Once upon a time…

By: Sahara

Date: 20th Jul 2021

Once upon a time… It was the mid-1990’s — I know, that was like, forever ago — and I remember it being extraordinarily hot and dry that Summer. Some kinda drought, I guess. I didn’t know much about the environment or any of that at the time, we were just happy gettin’ 8 miles per gallon cuz gas was like 95 cents a gallon. I was just a wide eyed angsty teen without a care in the world, wearin’ my favorite Nirvana “penis kid” shirt with a flannel tied around my slender little waist, complete with my untied Doc Martens with that badass yellow stitching and some frayed up jean shorts. Just, trust me, ya had to be there to appreciate the style. Anyway, I was part of the ring crew at a long defunct wrestling organization by the name of ‘who the fuck cares anymore’ that my parents helped run at the time, and my primary job was mopping up the blood n’ sweat between matches. I didn’t get paid much, but growin’ up where I did, I was happy to get anything considering I felt famous gettin’ to hang backstage at the shows. So anyway, we were all backstage shootin’ the shit, and I blurted out that I wanted to be a wrestler someday, so this fat fuck promotor overhears me and chimes in after he bellows out a rather loud gaffaw–

”You? A wrestler? You’re to be seen, little girl, NOT heard. Now go mop up and get back here and stay outta the fookin’ way! And lemme be honest with you, cuz you seem to have these illusions of grandeur runnin’ around in that little blonde brain of yours. We all see you goin’ out there on the rampway while we’re settin’ up and pretendin’ like you’re some big shot wrestler. Lemme tell ya somethin’, the only way you’ll ever be walkin’ down that aisle is if you do it as a valet or in your skivvies, which is the most you could ever hope to accomplish in this industry, and just lookin’ at you, it’s more than likely you’ll end up another rat.”

I remember it like it was yesterday. I could practically see the venom dropping out of that fat fucks mouth as he spewed that cold hearted shit at me. Needless to say, those words were etched into my little blonde brain that day, and have remained there ever since. Now, I’ll be honest … I had no idea what the fuck a rat was at the time. I thought he was callin’ me a snitch or somethin’. Sahara cleared her throat and let out a self-deprecating laugh. He wasn’t. We all know what he meant by rat. But lookin’ back? As cold hearted as that shit was, he ended up bein’ right. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy. I mean, who was I kiddin’? Back then? A girl lookin’ like me goin’ out there and actually fighting?! I mean, could you imagine tellin’ a little girl somethin’ like that these days? She let out a mocking little laugh. Skin and sin sells, baby. For better or worse, it was what it was. Now, I know what you’re thinking; This is the part of the story where that little girl has her Hallmark movie moment, right?! This is where that little pep-talk lit a fire in her belly and she rose to the occasion to put the first cracks in that glass ceiling?! Yeah, well, no … not exactly. When I finally convinced them to give me a shot and let me go out there to show ‘em what I could do — the result of a lifetime of training with my brothers, sweatin’ and bleedin’ all over cuz they wanted to show their baby sister she didn’t belong — ya know what they told me?! They told me to strip down to my bra and panties, or I wasn’t goin’ out there, cuz they got a line of other chicks that would. So I was left with a choice, either strip down and go out there, or stand up for myself n’ fight–

Okay, Sahara, NOW we get our Hallmark moment! Right?!

No.

Now, I want you to fully understand something; I once overdosed on a mix of painkillers and molly, passed out and damn near froze to death on the streets of Boston. That may have been the lowest night of my life, but goin’ out there in my skivvies? That was the second worst night of my life. You heard me right, the second worst, just … bare with me. We were puttin’ on a hell of a match, despite our ‘ring attire’, but no one in that audience cared. No matter what we did, the only chant we got was a pretty thunderous, “show your tits” … and believe me when I tell ya that felt like the longest 8 minutes of my life. I felt like crawlin’ under the ring and dying. I felt stupid and embarrassed for goin’ out there like that.

Sahara let out a deep drawn out sigh. And then I got paid. And apparently, that portion of the show was so well received, they wanted me to do it again. Only when I hesitated, they took me aside and quietly offered me more money than most of the guys workin’ the shows were makin’. That was real hush-hush at the time. Despite feeling like total shit goin’ out there and embarrassing myself, I stood there with those crisp hundred dollar bills in my greedy little hand and I swallowed my pride and took the fucking money. I embarrassed myself that night and every night thereafter that I went out there and sold my body to drunk frat boys that wanted to fuck me… So I ain’t gonna stand here and pretend I was one of the pioneers that helped shatter that “glass” ceiling that put men and women on equal footing in this business. And I say “glass” in quotes because it was more like a reinforced diamond plated adamantium ceiling. So my hats off to all the stronger women that did the right thing back then, which allowed me to eventually do what I do now. I took the easy road, or so I thought at the time. I sold out and took the money, and as bad as that sounds, like I said — that wasn’t even the worst I’d feel. Wait, Sahara, where the hell is our happy ending? I remember that moment, too. Only it wasn’t all that happy. It might be the last time I ever felt true empathy for someone. I was at a Dunkin’ Donuts, because that’s the kinda coffee us Chicago Southsiders drink. I didn’t know what the fuck a venti frap with soy and stevia was back in those days. So anyway, I’m standing in line and I feel a little tug on my shirt. I turned around half expecting a frat boy to feed me some eye-rolling cheesy line, but it wasn’t a frat boy. It was a little kid. She couldn’t have been more than seven or eight at the most, and there she was holding hands with her mother, tuggin’ at my shirt to get my attention. Sahara lets out a downtrodden sigh. I’ll never forget it, when that little girl looked up at me — all the hope in the world gleaming in her bright blue eyes — she told me something we all dream of hearing; I wanna be like you someday. Only for me, those innocent little words were something out of a nightmare. What should have been an amazing moment was the culmination of my embarrassment. She wanted to be like me. A glorified fucking stripper posing as a wrestler. I swear to God I could hear my heart crack. Before I started crying, I just walked out of there without saying a word.

Now THATthat was the worst day of my life.

That little girl broke something in me that day. Something I could never fix. I wish I could tell you it woke me up, and changed me for the better, but it didn’t. It made things worse. All because I let one fat fuck promoter get into my head and dictate the start of my wrestling career. When I returned to the ring many years later, sure I did it with my clothes on, but all I wanted to do was hurt people. That’s why it was never about winnin’ and losin’ for me, it was about making people remember me for something other than being a stripper. It was about making amends to wrestling history. It was about making them pay for what they’d done. I do this for that little girl. Sahara lets out a laugh– No, not the one at Dunkin’ Donuts that wanted to be like me. The one in that faded Nirvana shirt with the flannel tied around her slender little waist that let others convince her of what she could or couldn’t do… I wish I could go back and apologize to her, but I can’t.

What I can do is make sure that NEVER happens to her again.

And that all happened, once upon a time…

~~~~~

It was a bit odd living in an all-encompassing building, owned by the company you work for. Not to mention, with eyes seemingly on you at all times. It kinda killed the work/life balance thing companies seem to brag about these days. Being here felt like you were on the clock 24/7, and anything could happen at any time. Need to visit payroll? Same building. Human resources? Same building. I suppose there is something to be said about working from home, and how many wrestlers ever get to say that?! Sahara sometimes thought she’d be better off getting an apartment somewhere else in New York like some of the others were doing, but figured with rental prices skyrocketing, that’d eat into her disposable income, and for what? To make some other jagoff landlord rich?

No thanks.

Speaking of human resources, they’d called earlier this morning and requested Sahara report to their main office at 10am sharp. As she walked the halls, the blonde looked around at the various cameras with a smile, though in reality, her nerves were quite frayed given the sudden urgency of this meeting. The only thing she could think of that could prompt a call from HR was that physician in the infirmary must have complained about her behavior during the post show physical.

She sighed.

Figures I’d get in trouble for that, while Dane and dumbshit cause nothing by problems for days on end and get away with it.

Sahara took a deep breath as she approached the large frosted glass doors to the Human Resources department and opened them.

”Sahara, right on time. Come in. Come in.” She motioned to a small private room off the corner of the main office. ”Right through there.”

The woman seemed like a run of the mill employee with a warm, pleasing voice. Dressed professionally, but a bit on the boring side. Perfectly suited for HR. As the woman opened her mouth, Sahara blurted out, ”Before we begin, I totally wasn’t hitting on that infirmary physician–“

The woman looked at her with a slightly confused look, ”Huh?”

Sahara raised a brow in response, ”What?”

”You were saying something about hitting on an Infirmary Physician?”

Sahara paused for a second and shook her head, ”Um, no, I wasn’t.” She cracked a nervous smile and quickly changed the subject, ”So, then … what was it you called me here for?”

The woman shook her head, ”Well, that explains the ‘confused bunny’ meme thing Miss F warned me about…”

”The wha?!”

The woman shook her head and motioned across the table, ”Nothing. Nevermind. Please, Sahara, have a seat. You’re probably wondering why we called you down here today.” The woman tapped on a folder in front of her. ”Cross promotion! And you’re our lucky winner!”

Sahara again seemed slightly confused as she repeated, ”Cross promotion?”

”Yes, indeed. With the opening of FIGHT and our shows making headlines on various sources, a few media outlets around the country called to inquire as to what we’re all about. And given your credentials, it was deemed you’re the perfect candidate for the job! You’re recognizable, you know how to talk to the media, and quite frankly, you’re easy to look at. So…” The woman unfolded the folder in front of her and pulled out some papers, ”Here is your travel and media itinerary–“

”What, what? What about Venom?” ”Venom? Forget Venom. I mean, if you have business on the show this week, take care of it but be packed and ready to go as you’ll be leaving Sunday on this media tour. Think of this like a paid vacation. You’ll be appearing on some talk shows, sports podcasts, you know the routine. First class airfare, five star hotels, and you’ll be paid in full by FIGHT for fulfilling these obligations, and you won’t even have to step into a ring!”

There was clear apprehension in her voice, ”But what about the momentum I got goin’ here?! I mean, I just made my debut and I got myself ranked this week … if I’m not booked for the next two weeks–“

The woman shook her head, ”Trust me, the C-suite isn’t going to let this derail your momentum, if anything, they’ve taken notice which is why they choose you for this. Look at it this way, you’re not even a title holder and they’re choosing to make you one of the faces of FIGHT.”

This is insane.

”So, this folder contains everything you need to know, and a copy has been emailed to you at your corporate address. If you run into any issues with the airlines or hotels, you’ll contact travel directly, and all the contact information you need is in here. Let me make something clear, everything will be taken care of for you, and a couple of FIGHT personnel handlers will be traveling with you to prepare you for the shows you’ll be appearing on. Just relax and have some fun, this is nothing you haven’t done before.”

Sahara merely nodded as the woman folded up all the papers and handed them over to her.

”You okay?” The woman seemed to be seeking some sort of reassurance from the confused looking blonde.

”Uh, yeah, I’m good. I think I got it.”

”You think?”

”No, I got it, I just … wasn’t expecting this when I got called down to HR today–“

The woman stood up and motioned out the door, ”Yeah, you kinda made that clear when we started this conversation–“

It was right around here where Sahara stopped paying attention to whatever it was she was saying. Her head was spinning. But that didn’t stop a crooked little smile from forming on her face.

Good things were starting to happen to the Crimson Queen for the first time in a long time…