You’ve had twenty-one years, Coral. Twenty-one years to become a Champion of the World. A Champion of the Universe. A Champion of the HIGHEST Order.
Me? You know how many years I’ve had?
Less than one.
I know, I know! I’ve been wrestling in this shitty business of ours for around ten years now. So saying “less than one” might be a bit misleading at first glance. But the thing about TIME in PRIME? It’s all relative, my friend. A year down in the depths of competition here is equal to ten years on the surface anywhere else. By those quantitative measures? I’m a mere rookie in the presence of someone with the longevity of Cal Ripken Jr. or George Blanda.
The differences between us don’t stop at how our careers veer off from the other. Because despite being in the same profession? Our lives couldn’t be any more different.
You see, there’s always more to a story, and folks presume to know mine. Unlike you, I didn’t have some nice traditional wrestling upbringing behind white picket fences. I didn’t get cheered by the fans like some young hero who had every color on the spectrum on his tights. I didn’t get the love and admiration of others, be it promoters or other wrestlers in the locker room.
As embarrassing as it might be to say, no woman has ever wanted me, Coral. Not truly.
And friends? I don’t think I even have any.
But there’s always more to a story, Coral. Some are simply darker and scarier than others. Some stories? They’re locked away in files somewhere, for no one to see.
Some of those stories, those true stories about me, Coral? I may have never even read them myself.
Arliss Peters ran his fingers along a thick manila folder, mindlessly toying with a paper clip wedged at the top. The folder had been staring at him for the past few hours, daring him to open it and view its contents.
“Is it worth it?” he thought to himself.
On one hand, he had an obligation to uphold Attorney-Client privilege. Not doing so could result in possible disbarment for violating his duties of confidentiality. With disbarment looming, all the money his father invested into putting him through law school at Berkeley would be flushed down the proverbial toilet in an instant.
“Is it worth it?” over and over again he asked himself, as if the answer would materialize before him like a genie being rubbed out of a lamp.
On the other hand, his client was Arthur Pleasant.
Enough said, right?
One would think that.
Most days, Arthur made his life a living hell. With endless threats of bodily harm and neverending manipulation tactics to retain his legal services, Arliss often fantasized about finding a new career. It didn’t matter that he spent most of his adult life being the BDAITW (Best Defense Attorney In The World; He has the mug!) because if it meant finally being free of this demon, Arliss would leave it all in the rearview without hesitation.
Arliss knew of the heinous things Arthur had done in the past, and it had sent his moral compass into an uncontrollable spin with incredible velocity. It was a trope he found himself slipping into with every questionable act Arthur performed. The popular conception of blood-sucking lawyers and how they cared little of guilt and innocence was not lost on him every time they interacted. In fact, he implored his client to only tell him what he needed to know, and yet he found himself knowing more than he ever wanted and had even acted on some of it himself.
Yes, Arliss was talked into distracting Rocky. But for a normal, functioning member of society, dressing up as a distraction to allow someone else to inflict bodily harm was not normal, and Arliss was nearing the end of his rope.
With the folder still in his grasp, it occurred to Arliss how this might’ve been it. How he will no longer be a part of some charade filled with manipulation and, frankly, abusiveness. Consequences be damned.
Seismic personal information lay beyond that small layer of paper in his hands, and Peters considered what freedom, or possibly terror, might lie beneath.
Despite the sense of betrayal in his heart, the toxicity of the attorney-client relationship, and the sheer terror that gripped his soul…
…facing the bar would be the least of Arliss’ worries.
The possible repercussions of doing nothing, and also doing something, was not the double-edged sword he planned on ever holding in his hands. Never mind slitting his own throat with it.
Arliss exhaled hard, “I hope you’re right, Alexei.”
He carefully flipped open the folder and gently positioned the files in the center of his desk, arranging them with precise symmetry. The ‘Blue Moon’ winning graduate of Berkely straightened each one to ensure they were perfectly centralized before reading. It was an obsessive ritual that took time, but worth the effort when absorbing pertinent information to a case.
Or in this ‘case’, Arthur Pleasant’s past.
Name: ARTHUR PLEASANT Patient Number: 1013-2924-5157-0333 Date of Evaluation: 07/12/2010
Patient No. 1013-2924-5157-0333, Arthur Pleasant, has been referred for a comprehensive psychological evaluation due to concerns regarding past and present behaviors and overall mental health. The primary concern within this documented analysis is the presence of sociopathic traits and their impact on Arthur’s functioning and interaction with others. The information within is designed to formulate appropriate recommendations as to whether or not Arthur Pleasant should be released at the age of 18 or if the State should begin to implement rigorous methods of rehabilitation.
Arthur Pleasant is a 17-year-old male with a history of antisocial behavior and a lack of empathy towards others. He has demonstrated a pattern of disregard for societal norms, manipulation, and an absence of remorse or guilt. The patient has a documented history of engaging in violent behavior and has been institutionalized for seven years for a violent event resulting in the death of a family member.
Arliss looked up from the page. With a look of shock, he spoke softly to no one but himself, “Are you kidding me?!”
Taking a moment to get a grip on Arthur’s murderous past, Arliss shook his head. When he was ready, he continued to read about his client.
- Hare Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R): The patient’s score on the PCL-R indicates a dangerously high likelihood of psychopathic traits. Arthur Pleasant has demonstrated a lack of remorse or guilt, shallow affect, and a tendency towards manipulative behavior.
NOTE: Arthur’s answers DO NOT appear to be manipulated and have been deemed valid upon further review.
- Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI): The PAI revealed elevated scores on scales associated with aggression, dominance, and egocentricity. The patient exhibited a strong inclination towards self-promotion and a disregard for the feelings and needs of others.
- Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 (SCID-5): The SCID-5 assessment indicated that the patient met the diagnostic criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder, characterized by a pervasive pattern of disregard for and violation of the rights of others. The patient exhibited a lack of empathy, impulsivity, and a history of conduct problems dating back to childhood.
- Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): Analysis of the patient’s responses to the TAT revealed a consistent theme of power, control, and dominance. The patient frequently portrayed themselves as the aggressor or victor in their narratives, displaying a preoccupation with manipulation and exploitation.
Summary and Diagnosis:
Upon further evaluation, it is evident that Arthur Pleasant meets the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder, commonly associated with sociopathic traits. They exhibit a callous disregard for the rights and feelings of others, and a propensity for violence and Machiavellian maneuvers. The presence of these traits significantly impacts their ability to form genuine relationships and engage in prosocial behavior.
“Jesus Christ,” Arliss exclaimed as he continued to chew on the forbidden fruit.
Moments later, a knock on the door snapped Arliss out of his reading. He stared with trepidation at the door as he swallowed down the lump in his throat.
“C-come in,” he said meekly.
The hairs on the back of his neck rose to a point when Arthur Pleasant walked in.
“Arlisssssssss,” the words slithered along Pleasant’s forked tongue, “Peterrrsssss.”
The tremor in his hand was barely noticeable as it clenched the personal information of the menacing figure before him. Arthur’s eyes possessed that uneasy amalgamation of crazed lunacy and unsettling calm, which seemed to be so natural to him. The thought of what would happen if Arthur knew he was snooping through his private records from institutionalization days sent chills down his spine. The question wasn’t “would he” but rather “where would he scatter the body parts”.
Though he tried to hide his fear, his hand trembled as it rested on the psych eval of the monster who stood before him. If Arthur knew he was poking into his private files from his days in Western State Hospital, it wouldn’t have been a matter of ‘Would he?’ so much as it would’ve been a matter of ‘How?, followed by the grim question of “Where would he scatter the body parts?”.
“H-hey, Arthur,” he said nervously, trying his best to maintain his composure.
“Oh you know, about as good as it can be. Just wanted to stop by and have a chat BEFORE I MURDER YOUR FUCKING FAMILY.”
Arliss heard the words in his mind, but they didn’t match the movement of Pleasant’s lips. His terrified mind was playing tricks on him.
Arthur sighed, “I said I just wanted to stop by and have a chat before I got on my flight to Kentucky,” he finished, obviously annoyed by the mere idea of having to repeat himself to anyone.
“Oh,” he said. Arliss found himself swallowing down fear-induced bile as it burned, blistered, and cauterized any other attempt at speech.
“I just wanted to say thanks for putting on that disguise for me at UltraViolence, Arliss. GO SPLIT OPEN A CAT AND BRING ME IT’S INSIDES.”
The room spun, and his paranoia only grew. Rather than ask Arthur to repeat himself again, Arliss just went with it and nodded his head.
“Oh, yeah. No problem!” he responded with a fear-induced haze.
Arthur grinned and nodded, clearly pleased with himself for generating the type of positive response he wanted. Exploiting Arliss– and basically anyone in his path for his own personal benefit— was simply tradecraft for a master manipulator like Arthur Pleasant.
Pulling a client’s chair over to the other side of Arliss’s desk, Pleasant sat down and plopped his feet up, knocking over his “Best Defense Attorney in the World!” mug. Gold-encased pens that had been held inside of it, as well as coiled-up empty Snickers wrappers, spilled across his desk.
“Why, Arliss!” Pleasant said derisively, “I never took you for a boy with a sweet tooth!” he finished, chuckling at Arliss’s minor embarrassment.
Once Arliss picked up the wrappers and chucked them into a nearby wastebasket, he tried to process everything. With the folder still under his hand and Pleasant’s well-documented and very personal past mere inches between them, the dawdling of Arliss’s right hand had not gone unnoticed by the ever-perceptive maniac.
“What’s that?” Arthur asked curiously, grabbing a Spalding pink rubber ball from a glass container. Pleasant ignored the “DANGER!! DO NOT TOUCH!!” message that was printed on the glass, as if the world had come to an end if the ball got loose. Then, he tossed the ball in the air and caught it. It missed hitting the drop ceiling by mere inches.
Hoping the rubber ball was enough to distract Arthur from the folder tucked in his hand, Arliss chose not to answer.
“Arliss, my boy. What’s that folder under your hand? IF IT’S ABOUT ME I WILL GUT YOU LIKE A FISH.”
The ball grazed the drop ceiling and Pleasant caught it without looking. His unsettling eyes had then purely focused on Arliss.
“Cat got your tongue?” Arthur asked ruefully. It resembled that of a predator playing with its food.
A great tingling sensation swathed over Arliss as he finally answered.
“My apologies, Arthur. I was just thinking about something.” he lied.
Arliss tried to look relaxed, but he felt the bead of sweat slowly trickle down the right portion of his forehead. The sensation was like a thousand tiny bugs traipsing down his skin, but he dared not draw attention to it. Arthur casually gave another toss of the ball into the air before catching it tightly. His face twisted into a manic sneer as his head tilted to the side.
“You don’t look so good, Arlisssssss,” he said, taunting him with the same serpentine-like enunciation he spoke with earlier.
“It’s nothing, Arthur. I just… I have a lot of work to do,” he again lied, “I have several clients who are in desperate need of representation and, to be honest, since I’ve been helping you out with your PRIME stuff? A lot of it has gotten away from me.”
Arthur raised his eyebrows and lifted his chin so that his bottom lip engulfed his upper one. Nodding his head very lightly, Pleasant shrugged.
“Well, then. I know when I’m overstepping and not welcome,” he stated plainly.
Arliss breathed a sigh of relief as Arthur made his way to the door and then slammed the high-bounce ball onto the floor. They both watched it bounce up and smash into the drop ceiling, where an explosive SLAP from the ball launched it from the floor up into the ceiling and sent fragments cascading around Arthur. The ball did this three or four times before regaining enough inertia to roll quietly under Arliss’s desk.
“I’m just kidding ya, man!” He shrieked with glee. “I’m not an idiot, you know? All you had to say was that you were busy and for me to fuck off!'”
Knowing his client as he did, this was his cue to respond like the friend Pleasant thought he was.
“Well, I’m busy, Artie. Fuck off,” he said with a smile on his face. Pleasant grinned at Arliss’ sign of testicular fortitude, and as Arliss’ Worst Nightmare slinked around behind him, he whispered gently in his ear.
“Sure,” he said as he tippy tapped his fingernails along his attorney’s shoulders, “Hit me up when you’re done reading whatever poor fucker’s file that is, hm?” His breath tickled his ear and cooled the sweat along his skin.
Pleasant nearly skipped away as he kicked pieces of plastic scattered about from the fallen drop ceiling tiles.
Just like that, he was gone.
Arliss couldn’t believe it.
The next day, he’d be sure to go to church for the first time since he was a boy.
Arliss returned to the file, spreading it dutifully along his desk once more. There was a sick feeling at the pit of his stomach with each turn of the page. On top of reading some very disturbed acts committed by his client, he knew that, at any time, Arthur could’ve waltzed right back into his office.
With that very thought in mind, Peters got up from his desk and made a bee-line for the door, locking it securely so that he could be alone with the nitroglycerine-esque pile of information back on his desk.
Individual Psychotherapy: Engaging in long-term psychotherapy can provide a safe and structured environment for the patient to explore their thoughts, emotions, and stab. Stab stab stab stab stab stab stab stab stab stab, fostering moral reasoning, and enhancing dismemberment.
“Wait… what?” he thought.
Post-Coital Therapy (CUNT): STAB techniques can be stabbed stab stab stab stab stab stab stab stab stab stab, stab stab, and lack of empathy. Fuck your head like a plastic fuck doll. Blood blood blood blood blood blood blood blood die die die die die, blood blood blood, and challenge their rigid belief systems. Stop reading this, Arliss. You’re my lawyer. I will have you disbarred for this.
Stab The Fuck Out of Your Face: Die die die die die die die die and can often facilitate the patient’s understanding of how their behavior impacts others, provide an opportunity for feedback, and foster a sense of blood-curdling fucking screams you piece of shit asshole cunt die die FUCK YOU and learn from the experiences and perspectives of others.
“What the hell?!” Arliss groaned as he rubbed his eyes and loosened his tie.
He then pulled out the middle drawer to his desk and withdrew an unopened bottle of 2mgs of Xanax. Untwisting the white bottle cap, Arliss punched a hole into the seal with a stiff shot from the knuckle of his index finger and popped two full totem poles into his mouth. Like a pro, the Best Defense Attorney In The World tilted his head back and dry-swallowed them.
Arliss closed his eyes and leaned back, waiting for the warm blanket of happiness to swathe him like a baby. After what seemed like an eternity, he continued to read the documents.
A thorough psychiatric evaluation is recommended to assess the need for medication and address any inherent conditions, such as depression, anxiety, or impulsivity. Medication may help manage any underlying symptoms that contribute to the patient’s antisocial behavior.
The prognosis for individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder and sociopathic traits is typically guarded. However, with long-term therapeutic intervention and a strong commitment to change, there is potential for the patient to develop some degree of empathy, moral reasoning, and prosocial behavior. Success will depend on their willingness to engage in treatment and their ability to confront and address their maladaptive patterns of thinking and behaving.
At the very bottom was a black and white picture of Arliss, beheaded, being thrown from the three-point line by Arthur Pleasant into Cthulhu’s tentacled maw.
Arliss shook his head again, knowing– and a part of him praying– that what he saw wasn’t real. Blinking hard, he opened his eyes to see a normal black-and-white snapshot of a very young Arthur Pleasant with long black hair, malnourished, and an emptiness in his eyes that would carry into his modern-day life.
“What have I gotten myself into?!” he asked out loud.
A slithering voice from beyond the door answered him immediately, “What have you gotten yourself into indeed, Arlissssss….?”
Arliss Peters prayed he was seeing things again.
I stand by what I said back on ReVival 36, Coral.
I don’t know if you know this, but apparently, my psychiatric profile proves it!
Fact is, I don’t really give a shit if anyone knows what I’ve done or where I’ve been. I own my past. I wear it like a badge of honor, even. But of course, you wouldn’t know that. Not yet anyway.
All in good time, my friend.
No, I’m not ashamed of my past any more than you should be ashamed of yours, Coral. Just look at you! It’s much harder being the well-adjusted family man with values and principles where the vile and corrupt take every shortcut in the book to get a win— and usually succeed— than it is being unapologetically honest with no bedside manner for anyone. Quite frankly, my dear… it’s liberating as fuck.
But I get it. A saccharine sweet, family-oriented do-gooder with the inhibitions of Cameron Frye and a financial burden on the way wouldn’t understand that warm and fuzzy feeling that comes with having the twisted machinations a guy like me—who’s willing to do whatever it takes— actually has. If I had to describe it, it’d be like becoming the sole owner of an amusement park, three hundred and sixty-five days a year, without having to wait in a single line for your favorite thrill ride.
It can be a bit lonely, but that’s the price of admission in Arthur’s World.
Admittedly, having the ability to just let go and be free of guilt or shame is not for everyone. Clearly, it isn’t for you, but it’s still a fascinating perspective for fragile little snowflakes of your ilk.
Which brings me to my offer, Coral.
I offer you this: when I beat you and advance in the Almasy? I can tear down those white picket fences for you.
I can make this wholesome, pure, and nauseating version of Coral Avalon die in the dirt where he belongs. No more battling the eGG Bandits with two hands tied behind your back. No more spending decades trying to get that elusive Universal Championship the “right way”, only to look into a mirror and see abject failure.
But this is a one-time offer, Coral. If you don’t want what I can do for you? If you’d rather keep on keeping on the Coral Avalon way? Then I cannot be held accountable for the buckets overflowing with your mopped-up blood.
Because I’m a sick man, Coral.
Annnnd according to my file?
That’s what sick men do.