will they. The bad guy just has to be remembered, Buck. He doesn’t have to win. I told you that.
Terry shoots smoke from his nostrils, and we fade.