Question Pt. 1 / Resolution Pt. 2
By: Shawn Warstein
Date: 6th Aug 2021
Question: Part One
Have you ever sat alone with your thoughts? Of course you have. Itís part of being human. And while youíre doing that have you ever asked yourself a question that you donít know the answer to? Again of course you have. Itís what makes each of us tick. The constant questions.
Questioning our abilities.
Questioning our motives.
Questioning others motives.
And thatís just the beginning of all the self doubt. The mere butterfly flapping in the wind causing a hurricane 3000 miles away.
The deeper you think, the more lost you become. Itís the people that surround you that make you into the man youíre supposed to be. I thought I had it all, turns out it was just another bump in the road.
Itís really funny how things end up working out. Tragedy begets tragedy. For a minute I thought about just throwing in the towel. Thatís not the narrative Iím going with.
When this is all done, Youíll be able to carve my name in stone. Itís set forever, no questions, no doubts. Mine will go on for ages and yours will continue to be said with a massive eye roll and scoff.
Iíve never needed a whole cult around me. James and I donít always see eye to eye. Kasey and I arenít in lock step. Sister Mine is going about her own business. When you have people who follow a single source without free thought, itís a weakness to be exploited.
It makes you predictable. Where one is, the rest will follow. Like lambs to the slaughter. If you take me down, there will always be more coming. The main difference is you donít know where we are coming from, you will be right there huddled together by your own Ďfreeí will. All of you. So now Iíve got a very simple question for youÖ
“Why me?” I sat on the couch, head cradled in my hands. The low glow of the television illuminates the room.
It feels as if a hand falls on my shoulder. “You know why.” The voice was calm and the timbre was even. “This was never a question of why, but when.”
“But we are making progress.” Lifting my head up I can feel the tears welling up and slowly cascading down my cheeks. “Thió-thisÖ.”
“Itís not fair. I know.” The voice pauses for a moment and sighs. “But this is just the way itís supposed to be. You know that once the door is open itís far more difficult to close it when the hinges are broken. This isnít the first time youíve done this.”
“I knowÖ.” The presence of the hand slowly lifts off of my shoulder. It feels like the weight of the world was lessened in an instant but still ever present.
Reaching towards the coffee table I knock over an empty bottle of bourbon. The clanking on the ground causes me to jump slightly and immediately look towards the hallway.
“Whew.” Quickly I grab a few things off of the table, jamming them in my pockets and begin the trek towards the bathroom. The bourbon took hold, as I stumbled. Knocking into the walls, causing the pictures on the wall to fall to the ground.
The crunching of the broken glass beneath my feet was calming, but not a concern at this moment. The bathroom door swings open and I catch a glimpse of myself.
My eyes mustíve been playing a trick on me. Two glowing red orbs, sunken in and dark circles under them. Quickly I rub my eyes to clear my vision and flip the light switch.
Everything seemed back to normal. Well as normal as it would seem. My hand trembled as I reached into my pocket. Pulling out a lighter I flick it a few times. The flame wafts in the air before I release the lever.
Just how life can be, it was gone in an instant. Once again my hand reaches into my pocket. This time pulling out a glass hypodermic needle. The light shines through the clear tube as I hold it up to the light.
“This isnít me.” I spoke softly to myself.
“But it can be.” The icy voice echoed in my head. “This was and will always be you. No matter where you run off to, itís right there like a shadow.”
“Yes.” The voice becomes more forceful. “Run to GCWA, there I am. Run to Project Honor, there I am. Hide in Mexico, ĎEllo guvína. Now youíre roaming the halls of Fight NYCÖ. And you think that will be your salvation? Your last stand. Youíre weak, pathetic and unable to fight for those you want to. Itís why you came up short in XWFís War Games. Always the bridesmaid, never the bride.”
“Stop.” The desperation in my voice rang true.
“Itís why Dickie sees you as a joke. Itís why The Cure has taken a liking to you. Your weakness is like a pheromone to them. Easily converted. Easily destroyed. Youíll see them in your dreams,stalking you and those you cherish. UnlessÖ”The voice lingers for a moment.
“Unless what?” I said sheepishly while closing my eyes and hanging my head.
“You allow yourself to be free.” The voice growls. “You are not better because youíre loved. Youíre not better without me. You are weak. Let me take control. Let me show them who they are dealing with.” I slowly lift my head and look into the mirror. A slight head tilt causes the reflection of my corneas to turn a slight hue of red. “For far too long, Shawn, youíve let the lamb lead. Itís led you to nothing but heartbreak and disappointment. Itís time to let the lion out. Itís time to stop pussyfooting around it.”
“Jacob doesnít deserve that.” The needle quivering in my hand. “Kasey doesnít deserve that. Noah, Betsy, JamesÖ. None of them deserve that.”
“Why? Do you think they wouldnít turn their back on you in an instant?” A loud snap fills the air. “They were all expecting you to do this anywayÖ just give in. Give them a reason to abandon you. This way you wonít be left with the guilt and questions. The harboring of resentment. They donít care. They never have. Youíll have done exactly what they expected. Same ole Shawn..”
“Warstein.” My name falls from my mouth with a sense of venom.
“You know everything led to this. The entirety of the past two years. The second you moved on from me. The moment you decided to stand on your own.” The voice feels like it gets closer to my ear. No chills. No goosebumps. Nothing but a sense of calm floods over my body. “You did well. Admirable even. Itís time. You can stopó-“
“Fighting.” The word poured out with a tone of pure acceptance.
“Youíre the one holding everything together. Legacy will die. And donít lie to yourself, itís been on life support for a while now.” My head tilts slightly. “You have to be tired of fighting to keep everything together. Spinning so many plates just to placate them. You can only reach out so many times before you give up.”
“Why me?” Impulsively came from my mouth.
“You know why. Donít ask stupid questions.” The voice begins to grow and a fury hangs on every word. “Just do what needs to be doneÖ”
I take a deep breath and lean up on the sink. I can feel my grip on reality loosening. “Youíre right.”
“Thatís the smartest thing youíve said in a long time.” I sense the voice pull back, as if itís won. The needle is grasped firmly in my right hand. No trembles. No shakes. One decision.
Without a second thought I swing my right hand hard towards my left side of my neck. The needle pierced the skin clean. A small dribble of blood begins to fall down my neck and onto my clavicle. Soon the dribble begins to gush, turning my once white shirt a deep crimson around the neckline.
“Youó-“ My breathing is slowly becoming labored.“Neó-needó-meÖ.”
The room became blurry, as I fell to the ground. I could feel the blood building up in my throat. The taste of iron takes over as the only thing I could focus on. My breaths come slower and slower, and more and more sparse.
Resolution: Part Two
The light was blinding as I opened my eyes. The sun shot through the blinds right across my face. It was warm and inviting. Kasey sat on the bed right next to me. “Are you okay?”
“YeahÖ. Iím good.”
I was truly good. For the first time in a long time there was nothing gnawing at me. Nothing to draw my attention away from what is truly important. I discreetly run my hand over my neck and feel nothing.
“Are you sure?” With the back of her hand Kasey runs it down my cheek. “You didnít come to bed until just a few hours agoÖ.is everything okay?”
“I canít apologize for coming into the room late. Itís just that something needed to happen last night.” I curled my bottom lip and bit it gently.
“I need you to talk to me babe. If I donít know then Iím going to worry. And I canít help if I donít know whatís going on.” Kasey grabs my hand and holds it firmly, running her thumb along the backside of my hand. “Iím a big girl, I donít need you keeping important shit from me.”
“I know. That chapter is closed now. I just donít know how else to say it.” I take a deep breath. “Heís gone.” Something I havenít done truthfully in a long time. I smiled. The weight of the world was off of my shoulders.
A confused look from Kasey, but not in a disrespectful way. “You mean?”
“Yeah.” I grab her hand and place it over my heart and with my other I tap my temple. “Same man. No more questions. No more duality. No more fighting.”
“óó” The smile and general sense of relief on Kaseyís face said it all. I pulled her in and squeezed as hard as I could. The moment our lips touched, nothing else mattered. I was hers, fully.
I peeled my lips away from her. “This has been one of the most trying times in my life.”
“I know.” Kasey said as I brushed her hair behind her ear. “Everything hasnít necessarily been easy for me either.”
“Iím sorry.” I didnít know what else to say. Sheís been right here by my side. She didnít bolt for the door, she didnít find an excuse. She stood strong and helped any way she could. “I never meant to get youó-“
“Shut up you moron, and just tell me.” A stern demand, and who was I to deny her the fruits of her labor.
“KaseyÖEvangeline Winterborn. Ió-“
Right on cue, the annoying sound of Excellence is heard. Kasey leaps from the bed. “Stay here. Iíll handle it this time, and whatever you doÖ.Donít lose your train of thought.” She stomps out of the bedroom.
I hate it when she leaves but I love watching her walk away. Focus Shawn. This is serious. This ragtag group of miscreants have made you their sole focus. Now youíre left without your biggest weapon. The threat of him is no longer looming.
Youíre going to be perceived as weak, but they will overlook the one thing that got you to this point. He wasnít there. He wasnít in the battles across the world. He didnít bleed. Shawn did.†
Apathy, I am no longer a man shackled by his past. While you continue to bring the past back to the limelight. The Cure. Long forgotten, but always lingering. Always hidden in the shadows.†
Well guess what?
You got your wish. I donít think that it’s a coincidence that we are here right now. We may not share common goals, but the tactics we use are very similar. Find the weak link and attack. Ambush. Smother.†
Hello weak link.†
I donít know what you know about me, but let me be perfectly honest with you, it shouldnít matter. The only thing you need to realize is that Iím here, and I am not in an empathetic mood.
Look at me, I should be elated. I should be spending time with my girlfriend, and yet here I am talking about you. Apathy, I need you to do one thing at Venom.†
Itís really simple. Donít run. Donít hide. I wonít. You want to bring your clown car to the ring with you, be my guest. Donít be upset that when the dust settles and Iím still breathing, know one thing. I stood across the ring from better. I fought cults that were better than yours. Iíve stood toe to toe with giants, and I always found a way to get the upper hand. Realize†
There is no Cure for me.
The sounds of what appears to be Betsy yelling and Kasey yelling right back forces me to sit up and get out of the bed. Casually I walk towards the door and lean up against the door jam. Raven notices me and I give him a quick nod. Then my attention turns to Betsy and Kasey. The two of them were in a war of words. Neither woman gives an inch. It probably wasnít going to come down to blows but I saw Raven hold his hand out towards them.
Giving him another nod. “Ahem!” I interrupt their argument. “Whatís all the hubbub about?”
Betsy bolts towards me and wraps her arms around me. Almost taking me down to the ground. “Brother MineÖ Iím so happy youíre okay!” I squeeze her back.
“Of course Sister.” It was at this moment I was assaulted with a flurry of lefts and rights. I was able to get my arms up and shield most of them.
“Donít You EverÖ.” She mustíve tired herself out as she stopped swinging.
“Glad to see you care.” I said with a smile.
“What?!? Of course we do!” I glanced towards Raven who gave me a half shrug. I point to him and he promptly flips me off. “We were worried sick! We didnít know what was going on, and Excellence couldnít find you!”
“About that.” I walk past Betsy and open a drawer on a side table next to the couch. I pull out a small glass vial with a reddish liquid inside and a small hard drive. I hand them both to Betsy. “I assume youíll want these back.” She reaches for them and I quickly pull them back. “Remember. When Iím hereÖ.”
“Emergencies only.” Betsy grabs the two items.
“No. Youíre a time traveler. Pick. A. Different. Time.” The serious tone of my voice mustíve resonated with her as she gave me a huff.
“Shawn. Whatever youíre going through right now. Just know that when I canít find you, I worry, and I want you to know that youíre not alone.” I know that she means well so I canít even fault her logic.
“Donít worry Sister.” I pull Kasey close. “Iím not.”
“I know Shawn, butÖ”
“No buts. Thereís the door.” I point towards the door while giving Betsy a wink. “My love and I have something we have to get back to.”
Betsyís head tilts before her hand is grabbed by Raven and he leads them out the door. Raven leans his head back inside. “Youíre still an asshole.”
“And youíre still a dickhead.” Raven smiles and nods before disappearing. The sound of Excellence radiates and then quickly disperses.
“Why are you smiling?” Kasey asks.
“I always asked myself, Why Me? turns out Iím not the only one that asks that, but I finally got my answer.” I lift Kasey up and carry her over my shoulder to the bedroom.
With a smile on her face. “And what is the answer?”
I lay down next to her on the bed. “Because Iím the only person who can control my life. Itís taken me a long time, and a lot of false starts to realize that.”
“So whatís next?” Kasey rolls over on her side and props her head up on her hand.
“Ahh yes, the classic get an answer to a question and immediately get another question.” I smile. “Well Iíd like to go home to Chicago at some point, but as for immediate plans, well that would be you.”
And isnít that a crock of shit?
Answer a question to get another one. Itís a good one. Whatís Next? Well thatís simple. You can see whatís next, clear as day. All you have to do is pay attention. Open your eyes.
Iíve got people willing to move heaven to find me, all on the chance that I was sliding back. On the off chance that I was weak once again. That I would return to the husk of a human I was.
Be glad Apathy, but also be very, very scared. If me just going silent draws everyone out of the woodworksÖ.
Imagine how quickly they will respond when I actually ask for help.
So bring the war to me, I donít care, but itís not me that needs to be asking themselves questions. Go home tonight. Look in the mirror. Look deep inside your heart and soul, and ask yourself one question and one question only.
Fade To Black