It is November 2nd and I sit here in this office that I’ve been in many times before. I have never had a good experience in this office, I remind myself. Be it the time that I signed my first contract with the SCW and had to hold in a fart for the entire process. Talk about being under pressure. Or the time that I more or less threatened my boss without actually threatening him. He and I never really got along, except for the one time he visited me in the locker room and it didn’t end in that way so don’t go there.
Being in here today, I already know that things are not going to go well. But I know that I shouldn’t be surprised. I brought this upon myself. I basically stalked Amy Chastaine. I made threats against every single person I came into contact with. I attacked a member of the camera crew. I wasn’t necessarily doing all of that but my body was present. What I mean by that is that I have dissociative personality disorder, also known as, multiple personality disorder. It is a condition that can be treated properly but at the time, I wasn’t interested in treatment. Things were going well. At least that is what the voice in my head was saying. Little did I know, that I was throwing my entire life away.
Beside me to the right is my doctor, Dr. Vaughn. I can never remember his first name but then again I am not sure I have ever asked. He has been trying to treat me with my mental health issues since I was a kid. A lot of good it has done, but I am trying to stay positive that one day we will get it right. To the left of me is my lawyer, Patrick Cooper. He is here to fight for my rights and keep me out of jail, though jail may be the best place for me due to the stalking and the threats of violence. I don’t want them to lock me up and throw away the key, but sometimes what you don’t want turns out to be the best thing for you. At least that is what Vaughn has told me.
Across from me sits the SCW owner who likes to go by Mr. D. He is Canadian and has a name that is hard to pronounce. Beside him are some SCW lawyers whom I have never seen. A part of me is worried but once again, whatever punishment is dished out, I more than likely deserve twelve times worse.
“Alright, let us begin…” The boss man finally speaks. I immediately tell myself that this is definitely not going to be good before he continues, “James Evans, while you are a tremendous talent, you have done some things that I, along with the rest of the SCW, can tolerate. The stalking of Amy Chastaine. Leaving her threatening notes after going into her locker room uninvited. I would be putting it mildly if I were to say that you’ve made most of the roster very, very uncomfortable. You are considered extremely dangerous. I know this company is built upon a violent sport, but when violence takes place outside of the ring that is when I have to put my foot down and take a stand.”
Not making eye contact, just staring down at my thumbs as they go round and around I say, “I completely understand. I take full responsibility for my reckless and dangerous behavior. I take full responsibility for the anguish I have caused any of my fellow co-workers, especially Amy Chastaine,” I say Amy’s name and I do feel bad about what Abel (the voice in my head) made me do to her, I can’t help but think about Kennedy Street. She liked me. At least I think that she did. I hope that she did because I truly liked her. We were very different people but we had a connection like no other. I don’t believe I had that sort of connection with Katelyn all of those years ago.
I look up to find Mr. D staring at me, his gaze cold as he responds, “Well I can at least commend you for seeing the wrong you’ve caused and taking responsibility for it. It shows some maturity, but you shouldn’t hold it against me for not buying it completely, James. We’ve dealt with this type of thing before, not just with you but various other superstars who’ve competed with the company.”
I nod my head, “I understand. I wouldn’t trust me either. Hell, right now if I am just being honest, I don’t really know if I can trust myself. It is a hell of a thought. I don’t like having to feel that way, but that’s just the way it is.”
Before Mr. D can say anything else, Dr. Vaughn chimes in, placing his elbows on the table we are all sitting at. I go back to twiddling my thumbs, feeling slightly vulnerable which is a feeling that I don’t really like, “I would like to speak up for James and advocate for him if that is quite alright with you gentlemen.”
Mr. D and his lawyers nod their heads in approval before Vaughn continues, “I have been treating James for a very long time. Ever since he was a boy,” Vaughn says, patting me on the back in the process, “He is a good person but his mind has been broken. We haven’t really found a way to fix it or should I say, keep him calm and stable.”
Curiosity washes over Mr. D as he now leans forward, taking a glance at me then at Vaughn before looking back at me, “What do you mean you’ve been treating him? I never knew that there was anything wrong with James’ mind. He has always just claimed to be very angry. He’s been angry with my roster. He’s been angry with me. So, please do elaborate on what treating James constitutes if you don’t mind.”
Vaughn grins, “I can only share that sort of information with James’ permission,” He then looks at me and we lock eyes, “Do you want to disclose that sort of information James? If not then this discussion will end right here, right now. All you have to do is say the word.”
All eyes on me now as my thumbs continue in their circular motion, the nervousness increasing throughout my body. I do not make eye contact. I let out a sigh as I tell myself that if Vaughn does say anything then it will be out that I have a mental illness. I don’t want that stigma. I just want to be seen as normal. Fuck I say to myself, I just want to be normal period. I wonder what sort of result this will have if he does dish out about my disease. I remind myself that I deserve whatever result it may be. Pessimistic? No. Just realistic. I nod my head, “Its fine. It needs to be known.”
Vaughn maintains his eye contact with me, “I don’t want to do or say anything to soil your name James. Just take that into consideration.”
That is when Patrick leans forward and pipes in, “And given our discussion, this could very well do that, James. It could cause damage.”
I shrug my shoulders, “I don’t care man. This needs to be done. You can tell him or I’ll tell him,” I say as I stare at Vaughn then at Mr. D, who I can tell is growing impatient. It is a rarity, but he and I are sharing the same feelings right now.
Vaughn returns his focus to Mr. D and the SCW lawyers before he addresses them, “My patient James suffers from the mental illness known as dissociative personality disorder. It has been known in the past as…”
Mr. D cuts him off, “Multiple personality disorder. Yes I am familiar with the term. Get to the point.”
Vaughn continues, “Fair enough. James has been diagnosed with that. He has been suffering from it for quite some time which means his actions such as the stalking and the violent threats…those are not being made by him. His body is present, but his mind is not. He has this voice, or personality I should say, named Abel. Abel is the anger and the violence that you have seen. That many of your roster and staff have seen. James hasn’t been in control.”
Mr. D lets a chuckle slip out which I can’t really blame him for. The man is very much about his facts and being realistic. My condition, my disease sounds like something straight out of a horror movie. Mr. D looks at me then his lawyers before back at me and Vaughn, “What do you mean he’s not in control? With all due respect, it is hard to take this seriously. I have dealt with many angry individuals during my time as a promoter. If you’ve been treating him then this condition, or as you put it Abel, should have been under control.”
Vaughn fires back, “This illness is not something you can talk a Tylenol for and get rid of in a few hours. It is not something that you can put a Band-Aid on and just wait for it to go away. It can take a long time to treat the illness. Sometimes it could take a few weeks. It all depends on the patient. Abel has talked James out of receiving treatment which has resulted in the things you’ve mentioned. So you may think it’s hard to take seriously but trust me, it is very, very serious. James’ well being is very serious to me. It should be for you as well.”
Mr. D draws in a deep breath, closing his eyes, his face showing his frustration. He exhales as he opens his eyes and says, “I understand where you’re coming from. James’ well-being is important to me but you also have to understand where I’m coming from when I say that I have to worry about the well-being of all my superstars, as well as my backstage staff. James has proven to be a danger to them. That is why I called this meeting. I have to do my duty to ensure that they are protected. I have dealt with threats to my company as well as my superstars and each time I have stepped in to defend my company and my roster. We may not always see eye to eye, but I always take their well-being into consideration.”
Hearing him say that makes me think about all of the people I’ve hurt. I have hurt Amy and Kennedy physically, though neither of them deserved it. I can’t help but not feel as bad for Ace Marshall. He was kind of a dick and he deserved getting his ass kicked. I probably shouldn’t have gone to the measures I did but it still felt good to finally get one over on him and knock him down a peg or two.
But as for Amy and Kennedy, definitely not. Amy tried to be my friend. I was okay with that, though I was attracted to her. Abel pushed it as much more, causing my understanding to become rage, which was displayed to her on numerous occasions, despite my attempts to keep Abel at bay and to protect her. And Kennedy, God knows I will more than likely never be forgiven for what I did to her. I traumatized her, forcing her into my violent world when all she wanted from me was to give a shit about her, to show that I cared. Why didn’t you do that, James I ask myself?
“Because you had bigger and better things to do,” I hear a voice say from across from me. I know instantly that it isn’t Mr. D or either of the lawyers. The voice is very familiar, sounding like a person who smokes twelve packs of cigarettes a day and has done so for the last twenty plus years. I look up and I see Abel, though I try not to make it obvious I am looking at anything else other than the men around who can see each other. I quickly glance up and I see him walking back and forth behind Mr. D and the lawyers, shaking his head, “Just like you have bigger and better things to do once you stop wasting your time with these morons. This old crippled gimp doesn’t give two shits about you, James. He is too busy thinking about what he’s going to do after this. He’s probably going to get drunk while watching Syren and Amy get it on.”
I look down and draw in a deep breath, thinking all kinds of random thoughts to get him out of my head.
But he continues, “You know that he is sleeping with them. Something is definitely going on since they seem to get everything handed to them.”
Mr. D speaks, getting my attention which I am actually thankful for, “James in saying that, I am going to have to release you from your contract. You need to seek medical attention and get as much as help as you need, whatever kind of help it is that you need, so you can finally get back on your feet. I sincerely mean that.”
Before I can say anything, to tell Mr. D that I understand, I hear Abel say that Mr. D is a lying stack of dicks. I also hear Patrick speak once again, “Actually, James signed a deal with that, guaranteeing him a certain amount of time with your company, not to mention a certain amount of money. Releasing him early, especially given the information you’ve received today which is going on record might I add, would be breach of contract. We could take you to court with a discrimination lawsuit. I don’t think that would look good for your company’s image.”
Abel speaks, “I like this guy. He seems to have bigger balls than you do, but I have to disagree. You don’t need to stay here. We need to get back to New York so we can start terrorizing more bitches and hurting them. Doesn’t that sound more fun than rolling around on a sticky mat with another sweaty guy? Besides, I am bored with wrestling. That is why I tapped out to Amy. I hurt her and got my rocks off but in the end, I got bored. There is so much more out there for us, James. You see that, don’t you?”
I say nothing out loud. In my head I tell Abel that I’m not bored with wrestling. Despite the ups and downs I have endured, I have always enjoyed it. Wrestling is the one thing that I know I am good at.
Abel retorts, fire in his voice, “You wouldn’t have achieved the success you did without me, James. Did you not remember me showing you the two of us together, killing that girl? You saw it as a nightmare, but it was a dream that we can make come true. I had fun, didn’t you?”
My mind continues, telling Abel that I didn’t have fun at all. It was a horrible experience. You have caused me nothing but pain and agony, Abel and I want it to stop. You caused me to hurt my mentor who has done nothing wrong to me. I showed that to Kennedy and now there is no way in Hell that she would ever trust me again, that she would ever be able to see me as anything other than the monster you tried to turn me into.
Abel calls me an ungrateful prick of a bastard before Mr. D speaks once more, taking me out of my head, “James, I don’t want things to go that route, trust me. I value you as a talent but like I said, you’ve become an endangerment to everyone around you. I have heard rumors of you attacking Amy at a restaurant. I have heard rumors involving you and Katelyn as well as your daughters. You do understand where I’m coming from, right?”
I finally look up at him and cut Patrick off before he can respond for me, “I completely understand, Mr. D. You and everyone else have every single right to be weary of me, to not trust me. Like I said, I have a hard time trusting myself. But I truly was not in control of myself. That scares the shit out of me if I am just being honest but to remain honest, I know I have a problem and I do want to fix it. I want to be better not only for myself and my family, but for you and this company.”
Mr. D releases a slow sigh as he and I maintain eye contact for a few moments. He turns away and speaks with his lawyers under hushed voices. After a brief deliberation, he meets my gaze once more, “With what we’ve learned today, I give you my deepest sympathies, James. I do. I have always respected your ability even when I haven’t always agreed with your actions. You have been valuable to this company and I would like to continue working with you, but only after you’ve been successfully treated. Right now, I hate to say it, but you are a liability.”
Abel leans in beside Mr. D glaring at him, “You better shut up you old piece of shit, or I will take your daughter out, sleep with her then drop her off on your front porch and a five cent tip.”
Shut up Abel, I think. Just shut the hell up. What he is saying is true, unlike any word out of your mouth. I then return my attention back to Mr. D, “I understand. I am a lot more than just a liability. I know that. And that is why I want to get better. I am tired of running from treatment. I want to take control of myself. I want to take control of my life. You deserve that. Kennedy deserves that. My children deserve that. I…” I pause for a moment, as if I am contemplating if I believe the words coming out of my mouth, “I deserve that…”
Mr. D replies, his words bold, “You do, James. Despite everything, I like to believe that you are a good person, who has a lot more fight in himself than he actually believes. Prove yourself wrong when you doubt yourself. You have always stated that you have made a career out of proving people wrong. I can’t argue with that. Do it again, but this time do it for yourself.”
Abel shouts, “Oh when did you become a motivational speaker you ass goblin?!?!? I hate you and your entire fucking family. Your daughters are nothing more than a covenant of cunts. A bag of bitches.”
I look at Vaughn who stares at me, confidently before I turn and face Patrick. He nods in my direction before I lock eyes with Mr. D, the man who I have called my greatest enemy, my biggest foe, but now I call him a man I respect. I stand to my feet and extend my hand, which Mr. D accepts after a few brief moments of hesitation, as I say, “I’ll give it my best shot.”
Abel stands beside Mr. D and looks down at his arm then at our hands as they lock up and shake before he locks eyes with me, glaring at me as he says, “Fuck you.”
“You know that you don’t have to do this, James. You don’t owe the SCW anything,” I hear Patrick say as we coast through the streets.
“But I do, Patrick. And it isn’t about owing the SCW anything. It is about getting myself better. I am not doing this because of the SCW. I am doing this for me,” I say in response, staring out at the city as it goes by.
“Well, they aren’t going to be able to pull any sort of bullshit power play, especially after what was revealed at our meeting. We have them by the balls,” Patrick says, with a cocky smile on his face.
I smirk, “I wasn’t worried about any power plays. I was perfectly okay with getting fired. I deserved that. If you only knew the trouble and the pain that I have caused these last few months, you’d be in total agreement. Speaking of agreements,” I say as I now turn and look at him as we are riding in the back of a limo, “I didn’t agree with your tactics. I don’t see the point in threatening them with a lawsuit, when they have tolerated my bullshit for years.”
Patrick leans forward in his seat, seeming appalled by my words, “I wasn’t threatening them. I was just telling them what we could and would do. I have no doubt in my mind that they would have tried to shit all over your accomplishments and they would slander your name. I have seen it done before.”
I shake my head, “They wouldn’t have done that. They have never slandered anyone. They’ve parted company with cancers who were destroying the credibility of the organization. That is what I’ve done. I would have done worse had I stayed with them. I am glad they had the balls to fire me. It would have been a relief for all involved.”
Patrick goes to say something else but he stops himself. I turn away from him and return to staring out of the window, trying to ignore the situation with the SCW and focus on myself.
It is a week later on November 9th. I am back in New York City, stepping inside of Dr. Vaughn’s mental health facility. I am a little overwhelmed by the size of it, like Casey Holliday is overwhelmed by the size of any penis. I make my way into the lobby where I am greeted by a few members of the staff. They all smile and they all greet me, taking my bags and my coat. I am then introduced to a male nurse named Kevin. He tells me to follow him and that Dr. Vaughn will be with me shortly. I nod and follow him down through what looks like a living room. There are people closer to my age as well as younger and even older all sitting around. Some are watching television and others are reading. Some are playing cards. Kevin tells me that Dr. Vaughn wants everyone to feel right at home here.
Home for me is empty. My apartment has been demolished due to one of Abel’s many temper tantrums. Plus Josh Hudson came to pay me a visit and he kicked my ass. I didn’t put up a fight because, like Ace Marshall, I deserved it. I’ve paid for damages and it will be sold to someone else who can probably take care of it and make it seem like an actual home. I follow Kevin as he points out the cafeteria as well as tennis and basketball courts outside as we walk by a huge double pane glass window. We pass a weight room. Kevin tells me that if he had more time he would be in there all day, every day. Not really knowing how to reply, I give him a nod and a smile as we continue to walk. We finally reach a room. He stops in the door and motions for me to enter, which I do.
I enter the room and I stare at the white walls. Everything is white and bland. I sit down on what I assume is my bed. It is a twin sized bed. I can tell the mattress had been used and abused which tells me that my level of comfort will be low. I remind myself that I am in Vaughn’s mental health facility for a reason. It is something that I’ve needed to do. Otherwise, my mind continues, I will go to prison. The longer I go without treatment, the lives of those around me, loved ones and strangers all included, will be in danger.
I turn to find Vaughn standing in the doorway to the room, dressed up in his brown sienna colored suit, with dark brown leather dress shoes. His white shirt and red tie mesh with his tan but wrinkled face, which hide behind his long stringy black hair with patches of gray gliding through each strand. I can tell that my doctor has seen many things in his practice, dealt with hard ships that have forced him to age faster than his actual years. I lock eyes with Vaughn, as he fixes his watch before he asks, “What do you think?”
I crack a grin as I survey the room once more before returning my gaze to Vaughn, “It’s not a high dollar New York loft, but it will do. Besides, I am here for different reasons, so not staying in a Trump suite isn’t going to kill me.”
Vaughn chuckles. I know that I can trust Vaughn, as he has always lived up to the “good doctor” nickname I’ve had bestowed upon Vaughn many years ago. Vaughn genuinely cares which sets my mind no matter how broken it was, at ease.
Vaughn replies, “I am here to help you, James. I know I have stressed that many, many times. Probably more times than either of us can count, but it has always rang true. You are a top priority, James so you will get as much focus and as much attention that I can give you to make sure you receive the best treatment. I have no doubt in my mind that you want to be able to get back to the world so you can be around your daughters.”
I feel my face as it twists in a painful expression, which I try to hide by smirking and forcing a grin. I miss my daughters. Kelly loves and adores me. Kiera is frightened of me. Abel wanted to remove them from the equation, feeling that they would hinder me, which turned out to be true in Abel’s eyes. My love for my children always seemed to overcome Abel’s growing hatred,“In a perfect world, I would be able to leave here, completely cured. I would be able to go to their mother’s apartment, where she’d open the door and smile at me. She would invite me in which I would accept of course. Once I got inside, I would hear the hallway become littered with heavy footsteps and giggles before being bombarded by my girls. They would tackle me and I would lean back on the floor, wrapping my arms around them and holding them as close as I possibly could. But this isn’t a perfect world.”
The words escape my mouth before I turn away from Vaughn and I begin to stare out of the window, staring out at the outside world that I am leaving behind in order to save others, in order to save myself. In the reflection in the window, I can see Vaughn look down at the floor, crossing his arms and legs as he leans into the door frame, letting out a deep breath which makes me feel that the doctor knows he is in for nothing short of a challenge.
Vaughn speaks again, “No, James it definitely isn’t a perfect world. You are right about that.”
I shake my head, as I begin thinking about the detour through Hell that my life has taken over the last several months. I was in the finals of the SCW Shot of Adrenaline tournament at the beginning of the year. I took time off to deal with a death in the family. I returned as did the voices in my head, voices I thought I had buried long ago. The voices returned with a vengeance, the message from the main one was filled with fury and anger. It was a message that cost me friendships, possibly my wrestling career, and worst of all, the trust of my children.
Vaughn continues, “But there isn’t a life out there that doesn’t go through some sort of hell. It can big or small, but hell nonetheless. Life is what you make it however. You have to take the good with the bad. It is not all bad and it is not all good, but it is life no matter what.”
I reply, “So far, most if not all of my life decisions have resulted in me taking a trip through a downward spiral. I self destruct, doc. I don’t know if I could handle doing anything else but that. Self destructing is my comfort zone. Most of the people I worked with were able to turn things around and become stronger human beings. I don’t know if I have that in me. Maybe I am just wired differently.”
Vaughn quickly chimes in, “We are all wired differently. Those people you worked with…they had to go through hell in order to become stronger. Like I said the hell people go through can be big or small. Yours may have been bigger than theirs. But there is a way to get through that hell and make it out alive, James. You yourself just have to believe in that.”
Silence falls over us as Vaughn’s words resonate in my ears. I can’t help but think about Ace Marshall and how far he had come from his days of drugs, booze, and debauchery. I think about the personal struggles Amy Chastaine to have gone through in her past. Their stories are different yet the end result has been the same. They had both become stronger and changed for the better. I can’t help but envy that. Envying Ace Marshall brings a bad taste to my mouth, but deep down, I know I’d be lying if I didn’t say I respected Ace for becoming a much better person. I let out a sigh, “How do you believe in something you don’t know truly exists?”
Vaughn says “As the song goes, you have to have faith, James. You believe in something, otherwise you wouldn’t have come here to seek treatment.”
I nod as I listen, “How is my treatment supposed to go? I mean, we’ve tried talking it out. We’ve tried hypnosis and medication. Nothing has truly helped. I am not knocking you or your practice, but something hasn’t clicked with me. If I’m going to get help then something has got to give, man.”
Vaughn nods now, seeming to be in agreement, “I have tried different methods, but as you said, things aren’t clicking. That doesn’t mean you are a lost cause my friend. Not in the slightest. So I figured I would ask you what you think would be the best course action when it comes to your treatment.”
I laugh a little bit, finding his question funny but also unnerving “Isn’t that what you’re for?”
Vaughn chuckles a bit, while I stand before him, a slight sense of worry falling over me. I feel lost which is another reason to add to my list of reasons for coming to Vaughn for help. I tell myself that I have tried medication, but no matter what, I would never feel like myself. I’ve trusted Vaughn and tried hypnosis, but all that seemed to do was piss Abel off. Talking about it doesn’t seem to be getting me anywhere. I begin to think coming to the facility is nothing more than a lost cause.
I hear Vaughn speak once again “I am here to help of course, but so far, my ideas haven’t really worked. You’ve said so yourself. Whether you think so or not, you know yourself better than anyone else. Think about something that you enjoy doing. It needs to be something that has always taken your mind off of whatever is troubling you. Or something that has helped your mind figure out things when just standing around dwelling on them hasn’t helped.”
All I can do is shrug, “All I’ve had has been wrestling, doc. I would be angry and pissed off before I got to the ring. I would take that anger out on whoever was pitted against me and nine times out of ten, I would end up feeling better.”
Vaughn nods again, “I understand that, James and if it comes down to it, maybe we can work out a deal where you can wrestle locally from time to time to see if that helps. But for now, I’d like to try something else. Something different. I don’t know what it is right now but you and I will figure it out together.”
I can’t find the words to speak. I give Vaughn a nod and a smile before Vaughn walks out of the room. I stand here and look around the room in all of its plainness. I never expected to see myself in such a place. I’ve always expected to be “normal”. I saw myself as being the guy who made it out of a tough childhood before going onto college, earning a degree, getting a job in his chosen field. I saw myself as finding a woman who would fall in love with everything about me including my flaws and vice versa. But now it is hard not to snicker at the ideas of what I’ve expected. Life doesn’t care what you plan for, I think to myself. It doesn’t wait for you, my mind continues.
And then, I heard a voice that sends chills down my spine.
“You don’t really want to do this James.”
Upon hearing the voice, I know instantly that it is Abel. I don’t turn in the direction of Abel’s voice, wanting nothing to do with the monster. The monster I could’ve very well become. The monster I COULD still become. I close my eyes, wishing Abel away but I can still hear him laughing, telling me that he isn’t going anywhere.
I still say, “You shouldn’t be here Abel.”
Abel hisses in his response, “No! You’re the one who shouldn’t be here. I don’t know how many times we have to fucking go through this. You’re destiny is to give into the darkness.”
Before Abel can continue, I cut him off, slamming the ball of my fist into the wall, still avoiding making eye contact with Abel, “I know what the darkness could and would do to me. You have shown me enough for me to know that I don’t want to go down that road. I don’t want anything to do with it. It has done nothing but cause me pain and grief. I don’t want to deal with that anymore. That is why I am here.”
Abel fire backs, “Oh James…Always whining. I have done nothing but offer you a gift, to live a life filled with tormenting the world that has tormented you. And it is a gift, James. You’re just hiding behind your comfort blanket, ignoring it, refusing to see it for what it truly is. That is the true reason you are here. That is why you have been running from me. You’re still a coward.”
I reply “Refusing to seek help is a coward. This condition…it isn’t a gift. It is a sickness. You’re a fucking sickness and I am going to get rid of you. You call that cowardice. You can call it whining, but deep down, I know that you are full of shit. I know that I am better off without you and when I leave here…”
I draw in a deep breath then exhale sharply as I turn around, now facing Abel who stands before me all dressed in black, his eyes glaring back at me, filled with rage as I continue,“…There won’t be a trace of you left.”
Abel leans his head back and releases a groan before shaking his head from side to side, “James, I am a part of you. What about that concept are you not getting? I am you and you are me. I feel like a broken fucking record doing this dance with you.”
“Why don’t you give up then, Abel? I am clearly annoying you and it seems that you are fighting a losing battle. I admire your tenacity and that never say die attitude, but maybe instead of me giving in, you should give up.”
A smile appears on Abel’s face as he stares at me, there is a coldness in his eyes, the same coldness I have seen in my eyes, the coldness that I want to avoid at all costs. With his cold eyes and wild grin, Abel responds, “You got that right. I never say die. That was something you used to have. Or at least I thought that you did. Now, you can see why I question you as well as your motives on what seems to be a daily basis. This isn’t good for us.”
I shake my head now, “There isn’t going to be an us, Abel. You have to leave. You are everything Kismet said you were. I should have listened to her but you blinded me. You are a cancer. I am diseased and I want rid of it. I want rid of you. You are not going to control me forever. I am going to do what is best for me, something that you have never truly given a damn about. You always said you wanted to protect me and keep me safe. All you have done is left me pissed off at the world. You have turned me away from who I truly am, which is a good person. No more, Abel…” I feel tears beginning to well up in my eyes as I feel myself growing frustrated and my body begins to shake, “No more…”
Abel scoffs at me, “What good is any of this going to accomplish? Vaughn doesn’t even have the slightest clue as how to treat you. He is more lost than you are which is really saying something.”
I shrug my shoulders, “I don’t know what’s going to happen but I am not leaving here until I get better. Until you are gone. I’ve buried you before and I can do it again. This time you will stay buried. I don’t care if I get hurt out there in the real world. There is a lot of ugliness out there, I know that firsthand. But I also know that there is some good as well. I am going to do all that I can to ensure that I am part of it and I don’t care how it makes you feel. Sooner or later, you won’t exist.”
Just then Kevin steps into the room and says, “Hey James. We need you down in Vaughn’s office for orientation. Shouldn’t take too long and then you can get settled in.”
I nod at him. He walks out of view and I turn away from Abel, but I hear his footsteps as he follows me. I can sense his anger. It matches the anger and resentment I have inside for him. I edge closer to Vaughn’s office and I hear Abel say, “You think you’re going to get rid of me? That I won’t exist?” He laughs, “We shall see about that.”
My hand on the door handle outside of Vaughn’s office, my eyes forward, I say, “Yes, we will.”
The girls will love this, I think to myself standing in the center of a toy aisle, grabbing at a few Justice League toys. Mainly Wonder Woman and Batman. I grabbed a Joker and Harley Quinn as well. From what I remember, Kelly and Kiera are really into all of that, which makes me a proud nerd father. I have been out of Vaughn’s facility for a few hours and all I can think about is those girls. I want them to have a good Christmas which I don’t doubt will happen either way, especially with Katelyn in charge of everything. I want to get them something, to show that I am still around and that I love them. I stand here, holding the toys and I feel a sudden sense of being overwhelmed.
I don’t know what I’m doing. I haven’t been that great at this thing before, getting them gifts. I don’t think I’ve honestly bought them anything. I feel like a piece of garbage to say the least. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, telling myself to be cool and to calm down. I remind myself of what Vaughn preached to me. He told me to stay positive. I tell myself that I need to stay positive, that I need to stay positive. I tell myself that everything will be alright. I open my eyes and exhale slowly, and feeling overwhelmed slowly fades away. From the side of me, I hear a voice call out to me, “Are you okay? You’re looking a little bit out of your element.”
I turn and find a young blonde standing beside me. She has a smile on her face. She kind of reminds me of a young Reese Witherspoon. I return the smile and shrug, “I think I’m alright. I’m just new to this. I am getting my daughters something and I really want them to enjoy it.”
Her grin remains, “Are you a first time dad?”
I shake my head, “No. It’s just my first time really showing it, sadly.”
She looks down at the toys in my hands which may or may not be trembling then back up at me, “Well, I think they will love them. Wonder Woman is a strong character. And Batman is Batman, so what’s not to love? Harley is finally getting some justice and of course there is the Joker.”
I look at the box containing the Joker action figure before shrugging again as I lock eyes with the blonde once more, “Do you think it’s too much?”
She shrugs now glancing back and forth between the box and I as she says, “Depends.”
I chuckle a bit, “On what exactly?”
She replies, flirtatiously, “How old your daughters are. I mean, looking at you, I’d say they are five or somewhere around there. But if they were older and into this stuff, then I’d say it’d be fine, because what girl doesn’t like a crazy guy?”
I immediately laugh out loud because of the fact that I want to tell her that I think of a few. In my head, I name drop Kennedy, Katelyn, Amy…I am sure I could go on. But after I stop laughing, I shrug my shoulders again, “That is a good point. Luckily they are still little ones. I guess I will just put this one back.”
Her grin returns, “Well I’m old enough. You can buy it for me. I like crazy guys.”
I stop for a few moments, looking at her and sizing her up. A hesitant grin forms on my face, “Well you should be careful, especially in New York City. Lots of crazy people running around that aren’t imaginary,” I say, holding the Joker figure up so she can see it, “Like him,” I then place the box down and meet her gaze once more, “Thank you again for saving me. I’m sure I did look way out of my element like you said.”
Her grin fades now and she nods, placing her hands in her pocket. I know I rejected her attempts to flirt, but I did it because I am afraid of what I could do. Me being alone with someone probably isn’t the best course of action for myself or anyone else involved. She bites her bottom lip, giving me a half smile as she nods, “Yeah sure thing. Don’t mention it,”I nod my head before turning and walking away, telling myself that I shouldn’t feel bad. I tell myself that I more than likely did her a favor, but then I stop as I hear her voice enter my ears once more, “You look very familiar…” She says, now taking a step or two towards me, “Aren’t you like on TV or something?”
I look down for a few moments, wishing the conversation didn’t take this route because of my actions on SCW programming. I tell myself to stay positive and tell myself that I may be able to end this conversation on a good note after all. I let out a deep breath as we lock eyes, “Yeah. I used to be on TV. I haven’t been on there in nearly two months. I am…was...” I correct myself, “I was a wrestler.”
She lets out a loud laugh and claps her hands together, spinning on her heels, “I knew I recognized you. I thought I was crazy but it seems I’m not. Thank you for clarifying,” I say nothing. I just nod as she says, “My brother is a big wrestling fan. He tries to go to the Garden whenever he can. I will have to rub it in his face that I met a real life wrestler,” I nod again and she grins once more, “Well it was nice to meet you, kind of. You take care. I hope the kids love the presents.”
I smile, “Thank you,” I then watch her walk away and fade into the crowd. I make my way up front after a few minutes pass. I check out before making my way outside. The night air isn’t all that bad so I decide to walk a little bit. I remind myself that I don’t really have an apartment to go to. I walk, forgetting about the lack of a home as I think about my daughters. I hope that they like what I got them. I also hope that it gives Kiera a reason to no longer be frightened of me.
Not as frightened as I become when I feel the cold steel pressing against the back of my head, the threatening voice telling me to hand over my wallet…