Due to the nature of this kind of seriel writing, the archives of "Two~!" have been moved here. When a new episode is brought to TSM, the previous one will be placed into the archives. The archives will also be updated with the newest episode.
“Are you out of your fucking mind?”
Rob’s voice burned through the phone, even as it sat next to him on the floor. By the time he picked it back up, all he could hear from the other end was the sound of Mark giggling and running out of breath.
“I…” Mark gagged, trying to compose himself as he heard Rob’s seething, “I thought it would be fun. You always talk about how bad some wrestlers are, I thought maybe now would be your chance to get in the ring and show those guys what professional wrestling is about! I guess you are nothing but a whiny armchair wrestler that can badmouth those that entertain you but can’t cash the check your mouth seems to write every time we go to a show.”
“There’s a difference between those guys and us. They work out almost every day and most of them have been in the business for years!”
“All the more reason you should join and prove that you could do better in a shorter amount of time!”
“But…” it was obvious Rob was not going to get anywhere by arguing. “…just no, Mark. Seriously, just no.”
“We’re still going next Friday, whether you like it or not, and I’m driving. If you so much as try to open your mouth and say shit about anyone in that ring that night, I’ll leave you in the parking lot.”
Rob sat in silence as Mark hung up the phone. He stared out the window and wondered what kind of monster he had created. Sure he thought some of the wrestlers were absolute abominations of work rate and any sort of skill, but he had never dreamed about climbing through the ropes and trying to be better than them.
The business really was a crazy place, he read about it all the time. Almost every day some news came out, but he never really stopped to contemplate what it was really like for the guys right in the middle of it all. What can you really say when your boss threatens your job if you do not follow orders? It was hardly like anything else he had ever come across. If it was, there would be more websites dedicated to fast food warfare or outlet malls jockeying for stores and blackballing retailers who did not see the need to fit into their company’s mold.
“Pro wrestling is all about selling yourself, Mark.” Rob sat on Mark’s couch, staring at an old Last Chance videotape playing on the television. Two has-beens, “Rocket” Chris Maxwell and Jackson “Power” Howard, stood in the middle of the ring, one broken career chopping and punching another broken career back and forth from one side of the ring to the other, showing all the speed of a Disney children’s ride. “They used to be huge and now look at them. Both of them are nearing their fifties and can barely move…neither really wanting to give the other too much offense. They aren’t worth the money they ask for, but the fans come out to see them.”
“Yeah, my dad wants to go to one of those shows in a few weeks. I think he’s crazy. How can people watch this?”
“Your dad and everyone else’s dad grew up on those guys. They never saw anybody diving from ladders or getting thrown through tables. Shit, can you imagine either of those guys even climbing up a ladder?”
“Maybe to change a lightbulb.” Mark laughed a bit as he jumped over the back of the couch and sat down, mocking the two men on the screen. “I think they both just fell asleep, is that a double count-out?” Last Chance Wrestling was just that, a mockery of every star from ten to twenty years ago that were just looking for a quick buck and the satisfaction of knowing their name still meant something to someone, even if they knew deep down they were just nothing more than a sideshow of washed-up former champions that couldn’t get jobs in the big companies anymore. Either way, they still went through the motions week in and week out for more money than guys half their age make in places like the IWC or even Championship Gold. There was no pyrotechnics, no blood, and barely any sweat as the crowd followed along, some of the younger ones going so far as to audibly yell out moves before they happened, having seen it all so many times before.
“Do you really want to end up like that?”
“What?” Rob’s question had caught Mark completely off guard.
“You get into the business and before you know it you are just like those two…” Rob pointed at the screen as the “Rocket” clumsily fell forward, driving his knee into Howard’s face before going for a nonchalant cover. The crowd knew it was over before the referee’s hand counted ‘one’ as the dreaded “Max Blast” had put down thousands of foes for the three count since before Reagan was in office. “…completely pathetic.” Rob continued as Maxwell stood up and walked out of the ring, thanking a few fans at ringside as he hobbled toward the curtain, holding one crooked arm as high above as head as he could before the tape faded out.
“What a main event! Woo!” Mark mocked again, even going so far as to stand up and do his picture perfect Chris Maxwell imitation, limping across the living room before falling down to the carpet, slowly driving his knee into a pillow. Even Rob couldn’t help but laugh as Mark laid on the ground, yelling out that he had fallen and can not get up.
“You yell at me for questioning the skill of pro wrestlers, and there you are laying on the ground like an old man.”
“There’s a difference between a twenty-five year old rookie…” Mark began as he got up off the floor and walked back to the couch, holding his arm up in mock victory, “…and a forty-five year old waste-of-time that hasn’t been popular with anybody that mattered for the last ten years. I don’t exactly see “Power Howard” shirts selling like mad anymore, do you?”
“There are ‘Power Howard’ shirts? I think I’d actually buy one of those.”
“Oh shut the fuck up, Rob. Me falling on a pillow and you writing ten page rants on twenty-minute matches because one guy throws a punch with the same arm that just got slammed into the ringpost two minutes earlier are two entirely different things.”
“Hey! Why have psychology and selling if they are not going to do it right?”
“Holy shit! Everybody knows it’s fake! You forget to get the mail sometimes for two or three days straight yet he can’t forget to act like he hurt his hand for ten seconds?”
“It’s not my job to make sure I get the mail every day. It is his job to make it look like having your arm slammed into a steel bar is going to hurt a little bit!”
“You want me to go get a pipe and hit you with it? I’m sure you’ll remember in two minutes that it still fucking hurts!” Rob stands and heads for the front door, but Mark catches him before he can get there.
“Woah, calm down, man. You’re freaking out on me. I don’t want you to hit me with a pipe.”
“And I don’t want you to be a pro wrestler!”
*** *** *** *** *** ***
Five minutes later, Mark still stood in his front doorway, frozen in shock. He stood there as Rob slammed the screen door, jumped into his car, and drove off down the street and out of sight. He stood there as a few neighbors passed by and waved, but he did not wave back. He stood there, even after he was finally able to speak.
He stood there, and thought.
Mark thought about all of the stories he had heard about what life was like in the locker rooms. He’d heard about hazing, harassment, drugs, even fights. He heard about wrestlers working day-jobs to put food on their table when their wrestling bosses would not or could not pay their salaries. He had heard the stories of walk outs and negotiations that boggle the mind, and yet faced with all of that spinning through his head…faced with the memory of the conversations they had less than twenty-four hours before, he still felt a desire inside of him that called him into the squared circle and live out a dream he never really thought about pursuing until he sat in his driveway and stared at his reflection.
Sure, it was something he had dreamed about when he was younger, just like many of his friends did, even Rob. They used to joke about teaming up, going on the road, and being champions. But as the years past and Rob found himself drowning in dirtsheets and gossip that their fun and games were replaced by needless whining about the one thing they used to love more than anything else. Rob always said he enjoyed it on a deeper level and had a new respect for the wrestlers from the biggest superstars to the lowliest of green rookies, but his comments and jokes seemed to show disdain for everything short of perfection and a loathing for everything he saw that did not agree with how he wanted things done. There was many a late night spent in bars arguing over pay-per-views and why he felt that spending nearly forty dollars of his hard-earning cash was not worth the three hours of his life that was taken from him.
“If you don’t like it, why don’t you stop watching?” Mark would ask him, and the drunken reply would back in almost a childish yelp, “Because I really do love it, man. You don’t turn your back on what you love!” and as Rob’s head would slap against the bar, Mark would stare down at him.
“I’d rather turn my back than abuse it.”
As Rob drove home, he felt his hands gripping onto the steering wheel tighter and tighter, and he had to react quickly a few times to remember not to plow through a stop sign or red light. Veins popped from his forehead and his eyes twitched as he mentally debated turning around.
“He just doesn’t understand. He doesn’t understand what that kind of life is like.” Rob began talking to himself, not caring if anyone saw him mumbling in the quiet of his car. “All he sees is a bunch of guys running around a ring in front of a few hundred or few thousand people. Glamorous, maybe, but for those two or three hours a week in the spotlight there are dozens of hours driving or on airplanes red-eyeing from town to town and trying to remember to limp through a terminal or hotel lobby if your worst enemy had just bashed your leg in on national television two days before. Trying to remember not to be seen in public talking to anyone you may have hated six months ago with a dying passion, but are indifferent to on a Wednesday morning in Tulsa as you try to suck down cheap coffee in a trailer trash café.”
Rob had been in his driveway for a few moments now, and was still holding the wheel and rambling, his eyes glazed over. “Not only does he want to throw himself blindly into a business that would completely and utterly cannibalize him, but he won’t even listen to me when I try and tell him that he’s setting himself up for failure. He just doesn’t get it!”
“Maybe you should just let him fail.”
“HUH?!” a voice from his right side catches Rob by surprise, only to see his girlfriend Tara with her head through his open passenger window.
“I saw you out here just talking to yourself. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“Well you did, and what did you just say?”
“Maybe you should just let him fail.”
“Huh?” Rob asked again. He tried to look into her eyes, but her strewn-about blonde hair made it hard for him to see anything but a few slivers of deep blue. She must have just woke up, he thought.
“Mark is my friend too, but after listening to you last night and trying to sleep through your fight on the phone this morning-“
“Sorry.” Rob interrupted, sheepishly.
“-I think you need to let him go in there and see that it’s not right for him, if that is what you believe. It won’t kill him. He’s smart enough to realize when something isn’t working.”
“But he just doesn’t get it.”
“Let him get it. Let him see how hard it is. I might not be as big a fan as you or him, but I hear the stories you tell and I know that Mark isn’t cut out for it, but if he wants to do it. Let him.”
“He wants me to do it too. I’m not exactly cut out for the business either.”
“Tell him it isn’t your thing.”
“I tried. He just did nothing but bitch at me about it.”
“Stop being such a crybaby, Rob. Just tell him you support his decision but it’s not what you want to do with your life. If he is any sort of friend then he will respect that.”
“I hope you are right. I just hope it doesn’t cause him to leave me in some parking lot somewhere.” Rob shook his head as he got out of his car. Tara laughed. “What are you laughing at?”
“Leave you in a parking lot? What are you, a puppy?”
“Whatever.” Rob said, shutting the door and locking it in Tara’s path. After a few loud bangs and a few obscenities, Rob opened the door and laughed right back at her.
“Oh you son of a bitch.”
“Hey now, she could be your mother-in-law, someday!”
“Just call Mark and fix your shit, alright. I’m taking a shower.”
“You need it.” Rob replied before being tackled to the ground. The two giggled.
“Mark, yeah. It’s Rob. Sorry about earlier about how I walked out and everything. Listen, about this whole wrestling thing…….”
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