Shut Up And Let Me See Your Jazz Hands Oct 10, 2021 13:57:11 GMT -5 Masuda Teijin, Trey Bouchet, and 2 more like this
Post by lethe on Oct 10, 2021 13:57:11 GMT -5
Everybody wants to change the world
But no one, no one wants to die
Wanna try, wanna try, wanna try
Wanna try, wanna try, now
I'll be your detonatorThere were three problems with the mask.
The first problem was how hot it got under the lights. The sweat was stinging her eyes inside of that stupid mask. Plastering her hair to her head and running down the back of her neck. “Wear a mask, you said,” she muttered as she ducked Niamh’s elbow. “It’ll be fun, you said,” she bitched to no one but herself as she rolled Niamh up in a pin that she knew wasn’t going to stick but it gave her a moment to catch her breath. Try to blink some of that sweat out of her eyes.
She hadn’t thought about how hot it would get under the stupid fucking thing. Probably should have. But when she’d seen it for the first time all she could see was opportunity. A chance to create some distance from the things that had come before the mask.
There wasn’t time for more than half snippets of thought as she and Niamh scrapped over Luc Langerby’s limp body for the pin. In the end, she lost her balance and went through the ropes, body hitting the outside hard. The air rushed out of her lungs and the sweat stung her eyes and she was angry, so fucking angry. With herself, mostly, because by the time she could catch her breath enough to push up onto her feet she couldn’t do anything but watch Niamh claim the win.
The irony wasn’t lost on her.
This time it was her, watching while Niamh stole her win. Last time it had been Niamh watching while Lethe had done the same thing. These threesomes were getting old.
The other problem with the mask, besides all the sweat, was that she couldn’t take it off. As much as she wanted to rip the stupid thing off as soon as she was backstage and raw dog some air after feeling like she was breathing in soup all night… she couldn’t. There were too many people and too many cell phones. And she had enough experience with this business to know better than to trust her coworkers not to be the ones behind the camera.
The third and final problem with the mask was that it made leaving the arena and getting to that blissful shower a far more complicated process than it used to be. What was she going to do? Try to ride her bike down the strip wearing a fucking Minnie Mouse head? In order to get to that shower she had to take a miserable Lyft ride to the shitty motel room while she huffed the sour stink of her own cooling sweat and the ache of the emotions that she was keeping herself carefully detached from.
The frustration, the feeling of grabbing desperately for what she could keep of the momentum that she’d been building… it had to wait until she wasn’t Lethe anymore. Those feelings would be [redacted]’s problem.
Right now, while the mask was on, Lethe had to stay in character.
On - Camera
“It’s like the world’s worst foreplay,” Lethe teased, the sentence ending in a shrill giggle. The pink Minnie Mouse head, beaten and scuffed, filled the frame. That dead eyed mask didn’t match the voice coming from inside of it. Playful in a way that skewed toward violence. Lilting and unsettling. “Me and Niamh and our flavor of the week who just keeps getting in the way of all of our funnnnnn.”
We are pulled back slowly, gradually. A hint of a tattoo maybe? The studded shoulders of a pink leather jacket. It’s not as dark as it usually is in these pieces of time that she uploads to the internet to be dissected and torn apart. Long legs in shredded black jeans and heavy black boots dangle dangerously over the edge of the ferris wheel’s guardrail.
The ever present bat, pink and stained with rust (is it?) and wrapped in metal and studded with anything sharp enough to wound lays across her thighs. There are names gouged into its wood-- “But I didn’t get to add Luc Langerby’s name to this list,” she said, almost comically wistful as her fingertips dragged over the jagged wounds in the wood that she had gotten to inscribe. “Still got that times 2 on there for you, Niamh. Don’t worry. We’ve still got plenty of time for that, don’t weeeeeeee?”
Lethe crooked a finger and beckoned the camera back closer. Hidden inside of the mask, Lethe’s lips curled up into a snarl as her fingertips tapped tapped tapped against her collarbone. “Good. Fuckin’ good. Because godddddddddddddd,” Lethe shook her head, letting the mask sway on her shoulders. “I am tired of the John Blades. I’m tired of the whatshisfucks. That first guy with the boring name. You know who I mean. I’m tired of the Great Value Jim Jones’. I’m tired of people I haven’t stepped into the ring with yet because I know they’re all gonna be the same limp dicked bullshit as the last few. The Apokalypses and the Schizophrenias and all the other synonyms for a bad time that these dumb fucks could find in a Thesaurus.
I am begging you to be just a little bit more than that, Niamh. Fuckinnnnnnnnn’ just hurt me a little, shit. Grow some fuckin’ teeth and sharpen ‘em up real good before you get in that ring with me again. Or don’t come. Don’t even fuckin’ bother.”
The ferris wheel whines to life with a reluctant groan and metal grinds on metal as the chair swings and jolts towards the ground. “So while you’re throwing fuckin’ tantrums on Twitter and stewing over having to see my stupid ass face on the other side of the ring one more time… I’m not bothered. Because the point of all of this,” she swung her arms around, making the rickety old car rock violently. “Is that it isn’t supposed to be good enough, what we’re doing here. You’re not supposed to be satisfied. This is the fuckin’ slush pile, babyyyyyy. This is the bottom. This is the fuckin’ film of scum we gotta wade through. It’s the businessssssss. But you don’t know that, huh? It doesn’t seem like your MacNamaras explained that part to you. The powers that be who don’t know our names yet and won’t learn our names until they can make enough money on that name to put a down payment on their second Lambo. They throw us down here in the shit and we tear each other apart during a match when most of the audience is still trying to find their seat or find a parking spot.” A laugh, a little too long and a little too high.
“The point of all this is that I chew through whoever they put in front of me.” Lethe stops abruptly, mask dead eyed until the silence becomes uncomfortable. “Fuck, nevermind. I can’t think of an analogy for what cream rising to the top would be if what the cream is rising to the top of is shit. But you get it, right? The point of all this curtain jerking is to prove that we deserve to beeeeeeee up there. The point of all this shit is to wash out spoiled fucks who don’t get that this is how the business works. This is what they want us to do. They want us to just shut the fuck up and slog our way through the shit until we can prove that we don’t belong in it anymore.
So I guesssssssssssss if they keep putting you in front of me, Niamh, I’m gonna keep doin’ my fuckin’ best to chew through you. Until we see which one of us breaks first and I already know it’s gonna be you. You’re gonna wash out. You can tell when someone just doesn’t have it and you don’t. You’re weaaaaakkkkk,” she sing-songed, taunting the other girl. “You’re good in the ring. Technically fuckin’ sound like the gifted kid burn out you probably are just beggin’ for that A+. You could stand toe to toe with Lissie Hope one day if you wanted to but that’s the problem with you, Niamh. Mentally and emotionally you were already ready to fuckin’ crack before the last match. Ready to throw it in and… what was that tweet that I pinned? Ready to pad out my win record.
Did pinning Jim Jones’ janky little brother change that? Did Luc Langerby padding your win record give you a fuckin’ backbone that won’t fold when things get shitty again? I fuckin’ hope so. Because I’m tired of lookin’ at pre-defeated dumb fucks staring glassy eyed back at me from across the ring.
“I’m not intimidated.” The constant tapping of her fingertips against the mask, against her collarbone. The thud of one end of that baseball bat against the metal floor of the ferris wheel car echoed. “I’m not afraid to burn this fuckin’ building to the ground and piss on it’s ashes if that’s what it takes to give this business back it’s goddamn balls,” she punctuated each heavy word with a thump of the bat. And then an abrupt change as she leaned into the camera, a pout in her voice. “I’m just so fuckin’ tired of being boredddddd, you know?
I want… morrreeeeeee. This business has lost it’s fuckin’ teeth. Is this golf? Is this fuckin’ little league? Whyyyyy are you fucks so busy trying to make friends? Niaaaaaaaamh give me more, I’m fuckin’ begging you. More than what you’ve brought me. Because I’ll tell you what the fuck I’m gonna do. I’m gonna walk out there and I’m gonna do whatever the fuck I have to do to shred you. To chew through you. I will bite and rip and tear and claw and cuss and spit my way to victory and you know what else?”
We come in closer. The mask fills the screen again. Her voice loses it’s weird, lilting cadence and suddenly it sounds like a normal, sane person speaking. “I’m gonna make it look easy.”
She chewed her bottom lip as she stepped out of the shower and savored the moment of being clean finally. The Lethe mask stared back at her from the bed. “It’s one loss,” she said, tossing her damp towel over to cover it. “It doesn’t mean anything.”
Twisting from side to side, she marked the bruises on her rib cage, her hips. Concealed by tattoos in places but tender to the touch. The mask kept her face from the worst of it but her body took a beating every time. [Redacted] would tell her to pace herself. To stop walking out there every single time like it was a championship match. Stop throwing herself off of every high space she could find.
The hotel room was another part of the production of Lethe. Run down and old, the kind of no tell motel where bad choices were made and nicotine left a film over everything almost two decades after the smoking ban.
The stained bed sheets made her grateful that she was doing nothing more than showering, changing and slipping out the back to her bike.
Niamh had been right about one thing. It was easier behind the mask. The production that was Lethe was a kind of freedom she couldn’t get as [redacted]. She’d thrown herself on the grenade of her own pain to prevent it from hurting the people she loved. In the dead space inside of her it was exploding over and over and over again. On the outside, she smiled. She attended the therapy. The groups for survivors. She pretended that there was a shred of humanity left that hasn’t been burned out of her.
She pretended so well that she fooled herself.
The mask was freedom to growl and snarl and beg for pain and inflict pain. It was permission to explode instead of implode.
The towel had slipped down and the battered Minnie Mouse mask stared accusingly at her. “Stopppppp,” she groaned, grabbing the black bag that Lethe lived in when she wasn’t living through her. “An undefeated streak doesn’t mean shit in this business. Putting weight on that was always gonna be a bad fuckin’ time.”
Once the mask was tucked away with the rest of her gear, she pinched the bridge of her nose. “Fuck, now I’m talking to the goddamn thing.”
It was the anonymity. No one she loved was afraid for her when Lethe threw herself around like her bones were weapons. This secret side of her life that only [redacted] knew about and only then maybe because she couldn’t be Lethe and film Lethe and it had to be someone she trusted to be in on what she was doing.
Lethe was permission to leave a scar on this business wider and deeper than anything [redacted] had ever done. Deeper and wider than the scar that had been left on her soul. Behind the mask, she could siphon off that pain and rage and shape it into something that could rip and tear. She had permission to turn her fingers into claws and shred like she had once been shredded.
Lethe was freedom from the rules of human decency.
Lethe was freedom.
On - Camera
We are looking at the pink baseball bat, Niamh’s name carved into its wood with jagged scores. A reminder, maybe. A promise, definitely. And when we pull back from that bat, Lethe is perched on the counter of a rusting, dilapidated ticket booth. Swinging the bat against her boot with a thunk in time to her words, that awful uncomfortable lilting cadence that set teeth on edge.
“Niaaaaaamh. Do you know what my fatal flaw is? It’s that I’m never fuckin’ satisfied. Nothin’ is ever fuckin’ good enough for meeeee. I can’t have one shot of whiskey, I have to have the whole bottle. I can’t just fuck one bitch, I gotta fuck all of them. I can’t do one drug, I gotta do ‘em alllllllllll. And it turns out… it turns out I’m not satisfied with calling what I’ve done to you a win yet. I can’t call it a win until I’ve put you down on the canvas for the three count because beating you by beating Josiah just wasn’t good enough.
Do you feel it? Do you hate that it wasn’t me on the canvas instead of Luc. Let’s be honest. Luc’s part in that match was nominal. It was pointless. He laid down and he died for us. So nooooooo, I’m not satisfied at all.
I won’t be satisfied until I beat youuuuu and not some fuckin’ proxy. There’s not gonna be a Josiah Howard or a Luc Langerby in the ring with us on Monday to be the weakest link so I guess that’s gonna have to fall to youuuuuuuu.”
Lethe swung herself down from the ticket booth, stalking back and forth, fingers tapping at her mask. Clenching around the bat. “I’ll admit it. I thought I could sleepwalk through a match with you and Langerby. Got a little cocky. Got a little arrogant. I’ll admit it. I lost, I got burned. But thatttt?
That only makes me wanna step into the ring with you and make you regret every single moment that got you here. I wanna just uggghhhhhh,” she twisted her hands like she was choking something. “But I’ll follow the rules. Don’t worry.”
A harsh laugh from beneath the mask. “I’ll follow all these rules. But just know this. Know this. I’m not greeeeaaatttt at knowing when to hold back. I treat every single match like the last one.”
A sudden, strange switch in tempo as the words became more slurred, more like re like a song. “Because it could be. You never know when the place you wrestle is gonna get outed as a secret meth lab.”
The way Lethe walked, pacing like something caged, was just a little off, like everything else about her. Just a little too disjointed where it should be fluid and fluid where it should be disjointed. “Not gonna lie, I was a little surprised to see you still around after our first match. You seemed so fuckin’ ready to just give up and lay down and die.
But then… you didn’t.”
A smirk, wrapped up inside the mask where no one can see it but somehow you can still hear it in her voice that shifts to comically uplifting as if she’s roping the audience into the joke. “You’re welcome, by the way. Always happy to inspire a fan to never give up.”
A thump of the bat. “Just… don’t bring me the Niamh from a couple weeks ago. Bring me the Niamh who looked me dead in my eyes while she pinned Luc Langerby in front of me. I want that Niamh.
After all… I can’t use this match to push myself a little bit closer to the top if I’m destroying you once you’re already broken. Defeated. I can’t get what I need out of this shit if you’re just gonna lay down and die.
Nah, I want you to fight. I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed you to fight. Fuckin’ make it hurt.
If you can.”