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Thelastemperor last won the day on August 22 2019

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About Thelastemperor

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    The Last Outlaw
  • Birthday 01/22/1996

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  1. I drained my cup of coffee one bitterly cold December Sunday morning in one gulp and immediately filled it up again. “ Geez Josh, you trying to give yourself heartburn?” Vala asked me. “ Give me a break, I got back from Missoula at two in the morning,” I said. “ I wish I could have gone. How was the match?” Vala asked. I shook my head ruefully “ Not my best, my opponent was too stiff and it was too basic. We didn’t get to do anything crazy or fun. Just a fifteen-minute technical match that ended in him getting himself disqualified. As far as title defenses go, it’s my least favorite one out of the four I’ve had. At least I’ve got Gunner coming up for New Year’s Eve. That will be a great match.” Just then the allotted time for visiting during service ended. Vala and I hurried back to our seats in the front row. We sat down and listened to Howard’s sermon fingers intertwined. As Howard spoke, I studied Vala. She wasn’t beautiful like a supermodel but still good looking, most would say she was out of my league. Tough, resilient, and determined. Ever since the tribute show to her father she had been training after school and on weekends as a means of preparing for the police academy; some days her drive to reach her goal seemed to surpass mine. I snapped back to attention to the sermon, not wanting to be too obvious. Still I could have chosen worse. A lot worse. We bowed our heads for the ending prayer and then we were dismissed. As soon as we were free to talk again Vala turned towards me with a smile “ Well we better get going. We have to pack after all.” That’s right, I had nearly forgotten. Myself, Vala, Gunner, and Brooklyn had signed up to go on Winter Retreat with the rest of the Youth Group a few weeks ago and would be leaving today. “ So much for getting a nice nap,” I grumbled. Vala tugged on my cheek with a smirk” you big baby. You can sleep on the bus.” “ As if you’ll let me, I know you don’t intend to let me rest the entire bus ride.” I grumbled again “ Though I suppose it’ll be nice to have a week-long break from the ring, I’ve been to Colestripe, Whitefish, Missoula, and Great Falls this month alone.” “ Shut up you grump, you know you love traveling,” Vala said taking my arm and leading me outside. She dropped me off at Gunner’s house and then went to hers. We had a couple of hours to pack before having to get right back to church. I packed taking only the essentials in a small duffel bag. Before I left I picked up the TSW world title belt and held it in my hands. I thought about taking it for no other reason than comfort but decided against it. I didn’t want to come off conceited. A half-hour later Vala picked me back up and took me back to the church. The rest of the Youth Group was waiting on the sidewalk by a big white bus. Vala and I met up with Brooklyn and Gunner and the four of us checked in. Once everyone was accounted for, we got the okay to load up our stuff and board the bus. Howard and the Youth Pastor were the last to board. After they led the bus in a quick prayer the bus started moving forward. The bus ride from Laurel Montana to Colorado Springs Colorado was long and boring but Vala was kind enough to let me get some rest. But I should’ve known my devious girlfriend had ulterior motives. When I woke up from my nap it was about five in the afternoon. “ Hey where are we?” I mumbled. Vala gave me a funny look before answering as if she were trying not to laugh. “ Somewhere in Wyoming,” she answered after a while. “ You okay?” I squinted at her trying to decipher what was wrong. “ Yeah, just have to go to the bathroom. Been cooped up in here too long,” She said. I decided to leave it at that, not wanting or needing to hear anymore. We pulled into a rest stop half an hour later. I got off along with everyone else to stretch my legs and use the restroom. I was about to wash my hands and rub water on my face when I noticed something wasn’t quite right. I squinted in the mirror saw cat whiskers, a blackened nose, a big mustache, a drawn on unibrow in sharpie on my face “ Oh, those little-!” I stormed out of the restroom back to the bus. When I came into fire everyone burst into loud uncontrollable laughter. " Okay, who’s the hero? Or rather heroes?” I asked looking pointedly at Vala, Brooklyn and Gunner who were doing a terrible job at playing innocent. “ Get over here!” I yelled running towards them. They yelled gleefully and ran off in three separate directions. I decided to chase after Vala, deciding she was probably the ringleader. “ Come here Marshton!” “ I didn’t do it I swear!” She shouted laughing. A snowball hitting the back of my coat caused me to stop and turn around. Brooklyn has already made another snowball and was prepared to throw it. “ Don’t you even-“ My sentence was cut off by a snowball to the chest. “ That’s it!” I yelled scooping down to make a snowball and return fire. However I was attacked from all sides and was pelted by a barrage by snowballs. “ Mercy! Mercy! Mercy already!” I yelled. Eventually the barrage stopped and everyone had another laugh at my expense. I pretended to sulk as we all boarded the bus. I crossed my arms and puffed out my cheeks, facing the window. Vala prodded my side with a smile. " Josh. Josh. Joshie!” She said in a singsong voice. “ No! You’re mean!” I said. She held her face in her hands and started pretending to cry. I peeked over my shoulder “ Hey, stop that,” Vala said nothing as she kept on with her fake crying. I nudged her but she still persisted. It was just convincing enough for me to sigh and roll my eyes. “ Fine. I forgive you,” I said. Vala dropped her act immediately and gave me a big hug. “ Thank you Josh!” “ Yeah yeah,” I said hugging her back. The rest of the trip was uneventful, giving me time to think. I wished I could just enjoy the trip but I couldn’t. I had met with a talent scout while in Missoula after my match. He said he was from Sin City Wrestling, based in Las Vegas Nevada and that he liked what he saw from my match. So much that he said he wanted me to come down in a couple of months for a tryout and if I impressed they’d hire me on after I graduated. I should be excited, Sin City Wrestling is seen as a gateway promotion, so many legends including Travis made their names there. I suppose I shouldn’t think too much about it, after all, it’s only a tryout match. But what if they decide to take me on? Sure I could travel back and forth from Montana to Nevada but that’s a long drive to make every week. I’d be home rarely. A much more logical move would be to move to Las Vegas but that opened the door for a lot more problems, one being what would become of me and Vala? I looked at my now sleeping girlfriend. I’m not stupid, I don’t expect this to last till we are old and gray. However I’m not ready for this to end. Plus I love TSW, I love being their champion and I love the family atmosphere it has. But then again, if I get offered a contract, how can I turn that down? Sin City Wrestling is one of the hottest, most beloved Indy promotions, any wrestler would give their right arm to wrestle there. I forced the issue out of my mind, no sense in worrying about things that probably won’t happen. We arrived at our hotel around ten in the evening. By this point I was so fed up with being cooped up I pretty much ran off the bus. We got our bags and went into the hotel lobby where we got our room assignments. I grabbed my room key and along with my roommate for the weekend, Gunner we got on the elevator and headed to the second floor. We opened the door to room 204 and threw our bags on the ground. We didn’t say a word as we collapsed on our beds and fell asleep. We woke up at eight in the morning and once we showered and dressed we went down to the lobby for breakfast. The rest of the Youth Group was there, eating and talking about good tonight, the first night of the conference was going to be. I grabbed a plate full of bacon and eggs and sat at a table with Vala and Brooklyn. “ Morning,” Vala said with a peck on the cheek. “ Morning,” I responded with a smile. As we ate breakfast, Howard gave us all permission to walk around the city of Colorado Springs as long as we were in a group and back by four in the afternoon. Once we finished eating we, myself, Vala, Brooklyn, and Gunner decided to travel the streets of Colorado Springs. It was a nice day as far as winter goes, being forty degrees and sunny. We soon realized Colorado Springs was nothing like the small town of Laurel. We spent the day going into shop after shop and just looking around. We were hanging out in a park eating lunch when a little kid and his mom walked by. The kid stopped by and stared at Gunner and me, eyes wide. He had light blonde hair, blue eyes, and was freckled. “ Are you Gunner Jefferson and Jason Ryan?” He asked us, his eyes wide. “ Yes,” Gunner answered. The little kid let out a squeal of excitement and ran to Gunner giving him a big hug. The kid then hugged me as well while his mom hurried over to us. “ Richard, come over here!” His blonde mother said. She pulled him away and shot us an apologetic smile “ sorry,” “ No no it’s fine,” I said. “ But mom, that’s Jason Ryan and Gunner Jefferson! They’re the wrestlers I was telling you about!” The little boy whined. “ Hush!” His mother scolded before giving me and Gunner another apologetic smile “ He went to a wrestling show when he was staying with his father a few months ago. I guess he thinks you’re them.” “ We actually are,” Gunner said, “ He must’ve seen a TSW show.” “ Oh, I’m so sorry! I thought he was just mistaken!” The woman said covering her mouth with her hand. “ It’s fine,” I said “ I’m Josh, also known as Jason Ryan. And this is Gunner,” we shook hands with the mother then our attention turned to the kid. “ You want a picture with us buddy?” I asked. The way the kid brightened, you would’ve thought I offered to take him to Disney World. Brooklyn took the mother’s phone and the four of us group up, smiling for the camera. Brooklyn handed the phone back to the mother and after she thanked us both she and her son walked away “ Wish we could’ve given the kid a ticket,” I said. “ He probably wouldn’t have been able to make it since he lives here,” Vala pointed out smiling at me. “ That was nice of you guys,” “ We’re kind of used to it, we went to the after school program one day and took pictures with a bunch of kids.” We finished up lunch and decided to head back to the hotel seeing as it was past one. Once we got back we went swimming in the hotel pool where we remained for a couple of hours. After stopping at the Pizza Hut for dinner we continued on our way to the church. I was blown away by the sheer size when we arrived, it looked more like a shopping mall than a church from the outside. We got off the bus and headed inside. The lobby has blue carpet floors, biblical related pictures everywhere, and leather seats. But what really got my attention was the church had a coffee shop in it. “ Isn’t that not allowed?” I asked. “ Didn’t Jesus get pissed cause people were selling stuff in the temple that one time?” “ Pretty sure they were in the place of worship when they did that. Not to mention, if I remember correctly, they had a gambling racket going as well, which is why Jesus was mad,” Vala said as we got in line. “ Okay good because I do not want to go to Hell for buying coffee;” I remarked “ That’d be a very lame way to go. Some other guy walks up to you, ‘ So what did you do to get sent to Hell?.... I bought coffee from bad people.’ “ Vala chuckled and nudged me with her shoulder “ you are such a heathen.” We placed our orders when we got to the counter and waited a few moments before they were ready. We picked up our hot drinks and carried them into the largest Sanctuary I’ve ever seen. The searing capacity had to be at least ten thousand, and the stage looked like it could have three worship bands on it with their instruments at the same time. “ I’m in the wrong business, I should go into preaching. This place beats every arena I’ve wrestled in,” I commented to Vala. “ Imagine how packed it is Sunday in here,” she said her eyes wide as she took in the massive sanctuary. “ Well all I have to say is I hope this isn’t a case of style over substance,” I said as we found our way to the rest of the Youth Group and sat down. The event started a few minutes later and I was blown away. The music felt like it was vibrating throughout my body due to the woofers the band used. It looked like every seat was taken, people were down in front as the worship team played song after song. This struck me as weird, even when my own Youth Group went down to join the crowd in front of the stage so I stayed in my chair, aware I was out of place. The message of the night was forgiveness and how not forgiving someone who hurt you was the spiritual equivalent of being bound by chains. I had to admit, the speaker made a lot of points, I was invested in what he was saying that’s for sure. Towards the end of the night, there was a alter call for anyone who had never given their life to God. A lot of people went forward but I stayed put. I thought about going up but the thought about going forward, being that vulnerable in a crowd of people was enough to make me stay out. We stayed in Colorado for an entire week, each of the three sessions a day ended with an altar call, always I refused to go up, even when Brooklyn and Gunner did. Call it fear, call it unwillingness, call it whatever, I just wasn’t willing to cross that line. I didn’t even attend the first part of the last session of the conference, I sneak outside the sanctuary and sitting by a statue of Jesus by the front door. I just needed to be alone, without the loud bands, the charismatic speakers, and the mass of people. I just wanted to be away from it all. I’m not going to lie, everything the speakers had said throughout the week was messing with my head. The fact that Jesus could take all my pain, all my suffering, that any burdened I bore could be lifted seemed too good to believe. It just can’t be that simple! I say yes and what, all my problems just go away, like that? Even though it was a cold winter Friday night I was wearing a black short-sleeved shirt to go with my blue jeans. I shivered in the cold but wasn’t willing to go inside. Once more my mind drifted to the potential job offer from Sin City Wrestling. If I could impress them enough to get a job offer, it’d be a giant leap towards my dream. But that might mean having to leave, Montana, TSW, the church, and most importantly of all, Vala. “ You alright son?” A voice asked me. I jumped and looked for the source of the voice. An elderly man with gray hair and green eyes sat on a bench, looking at me curiously. I found it weird I hadn’t noticed him before now but chalked it up to not paying attention. “ Yeah, I’m just thinking,” I responded. “ Got a lot on your mind huh?” The man’s voice was rough as if he had rubbed sandpaper on his throat. “ That’s an understatement,” I said with a chuckle. “ And you’re trying to figure things out?” The man asked. I nodded” Is it that obvious?” “ I’ve seen many young people just like you do the same thing. And I told them the same thing I’m about to tell you,” he paused and gave me a look that pierced my soul.“ It’s not your job to know what’s going to happen. It’s not for you to worry about, all you need to do is let your Heavenly Father take care of you. And trust me he will.” “ Who are you?” I asked but got a ding on my phone. Smiling apologetically and holding up a finger I fished it out of my pocket. It was a text from Vala. “ You okay? I’m starting to get worried,” it read. I texted her I would be inside a couple of minutes and put my phone back in my pocket. When I looked up the man was gone. “ What the fu-where did, how did he?” I asked looking around wildly for the man. I rubbed my eyes and shook my head. “ Josh now’s not the time to start losing your mind,” I muttered before heading back inside the church. I found my seat beside Vala as the speaker was getting ready for the last altar call of the conference. “ In a few minutes I’m going to open up the altar but I just want to take a minute to speak to any of the holdouts that remain. I know you guys have come here feeling utterly alone, that nothing will change once you leave, that you there’s no way it can be this easy. I just want you to know that I thought the same thing when I was your age. You don’t need to have it all together, you don’t need to have a plan, you don’t need to know what you’re going to do. God already has it figured out, he has the answer. You don’t need to worry. It’s not your job to know what’s going to happen. It’s not for you to worry about, all you need to do is let your Heavenly Father take care of you. And trust me he will.” I sat up straight, mouth agape staring in disbelief. No way! There was just no way! “ Are you alright?” Vala whispered looking at me with concern. “ Yeah, I’m fine,” I whispered back, still unable to believe what I had just heard. Go ahead and chalk it up to coincidence if you want. But I’m not so sure that’s what it is. The worship band came on for the last time for the conference and began to play the song. People started to go to the front and after a few minutes of debating with myself in my head, I stood up and followed them. I immediately felt out of place and thought about going back, but I gritted my teeth and forced myself to keep going. I could really use some help, I have no idea what I am doing! I slowly and hesitantly raised my hand when the question was asked who wanted to give their life to Jesus. I bowed my head with the others as the speaker prayed over us. I felt someone squeeze my sides from behind. I cranked my neck to see Vala hugging me. “ Vala, we really need to talk about you not letting me breath when you give me hugs,” I said, struggling for breath. “ I’m not letting go this time,” she muttered. “ I honestly can not breath,” I said. Vala let me go and spin me around, a big smile on her face. “ I'm proud of you,” she said, hugging me again. My breathing troubles increased when Brooklyn and Gunner came in for a hug too. They released me after a few moments, big smiles on their faces. Once I got air back on my body I smiled at them. “ Guys there’s something I’ve been meaning to say. Without you guys I’m not sure where’d I’d be. Probably face down in a gutter somewhere. I just wanted to thank you guys for everything. “ “ Of course man, we’re your friends. We’ll do anything for you. You’d do the same for us,” Gunner said. I shook my head “ No. We’re not friends. The four of us, we’re family.” I pulled Vala in close with an arm “ let’s make a pact. No matter what happens, the four of us will always be together.” “ Of course,” Brooklyn said, agreeing. Gunner and Vala voiced their agreement and we stuck out our fists together to confirm our pact. Little did I know how hard upholding that pact would be.
  2. Gunner and I dropped the belts at the end of September and we were told not to expect a rematch anytime soon if ever. Gunner was being sent to Boulder Colorado to compete in a local federation down there for two months. I was pretty jealous of him, wanting to go as well. But Travis had something planned for me at our Halloween show. Something I couldn’t believe would ever happen to me. However he told me to not say anything, that he wanted to surprise everyone with what he had planned. I found myself in the locker room once more putting on my ring gear except this night felt different. I had been wrestling for over a year now. In any fed what was about to happen to me was considered too much too soon. But Travis seemed convinced I was ready for this and he was a legend in the business, surely he knew what he was doing. I took a deep breath and leaned my head against the lockers, wanting to savor each second of this night. I had already discussed the match details with my opponent, now all there was left to do was ring the bell. I waited in nervous anticipation as the show went on, listening to the roar of the fans. That only served to make me feel more on edge. I felt even more nervous than the night I had my first match in Travis’ barn. Vala was texting me throughout the night, demanding to know why I wouldn’t tell her anything about my match. I would just text her that it’s a secret and I’m awesome so deal with it. She just sent me a bunch of annoyed emojis in response. Finally, it was time for my match. I paced behind the curtain as the ring announcer spoke in the microphone. “ Ladies and gentlemen, the following match is anything goes and is the main event of the evening and is for the TSW World Heavyweight Championship!” Ultranumb by Blue Stahli began to play and I burst through the curtain. The Shrine erupted into cheers as I appeared on stage. I took a deep breath and started down the ramp, giving fans high fives. Vala was in her usual spot in the front row. She frantically waved me over, the tattoo she got for her seventeenth birthday clearly visible and after making a big show of pretending to think about it before smiling and walked over. “ You jerk!” She said when I got within earshot, a big smile on her face. “ Why didn’t you tell me it was for the title?!” I gave her a wink and smirked “ I wanted to surprise you.” “ Well you most certainly did,” Vala said, leaving over the railing. “ Hey I gotta go but after the match, what do you say we go hang out by South Pond?” “Only if you win,” she said with a teasing tone in her voice. “ Fair enough,” I replied, and then before I could stop myself added “ Don’t I get a kiss for luck? Isn’t that tradition or something?” Vala leaned in until she was only mere inches away from me. “ Come back with championship gold first. Then we’ll see,” Vala said with a wink. I backed away from the railing and rolled in the ring. My theme music died down and I paced in the ring waiting for my opponent. Can You Feel My Heart started to play, signaling the world champion was about to make his entrance. Trent Evans, the TSW world champion came on the stage, he was black with short black hair and red highlights. He had several tribal tattoos all over his body. He wore black and red tights, black elbow pads, red knee pads, and black boots. The fans were loudly chanting for Trent who didn’t break his gaze away from mine. He slid in the ring and held the world title right in front of me. The two of us got in each other’s face to build hype for the match. To the fans it looked like we were trash talking to each other but in fact we were doing the opposite. This was Trent’s very last match in TSW before he left for another federation “ This is it buddy, I’m going to give you a TSW send-off,” I said. “ Just remember the rules for leaving. Although it is time for you to go, you must swear to live the best life you can possibly imagine. That means, living your life to its fullest. May God keep you always. May you always have a strong foundation. May you get everything out of this life you have ever wanted. Never forget your TSW family. Treasure them as long as you live. Finally, may you stay forever young.” We fist-bumped each other and backed up so the ring announcer could introduce us.” “ Introducing first, the challenger! Standing at 6ft2, weighing in at 165 pounds, from Laurel Montana, Jason Ryan!” I sank in the corner and let the cheers of the crowd wash over me. “ And, standing at 6ft 5, weighing in at 185 pounds, from Lewistown Montana, he is the TSW World Heavyweight champion, Trent Evans!” Trent held the world championship up high as the fans cheered even louder. He handed the title to the referee who held it up for the crowd to see. The strap was black with a red outline. The center plate was round and gold with a globe. Above the globe was a crown adjourned with red gemstones. Below the globe were the words “ TSW World Heavyweight Champion.” The side plate to the left and right of the center plate was oval-shaped and gold as well. The side plates had a small globe and crown on top. In the center of the globe was the Montana state flag. I took a deep breath as the referee handed the title to the ring announcer. This was it. My first hardcore match and it was for the title. Sweat appeared on my forehead, the crowd roared with anticipation. I never felt more alive. After what seemed to be an eternity, the bell rang. Me and Trent circled each other for a few moments to build even more anticipation for the match. The fans started to chant loudly. “ Let’s go Trent let’s go Jason! Let’s go Trent let’s go Jason! Let’s go Trent Let’s go Jason!” We locked up and Trent drove me to the corner. The referee didn’t start his five-count because due to the nature of the match Trent couldn’t be disqualified. All the referee could do was to try and get Trent to let me out of the corner. Which he did after a few moments, followed by a slap to the face. He backed away and started showboating for the crowd but when he turned around, he was repaid in the form of a Bicycle kick. I slid out of the ring and grabbed a steel chair. I slid back in the ring and waited for Trent to stand. Once he did I swung the steel chair, catching him in the ribs. He doubled over and I swung the chair into his back. Trent collapsed on his belly writing in pain. I waited for him to sit up so I could crack him again but I missed. Trent rolled out of the way and hit me between the legs. I dropped the steel chair and collapsed on my knees. Now it was Trent’s turn to have his fun with the steel chair. He battered me with the steel chair until it was bent in two. I rolled out of the ring and looked under the ring for a new weapon. I could feel the sting of each of the shots from the steel chair and they did not feel good. Trent slid out of the ring and grabbed me by the back of the neck. He dragged me to the barricade and slammed my head down. Head met steel over and over again until I elbowed him in the stomach a few times. He went to Irish whip me into the steel barricade across from us but I reversed it at the lost possible second, sending him crashing into the barricade. I took a deep breath and ran at him as fast as I could, spearing Trent and sending both of us crashing through the barricade. The crowd popped as I got to my feet and hauled Trent up. We then started brawling throughout the small crowd. We fought in every part of the crowd before heading back to the ring. I went for the Perculator but Trent shoved me away and hit me with a Singapore Cane for my troubles. I stumbled away from Trent, heading to a part of the barricade we hadn’t broken yet. Trent came towards me but I grabbed a fan’s drink, sipped from the straw, and spat a mouthful of Mountain Dew in Trent’s face. As he stumbled back blindly, I leveled him with a clothesline. I picked up the steel barricade and bridged it from the apron to the ring floor. I picked Trent up and went for the Perculator but he reversed it into his finishing move, a Rolling cutter he calls the Black Diamond Cutter. The fans cheered loudly at that, seeing my unmoving body lying amongst the bent in barricade. Trent hauled me to my feet and threw me back in the ring, only for me to roll out on the other side. Trent walked over to my direction while I looked for a weapon to use. As he came in sight I grabbed a speed limit sign and smashed it over his head. Trent stood for a few moments before falling down. I picked him right back up and DDT’d him on the speed limit sign. I threw Trent back in the ring and slid in after him. I hit the Desti-Knee and went for the cover. “1,2,” Trent kicked out right at two. I got out of the ring and pulled out a wood table. I bridged it from the apron to the floor then dragged Trent out of the ring. I dragged him over to the table but Trent kneed me in the stomach. He then put me through the table via a German Suplex. “ This is awesome! This is awesome! This is awesome!” The fans yelled in response to our match. Trent picked me up and went for the Black Diamond Cutter but I pushed him away. I kicked Trent in the gut and curb-stomped him to the ring floor. I then put Trent in a Liontamer, trying to get him to tap out. Trent yelled in agony, trying to fight out. I let him go, seeing as Trent wasn’t going to submit. I hauled him to his feet for Trent to land a Black Diamond Cutter. He then went for a cover. “ 1,2,” I kicked out at two and a half. Trent hauled me to my feet and we started brawling again. This time we went through the curtain to the backstage area. A cameraman hurried after us to show the action. Trent and I made our way to catering and started throwing food at each other. I picked up a tray and smashed it across his chest. Trent countered by throwing me over a table full of food. We brawled throughout the rest of the backstage area, heading back to the ring. I threw Trent over the barricade and hopped over it after him. I peeled back the protective padding, waited for Trent to stand shakily to his feet, and hit the Perculator on the exposed concrete. I went for the cover but only got a two count. I argued with the referee for a few moments as Trent crawled away. Giving up I followed Trent who hit me with the steel steps. I went down like a sack of potatoes and Trent leaned against the apron. He then threw the steel steps in the ring, picked me up, and threw me in the ring. Trent slowly got back in the ring and advanced towards me but I popped up and hit him with the Perculator on the steel steps. The referee counted alongside the referee’s count. “1,2,3!” The fans exploded as the referee’s count reached three. Fans threw whatever they had in the ring. Popcorn, hotdogs, snow cones, etc while chanting “ TSW! TSW! TSW!” “ Here is your winner and new TSW World Heavyweight Championship, Jason Ryan!” I slowly got to my feet, shaking from a hurricane of emotions. Disbelief, shock, and gratitude filled my body. The referee handed me the World Heavyweight Championship which I took from his hands and raised it in the air, yelling. Streamers were thrown on the ring, the fans were on their feet, showing their support. The TSW locker room all came to the ring to congratulate me, Brooklyn being the first. She marched to the ring and gave me the biggest hug of my life once she entered through the ropes. “ You did it. You did it,” was all she could say. “ Thank you so much for everything,” I whispered, overcome with emotion. Once she backed away, Trent and I embraced. “ You’ll be a great champion J,” he said. “ You go and make me proud.” “ I will. Thank you so much for working with me. Go become a big star, I look forward to paying you back for this someday,” I said. Travis came over and hugged us both, not saying anything. I couldn’t stop thanking him as tears of joy rolled down my face. Travis pulled away and handed me a microphone. “ Address your people, champ,” he said. I gratefully took it and looked at the crowds, at first too overwhelmed to speak. I took a few deep breaths to steady myself. TSW wasn’t a federation that cut a lot of promos so I was rather unsure of myself but I decided to just wing it. “ This… this doesn’t seem real. If you had told me two years ago, I’d be standing here with all of you holding the TSW World Heavyweight Championship, I would’ve said you were crazy. I never would’ve thought I’d get to this level. But I want to say this. This title victory, it isn’t just mine. It’s for everyone who has ever been told that you can’t do something. For everyone who has had to hear you’ll never make it or you’re not good enough, this is for you! The next time someone tells you that you can’t be who you want to be, that you can’t be who you aspire to be, you give them the middle finger and you keep going! Don’t let anything or anyone stop you or get in your way. Any roadblock that appears on your road, you go straight through!” The fans’ response was a loud roar of support. I draped my title over my shoulder and closed my eyes as I listened to their chants. “ Jason Ryan! Jason Ryan! Jason Ryan! Jason Ryan!” “ I still can’t believe it,” I told Vala later that night as we laid on the grass, looking at the stars at South Pond. “ You deserve it,” She told me smiling, holding my newly won championship title over her left shoulder. Her smile faltered a little as she continued “ I was scared when I was watching the match. I thought you were going to get hurt.” “ I’ve been hurt before, it’s no big deal,” I said shrugging. “ To me it is,” Vala insisted, looking into my eyes. She truly cares! I thought to myself stunned. I gave her a reassuring smile “ You don’t need to worry about me. I’m going to have a lot of welts and bruises to deal with but it’s not like it was a deathmatch. “ I worry about you whenever you’re not in my sight,” Vala confessed, her hand reaching for mine. “ I really like you, Josh.” “ I like you too Vala,” I breathed. She scooted closer to me as her hand connected with my own, shooting a million tiny bolts of electricity throughout my body. “ I don’t know what our futures hold, but I do know that I want to be apart of yours,” she said “ and I can only hope you feel the same,” “ I do. So does this mean we are official now?” I asked. Vala’s lips then met mine” what do you think?” She responded teasingly. I smirked as my left hand slowly went towards my championship title. “ There’s just one thing. I’m going to need my belt back,” I said attempting to grab it. “ No!” Vala shrilled, laughing and trying to get away. We wrestled in the grass for a few moments before I overpowered her and pinned her down. We stared into each other’s eyes for a few moments in a moment of pure bliss until I heard my phone ding. “ Seriously?” I asked letting Vala go and moving back a few feet. “ Why do we always get interrupted when we come here? It’s literally every time!” “ I’m starting to think we have spies following us,” Vala said shaking her head. “ You may actually be right. This is ridiculous,” I said grabbing my phone out of my pocket to see I had a text from an unlikely source. It was from my sister. “ Congratulations little brother,”
  3. I sat in the funeral home looking at a closed casket. Memories of when I was ten and my grandfather passed away due to a hit and run by a drunk driver flashed in my mind. Vala sat beside me, tears streaming down her eyes. Her mother, who looked like an older clone of Vala, had a hand resting on her shoulder while trying to keep it together for her daughter’s sake. I sat a few seats away, wanting to be respectful of their mourning and so I could do my own. I may not have known Vince long but I was still sad he was gone. The funeral was a few days after the wake. It looked as if the entire time had shown up for the funeral. As I stood in the graveyard during the rainy and overcast day watching the casket get lowered into the ground and hearing the sobs of his family and closest friends I dipped my head low to show respect. At least he took that son of a bitch with him I thought. My mind began to wander, somewhere the man who had shot Vince was having a funeral just like this, being lowered into the ground. Did he have people who cared he was dead? Were the sounds of loved ones crying accompanying him to his final destination? I looked over at Vala and hesitantly put my hand on her shoulder. “ I’m sorry” I offered. She gave me a weak smile through her tears. Seeing her like this only increased my own grief. I wish I could do something to make her feel better but that wasn’t an option. I’m just a mediocre wrestler at best, I’m not God. I can’t just wave a hand and make everything magically better, as convenient as that would be. “ Thanks Josh. It means a lot you’re here. “ I searched for something, anything to say to comfort, my friend. “ Instead of mourning his death, you should celebrate his life.” Immediately I regretted I opened my big mouth. What the hell was that?! I asked myself. I wanted to sink through the ground, I wished a hole would open up below me and swallow me up. I thought about jumping in the hole and letting myself be buried alive. Anything to escape the fact I had said something so incredibly stupid. “ You’re right Josh. My dad wouldn’t want me to be sad. Thanks,” “ Yeah, no problem,” I said, still mentally kicking myself. Hey Josh! Next time you have a stupid thought, keep it to yourself, ya jackass! I told myself. The crowd of people started to depart on their own until it was me, Gunner, Vala, and her mom, staring, not saying a thing. With one lost son, Vala turned around and ran away. I thought about chasing after her but I didn’t. What the hell could I do to help? I asked myself. With a nod to Vala’s mother I left the graveyard. Vala was a ghost all next week, missing the first week of school. Every day I hoped to run into her, hoping she was doing better. Every day that hope was dashed. She didn’t show up for Youth Group either, prompting the group to pray for her. I closed my eyes to act like I was participating but I didn’t see the point. Prayers wouldn’t bring Vince back and while they were a nice sentiment, I failed to see how they would help. Vala didn’t make it for church either and after service Howard led the entire congregation in a prayer for Vala and her mother. I approached Howard after service. He gave me a friendly smile and shook my hand as usual. “ Josh, how are you?” “ I’m fine but I was wondering if we could talk.” “ Oh, of course,” he said and led me out of the sanctuary to his office. He opened the door and gestured me in. His office had a mere desk that held a computer, several books and papers, writing utensils, and an office phone. There was a bookshelf against the left and the right wall full of books and to the far left corner was a large potted plant. A few framed pictures of Howard and his family in the mountains adjourned the walls. “ Come, have a seat,” he said point to a chair. I did as instructed and sat in a cushioned chair. Howard sat across from me in a large office chair. “ So Josh, what’s up?” “ It’s about Vala, I’m a little worried.” “ Ah yes, I’ve heard she’s taking it rather badly. Of course I can’t blame her. I remember when my own father died, I was devastated.” “ I just wish I could do more to help,” I said. “ Have you tried praying for her?” Howard asked. I took a deep breath and thought about how best to proceed. I was talking to a pastor after all. “ No offense but I don’t see what prayers are going to do. I don’t even know what to pray for, bring Vince back to life?” I stopped, worried I had gone too far. If Howard was offended, he didn’t show it “ Praying for others is one of the best ways you can help.” “ I’m more of a person of action, I’d rather actually do something.” “ And what do you think you can do to help?” Howard asked leaning back. “ That’s just the thing I don’t know,” I said. “ I hate feeling helpless.” “ But you are helpless in this regard. Only God can truly mend a broken heart. All we can do is pray and love on people.” He paused for a moment and studied me “ Can I ask you to do something?” “ Sure,” I said. “ Go home and try praying. Who knows, maybe God will tell you the answer you seek.” I stood and thanked Howard, disappointed he didn’t give me the answer I wanted. I didn’t actually try until later that night. I was pacing back and forth, frustrated with the fact I was unable to do anything. I slowed down as I recalled my conversation with Howard. Hesitantly I lowered myself to my knees before my bed and looked at the ceiling. “ God… it’s me, Josh. I’m not sure how to talk to you, I hope I’m doing it right. Otherwise I’m just sitting here talking to myself like a lunatic. Uh, I’m not much of a praying person, but here I am giving it a try. I don’t know how to help my friend, I’ve tried talking to her but she looks at me like she doesn’t know me. Conversation is pretty much nonexistent and I’m getting worried. I know I’m supposed to let you handle things but I don’t like sitting back and doing nothing. If you could just give me some sort of direction, that’d be nice.” I’m not sure what I expected, some brilliant light with angels. Maybe God himself would speak and shake the entire house. There was nothing, just silence. I sighed and stood up. “ Good talk,” I said to the empty air and crawled into bed. I turned off the bedside lamp and stared at the ceiling letting my mind wander. It wasn’t until I woke up that morning that an idea came to mind. I picked up my phone and called Travis. I explained to him my idea and once I got his blessing to go ahead, I hung up. Next I called Jessica, Vala’s mom on her landline and asked her to come to the show tonight and to make sure Vala did as well. It took a little convincing but she agreed to be there. I set my phone down and went to tell Gunner the plan. That night, instead of waiting in the locker room for my match or hanging out backstage, I stood on stage wearing my suit. I was joined by every member of the roster and all the other employees. On the Titantron was a large picture of Vince in uniform smiling. Below the picture were the words “ In loving memory of Vincent Joesph Marshton, 1963-2020. To kick off the show, Travis spoke into the microphone. “ Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Tonight we celebrate the life of Vincent Joseph Marshton. He was a good cop and an even better man. He left behind a loving wife and daughter, and to pay our respects tonight’s show is dedicated to Vince. Now, I ask for a moment of silence as we toll the bell ten times after which there will be a short video package provided to us from the Billings Police Department.” We all bowed our heads silently as the bell began to toll. No one looked up or said a word. Once it was done we all went backstage while a video of Vince began to play for the fans. Gunner and I were defending our titles in the main event tonight so I was in no Urdu to get ready. My rumbling stomach reminded me I hadn’t eaten all day as I was too busy helping set up this tribute show. I went over to catering and grabbed myself a couple of hamburgers and pasta salad. Once I was done eating Gunner and I talked to our opponents about our match. Originally we were going to drop the belts to them but Travis had changed his mind, deciding Gunner and I were going over. Finally it was time for the main event. I put on my trunks, knee pads and elbow pads. I snapped on my championship belt and headed for the backstage curtain. Gunner and our opponents were waiting for me. We were facing two luchadors called Aero and Venom. Aero was dressed in red and white luchador attire that was meant to resemble the Power Rangers. Venom wore a luchador mask that was black with webbing, black tights and had a massive spider painted on his chest. Aero and Venom went out first as their theme Impossible by Manafest started to play. The fans were already loud from the show we had put on and were clearly looking forward to this match. Once their theme died down, Gunner and I fist-bumped each other as our theme, a remix of Ultranumb by Blue Stahli began to play. Together we went through the curtain and faced our adoring public. The fans cheered loudly as Gunner and I held up our championship titles. We slowly walked down the ramp. As we walked down, I spotted Vala and Jessica cheering as loud as the could for us, big smiles on their faces. “ Looks like your girlfriend showed up after all,” Gunner said with a smirk and nudge. “ Shut up,” I said shoving them with a big grin. “ You’re breaking Kayfabe, quit it.” We entered the ring as our theme died down. The ring announcer spoke into the microphone, introducing both teams. The referee took our tag titles and held them up to signal it was a title match, handed then to the ring announcer then ordered for the bell to ring. Gunner started off the match with Aero. There were no lockups here, the two started off the match by flying into each other. Aero and Gunner proceeded to then dazzle the crowd with high flying and technical moves. Aero landed a springboard 450 Splash that took my breath away. I almost forgot I was in the match and not a fan until Gunner tagged me in. I went in the ring where Aero executed a trio of arm drags on me before hitting me with an arm drag. Aero tagged in Venom who got me with a flying forearm once I stood up. He went for the cover but only got a one count. He tried standing me up but I pushed him away and hit a Bicycle kick. When he got up, I whipped him into the corner and hit him with a splash. When Venom crumbled into the ground, I backed up and hit him with a Cannonball Senton. I turned around and started showboating to the crowd. When I faced Venom again, he made me pay with a Running Superkick. He picked me up but I executed a back suplex in him. While he was down I tagged in Gunner who ducked a Clothesline and hit Venom with one of his own. He followed that up with a leg drop to the midsection and then kicked Venom in the head. The crowd was in their feet, roaring in approval with that they had seen thus far. Venom ducked Gunner’s Enziguri and hit him with one of his own. Venom stumbled across the ring and tagged in Aero. Aero went for a suplex on Gunner but countered it into a neck breaker. Gunner went for a Senton but Aero got his knees up. As Gunner held his midsection, Aero forced him to his knees so he can hit Gunner with a Huricanrana driver. At the same time, Venom hopped on my side of the apron. I turned to face him as he hits me with a Huricanrana driver, spiking me on the apron. I rolled away, holding my head, stopping when I was in front of Vala and Jessica. After selling the move for a few moments I looked up at them and winked. “ Y’all having fun?” I asked their smiling faces. I pulled myself up by the barricade, making sure it looked like I was struggling. “ Don’t tell me you’re tired,” Vala teased. “ Nah, I’m just giving them false hope,” I responded. “ I gotta go, don’t miss me too much.” I ran to the ring and broke up a near three count. I hopped on the apron and pulled down the top rope, causing Venom to fly over and crash. I climbed on top of the turnbuckle and hit a Moonsault on Venom “ This is awesome! This is awesome! This is awesome!” The fans chanted and I had to agree. I hopped back on the apron for the tag. Gunner lunged and tagged me in. I hit the legal man, Aweo with a slingshot spear and waited for him to get to his knees. Once he did, I hit the Desti-Knee. But I didn’t go for the pin, no I would win with my newest move to my move set, a move I decided would be my main finisher, the Perculator. I picked Aero up and spiked him on top off his head with an Elevated Impaler DDT then went for the cover. The fans counted along with the referee “1,2,3!” I rolled off Aero and got to my feet as Gunner and I were announced as the winners and still champions. We were handed our championship belts and climbed on two of the turnbuckles, raising them up high. We dropped down and helped Aero to his feet. Venom joined us and we stared each other down before Gunner and I extended our hands. Aero and Venom shook them and the four of us embraced in the ring. Once we pulled away I was handed a microphone and signaled for me and Gunner’s music to be shut off. “ I want to thank each and every single one of you who came out here tonight. But there are two very special people here tonight we here at TSW want to recognize. Security, will you please assist Jessica and Vala Marshton to the ring?” The crowd popped as security went over to Vala and Jessica, helping them over the barricade. The ring announcer entered the ring and handed me a framed picture of Vince. Both Vala and Jessica entered the ring with smiles but confused expressions. I took a few deep breaths before speaking again. “ Vince was an amazing human being, anyone who knew him will agree. He showed each and every single person who doesn’t like cops on which finger they can sit and swivel. I was honored to know him and I hope the show we just put on was enough for us to honor his memory. Billings what do you think, did we do that?” A thunderous roar of approval sounded throughout the arena. “ Now you two,” I said pointing at Vala and Jessica “ You two may be wondering how you’re going to go on without Vince. And I can see why. There will never be another human like him. But I will say this when things get rough, remember, you have the TSW family. We’ll be here if you need anything. And to prove our sincerity, we all have agreed that all of tonight’s revenue will be going to you two.” The TSW locker room all came down the ramp and surrounded the ring clapping and chanting “ Marshton! Marshton! Marshton!” As the fans followed suit I carefully set the framed picture down. Gunner and Brooklyn joined me in the ring. Gunner and I dropped our championship titles over his picture and Brooklyn draped her blue and silver TSW Women’s championship belt over his picture as well. “ Vince!” I said into the microphone pointing at the sky and looking up. Everyone in the building followed my lead. After a few moments me, Gunner and Brooklyn picked up our championship titles. Jessica and Vala gave all three of us bone-crushing hugs, tears of joy streaming down their faces. Once they let us go, Gunner and I sat on the middle rope and held the top rope up for them to exit. Vala and Jessica gracefully exited the ring but when Brooklyn tried to follow I stood abruptly. “ Sorry. Special people only,” I joked. Brooklyn responded with a smirk and punching me in the stomach so hard I couldn’t breathe for a few seconds. Still I smiled and followed everyone else backstage where Travis was waiting. He hugged Vala and Jessica, both profusely thanking Travis for all this. “ It wasn’t my idea. If you want to thank the one that came up with the idea, thank Josh,” Travis said pointing to me. Both Vala and Jessica looked at me mouths agape. “ You?” was all Vala could say. “ Thought I said I didn’t want any recognition for this,” I told Travis. “ Hey, this whole show was your idea, you’re taking credit,” Travis said with a smile. “ I wanted to help any way I could,” I said to Vala and Jessica, “ I called Travis up and pitched him the idea.” Vala walked over and hugged me so hard I swear I felt a rib crack. I could feel her tears on my neck. “ Thank you. You have no idea how much this means to me,”’ she whispered. “ No problem,” I said, struggling to get the words out. “ Vala…air,” “ Oh sorry,” Vala said releasing me and backing up. I smirked and draped my title across my shoulder. “ There’s one more thing. See, we here at TSW have this thing called the Main Event Celebration. It’s where whoever is in the last segment or match of the night gets a little surprise,” Gunner and I exchanged sinister looks as we stood side by side. Just then a cooler of red Gatorade was dumped on me, Gunner and Brooklyn while a cooler of blue Gatorade was dumped on Vala and Jessica. The three of us held our titles in the air, basking in the moment. Meanwhile Vala and Jessica screamed and stood in shock as the blue liquid soaked them. “ Welcome to TSW!” The locker room yelled in unison. We all exchanged high fives and laughed. However the murderous glint in Vala’s eyes stopped me mid-laugh “ Uh guys?” I said nervously. Gunner and Brooklyn ceased laughing and it dawned on the three of us we may be in trouble. “ Oh geez guys, I think I left the oven on in my locker room.” Gunner said slowly backing away. “ Yeah. Me too,” I said backing up. “ What do you say we go turn off the ovens in our locker rooms guys?” Brooklyn asked following our example. “ Hey guys what’s the rush?” Vala asked slowly stepping forward, a sinister grin on her face. “ It’s wrestling stuff we have to take care of because we’re wrestlers,” I stammered nervously before turning to Gunner and Brooklyn and muttered, “run”. They didn’t even hesitate, taking off through the hallway. “ Where are you going?” Vala asked innocently. “ Oh I think they’re just… you know…” I said before turning around and running after them. “ I’m going to kill you!” I heard Vala shriek. The sounds of running footsteps behind me made me run as fast as I could. “Help! Help! There’s a crazy Indian girl after us!” Gunner yelled. “ Mistakes were made!”I shouted as I caught up to Brooklyn and Gunner. “ Josh, come here. I have something for you!” I heard Vala yell. “ No! Not me! Take Gunner! That’s why we keep him around, he’s a meat shield!” “ Wow Josh, way to leave your partner in the cold,” Brooklyn shouted. “ Seriously, not cool dude!” Gunner added. “ Every man for himself bro! You’re on your own!” I responded as we rounded a corner. “ Oh really?” Brooklyn asked before shoving me. I stumbled and fell down. Gunner and Brooklyn laughed as they ran off. “ Hey! Get back here! Come on guys, haven’t you heard of No Child Left Behind?” I shouted after them. I turned around to see Vala standing a few feet from me smiling. “ Hi Josh,” she said with a smile. “ Let’s talk, let’s talk,” I said repeatedly getting to my feet and backing up. “ Okay, what do you want to talk about?” Vala asked me “You not killing me,” I said backing up until my back rested against a wall. “ Oh I’m only going to kill your friends. I have something else in mind for you,” Vala said while advancing towards me until she was inches away. Her next move surprised me. Her lips met mine for a few moments then my cheek. As she backed away her mouth went to my ear. “ I win,” she whispered then turned around and walked away, shooting me a sly smile over her shoulder. I just stood there unable to remember my name. What the hell just happened?
  4. The sounds of screaming and laughter filled my ears. The smell of popcorn, funnel cake hotdogs and other food filled my nostrils. The massive fairgrounds were bustling with people in search of a good night. Various rides, game booths, street vendors, and other attractions were set up all over. The hot August day has cooled down considerably to a warm but bearable evening. The Montana State Fair was one of, if not the biggest attractions the state of Montana had. Every year thousands of people spent all the money they could afford to spare on tickets for rides and special shows. I tripped and stumbled, causing Vala to as well. I swore as I regained my footing. “ You okay?” She asked me. “ Yeah, sorry about nearly knocking you over,” I said. “ It’s okay,” she said with a small smile. A carnie got my attention by shooting at me as we passed a basketball free-throw game. “ You sir, why don’t you try your luck?” He asked. He was mostly bald with gray hair at the back. He had light gray eyes, wore a light yellow shirt and black pants. In his hands he had a basketball. “ Oh no, no thank you” I said with a polite wave. “ Ah come on, don’t you want to impress the girl?” He asked, indicating to Vala. We looked at each other and gave an embarrassed chuckle. Then Vala smirked “ well? Go ahead. Impress me.” I stood there for a moment then looked at the carnie. “ How much per game?” “ It’s ten dollars for five shots. If you make all five, you get a big stuffed animal, you make four you get a medium-sized stuffed animal and if you make three shots you get a small stuffed animal.” The carnie said, indicating the abundance of stuffed animals to the left and right of the basketball hoop. I pulled out my wallet and handed the carnie a ten-dollar bill. He gave me the basketball in return and I dribbled a couple of times and looked at the basket. I took a deep breath and shot the basketball. I winced as it bounced off the rim. The carnie tsked as he tossed me the ball again. I took another deep breath, dribbled a few times, and shot. This time the ball went through the net. “ Nice one,” Vala said. I just nodded at her words, not wanting to break my concentration. The carnie tossed the ball to me again. After dribbling a few times I shot the ball. It rolled around in the rim before dropping through the net. I smiled a little bit as the carnie tossed me the ball. “ Look who is in a roll!” He commented. “ Can he get three in a row ladies and gentlemen?” Turns out I couldn’t, my next shit hit the backboard and bounced off, missing the net. The carnie tossed me the ball for my last shot. “ All or nothing, all or nothing!” The carnie gleefully announced to the few people had stopped to watch. “ You can do this! Let’s hear it for him, he can do this!” A few shouts of encouragement sounded through the air, the loudest belonging to Vala. I took another deep breath, dribbled a few times, and fired my last shot. It rolled in the rim for a few seconds and at first it looked like it would fall out before it dropped in. “ We have a winner ladies and gentlemen!” The carnie announced to the onlookers. “ What prize will it be sir?” I looked at Vala and gestured to the stuffed animals. “ Go ahead and pick,” “ Really?” She asked, her brown eyes brightening. “ Sure go ahead,” I said. Her eyes scanned the stuffed animals while I checked her out discreetly. She wore a pink top, blue denim shorts, and flip flops. We had been hanging out a lot ever since school for the year let out for the summer. Whether it was fishing, going to the Beartooth mountains in Red Lodge, going to the fireworks spectacle the town of Laurel put on every Fourth of July together, or just hanging out after church and Youth Group, we spent more and more time together each day. To the point I had developed a slight crush on her, not that I’d ever tell her. Just the thought made me feel queasy. “ That one!” She announced pointing. “ Huh?” I asked snapping back into focus. “ I want the pink elephant!” She exclaimed pointing at the stuffed animals. The carnie looked up at the stuffed animals for a moment then pulled the desired toy down. “ Here you go” he said, handing the toy to her. Vala grabbed it and squeezed it to her chest with both arms. As Vala and I walked away, the carnie winked at me, causing my face to turn red slightly. Tale as old as time, the guy wins a prize at some fair or carnival then gives the prize to the girl he’s trying to impress. Vala and I walked around for a little while longer looking at the booths when they bumped into Gunner and Brooklyn. I was surprised to see them together and by the looks on their faces, they felt the same about the two of us “ What are you guys doing here?” I asked. “ What are you guys doing here?” Brooklyn echoed the question. “ We are hanging out. I thought you two weren’t coming, which is why I asked Vala to come with me,” I said, wincing as I heard myself talk. Nice way of wording that idiot! Now they’re never gonna let it go! Gunner and Brooklyn smirked at me and exchanged amused looks with each other. “ I thought you were grounded Brooklyn! What happened?” I asked trying to get their thoughts off my words. “ My parents decided I had learned my lesson,” Brooklyn said casually, crossing her arms in front of her chest but I knew she was hiding something. Knowing her as long as I have I knew when she wasn’t telling me the whole truth. “ That's funny, because when I asked you about coming you said you were grounded for the week. That was earlier today.” Brooklyn turned a deep shade of red and it was me and Vala’s turn to exchange the amused looks. “ Hey Josh, I have an idea,” Gunner said, “ How about we just pretend this didn’t happen?” “ Agreed,” I said, not wanting to give them any more ammunition to embarrass me with. We hurriedly walked past each other. Once they were out of earshot Vala gave me an amused glance “ so, your tag team partner and fellow champion is into the boss’s daughter.” “ Sure seems that way,” I said with a chuckle. We stopped by a lemonade vendor and ordered two large lemonades. As we waited for our orders to be filled, I glanced around and stopped. A few yards away from me was my parents, standing in a line to get snow cones. After a few seconds, they noticed me. We stood there staring at each other, not saying a word, expressions blank. I barely registered Vala trying to get my attention until she yanked me away. “ Sorry” I said as we walked away. “ Was that them?” Vala asked. She was one of the few people I trusted enough to tell the entirety of my complicated history with my parents. “ Yeah,” I said, no longer feeling happy, just empty and hollow.” “ Forget them, let's enjoy the rest of our night!” Vala exclaimed and raced for the line that led to the bumper cars. Once it was our turn, Vala and I got into separate cars and drove around, slamming into any car we could. Vala mostly ignored the others and went after me, ramming into new countless times. Soon my encounter with my parents was forgotten, replaced by my laughter as I drove my car like a madman, slamming into the others until our turn came to an end. Once we exited our cars, Vala grabbed my hand and pulled me away, eagerly leading me to our next destination. It turned out to be an airbrush tattoo parlor. Vala took a seat and got an airbrushed tattoo of a screaming Bald Eagle carrying the American flag on her left forearm. “ It looks good,” I told her once the artist had finished and we had left. Vala took a picture of the tattoo with her phone and slipped it back in her pocket. “ I’m hoping I can convince my parents to let me get a permanent tattoo just like this one for my birthday in a few weeks. I got this as a test run, to see how it would turn out and if I liked it.” “ Smart” I said, “ After all when you get the permanent one, you want to make sure it’s worth it.” “ Yep. I also want to get a tattoo of a few eagle feathers on my right forearm “ she said looking at her bare skin. “ You didn’t get that one airbrushed one as well?” I questioned. “ Nah, it’s going to be tough enough to convince my parents to let me get the one tattoo, no way they’ll let me do two. I’ll get the other one in a couple years, once I turn eight-teen.” “ Makes sense,” I said. We got in line for another ride called Death Drop.once you were buckled and strapped in, it took you high in the sky, giving you a look at the nightlife of Billings Montana. With all the lights that glowed in the night sky, it was truly a breathtaking sight. My heart stopped as we suddenly plummeted to the ground, stopping a few seconds before we hit the ground. As I collected my breath, I noticed Vala had squeezed my hand on the way down. From there we got on all the rides that were designed to give you an adrenaline rush, with Vala dragging me from line to line. She was an adrenaline junkie, always going to some extreme to get her high. One of the reasons I enjoyed spending time with her, she knew how to have fun. As the night was winding down we decided our last ride of the night would be the Ferris wheel. We boarded in the car and watched the ground get smaller and smaller as we ascended then turned our gaze to the lit-up city. “ Billings looks nice tonight,” Vala commented. “ Yeah, too bad our one sports team sucks” I said, referring to the Billings Mustangs, a minor league baseball team that played in the city. Vala pushed my shoulder “ they’re not that bad!” She protested smiling. “ I respectfully disagree,” I said with a grin” personally I miss the Outlaws,” The Billings Outlaws has been Montana’s very popular Indoor Football League team several years ago. My grandfather used to take me to games before he passed on when I was a kid. I had entertained fantasies of playing for them until they were bought and moved to some other state. “ So do I,” Vala said wistfully then after a few moments of silence spoke again. “ My dad is probably on patrol right now,” Vala said. Her dad, who looked like Colonel Sanders if Colonel Sanders was full-blooded Cherokee Indian, was a Lieutenant on the Billings police force. I had actually met him when he had pulled me and Gunner over for speeding. Once he read the names on our IDs he laughed for five minutes straight before letting us go with a warning. Since then he and I had formed something of a friendship. He had taken Vala and I out shooting at the range a few times and even though I was a minor, my first beer had been with him on my seventeenth birthday last June. “ If you ask me, he’s lucky he doesn’t have to be here managing this madhouse,” I said. “ That’s for sure,” Vala agreed. We didn’t speak for a few moments, just watched the city lights before Vala spoke again. “ Josh?” “ Yeah?” I asked absently. “ What do you plan on doing after high school?” The question took me by surprise. I raised an eyebrow and looked at her “ What makes you ask? “ Just wondering” she said shrugging. “ Well hopefully I get signed by a bigger federation and I can wrestle full-time while making a lot of money doing it,” I said leaning back and folding my arms behind my head, “ Don’t get me wrong, I love TSW and being tag champs alongside Gunner is great but TSW isn’t going to pay my bills. Sooner or later I’m going to have to move on,” “ What if it doesn’t work out?” Vala asked. I looked at her as she spoke my biggest fear, the thing that my overactive mind loved to torment me with as I lay awake at night, “ It has to,” I said simply. “ But what if it doesn’t?” Vala pressed. I let my mind process the question and shook my head, “ You don’t get it Vala. If this doesn’t work I have nothing else. I don’t want to do anything else. I gave up my own flesh and blood for my wrestling career, I sacrificed my own family in my pursuits. So I will sweat ever bead of sweat I have, I will cry every tear in my eyes and I will bleed every ounce of blood in my body to make sure my dream becomes reality.” “ Have you ever planned more than that? Do you ever think of starting a family?” I was confused why Vala felt the need to ask me such questions but decided to go with it. “ Thought has never crossed my mind. But I don’t think I’d be a good father.” “ What makes you say that?” Vala asked. “ My own father didn’t exactly do a good job and God forbid I end up like him. I would have no idea what I'm doing, that poor kid would be screwed up beyond repair. Not to mention I’ll be on the road all the time. So I don’t think settling down would be for me. But what about you?” I asked, turning the question on Vala. “ What do you plan on doing after high school?” Vala paused to think “ I want to go to the same police academy my dad did. Ever since I was little I wanted to be a police officer, just like my father, like my grandfather, and like my great grandfather.” “ You ever think about starting a family someday?” I asked. “ Maybe someday. If I ever meet the right guy,” Vala said. Just then, the Ferris wheel screeched to a halt, signaling our ride had come to an end. People were leaving the fairgrounds in mass. Vala and I joined the herd of people, eventually finding her car and carefully navigating out of the fairgrounds parking lot. Despite it being midnight we decided to hang out by South Pond for a bit before going home once we reached Laurel. We sat on the hood of Vala’s car staring at the stars. “ Hey Josh?” Vala said, turning her gaze from the stars to look at me. “ What is it?” I asked, keeping my gaze at the stars. “ I understand you really want to make it as a wrestler. In your eyes you need to. I get it. But I can’t help but feel as though you’re missing out on so much life may have to offer.” “ What makes you say that?” I replied with a raised eyebrow. “ I just think that being ready to throw any and everything away in order to realize your dream is limiting you and what you’re capable of, making you miss out on so much. There’s so much more you could do other than chase your dream, so much more important things you’re missing out on,” Vala explained but I still wasn’t getting it. “ Like what? What could possibly be more important than chasing one’s dream?” I asked, turning to look at her. “ Chasing your dream is good. Everyone should do it at some point in their life but they shouldn’t become obsessed as you have. Because while you’ve been dreaming about wrestling in the big bright lights with the entire world chanting your name and ignoring the present, there’s someone who is very interested in you and keen to be at your side,” Vala said looking into my eyes. “ What are you talking about?” I asked. “ Here. Let me just show you,” Vala said, moving her face close to mine. I was rooted to the spot, unable to believe what was happening. Is she about to… Just then Vala’s phone rang causing us both to jump and look around awkwardly. “ I should get that,” Vala said quietly “ Yeah,” I said a bit too loudly, “ I’ll just be over here, ya know, to give you some privacy,” I hopped off the hood of the car as Vala answered her phone. I glared at the night sky and began to mutter angrily at it, shaking my fist at the stars. “ Are you kidding me?! You couldn’t wait three more seconds?! I was so close!” Vala’s voice cut me off from my quiet tirade. When I went back to her I was surprised to see her eyes full of tears and her whole body trembling. “ Hey what’s wrong?” I asked. “ It’s my dad. He’s been shot and is in critical condition at the hospital.”
  5. The final Friday bell rang, signaling the end of school for the week and the start of the weekend. I let out a jubilant chuckle as I threw my books in my kicker and shut the door. The stampede of excited students sounded through the school’s halls. Commands of slow down and no running from teachers did nothing to curb their enthusiasm. No school for a couple of days, I’m finally cleared to get back in the ring and I’ve got a match this Sunday! Life is good. “ Hey Josh!” Came a voice. I turned around to see Vala walking towards me with a flyer in her hand. “ What’s going on?” I asked leaning against my locker. “ Just wondering about this flyer I saw you put up in the hall,” she said, handing me the blue flyer. I grabbed the paper and looked at it, smiling as I recognized the flyer. “ Oh yeah, this is an advertisement for our next show, Fight Forever.” “ I didn’t know you were a wrestler,” Vala commented. “ I could’ve sworn I told you at some point.” “ No. You didn’t.” “ Must have been the concussion,” I said, shrugging. “ Anyway, you should come see it. It’ll be a good show..” “ I don’t see your name on here” she commented, her eyes scanning the flyer again. I smirked “ Well that’s because no one knows I’m making my return tonight. I’m in the match for the tag team championships as Gunner’s surprise partner. You should come check it out.” “ I dunno” Vala said, “ my parents will probably be okay with it but I don’t have the money for a ticket.” “ Well you’re in luck” I said with a smile. Travis always gave his wrestlers five tickets to give to friends and loved ones so they could watch them wrestle. “ I can give you one, you’d just have to go to the ticket booth to get it.” “ Really? No charge?” She asked. “ Nope. It’ll get you a good seat too, right in the front row.” “ Huh, well I just may drop by. 5 o’clock in the afternoon right?” She asked looking at the flyer again. “ Yeah, at the Shrine. You won’t be disappointed, it should be a great show.” “ Alright I’ll be there,” Val said with a grin “ Will you still be at church Sunday?” I nodded “ yeah but I have to leave right after to go help set up and stuff.” “ Okay. Well I guess I’ll see you Sunday,” she said before walking off. Before I could even take a few steps away from my locker both Gunner and Brooklyn walked over to me. “ Okay what was that?” Gunner asked. “ What was that?” “ That! We saw that dude.” “ Yeah and? All I did was invite her to our show.” I said confused as to why he was making such a big deal out of it. Brooklyn gave Gunner a sinister smirk “ I think little Josh here has himself a crush.” “ What? No, where the hell did you get that from?” I asked a tiny bit confused. “ You pretty much asked her out,” Gunner said with a sly smile. “ What?! No I didn’t!” I exclaimed. “ Yes, you did.” “ All I did was ask her to come to our show, it’s not like I’m going to be spending a lot of time with her like you two.” Both of their faces flushed and it was my turn to wear a sly expression. “ What are you talking about?” Gunner stammered. “ Oh you know, the fact you two have been getting lunch together every day for the past week and have been hanging out after school.” “ That doesn’t mean anything!” Brooklyn protested. “ Uh Huh. Yeah. Sure. Okay,” I said. “ Just know that you two are really bad liars. There’s something going on with you two. You don’t have to tell me, but I am going to tease both of you maliciously. Anyway, I’m gonna head to the pawnshop and see if they have any fishing poles. See you later.” I gave them both a mock salute and walked off, chuckling at the slightly embarrassed looks in their faces. I was up at the crack of dawn Saturday morning and got dressed in a gray t-shirt blue jeans and my one pair of shoes. I was careful not to wake Gunner up, he knew I was going fishing but he didn’t know with who I was going fishing with. If he knew I’d never hear the end of it. I grabbed my fishing pole and tackle box and headed towards a local favorite fishing spot called South Pond. South Pond was located at the edge of town. It had a small jungle gym that was devoid of the sounds of playing children. The fish were active, jumping up and down. I was excited to cast my line, no one else was here, leaving the fish for myself and for my companion. “ Josh, you going to help me out?” Came a cry. I looked at the parking lot and saw a silver Dodge pickup that had a green boat in the bed. Vala had let the tailgate down and was waiting for me. She wore jeans, a pink t-shirt and tennis shoes. Her black hair was pulled up into a ponytail and wore a Michigan State ballcap. “ I’m coming,” I said heading towards her. Together we wrangled the boat out of the tailgate and pushed it to the pond. “ Thanks for inviting me. I haven’t been fishing in years” I said. “ Not a problem. I prefer to fish with someone else. It’s just too boring when I fish by myself.” Vala and I pushed the boat onto the water and grabbed the oars. We rowed the boat to the center of the pond, baited our hooks, and cast our lines. We had bites immediately and we reeled them in. There was no need to throw the big mouth bass back on account they were too small to keep, they were the perfect size. We each got a decent haul of six fish each, seemingly getting a bite the second our hooks landed in the water. “ What is that?” I asked, pointing at the distance. “ What?” Vala asked, looking around. “ Right there. What the hell is that?” I asked with a look of confusion on my face. Vala stood up to get a better view and my look of confusion was replaced with a sinister look. With a chuckle I pushed Vala out of the boat, laughing as she yelped and fell into the water. She came up spluttering and gave me a very angry look. “ What the hell is wrong with you?!” She demanded. “ A lot of things,” I said with a cocky grin. “ You’re such a jerk!” “ You’re not wrong.” “ Whatever, help me back in the boat,” she said, holding up a hand. “ I dunno, I may just take this boat and leave you to swim back,” I said leaning over the side of the boat. Vala smirked and before I could realize my mistake she grabbed my left arm and pulled me over. I came up to the surface a moment later spluttering and wiped the water from my eyes. “ That is Karma acting really fast!” I exclaimed. “ Now we’re even so there!” Vala said, sticking her tongue out at me. I playfully growled and splashed her. She jerked her head back as the water hit me face, laughed, and splashed me back. We got into a splash fight for several minutes before having enough and crawled back in the boat. We rowed back to shore and loaded the boat and our fishing poles in the tailgate after collecting our fish. Even though I pushed Vala in the pond, she was nice enough to give me a ride back to Gunner’s house after we went through the Hardee’s drive-through for breakfast. She dropped me off, and we both said goodbye followed by promises to see each other tomorrow. I watched her drive off for a couple of moments before going inside. Gunner was watching a movie on TV but his attention snapped to me when he saw how wet I was. “ What happened to you?” He asked. “ I fell in the pond,” I said. “ Did you at least catch anything?” Gunner asked. “ Oh yeah, I’ll clean them after I get changed.” “ You want any help? This movie is terrible and there is nothing better on.” “ Sure man, thanks.” “ No problem. I’ll meet you outside.” I went to the small room Gunner’s parents were kind enough to give me and started to change clothes. As I put another shirt on my phone buzzed. It was a text from Vala. I picked up my phone and read the text. “ You’re cute when you let yourself smile,” it read. I smirked and texted back “ You think I’m cute?” No response followed that. I finished changing clothes and headed outside to clean the fish. As we worked on the fish my mind flashed to that morning. I realized I had the most fun I’ve had in a while. Although I’d never tell Vala or else I’d die of embarrassment, although I had only known Vala for a short time, I was happy I met her. I continued my laments as we finished cleaning the fish and using Google, Gunner and I found a recipe for baking the fish. Luckily Gunner’s mother helped us prepare the fish, neither Gunner or I were good at cooking at all. One of Brooklyn’s favorite jokes was we would burn cereal if it involved turning on the stove, she wasn’t wrong. We had coleslaw and cornbread to go with our fish. It was a nice southern themed lunch. Once we were done, Gunner and I got in his car and drove to the wrestling school. Together we had a mock match in order to see whether I had any ring rust. Because I hadn’t been in the ring for a few months I get a little awkward in the ring, my reflexes were slow and I messed up a few simple holds. However Gunner worked with me until I was fully comfortable in the ring. We went home close to dark and went to bed early, wanting to be rested for the show tomorrow. I put on my brand new black wrestling trunks, my elbow pads, my knee pads, and had just tightened my boots when my opponents for the evening walked in the locker room. Richard and Evan Morton, the tag team champions. They were identical twin brothers,, both medium height, had red hair, amber eyes, both had short beards, and wore red and black tights, black elbow pads, and black boots. “ How’s it going guys?” I asked. “ Good man, how are you?” Even asked. “ Pretty good, I’m glad to be back. I missed this.” “ I bet. It’s good to have you back,” Richard said with a kind smile. “ Where the hell is Gunner?” “ He has to talk to Travis about something,” I replied, “ He should be back soon.” Just then Gunner came into the locker room wearing his white, red, and gold tights and boots. The four of us sat down and started talking through our match. As we talked the show started, the roar of the crowd was audible from the locker room. I was already excited sitting there, eagerly awaiting our match. After an hour it was time for our match. The four of us stood up and walked backstage. The theme for the Morton Brothers, Pain by Three Days Grace began to play. “ We’ll see you out there,” Evan said before he and his brother went through the curtain. The crowd roared as the tag champions made their entrance. Once their music died down, Gunner gave me a fist bump as his theme, Last Resort by Papa Roach began to play. A backstage worker handed Gunner a microphone for his promo and he was gone. I paced back and forth, waiting for Gunner to speak. “ I looked long and hard for a tag team partner. And I didn’t think I’d find one until I got the news that a certain someone was cleared to wrestle again. Ladies and gentlemen, my tag team partner, Jason Ryan!” My new theme Ultranumb by Blue Stahli began to play as the crowd cheered wildly. I grinned widely and walked through the curtain. The Shrine was full of people who were cheering loudly for my return. I took a minute to take it all in. The cheering crowds, the feigned look of surprise of the Morton brothers, the commentary team hyping up my return. I walked over to Gunner to give him a fist bump and together we walked down to the ring. As we walked down the ramp, I noticed Vala in the front row and my smile grew even wider. I walked over to her and leaned over the railing. “ Hey you made it,” I said. “ Yeah I did. Looks like you weren’t lying,” she said. “ I told you. Now, I gotta go knock these people dead. I’ll see ya later,” I said before backing up and headed towards the ring. My music died down and the ring announcer spoke into her microphone. “ Introducing first, the challengers. Weighing in at a combined weight of two hundred forty pounds, Gunner Jefferson and Jason Ryan!” The fans cheered loudly for us, I was sure it was audible from outside the building. “ And the champions. Weighing in at a combined weight of three hundred pounds, they are the TSW Tag Team Championships, Richard and Evan Morton!” The champions gave the referee their championship belts who he’d them up, signaling the match was for the titles. The belts had a purple strap with square gold belts. On the center plate was a screaming eagle on top of a blue world. Below the world were the words Tag Team Championships. The left and right side plate had an image of two hands joining into a fist. The referee handed the titles to the ring announcer who took them with her outside of the ring. After making sure we were all ready, the referee signaled for the bell to ring. I started off the match with Evan. We locked up for a little bit before I executed a snapmare. Once I had him on the ground I put Evan in a headlock. I held him in for a little bit before letting him go and stood up. I bounced off the ropes and went for a drop kick but Evan got out of the way. He scrambled to his feet and hit me with a belly to belly suplex. Evan picked me up and went for a neckbreaker but I pushed him away and hit him with a running high knee. I picked Evan up and threw him in the corner. I ran and hit him with another high knee. I went to the top rope and landed a moonsault. I went for the cover but only for a one count. I hauled Evan to his feet and dragged him to the corner where I tagged in Gunner. Gunner leaped over the top rope as I threw Evan in the corner, setting him up for a Bicycle kick. I went to the apron so me and Gunner did not get disqualified. Gunner hit Evan with a series of running knees. He went for a clothesline but Evan sucked and hit Gunner with a Pele kick. He tagged in Richard and got on the apron. Richard continued where Evan left off, hitting Gunner with clubbing blows. He helped Gunner to his feet and went for a back breaker but Gunner was able to push him away, bounced against the ropes and hit Richard with a float over DDT. Gunner climbed to the top rope and went for a splash. Gunner went for a pin but Richard kicked out at one. Fast as lightning, Richard locked Gunner in a headscissor. Gunner struggled to free himself so I got involved. I hit Richard with a jumping elbow and immediately got out of the ring. Gunner stood back up and hit Richard with a Hurricanrana Driver. Gunner tagged me back in the match and I walked over to Richard. Richard sprang up unexpectedly and hit me with a cutter. Richard tagged in Evan and the two picked me back up and both of them hit me with a Suplex. Evan went to the top rope and hit me with a diving elbow. Richard followed that up with a Rolling Thunder Senton. Evan went for the cover but I kicked out at two. Evan picked me up to my knees and hit me with an Enziguri. Another pin and I kicked out at two once more. Evan dragged me to my feet and whipped me into the corner. He ran and hit me with a splash in the corner, causing me to crumble. Evan backed up and hit me with a big boot. Gunner started clapping vigorously, getting the crowd involved and yelled for me to reach him for the tag. Evan moved me away from the corner and went to the top rope. He waited a moment before going for a diving elbow but I moved out of the way at the last moment. We both lay there a few minutes as the referee started his count. “ 1...2...3...4...5…” Both me and Evan crawled to our respective corners. Evan tagged in Richard and I lunged to tag Gunner. Gunner ducked a clothesline, bounced off the ropes and hit Richard with a flying shoulder. Gunner hit a standing Senton on Richard, went to the middle rope and hit another Senton and landed one more from the top rope. Gunner went for the cover but Richard kicked out. Richard rolled out of the ring as I rolled back in. Gunner and I looked at each other, bounced off the ropes and both hit a Suicide Dive on the Morton Brothers. The fans popped as all of us laid on the ground. Richard and Gunner got back in the corner as I crawled away. Richard went to punch Gunner but he countered with hitting him with a roundhouse kick to the head. Gunner went to the top rope as Evan got back in the ring. He started for Evan but I intercepted him by climbing to the apron and hitting him with a springboard spear. I forced Evan to his knees and exchanged a smile with Gunner. This was it. Gunner hit his finisher, the Red Arrow as ran behind Evan, bounced off the ropes and hit him with the Desti-Knee then got out of the ring. Gunner went for the cover and the fans counted alongside with the referee. “ 1,2,3!” The fans exploded with cheers as the ring announcer took to the microphone once again. “ Here are your winners and new TSW Tag Team Champions, Gunner Jefferson and Jason Ryan!” I got in the ring and started to celebrate with Gunner. The referee handed me one championship belt and gave Gunner the other one. We triumphantly held our new prizes up high as we celebrated in the ring. I sank to my knees and lifted my eyes to the ceiling, yelling my joy to the rafters. I had tears stinging my eyes, a day I thought would never come had arrived. I was a champion.
  6. “ Fuuuuuuuccckkk you! And you! And you! And yoooooouuuuuu! I hate your friends and they hate me too! I’m through I’m through I’m throooouuughhhhh! It’s that hot bummer anthem, turn it up and throw a tantrum!” Myself, Brooklyn, and Gunner were in Gunner’s car on a rainy Tuesday night, driving around in the city of Billings, the biggest city in Montana singing Hot Girl Bummer Anthem at the top of their lungs. I took a drink from my red cherry sonic slushie then continued to sing along with the song on the radio. We continued to sing as we cruised around the mostly quiet city until the song came to an end. “ Alright Brook, your turn,” Gunner said turning left. “ Hey no, bullshit!” I said with a wide smile “ She’s had three in a row!” Gunner looked up at me through the rearview mirror and smirked: ” and what are you going to do about it?” “ I’m going to tell your girlfriend you secretly are into dudes! And fabricate evidence to go along with it!” Brooklyn laughed so hard her face was red, snorting a little as Gunner was forced to concede. “ So what are we listening to Josh?” He asked. “ IDGAF by Sik World. I know that song by heart.” “ Is that so?” Brooklyn asked, craning her neck to look at me. “ Yep,” I answered. “ I got fifty bucks that you couldn’t recite it word for word.” “ You are so on,” I said smirking. “ Gunner, find me an instrumental version of the song. Gunner smiled and complied, typing something into his phone. A familiar tune began to play. I took another drink and cleared my throat. “ Girl I sent you like seven texts. You didn’t reply it’s okay I guess. You found a guy? I’m not impressed. You wasted my time onto the next. Your world’s gonna crash down, now that I’m not in it. See, I don’t care where you’re at now yeah, I’m happy we ended. My music is dark, sorry my life ain’t pretty. Never had friends not a family really. Just me and my thoughts and they always stick with me. If my head is down it’s cause I’m overthinking. Nobody gets me but you, you give me meaning. So I was happy when you started to see me. Girl we were so perfect I gotta be dreaming. Till I woke up like why the fuck did you leave me?” I rapped the entire song without so much as stuttering or hesitation. I had listened to the song a lot in the past to the point I was convinced I could recite it word for word it backward. “ Gave you all I had and more. You were the one I’d adore. Till you showed me who you really were. Now I don’t give a fuck. Said we’d be friends after our split. You lied so your words, they don’t mean shit. Missing you used to make me sick. Now I don’t give a fuck. Yeah I don’t give a fuck. Yeah I don’t give a fuck. You’re just a memory to me. And I don’t give a fuck.” Gunner and Brooklyn made a big show of applauding when I had finished and Brooklyn gave me the agreed fifty bucks. We kept taking turns playing songs on Gunner’s phone and singing alone for hours. “ So Josh, are you parents really gonna make you pay the hospital bill?” Gunner asked me as we exited Billings and started to drive home. The merriment of the night evaporated at that. I felt my jaw clench as I recalled the meeting with the police officer nearly two weeks ago. He had informed me I was due in court in a couple of weeks because my parents demanded I give them money for the hospital bill plus they were demanding the ridiculous amount of $250,000,000 for letting me live in their house, feeding me, clothing me, etc. “ Yeah they are. The hearing is this Friday,” I growled. “ That is such bullshit!” Brooklyn shouted angrily. “ Yeah you’re telling me. Luckily I have been given a lawyer, and he’s advised that I counter by telling the judge everything they’ve done to me. Maybe after this, they will finally just leave me alone. That’s seriously all I want. Just leave me the hell alone and let me live my life! Is that so much to ask for?!” I yelled, getting worked up. “ For real. What is their problem?” Gunner asked as we entered our town. “ They must be the devil and the Antichrist. That’s my theory,” I grumbled, just now noticing I had crushed my empty cup in my hand. “ They are just so petty and they always have to win. I honestly hate them.” We decided to change the subject after that, not wanting to ruin what had otherwise been a fun night. Gunner dropped Brooklyn off then drove to his house. We made sure to stay quiet as we snuck into the basement. It was four in the morning after all and we didn’t want to wake Gunner’s mother who had to get ready for work in a couple of hours. We didn’t say anything more, we just went to our respective rooms and fell asleep. School the next day was the same as it always was. Boring, uninteresting, and long. At the end of the day, I dumped my textbooks in my locker with a sigh of relief which was followed by a groan as I thought of all the homework I had to do. I was so caught up in my lamenting that I jumped when I felt someone tap my shoulder. I spin around to see a six-foot-three Native American girl. She had jet black hair and brown eyes. She wore a black top, blue jeans, and a lot of bracelets and other jewelry. “ Hey, it’s Josh right?” She asked. “ Uh yeah,” I replied. “ I’m Vala Marshton, I’ve seen you at New Hope the last couple of Sundays. I was just wondering if you were going to be at Youth Group tonight.” “ Youth Group?” I asked, wondering what that was. Yet another church term I was unfamiliar with. “ It’s just something for the teens at the church. We usually play games, watch movies, have fun and we throw in the Bible as well. It’s a lot of fun, you should come.” “ Maybe,” I said, thinking it sounded better than doing my homework. “ It starts at six-thirty and ends at about nine. Hope to see you there,” Vala said as a farewell before walking away. I stared after her for a couple of moments before grabbing my book bag, already deciding to give this Youth Group a try. I still wasn’t cleared to wrestle and Travis had decided that I could take a break from the wrestling school until I was. Can’t be that bad I thought as I left the school. I stepped into the church at six twenty-nine later that day. I couldn’t help but feel it was weird to be in church on a weekday. I went to the Sanctuary where ten other teenagers, including Vala, of various ages. They were all looking at a young adult with slight stubble, blonde hair, and green eyes. He wore a light blue shirt, khaki shorts, and sandals. He looked up as Josh hesitantly walked closer to the group of people. “ Hello! Who are you?” He asked, standing to greet Josh. “ I’m Josh Norman,” I said shaking his hand. “ Welcome, I’m Max Ranford. I’m the Youth Pastor here. Take a seat, we are just about to start.” I nodded and looked for an empty seat. I saw Vala indicating an empty seat next to her. Not wanting to seem awkward by just standing there, I nodded and walked over, sitting down next to Vala. Max started off the night with a worship session and a prayer. Then he introduced each of the other teenagers in the room including Rachel then had Josh introduce himself. After that, Max grabbed a crate full of nerf guns and bullets. “ Alright guys, grab a gun, put on a pair of goggles to protect your eyes, and have fun,” he said with a chuckle. Okay, this has surpassed my expectations already I thought excitedly as I did as instructed. I moved to a corner in the room and got ready. However, as the game got started I noticed the others were all moving in on me with big smirks. As if on a silent cue they fired upon me at once. I returned fire the best I could but I was soon overwhelmed. Once they had run out of bullets they started laughing. “ We got you!” Vala gloated. I couldn’t help but laugh at the sneaky attack. “ Little tradition we have for newcomers,” Max explained once everything had been cleaned up and put away. “ Our way of saying welcome.” “ I feel welcome,” I responded with a smile. The Nerf ambush was followed by pizza and then Max talked about David and Goliath and how if David could conquer the giant that stood before him, with God in their sides they could too. They had another worship session then Max wrapped up the night by praying. I found I enjoyed the night. As I was headed out I bumped into Howard. “ Josh! How’s it going?” He asked. “ Pretty good. I thought I’d drop by for Youth Group and I have to say, I enjoyed it. I’ll probably come back next week.” “ I’m glad to hear it. How’s everything else going? Have you and your parents made amends?” “ No. In fact, they’re suing me.” “ Suing you?” Howard asked a look of shock on his face. “ Yeah, since I decided to move out, they’re trying to get me to pay the hospital bill plus a quarter of a million dollars to pay for housing me.” “ I’m sorry to hear that,” Howard said with a genuine look of sympathy. “ It’s fine. My court-appointed attorney is confident the judge will take my side. My hearing is in a couple of days.” “ Anything I can do to help?” Howard asked. “ I started to hack my head no but stopped. “ Well, I don’t really have a suit,” I responded. “ I’ve got one that may fit you. Come by tomorrow after school.” “ Thanks Howard, Uh, pastor” I stammered, “ I appreciate it.” “ Any time Josh. I’ll be praying for you.” Howard said warmly. With that I said goodbye to Howard and left the church, and walked back to Gunner’s house, enjoying the warm spring evening. Thursday passed at a snail’s pace, making school that much more unbearable. It turned out the suit Howard wanted me to try was a bit big but I decided to roll with it, figuring I’d eventually grow into it. I didn’t get much sleep Thursday night if any. Once my alarm went off I got in the shower, brushed my hair and teeth, and put on the suit Howard had given me. Satisfied I headed for the courthouse Well I say house but to call it a room would be more apt. It was a tiny room with three rows of plastic chairs and two large windows at the back of the room. I sat in front with my lawyer, avoiding eye contact with my parents. We stood when instructed to for the judge, a short woman with brown curly hair and blue eyes. She took her seat and ordered us to sit down. We sat down and my parents’ lawyer gave his opening statement. Once he was done my lawyer, an older bald man with a long black and gray beard wearing a gray suit stood up. “ Your honor, this is absolutely ridiculous. My client is a minor, kicked out of his hole over a difference of opinion in desired profession. My client’s parents have abused and tormented my client, something you will see throughout the duration of the proceedings.” My parents were then questioned and I had to hold my chair firmly to stop from jumping angrily and confronting them on their lies. They claimed I was violent, disrespectful, that I had attacked my siblings on numerous occasions as well as stolen from them. The only thing atht was even remotely true was I was disrespectful towards them. I won’t dispute that because it’s true. I suppose the years of torment they put me through was at least partly my fault. Perhaps if I had just gone along with what they wanted, things wouldn’t be as bad. Once they were done I was called to the stand. Nervously I walked over, not looking at my parents. My parents’ lawyer questioned me first, asking me if any of what parents said was true to which I denied. After my parents’ lawyer finished questioning me, my lawyer came up. “ Josh, have your parents ever hit you?” He asked. I took a deep breath and nodded “ yes. Whenever I disobeyed them.” “ Did they punish you in other ways?” I nodded again but said nothing. “ What did they do?” “ One time when I was seven, they didn’t feed me for an entire day. They used to make me sleep in the shed. Other than that it was really just a lot of being grounded over nothing.” I felt my parents’ icy stare of hate as I finished. The judge cleared her throat after some time of deliberation. “ Josh, I am not going to make you pay a cent. That is absolutely asinine. You were living with your parents at the time of your injury. And I am not going to make you pay for the responsibilities that are required of parents.” She gave my clearly outraged parents a steely look “ All I am going to do is provide you with paperwork that will make you an Emancipated Minor.” I let out a breath I didn’t realize I had been holding as the case was dismissed. I couldn’t help but flash a triumphant look at parents. I’m finally free.
  7. The camera shows a monochromatic view of the Beartooth Mountains in Red Lodge Montana. Vibrant nature, clear water, plenty of campgrounds it is an outdoorsman's paradise Sitting in front of the camera by the flowing river at one of the various campgrounds is Jason Ryan with an open beer in one hand and a cigar in the other. When I say BPZ has never given a shit about me that's not me pissing and moaning, that's me telling the truth. Ever since I got here I've been held down. The rest of my class like Buddy Ace, Marker, Sheridan, Julilus, and Gunner Flynn have been loved by the right people. But I've always been the black sheep and because of that I've been treated less than everyone else. And guys like Jeremiah Flynn who have been given everything- Jason stops himself and rephrases himself Jeremiah has been blessed to be given a lot of chances and of course he's taken them up and he has capitalized on them. Because he is a smart man, he knows when a chance arrives, he grabs it by the throat and squeezes the life out of it. Jeremiah is one of the top lions here, he is on BPZ's Mount Rushmore. And Jeremiah has been on top for so long that he's forgotten to watch out for the henyas who have to fight for their share. The camera cut to Jason standing in a clearing I know Jeremiah isn't taking me seriously, I mean why would he? Our resumes don't even begin to compare. But what Jeremiah likes to forget the last guy who had yet to really prove himself that he underestimated was Julius. And look how that turned out, Jeremiah was in a downward spiral for months afterward. It took him quite some time to get back to form. Jeremiah is the last person to take the dark horse lightly but it seems Jeremiah isn't a fan of learning. Here's the thing buddy, I don't care that most don't want me to be here or think I deserve to be here or want to hold me down. Which is why I am going to beat Jeremiah worse than he's ever been beaten before. The camera cuts again to show Jason shirtless doing pullups on a tree branch So far all Jeremiah has done is kick me in my enormous penis. Ever since then though, throughout this feud I have been dominating him whether its on the mic or when I kicked his ass, Jeremiah has been my bitch this whole time and that's not something he's used to. He's panicking, he didn't think anyone on Carnage would ever be his fighting equal. If he were thinking rationally he'd know that challenging me to a match where there are no rules is like walking into a lion's den with hungry lions. I feel most at home in a match where I can do whatever I want. my first title win was me winning the Premium Championship in a Circus Deathmatch. It was one of the most brutal matches of that year, if I'm fucked up enough to come up with a match like that and willing to go through it, what do you think awaits you Jeremiah? The camera shows Jason fly fishing, standing knee deep in the water So many people are desperate for someone to shut Jeremiah up. What Buddy Ace said on Carnage is true for all of us, he spoke all of our thoughts. Someone needs to knock Jeremiah down a few pegs and I am the one capable of doing it. I'm not saying, I'm doing this for them. I am doing this for me because I don't care about anyone but myself. But the fact that I have the locker rooms' support instead of the champion is quite telling. What does that say about your ability to lead the locker room Flynn? Aside from your old stable and our balless wonder of a GM, Julius everyone is hoping that Jeremiah gets his ass kicked. The camera now shows Jason doing one handed push-ups shirtless with one arm behind his back Julius I hope you're paying attention to this match. Because when I'm done you're not gonna recognize Jeremiah Flynn. Believe me buddy, your Painmaker is going to need years of therapy after I'm done. And then, I'm turning my focus to you. Because you have become what you swore you would not. You are going to wish you never signed me, you are going to regret waking me up. You and Jeremiah are in for a rude awakening. Julius if you are really Jeremiah's friend then you'll let him know what he can expect. Because you know better than most what I am capable of. You know I am remorseless and evil. I really hope you come down for ringside cause I want you to watch me end Jeremiah's career. I want you to see a preview of what I plan on doing to you. The camera shows Jason sitting by a roaring fire at his campsite I know this is the biggest match of my career. Which is why I came back home because I want to be prepared for anything Jeremiah may throw at me. I need to make sure I am at my apex because I know Jeremiah will be at his. The camera shows Jason running on a hiking trail. The final clip is Jason sitting on a fallen tree in the flowing river Jeremiah Flynn. I want to say thank you. Because I'm smart enough to know I have to get better after this. I have to reach my next level whatever it may be. And for this huge win, for this huge stepping stone, I just want to say thanks man. I appreciate you being a glutton for punishment. Whipping your ass will be put to great use. I'll see you at Mayhem. The camera fades to black with Jason taking in the scenery of the Beartooth mountains
  8. I stood outside a small church on a hot and sunny Sunday morning, chewing on my bottom lip. Am I really about to do this? My parents would be furious if they knew but one good thing part no longer living at that prison was I no longer had to answer to them. Since I left I had been sleeping on the floor of Gunner’s basement. His mom didn’t care if I stayed with them for a while, as long as I helped out around the house. His dad, a product driver was due back any day now. Hopefully, he would be okay with the arrangement. I opened the door and stepped inside. The church lobby was bare except for a smiling elderly woman wearing a blue dress. “ Hello there!” She said walking over to me. “ Nice to see you, good to have you here!”I was taken slightly aback as she handed me a pamphlet. “ Have you been here before?” “ Uh no. Not much of a churchgoer. I’m just here to check it out” I said. “ By the way. I’m Josh.” “ Beth. Here, let me find you a seat!” The friendly woman said. “ That’s okay, I’m-“ I didn’t bother trying to finish my statement as the elderly woman hurried off. I surpassed a groan and walked after her. I followed her into a sanctuary full of green cushioned chairs in multiple rows. She led the way to a friendly-looking couple. Both the man and the woman had black hair, brown eyes and were of Hispanic descent. “ Bret, Veronica, this is Josh and he needs somewhere to sit, do you mind?” “ No, not at all!” Nicole said with a beaming smile and shaking Josh’s hand firmly. “ Welcome. First time here?” Bret asked. “ Yeah. Thought I’d check it out” I answered. “ Nice to meet you Josh,” Veronica said with a friendly smile. “Likewise.” The worship band began to play, causing the entire room to stop visiting with each other. Everyone in the church stood and began to sing along. Not to feel out of place I stood but didn’t sing. I felt the whole thing rather weird. Once the singing had concluded everyone talked to each once more. “ Josh?” I heard a familiar voice behind me. I turned around to see Brooklyn staring at me. “ What are you doing here?” She asked. “ I felt like dropping by,” I said. “ How’s your head?” She asked. “ I’ll live. Already hate not being in the ring.” “ I can imagine. How long are you out for?” “ Three months at least. The doctor who worked on me actually was the one that gave me the card and encouraged me to come here. Doctor Anderson.” “ Neil?” Brooklyn asked surprised. “ Yeah.” “ Imagine that. Small world huh? I wonder where he is.” Brooklyn muttered looking around. I spotted him talking to anothe man in a wool suit, blue eyes, and gray hair. “ There he is, excuse me” I said, walking towards the doctor. By the time I got there the other man has started talking to someone else. His face brightened when he saw me. “ Josh, how are you?” He asked shaking my hand. “ Good Doctor Anderson,” I said. “ Call me Neil. How’d it go with your family?” He asked. I winced “ I’d prefer not to get into that. They uh, weren’t very happy when they found out. They actually told me I had to quit or I had to move out. Which is why I am sleeping on a friend’s floor.” I don’t know what possessed me to tell this stranger about the shit hurricane my life had become. Neil shot me a look of pity, something I wasn’t exactly looking for. “ Hold on. There’s someone I want you to meet.” He turned around and spoke to the other man in a hushed whisper. He moved to the side as the other man walked up to me. “ Josh, I’m Howard Stein. I’m the senior pastor here” he said shaking my hand. “ It’s nice to meet you” I said, wondering just how many hands I was going to shake today. “ So, rough family situation?” He asked. “ That’s a damn understatement,” I responded then remembered I was in the house of God. “ Sorry I don’t mean any disrespect. I’ll… I’ll figure it out.” Howard raised an eyebrow “ I have to preach my sermon but don’t go anywhere. Find me after service. Will you do that?” I shrugged” sure. I’ve got nowhere to be.” I sat back down with Bret and Veronica and listened to Howard. The stuff he talked about sounded interesting I guess, not that I understood most of it. This was the first church service I had been to so whatever Howard was talking about might as well have been Greek to me. I tried to follow along in the Bible under my seat but I soon gave up, I was unable to pronounce a good portion of the multiple books, much less able to navigate it. I sat through the service, bowing his head along with the rest of the congregation as Howard said the final prayer of the service. Once it has concluded the members of the congregation stood and conversed amongst themselves, Howard found Josh once more. “ Thanks for waiting up,” Howard said “ You hungry?” “ I guess I could eat,” I replied. “ Okay, how about lunch? I’ll buy don’t worry.” I thought for a moment then shrugged “ Sure, why not.” Howard clapped me on the shoulder and guided me to the lobby. He introduced me to his wife, Jennifer and the three of us piled into Howard’s silver Jeep Wrangler and drove to a local favorite, The Montana Grill. We went inside and were seated in a booth. They ordered their drinks and appetizers then began to talk. “ So Josh, I heard you’re living with a friend due to some issues with your family?” Howard asked. “ Yeah, my parents and I got into a little spat. They found out I’m wrestling for Treasure State Wrestling and they’re not pleased about that. They want me to be an accountant and I can honestly say I can’t think of a worse career. So they said I had a choice. I could either stop wrestling and follow their plan for my life or I could leave. So I decided to leave.” Both Howard and Jennifer eyed me with looks of pity. “ Have you had contact with them since?” Jennifer asked. I shook my head, the thought of so much as seeing my parents again making me angry. “ After all the things they’ve done to me, I sincerely hope the next time I see them is when they’re on their deathbed, and even then, whether I’ll go see them or not is up for debate.” We paused our conversation to thank the waitress for bringing us our food and waited for her to walk away before resuming. Howard leaned back and rubbed his chin “ I don’t mean to make you upset but could it be your parents don’t want you wrestling because they don’t think it’s a profitable career?” “ I doubt that’s it. My parents really don’t care about their kids unless they do what they demand of them at all times. They’ve always been like that.” We continued talking as we ate our food. Howard and Jennifer kept inquiring about my situation and I would answer somewhat reluctantly. We finished eating and Howard paid the bill. We left the teeth and Howard pulled me to the side. “ Josh, I hope everything works out between you and your family,” he said giving me a business card. “ All of my contact information is there. If you need anything feel free to contact me.” “ I appreciate it,” I said shaking both Howard’s and Jennifer’s hands and said goodbye. I crossed the street from the restaurant and was going to buy a Peace Tea when a police car stopped in front of me and a cop got out. “ Are you Josh Norman?” He asked. “ Yeah why?” I asked, wondering why a cop would have a reason to talk to me. “ I’m going to need you to come with me.”
  9. I walked into my house hesitantly. I had never seen this house as home. To me, my home felt more like a prison. To me, TSW was my home, the people that lived here were less of his family than the people at TSW. Whether it was at the Shrine or at the wrestling school I was free to be me. Here, in this house, there was nothing but tension. Sighing I hung my jacket up and tried to tiptoe up to my room. However, my dad met me at the foot of the stairs. “ You’re late” he all but sneered at me. My dad had brown hair with gray mixed in, clean-shaven, and judgemental gray eyes. Ever since I was a kid I had never met his expectations. Every little league team I was on, I didn’t score enough points, I didn’t make enough catches, I didn’t play enough minutes, I wasn’t a starter. In school, it was the same way. If my grades were Bs he wanted them to be As. If they were As I had to have straight As, not that I never was able to achieve that. “ Your brother got accepted into Yale.” My dad continued. “ Cool,” I muttered not really caring. Just another accolade for the arrogant dick to make him further inflate his ego. “ We are going to Hawaii next Monday. We’ll be gone all next week.” “ I can’t go” I blurted out without considering a better way to tell him. “ I have work.” “ So take a week off.” My dad said, “ I shouldn’t have to tell you that but then again, with your grades, you’re not the brightest person living here.” “ I can’t take a week off. We are too short-staffed.” “ So you think you’re too good to come with your family on vacation, is that it?” “ No. I told you they have a big event coming up for work last night!” I said getting frustrated. My father glared at me “ fine, go ahead. Choose to spend time with those inbred hicks instead of your own family. But when you get back you’re grounded for the rest of the month.” He said before stalking off. I waited till he was out of view and flipped him off. I went up to my room and worked on my homework. I had just finished when my mother stride in. Didn’t knock, just walked in and glared at me. “ Show me your homework” she commanded. “ Would it kill you to knock?” I grumbled. She struck me across the face. “ How dare you talk back to me?! Show some respect!” My cheek stinging I handed her a stack of papers. She tore them from my hand and looked over them. She put them down and smirked at me. “ Since you deem work more important than congratulating your brother on his actual accomplishment, you can go ahead and work on all this again!” She said tearing up the papers. I clenched my jaw and said nothing, knowing what this was. It was her way of punishing me for choosing to not go to Hawaii with the rest of them. That’s all this was, her way to make me miserable. She turned around but stopped in my doorway. “ Lights out in fifteen.” Once she left I closed my door quietly and proceeded to throw whatever I could get my hands on swearing under my breath. Once I was done I sat in my bed and put my head in my hands. My parents were going to do everything they could to piss me off. Anytime I wanted to do anything they made me run this gauntlet of emotional abuse. I soon went to sleep, taking solace in the fact Sunday I’d be in my first PPV match this Thursday. I had been wrestling in TSW for five months, mostly just squash matches as they wanted to build me up as an unstoppable force. This was to ultimately lead to a match between myself and Denver City Championship Wrestling’s TV champion, Sheridan Müller. I had watched a few tapes of hers and I was in awe. She was capable of suplexing grown men twice her size and some times triple her body weight. With the thought of my future match coming up I drifted off to sleep. The rest of my week only got worse. My already large list of chores doubled in size, often times I wouldn’t finish until midnight. Add that on to the hours of homework I had to do, I was lucky to get five hours of sleep until I had to get up for school. The snide remarks my parents would constantly have made a permanent home inside my head. “ Josh!” Came the harsh reply. I woke up with a start. Travis had shaken me awake and was giving me a hard look. “ I told you to help set up the ring.” “ I did” I mumbled. “No, you said, yes sir, sat down and went to sleep.” “ Oh damn” I muttered and started to get up but Travis indicated that I should sit down. He looked around the wrestling school. “ Alright, people take a break, get out of here for now.” Once everyone has left, Travis pulled up a chair and sat in front of me. “ Son you alright?” “ Fine,” I said, unable to look him in the eye. “ Look me in the eyes,” he said. I did as I was told and found that I was unable to break Travis’ stare. “ I’ve known you since you were five years old. You have always been a good friend to Brooklyn, and truth be told I’ve always seen you as a son. I know when something is bothering you. Tell me, what’s wrong?” I sighed and leaned my head against the wall. “ My parents have been giving me absolute hell.” “ Do they know what you’re really doing here?” Travis asked. “ No but my walks on water brother got accepted into Yale. They want to go on vacation but when I told them I’m not going they took it as an invitation to make my life miserable. They keep on giving me a big list of chores, and it’s been keeping me up late.” Tristian said nothing at first then sighed” sorry to hear that. Go ahead and take today off. Be at the Shrine by noon Sunday. And if you ever need anything just tell me.” “ Thanks,” I said shaking his hand and leaving. I managed to make it to Sunday without having a mental breakdown. The prospect of a match this big was enough to give me hope, a small light at the end of the tunnel. And now I was here, at Night of the Fallen, my first TSW PPV. Not just any PPV, but a cross-brand PPV. More eyes, more exposure. I sat in the locker room, tightening a black knee pad. I stood up and exited, headed for the Gorilla position. Awaiting me was a 5ft 2 girl wearing black MMA shorts and a white top. Her orange hair was in a bun and she was wrapping black gloves on her hands. She and Brooklyn were laughing about something when I walked up to them. “ Hey Sheridan,” I said. “ Hey, how’s it going?” She said in her German accent. “ Pretty good. I’m looking forward to our match.” “ So am I. Or should I say, I look forward to throwing you around like a rag doll.” She said with a smirk and a wink.” You sure you’re fine with putting me over?” “ Yeah sure. Long as we have a good match.” Sheridan grinned “ I’m sure we can manage. Hope you’re ready cause we’re on first.” Just then Riot by Three Days Grace started to play. Brooklyn gave me a fist bump to wish me good luck before I walked through the curtain. I had never seen the Shrine so full, every space a person could sit it stand was occupied. The cheers from the crowd were overwhelming, they were more like roars of support. I climbed in the ring and waited for Sheridan. Surfacing by Slipnot began to play and the cheers grew even louder; Sheridan was very popular and it showed by the reaction the fans showed her. She got in the ring, flashed me a cocky grin and the bell rang. Things started to go wrong from the start. We went to lock up before she got behind me. She executed a German Suplex but something happened to cause me to land on top of my head. Sheridan had mounted me and was raining down fists for the fans. “ Shit Jason are you okay?!” She asked. I squinted at her, blood running down my chin. “ Well, I’m having a little trouble focusing and you busted my lip open.” I said, trying to keep my tone light. “ Shit!” Sheridan said. She backed up so the medial professional last could take a look at me. The fans started to boo, thinking they would call the match. I told the doctor I was fine and I could continue. I stood up and rushed Sheridan. “ German!” I shouted a little too loudly, surely the fans at the front row heard. She nodded and circled around me, grabbed my waist and suplexed me again. Again I landed on the top of my head. Our match didn’t get much better from there, in fact it got worse. I kneed Sheridan in the nose too hard, causing blood to spurt from her nose. Sheridan German suplexed me several more times, each time my vision grew fuzzier and fuzzier and I became less coherent. I’m not sure when the end came, towards the end Sheridan was forced to carry the match all on her own. The fans had soured on the match booing loudly. That was the worst part, the fact they didn’t like our match, how they seemed to hate it. “ Just stay down,” Sheridan whispered in my ear before hitting me with a Bridging German Suplex and the referee counted the three. As soon as the count has been made I felt arms helping me help out of the ring. By the time we reached the backstage area, I had passed out, unaware of everyone scrambling to get me help. “ Josh! Josh! You with us?!” I woke with a start and blinked onto the light. I was on my back, on a cot staring up at a crowd of faces. Sheridan, Brooklyn, Tristian, and a doctor were the four I could make out. “ What the?” I mumbled. “ You honestly had me worried,” Tristian said, “ right after your match I ran you to Billings Clinic.” “ Josh I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it!” Sheridan said. Her nostrils had tissues to block the bleeding and one of her eyes was swollen shut from when I elbowed it too harshly. “ It’s fine, nature of the business,” I said “ Looks like I did a number on you as well. Sorry.” I tried to sit up but the doctor held me down” easy Josh, I need to make sure you’re alright. “ “ I’m fine” I protested. “ I’ll be the judge of that.” I’m not sure how long I sat there being checked up on before the doctor shook his head. “ You’ve got a concussion son. Looks like you won’t be wrestling for a while.” “ How long?” I asked. “ Minimum three months. Hope you like coffee because you’re going to need to drink a lot of it tonight.” The doctor smiled sympathetically “ You’re going to have to stay up all night tonight. Luckily It’s just a minor one so once you heal you should be fine to keep wrestling. But I do need to call your parents so I can explain the situation.” I winced” I don’t suppose there’s any way I can talk you out of this?” “ Sorry son. I’ll be back.” I let out several curses as the doctor walked away. It seemed like an eternity before the doctor came back holding a phone. “ Someone wants to talk to you.” He said handing me the phone. Dreading what was to come I put the phone to my ear “ hello?” “ Josh” my mother’s voice was ice cold laced with venom. “ Hi mom” I said nervously. “ I’m coming to pick you up” was all she said with a click. I handed the doctor back his phone” I am so dead” I groaned. The doctor chuckled and started to walk away but stopped. He turned around and gave me a sympathetic smile. “ You know, it takes a special kind of man to pursue his dreams like what you’re doing. I actually wanted to be a singer in Nashville, but I was told I just didn’t have it. So I decided to become a doctor. There isn’t a day I don’t regret my choice.” The doctor walked back to my bed and reached in his pocket. It was a green and white card. I’m the card it said New Hope Church plus service times and other information. “ Not really my thing” I said. “ That’s what I said when I was your age. Look, I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m sure there’s a good reason you don’t want your parents to know you’re doing this. I’m not one to pry but going to that church helped me when I was going through a dark time in my life. And something tells me it may help you too.” “ I make no promises,” I said. I was soon discharged and met my mom in the waiting room. The temperature seemed to plummet as my mother walked up to me, disdain on her face. “ Get your worthless hide in the car. Now” she growled. Having no choice but to obey I left the hospital and got in the car. Neither me nor my mother spoke on the long car ride home. When we got home, she didn’t even look at me. She just got out and slammed the door shut. I sat in my seat a few times, willing to do whatever it took to not open the door. “ God why do you hate me?” I whispered before forcing myself to get out of the car. I walked inside the house to see my parents waiting for me. By the looks on their faces, I could tell I was in for it. “ So. By work you meant you were associating with those degenerates,” my father said. “ Yeah” I mumbled. “ Who do you think you are?” My mom hissed. “ You don’t do as your told, you don’t respect our rules! We have told you over and over again that you are going to be an accountant!” “ And I’ve told you multiple times that I don’t want that!” I said, anger wheeling in my voice. “ So what? You’re going to go around, wrestling?” My father asked, scorn in his eyes and mockery in his voice. “ Your brother and sister-“ “ Shut the hell up! They may be content in being your little puppets! But I’m not them!” I shouted, getting within inches of my dad’s face “ You can take the life you have planned for me and you can shove it.” “ Oh really?” My dad asked. “ Well if that’s how you feel you can leave. You can get out of my house and never come back. Or you can stay, learn your place in this family, and do what you’re told, and maybe I won’t regret the day you were born.” “ I’ll see you in hell,” I said before turning around and walking out of the house I had grown up in my whole life. I walked away, walked to the only safe haven I had ever known. The wrestling school. As I stood in the empty ring I lamented my sixteen years, everything I had gone through. “ What the hell am I even doing?” I asked the darkness.
  10. Thelastemperor


    Hey Flynn. Jeremiah Flynn A hard right hook strikes Flynn across the face, staggering him. Jason Ryan steps into frame and grabs Jeremiah by the throat. He roughly shoves the Universal champion into the wall. He punches him over and over again in the face Come on boy, show me the Painmaker, let me see him. Jason throws Jeremiah across the room and charges him, kicking him between the legs as hard as he can. Jeremiah goes down grimacing holding his crotch. Jason sets up a chair on top of Jeremiah and sits on it Read my lips simpleton. I. Am. Not. Fucking. Around! Jason grabs Jeremiah by the throat again and pounds him over and over again in the face. He stands up and walks out of frame as Jeremiah coughs and gets on his hands and knees. Jason comes back holding a hard covered book I hate having to use RA Salvatore's newest book like this but you just aren't getting the hint Jeremiah. Jason swings the book at Jeremiah's head as hard as he can, caving in the cover of the book Face down with another man beating your ass. I feel like I've seen this an awful lot Jeremiah. Jason grabs his steel rod "Helga" and waits for Flynn to slowly get to his knees. Once he does, Jason rams him right between the eyes. A trickle of blood runs down Jeremiah's face. Jason kneels beside Jeremiah and holds his head up by the hair and makes him look at the camera Hey Jeremiah, this "loser" you say isn't worth your time just kicked your worthless ass. You walk around here as if you're untouchable, as if you're the baddest man around. Well, I just proved that you're not as tough as you think you are. I just made you my bitch and I got to say, it's a nice look for you. You may be the Superman of BPZ but you just met your kryptonite. So here's what you're going to do. Name the time, name the place and I'll be there. And if you keep blowing me off, we're gonna have this talk again except next time I won't be so merciful. See you later bitch. Jason licks the blood trickling down Jeremiah's face and releases his head before walking off. Jason has made his point to the Painmaker, that he will not be ignored or made light of. How will Jeremiah Flynn respond?
  11. 1 The NXT group chat. Perhaps the funniest group chat I’ve ever been apart of. 2. When we would all unite in making fun of Bullet 3. The group chat for Hell in a Cell 2018. 4. My feud with Echo, the feud that helped me break through 5. Getting a second chance 6. My run with The Flock
  12. Thelastemperor

    Be a Man

    Jason is seen sitting in a rocking chair on the porch pof his farmhouse. A sleeping Border Collie lies at his feet as Jason rocks back and forth humming under his breath. He grins as a van pulls into his driveway Not who I was hoping for but it's a nice surprise A interview crew from TMZ jumps out of the van and walks towards Jason. The dog, smelling the scent of new people jumps to its feet, hackles raised, teeth bared. The reporter stops a few feet from Jason and talks in a nervous, wavering tone Mister Ryan, can we get a moment of our time please? Jason nods and places a hand on his dog's head Down girl The dog whimpers but does as Jason says. Jason smiles and puts his feet up on the railing You got a set on you to come to my neck of the woods son. To be honest I was hoping it'd be Jeremiah Flynn. I DMed a few days ago, saying we could settle this out of the public's eye if he wanted and gave him my address. I've been sitting out here for days with this here shotgun just hoping he'd show up. But, it looks like that yellow stripe down his back ain't just for show. Jason sets his shotgun down and lights a cigar So what are you doing here boy? I'm with TMZ and I was hoping I could have an interview. Normally I'd refuse due to my loathing of you parasites but I got a few minutes before I have to round up the cows for the night so I'll answer one question. The reporter looks as though he might protest but thinks better of it Okay. We saw you get in Jeremiah Flynn's face on Carnage and from the way you were speaking, it looked like you were challenging him to a match. Is that assumption correct? Jason chuckles and blows smoke at the reporter's face. He flicks his cigar a couple times and nods with a grin on his face Yes. Yes I did. And I'll go ahead and tell you why since you asked your one question. See, I hate Jeremiah Flynn. He disgusts me. Everything about him pisses me off. The one thing that pisses me off about him more than anything is how much he believes his own hype. He honestly thinks there is no oner badder, no one tougher than he is. But I know it's all smoke and mirrors, everything about Jeremiah is one big facade. Because the Jeremiah Flynn I thought I would get wouldn't have just hit me with a low blow, I went out there fully expecting to bleed. Instead, all I got was a kick to my enormous penis. Needless to say I was disappointed. I thought Jeremiah was the baddest man on Carnage, yet that was all he did. The smile slowly fades from Jason's face and is replaced with a look of rage Jeremiah Flynn.... Jeremiah Flynn... Jason clenches his fist, crushing his cigar Even that name is enough to piss me off! Jeremiah Flynn thinks he is the greatest thing to ever walk the earth and I will give it to him. He is very good at what he does. What happens to be bitching and moaning and throwing a tantrum until he gets what he wants. And if that doesn't work, he gets whatever dumbass he has working for him to do the work for him while he sits back. Ever since I have been here he has been the same unlikeable, unbearable, self absorbed, pretentious jackass! He is by far one of the worst human beings I have ever had the misfortune of meeting. Jeremiah Flynn walks around expecting, pretty much demanding everyone bow to him and play to his ego. And if anyone tries to stand up to him, he'll make sure they suffer for it. Jeremiah Flynn is a self-centered dipshit! And Jeremiah says Kenji is better than the rest of the rosterand when he beat Kenji he cemented himself as the best on Carnage. And despite everything I just said, despite all the things I just said about Flynn, personally I don't hate him. No I don't. I hate the fact that everyone is so enamoured with him, I hate the idea so many people think he's the best. You'd think he was Christ himself.That. That is what gets under my skin. I just want to punch him in his stupid face until every single tooth is knocked down his throat. Oh I almost forgot! I want to talk about how Jeremiah says he owes me nothing. I mean, back when The Flock was around, we could've easily sent him packing. We could have finished the job! but Necce told us to leave him be after Survivor Series. No matter because when me and Jeremiah fight, I will make damn sure I finish it. I will right that wrong! I will ensure Necce's mistake is atoned for! Jason has opened a carton of cigarettes now and is chain smoking them as he talks rapidly A great sin was committed that night. By letting Jeremiah stay, Necce cursed the rest of us. We have all had to endure this prick run around with his buddies thinking they're just so special when there's gonna be another group just like them in a few months doing the same thing. Hell Jeremiah may end up leading that group too! Jeremiah Flynn, I know you're watching because your ego won't let you miss anything that has your name involved. You never gave me a yes or no answer if we are going to fight at Carnage's over hyped PPV. Perhaps you dont't think I am with your time, I'd be willing to lay down money that is what you are thinking. Here's the thing buddy. Me and you are going to fight one way or another. It can be sanctioned by BPZ, you can come over to my place and we can settle it here, I can drive to your house, we can meet in an empty Wendy's parking lot for all I care. I just want to beat the hell out of you. Which is why I am saying for once in your life, have some balls and fight me. For once in your life Jeremiah, be a man! I don't care what you've done, Jeremiah Flynn you may be the most vain and narcissistic person I have ever met but you can bet by the time this is over I will make a man out of you. You may be a spineless, pale pathetic walking talking glass cannon but somehow I will make a man out of you. Jason opens up a fresh can of chew and throws some in his mouth. He spits and glares at the camera Trust me when In say this is not a game. I am not here to play games. But I know you Jeremiah. You think that no one is on your level, that no one can touch you. You are the almighty Jeremiah Flynn, no one could eeeevver be on your level. Jason grins sinisterly and leans in to the camera That tune will be a hard one to sing next time we meet. Cause next time I see you, I'm going to leave you lying on your back. Cause you're in my neck of the woods and High Noon is coming up. And you know what they say about the Gunslinger. When it comes to High Noon, I always got one in the chamber and I don't miss. I'm not aiming for a title shot, I ain't aiming to take your place, I ain't even aiming for your respect. I'm aiming for your head boy. You hear me you wretched slug? I'm looking to Play. For. Blood. The reporter clears his throat nervously Th... thank you Jason for the interview. I'll uh, I'll look forward to Jeremiah's response. Jason says nothing as he watches the reporter walk away but lowers his mouth to his dog's ear. Sic him The dog barks and rushes after the reporter. The camera stays on Jason who has a smirk on his face. The sounds of a man screaming in fear and pain and the angry barking of a dog are heard off camera. Jason takes one final drag and looks at the camera Alright lunger. Let's do it
  13. Awesome review as always. How about HHH and Mick Foley at Royal Rumble and No Way Out?
  14. I sat in the small locker room, putting my ring gear on. I still couldn’t believe it. I was about to debut in my first official match in my career. Granted I had wrestled at a few street fairs and other small events but this was the first match I had for an official promotion. Granted it wasn’t a big promotion by any means. Treasure State Wrestling ran their shows from the Shrine Auditorium and was a very small promotion, used for introducing budding wrestlers to the wrestling world. My opponent tonight, Nick Garcia graduated from the school before I started training and had helped train me. Nick was sitting across from me, finishing up a phone call before giving me a friendly smile. He was a 6ft 3 guy with a shaved head and blue eyes that always had a twinkle of mischief to them. “ You ready for this buddy?” “ Yeah man,” I said quietly. “ Okay is this is what we are going to do. I’m going to open the show and then you’ll come out, interrupt me and when I asked you who you are, say nothing, just smack me in the face as hard as you can. Our match will go from there.” “ I’ll be putting you over. It’s a little thing we do to welcome new members on the roster.” “ I appreciate it. Thanks.” I said trying to convey how grateful I was in my tone. “ No problem man. Once you beat me, grab a microphone and just say “ I’m Jason Ryan” then leave. I nodded and Nick patted me on the shoulder “ I’ll see you out there.” Nick stood up and left the small locker room. I leaned back and looked at the ceiling still unable to believe it. The Shrine Auditorium while not being big was a very notable venue here in Montana. It was home to the annual circus and served as a gateway of sorts to aspiring musicians. And here I was, awaiting my debut. I kept pinching myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. After a few moments, I stood up and left the locker room. I walked left and walked in the hallway until I came to a flight of stairs. I climbed them and was greeted by Brooklyn and Travis. “ Hey Josh you ready?” Travis asked me. I nodded and looked at the black curtain set up in the door. The threshold to my future. I could make out Nick’s voice from the auditorium. “ It’s alright to be nervous. Just remember you’re ready for this. Just breathe in and out. You’re ready for this” Travis said, putting a hand on my shoulder. “ Thanks. For everything.” I said taking a deep breath like he suggested and tried to force myself to calm down. Brooklyn slugged my shoulder and smirked. “ Go ahead and warm up the crowd so I can knock them dead later.” “ Nah, I think I’ll just go ahead and steal the show. Good luck following my match.” “ I hate following you, it’s too much work,” Brooklyn said, making a face at me. I chuckled and made a face back at her as Riot by Three Days Grace. I gave Brooklyn a sarcastic salute before stepping through the curtain. The auditorium had two sets of bleachers that only had three rows. While Treasure State Wrestling isn’t a large promotion it still drew well due to the reputation of Travis. I walked down the aisle staring right at Nick as the commentary team questioned who I was and why I was out here. I got in the ring and walked up to Nick who just gave me a look that was a mix of confusion and arrogance. “ And I take it you are my opponent. And who the hell are you?” I said nothing but smacked him as hard as I could. He recoiled and held his cheek. He gave me a murderous look and told the referee to ring the bell. As soon as the bell rang he drove me into the corner with lefts and rights. I sank down in the corner as he stomped away at me until the referee pushed him off me. Nick shoved the referee away and walked towards me but I met him with a Superkick. Nick stumbled back, holding his chin. I exploded out of the corner with a clothesline. I mounted Nick and punched him over and over again. I hauled Nick to his feet and hit him with a neck breaker. I went for the pin but only got one count. Nick rolled me up as I sat up and nearly got the three count but I managed to kick out. Before I could recover Nick locked me into an armbar. I played up the pain for the crowd as I drugged for the ropes. Nick gave the crowd a wicked grin. “ This is too easy!” He yelled for which he got a mixed reaction. I managed to fight out of the armbar and got to my feet. I dodged a clothesline and hit him with a DDT. I stood up and put him in an Indian Deathlock. Nick yelled and tried to reach the ropes but I dragged him in the middle of the ropes. Nick rolled through, causing me to crash headfirst in the ropes. Nick grabbed my head and smashed my head into the turnbuckle. He went to do it again but I elbowed him multiple times so he would let go. He backed off and I whipped Nick into the corner. I punched him over and over again then backed away. I took a deep breath and went for a splash on. I’ll but he got out of the way, causing me to collide with the turnbuckle. As I stumbled back, Nick rolled me up for the pin but I kicked out at two. Nick got me to my feet and hit me with his finishing move, a spiking butterfly DDT. He went for the pin but I managed to get a shoulder up. Nick picked me up and went for it again but I pushed him away and hit him with a bicycle kick. I picked Nick up and hit a series of suplexes then covered him. Nick kicked out of two and I immediately put him in a headlock. Nick tried to force his way out, clapping to get the crowd more into the match. Nick elbowed me in the stomach a few times. I backed up and Nick bounced against the ropes. He ran into a dropkick from me. I hurried to my feet and hauled Nick to his feet, putting him in a waistlock. I hit him with a waistlock lariat for which I hadn’t thought of a name for yet. I waited for Nick to get on his knees before running past him, bounced against the ropes then hit Nick with a running knee to the back of the head, a move I’m thinking of keeping as my finisher at least for now and calling it the Desti-Knee. Anyway, I went for the cover and got the three count. As my theme played I got to my feet as the fans clapped. I leaned against the ropes, seeing the fact I was exhausted. After a few moments, I grabbed the microphone and leaned over Nick. “ I’m Jason Ryan,” I said breathlessly before dropping the mic on his unmoving body. I got out of the ring and went through the curtain. As soon as I emerged the others started clapping and congratulating me on the match. I shook hands and politely thanked them before heading down to the locker room. I grabbed my tower, stripped off my gear, and hopped in the shower. The water was lukewarm at first then turned cold but I didn’t care. I was on a high of sorts, my first match had been a blast. I leaned my head against the wall, letting the water cool down and cleanse my body and closed my eyes, enjoying the moment. Little did I know the storm that was headed my way.
  15. My alarm woke me up too early for my liking. I opened my bleary eyes and glanced at it. Seven in the line, time to get ready. I groaned and clumsily slapped the buttons hoping to turn it off. “ Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up.” I mumbled sleepily. I laid awake for a minute just staring at my ceiling and my bare walls. I would have loved to have my secret collection of wrestling posters adjourn them but my parents would flip out if they saw them. I got my set of clothes from my closet and stumbled to the bathroom. After showering, brushing my teeth, combing my short brown hair, rubbing my brown eyes, and getting dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. Any hope of having a good morning before the first day of my Sophmore year was dashed when I saw who was at the table. My older brother by two years, Mark was eating dry toast, his hazel eyes reading the Wall Street Journal, his black hair combed back. He had always been obsessed with being rich and read the Wall Street Journal religiously. Even though he is my brother I always found him to be an insufferable dick. Across from him was my older sister, Noel, little miss perfect. She had our mom’s long brown hair and green eyes. Straight As, head of several clubs, played varsity in basketball and softball. According to our parents, she walked on water. I didn’t bother to say good morning to my siblings. We have never been close, me and my sister just don’t have anything in common and me and my brother genuinely don’t like each other. I grabbed oatmeal and made myself a bowl. The only sound was the sound of the microwave as it heated up my breakfast. Once it beeped I grabbed the bowl and sat at the table. I ate quickly, grabbed my backpack, and left my house. I didn’t bother asking my brother for a ride to school, it’d be a cold day in hell before Mark did anything for me and I didn’t want to sit in silence in a car with my sister. So I started walking, thinking about how I really needed to find a way to get a car. Luckily I lived only a half-hour walk from school and it was a nice, crisp, sunny fall Montana morning. So I didn’t mind walking, after all, Montana’s crazy weather system meant it would start snowing before long. I managed to make it to school. It was a big old red brick building that has been around for over a hundred years. Everyone said it was haunted, supposedly the bleachers in the second-floor gym collapsed with a bunch of kids sitting in the bleachers. I personally don’t believe the story since I’ve never seen it documented anywhere. Of course, many others said they’ve seen ghosts. In fact, a few of my friends had gotten suspended for going ghost hunting in the school after classes had ended. I ignored the general chaos around me and went to my locker. I entered my combination and grabbed my textbook. First class was Homeroom and after that, it was Algebra 2, Biology, World history then Lunch, Weight Lifting, Geography and Government, and then English. I groaned as I read my schedule, I already knew I was going to hate half my classes. It’s gonna be a long year I thought glumly. I went to each of my classes, which was really just the teachers explaining what their respective group of students could expect for the year. To me, it sounded like a lot of work that I really wasn’t motivated to do. I inwardly groaned just thinking of all the schoolwork I was gonna have to do. I sighed in relief once the final bell of the day rang. I hurried to my locker and dumped my books in my locker before hurrying out of the school. After buying a coke at a nearby gas station I started to walk to Travis’ farm to go to “ work”, as far as my parents knew, I worked as a farmhand for him. It took me an hour and fifteen minutes to walk from the school to the farm. By the time I got there everyone else that attended the wrestling school was working out. Brooklyn, who was also a trainer, made me run laps the entire time I was there for showing up late. It was really because she seems to think she’s a Drill Sargent but is really a sadist. That being said, Travis gave me a ride after training back to my house, which is good because I honestly don’t think I could manage the walk to my house. As soon as I got home I hopped in the shower and went to my room. I shut and locked the door, although I don’t think locking it was needed. My parents don’t normally talk to me unless I’ve done something wrong. I collapsed on my bed and fell asleep. I woke up when to the sound of my phone going off. I sat up and fumbled for my phone in the darkness that had replaced the sunlight that shone through my bedroom window. “ Hello?” I mumbled. “ Hey Josh it’s me,” Travis said. “ Hey Travis what’s up?” I asked, swinging my legs over the side of my bed and rubbed my eyes. “ Just wanted to let you know that not this Wednesday but next Wednesday you’re debuting on Treasure State Wrestling cause I need an opponent for Nick Garcia cause Frankie Mendoza is hurt.” My eyes widened at this and my grogginess vanished. I had been training for six months now in the hopes I would actually get to wrestle on Travis’ show. “ Thank you. Thank you so much!” I said unable to contain my excitement. “ You’re welcome kid. You’ve improved a lot since you started training. You’re ready for this. I’ll talk to you more about the match tomorrow when I see you. Have a good night.” I sat there frozen after a few seconds Travis hung up. I couldn’t believe it. A huge grin appeared on my face and I jumped out of bed and did a stupid dance for celebration. Once I was done I got back in bed and tried to fall back asleep, wishing next Wednesday was tomorrow.

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