Private: Terry Woods
[ < o >. .< o > ] IN THE DIRT, SHE GROWS
Wildflower was sad.
She went to bed last night feeling like she missed her only opportunity to possibly link with her father, a father she had never seen in real life, or spoken to.
She was in the crowd at ReVival 26, and she screamed for his attention every moment she could get. She even managed to touch his arm as he left the ring. He responded to it, looking at her momentarily, but she froze.
He didn’t give her enough time to explain, unfortunately. He was already retreating up the ramp by the time his name had left her lips. It’s not like he actually recognized her, she was just another person in the crowd to him, but that was her moment, and off the moment went.
She knew Paw-paw was at the door, watching her. He had just asked if she wanted anything to eat, but she had no response. She wasn’t hungry, she wasn’t thirsty, she was just sad. She didn’t mean any disrespect, but she couldn’t muster up a smile, and a no thank you.
PAW: Things not go right with your daddy, bird?
She shook her head, maintaining her gaze at the bottom of her bed. Paw-paw grunted, mixing his tea with a spoon.
PAW: Can’t say I’m sorry, honey. That boy the devil in leather pants. You don’t need him. Come get you some pork, now. Empty stomach never helped nobody.
She shook her head again, and Paw-paw grunted harder.
PAW: You know better then to throw a fit at your Paw. You sad, and Paw get that, but you gon’ be okay. Paw talks to you, you talk back, now. Your daddy don’t deserve no feelings from you. Let’s eat this pig.
WILDFLOWER: I’m not throwing a fit, Paw-paw.
PAW: Okay, well Paw not talking to himself. Paw already knows all of Paw-paw’s jokes. Paw got no reason to talk to himself. Paw talking to you, and you quiet as a church-mouse. Paw always gonna help you, Wildflower, but on this, Paw said this a horse that’s gonna buck. Paw told you that, but you picked up your saddle, and you decided to ride, so you did, the horse bucked, and now you not talking to Paw.
WILDFLOWER: I love you, Paw-paw, but you’re not understanding.
PAW: Okay, talk then.
WILDFLOWER: My whole life, I’ve had a weight holding me down. I used to be able to carry it, because I wanted to, but I’m tired now. I have to get rid of this weight, and the weight is Terry. I can’t move past it. This isn’t an option. I have to. I need answers, and even if they are answers that I don’t want to hear, or answers that I can’t understand, I need them.
Wildflower begins to sob.
WILDFLOWER: You’ve always called me your little bird, but I can’t fly anymore, Paw. This is too heavy. I’m tired of thinking about it. I’m tired of being angry about it. I just want to let it go, and I need to look my dad in the eyes, and I want to tell him that I forgive him. I’ve held on to the unforgiveness for too long, and I need to let the weight go. If he doesn’t care, so be it, but I need him to know that I forgive him. I can’t move forward until he hears it from me. He has to hear it from me.
Paw-paw’s face has become a permanent frown, and he puts his head down slowly. He pauses for a long time, gathering his thoughts. Wildflower wipes the tears away from her eyes, gazing in his direction for a response.
PAW: Alright, bird. Alright. Let’s go find the Devil. Paw coming with you. I know where to look.
Wildflower gets overwhelmed with excitement, but then curiosity rears its head.
WILDFLOWER: Why are you coming with, Paw? Do you want to see him, too?
Paw shakes his head.
PAW: Nope. I got nothing good to say to that boy, but I already lost him to his demons, and I’m not losing my birdy to his demons, too. You say you gotta go, then Paw gotta take you. That’s that. We going till it’s done, and then you gonna fly. Birdy gotta fly.
Wildflower rushes to her big, grizzly Paw, and clutches him tight.
WILDFLOWER: Thank you, Paw!
Paw couldn’t help but shake his head, and clutch back.
[ < o >. .< o > ] ACES IN THEIR PLACES
Terry snatched the phone out of his drug-induced coma with his blood-stained hands as soon as it started to ring.
VALANTE: What the hell is Babayka, Terry?
WOODS: Ace. Hey.
VALANTE: Why are you running around telling people you eat children? Always the edge-lord. “I’m Terry Woods, I just run red lights, fuck, and eat children.” The word going around is that you’re on some Resident Evil cannibal bullshit, and PRIME is probably going to start drug testing. Do you want to be drug tested?
VALANTE: Then let’s introduce your silly shit with a bit more tact, alright? I get it, you like to seem weird, and that’s whatever, but cannibals don’t have action figures, Terry. Nobody’s putting cannibals on t-shirts and selling them at Target. Stop trying to scare the money. We don’t scare the fucking money, we hug the money. We hold the money tight. We gain the money’s trust, and then we trick the money. We convince the money that we are the good guys, and then we take the money, and give the money to the dealer for heroin. Now, what do we do when the money is around, Terry?
WOODS: We hug the money.
VALANTE: Do we tell the money that we will eat its children?
VALANTE: Fantastic. Now, here’s your scouting report for your next match, because I know damn well you didn’t hang around after your match, and try to make friends. You’re in another opening clusterfuck, against three other people.
WOODS: Pretty standard shit. I’m new, they don’t know what the hell to do with me, so they’re just throwing me in whatever. Go on.
VALANTE: Right. First person, is apparently the largest woman that’s ever existed.
VALANTE: Yeah. Says she’s huge. Lots of references to size. Amazonian. Wonder Woman-esque. Not the Gal Gadot shit, though, like actual from-the-lore Wonder Woman. Girl is probably about two forty, with all this talk about size I’m seeing.
WOODS: That’s interesting.
VALANTE: Wait a minute… She’s Japanese. So, that means she’s under five-foot-two. So, her name is Kohime Mori, she’s five-foot-two or less, and she’s about two hundred and forty pounds.
WOODS: It sounds like she must have incredibly strong ankles.
VALANTE: Yeah, she’s had success, too. She’s won more than she’s lost. She’s the threat.
VALANTE: Next person is a sixty-three year old named Chandler… Tsomething. I don’t know. They didn’t spell his last name correctly.
VALANTE: Yeah. Born in ‘75, so, sixty-three.
WOODS: I’m pretty sure that-
VALANTE: Right, so, he’s an incredibly small senior citizen, and he is already a PRIME hall-of-famer. My guess is he ran out of money, and they’re bringing him back for some cheap pops. The last name starts with a ‘T’, and it’s exotic, so I think his last name is actually something like Tiramisu, it’s certainly not whatever word I’m looking at. So, Chandler Tiramisu. Possible pastry chef.
WOODS: I’m pretty sure you’re feeding me bullshit information here, but I’m going to let you cook.
VALANTE: Well, you should actually let him cook, he’s the pastry chef. Also, get this: Sixty-three year old named Chandler. There can’t be anybody older named Chandler. This is the original Chandler. Nobody was named Chandler, then this guy came along, and now there’s a bunch of sissies named Chandler, so you’re fighting the original Chandler, the originator of the Chandler-verse.
WOODS: Got you.
VALANTE: Last guy was on Star Trek.
WOODS: Come again?
VALANTE: Yeah. Lieutenant Greger Sundell of Starship: Voyager. He was a side-character you rarely saw. He appeared in a couple episodes standing next to Captain Janeway drinking herbal tea or some shit, but he was before Seven-of-Nine. In my opinion, that show didn’t even start until Seven-of-Nine showed up, so..
WOODS: Okay, who is he, really?
VALANTE: No, seriously. His nickname is the “Outer Space Ambassador”, and he’s looking for realms outside of Earth. It says here that his finishing move will take you to Saturn. So, no bullshit, he’s a Trekkie.
WOODS: Alright, Ace. Let’s review: I’m facing Japanese Wonder Woman, the oldest pastry chef named Chandler alive, and a Trekkie?
WOODS: Scout’s honor?
VALANTE: No, don’t you bring the Boy Scouts into this! I said what I said! Terry, listen, I don’t give a shit about this. You tell me you want me to scout, because I was a boy scout, so I’m scouting. I don’t actually care who you fight, and you don’t either, because if you cared, you wouldn’t ask me to scout for you. So, there ya go. That’s your scouting report. Fuckin’ train, or whatever. Train for the Trekkie, isolate the Trekkie, confuse and out-run the senior citizen Pastry Chef, and avoid the Japanese woman at all costs.
Woods puts the phone down, and closes his eyes, once more.
[ < o >. .< o > ] BRAIDED WITH REGRET
Terry and Samantha had been good friends since high school, and after Samantha separated from her husband, she needed a roommate.
Terry, being ever the drifter, was an opportune choice. He never seemed to stay in one spot for very long, except for when he was locked up, so even if it didn’t work out, she knew moving on wasn’t going to be an issue.
He was also very aware of her medical condition. She had Lupus, and one of the worst forms of it. So, she needed somebody who cared enough to help her, if she needed it, and Terry was always willing to help.
Those that never actually met the real Terry would think that he would be a problematic living partner, but it was actually the opposite. He was gone a great deal, but when around, he was very quiet, he kept to himself, and he didn’t own, or need much.
WOODS: Sam, I need to braid your hair.
He said it so casually, it made Samantha laugh. She knew exactly what this meant. He wanted to talk about something important.
SAMANTHA: Sounds good to me!
She strolled over to the couch, and laid her head in his lap. He slowly began isolating sections of her brown hair, focusing intently.
SAMANTHA: What do you want to talk about?
WOODS: My daughter was at the show.
Samantha’s eyes almost popped out of her head.
SAMANTHA: The wrestling show?
SAMANTHA: Well, what the hell happened, Terry?
WOODS: Not much, actually. I noticed somebody grabbed me kind of aggressively as I was leaving the ring, and it was her. I just kept walking after that.
Samantha’s mouth was wide open as he finished his statement.
SAMANTHA: You’re a pussy!
Terry glared at her, still braiding.
WOODS: You know damn well that’s not the time, and place, to be reconnecting with your child.
SAMANTHA: You sure it was her?
WOODS: I’m not 100%, but I’m pretty sure. I felt a disturbance in the force, if you will. That, and she looked like her mother.
SAMANTHA: So, what are you going to do?
WOODS: I’m not sure.
SAMANTHA: She’s probably going to try to meet you, again, then.
WOODS: Probably. I’m sure my dad is pissed.
SAMANTHA: Are you sure he’s even aware?
WOODS: He would know. He always knew when I tried to be slick.
SAMANTHA: Well, if she does it again, you can’t keep running away.
WOODS: I’m pretty fast when it matters.
Samantha rolled her eyes so hard, they bowled a strike.
Terry shaked his head, looking for a tie for the braid.
WOODS: I’m not supposed to be anybody’s role model, Sam.
Samantha’s finger almost lodged itself into Terry’s eye.
SAMANTHA: You are not your fucking wrestler gimmick, Terry. You’re not actually a “Manhunter.” You don’t actually “hunt the man.” You’re not a bad person. You deserve to be her father, and you should be. If she wants to meet you, you’re going to meet her, and if you don’t, you better pray she never finds me, because I’ll hide her ass in the closet, and I’ll deadlock your ass in here, and we’ll get this resolved!
WOODS: I get what you’re saying, but it’s more complicated than you think.
[ < o >. .< o > ] FEAR
VOICE: It is incredibly complicated, and that’s exactly why you shouldn’t tell her!
Terry rubbed his eyes.
It was dark.
Samantha was gone, and a demon was in her place.
Its face was heavily contorted, but it’s smile was crisp. Clear.
Its teeth were daggers. Just a large row of daggers.
Its hair was practically a puss-drenched mop in Terry’s hands.
Terry could barely stomach the texture of it.
VOICE: She wouldn’t like the real you, Terry. The young Wildflower wouldn’t, either. You know that!
The demon laughed, maniacally.
VOICE: Rest up, Terry. Unless you want to braid my hair, too!
Terry closed his eyes.
[ < o >. .< o > ] GRACE
Terry came to, once more.
The couch was no longer, now a throne shaped from stone.
Its arms were in fact arms, stone, but feminine.
The head rest was also stone, but carved into his mother’s reflection.
It almost looked like she was holding him, as he sat there.
Terry leaned into her, resting his head just below her granite chin.
His arms were restrained by chains, held tight. He momentarily attempted to defy them, but smiled afterwards.
VOICE: You don’t have to live like this, Terry.
Terry laughed at the familiar feminine voice that haunts his thoughts.
WOODS: Place too dirty for you? It is a reflection of me.
VOICE: Imagine how much this place would change if your daughter came to visit.
WOODS: She has no place here.
VOICE: Then why do the flowers grow out of the walls, Terry? I think she does have a place here. A real place.
Terry glared at the flowers protruding from his stone walls, gnashing his teeth.
WOODS: Real place?! This is no fucking real place! This is all in my head!
VOICE: Sam would forgive you, Terry. Wildflower, too.
Woods shrieked in defiance.
WOODS: Forgiveness?! I don’t deserve it! You can’t fucking trick me, muse! You know I take Sam’s pain pills, don’t you? She needs those pills, because she’s actually sick, but me, i’m just sick in the fucking head, but I don’t need those pills like she does! When she runs out, she shakes, and she quivers, and she suffers, and she fucking suffers, and she fucking suffers..
VOICE: Is this you talking, or the demons?
WOODS: It’s always me talking. I am the demons. I am you as well, muse. I am always the one talking, and I never go quiet. Not here. Never here.
VOICE: Are you sure that you’re me?
WOODS: Well, let’s fucking hope so, bitch! If I’m not you, then I don’t have a fucking good side!
VOICE: It doesn’t have to be like this, Terry. You don’t need to wear the chains, if only you-
WOODS: Enough! I decide when the chains are off, not you!
VOICE: Then I must not actually be you, after all, Terry.
Terry smiled, placed his head against his mother’s face, and closed his eyes.
[ < o >. .< o > ] IN THE DIRT, HE’S TRAPPED
I didn’t come back to win matches.
I came back to be buried.
I’m looking to fill this hole.
I’m looking for inspiration. I’m looking for that special someone, and through that inspiration, I’m going to forge the shovel that will trap my trauma deep within.
I’ve been in this hole so long, I barely remember the light. Here I’ve sat, surrounded by dirt, but this is my dirt, and my dirt can’t fill this hole, it only shapes it.
My dirt forms the walls, and my dirt strengthens the floor, and my dirt is so very cold. There is no warmth for me, here.
Sometimes, the dirt hardens.
Sometimes, once my nails have grown long enough, I can climb.
I just never make it to the top.
As a child, I would cry, and the tears could lift me to the top, but the gap has widened, and I stopped crying a long time ago.
I need somebody else to bring their dirt to fill my hole, but how?
I can only do what I know how.
I can only hurt.
So, I will.
Somebody will have to try and stop me, eventually.