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 The best way to fight fire...

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Join date : 2010-10-10

PostSubject: The best way to fight fire...   Wed Jan 26, 2011 5:14 pm

Mid-March, 2009. New York.

Not in the centre, by any stretch of the imagination. We’re all the way in the Bronx, Wakefield to be precise. Parko was able to temporarily rent out a small apartment in the area, and though the living conditions are far from ideal, which is to say I think something might be living underneath the floorboards, we’re getting by just fine. We’re only here for the week after all, while he attends the three indie shows hosted by the PUG (Perfect Unified Grace) independent wrestling group, and it’s actually very convenient that we’re here.

Still, a little backstory is in order, I suppose. The past month or so, Melanie and I decided to take Parko up on his offer to tag along with him as he went back to the independents. It gave us an excuse to travel America, as well as allowing me get a feel for the business again by experiencing it in its rawest form. It’s also an opportunity to meet some of my old friends, one of which I’m on my way to see right now.

This is the first time I’ve had the chance to get in contact with one since our journey began, as it just so happened he was working a show in the area today. It’s 9pm, raining and not exactly the best neighbourhood to travel in, but I’m still borrowing Parko’s rental car to drive through all of it. Part of my reason for coming to this country was to have a word with my old pals, because they’re typically not the kind to answer an email, including this fellow in particular. Hell, I doubt he even uses the Internet.

With the weather the way it is, having to operate one of these confusing American automobiles, and not having much experience behind the wheel as it is - I’ve always been one to walk from place to place if I could help it and don’t have a car of my own - it feels as though I won’t make it to the high school in one piece. By some miracle I do, and with all my strength I park the wheeled contraption by the tattered-looking building, which would be caked in dust if not for the rain. It seems as though visiting run-down facilities has been the only thing on the menu for me for quite some time now. There’s a very real feeling of malice about this place, though, as though somebody is just waiting around the corner with some form of firearm or another. Then again, most places in Wakefield project that feeling. Gotta love it.

I step out of the car, keeping an eye out for any such people, before crossing over to the now-empty structure. Hard to believe that no more than half an hour ago, this place was host to a wrestling show. Granted, it was being run by the little-known BWM (Bronx Wrestling Madness) group, and held in the gym which I’m sure wasn’t designed to contain more than thirty or so people, but a show is a show, and I’d at least expect crew members to be around. It sounds dead here.

“Yo, Chio!” I hear a deep voice, with a light Texan accent, call from nearby. Turning towards it, the owner of said voice is unsurprisingly the guy I came to see.

“Ah, Max,” I reply, walking up to the entrance of the gym, light still spilling out of it now I look at it, “Fancy meeting you here.”

Max, standing at the entrance doors with sweat still dripping from his brow and shoulders following his match, gives me a confused look, “Uh, we planned to meet up. Should be no surprise, brah!”

I refrain from slapping my forehead this time, “Yes, I was just joking around,” I inform him. Seems he hasn’t changed in the least.

Max Cloverleaf. At 6’1”, 221lbs, he’s a decent-sized, lean but ripped performer. He’s been in the business for a decade now, and has shockingly been unable to progress out of the indies. He’s one hell of an in-ring guy, with equal amounts of strength and speed, plus with charisma and talking ability by the boatload. He’s also the son of the legendary Tex Cloverleaf, which in itself makes it so unbelievable that WWE haven’t reached out to him, what with their current taste for second generation talent. He’s stayed under their radar, and that of the public, for too long, especially for somebody who’s a few years older than I am.

I suppose the fact that he isn’t the brightest tool in the box could explain his misfortune with attempts at improving his position in the biz.

“Alright, so they’re finishin’ up in there,” he tells me, apparently ignoring my comment, “You wanna drive me back? I got no ride.”

I shake my head, rainwater flying everywhere in the process. He really hasn’t changed. I expected this much, though.

“Sure thing,” I say with a sigh, “Follow me.”

He lets out what I can only assume is a yelp of joy, and we head to the vehicle, which I am pleased to discover has yet to be broken into. He sits in the passenger seat, much as I’d prefer he didn’t in his current state. He informs me that they weren’t allowed to use the showers in the gym, and that most chicks would be all over his “manly scent” anyway. Only if they trip on the trail he leaves, I respond. He seems confused, so I just ask him about the show.

So for the next fifteen minutes he tells me all about the only part of the show that matters to him - namely his match. He gushes about all the moves he hit, about how over he was with the crowd, and why his “BBQ Rack” finisher is inescapable.

I eventually pipe in, asking him, “So, did you win?”

Max goes very quiet after that, before deciding to fiddle around the dashboard area, “There a radio on this thing?”

Avoiding the question. Fair enough, Max.

Upon realising that there’s no radio here for him to use as a distraction, he changes the subject to a refreshingly relevant one, “So hey, Chio. Why don’t we see you on the ‘tube these days? You really hung ‘em up?”

“I had,” I reply, “For all intents and purposes.”

“Yeah, but intensive purposes haven’t stopped you from coming to the US, where it’s all happenin’” he points out. His clumsy manner of doing so aside, Max has just about hit the mark.

“True, which is why I’ve asked you what I have,” I say with a smile, “You haven’t forgotten, right?”

“Aw dude, don’t treat me like I’m a dumbass,” he pouts, “I remember. We’ll stop by my place and I’ll find that thing for you, aight?”

I sure hope he means it, and isn’t just putting on an act while he struggles to remember.

“Excellent,” I respond, trying to appear more hopeful than I truly am, “’Cause I’m taking this journey seriously. I really want to get back to it all, at least for one last time.”

“Yeah, I get you, man,” He says, nodding vigorously, though I question how much he gets, “Pro wrestling is where it’s at. Nothing like it in the damn world.”

I decide to make mention of that little something which is bothering me, “Too bad you’ve never been on TV though, Max. I always felt you could’ve made it big in CWA.”

“Aw, the big leagues’d just ruin me, man,” he insists, probably trying to convince himself more than me, “I do my thing the way I want to here in the indies.”

“Yeah, but you’re doing it in front of like twenty people,” I point out, and I take a moment to forcefully veer the car around a corner despite how much the rain seems to want to prevent me from doing so, before continuing, “Don’t you feel a like a big fish in a small pond?”

“Man, I dunno what you’re talkin’ about,” Max replies, rolling his eyes in the process, “I can’t stand fish.”

I decide to ignore that one, and continue trying to navigate through this rain, which is steadily becoming worse. I don’t let the subject die, though, “All I’m trying to get at is... I think we both could’ve achieved much more with our careers, you know?”

Max scoffs at that, “My career’s just fine, man. And you were doing great yourself. You were a top guy out there, and you were being yourself. What more can you ask for?”

Not only do Max’s standards seem decidedly lower than mine, but he seems to be a tad mistaken, “I was never a top guy, Max.”

“Says the former TXI Undisputed Champ,” he quickly notes, and he certainly knows his stuff when it comes to in-ring achievements.

“I held the title like once,” I come back with, “Doesn’t mean I amounted to a whole lot. I was never on the marquee when and where it mattered. That’s what is getting to me. That’s why I’m back. It’s like... I need to prove myself.”

“To yourself, sure,” he says, and again he manages to hit the nail right on the head, “There’s fans out there who see you as one of their faves. Ain’t that enough for you?”

I don’t reply to that, and it’s Max’s turn to shake his head.

“S’all that matters to me. Them there fans who do show up, who care, who call you an inspiration irregardless of who you beat or what strap you’ve worn? I care ‘bout their opinion. That’s all the validation I need.”

I can hear the sincerity in his words, and can recognise the truth to them. He may not be a rocket scientist, but Max is no fool apparently.

“Oh hey, dude!” he suddenly jumps in his seat excitedly, “Take a look at those hookers out there!”

Or then again...

“What do you care for prostitutes?” I ask, smiling unintentionally at his newfound enthusiasm.

“Hell, ain’t like I wanna pay for ‘em or nothin’,” he tells me, “Just look at ‘em gettin’ rain in their cleavage! That’s frickin’ hysterical!”

He then catches me completely off-guard with what he has to say next.

“Chio, let’s pick one of ‘em up!”

It takes me a moment before I can formulate a response.

“You’re out of your mind.”

“Naw, we ain’t gotta proposition ‘em or whatever, just bring ‘em along for the fun of it! We do crazy shit like this all the time, me an’ the BWM guys! ‘Sides, it’s pissin’ down out there! We’d be doin’ ‘em a favour!”

“Somehow I doubt Melanie would appreciate me picking up a prostitute.”

“Melanie?” he asks me, raising an eyebrow, “That your new girl?”

“Well, we’re not official or anything,” I reply, and I can’t believe I’m telling him of all people about this, “But I respect her feelings a tad too much to drive off with a lady of the night.”

“Aw, fine,” Max shrugs with a sigh, and wheels down the window to yell out, “Sorry, hookers! My friend here won’t help you out!”

One of the ladies flips him off, which doesn’t surprise me since we’ve already passed the prostitutes and the people he’s yelling at are random passersby, but it doesn’t stop him from laughing like an idiot.

“Whatever happened to that Soudouki girl anywho?” Max asks a moment later, totally serious, which is a jump to say the least.

“Things didn’t work out. They weren’t working out for some time. Still, I need to meet with her if possible.”

“Yeah, I know how it is. I hook up with my exes all the time. Or try to, anyway. Some of ‘em take exception to me calling for sex. Especially their boyfriends, let me tell you...”

I cut him off, “That’s not what I mean at all, Max. We have unfinished business,” I make sure to interrupt him before he can say anything else stupid, “And that business is not sex.”

“Sounds boring, man,” he comments, after trying to take it in for a full second.

“I wish it were just boring, that’s for sure.”

“Hey, here we are,” he tells me, pointing outside, “I’m stayin’ in this motel.”

Sure enough, we’re at our destination: a less-than-attractive motel that he’s using for his abode during his brief stay in this area of the Bronx. Normally I wouldn’t make it my policy to follow a particularly lecherous wrestler like Max into their room, but my intentions are completely different to those of the lady whose panties hang from the ceiling fan. She is long gone, whoever she is, and apparently was in no state to collect her undergarments when she left. I don’t particularly care to hear about her identity, but Max fills me in nonetheless.

“Rat from the night before, dude. Helluva rack - not natural in the slightest - and one of those lower back tattoos of a mutant butterfly or whatever. She was alright, even if she was sobbing in the bathroom afterwards. Girls gotta quit that shit, it’s a total buzzkill.”

As uninterested and disgusted with the subject matter as I am, I choose to contribute while he searches for what I need, “You don’t suppose it’s that pesky shame coming into play, do you?”

“Shame? Hell, man, if I was a chick I’d be frickin’ stoked to get with Max Cloverleaf,” he calls from underneath the bed, where he is currently conducting his search, “You seen the abs on me?”

“I can assure you I have,” is my answer, not willing to have them displayed at me for what wouldn’t be the first time, and it is then that I notice a picture in a frame, sitting on the bedside table. I pick it up, and realise it must be something he’s been carrying about on his travels, because I recognise the person in the photo.

“Hey Max, is this a picture of your sister?”

“The one on the table? Yeah, that’s Amber,” he confirms while still searching, “Saw her last month, actually, when I stopped by the ranch.”

“How is she?”

“Same as always. Reading, riding the horses, slowly depleting the family of their honey supply,” he answers with a chuckle, and for the second time tonight I can hear that sincerity, “She’s the one gal other than momma that I truly care for in this world.”

I remember Amber. She was a character, alright, much like her brother, but in different ways. That’s likely for the best. She never joined the business, and was quite content to go about things her own way.

Goes to show that not everybody born into pro wrestling let it rule or even influence their lives. Good for them.

“Alright, man, I found it!” he exclaims, returning from underneath the bed, derailing my train of thought, “Knew I had it ‘round here somewhere.”

He hands a small piece of paper to me. I take it with a nod of thanks, and look it over. There’s a mobile phone number on it, written in a wonky scrawl. Truth be told, while I’d only just got in contact with Max today, I could have called him after the show and had him read this to me, but I wanted to be sure it was authentic. This handwriting unmistakably belongs to the person I'm looking for.

Besides, I wasn’t entirely sold on Max’s ability to read, if I’m being brutally honest.

“He gave me that when we worked a show up in Jersey,” Max comments, “In case any spots open up on our card, I suppose. He’s been looking for work, apparently.”

“I’ll give him a call soon,” I reply, while keying the number into my phone. I hand him the paper back once I’m done, “Cheers for that, Max. It’s a real help.”

“No problem. I just got one thing to ask, though.”

“What’s that?”

“Why’d you wanna talk to that guy of all people?” is his question, with real concern in his voice, “I mean, he’s not exactly all there.”

“I know that all too well,” I reply, and pocket my phone, “But if I’m going to do this properly, I’ve got to be ready.”

“I don’t... get you, man.”

“I plan on fighting a dragon,” I tell Max, without looking up, “So I’m going to get advice from another dragon.”

Not just any old dragon. The Dragon.

Hope you don’t mind me calling you, Orland.
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PostSubject: Re: The best way to fight fire...   Thu Jan 27, 2011 1:15 am

ooc: ooooh, this is getting interesting now!

I'm not climbing to the top of the mountain. I am the damn mountain!
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