Labyrinth IV: sᴜɴᴋᴇɴ ᴛʀᴇᴀsᴜʀᴇs Oct 17, 2021 12:07:49 GMT -5 Karlie Nash, CJ Phoenix, and 7 more like this
Post by Lissie Hope on Oct 17, 2021 12:07:49 GMT -5
I could smell the cheap rum seeping from Cassidy’s pores as he slept. Lying beside him, I couldn’t force my eyes closed. Glued to my phone, scrolling the Twitter feed, I read the hashtag gaining traction: #IStandWithJohnnyBacchus.
He was assembling an army. Some of these supporters, I once considered friends. I respected them as colleagues. But worst of all? One of them was my estranged sister.
I wasn’t worried about how threatening they were. We’re three World Champions - if we go three-and-0, Philidor Holdings would be holding the three major championships simultaneously. What I was concerned for was the emotional toll this would be taking on me, especially when I was feeling my most vulnerable. Des Moines had joined Miami and Las Vegas as cities that had brought me to my lowest. That night was largely a blur, but I vividly remember the cleansing. And I remember everything Johnny did… and didn’t do.
Earlier, I’d spent the evening nursing a Topo Chico while Cassidy pounded rum-and-cokes, but in between rubbing his neck and peaking at the ballgame - my Astros had pummeled the White Sox, and I almost didn’t care - I was fixated on the steam they were generating. And the attacks on my character. The implications, both benign and explicit, about my involvement in Mae’s disappearance; I try to ignore those. They’d presented no evidence, but sometimes the perception holds more weight, and you can’t free yourself from those shackles of doubt in time.
I pondered how I was going to respond.
You’re such a fucking self-important, self-aggrandizing piece of shit.
I’ve never wanted you to save me.
That’s what I could’ve told him. That’s what I wanted to tell him; I needed to break this idea of himself that he’s trying to forge for all of his followers that he’s some incorruptible saint, a martyr who will die on the sword in a battle he created. He wants to fix me, not through the kindness of his heart, but because of the reputation he’s insistent on upholding.
But then I think back to that night.
I asked you for help. I needed you to save me.
And you walked away.
As much as it pained me, I turned my phone off. I couldn’t give him what he wanted tonight - I simply needed to satiate my own hunger. I leaned over Cassidy’s exposed sternum and grabbed his wallet from the nightstand. I knew where he’d kept them.
I was good tonight - I’d said no every time the bartender asked. I didn’t want to drown in sweat-soaked sheets tonight; I wanted to fly over the clouds. I wanted to see my brother.
I tasted the bitterness on the back of my tongue and tossed my head back - my throat lumped and constricted, for a second, until it opened up and accepted it - and I laid back onto the pillow, counting the pebbles in the stucco overhead.
This is the biggest match of your Action Wrestling career, Graham.
Up to this point, you’ve been the king of the almost, wearing that silver medal like a badge of fucking honor. You’ve really built a reputation out of nearly beating Corey Black, nearly beating Carter Shaw, nearly winning Rookie of the Year - nearly putting me in my place and avenging the many, countless times I’ve stepped on your throat and made you my bitch.
This is do-or-die, ain’t it? You’ve spent months - years - trying to prove to the world, and to me, that you aren’t nothing more than the hurdle I cleared on my historic run in the record books. The statistic. And it absolutely kills you to finally admit that you need the numbers, you need the support, because for all the times you say your legacy is of your own creation, this is your weak spot, ain’t it? This is what you can’t bully your way out of. You can’t erase history with your idle threats. You’ve always needed a slap on the ass because you know, deep down, that the reputation you’ve tried to build on Twitter is a fucking farce.
Isn’t that why you’re playing grab-ass with Johnny Bacchus now?
Let’s tell the the fucking truth, Graham. Just like Venable and Black absorbed the target while you sulked in the shadows crying like a bitch because they got all the accolades and you were left wondering why they didn’t appreciate you sacrificing yourself for them - you’re a creature of habit, Graham. Scooby Dooby Bacchus rolls up and his Dweebles step out of the van - each one goofier than the last - and you’re pretending you’ll be satisfied being his second-in-command. But your ego won’t let you, Graham. Johnny, while disillusioned, is willing to die on the sword because he has a legitimate gripe with me. You? You’re just hopping on his coattails because the target isn’t squarely on you. You’re going to let him be a martyr, you’re going to let him suffer the consequences, and you’ll watch him die because all you want is another title around your waist.
He’s going to realize it sooner than later, Graham.
We all see it. We all know that you’re not willing to die protecting the sanctity of Action Wrestling. We know you don’t share a common goal with him. At least you’re not Trey Bouchet, someone who literally has no reason to hate me, but at least there’s no doubt that Trey would give his life for this company. Graham Baker, though? You couldn’t give a fuck about fighting for Action Wrestling.
You’ve proven it with every sabbatical to Murderhaus or Yamashi Pro when times got a little tough.
For fuck’s sake, you’re already making preliminary plans with Bryan Williams - someone who hasn’t earned dick in Action Wrestling - about the next time you get to fellate each other in some ball-busting, face-smashing, barbaric bullshit match for the United States Championship neither of you have around your fucking waists. The audacity, the fucking arrogance, to think I’m just going to sit back and watch these idiots make plans with my title. This is all it’s about for you, Graham. This is all it’ll ever be about.
Which is why I want the whole world to see you for the fraud you are, and the fraud you’ve always fucking been. Save me this bullshit about how my actions have disappointed you. You went on a tirade last month about how my sponsorship with Philidor Holdings let you down. But here’s the truth, Graham.
I’ve never owed you a fucking thing.
You don’t get to hear my justification, or my validation, because you haven’t earned it. Let’s keep this what it fucking is. We’re past the punchlines and the name-calling.
You want everything that I’ve ever achieved.
You want my World Championships.
You need my Hall of Fame career.
You know that without it, without having a legitimate win over me that you can’t credit to Corey Black - you know that you’re always going to be in my fucking shadow. And that kills you, because under the blood-soaked mask you wear for those that don’t know better -
I know better.
You wanted me in your element, walled in with steel and laced with weapons, because for some reason you think this intimidates me? Think I’m fearful of it? That I can’t do this on my own - even though I have a Hall of Fame career of achievements proving otherwise? I’ve always been on my own. When Venable, your number-one stan, needed DiVito and Richards to fuck me out of my World Championship? I was on my own. Going one on one with Walter to win Havoc? I was on my own. Bull, Bishop, Balfore, Metzger - some of the biggest, nastiest, scariest people in this industry - I took them all out, and I did it on my fucking own.
I didn’t need Cass to tug on your leg. That shit was hysterical, because I knew it was going to piss you off. But you seem to think that this minor infraction is the worst thing to ever happen to you - that I somehow owe you honorability after months of you talking about how many ways you’ll behead me or how you’re going to disembowel me with a rusty spoon in front of all of those raging lunatics in backwoods Tennessee - and you say I’m the one who now has to pay for what I’ve done?
The way I see it, Graham?
You got what you fucking deserved.
You’re no better than those dick-riding rats Dork Dynasty. No better than that lecherous scum DiVito or the Satan-incarnate Nightingale. You don’t own the moral high ground, you had no problem pissing on my fucking grave with them. And now you want to impress this disingenuous bullshit about how I should see the error of my ways?
Fuck you, Graham!
You want this both ways, and I won’t let you have it both ways. We can’t steal the show on a business trip and beat the hell out of each other and raise each other’s arms in respect while, at the same time, you’re waging a war with me over my identity. You don’t like who I’ve become? I don’t give a shit.
I don’t fear you, Graham. I never have. You might have broken bodies, but you won’t break mine! This is my belt, this is my company, and it’ll never be yours. I’m not afraid of the Execution Cage; the way I see it, I’ve been preparing for this moment through all the battles I’ve been in till now. In the ring, and outside of it.
And I’m exhilarated.
Because I’m not afraid to die, Graham. If I get to live in a paradise without you in it, then I’ve already won. I’m at the point of my career where I’ve got everything to lose. I’m risking everything, every time I step into a ring. That target on my back has grown, exponentially, because so many people like you want what I have. What I’ve earned.
But there’s no exhilaration without a little bit of risk, is there? Would you ride the tallest coaster if you knew it was perfectly safe? If there was no risk, if the chance that you wouldn’t fall to your death wasn’t there, would it still be as exciting?
The Execution Cage is exciting, Graham.
Better than drugs.
Better than sex.
Because the reward isn’t just this United States Championship. At least it isn’t for me. I’m going to take great joy in depriving you of everything you’ve ever wanted, and leaving you breathless.
In the biggest match of your fucking career.
Because that’s what how you want to leave me.
I don’t believe you when you say any differently.
And I’m fucking beating you to it.