Session Five: Shawn

By: Shawn Warstein

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 29th Apr 2022

“Who am I?”

 

“Really. Think about it. Over these past eight weeks I’ve shown you every side and facet of who I am. What makes me tick. What drives me. Above all else, what makes me vulnerable. We all have those fleeting thoughts of what could have been.”

 

“Hell, I’ve said it more than anyone. IF I had done this. IF this had happened. We never really know what could’ve been. We are all on this journey and there is no such thing as destiny. Fate. However there is no such thing as helplessness, or anyone devoid of hope.”

 

“As long as we keep moving forward and making the right decision at the time. Well…. Maybe not.”

 

**~~**

 

The sound of feet stomping on the floor echo through the hallway leading to my bedroom. The door bursts open with a loud crash. Before I even had a second to react a blur was flying through the air, aimed directly at my body. 

 

Time to wake up dad!” My son Jacob screams as he flies through the air landing squarely on my chest. The air is pushed from my lungs, as I gasp to catch my breath. I grab him and pull him close for a hug. 

 

I’m awake, I’m awake.” I playfully toss him to the other side of the bed and sit up. I grab my phone from the night stand and check for any messages. None as usual as a smile crosses my face. “You’re up earlier than usual. To what do I owe the pleasure?

 

Well…” Jacob pauses for a moment and taps his chin with curious intent. “You said you were going to take me to the gym this morning so that I could see the ring.

 

Did I? Hmm I don’t remember that.” I had made a promise to him a few weeks ago before school let out for the summer. If he had passed all his classes with high marks, I would take him to the gym I own and have Jason run for me on a daily basis. Ever since he and his friends found out what I used to do for a living, he’s been obsessed. Watching everything he could. His little mind soaking up all the intricacies. Even picking up on things that took me years to master. 

 

Come on! You said!” Jacobs’ voice nearly cracks. 

 

I know, I’m just playing with you. Just give me a few minutes to get showered and dressed. Jason already knows we are coming.” I throw the blanket over Jacob. He struggles for a moment to get it off and then leaps off the bed and runs back down the hallway. The smile on his face was beaming. You could see it from miles away. 

 

Did I want him to follow in my footsteps? Not particularly but who am I to take this away from him? He’s going to do it one way or another, I’d rather I show him the ropes than someone who just sees him as a weekly paycheck for their gym. 

 

At this point it’s been nearly a decade since I’ve been in the ring. Ever since Jules was pregnant with Jacob. It was right then and there I realized that I didn’t want to be anything like my dad. Sure Jules still has custody of Jacob, but if there was an opening for me to spend time with him, I took it. 

 

I never looked back. This was one of those days where all the stars aligned, as I walked out of the bathroom, a buzzing of the phone against the nightstand. I take a deep breath and pick it up. 

 

Not knowing all the people that call me and being generally lazy and not adding them to my contacts, I’ve grown accustomed to the most noteworthy numbers and area codes. This one I had never seen before. “If it’s important they’ll leave a message.” 

 

Quietly I decline the call and continue to get dressed. Walking out of the bedroom my pocket buzzed. The caller left no message and I thought nothing of it, nor would I care. I’m happy with what I’m doing now and nothing can pull me away from this. If I wasn’t content with what I was doing I would change something, but right now, in this moment. I’m content. This will not be the beginning of my death but instead me living the rest of my life. 

 

**~~**

 

“Amazing how simply avoiding a phone call could change so much. How talking things out could solve so many problems. Yet all of us are too naive to do so. We would rather be the strong silent type and bottle everything up.” 

 

“Me picking up that phone, that was what happened. The rest is as you say history. Now Dickie and I are on this collision course and there isn’t anything that will stop it.”

 

“No matter how many people think they know better.”

 

“Let’s dig a little deeper shall we. What if it wasn’t a decision that I made at all? What if I showed you a different world where you never would’ve known the name Shawn Warstein or Fuzz or Witness?”

 

“Would that make you feel better about yourself?”

 

**~~**

 

SIR YES SIR!” I stood at attention a mere few feet away as a hulking man paced back and forth. He was dressed in military garb. I don’t dare look anywhere but straight ahead. Before me is a lush backyard, trees lining the sides, a six foot privacy fence and a dog run in the way back. 

 

What are we here for?” The man stops and turns his full attention towards me as he leans over slightly to hear my response.

 

We are here to uphold the law of the land. We are here to fight for those who cannot. To protect everyone from threats both foreign and domestic. Sir!” Once again I don’t break any eye contact. Eyes pinned forward. No slouch. The heavy black boots adorning my feet shine in the midday sun. The long sleeve shirt and cargo pants make the day hot, but I don’t dare sweat. 

 

Honey. That’s enough, it’s time for lunch.” Slowly I turned around. The only voice capable of allowing me to break formation. My mother stood in the doorway. No signs of drug abuse. No signs of anything at all really. 

 

Fine. Dismissed.” My head cuts towards the man, my father. He didn’t leave my mother and I. He stayed. He was the man that I had once envisioned. Strong, capable and caring in his own way. A long standing military man clearly trying to enforce some of the same beliefs in me as a young child. 

 

I’m coming mom.” I quickly salute my father and bolt inside the house. As soon as the door was opened I was met by the familiar tone of my mother. 

 

Shoes off, hands washed.” The most motherly thing to ever escape from a mothers mouth. 

 

Yes Ma’am.” I didn’t hesitate to quickly untie and set my boots off to the side of the door on the rack. The warm running water cascades over my hands as she sets down a plate on the table. I begin to eat the food as if I had never eaten before. 

 

Slow down Shawn.” She gently placed a hand on top of mine. 

 

Stop babying him.” My dad walked in and took a seat across from me. I didn’t know what to do so I just stopped eating all together. Both of them noticed and shook their heads. “Just eat.

 

No matter how much life would’ve been different, I do know one thing. Life would’ve been completely different and who knows in the long run it might have worked out. I could’ve gone to become a Navy Seal. First ones in, last ones out. An entire life and career dedicated to coming and going to war. Always on my way to another fight. To another battle. All for the greater good. Always with the same motto in mind…

 

You want a war? I wanted it more. 



**~~**

 

“That wasn’t even my call. It wasn’t what anyone had dreamt of, yet one decision almost thirty years ago placed us right here.” 

 

“The butterfly effect doesn’t affect just one person. It affects everyone whether they think it’s true or not. Everyone needs to think back for a moment and change that one thing that you didn’t do. Change a small detail.”

 

“Maybe you didn’t kiss that girl.”

 

“Maybe you turned right early on your way home instead a few blocks down the road. What would change? That’s not for me to answer. It’s for you to look deep inside of yourself and determine what would be different.”

 

“I’ve had close calls. I’ve laid on ER tables. Had tubes jammed down my throat, IV’s hooked up to both arms…”

 

“What if no one called?”

 

“What if she wasn’t on her way to find me?”

 

**~~**

 

The yellow stained walls of years and years of cigarette smoke makes the room look smaller than it should feel. The sense of dread fills my stomach as I slowly open my eyes. 

 

As I look down I’m laying on a ratty mattress. It’s old, worn, and springs are sticking out all over the place. A brownish spot is directly to my right and it isn’t secluded to just one area. It travels down to the floor, where the color is more of a reddish hue. 

 

Raising my head off the mattress hurts. All I can do is roll over to my side. My legs don’t move, but I can feel them so I guess that’s a good sign. I reach my arm over the edge of the bed and begin feeling around for something.

 

As few bugs scatter in the commotion as the rattling of a few things on the dirty hardwood floors scares them away. “Where are you?” I happen to mutter coarsely and strained. 

 

After a few moments of fumbling around, I finally grasp what I was looking for. A needle filled to the brim. I depress the plunger a bit, as the clear liquid squirts out of the tip. 

 

I’ll spare you the details, but this is what a personal famine looks like. Hitting rock bottom and finding a shovel to dig deeper. No one lasts too long on this path. Whether it’s pills, alcohol or any other of the myriad of vices out there, the ending is always the same. 

 

Lives cut short. Loved ones only left with memories of what could’ve and should’ve been. Then there is me. I can’t say that I didn’t live one hell of a life up to this point. So many highs, so many lows and everyone that came along with me on this journey. This….

 

This was how it was supposed to end.

 

The needle falls to the ground. 

 

An arm falls limp over the edge of the bed. 

 

One 

 

Final.

 

Breath. 

 

**~~**

 

I would’ve been just another name added to an in memoriam. If any one of those scenarios plays out, none of you see me. Not a single soul. Sure I’d be remembered, but as the flame out who fell on hard times, or another name etched on a brick wall, or just a man with wasted potential.

 

Which leads us all back to right now. Shawn versus Dickie.” A slight smile comes across my face. “A Year in the making. A bit of a misnomer. It’s been longer than that for us hasn’t it Dickie?

 

I’ve walked miles and miles. Put distance between us when the times called for it. All just to avoid a confrontation. To avoid rumors, misguided thoughts about my actions or what truly my plans were. I made it known that I was here to fight you Dickie. I was content with waiting my turn, as I always have been. I was happy with not spending a dime to get to this point. Why? Simply, it was going to happen one way or another. I was going to prove that I was the best. I was going to earn my way into a shot.

 

But don’t get it twisted. Just because I’ve allowed you the opportunity to shine and fight on your own for that title. Or that I’ve walked away from opportunities, don’t think for one single solitary second that when the fight comes to my door…

 

That I will back down from it. No, it’s quite the contrary. I won’t move an inch. I won’t back down. No matter how battered and bloody I am. You’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it. I am everything that I say I am, and I’m everything you think that I am. You can paint me as the villain. I can be your scapegoat. I can be the reason for everything.” A slight pause. “If you let me.

 

I like to think that I know you Dickie. Just like you think you know me.” I smile and half chuckle. “Well what you think you know of me, which is exactly what I allow you to know. Which I’m pretty sure that’s what you’ve done to me this entire time, yeah? Look around us right now. This very instant. There is no NSQ. It’s fucking dead. You made sure of that the second you decided to even entertain the likes of Chris Page. The second you decide to talk with him whether anything comes of these conversations is none of my concern, but don’t say that I didn’t warn you. I may be a snake oil salesman at times, but he’s the snake where it comes from. He will make all the promises to get you under his thumb. He will tell you whatever you need to hear. How he can make you grander than you could ever believe. If you needed so desperately to know how to lose to me, by all means ask Page. He’ll give you first hand knowledge of how to properly lay down on the grandest stage of them all.

 

As I said. I know you Dickie. I know that what we are walking into is going to be a battle, a war of attrition. I’m not taking you lightly, just as I’m sure you’re not taking me lightly. It’s going to be the man who can take a beating and still stand up ready to fight, walking out the victor. I know that you’re a fighter. I know that you’ll fight until your last breath to hold onto that Empire title.” I hold up a hand and take a deep breath. “But if you for one damn second think that I’m going to come this far and not walk away with my hand held high…

 

Then you don’t know me at all.

 

If you think that I’m going to roll over and play dead to the great Dickie Watson. You’re sadly mistaken. If you think that what’s left of our friendship is going to give me even a second of pause, you’re mistaken. I’m not Paul. I didn’t luck my way into this match once, or twice. I’m not Dane who was granted the opportunity to fight you… At my behest.” A quick nod and salute. “No. I earned my way here, just as you have fought all comers. You’ve battled anyone and everyone that has stood across from you. Let’s just pause for a second and discuss the Murder’s Row of competition that you’ve faced. On second thought, why bother? Everyone has already covered that ground. Why don’t you and I go a different route shall we?

 

Toxic Tag, and Dickie failed. To whom? Me.” 

 

I can hear it clear as day is long already. THAT WAS PAUL’S FAULT! And while there may be a small grain of truth there, the bottom line is that you should’ve done better. You as THE EMPIRE champion, should’ve been better. You should’ve been the one to carry your team to victory. Yet you didn’t. Hell I don’t have a leg to stand on here either. Brandon and I lost as well. And as they say, no one remembers second place, they remember the winners. It just sucks that I cannot for the life of me remember who won Toxic Tag. I’m sure it’s unimportant or irrelevant like the majority of the roster here.

 

You should be thanking me for everything I’VE done for you, but no you’re going to act like a petulant child and disregard everything I’ve done. Who was the captain at Ascension? Whose leadership was it that allowed all of us to get to the top in one piece? Who was the one to carry the both of us at Silent Fight? It wasn’t you Dickie. It was me. It was always me. I never once strayed from the goals we set out. I never once entertained the thought of strain… that was all you. Getting into your own head. Not knowing what to think. This all could’ve been avoided, but it wasn’t. It was torched the second Disney burnt to the ground. The second your door opened you knew, in your own head, right then and there…

 

It was over.” 

 

Now we are watching the final embers float into the sky blanketed in stars, as they disappear into the ether. What should’ve been a culmination of months and months of work, is nothing more than a fucking formality now. Why? Because you’ve made it this way. You made it about yourself. I could stand here and tell you that I’ve beaten people you could only dream about beating. I could say British Raven, but I’m not going to stoop that low.

 

Why? Well I’m not the bad guy in this. Your ego is. That’s rich right? Coming from me of all people. King Ego himself. Yet of the two of us…. Only one put their ego aside when creating rules. Only one of us wanted to make sure the other made it to this point unscathed.

 

Me.

 

I wanted you to be at your best, you wanted to play mind games. You wanted to, how did you say it?…

 

Hurt him where it matters most. His money.” I slump my head and shake it slightly. “Please. If you think that is what my motivation is, or what drives me, then you weren’t really paying any attention were you? I was always going to get mine. I was always going to be ahead of the rest of the roster, money or not, it was always going to be me. Even with your little rule of me making half the Blood Money of everyone else, where do I stand?

 

Shoulder to shoulder with you and a large gap between the rest of the roster. So you failed there. Let’s not forget about the second part right? Choosing my opponents. Shame. I thought more of you. If you really wanted to do damage, you would’ve made it so I couldn’t compete.

 

Why?” A small shrug. “This is what I do. This is what gets me going. It’s why I get up every day. I’m happy when I go to the arena and I get to fight. You wanted to hurt me, yet you failed.

 

Dickie. Please don’t take anything I’m saying the wrong way. I know that one day we will be in the same place at the same time, and you’re going to have thoughts. Some not so good thoughts. I want you to know this. From the bottom of my cold black heart.

 

I’m not sorry. This is what I came to Fight for. From say one this is what I’ve always wanted. I wanted to stand in the middle of the ring, just the two of us. Title or not, pride. It’s time. It’s time that you set your own pride to the side and accept my conquest.

 

As much as I can say that you want this match, we both know that isn’t entirely truthful. This could’ve happened at any time over the past year. This could’ve happened in other places, but it didn’t. I know that it wasn’t me blocking it from happening. Hell I won’t even say that about the other place. Their heads are so far up their asses that they didn’t realize what they had. But here, now in Fight. All you had to do was say the word, and it would’ve happened. Yet silence. I wonder why that is.

 

There will be Thrills. And there will be Agony. And surely there will be pain. Only one of us can walk out the victor. Dickie. If this was the equivalent of a puddle in the middle of the street, you’d still be out of your depth. I’m ready for this. I’ve been hemming and hawing about what I was actually going to do. Then one day a little yellow pill and a ceiling fan pointed me in the right direction. I know what I’m going to do.

 

In this match, you aren’t going to get Warstein.

 

You aren’t getting McCallum.

 

Or even the Vessel.

 

No. Dimitri.

 

No Tricks. No long drawn out therapy sessions. No D.I.D. You are simply getting Shawn.

 

“до свидания.”