Through the Looking Glass [ PART 2 of 2 ]
Date: 24th Aug 2021
Saharaís smiling lips soon parted, ”Allison! Howís your husba–“But Allison Riggs-Preston wasnít about to put up with Saharaís bullshit snark today. Allison lunged forward, wrapping her hands around the taller blonde’s throat, sending her latte splattering across the room as they both crashed up against a floor to ceiling glass panel with an echoing thud, which somehow held their weight. Grabbing a fistful of her hair in defense, Sahara wrenched Allisons head back and they both stood gridlocked, snarling at each other like rabid dogs.
Through gritted teeth, Allison grumbled something about her husband and Sahara being a toxic whore. As they both continued to jockey for position, Sahara found some separation and nearly laughed through her words as she wiped the back of her hand across her mouth, ”I prefer to say I marked my territory, if ya know what I mean.”Allison immediately closed the distance and leveled her in the midsection with a knee, before grabbing fistfuls of that platinum hair and sending her flying down the hallway, where Sahara got tangled up in her own legs and fell to the floor. Her head immediately snapped up, looking at Allison with a vengeful glare. Sahara charged, tackling Allison into the glass door behind them, as they both spilled through into the adjoining hallway, twisting and turning as various office workers scattered away from the fray! Fists and curse words flew furiously, as neither gave an inch, tumbling through the long hallway, knocking down anything in their path. They finally spilled through an emergency exit and fell together, sliding toward the metal staircase where they both tumbled ass over teakettle in a heap down the stairs. When they came to a momentary stop at the bottom of the flight of stairs, Sahara somehow rolled into a sitting position and grabbed her head as blood began cascading down around her eyebrow, which seemed to infuriate her even more as she kicked Allison in defense after getting her bell rung. The all out brawl continued down another flight of stairs before they burst through the emergency exit door and rolled over a number of office employees who werenít quick enough to get out of the way. Grabbing Sahara by her hair, which was already turning a pinkish hue from the blood, Allison shoved her face up against the glass of a conference room wall and slid her across it, as Sahara fought to free herself. A large streak of blood and some smeared up hand prints were left on the glass which brought a wicked smile to Allisonís face. A couple of executives in the room emerged and looked with utter shock at the glass, before looking at the blood covered women panting heavily in the hallway. Attempting to use the distraction, Sahara grabbed Allison by the back of her shirt and twisted, trying to throw her into a reinforced metal door with the markings of a male figure on it, but Allison countered just in time and Sahara found herself crashing into the door shoulder first and collapsed just as it swung open. Just inside the door where Sahara was on all fours was a drinking water dispenser, and Allison reactively shoved it toward her, but Sahara rolled out of the way just before it hit, and water exploded all over the menís locker room as various FIGHT trainees ducked for cover, grabbing towels or whatever else they could find to cover their unmentionables and doing their best to cover their faces to get the hell out of the scene. Crawling away on her hands and knees, Sahara reached for one of the wooden benches to get back to her feet, and Allison quickly grabbed her, bouncing her forehead off the bench. Sahara grabbed her head and twisted to her feet in a momentary daze, but immediately tripped over the bench and stumbled backwards into a set of lockers. Spinning around in blind defense, she grabbed a charging Allison and pulled her back, and their momentum sent the side of Allisonís head ricocheting off the metal doors of the lockers with an echo. Allison grabbed her head as both girls continued to kick at each other and crawled away, finding a moment’s rest opposite each other against the lockers. Bleeding from the head and heaving for breath, Sahara rested back against the lockers and wiped the sweat mixed blood from above her eye. Also out of breath and either bleeding herself or covered in Saharaís blood, Allison rested with her hands on her knees, slowly sinking to the floor against the opposite set of lockers. The two blondes had battled their way through FIGHT Tower, and ended up in one of the various locker rooms where they finally recognized neither was about to give an inch.
It was Allison Riggs-Preston that first broke the silence. ”What the hell are we doing?!”
Sahara wanted to laugh, but doing so was pretty painful at the moment. ”Exactly what FIGHT was hoping for? Being Toxic. On Camera.” She used her head to motion around to the various Occhi cameras focused on them, even in the privacy of the locker room. As Sahara had discovered, the only place these cameras werenít allowed were in restrooms, showers and bedrooms. All part of the deal if you wanted to live in the confines of FIGHT Tower.Allison looked around and let out a bit of a laugh.
Sahara sat herself more upright against the lockers and shrugged, ”I just Ö I donít get it. If you knew you were gonna fail that lie detector test, why the fuck did you agree to do the show?! Were you purposefully trying to sabotage your marriage?!”
Allison shook her head, ”Do you really think I would go on that show if I knew I was going to fail it?” She sighs. ”Itís not like it matters, youíre going to believe what you want, but I wasnít lying. I donít know what happened at that show, I donít know if itís all just a setup for entertainment, but theyíre wrong. I never cheated on Dane until after I was humiliated on that show when I saw you two on stage together. Thatís when it finally hit me, and donít bother denying it, because it was obvious. I suppose I should have known for yearsÖI remember touring with them in the EWA, and all I heard after a show was Sahara this, Sahara that! Youíre all he would talk about when he was at that godforsaken place, and then, no matter where he went, you followed. OPW? There you were. FIGHT? Somehow Sahara gets an invitation! Itís like, wake up Allison, of course theyíre fucking!”
Softly banging the back of her head off the lockers behind her, Sahara shook her head, ”You have no idea what youíre goiní on about, Allison. I never did anything with Dane back then. I mean, I would have, it wasnít for my lack of trying, but we were just kinda frenemies that slowly became friends over time. When it came to you? He was loyal to the bone. Trust me. It made me sick.” Sahara made a bit of a purposeful gagging sound in light of this revelation. ”There were no benefits, if ya know what I mean.””Then whyíd you insist on going to the Maury show with him?! You had no stake in this other than my husband, and if you two hadnít bee–“
”No stake? Until FIGHT came along, and God even knows who opened the door for me here, I had nothiní goiní on. Auditions had dried up on the Hollywood scene, and I wasnít about to go put over a bunch of morons in the Indys in front of two hundred Ďfansí and fall on thumbtacks or some dumb shit. This was my opportunity at the big time. Maybe my last opportunity. Yíall had one of the hottest things goiní. We got history. It all just fits. And I was hopiní and prayiní itíd go just like it did. Seeiní a perfect person such as yourself get humiliated and torn down on national TV?” She let out a mocking little laugh, ”Yeah, I wouldnít miss that for the world. I know you canít see it, but itís a matter of perspective. That shit was gold. As for what happened after the show–“
”You mean when you went back to the hotel and fucked my husband?!” The venom in Allisonís tone was palpable.
Sahara rolled her eyes, ”Yea, while you were off fucking Joe. Letís call it even.””Then why?! Why?! Seriously, if you hadnít been banging my husband all these years, what is it you have against me?! Whatíd I ever do to you?” This question somehow gave Sahara pause. There seemed a sudden sadness mixed with an abject anger in her pale blue eyes.
”Because you exist.” While this comment nearly made Allison roll her eyes, Sahara let out a deep sigh as she continued on– ”Lemme tell you a little story, since you asked. When I was a little girl, I remember goiní to the grocery with my ma, and I mean, you know how it is, they got the little candy stand right there by the registers because they know itís the last thing youíll see and wanna impulse buy? Well, I mean, Iím a little girl and of course I want a candy bar. I always did. So there I am with my little blonde pigtails and bright blue eyes and my scraped up little knees begging for a candy bar, so of course my ma gives in ní gets it for me–“Her voice trailed off for a few seconds as she almost seemed lost in the memory, but Allison did nothing to interrupt. ”Now at the time it didnít really register, I just know I got a candy and my ma was the greatest ma in the world! What I didnít realize until I got older was there were times sheíd get me that candy and tell the checker to take the coffee creamer off, or something like that. This may sound crazy to you, but thatís the way it was for us.” ”She got me that candy and then didnít drink cream in her coffee for the next few days until they could scrounge up some more grocery money.” Sahara paused for a moment, quickly wiping her eyes. ”I hate you and people like you cuz you got everything. Iím just a Ö whatever from the Southside of Chicago everyone makes fun of cuz, yanno, dumb blonde lolz! I went to public school, and not a very good one; you prolly went to some silver spoon high or somethiní that was just a wee bit outta our income bracket. You drove a fucking Range Rover when you got your drivers license; I took the goddamn bus or drove around with dudes that wanted to bang me. Weíre from two different worlds, Allison. You got a husband that loves and respects you, you got Ö kids. You got it all, and oh yeah, you wrestle Ďcuz you wannaí. I do this–I wrestle because itís the only thing I can do thatíll make me a decent living. It was either that or waitress at some diner with my infinite real world skills. You and your weirdo family do this Ďcuz you think itís fun. I do it because if I didnít, Iíd be on welfare or scrapiní by like all the other girls I grew up with.” Sahara looked at Allison for a second before brushing the pinkish blood stained hair out of her eyes.
”You gotta understand somethiní. Every time I go out there I got this lingering thought runniní through the back of my mind. One fuck up. One mistake. Thatís all itíll take. One slip up and my career is over, just like that.” Sahara snaps her fingers. “Poof! Gone. All of this is just Ö gone. Sure I can fall back on my awesome waitressing skills, where I can limp around from my lingering wrestling injury and cry over tips and struggle for the rest of my life, but you? If that happens to you, nothing changes. You still got your maids and your landscapers, and your fancy cars and your caviar…”
”So forgive me for hating on you Ö for no reason.”There was a lingering silence as Allison rested her head back against the lockers. The two beaten up blondes looked at each other, but the looks of disdain or derision had all but vanished. ”Well? You gonna say somethiní?!” Allison stared at Sahara for the longest time before she finally spoke.
”I am sorry, Lauren.” She didnít address her by her stage name but by her real name. “I am sorry you had a shit life. I am sorry that my father was Damon Fuckiní Riggs, I am sorry that my father put his body on the line and invested his money so that way one day when he had kids, he could give them everything thing that he didnít. Sorry, I have the perfect husband with the perfect kids and the perfect life.”She looked at Sahara. ”But let me assure youÖ it wasnít always glitter and gold for daddyís little princess. Yeah, everyone wanted to be my friend but not because of me, but because I was Damon Riggsí daughter. They hung around with me because I had a credit card that didnít have a limit on it. And guys, it was all bragging rights for themÖ ĎHave you met my girlfriend, Allison? Sheís Damon Riggsí daughter.í Ö ĎI am dating Damon Riggsí daughter, Allison.í Iíve spent my whole life with my friends introducing me to people as Damon Riggsí daughter.” She chuckles a little.
”Speaking of being Damon Riggsí daughter. Do you know how many times Iíve been kidnapped because I am Damon Riggsí daughter? If you thought, JMont was the first time, youíre wrong. First time I was 14yrs old; took me, my mom, Voo to prove some sort of point or something. Blamed it on an alter ego. I watched him, huddled in a corner as he took his anger out on VooDoo. It was shortly after that, I started training. And it wasnít for the ring, but for self defense, because man, just as soon as my body really started to develop, just about every mother fucker in the business came out trying to be the man that popped Damon Riggsí daughterís cherry. I couldnít walk the backstage without some dude saying.. ĎHow you doin?í Do you know how many times Johnny Stylez told a mother fucker to move on who was messing with me? Kinda bad when Johnny had to get involved.”She shook her head.
”My whole life everyone has watched on a TV screen or in magazines. I had to act a certain way, be a certain way because if I wasnít, they would have ripped me, my dad, and my family apart. Shit, I couldnít even tell my family I was bi and had feelings for girls because I was worried about them ripping my dad apart in the media. I used to lay awake at night and wonder what it was like to have a normal family, with parents with a normal 9-5 job, and live a normal life.” She paused. ”Yeah, I know.. Poor little Allie Riggs and her first world problems, boo-hoo.”
”Yeah, wellÖ”, Sahara mimicked a crying motion with her hands. ”I had one of those normal lives, and trust me when I tell ya this is a whole lot better.” They both shared a bit of a subdued laugh, mostly directed at themselves. ”Itís Ö itís just that I look around at everyone, and it all just seems to come so easy for them. I busted my ass for almost four years tryiní to make it in Hollywood, dealiní with the sleazy casting directors, endless auditions where everyone seems a decade younger, and itís all like, sheís too tall, too blonde, too strong, itís Ö whatever. Then I come here and every rando seems to be makiní movies and whatever, and itís like, they didnít even have to work for it! Even in wrestling, I look around and everyones a fifty-five time world champ, or this or that, and here I am, multiple decades in the business and Iíve had four title runs. Four. Total. I mean, I made it to the top but it didnít last. Itís just Ö itís all so Godamned hard for me.”Sahara banged the back of her head off the locker and made a bit of a grimace face, instantly regretting it.
”Theyíre made of metal, Blondie.” Allison let out a little laugh.
Rubbing the back of her head, she shot Allison a look, ”Yeah, thanks.””Theyíre faking it.” Saharaís eyes narrowed as she looked across at Allison.
”The other wrestlers around you. Theyíre faking it. Or theyíre outright lying. And who cares about Hollywood? Ninety percent of the shit they make these days isnít worth the film itís printed on and the other ten percent isnít being made by wrestlers. Everything you just said about how you grew up and how hard this is for you? Thatís what makes you so dangerous out there. Youíre one of the few people here fighting for more than just titles, and thatís an edge most people will never have. Itís probably what my father sees in you.”
Dropping her head a bit, Sahara couldnít help but smile. She didnít know why, but always held Damonís opinions in the highest regard. ”Is this the part where Iím supposed to say something nice about you so we can end our little after school special?!”Allison shrugged as she pushed herself back to her feet. Sahara merely leaned her head back against the lockers and continued staring up at her Toxic tag partner.
”Something complimentary from you about me?!” Allison laughed, ”Iíd sooner believe my Maury results than that load of shitÖ”
As Allison walked toward the door, she looked back at Sahara and flashed a devious smile, ”And donít get me wrong, youíre still a bitch, and Iím glad I busted your pretty little head open! Nice talk!”Reaching up, Sahara touched above her eyebrow and looked at the blood on her fingertips before turning back to Allison. ”Yeah? And I still fucked your husband!” As she stepped through the door, the last thing Sahara could see was Allison’s middle finger.
~~~~~For minutes after Allison left, I just sat there, contemplating everything that had just happened. The fight. Almost getting smashed by a fucking water jug. The unexpectedly candid conversation that followed. I canít say I was expecting that. Iím not sure we patched anything up, but maybe we understood each other a little better? Every so often Iíd break away from my thoughts and absently look up at a random and often confused half-naked male that wandered into that section of the guys locker room to find me of all people sitting there, smiling at nothing in particular, all while bleeding from the head.
“Yeah, what of it?!”, was about all it took to send them scurrying away.I propped my elbows on my knees and leaned forward from the lockers a bit, as the implications of a recurring thought suddenly hit me– What if Allison wasnít lying? What if all these years of anger and hostility toward her was misdirected?
And if she was telling the truth, then everything Iíd ever assumed about her was just Ö figments of my imagination?Was that supposed to be a question or a statement? It was a bit of a Schrodingerís Cat situation. Right now, as the results from the Maury show stood, Allison was a lying cheat, and everything Iíd ever felt about her was proven accurate. But if — and this is a big if — if Allison was telling the truth, and those test results were just for bullshit entertainment?..
Did I really wanna know?Tilting my head to get a better view, I gazed upon a small flat rectangle on the ground near the lockers. I found myself crawling across to where Allison had slumped down and picked up a laminated card, with the name Allison Riggs-Preston printed on it in a holographic font. Looking around, I quickly palmed it and could feel that devious smile of mine taking over… She dropped her keycard! Which means all Iíd need is a little disguiseÖ Getting up off the floor, I dusted myself and took a look around. Stepping over the downed water container, I opened the locker room door and stood out in the hall for a few moments as the gathered FIGHT Tower employees stared at me. Or maybe itís the bloody gash above my eye they were stariní at. One of the downfalls of “free room and board” is that it ainít really free. All you have to do is give up most of your privacy in exchange. That didnít really bother me, though. Everywhere I go, Iíd take notice of the various Occhi cameras situated throughout the building where they were deemed “legal” by the state bureaucrats and made sure to flash them a quick smile as I walked on by. It helps with my presentation to know where the cameras are, no matter where I am in the building.
I gave them a few nods and smiles and assured the staff it was, “merely a flesh wound”, though Iím not sure any of them got the joke…With a quick trip back to my living space, I patched myself up as best I could and put a baseball cap on to make myself look a little less like Ö myself. Just enough blonde sticking out where I could easily be mistaken as Allison Riggs-Preston at a glance. After all, if Iím gonna be using her keycard, it canít be obvious to big brother that itís not her using it! I could feel that devious smirk again as I thought back and mimicked Allisons snarky tone, “Iím glad a busted your pretty little head openÖ”. Yeah, well, letís see how your husband feels about that when I pay a little visit to his suite, considering I could just let myself in…
~~~~~Toxic Tag. How do I even address this?!
Dickie Watson. Paul “The Less Annoying” Montuori. Graham Clauson. Druscilla White. Apathy. Anicka Swan. Brandon Moore. Shawn Warstein. Dane “Oh God” Preston. Joe “The More Annoying” Montuori. Voodoo. Vodka Black. The “Other” Black. Dollface. Allison Riggs-Preston. And last but not least Ö me Ö Sahara.Talk about a stacked tournament. Any of those names on any given day could win this thing. Where the hell do I even begin to focus my efforts? What if I plan meticulously to face Dickie Watson, studying every move and every little tell he might have in the ring, but it never actually happens?! Or maybe it does happen, but it only lasts a few seconds because my partner is legal at the time? What if the people I end up facing the longest were the ones I dismissed way too easily?! What if they decide to shake up the matchups right prior to the show?! Itís almost like they made this impossible on purpose! This tournament is all about Blood Money. No, not the pay-per-view, but the actual currency.
Blood Money was the solution to the problem of wrestling promotions handpicking talent “they” deem “worthy” of a push to the top, and then giving those same people repeated opportunities despite how mediocre they might be. Or as I call them, friends. I mean, the saying, “Itís not what you know, but who you know.”, exists for a reason. This is that glass ceiling youíve surely heard of … and how FIGHT took a sledgehammer to that whole fuckiní idea. That glass ceiling may be invisible when looking from the top down — I mean, weíve all heard the olí bootstraps and brass ring speeches before — but when youíre one of the many stuck beneath that glass, trust me, itís pretty fuckiní opaque.Thatís where the blood money comes in. Hell, you donít even have to win to earn it Ö you just have to be patient. Collect enough and you can cash it in, making for your own opportunity. Think of it like a bazooka you can rent to shatter the ceiling and launch yourself into the spotlight. Evil promoters holding you down? Not at FIGHT theyíre not. The only person that can hold you down here is you Ö well, that and your Toxic tag partner. This is for a sum of ten thousand blood money dollars. Lemme repeat that. Ten. Thousand. Blood. Money. Dollars. Toxic Tag carried with it a big purse — but also a big set of problems. These were tossed together tag-teams with the bitterest of enemies having to set their differences aside long enough to try to compete on the same wavelength, with the same mindset, and with a common goal. Take it from me, suddenly seeing eye to eye with someone youíve spent years despising is a lot easier said than done. What number of questions will be runniní through my mind while these matches are goiní on? If it looks like weíre gonna lose, is that when sheís gonna decide to turn on me?! If push comes to shove, will she stick her neck out for me?!
Will I for her?!Normally, the only thing you really question in a match is your opponents. Now you gotta question the very person thatís supposed to be helping you. Not knowing if you could trust your own partner was one thing, but being that this was a tournament, other than the first round, you really had no idea who you were gonna be facing, which meant youíd have to adapt and adjust on the fly, and so would your partner! There is only so much mental preparation you could do to prepare for something like thisÖ This was a goddamn mess.
On one hand, Iíll admit it, I want nothiní more than to see the perfect little princess Allison Riggs-Preston fall flat on her pretty little face. On the other hand, I really want that fuckiní Blood Money, and I know I canít do it without her–So thereís that thought again. I know, queue up the jokes, Sahara has thoughts?! Yeah, I do. And I keep asking myself, over and over and over again Ö what if you arenít lying?! Would that make all of this even worse? So lemme ask you a question, Allison Riggs-Preston.
Can we really put our differences aside for one night and win this fuckiní thing?!
I ask because itís easy to say it, but itís a lot harder not to think it.
So hereís where Iím gonna say the quiet parts out loud, just so we can kinda say “fuck it”, it is what it isÖ
Now picture this. There you are, standiní on the ring apron at Toxic Tag, clutching that little tag rope meant to keep you in the corner, and there you are, watchiní me get pummeled by our opponents. Iím slowly fightiní back, inchiní my way closer and closer. The crowd goes oohhh as you reach out and you know — right then in that moment – you realize you got my life in the palm of your hand. You see me out there, fightiní the fight, and I reach out for the taaaaaaag — when you suddenly get to thinkiní, ”This bitch fucked my husband!” Thatís about when you pull your hand away and drop off the ring apron, and watch our opponents dismantle me with a smile on your face.Right? And yeah, I did fuck your husband. Multiple times. In multiple positions. One might say I fucked his brains out, or mine, whatever. The point is, I can swear up and down that I got your back, but itís not gonna stop you from your thoughts. Every fiber of my being screams that youíre tryiní to retcon this whole thing and make people believe you were somehow screwed by the Maury show, because thatís exactly what an entitled little bitch like you does best! You run to daddy and have him open that green privilege and make all of your problems disappear!
But this, what we got between us? This ainít gonna disappear. Every time you look at me, youíre gonna see the face of the woman that fucked your husband. But for one night and one night only, Iím gonna offer a pause. As a promise from me to you Ö Iíll have your back at Toxic Tag no matter what. Weíve known each other for quite a few years now, Allison, so letís kick our differences aside Ö and for one night Iíll forget youíre an entitled bitch if you could forget that I fucked your husband!See? Like I said, itís a lot easier said than done. Just remember this is all about the Blood Money. So fuck it. You hate me? Whatever. I hate you, too. But at least we understand each other now. So letís collect those crimson dollas’!