Welcome to another edition of The Rise and Fall of an Underdog. Thanks for reading and I hope you?re enjoying the story of Jake’s journey to the big leagues. If you have missed any installments, check out the previous Thursday’s posts or let me know and I can send it to you. I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and would always love to hear any comments, questions, or requests you might have. Happy reading!
Jake had never been so bored in all his life. It had only been six weeks since his accident but it felt like an eternity. He had always had a good work ethic and was never idle. His first job was delivering papers when he was twelve and he worked all the way through high school. And his stint at the Electronics Emporium had been his last foray into the conventional world of work. So he had never been one for sitting around the house all day doing nothing. But the doctor had told him to rest and under the watchful eye of his mother, and Alana, he was doing just that.
His neck felt fine and he had quickly regained all the feeling in his extremities. It had been very scary at first; not knowing if you?re going to walk again or live a normal life. But it had all come back so Jake was no longer worried. He went to physio and did all the exercises the doctors gave him. He had been a model patient and now he was ready to get back to normal. And normal was in a wrestling ring.
It had crossed Jake’s mind that maybe a career as a wrestlers wasn?t the brightest idea. Maybe he should just walk away and get a more stable job in an office or even go back to school. But these thoughts had been fleeting; a momentary lapse in his career plan due to a little bump. Well, a pretty big and painful bump, but Jake was over it already. His mother and Alana on the other hand were far from over it. They hovered over Jake like an insane pair of nurturing seagulls. Jake felt as if he couldn?t even fart without them analyzing it and calling the doctor to check it was okay. They even made him wear the stupid neck brace the hospital had given him as a precautionary measure. Granted it had only been for a few days but it made feel like a dog wearing one of those stupid funnels to keep from biting his wounds. He understood that they were just worried about him but enough was enough. One evening after dinner he decided to tell them that he was ready to start training again and work towards a return to the ring.
?Are you a total idiot?!? his mother bluntly and matter of factly asked. ?Or are you just a total glutton for punishment??
Jake knew this was rhetorical and didn?t bother with a response. Alana was unusually quiet and merely shook her head and looked at Jake with tired, puppy dog eyes. She broke her silence.
?Jakey baby I know how much this means to you and that you are going crazy being cooped up in this house with us. But we had a pretty big scare there and you should count yourself lucky to be doing as well as you are. Don?t you feel like this was some sort of sign??
?No I don?t? came Jake’s meek rebuttal. ?It was a bad bump and that’s all. Happens to guys all the time. If you fall off a horse you just have to get right back on, don?t you??
?This is hardly horseback riding Jake? his mother snapped.
?I?ve stayed quiet about this for long enough because I knew how much it meant to you. But enough is enough. Let’s be realistic Jakey and move on.?
Jake had heard enough. He didn?t stomp out of the room or slam any doors. He merely grabbed his coat and headed for a walk. And the end of his road he hopped on a bus and headed somewhere he hadn?t been in a long time; to Deluzio’s gym and to the Crusher.
As Jake opened the door the dilapidated old place he felt as if a day hadn?t passed since that fateful morning he began his training; a kid with a clipping from the newspaper and a dream. It sounded cheesy but Jake still felt as strongly as he did that morning. The place was empty but Jake could see a light on in the Crusher’s office. He headed up the rickety old stairs and tapped on the door. The Crusher was hulked over a pile of receipts and a calculator. A pair of glasses rested on the tip of his nose and he looked like the world’s strongest accountant. He looked up from his work and a smile crossed his face. He crossed the room to Jake and shook his hand as heartily as ever and gave him a pat on the back that reminded him that he really had recently injured his neck.
?How the hell are ya kid? I heard about your bad bump. How ya doin???
?I?m fine. Still a bit sore but fine. I?m just going crazy doing nothing!?
The Crusher ushered Jake into the room and pulled up a chair by his desk. He opened the bottom drawer and pulled out a bottle of whiskey. Jake was surprised at how nice a bottle it was. Considering how frugal the Crusher was with everything else, he spared no cost on his drinks. They each took a swig and settled back into their chairs. Jake still wasn?t exactly sure why he gone their but the Crusher smiled at him and summed it all up for Jake.
?So now you?re wonderin? if you should even get back into a ring again.? The Crusher said as he took another swig of his whiskey. ?Your women pressuring you, doctor’s tellin? you you?re a fool for doin? it. But all you can think about it is your next match.?
?That’s exactly it.? Jake agreed as he clenched his teeth through another sip of the rather strong whiskey.
?Let me tell you somethin? kid. Wrestling has been my mistress for 32 years. I?ve been through 3 back surgeries and three wives. My knees are shot and I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat for no apparent reason. I?m nearly broke and the bank’s been on my ass for years. But do you know that all this 51 year old hunk of meat can think about is putting on some spandex on a Friday night and entertaining a crowd like they have never been entertained before.?
The Crusher poured himself another shot of whiskey and downed it in one fell swoop. Jake was already a bit warm and tingly from his glass but he still hung off the Crusher’s every word. The Crusher continued.
?Now I?m hardly a role model or fit to give anyone any kind of advice but all I can say is this; if you can relate to any of the things that I have just said, and I know that you can, follow your heart and do what you think is right. I?ve known you?ve got talent from the first day I laid eyes on ya kid and it would be a shame for the rest of the world to not get to see it.?
They finished their drinks and Jake realized that he had to hurry to catch his last bus home. As he was leaving the Crusher did something he?d never done before; he hugged Jake. Maybe it was the whiskey or maybe it was just the fact that he was proud of Jake. Whatever it was Jake appreciated it and as he headed down the street he knew what he had to do. He got out his cell phone and dialed his promoter’s number. Jake wasn?t stupid about it. He didn?t sign himself up to work a programme across the country. Just a few guest referee spots and a few lumberjack matches. But the main thing was that he would be back on the road with the boys and he could get back to training. Jake knew this would upset his mother and Alana but they would get over it. They loved him more than a fight about his chosen career. Deep down he knew they understood just as he had understood everything the Crusher had said to him tonight. Jake understood what his calling was in life and what he was meant to do. He knew where his passion was and where he would find it again; in a wrestling ring.