Welcome to the (Concrete) Jungle

By: Ashlynn Cassidy

Date: 23rd Sep 2021

If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere, that’s what they say.
Seeing my name in lights or my name on marquees found down on Broadway
Even if it ain’t all it seems, I got a pocket full of dreams…

***

It’s the day after the day after Venom #8 so by now the card for Venom #9 has been made public, and promotion for the show is already up in New York. A long-haired woman walked along the sidewalk around the corner from Hearst Tower. The woman has the looks of someone who wasn’t entirely there. She looked somewhat distracted. She was there, but her mind wasn’t. It wasn’t a “deranged” kind of absentmindedness but she was definitely spaced out. Until…

Sorry!” the woman said, nearly bumping into a pair of young people. One was rather a short blonde girl, the other a short-dark haired pale gentleman who must have been nearly a foot taller than his companion. 

It’s cool, whatev-” said the fellow, before being nudged in the ribs by the girl beside him. She tilted her head toward a LED billboard advertising FIGHT! NYC and Venom #9 “That’s her right?” The girl mumbled. The screen showed a graphic of a masked newcomer, Tigre Ultra, and the woman scheduled to face him, Ashlynn Cassidy

Ashlynn’s mind was brought back to the present moment. She became aware that the gentleman was sporting a black tee with the FIGHT! NYC logo on it. The girl was wearing a shirt in support of new Islands Co-Champion Shawn Warstein. Ashlynn knew that she had to flip a switch and fast. Not that she really knew what the other side of the switch really was yet, but she had a bit of an idea-more well put-together than this. 

You bet, that’s me! You might know it yet, but you’ll be seeing me a lot here. Get in on the ground floor because I am taking off. Remember that.” Ashlynn spoke with confidence in her voice and a smirk on her face. Looking at the shirts they wore reminded the newcomer of how this new venture was the biggest stage she’s ever been on. The two F!NYC fans looked at each other, the pair weren’t exactly convinced. It was evident that Ashlynn wasn’t a veteran celebrity. 

If you say so” said the male.

Good luck, I guess!” The female threw in. 

You’re right.” Ashlynn replied, addressing the taller fan. She then turned to the other fan.  “Thank you, but some advice? You can make your own luck. I’m gonna make mine. I will be a star. I won’t be leaving any other choice but for people to embrace me. They’re gonna HAVE to put me on the promotional poster. They’re gonna HAVE to put me in main events.” Ashlynn put a hand up as soon as she saw that the pair’s eyes were rolling. She walked on past them, but turned back to make some sort of closing statement. “Ashlynn Cassidy is the future, like it or not!” 

Well, that went…somewhere.
Just keep walking.
Am I in the clear yet?

Ashlynn looked up from the sidewalk she’d buried her head in to check her surroundings. Besides, she was getting a little dizzy. Thankfully, she could start to shut off again. She still had a bit of a walk until she was properly hidden away in her new studio at FIGHT tower. 

Short debrief time?

That came off really rude. She couldn’t help it though. She was caught off guard and panicked. The woman who touted herself as “Undeniable” wasn’t a rookie by any means but she’d only performed for smaller, independent promotions. Now at FIGHT, she would perform on the same cards as talent such as Atara Themis, Kasey Winterborn, Betsy Granger and Ophelia Pain. These, among others, were all talents that she followed as a fan. She thought the world of them and their work. All those names have been on big stages and delivered. Could she? To the woman behind the character, she thought of her peers as celebrities and rockstars, but never one herself. She was going to have to be if she wanted to not look like a fraud and a joke. 

Shhh! Stop!

Ashlynn gave her head a shake and wrung her hands as she’d arrived at the tower entrance. Maybe she could just do what she always did when she got in her head too much. 

Write.

______________________

After getting off of the elevator and onto her floor she inserted her left Airpod in her ear, then the other in her right. She made her way into her new studio that was so generously gifted to her upon signing. She took a moment to take in the view from, not quite the top but still pretty high up. She walked to her bedside table and pulled out a book of blank pages, a pen, and an envelope. She found a spot next to her bed and carefully ripped out a few pages to write on. Ashlynn put on “Empire State of Mind (Part 2)” and was set to block out the world. 

My love,
How are you? I miss you

Immediately, Ashlynn stopped, balled up the piece of paper and tossed it against the wall. 

Nope! Again!

Hi,

I certainly have been keeping busy. I’ve been doing the thing, maybe the only thing I know how to do well. And you know what? Things are just starting to work out. Right now, I’m writing this in a fucking

Ashlynn stopped writing, crossing out the profanity. 

…a ******* tower! I’m now part of the same company as some of the most successful, hardest working wrestlers in the world! I get to appear alongside them, and more eyes will be on me than there have ever been. I’m in NEW YORK CITY! You know what they say about New York. If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere? 

It’s all kinda still getting to me. I had a run in with fans today. I was recognized right away. The billboard nearby gave it away, but still. I don’t think I was ready to turn on “Ashlynn” on the spot like that. I get it, though. I get that this is part of the job. If I want to stay here, if I want to hang here? I have to know that today wasn’t the last time. My first opponent? They’ve got a mask on. They don’t get to go around these streets and carry it with them wherever they may go. The mask obscures their face. The mask separates mortal from myth. What do I have except making the choice in my mind to turn it on and off? I am determined to last here. I am going to make you proud. I am going to be one of those big names. I am going to be a legend. I’m gonna make sure this is all worth it. 

She never realized it, but Ash had been squeezing the pen harshly, eventually her hand stung and she let go for a moment before continuing on. 

Well shit…
I could have all the fans in the entire goddamn world, I don’t know if it will change me or not, because I’ve never been this famous, but I’ll never forget the one fan I need for life. 

Love,
Mom

The writing was finished. She folded what she had written, placed it in the envelope and sealed it with a kiss. 

She promptly took the letter and added it to a pile of sealed envelopes in a box by her bed. 

___________

It was Thursday morning, just a minute from noon. Ashlynn had arranged for a bit of a fan Meet-and-Greet/Media day. This time she was ready to put on a show. 

Today, she made sure she was all made and dressed up in a classy, more elegant red dress paired with a pair of four inch heels. If she was gonna be a star, if she was gonna be a celebrity she may as well dress the part. At the very least “fake it til you make it” right? Ashlynn took a deep breath. 

Here
We
Go!

Smile, stupid!

Ashlynn made her way out to greet cameras, reporters and fans alike. She waved and even blew a few kisses toward the scrum before taking her seat at the centre of the long table. “Thanks for coming out, y’all! I’m not much of a talker, so I’ll try to make this quick, and then we can do all the fun stuff, yeah?” 

All questions were to come from fans. 

A gentleman in a Sahara top was first to stand up. “What do you have to tell fans who’ve never seen you perform before? What should they expect?” 

First off, I want you all to know that I do not take this match even the slightest bit lightly. I understand how this goes. I always liked to say that first impressions were overrated but that was before I got here. I know how competitive Fight is. I understand that a bad start could derail my entire FIGHT! career. I want everyone to know that I plan on making a statement. I am one hell of a capable pro wrestler. I told myself when I jumped back on the wrestling horse that I was not going to let myself stay in the shadows. I told myself that I was not going to let myself be a secret. Come Saturday, everyone gets to be in on the secret that I am the future. I am a defensive specialist but I intend to go into my match Saturday and pick up the W, by any means necessary.”

A girl stood up, it was the blonde from the sidewalk encounter. “So you admit you’re a cheater? You know, your opponent would never do that. Shame on you.” 

Ashlynn laughed it off confidently, amused. Some might take this as arrogance, but it was more because she remembered who this was. “No, I am simply an OPPORTUNIST. I don’t approach matches with an intention to be underhanded at all, and I trust in my skills enough that I wouldn’t need to cheat.” Nonetheless, she tilted her head and shrugged slightly. “See the difference between me and Tigre Ultra is simple,  that I’m more authentic. I don’t dress up and play superhero, I show up as someone with a chip on both her shoulders, even one on her knee. I don’t hide behind a mask and claim to have this unshakeable moral code. I admire the sentiment but that’s a load of bullshit. What Tigre Ultra is pitching you IS A MYTH. The image they want to project is one that no REAL person can ever abide by. They are playing a CHARACTER. With the ideals Tigre Ultra has? Anyone could play a role. Anyone could wear that costume. Hell, if this one get injured and can’t wrestle anymore? Hand over the outfit to the next wrestler who needs a gimmick.

The self-proclaimed “Counter Queen” stood up, pointing to herself. 

Me? There is only one of me. There will ONLY be one of me-unless one day there’s a movie made about me. If there is? If I get that big? It won’t be because I was anyone else but me. I believe that you will reap what you sow.  The only way I make it anywhere is my own way. I’m someone who will scratch, claw, and fight to earn every single thing that I’m gonna get. My name will go down in history because…well because I’m not going to give history a choice. I get as far as my skillset and my drive will take me. And my drive? There aren’t enough walls in all of New York to make me stop. I WANT this. I have sacrificed so much time, blood, sweat and tears to just get this far. I DID NOT GET THIS FAR JUST TO GET THIS FAR.

A third fan approaches the mic stand set up for questions. “Are you sing-

Ashlynn puts a hand up and gestures to shoo him away. “Look everybody, I intend to stay in FIGHT! To do that, I’m gonna have to start somewhere. I get that he may be beloved and you can label me the supervillain if you want, I don’t give a shit. When that final bell rings? I am willing to do what it takes to get the win. I will plant my flag through that heart of El Valiente. FNYC will know that Ashlynn Cassidy has arrived. They can watch on from the back and look at him as a testament that when I want something like I want this victory I am unrelenting, I am unstoppable, I am UNDENIABLE.

No more questions.

The “Undeniable” newcomer walks out from behind the press table as one of the moderators told the crowd that the other activities would begin in a few minutes. 

I’ll get the hang of this!…Eventually