Scene One – The Uninvited
* Silence fills the dark hallways of the small old now abandoned recreational hall. I slowly move in the darkness, the only light coming from a small flashlight clenched in my fist, I wrack my brains in an attempt to remember where the breaker was, something I should be familiar with considering before I even started wrestling I’d be the one flipping the switches for the various lighting. Thankfully my memory began to kick in and things started becoming vaguely familiar in the darkness. I slowly navigate my way to the circuit box and flip the switch, a few lights turn on and illuminate the mass amount of dust in the air. The room continues to brighten as the halogen lights warm up. I look around the hall, soaking it in… basking in it… this was my first home, the “Midland Beach Recreational Hall” just a few blocks from where I grew up as a child. As I twirl and drink in my surroundings I have to admit I’m a bit overcome by sadness knowing the place isn’t open to the public anymore. My mind fluctuates back in time, me as a little boy sitting in the first row, my face gleaming as I enjoy my seat right next to the lousy announcers, but at that time I’ll admit, those lousy announcers and the League of crappy wrestlers that inhabited the backstage area… they were my gods. I’d arrive hours before the show to ensure a good seat even though most of the time the place was more than half empty. I remember being in awe as I’d get an autograph or lecture from the likes of Richard Michaels, Andy Ridge or Tony Dangerous. I blink as I am thrust back into the present, staring now at broken seats, scorched walls from young hoodlums and shattered windows. *
Michael: People don’t know when they have a good thing…
* I sit down on the edge of the elevated stage and consider what this place once was, and if it could possibly return to its glory days, how wonderful it could be to bring a new age of local wrestling and even use my connections to bring more famous names to the place that once captivated my heart and sent me on my path of wrestling righteousness. *
Michael: It could be a bad idea, but probably not the worst one I’ve ever made.
* I stand back up and walk around the seating area looking at the stage from different angles, scoping it out, pondering in my head about this decision, as I do so I am reminded of another decision, I pull a slip of paper out of my pocket, unfolding it to be a check… a check in the amount of ten thousand dollars. Obviously this money could help some in purchasing and renovating the old building… but at what cost? How justified would it be for me to use tarnished money, money that would be earned by defiling the industry in which I care for so much, how could I possibly use money from such a situation to try and inspire the next generation that professional wrestling is a worthwhile and wonderful endeavor. I myself would be the epitome of a hypocrite in such a situation. I highly doubt that I’d be able to live with myself in such a situation. I love this industry; I eat, sleep, and breathe wrestling. I fought my way from the bottom up and earned my spot amongst the greatness that I’ve shared the squared circle with. I take another look down at the check but decide to fold it before sliding it back into my pocket. I drop my head slightly as I walk to the backstage area and flip the breaker, once again engulfing the small arena in darkness. *
Scene Two – Clans, Plans and Trans…vestites?
* I sit with my laptop in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the local library, a search engine open on my web browser. I stare blankly at the computer screen, puzzled, at a loss for words, or thoughts for that matter, my goal was to sit and research as much as I possibly could about my opponent, figuring the library would be a quiet suitable place with unlimited resources… boy was I wrong. Unfortunately I neglected to realize the proximity of this library to New Dorp High School, and also failed to assume that the library would be a popular afterschool “hangout”. My eyes dart back and forth between the obnoxious youths that surround me, no respect for those around them, honestly I’d love to teach these jackasses a lesson or two in behavior and respect. You see, I believe respect is warranted from any and all those who are beneath you, and considering the things I’ve accomplished with my life, I’d say that there are a fair amount of people beneath me, present company especially. My eyes roll as my head feels like it’s going to explode when suddenly a voice rings out to me. *
Voice: You… you’re Michael Santiago.
* I focus my eyes on the source of the voice, a teenage boy, about five foot seven, medium build… albeit a bit nerdy. *
Teenager: I’m Carter.
Michael: What’s up?
* The teenager looks around at his obnoxious peers before looking back at me a bit puzzled. *
Carter: What are you doing here?
Michael: Well actually I was hoping to score some jailbait, some of these tight high school asses.
* The teenager looks at me kind of intimidated and seemingly concerned. *
Michael: I’m kidding… I’m actually here trying to do some research on an upcoming opponent.
Carter: You’re trying to research Impact Inc.? But why? You’ve already beaten both of them in singles competition, so has Odin.
* I smirk at the kids’ knowledge, a bit refreshing to meet a legitimate fan, especially one from my hometown. *
Michael: No, not Impact Inc. I wouldn’t waste my time or energy researching those two hacks. I’m actually trying to do some research on a Ariana London.
* Carter looks at me with a very confused look on his face, and also what seems to be a bit of fear. *
Carter: She’s good… but what does she have to do with you? She’s a member of the “Experts.” I’m sure I don’t know the specifics on your day to day life but I am a huge fan of yours and I know your outlook on the Experts and that you stand firm on never wrestling there.
* I smirk again, I see a lot of myself in this kid, maybe he could prove useful. *
Michael: You’re right about that much, I’d never wrestle as part of the Experts. I’ve actually been paired up with her in the Roughkut Invitation Tournament.
* Carter’s eyes widen as a look of joy overcomes his face. *
Carter: I had no idea you were going to be in this year’s tournament. I remember when you were robbed in the Roughkut Invitation IV. Are you sure you won’t be screwed again?
Michael: I consider myself wiser this time around, I’ve learned the boundaries of trust and have realized it’s to be owned not granted. I know there is definitely something under wraps and that I am going to really have to keep my eyes open throughout.
Carter: What do you think is going on?
* I pause for a moment, knowing that it really wasn’t a matter of what I thought was going on, but actually a matter of what I knew was going on, my hand shifts to my side as I feel the check in my pocket, and for the first time come to the realization that according to the letter everyone in the tournament was given the same offer and if that’s the case there’s the chance that Ariana would take the money, meaning that she will be trying to make the match flop. If that’s the scenario it will be a cakewalk to beat her. But how to know if she’ll be taking the deal? *
Michael: What do you know about Ariana London?
Carter: Well in my personal opinion she’s not as good of a wrestler as you, but she is good. I really only started following her because I thought she was hot.
* I quirk an eyebrow. *
Michael: So she’s hot?
Carter: I think so, but you shouldn’t let it distract you, you can’t underestimate her.
Michael: Tell me more about her background, what type of person she is…
Carter: Well it’s kind of a complicated, a bit unconventional to be honest. Some say she’s a Siren, that she was born into this underground order called “The Eternal Circle” that dates back to the 1600’s.
* I give the kid an awkward look as I take a step back, trying to verify if I heard him correctly. *
Michael: So you’re telling me that this woman is supposed to be a half bird, half human sea bound creature from Greek Mythology?
Carter: So the story goes.
Michael: Of course and it makes perfect sense, she decided that wrestling was the prime landing zone for her to explore her other options after somehow escaping her restrictions of the sea as a Siren. What a load of horse snork, it doesn’t even make sense.
Carter: Well regardless of her back story, she’s cutthroat and a very good wrestler.
* I smirk, having heard what I felt to be the coup de grace, “She’s Cutthroat” more than likely she’d be willing to take the bribe if she’s out for herself. This changes the outlook of everything if she’s going to be trying to make the match look bad, she’s going to assume the same from me and I can use that opportunity to easily capitalize. *
Carter: Are you alright?
Michael: Oh I’m more than alright, I’m ecstatic actually, this first round is going to be a cakewalk. London is going down without much more than a whimper because she will have no idea what’s in store for her going into this match. It will be easy as slapping her fragile frame into the Santiago Death Lock and making her scream as I break her threshold of pain, and as she writhes and squirms I’ll consider if I want to be a merciful god for the Siren wannabe. But listen kid, I have to get going, thanks for everything. I’ll catch you around sometime.
* I turn and walk away from the kid as I make my way to the exit of the library. *