They’ll never see it coming.

By: Ricky Rodriguez

Writing Prompt: Yes

Date: 17th Mar 2022

Then I’ll be happy.

 

Ricky wasn’t even sure what it was that had woke him up out of that dead sleep. His now opened eyes adjusted briefly before looking over to see the sleeping bodies of Thad and Sahara in the same bed as him. They looked as if they were sleeping so peacefully, so soundly. Silently, as to not wake them, he slipped out of that bed and made his way out of their room.

 

After a short walk down that hall, Ricky found himself in a bathroom, his hands pressed against the edge of the sink. For just a moment, Ricky closed his eyes briefly before taking in a breath and sighing out. When he opened his eyes, something was different.

 

The extravagance of the bathroom had been stripped away. What was once a brightly lit room had become something of a nightmare. The floor and walls were replaced with rusty and grody metal grating. The mirror Ricky stared into became cracked and the air was filled with the occasional sound of metal grinding against metal or releases of air or steam from unknown machines.

 

Surprisingly enough, Ricky didn’t seem too bothered by this. Actually, Ricky didn’t seem too much like himself at all. He briefly looked down to the pallet of different colored paints and application sponges on the sink. Almost instinctively, one of his hands moved forward and grasped ahold of one of those sponges.

 

Ricky Rodriguez: ‘This week is somethin special for me. Not only do I get to compete in a match I’ve never even heard of before..but I get to do it against two of the people I love..and cherish..and hold higher than I do almost all others. Two people I’d lay my life down for. I want nothin more than to see their utmost happiness and highest success possible.’

 

He rubbed that sponge into the white paint on that pallet before beginning to apply it to his face.

 

Ricky Rodriguez: ‘Todrick. My oldest friend in this business. Before I got signed to OPW, I met Toddy a few times. She always had my back, always had the best advice for me. And when I did get signed? She looked out for me. Had my back anytime when I needed her. She’s family now..my sister. I’ve been in the ring with her on multiple occasions..and she’s easily one of the best athletes I’ve ever known.’

 

The more he spoke, more of his face became coated by that white paint. Despite that, the blank and empty look on his face remained.

 

Ricky Rodriguez: ‘Jennie..my beloved Jennie. The woman who started as a really great friend..and would eventually became my wife. The love of my life. I’ve never met someone with a bigger heart. Compassionate. Beautiful. Excitin in all the best ways. She really handled me at Blood Money, eliminatin me without a bit of hesitation. If anyone’s gonna win this match..it’s Jennie.’

 

With the last few strokes of that sponge, the entire face of Ricky had been painted a pure, almost innocent white color.

 

Ricky Rodriguez: ‘But I can’t count out Toddy. She fights like a beast out there. Can take a punch and fire one back ten times stronger. She’s gonna give Jennie all the fight she can possibly take. That’s the thing bout Toddy. She pushes you to your edge and forces you to adapt..to become better. It’s gonna be..interestin..to see how far they push one another.’

 

Carefully, he set that sponge down onto the pallet. He looked into that cracked mirror, admiring the paint job he had done. Without warning, Ricky slammed his hand into that mirror. The impact cracked it further. Even sending large, hand sized shards falling into the dirty sink.

 

Ricky Rodriguez: ‘But either way, no matter who walks away with the win, it’s gonna be a hell of a match that’s gonna send the fans home sooo fuckin far beyond happy. It’s gonna be a whole nother experience for them and us both. I legit..can’t..wait..’

 

The voice of Ricky trailed off with those last few words. With his eyes never looking away from his reflection, he grabbed for one of those shards, picking it up. Bringing it up to his forehead, he dug it into his flesh and drug it down just before stopping just above his eye. Slicing another line down his flesh, this one starting beneath his eye. He did the same thing on the other side of his face, showing absolutely no emotion as blood trickled from the self-inflicted wounds.

 

Ricky Rodriguez: ‘And you know me..as long as I go out there and give the best fight I possibly can..I’ll be happy. As long as I can see my loved ones succeed and be the best they possibly can be..I’ll be happy. As long as I can continue to..sit on the sidelines..and watch as everyone I care about..pass me by at every turn. As long as I can..constantly..put everyone else before me..then I’ll be happy.’

 

With that glass, he dug another two lines, these two going from the corners of his mouth, literally carving a smile across his face.

 

Ricky Rodriguez: ‘As long as I can continue lettin any and everyone I like walk all over me. As long as I can laugh and smile when all I wanna do is scream. As long as I can keep foolin everyone into thinkin I’m okay when I’m so totally fuckin not. As long as everyone else is good..even if I’m not.

 

Then I’ll be happy.’

 

Ricky gazed at his mangled features in that shattered mirror. Looking nothing like the mask he usually wore, Ricky now saw himself for what he really was.

 

A clown. A battered..beaten..bloodied..clown.

 

Once again, the eyes of the sleeping Ricky Rodriguez shot open as he found himself in bed with the sound asleep Thad and Sahara. It was just a dream. But it felt so real. Just as he did in the dream, Ricky silently got out of that bed and headed back to his own room, closing the door behind him.

 

As soon as he reached that bed, he fell forward, landing face down onto it. He screamed that muffled scream at the tops of his lungs into that bed. After a couple moments, he rolled over onto his back, staring up at the ceiling above him.

 

He knew the dream, albeit gruesome, was right. He admitted it to himself, as hard as it was to do. But it was just half the battle. The other half was to come next..and he was ready for it.

 

Ricky Rodriguez: ‘..it’s my turn.’

____________________________________

 

Breaking away.

 

‘It’d be easy to set somethin up with Jennie..take Toddy out afore she even got outta the gate. I wanna say that I wouldn’t do that. That..I totally wouldn’t take that kinda advantage. That..I got more integrity than that. But really..do I? When I first started, the answer woulda been as clear as the nose on my face. But now? I’m not so sure, y’know?

 

I mean, with everythin I’ve been doin in Liberty and Zion..not to mention the things I’ve been doin outside the ring..I’m pretty much a completely different person. I mean, I’m always gonna hold true to what I feel is right and wrong..but like..that’s not doin shit for me professionally, y’know? That shady shit..the underhanded tactics..that’s what’s been gettin me noticed.

 

Don’t nobody want the naive, innocent, wholesome lilRicky. They want the depravity. They wanna see me doin shit I promised I wouldn’t do. And honestly? They’re right. That’s the person I hafta be here if I wanna be a success..if I wanna have anywhere near the success I wanna have.

 

So maybe I will. Maybe I will plan this big thing with Jennie and maybe we’ll cut Toddy outta the equation before she even has the chance. Are people gonna be happy bout that kinda thing? Nah. I know for a fact that Austin won’t be. But it’s time..it’s time to stop tryinta make everyone else happy and make me happy. It’s time for me to start breakin away.’

 

It was just a usual signing, no different than any of the several others Ricky’s done in the past..least on the outside. On the outside, Ricky was all smiles, seemingly happy to see everyone, and signing whatever they brought him. But on the inside, Ricky was bouncing from thought to thought, almost uncontrollably.

 

‘This is fucked up, ain’t it? Sittin here, pretendin everythin is okay. Smilin and givin these people everythin they want while all I can really do is think bout ways I can fuck over my wife and one of my best friends. Does that make me a bad person? And if just thinkin bout it doesn’t make me a shitty guy..does lookin forward to actually goin through with it..make me that?

 

The more I think bout it, the easier it’d be, really. I’m pretty more than sure Jennie would be perfectly okay with me and her teamin up to take Toddy outta the occasion. The bell rings and we just..mug her. Beat her like she owes us money. We’re quick as fuck. Toddy would never see it comin.

 

And then..I could get one up on Jennie. Let her take lead on takin Toddy out and then when the deed is done..I could catch her by surprise. Drop her on her head. Hit her with that Cutter. Get my getback from Blood Money. In reality..I don’t really care bout how it’s done..just so long as I come out on top.’

 

Eventually, all of the faces began to blur together. Indistinguishable at best. It felt as if he was just going through the motions at this point. Smile. Sign. Hug. Pose. All of a sudden, it all felt fake to him. Ricky was here but like..not here, at the same time. He wasn’t really sure how to feel about that..at all.

 

‘I’ve done the best I’ve possibly can..keepin everythin together..while she’s been gone. I’ve given her every inch of space possible. And at the same time..I’ve started figurin things out for myself. My eyes are open like they haven’t been open before. I need this win and I’m ready to do whatever I hafta do in order to win it.

 

I’ve been bustin my ass so hard. I deserve this win. I deserve..whatever the Blood Money Briefcase is. Every day of my life..I’ve put everyone else before me and now that I’m where I am..no more. Outside of the ring is one thing..but in there..I can’t put anyone else before me. I won’t. And that includes Jennie and Toddy.’

 

The rest of the signing went without a hitch. It was actually a pretty good time, despite Ricky being completely and totally lost in his own thoughts.

 

‘See, I loved teamin with Jennie on Valentine’s Day like that. We went out there and really meshed well together. We won..we fuckin killed it. Jennie..she fights differently now. Before, you could see..really feel the thought behind every move she did. But now? It’s..erratic. Hard to really pin down for an explanation. But that’s okay..I’m ready for that. I got somethin for that.

 

And Toddy’s Toddy. Always been Toddy. Always gonna be Toddy. I’ve been spendin alottabit of time..watchin all the matches we’ve had before. I’m gonna be ready this time. I know what to look for. I know how to avoid what I need to avoid. I’m ready for her. Not to mention, there’s so much goin on with her and Austin here lately, dunno if her head even gonna be in it, y’know?

 

I don’t think I’ve ever really been this prepared for a match before. I hafta win this. No matter what it takes..I hafta win. If there’s a shortcut I can take..I hafta take it. I love them both to death but it’s my turn now. I’m not takin a backseat to anyone..not anymore..not here..’

 

And finally it came time for the signing to be finished. Thankfully too, Ricky felt as he thought of just how many different tables they were, selling toys of every kind. There was just one person left to have something signed. Ricky looked up at the young lady and completely and utterly froze.

 

Her face was familiar and yet different at the same time, if that even makes sense. But even after a few months, the sight of her sent a strange chill down his back. She greeted him with a smile as she placed the picture of him down onto the table. Ricky looked at it briefly before looking back up at her. It was Alessa Holloway and memories of their last encounter came flooding back.

 

She wanted Ricky to help her bring things back to the way it was for their grandparents. He wanted no part of it then and things haven’t changed at all in that aspect. The sound of her voice shook Ricky from his thoughts.

 

Alessa: ‘Are you going to say anything or are you going to just sit there?’

 

Shaking his head, Ricky laughed out before putting on a smile as he got to his feet. Walking around the table, the two shared a brief hug before Ricky stepped back. Turning back to that table, he signed her picture before turning his attention back to Alessa. 

 

Ricky: ‘How’ve you been, Alessa?’

 

She picked her now signed paper up before looking around briefly.

 

Alessa: ‘Can we talk?’

 

The eyes of Ricky closed briefly, a soft sigh following shortly after. He really didn’t want to but Ricky had that whole thing with not being able to say no so he nodded his head.

 

Ricky: ‘Yeah, sure. I just finished up here and wanted to go check out all the booths and shit. C’mon.’

 

Alessa nodded her head as the two walked away from the signing area. Just like Ricky said, there were so many tables and booths, selling toys, art, memorabilia, and almost anything else you could imagine. Which totally explained the kid in a candy store mentality Ricky was showing.

 

Alessa: ‘So..after we had that..fight..I went back and started trying to rebuild the community. The ones that even remembered it didn’t give me a second glance. Said my name didn’t hold the same..standing..there as yours does.’

 

Paying little to no mind to what she was saying, Ricky was more interested in literally everything else. Picking up and checking out various retro and new toys both, he’d occasionally nod with impression at the prices. Knowledgeable but fair.

 

Ricky: ‘Oh, I’m glad to hear you’re doin good, at least. Look like you been takin care of yourself and all that. Somethin different bout your hair tho..’

 

Alessa: ‘Did you even hear a word I just said?’

 

Ricky: ‘Got some really big ass matches comin. Facin my wife Jennie and Toddy. You remember Toddy. Oh yeah, and I got married, if you didn’t hear. It’s bouta be a hell of a match, honestly. Gonna do any and everythin I can to pick up the win.’

 

Alessa: ‘Ricky.’

 

And just like that, something caught Ricky’s attention as he moved to examine it closely.

 

Ricky: ‘Ohhh..shit. I’ve legit never seen a better lot of Irwin Dragon Ball Z figures this nice before. Carded and in great condition? Hell. Yes.’

 

Before he could say another word, Alessa grabbed him by the arm and turned him around to face her. She looked him in the eyes with an almost desperate look on her features.

 

Alessa: ‘Ricky..I’m talking to you.’

 

As soon as that last word left her mouth, Ricky returned the favor by grabbing her by the arm and rather forcefully guided her away from those set ups. Once far enough to where they couldn’t be heard, he let her go.

 

Ricky: ‘Look, we already had this discussion and I know damn well you remember how it went. And in case you forgot? Lemme refresh your memory. I don’t want any part of it. Then you left.’

 

Alessa: ‘I never really left, you know. I always had eyes on you. Cat..’

 

Ricky closed every bit of distance between the two of them as he stepped right up to her, face to face. 

 

Ricky: ‘That crazy bitch was your doin? I shoulda fuckin knew.’

 

Alessa: ‘Look, I really didn’t know she was going to go off the rails like that. She’s really not that bad of a girl.’

 

Ricky: ‘It doesn’t matter how good of a person she is, Alessa, she was here to..what..fuckin spy on me? Report back to you? What the fuck is that?’

 

Despite speaking in a hushed voice, Ricky’s tone was nearing the point of irate, a rarity for someone like him.

 

Alessa: ‘I wasn’t going to. I just remembered how hard things were for you here. I wanted to make sure everything was going to be good for you. For what it’s worth, I’m glad everything worked out for you..for the most part.’

 

A bit of confusion showed on the features of Ricky as he tilted his head to the side. He didn’t want to ask..really didn’t want to. But curiosity is a bitch, to say the least.

 

Ricky: ‘For the most part?’

 

Alessa: ‘You’re still having trouble with..winning..’

 

The bluntness of her words caused Ricky to close his eyes with a sigh.

 

Alessa: ‘And don’t even get me started with your relationship with Jennie. Or is it your relationship with Thad and Sahara?’

 

Ricky: ‘We’re done here. I wish I could say it was fun catching up.’

 

Alessa parted her lips to speak but Ricky was quick to push past her, heading back towards where he was before dragging her off. She turned around, watching on as Ricky went back to examining those figures. Shaking her head slowly, Alessa turned around before walking away. 

 

Still checking out those racks of figures, Ricky wasn’t nearly as excited as he was before the conversation with Alessa. Even still, he continued browsing those collectibles. 

 

‘Why’d she hafta come back? Everythin was soo much fuckin better and now here she comes, kickin shit up and around. And it’s bullshit..it’s not fair, y’know? There’s no point in her even bein here anymore. I shot down her fuckin batshit crazy plan. There was no doubt or hesitation or nothin..justa no. I don’t even know if she gonna listen..but what I do know is I can’t be bothered by this. I’ve got too fuckin much goin on right now.

 

Primed and ready to throw out every sense of integrity I have..just to succeed here. Ready..willin..and able to fuck over the people I love just for..whatever the fuck a Blood Money Briefcase is. Not just that tho, I got that bid on the Bronx Championship. I need to win this so when I do win the bid, I’m comin in with a full head of steam.

 

They’ll understand tho, right? Jennie and Toddy? I deserve the understandin. Toddy whooped my ass those times, I didn’t think ill of her for it. I just kept my smile on and acted like nothin at all happened. Jennie needed to go on this..journey of betterment or however you wanna call it. And I just kept my smile..no matter how much it fuckin killed me to wake up to that note.’

 

Ricky’s face flashed with a twinge of pain at the post Blood Money 2 memory. Waking up to see that empty bed. Reading that letter. It was still something that ate at him from the inside. And he hated it..every last bit of it. He had finally made up his mind. He wanted the whole ass lot of figures he was checking out. The seller’s face lit up, a large smile growing across his face.

 

‘Look at that, somethin so simple as sellin a few toys totally made this dude’s whole day. That’s where I’m at right now. Fuckin Alessa ruined my whole ass mood and the fact that she still has the power to do that just..blows my fuckin mind. Which is the exact same thing Ima do to Toddy..to Jennie..to everyone.

 

They’ll never know what hit them. Both of’em, they look at me and see someone who’ll fight anyone..but goin to war is a whole nother story. But that changes now. This ain’t gonna be just a fight..not for me. I’m gonna do whatever I hafta do to come out on top over two of the people who mean the most. Consequences be damned.

 

They’ll never see it comin.’

 

After paying for that purchase, the seller was kind enough to provide Ricky with a large plastic storage bin for the figures. Filling that bin up and closing it, Ricky and that seller exchanged a few words before picking that bin up and heading outside. He loaded up the bin before sitting on the back of his ride. Pulling out that dab pen from his pocket, he took a couple long drags off of it, hoping to better his mood.

 

And it worked, for the most part. The smile felt less fake and that childlike excitement returned more and more with each hit he took. Ricky even found himself approached by a few fans, engaging in discussions with them as he smoked. After they left, he was quick to hop down and venture back inside to continue his hunting.

 

‘I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love them..so much..Jennie and Toddy both. There’s nothin I won’t do for them. But this is mine and I won’t let anyone take it from me.

 

I love them both..but I love me moreeee~’

 

Watching on as Ricky disappeared back inside, Alessa Holloway let out a slight laugh before shaking her head. She slipped her hand into the pocket of her jeans and pulled out that phone. Making that call, she held the phone up to the side of her head and face, waiting for the answer.

 

Alessa: ‘You were right, Bobby. He was exactly where you said he was going to be.’

 

Bobby: ‘He told you to fuck off, didn’t he?’

 

A scowl grew across her face as she heard the hearty laughter emitting from Bobby on the other end of the line.

 

Alessa: ‘In more words, yes. But it’s okay. I could see it in his face, Bobby. He’s tired of all of this. The wrestling. The people. The life. It’s only a matter of time until he needs to get away from it all. And that’s where I’ll come in.

 

You know he has a hard enough time saying no as it is. It’s only a matter of time until he gives in. He knows this life isn’t for him. These..people aren’t for him.’

 

Bobby: ‘I’m not holding my breath, Alessa. This is your last chance. If this fails, I’m done. I’m cutting every tie with you and I’m going to let him figure things out for himself.’

 

Alessa: ‘As if you’ll ever have that option, Bobby.’

 

Without another word, Alessa ended that call and returned her phone to her pocket. In her free hand, there was a solid white envelope. She walked up to Ricky’s vehicle, tucking it up under one of the wiper blades. She drug the tips of her fingers across the surface of it, a soft yet almost menacing smile growing out as she did so.

 

Alessa: ‘Doubt is an amazing thing.’

 

And with that, Alessa turned her back to the car before slowly walking off.