Patience Is A Virtue (Part 2 of 5)
By: Shawn Warstein
Date: 13th Oct 2021
Slowly I open my eyes, but am met in a pitch black room rather than a sun filled master bedroom. It takes my eyes a second to adjust but it was all for nothing. Surrounded by nothing buta glimmer of light off in the back. I stand up and crack my neck and speak in a soft tone.
“As I walk through the valley in the shadow of death. There has never been a more appropriate line uttered in the history of the universe. Go for a journey with me Brandon, it will all make sense shortly.” I face the camera and wave towards it with a smile. I begin while walking towards the light.
“It’s fitting isn’t it? How you and I came to this situation. How we both went about it in our own special ways. You boast and brag constantly about how you are the one to be feared. How you’re the best thing to ever grace a wrestling ring. How everyone should take a knee and kiss the ring.“
“Then there’s my methodology. I just do what I do. Every Company. Every wrestler. Every Fan. They all eventually come to grips with the fact that I am the one. It must really bother you Brandon that you’re not the big bad bully anymore. How one man could simply take your existence and crater any credibility you ever had. You can sit there and talk and talk about nothing, but the brass tacks of it all is…” I tap my temples a few times and then hold a hand to my ear. Cupping it for added effect. “Now it’s all falling on deaf ears. It’s slowly losing all of its muster. I’ve seen many men like you before, but you’ve never encountered one like me. I’m one of a kind. For all of your theatrics don’t scare me. They don’t rattle me to the core like you think they should.“
“You’re basically every single theatre kid who went through an emo phase. Down to the black fingernails and obtuse tattoos. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a body full of tattoos too, but I’ve never hidden myself. Everyone knows what I am, and what I’ve done. This match will prove your ignorance. Will Brandon do his research? Or will he spout off at the mouth once more before thinking?”
Suddenly a second voice echoes through the blackened room.
**~~**Gather we will each in search of a thrill
A reason for feeling the needing to kill
To stop what’s happening, to silence the screams
To not be afraid to sleep and dream**~~**
Thinking nothing of it and shrugging, I continue. “But Brandon, I need you to listen closely. There is nothing that is going to save you. This isn’t going to be a repeat of Mardi Brawl and Malk Al-Haq. This company isn’t going to close so you can save face. There is no light at the end of the Murder Shed for you. You’ve been playing my game this whole time. The silence from me was on purpose. I’m not like Paul Montuori always spouting off with some stupid gif on Twitter, and looking like the living embodiment of erectile dysfunction. I’m nothing like Joe. A man who would much rather ride to coattails of those who are better than him, even within his own bloodline. Or even the panda man himself, Ricky. Ask him if I’m a fake. Ask him if I have a care in the world about anyone other than my family. Hell, I’ve kicked the head off of someone I loved for the sake of my own goals, what makes you think you’re special? You’re not. Ask Todrick if The New Status Quo is fucking around? He will tell you the same thing everyone else has. Watch your back, your front, your side because I’ll come from any angle.“
“Right before we walk out and you’re standing behind the curtains, think for a moment. Think about your wife.” I hold a hand to my heart. “About your child. I would hate to send you home a disappointment two nights in a row. See I’m not like others. Others would say they are going to make your child fatherless, or Michelle a widow. That’s cliche tough guy talk, I don’t say things like that. You’re going to walk into your home a shell of yourself. Beaten and broken by someone far superior than yourself it’s just you’re too blind to see it, but you will. Everyone else in Fight are a dime a dozen. Sure you slap a different coat of paint on them and they look new but they are still the same caricatures of everything we’ve all seen before. The New Status Quo are here shatter the mold. We are building this company into a place where people want to be. Where people can thrive but to do that, I’ve got to go through you first.“
Once again the disembodied voice calls out. This time sounding much closer.
**~~**To feel in control and to take it all back
To fall into into pieces as the sky turns to black
Hope you got what you wanted, this wonderful wish
To kill everyday until nothing exists.**~~**
“Ohh dear Brandon take your poetic side and tap deep into that. Grab a quill and dip it in the blood red ink and look deep into your blacked soul.” I use my index finger and drag it down my left cheek. “You’re going to realize you fucked up. Your shooting blanks, just like in Russian Roulette. You didn’t know what you were doing when you picked a fight with me. You weren’t aware of what I’m capable of. You sent your minions after me, and one by one they were toppled. Apathy? Double Check. Eoin? Check. Wolf? Spayed and neutered. The Enforcer? Can barely get out of his own way. The Cure for you Brandon, was Fights biggest downfall. When I stand over you on back to back nights, just know this…” I quickly spin around with my back to the camera and look over my left shoulder and grin. “It was all your fault that we are here. Betsy wouldn’t have come to my side. Aiden wouldn’t have come to fight for his brother. Dickie and I wouldn’t have felt as if this was something that NEEDED to be done. And Kasey and I would be living blissfully in our own little world. My private beach in Mexico.“
“You did this Brandon. It’s the people who win are the ones who get to write the books that will be read in history. Those slain are left to become mere footnotes. You’re going to be an asterisk sending people to the end of the book looking for references. So Brandon please write all the limericks and haikus that you need to in order to clear your mind. Remember you said it best, Words Can’t Kill.“
Ever closer to the light at the end, for seemingly the final time, the voice calls out once more as I begin to point towards the light.
**~~**In the world but you, you’re the last one alive
But with no conflict to confront, will there be a reason to survive?
Will the anger just die or will you kill that as well?
As you sit all alone in your personal hell…**~~**
“We are fastly approaching the end of The Brandon Moore Dynasty of terror. I’ve played your games and won. I’ve outsmarted you at every turn and yet you just never learn. I took the big bad guy aura of Brandon and allowed Dane Preston of all people to take the first crack at that armor. Two time Toxic Tag winner bested in the middle of the ring by the fake ass Kardashian family. Then what happened? I took the Island titles from them. Sure extenuating circumstances aside, but what Betsy, Kasey and myself accomplished, was something the great Brandon Moore couldn’t. Stomp out two Prestons and a Montouri. All I’ve got to do is show you how to find an oasis in the Sahara. You can lead a dipshit to water, but you can’t stop him from drowning himself. Come up for air and breathe Brandon.” The light at the end is now upon me. It’s warmth puts me at ease. “This weekend is going to be Murphy’s law for you. What can go wrong will go wrong, and for you it will be in spectacular fashion. Keep thinking of yourself as Kal-el. You’re not. This isn’t Metropolis. There is a pack of wolves that you unleashed on Fight. We are that pack. There are no alphas among us. We are all well fed. This is just sport for us now.“
“So kick back Brandon, in a rocking chair and sing yourself the blues. Think that your world isn’t in shambles. The citizens of Pompeii thought their lives were golden too. Every group of paupers who tried to rise up and rebel against the throne and failed thought they were doing it for the right reasons too. You’re not. You’re envious. You’re bewildered. You’re just another one lined up ready for me to knock down. Next time you come at a Tyrant, you best not miss.” I feign fixing a crown on the top of my head and hold out my hand in mockery to get someone to kiss the ring. “You see Brandon when I look at you, I see someone like me. Well not exactly like me. People love and adore me. The fans for some reason always flock to me. It’s when whenever there’s a list, I’m on it. Sure there may be people higher on that list, but I get eyeballs. I garner attention. I am the peak of this industry. Always have been, always will be. The difference between the two of us is how many mountains we’ve climbed. You have always been content with the one you’re on, I’ve strived for greatness around the world, and accomplished it. You’re not great. You’re only great to those who have had no other option than you at the top. Brandon Moore’s fall from grace begins Saturday and continues on Sunday. Keep walking in that uncanny valley, eventually everyone hits their plateau. Look up into the sky, watch as the clouds begin to roll in. As the sun begins to blot out.“
As I walk through the light there I am, standing on a dark cloud, looking over Fight Tower. Caricatures of the roster are fighting with one masked man dominating over all of them. The man pauses for a moment and looks up, directly at me. Once more a smile forms in the corner of my mouth.
“Go back, Brandon, to the first thing I said to you directly, it’s me. I’m the one that casts the shadow over you.“
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb
Half asleep with the sun cresting through the window the all too annoying sound of Excellence whirs outside the door of the brownstone. Blindly I fling an arm over to the other side of the bed only to feel emptiness. I take a deep breath and rub the corner of my eyes and the bridge of my nose. “Please tell me she’s already dealing with Betsy…” My back cracks as I stretch and extend my arms and legs. I look over to the clock on the nightstand, blinking over and over is 12:00a. “That’s not good.“
For the majority of my career I had been all alone. Sure there were times when I was in a group, but I never felt comfortable. I never knew why until they all eventually ended. It was always with heartbreak or people with grander ambitions. People who were willing to step over those who have fought beside them in the hopes of attaining more, all in the vain attempt to make themselves feel better about their decisions.
I’m not going to lie to anyone or myself. I’ve done it. I’ve done it to my family. I’ve done it to some of the most noteworthy people in this industry, and I don’t regret it for a single solitary second. I’ll also never look down my nose at someone who does that to me. It’s called karma.
These past two years have been me trying to rebuild this notion that Shawn Warstein is always the one to turn on his friends. That Shawn is always the one with his eyes on the big prize at the end. You’ve all heard me talk about Dickie and the Empire Title. You all know that, that title is something I want. You want to know the funny thing? The real rib slapper?
Dickie knows it too and that’s where everyone is wrong. I’m not going to have to turn on Dickie. I’m not going to have to shock the world. Quite contrary to that actually. Dickie welcomes the challenge. He knows where I stand. I know where he stands. So think about that, while the world paints us as eventual enemies.
We are standing over the shoulder of the painter telling him which brush to use. The same page is a cliche that has probably been said time and time again for Ascension so I’ll use a different set of words to get the point across. All of us in The New Status Quo aren’t on the same page, we are the binding of the book. We are tightly wound together. We all came into this company as outsiders, and we will continue to show everyone here that we aren’t above underhanded tactics.
Quickly I roll out of the bed and throw on a shirt. Then followed by a hoodie. Grabbing my phone I notice that there is no cell coverage. “Fucking Betsy.” Annoyed with Sister Mine I stomp out of the bedroom and into the hallway.
Now where people have put Dickie at I at odds, there is Betsy. One of a handful of people I would, and have, drop everything if they call. What started out as two polar opposites slowly snowballed into family.
The similarities between Betsy and Dickie are not lost on me, but to most people they wouldn’t see what I see. Both of them are determined, undermined and despite all of their accolades overlooked. While Dickie doesn’t need to hear any veteran wisdom from me, Betsy has taken it and asked for more. I’m not going to take credit for anything Betsy has accomplished. She did all of that on her own, but like a proud Big Brother, I can’t help but smile whenever she proves everyone wrong.
“Dammit it Betsy!” Stomping down the stairs into the living room, only to find it empty. Confused check the front door, only to find it locked and the alarm system resetting itself. Absolutely nothing looks out of place within the foyer.
Quickly I decide to head towards the kitchen. “Dammit Bets, Excellence has blown the power, cell tower and the alarm.”
As I enter the kitchen an eerie sense of someone watching me makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Something isn’t right. The coffee pot is untouched, a travesty in of itself, but also missing are Kasey’s throwing knives that she had become rather adept at. Usually they are lined up on the counter by the back door for her throwing practice, but today they are gone.
Then there is Kasey. The amount of bullshit that she’s put up with and still came out on the other side fighting… man it just makes me proud. How many times is she going to hear ‘She’s Shawn’s ole lady’ or ‘She’d be nothing without him’? It’s as if everyone turned a blind eye to the fact that she was a champion before her and I got together.
That she went to war over and over again. Each time coming out on the other side with her hand raised in victory. Then she dropped it all…
That’s why it was imperative that we won The Island’s Title. I needed to somehow, some way give her a small bit of what she gave up for me. She followed me with blind faith that everything was going to be okay. It’s honestly one of the reasons why I’ve fallen for her so hard. Why everything I do now is with her best interests in mind. Why I fight. Why I’ve set my sights on the peak. Anything less for her, would be an absolute failure.
In my mind, I’m going to walk out into the backyard and see Kasey throwing her knives and Betsy sitting there tapping her wrist saying ‘Rise and Shine!’ in her overly sweet and bubbly tone. Once I open the back door and step outside and hear nothing. The city seems dead. Not a single bird chirping, no kids running around, nothing but the sound of a siren going off in the distance. “Where the fuck is everyone?” Puzzled, I step further into the back yard.
I trip slightly over a patch of dirt that is protruding from the ground. I bend over and brush the dirt to the side and reveal an empty can of Victoria Bitter. “Fucking Noah, I knew he didn’t recycle these.” For those of you who don’t know, Noah is my son and Australian. However, that’s not the Aussie I’m interested in at this time.
Finally we have our fifth, yeah, nah, yeah. It could’ve easily been James Raven. Or Jackson Hart. Or Noah Jackson. And all of you would’ve been screwed. However we decided what better way to show our team bonds, than by bringing in Dickie’s hetero lifemate, long time tag team partner, and best friend.
Aiden Reynolds. To say I was hesitant to bring him into the fold would be a lie. I want… No, we all need to be on the same page at all time at Ascension. With Dickie fighting Paul, and me facing off with Brandon, the last thing we need is for one of us to break concentration for a single second. We are both going to war in back to back nights. We can’t afford to have one of us looking over our shoulder at the rest of the group, thinking we are out to get them.
It’s actually as simple as, I need Dickie focused, and Aiden does that. With all of his jokes and ridiculous accent, He. Focuses. Dickie. I also know that Aiden hates losing just as much as I do, and trust me when I tell all of you.
I am absolutely beyond the moon that he’s on my side in this battle.
Tossing the beer can aside I hear a bit of commotion from the front of the brownstone. Before I make it a step into the kitchen a small package has appeared on my kitchen table.
Unremarkable as it’s just sitting there, but my eyes were drawn towards it. A feeling of relief swooshes over my body. Without a second thought I grab the package and tear into it.
Again, nothing super obtuse about it. Just a cracked piece of glass, and a torn picture. The picture is of me…
I’ve spent the majority of my career climbing mountains. Ascending to the top of every company I’ve walked into. I did it mostly alone. I spent a lot of time sitting on top by myself.
It’s lonely. The view is amazing but with no one to share it with, it’s meaningless. I could climb a million mountains, and it’s always the same up there. Desolate.
It’s why now. I’ve decided to bring everyone along with me on my journey. It’s why rather than reach for the next personal milestone, I reach backwards first. Help those who have helped me and we all prosper. The view from the top is going to be so much sweeter when there are people there to enjoy it with.
Although I cannot for the life of me remember taking it. I’m dressed in my normal ring attire, bloodied and bruised. With only the smallest of smiles in the corner of my mouth. The commotion outside gets louder as I place the glass in my back pocket and place the picture in my front pocket. Through the house and out the front door, and down the stoop. Standing there in the middle of the street, four hooded figures. All with their beady little eyes focused on me. A figure steps forward and clinks two bottles together. “One, Two, Brandon Moore’s comin for you. Three, four, you can’t hide no more.”
Out of the corner of my eye I spot a looming figure. Slowly and with purpose heading my way. A mask covering his face. Each step my heart begins to pound in my chest. Fight or Flight? Shawn… fight or flight…
The Fight with Brandon is going to come, there’s no need to engage right now. Plus I clearly know when I’m outnumbered, it’s painfully obvious. I do the only thing I can think of…
I dip down an alley. Hop over a half fence and make a quick sharp left between two buildings. Down the alley and constantly checking over my back shoulder. I can’t take any chances, if I want my team to climb to the top, and for me to rightfully beat Brandon, I need to make sure I get there unharmed…
Blindsided I ran right into the side of the cloaked Excellence. The door swings open as Betsy’s hand reaches out and drags me inside. Plopping me on the floor Betsy has a frantic look on her face. “Tell me you saw the photo?” Betsy shakes me and lightly smacks me on the cheek.
“Huh!?!?” I attempt to brush her strikes off and catch me bearings. “Did y— did you leave it there for me to find?” I extend my hand for Betsy to help me up and she does so.
“No.” She hastily scratched the side of her head, making her hair a mess.
“Is this another one of Thra—” I couldn’t finish the question before Betsy cut me off.
“No, Brother Mine.” She walks to the console of Excellence and begins pressing the pad very quickly. “It’s from…“
I pull out the picture and try to hand it to Betsy, but a force seemingly blocks it. The harder I try to hand it to her, the more pushed back I am. “What the hell is going on Bets?“
“I don’t know. I grabbed the picture from your house. My sister was there and…”
“I’ve never seen this picture in my life.” I stop trying to hand it to her, and once again look at the visage. “I see your hand and I think that’s Kasey’s.“
“It is.” Betsy responds matter of factly.
“Let’s slow down. First things first, when is this picture from?” It’s not a normal question that is asked, but with Betsy it’s becoming a common occurrence.
She rubs her chin and shrugs. “I don’t know exactly when but it seems like Sunday. Before I could even have a chance to check the monitors when I landed. Excellence just kinda took me there.”
“Well if I got a photo..“
“Then I’m assuming the others did as well.” Betsy turns to the console once again and begins to hammer away at the keypad.
“Well then we need to find the others.” I walk up and begin to pull out the DNA sequencer and flip through the files on the data pad. I pull up Kasey’s file. “You’re not supposed to have this, and we will talk about this later, but for now I’m glad you do.“
“About th—-” Betsy stops herself. “Sorry.“
“Just take us to her.” I didn’t feel like getting into it right now and Betsy just nodded. We both watched the monitor zoom around a map of New York. A red reticle sweeps back and forth before it zooms in on a location. “Well shall we?”
The engines of Excellence begin to whir and the console begins to rattle. To everyone else it seems like forever, but in the world it was seconds at best. I leave Betsy behind and bolt for the door. Opening it up I can see her in the distance. Clearly stuck by something. Running as fast as I can, I leap over a barricade. Slide under a sawhorse and run up behind her.
Each thud was a throwing knife bashing against and sticking into a tree root like structure before her. I spin her around.
A quick right hook to my jaw sends me stumbling backwards. “SHAWN! Oh my god I’m sorry!” Kasey quickly grabs a hold of me and pulls me in tight.
“It’s okay. It’s my fault. Should’ve tried to get your attention in a different way.” I mumbled while rubbing my jaw and staring at the tree like root system blocking our path.
Fade To Black