Jake had never had a serious girlfriend before. He dated a bit in high school but had been lacking in the female companionship department since then. Wrestling had been his only mistress for over a year now and he had enjoyed it that way. This was no longer the case and Jake had barely enough time to realize this before Alana had moved in. It wasn?t an ideal situation. Jake’s mother was a neat freak with a need for control so having another person under her roof made life a bit of an eggshell walk. But she was trying her hardest to be an understanding and flexible mother/landlord and Jake appreciated it. His life had taken a huge knock when his father died and both Alana and his mother knew that what Jake needed above everything else was love and support.
This didn?t stop the nearly instantaneous bickering though and Jake was caught in the middle.
?She doesn?t rinse the dishes before she puts them in the dishwasher.?
?She watches me like a hawk!?
?She leaves her hair all over the bathroom.?
?She keeps pestering me to get a job!?
Jake was more than relieved to get momentary respite from all of this when he answered a call from the Crusher.
?Hey kid how you holdin? up?? the Crusher asked in a gruff voice. Jake thought to himself that the Crusher sounded even sterner on the phone.
?I?m doing okay. Dealing with Dad’s death the best I can.?
?That’s good to hear kid but what I really meant was how are you doin? livin? with two women. The guys told me your old lady from Winnipeg moved in with you.?
Jake chuckled. ?Old lady?, what a phrase. ?Well that one’s a bit more difficult.?
?Tell me about it. Well I?m just callin? to see if you wanted to take a job with UCW. They want to use you for a few months. You?ll be on the road most of the time; all over the state. You?ll probably have to give up that job at that crappy electronics store. But you?ll be making enough money to support yourself now. What do you say??
UCW was the premier independent wrestling company in the area. The Crusher’s outfit was a sturdy one but where they did shows in church halls, UCW was selling out small arenas all over the state. This was a no brainer for Jake and the thought of also getting to finally quit at the Electronics Emporium just sweetened the deal. The thought of never having to see that little weasely faced snot of a manager Brad for the rest of his life made Jake smile to himself. He had been dreaming about making a living wrestling from the first day he had started training. And this was it.
?Do it, sign me up? Jake replied.
?Alright, I?ll talk to my connection there. He owes me a few favours so I can probably sweeten the deal a little. We?ll miss you on the card kid but I really think you?ve got it. You deserve it kid.?
Jake held back the tears. Was this a tender moment with the Crusher? ?Thanks Chris. I just wanted to say that I appreciate everything you?ve done for me. You?ve really made me feel welcome and a part of the family. I don?t know what I?d do with out you.?
The Crusher groaned. ?Ah kid, don?t go goin? all queer on me now!? Tender moment with the Crusher over.
Jake ran upstairs to tell Alana and his mother the good news. They both mustered half hearted smiles and Jake knew that there was more bickering to come. His mother began.
?That’s great Jake honey but do you really think it’s the wisest thing to give up your job. I mean you were lucky they gave you the time off to go to the middle of frozen nowhere.?
Alana gave her a sideways glance to show that her jibe at Winnipeg, and at her, had registered but didn?t matter. She then jumped on board the guilt train. ?It is really great Jake but we?ve only just moved in together and we really haven?t had any time together. Can?t it wait??
?This opportunity might not come up again. And I won?t be gone all the time or even that far. I can still get home every few days and we can spend all of that time together. And I know it won?t be the best money in the world but this is only the beginning Mom. The big bucks are only a few steps away and more importantly I?ll be doing something I love. Something I?m good at.?
There was a moment of silence as the two women in Jake’s life realised how passionate he was and that there was no changing his mind. His mother sighed, shook her head and gave Jake a big hug. Alana followed suit and added a kiss that Jake felt was a bit to passionate for standing in the kitchen in the early evening. With the objection fires extinguished Jake turned his focus to getting ready for a lengthy road trip. But before that there was the small matter of the weekend’s upcoming match; which would be Jake’s last in the company for the foreseeable future. He wanted to make it special and he knew just the tool he needed?.. a ladder.
The rec centre was packed to capacity. Almost 200 people had come out to see what would turn out to be the farewell match of Jake ?Rocket Kid? Reynolds. His opponent was a green trainee that the Crusher was pushing as the next big thing. Jake had only been in the business for around a year and he felt like he was already passing the torch to the new blood. Jake understood that he was no ring general but had more faith than ever in his ability in the ring and his ability to make it as a star in the industry.
For now though Jake had to put all of these things out of his mind and focus on the ten foot piece of aluminium that he was precariously balancing on. Hanging above the ring was a briefcase containing a wrestling contract. The winner of the match would be the person who successfully climbed the ladder and retrieved the briefcase; their prize would be the contract inside. The loser would have to leave town and the company. This was all a work of course. The ?contract? meant nothing and was actually just a piece of paper pulled out from an old dictionary in the Crusher’s office. But to the fans it was a lifeline for their favourite star. Little did they know that the ?Rocket Kid? would be losing the match and leaving them.
Jake soon found out that the Crusher was right and that this new kid was good. He didn?t have a gimmick yet and came to the ring under his surprisingly wrestling friendly real name Austin Shields. Austin flew around the ring like a bat out of hell and Jake was okay with leaving most of the high spots to him. They did the usual bits; sunset flip onto the ladder, slingshot into the ladder in the corner, slamming the ladder down on each other’s legs and the dreaded spear from top rope to top of ladder. The crowd was into it and baying for blood. They got some too when a mistimed kick sent the ladder flying into Jake’s face. There was no blading required as Jake’s forehead burst open in a crimson mask. The blood was warm and stung Jake’s eyes with every blink. There’s nothing like competing in one of the most gruelling matches in the sport with one blind eye Jake thought to himself as they headed for home. Austin had worked out a great spot for the finish. He and Jake would get into a fist fight at the top of the ladder and Jake would fall back, catch his leg between two rungs and helplessly hang upside down as Austin retrieved the briefcase and his future with the company. As Jake hung upside down, more and more blood flowing from his open wound, he chuckled to himself as he realised how much he enjoyed doing this.
As the bell rang Austin helped Jake down from the ladder and they hugged in the middle of the ring. The crowd cheered as they raised each other’s hands; Austin in victory and Jake in acknowledgment of the crowd. Austin handed Jake a mic and the ?Rocket Kid? addressed the fans for one last time.
?Thank you all for supporting me and believing in me. You guys are the real deal and you?ll always hold a special place in my heart. Thank you to Austin for a great match. I couldn?t think of a better guy to have to lose this way to. Keep an eye on this guy. Thanks to all the guys in the back and all the guys in the office. You make this thing work. Thanks again to all the fans and all I can say is, keep a look out for the ?Rocket Kid?.?
The fans erupted as Jake made his way to the back. One of the guys, a successful student nurse, did a decent job of stitching Jake up. It hadn?t been as bad as he had expected but his head still throbbed and the sticky blood lingered in his hair and eyebrows. Jake did the rounds for one last time, shaking every guys hand just like he had been taught to do. Jake searched for the Crusher until one of the guys told him that he had seen him duck out early. This was definitely unlike the Crusher and Jake wondered if it was because he hadn?t wanted to say goodbye. That seemed too mushy for Jake so he shrugged it off and headed out.
As he exited the rec centre he was bombarded by fans wanting autographs. He graciously signed everything thrust in front of him and made it through the mob. Standing on the corner under a street lamp patiently waiting for him was Alana. Jake threw his arms around her and kissed the long line of her neck.
?You were amazing tonight!? she cooed.
?Let me hear you say that again later tonight!?
They both giggled like school children as they headed home. Jake had competed in countless matches at that rec centre and was hopeful that this wouldn?t be his last. He was yet again heading out into the unknown and he was excited. Jake knew that he would miss all the guys and his mother and especially Alana. But he understood that this was a crucial point in his career and that this could be the start of his assent to new heights in wrestling. He knew in his heart that the Rocket Kid was about to take off.