Session One: Warstein

By: Shawn Warstein

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 4th Mar 2022

Darkness.

 

As I cautiously open my eyes the world around me slowly comes into focus. The rattling of the pull chain on the ceiling fan clicking on the light below it. A deep breath hurts and I can still taste the remnants of iron every time I swallow. 

 

It’s been a few weeks since Blood Money. I had once again made plans to disappear to the Mexican bungalow that I’ve come to call home but that wasn’t the case. As the days went on I slowly began to feel better, not healthy mind you, just better. It’s why I didn’t show up at Venom.

 

But Shawn, I hear you ponder aloud like the mouth breather you are, in your video you were on your beach in Mexico. 

 

If you can’t understand the intricacies of a green screen in 2022, then that’s on you. It was important for me to show that nothing had changed. It was more important to show strength in a time when most men and women would have crumbled. I had to stand strong in the face of an entire company thrust upon my hypothetical back. Empire title around my waist or not, you needed to see me at Venom. You needed to see that what I Fought for wasn’t going to be taken as a gift or something I would take lightly. 

 

No, instead it is a right, a profound decree to this entire company, that I’m better than all of you and I’ll prove it week in and week out. 

 

Alas that gets me to the here and now. That ceiling fan. It has always been the thing that helps me sleep. Some people like white noise machines, others night lights. For me, it’s a ceiling fan. Watching the blades spin, always in perfect harmony and yet when one is unbalanced, it still works. 

 

Round and round it goes….” I sighed deeply and placed my hands behind my head. It’s been harder to sleep lately but when I am able to get a few hours in everything seems to be in focus.

 

I can feel the mattress depressing next to me, the sounds of the well used box spring creaking causes me to turn to my side. The beautiful black hair falls on my face as I blow it away. As Kasey nestles up in the alcove I’ve created, I place a hand on her hips and pull her close. “I can see that you’re feeling better tonight.” 

 

Something like that.” A quick kiss on her cheek and then onto her neck, when I feel her slowly pull away. 

 

Calm down there tiger.” Kasey rolled over, placing a hand on my shoulder. “We’ve got an appointment in the morning.

 

I’m aware.” A mischievous grin forms on my face. “But that’s at nine.” I reach blindly behind my head patting the nightstand to find my phone. Eventually I grasp it and check the time. The phone read 3:36am. “That’s in like five or so hours. There’s a lot of things we could get done in five hours.

 

You’re absolutely right, however, you’ve been having trouble sleeping so why don’t we just call tonight a wash?” One small condescending pat on the head and a smile. “There’s always tomorrow. And the next day. And so on and so forth.” 

 

You must think I really like you or something.” I smile widely. “What makes you think there will be a tomorrow? Or a day after that?” 

 

Kasey didn’t hesitate to respond. She simply smiled and half rolled her eyes. “Because what would you do without me?

 

I wish I could say I was shocked, but I wasn’t. “When you’re right, you’re right.” I kiss her on the back of the head as she grabs the blankets and ticks them under her chin. Kasey has this inane ability to change my focus and point me in the right direction. It was because of her that I ended up in Blood Money. It was because of her that I ended up prevailing in the end. She has been that slight beacon of hope. Hope for what? The hope that I’m a better man than what my brain tells me I am. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.

 

Where are you going?” Kasey looks over her shoulder. I slowly tuck her hair behind her ear.

 

Just need to step outside and get some air. I won’t be long. Just go to sleep and I’ll be back before you even know it.” She nods slightly as I lean over and kiss her forehead. 

 

I didn’t want her to know what was going on inside my head. Pressure is a bitch isn’t it? On the outside I have to put up a front that I’m weathering the storm. That I’m facing all the criticisms and not letting them bother me. 

 

They do. 

 

Everyone thinks they are the most important person in their own little bubble and the outside is wrong. I can’t help but think they are right most of the time. I galavant around the industry with this aura of greatness. Peek behind the curtain for one moment, I’m mediocre. Just a master of timing. 

 

Always the right place at the right time. 

 

Quick to rise, faster to fall. It’s cyclical. Set your watch to it and just wait. It’s a helpless feeling I get knowing what my trajectory is and knowing the outcome, it’s…

 

Sad.

 

Laughing knowing that no one can stop the inevitable. Knowing that no matter what I do. No matter who I befriend. No matter how clear I can make my intentions there are people who will talk behind your back. Gaslighting to the fullest. I’m nothing if not up front with all my intentions with everyone that’s ever been around. 

 

I can only try to better the situation for everyone around me before the rumors of my turning on everyone becomes too much to handle. To everyone it’s always been a question of ‘when’ not ‘if’. How does one deal with that? 

 

Even if everyone tells you they don’t, they think what everyone else says. All my actions. Everything I’ve done for them, just thrown away like trash. Actions no longer dictate the public’s opinion, but it really should when it comes to people I once called friends. I’ll deal with it, I don’t have much of a choice. I have to show everyone who I really am…

 

But who is that? 

 

I made my way to the back balcony. The Chicago skyline in back. I had stopped in the kitchen and grabbed a bottle of bourbon. The sound of the chair on the balcony sounded similar to nails on a chalkboard only not as coarse. Setting a glass down and pouring the amber liquid, as it sloshes up against the side. 

 

Salud.

 

What could I possibly have to be happy about? Everything I built is slowly crumbling down around me. This unstoppable group of the beater fighters this group of miscreants have ever seen, foiled by their own individual egos. And people say I’m the one with the ego. Okay.” I take the first sip from my glass and continue to swirl it around. “That’s the problem isn’t it? When there’s nothing left to fight, when there are no outside forces pushing you to your absolute maximum. You’re bound to fall.

 

That’s why I have gone out of my way to find that next mountain. That next cavern to explore. Then my curveball from everyone’s favorite Dickie. Getting to choose my opponents leading to my well earned title shot.” 

 

So in Dickie’s infinite wisdom, who does he throw at me first?” I begin to drum my fingers over the tabletop. “Surely he would’ve thrown Brandon at me again… Nah. That’s light work for me. Or maybe even a Montouri? Nope. Dickie is the thinking man in all of this. No, you save the big guns for later, when we are close to the big day. Dickie wouldn’t want to blow his load this early in the road to his demise.

 

Speaking of blowing and unironically loads, he chose Michelle. The Queen Bitch herself. Not afraid to degrade anyone at any time. It just sucks that she could look over my body of work and find… well not much to degrade.” A massively dismissive shrug. “I mean every time we’ve even been near each other, little miss sunshine has always come up just a tad short.

 

So I have to sit here and ask myself, what could she possibly say? How NSQ rose and I rode the coattails? Nah. Pretty sure I was at the forefront and anytime I was in the ring by myself, I handled business without any semblance of help. Meanwhile it took an army to make sure Michelle looked good anytime she stepped into a ring. So that can’t be it… she wouldn’t be that dumb. Then again…

 

Looking at the men she’s allowed in her cavernous gap, she just might be. First she marries Brandon, and like good for you. I get that love is blind. I just didn’t expect it to be deaf and dumb as well. You had to know what you were getting into on that one right? Right? Then again you did let that walking talking living embodiment of the after one use of meth picture hit without protection, so maybe you are that dumb. But hey girl… he put a ring on it.” A quick little Beyoncé shimmy. “And that’s all that mattered right? Getting rid of the Riggs name. A name that has and will always carry more weight in this industry. Yup surely gotta get rid of that. Just toss it aside for a guy with more split personalities than I’ve got.

 

And that’s saying something. However I would be remiss if I didn’t say, congrats, you got rid of the ten pound weight on your shoulders and added some nice ankle weights in Paul. It’s like you have this weird fascination with alliteration. Or becuse your aren’t bright enough and you need it to remember your own damn name. Seemingly needing the M and M in your life to make you feel better about yourself.”  A massive fourth wall break and an expression on my face that could only be described as ‘seriously’. 

 

It’s as if you’re purposely fucking and sucking your way down the ladder at every opportunity you’re presented. I’d warn Dave The Dinosaur, but that might be the only action he gets and I’m no cockblock.” A wide smile and thumbs up. “And don’t worry Michelle when you get to the bottom, everyone loves a comeback story. Just bring a towel, some people aren’t into swapping.

 

Get it? No of course you don’t. I’ve been calling you dumb this entire time and you probably missed that as well. So to become the dumb, I have to think like the dumb.” I shake my hands wildly and take a deep breath. Then curtly tilt my head and pretend to wrap my hair around a finger.

 

Like O.M.G. guys. How could we have let these uggos walk in here and take away everything you all worked for, and I siphoned off of? Like ugh. I guess I’ll have to do it myself.” A quick head shake. “And you’ll fail at that. Much like you have in marriage and being a parent. Sure you like to protect Ezra from the outside world and the realities of what you do, but come on Michelle… you’re never there. Daddy is never there. That kid is going to have a messed up sense of who to trust. When mommy is always gone and daddy is absent, like we all didn’t see that coming a mile away, he’s not going to know who to trust.

 

I retired from in-ring competition when my son was born. I walked away without a shadow of a doubt. I helped, as much as his bitch of a mother would allow, to raise him. It was only when he fully understood what I was doing and that this was my job that I came back. See I told you everyone loves a comeback story.” One wink at the ‘camera’ as I take another sip from my bourbon. “Now I don’t want to call you a failure at motherhood just yet. There’s still time for you to right the ship, but the outlook is bleak to say the least.

 

So I guess we should get back on track,yeah?” As I begin to curl my lip and bite the inside of my cheek. “What else could you attack me for? Surly my girlfriend right? That seems like the lowest fruit possible. It just doesn’t make sense, oh wait I did that same thing to you just a few minutes ago. Well it’s low hanging for a reason. Except the difference is your pasts have failed time and time again against me, while your claim is standing on the outside of the ring while Poptart cheated his way to the win. Once again Mother of the Year, being so close to the ring while seven? Eight? Nine months preggers? That’s where you should be. However I wouldn’t be going at Kasey, that wouldn’t bode too well for you.

 

Considering your entire personality could be wiped away with a wet nap. The only thing about you that is alluring in the least is the fact that you have excellent taste in makeup, otherwise you look like Rocky Denis.

I quickly pause. “You understand that reference right? Either way. Let me finish this thing out real quick.

 

What’s going to happen at Venom.” I finish my drink and set the glass off to the side. “You’re in danger. I’m not like Brandon. I’m not going to filet you in the ring, I’m not going to kill you. Hell I won’t even threaten that. That’s for people who have to over compensate for lacking elsewhere. Instead I’m going to show you the beauty in the violence. This isn’t anything personal either. I’ll still offer Starbucks to you. I’ll still feed the Basic White Bitch stereotype you’ve cultivated with your actions and friends. Hell I’ll still offer to go shopping with you, someone needs to be able to reach the top shelf for you.

 

Heh, yeah. So anyways this wasn’t my doing. This was Dickie’s. He saw you as someone to ease my way to the big show. If I were you I’d be more pissed off at him that you weren’t viable enough to be on the go home show. At least then you’d have an excuse to fail again.

 

And let’s cut to the chase Michelle.” I clasp my hands together. “I didn’t want to do this, but I have to. I have to make an unfortunate example out of you. By my own decree I can’t lay a hand on Dickie, but you on the other hand?

 

All bets are off. I don’t give a flying fuck about the match itself. No, instead the outcome doesn’t even matter. From bell to bell I’m going to show you and the rest of whoever you want to claim this week, this is my rightful place. I should be at the top of the mountain, I will be at the top of the mountain. You say a Queen bows to no one.

 

We will see about that.

 

As I take a deep breath and pat the table lightly I head back to the bedroom. Kasey is already fast asleep, as I crawl into bed and quickly drift off. 

 

To say I slept well would be a gross exaggeration. I tossed and turned all night. I basically zombied my way through the morning. Kasey somehow got up early and had coffee ready. A change from the normal she drove us to the appointment. 

 

It was her idea to do this. I thought that I had it all under control, but she said she noticed something had changed. I couldn’t see it and I trust her implicitly. So here we are. Just a chair and a couch. I sat on the edge of the couch.

 

So Mr. Warstein.” A stern but calming voice of the man sitting in the chair. His tweed pants and graying hair styled back. “Why are we here today?

 

Well…” I honestly didn’t know but I’m sure we will find something. “My usual therapist was busy and you were the only one my girlfriend could book on short notice.

 

He takes a deep breath. “Yes. Kasey. She did say you were acting strangely and that you might do something drastic.

 

You mean like….” I wasn’t able to finish before he interjected.

 

Yes.” He pauses briefly as I contemplated what he was implying. “So do you think you’re capable?

 

Capable? Yeah. Would I ever in a million years? No.” I wasn’t. I have never had that thought in my life, even at my most strung out. “My life is great….

 

Is it?” The man sets a notebook down on a side table and leans forward onto his knees. “She tells me everything around you is crumbling. That you’re grasping for your friends and they aren’t reaching back. That she’s never seen you so on edge before. That usually you have a plan for everything but now it seems like you’re losing your grip on everything.

 

Fuck them. All I need is Kasey.” 

 

Are you sure about that? Remember, she’s the one that brought you here.” He said while leaning back in his chair and grabbing his notebook. 

 

She wouldn’t have brought this up if she didn’t care.” I begin to tap my foot in a nervous manner. I can feel a twitch in my neck. “As for the others, maybe this is what they wanted. A weak Warstein. A Warstein that can be broken. One they could use to further their personal agendas.

 

It seems like you’re harboring some resentment towards them.

 

Maybe but if I cared what anyone actually thought of me I’d go crazy. I knew what I was getting into but dissension wasn’t from the sources that I originally thought.” I hang my head and sigh. “I was blindsided by what they were doing. I was ALL IN. I never wavered. They did.

 

It seems like you’ve made your decision already.” The man folds his hands. “So what are you going to do about it?

 

That’s the thing. I’m not sure if there is anything I can do.” I slowly lift my head and begin to slightly nod. “I’m also not sure if there is anything worth fighting for anymore. As long as she’s there…

 

And if she’s not?” He asked quickly to stop me from continuing my thought. 

 

If she’s not? Then there would be something to fight for, what are you getting at?” I could feel my body tense up as I balled my hand into a fist. My knuckles slowly turn white as the pressure begins to build. 

 

There it is.” The man points to my fist. “Your something to fight for or in this case, someone. If you want to completely free yourself from your own self doubts. Your own disbeliefs. You must unshackle yourself from everything. You have to let it all out.

 

What if she leaves?” 

 

Only if you forget what you’re fighting for. If you succumb to your fate then that is what it will be but if you rise above it and push past it, you’ll be greater than you’ve ever imagined.” He pauses for a moment and smiles. “I’ve been waiting a very long time for a case like yours. So tell me Mr. Warstein… Are you ready to begin?

 

I swallow deeply and breathe out through my nose. “Don’t call me that…” Slowly I close my eyes and all I can see is—

 

Darkness