[The Prestons] For Better or Worse… [Dane]
By: Dane Preston
Writing Prompt: No
Date: 9th Jul 2021
FOR BETTER OR
Preston Residence @ Parts Unknown, Wisconsin
Wednesday, July 7th 2021 9:00PM
We’re all packed and ready to fly out in the morning. I asked Bella and Allison to give me and the twins some quiet time. With all that’s gone on the last few months, the constant back and forth, we’ve been missing out on moments like this. After reading Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night, Luke and Layla snuggled up tightly on either side, not wanting to let go of me. As I looked back and forth between the two of them, I noticed that I was gently rubbing my thumb across their cheeks. These little creatures were made with parts of me and parts of Allison, the thought of some misguided, delusional Meatbol trying to replace me as their father soured the moment, if only for a brief second. Luke brushed his cheek and pulled himself closer to me, and we just laid there, the sounds of their breathing soothed my soul.
To say that the last couple of months have been a literal Hell on Earth for me and my family, it sounds melodramatic. And usually I’d be the first person to agree. But I know Hell on Earth, because I lived it for half a decade. When you’re locked up, all you can think about is whether or not you have a future worth going back to once you get out.
With all that’s gone on the last few months, the constant back and forth, we’ve been missing out on moments like this.
When I was released, the first thing I did was pay a visit to the parents of the young man I was racing on the night of his death. They always came to visit me, knowing I had no parents, and they had no son. It was weirdly cathartic for all of us. We discussed what would come next for me, I told them the only things I knew were fighting, fixing cars, and racing.
There was a silent understanding about the last part; their son aspired to be a professional drag racer, they understood that once the octane was in your blood, it would always be there. But there was one thing that they asked of me, and that was regardless of what I did in life, that I would live a good life.
Not thee good life, but a good life. Strong moral fabric, with kindness, compassion and love in my heart. It was no secret that there was darkness in my heart as well. As the old saying goes, ‘you have two wolves inside you, one good, one evil. The one who wins is the one you feed’.
My kids call them Grammies and Papa, we fly them out to us on the twins’ birthdays, during the Holidays and whenever we’re in town, we visit them. I don’t speak of them often enough. While Dylan and I lost our mother when we were very young, and our father blamed us for her walking out on the family before she eventually succumbed to her demons, these folks are the only true parents I’ve ever known.
Forty years of marriage, one child, and I took him from them. That night is forever seared into my memory, as it is seared into theirs. But they accepted me into their family, not as their son’s replacement, but as a bonus son. And to see their eyes light up whenever my kids are in the room, it’s a pittance compared to the debt that I owe to them. But in their eyes it’s enough.
The love, kindness and compassion they’ve shown me is what I have tried to model my family dynamic after. Put forth the effort, give love freely, work through the problems, and above all else, fight for your family. They are from the generation where you fixed something in need of repair, you didn’t cast it out and search for a newer model.
Each and every ‘Dickless’ Dane insult I hear coming from that greasy Meatbol, every insinuation that I’m a failure as a man, as a husband, as a father, every one of them hurt like Hell. But then I think back to the one thing they asked of me; that I live a good life. I know they adore Allison, they love the twins, and they’re slowly coming around to the idea of Bella. Polyamory is not foreign to them, but it takes some getting used to.
Some would say that I won the lottery, because I am living out my very own Cinderella story. I came from nothing, had to battle adversity throughout my childhood and even as a young adult. I never expected this would be my life while I was still behind bars. I’ve worked my ass off and fought for every scrap that ever came my way. I did win the lottery, but not in terms of financial wealth.
Sure, thanks to Damon and Kal, I have a blackbook of contacts that are commissioning some expensive and equally badass builds from Busted Knuckle Customs, and thanks to Damon, Rich Storms and Sarah Wolf I’ve been extremely fortunate to receive very lucrative contracts in our line of work. But these things were not handed to me. I earned each of them, and before I earned them, I had to work my ass off and hone my skills in each of my crafts.
No, I was not handed a fortune, instead I was blessed with friends and family that built me up, believed in me, and pushed me to become the best version of myself, day in and day out. One of those people, arguably the most important one of them all, is Allison. Gods, the first time I saw her, I couldn’t get her out of my mind.
Spoiled, pretentious, arrogant as all Hell, but I still wanted to be with her. Unfortunately, as Brandon Moore would constantly remind me back then, she’s a Princess and I’m nobody. I had to watch as Allison would eventually have her heart broken by Xavier, then Marke, now Wolf. At the time, I hated him for it. But, I was reminded once again, Allison is a Princess and by violating her father’s rules, I would be cast out.
As was the case with Brandon Moore, his vices were his undoing in terms of staying in Damon’s favor and remaining his student. So, I put Allison out of my mind while I focused on my training, which had become more and more intense as Damon had only one student to take his frustrations out on, instead of two. But, more and more frequently I would see Allison watching closely when I was in the ring.
Each and every time our eyes locked, she’d have some snotty ass remark about my form, and I’d invite her into the ring to show me how it’s supposed to be done. That raised Damon’s ire on more than one occasion. And once again, she was the only thing on my mind besides proving to Damon that I was worthy of his training. It became a game to me, outsmart Damon, and somehow get Allison in the ring with me. That was the only way I was ever going to win her over.
Looking back on our journey, I’ve asked myself a thousand times, how the fuck did we get to this point? How did we allow ourselves to get wrapped up in Joe Montuori’s mindfuckery? How did we get sucked into this very real game of obsession and scandal? Well, how we got here isn’t the big issue, it’s how we’re going to the hell out that matters. And I think, maybe, just maybe, we’re going to show the world what true love looks like. We’re going to show the world that no amount of money can buy the heart of a woman who has lived and continues to live the journey of a lifetime.
Joe Montuori keeps threatening to kill me, and promises that he’s going to take MY kids, MY wife and MY girlfriend.
OVER MY DEAD BODY
…that’s what it’s gonna take…
I know VMB is itching to take a piece out of my ass. I know Miss Michelle isn’t happy that I beat her not long ago. And don’t get me started on my once brother in arms now eternal arch-nemesis, the fiendish Brandon Moore. And that’s the short list. There are a plethora of others who I will fight in the future, but for sake of my sanity, I am but one man and I’m already fighting for the very honor of MY family. I don’t give a damn about anyone in this free for all but those who’ve taken it upon themselves to send my world into chaos; JOE MONTUORI, PAUL MONTUORI, TOMMY KAIN, and STELLAR GIULIANI. These folks have schemed and conspired against my family, they have actively had a hand in sewing seeds of dissent in the fabric of my family structure. And that simply will not stand.
Fortunately, as pertains to my Monster in Law, I think Allison has that one handled. For the chumpstains in Dyna$ty, you thought that you had the upper hand in that match between me and Joe a couple weeks ago? Too bad you didn’t count on my friends evening the numbers a bit. As a matter of fact, there are a lot of things you’re all failing to take into account. First, I wasn’t the one who needed help to try and win the match against JMont. That was the other way around. I don’t give a damn how he tries to spin it, JMont fights like a pussy, and needs other people and weapons to take out his opposition. Like I said before, low blow, platinum Knucks, and 4 on 1 and you still couldn’t put me down.
This time it’s going to be very, very different. This time FYA is here and we don’t play that shit, see, we don’t attack when we have the numbers advantage, that’s child’s play. We attack when we are outnumbered. Or have none of you paid attention to the number of times I’ve wound up on the receiving end of a beating when I step to groups of two or more by my lonesome. Some call it brave, others call it stupid, we call it never backing down from a fight. And this fight, this is one of the most honorable reasons for my brethren and I to go to war; FAMILY. You fuck with ours, we fuck yours up. It’s that simple.
This ‘free for all’ game that FIGHT! management is putting together, it’s a joke. Right here, right now, WE are what matters in this business. Joe Montuori, Allison Riggs-Preston, Dane Preston. FYA and Dyna$ty. This whole ordeal has set the wrestling world on fire, a raging inferno the likes of which this business has not seen in decades. Not since the days when The Pack and UnCivilizeD went to war with FoCuS. There isn’t a damn thing more important to me than shoving my fist down Joe Montuori’s throat, and the entire wrestling industry is buzzing over it.
I relish the opportunity to step into the ring with Joe Montuori once again. He and I have unfinished business to settle. Only this time, the odds will be much more even. Now the question that I’ve been pondering inside my head is how does this go down? Is this a battle royal type of match? Is it a case of attack on site anywhere in the building? Or is it more along the lines of what happens, happens? When I attack Joe Montuori, am I going to have to worry about Miss Michelle or Brandon Moore attacking me from behind?
Mark my words, Joe Montuori, you’ve played fast and loose with my wife this whole time. When I get my hands on you next, you’re going to wish you’d taken your ball and gone home after Vhodka Marie and Damon Riggs beat your sorry ass all over the place. But this time I’m going to dance all over your face and send you packing…
I nodded off for a bit, when I heard the sound of Allison’s footsteps as she attempted to tiptoe up the stairs. The door quietly opened and Allison paused at the door, before climbing into bed on her side and snuggling up with Luke. Without thinking, I reached out and softly began to play with Allison’s hair.
”I love you, Princess,” I whispered to her, so I wouldn’t wake the kids.
”I love you too, Grease Monkey,” she whispers back before closing her eyes while I continue playing with her hair as we all fall asleep.
The next morning brought with it the most difficult part for all of us; saying goodbye to the twins as we dropped them off Jenna and Damon. I carried Luke and Layla, Allison and Bella brought their clothes, books and stuffies. They live with their Grandparents part-time, so they have most of what they need already there. The twins knew what was happening, and they always made it so difficult to leave.
Damon nodded to me as we approached the house. Things have always been up and down between the two of us, one minute we’re at each other’s throats, the next we’re talking about how much we both love the twins. He is such a teddy bear with the kids, they don’t have a clue about how much of a badass he really is. Especially now, going through cancer the way he is.
”How are you holding up?” I ask as he takes the twins from me with a smile.
”Better now that my little mancubs are here,” with a snarl Damon pretended to eat their faces off and instantly their mood changed. Frowns were righted and whimpers became giggles. But Damon hadn’t answered my question.
”I’m serious, Old Man. How are you?” Jenna walked up and we shared a brief hug before she began chasing the twins around the house.
“I’m surviving, good days and bad days. Between Shane, Jason, Michelle, Allison, and the boys, docs have promised they can cook up some stem cells that are genetically tailored to me — as best they can. So there’s some hope that stem cell treatment, along with the radiation will put me in remission…“
”Wow, Michelle actually gave some blood to help you?” I was only half joking.
”C’mon Dane, she only wishes me death when she’s pretending to be a bitch on Twitter. Off camera, I’m her favorite brother. Of course she donated blood, it was her idea actually,” he said, smiling.
”I didn’t think she had it in her…”
There was no signal, no warning, just BAM! Conversation has changed to business.
”You know what you’re doing?”
“I know that there’s no one I’d rather have backing me up than Murph…“
”What about the new guy?”
“He’s already more than proven to be on board. I trust him to do what needs doing.“
”And after that?”
“Who knows? He’ll be more than welcome to stay with us. I guess that all depends on him.“
”And Joe? You’re going to deal with him, the way I didn’t?”
“Don’t play that shit with me Old Man, I was angry when I said that to you…“
”Doesn’t make it any less true. I should have dealt with him years ago. Hell, Vincent should have put him down the moment he went after VooDoo and the kids… Ah, it makes sense now…”
”Nothing. Private matter. Just came to my mind, that’s all. Anyway, as long as you are going to drive the final nail in Joe’s coffin, I’ll help any way I can.” he smiled as Allison and Bella approached. He gave Allison a big kiss on the cheek and a bear hug, which he followed up with a kiss on Bella’s hand and an equally impressive bear hug before turning his attention to the twins.
”Babe, we have to get going while the kids are distracted or you know we’ll never be able to leave.”
“But we haven’t had a chance to say goodbye…“
”You know you can Facetime them when we’re on the plane, right?”
“Thank you Bellz, now can we please goooooo?“
”Mothers of the year, I tell ya…”
“We’ll make it up to you on the plane, Daddy Dane…” the clever little minx spits back, before a quick kiss and a flick of her tongue grazes the tip of my nose. I grab both ladies by the hands and run like vandals from a crime scene. Howling Wolf has private cabins the size of large bedrooms, which boast beds large enough for three adults comfortably.
FIGHT! HQ @ Hearst Tower, NYC
Friday, July 9th, 2021 12:30 PM
We had The Compound’s chopper fly us into JFK, where we were met by the driver of a Rolls Royce limousine. The drive from the airport to FIGHT! HQ was uneventful, save for Bella’s unease at being back home in the Big Apple. She kept making references to how all the architects were men, why else were the buildings so tall? That made me chuckle a bit as I gazed out the window as we crept through the city streets. Back home, Downtown San Francisco had its share of traffic and congestion, but NYC traffic was ridiculous on a whole different scale. The girls were chatting about whether or not there were units for families, like ours, to stay in, or how close they were to prime shopping — which Bella scoffed at — I started to think back to the day of my release from prison.
I woke up, butterflies in my stomach, I had no clue what was in store for me when I walked out of those gates. One thing I knew for sure, I was never coming back, unless I was visiting someone else. It was tradition for the other inmates to bang their tin mugs on the bars as a fellow inmate was released back into the world. I stopped to have words with a couple of guys that were good to me. Then there were several who threw shit, literal shit, at me as I passed by. One of them came close to hitting me in the face with his mug, I picked his mug up, handed it back to him, and blew him a kiss. Soft, weak and insecure men hate that.
We reached the Quartermaster, I surrendered my blankets, slippers and various small effects that belonged to the jail. Shortly thereafter, I was escorted to a private changing room area, where another guard brought out my personal effects. After signing for my things, I went into the changing room and changed out of my inmate jumpsuit so quickly I could have had superpowers in that moment. As I walked out of the room I was met by a handful of guards and the Warden. A brief exchange of mostly kind words, some handshakes and a subtle GET THE FUCK OUTTA HERE followed by some applause signaled my return to freedom. I was no angel during my incarceration, but I did my best to show the guards and Warden respect. Last thing I wanted was to extend my already shortened stay in their facility.
While walking out of the building, I looked around and took in the sights, sounds and smells. I took a moment to soak it all in, it had been five years since I was on that side of the fence. Then the butterflies were gone, replaced by the gnawing feeling of WTF do I do now? I pulled my flip phone out of my pocket, dead of course, not that it would matter since my service was shut off days after I went in. A beat up white van came rolling toward me, kicking up dust all around. The passenger door opened up and I was told to get in. I asked the driver where he was taking me and he was less than cordial. Not knowing what I was going to do with myself, where this guy was taking me or why the hell I got in the van in the first place really began to annoy me. After about an hour, the driver finally noticed my frustration.
“You just got out, how long were you in?“
”A nickel. What’s it to you?”
”Relax man, I make this run all the time. I’ve had some real shitstains in my rides. I don’t make it a habit of making nice with you cats right from the jump.”
“Right, okay, so where are we going?“
”You’re going to SFPD Headquarters, as instructed by your PO. He said your brother would get you situated…”
“Nah, fuck that guy. You can let me out here.“
”We’re already here…”
I did a double take and looked out the window to see my older brother walk up to the door and grab the handle. No sooner had the door opened did I swing at him, he sidestepped the punch and shoved me aside before thanking the driver and slamming the door closed.
“FUCK YOU MAN! You left me to rot so you could play cops and robbers!“
”I knew this was a bad idea…”
“So sorry to be a fucking burden, once again.“
”Don’t. Just don’t. I busted my ass to take care of you, to take care of US growing up…“
”And that makes turning your back on me while I was in prison acceptable? HIS parents came to see me every few weeks. You couldn’t even be bothered to return my calls! Five years Dill, five FUCKING years!”
“There you go…“
It took a moment to realize that wasn’t my brother talking, but the limo driver, snapping me back to reality. I glanced at the girls who were shoving me out of the way as they climbed over me to get out of the limousine. When I stepped out I had to throw my shades on, joining the girls I saw their craned necks as they gawked at the gorgeous and enormous Hearst Tower. I looked up and took in the unique aesthetics of our new employer’s HQ. Bella was the first to break the silence.
”Yup, definitely a man who designed this one…”
Once more, I chuckled, she wasn’t wrong though. The lower section of the building had a traditional gothic inspired Art Deco facade, somewhat resembling Buckingham Palace with a giant phallus shaped tower protruding from its center. I did a little Googling after we got dirty on the flight to Jersey, and learned the man who designed the tower is Sir Norman Foster.
All the triangular and diamond shaped windows were an interesting touch, but I wasn’t particularly keen on the way it affected the overall architecture or structural integrity of the building. Who am I to judge? This lower portion of the building has been around for over 80 years. A site to behold, interrupted when the girls grabbed both of my hands and yanked as they ran for the front doors.
Walking into the building was like walking into a scene from a science fiction movie. The girls walked around the Atrium, taking in the sites from the inside. I made my way to the reception desk to let them know the Prestons were here to see FIGHT! Management for our scheduled appointment. She was kind and pleasant as she gave me directions to the FIGHT! offices. I grabbed the girl’s hands this time and dragged them toward the nearest elevator and it was like we were in a movie. This building had been used in so many films and TV shows that I was experiencing crazy Deja Vu.
Allison and Bella were giddy with excitement as the elevator doors opened up. We all stepped inside and began our ascent to THE UNKNOWN…