Well, welcome to the final instalment of The Rise and Fall of an Underdog. It has been a heck of a journey for Jake and for me. I want to take this time to say a huge thank you to all the guys at Wrestleview for having faith in me and letting me tell this story. A special thanks to Adam Martin for all your help and patience with me over the past few months. And the biggest thank you of all goes out to you, the readers. I’ve loved hearing from you over the past year and you are the reason I kept going. I hope to return with another story in the future, but life, and my pending master’s degree, has taken my focus another way for awhile. But I’ll hopefully be back online in the future with another tale from the world of wrestling. Thanks again for reading and take care.
Jake fiddled with the knot in his tie. He could never manage to get it just right. Before he lost patience and decided to go tieless, a helping hand reached out and began to fix the mess he had made of it.
“Jeez kid, what are ya tryin’ to do, strangle yourself?” the Crusher said with a smile.
Jake looked into the eyes of his old friend and smiled back as he watched him struggle almost as much as he had with the damned tie.
“It’s a lot harder to do it on someone else! I’d rather just put you in a headlock if that’s alright with you!”
The Crusher tussled Jake’s hair and put him in a weak headlock. Jake quickly reversed it but before things degenerated into a fully fledged play fight, Jake grabbed the Crusher and hugged him.
“Thank you Crusher.”
“Kid I’ve been tellin’ ya for ten years, its Chris.”
“Thanks Ch…. rusher!” Jake said with a wink.
The Crusher shooed him away and Jake took his place with the rest of the group. He straightened his gown, dusted his cap and sat in the front with the rest of the graduates. Jake Reynolds, former professional wrestling champion, was about to graduate from nursing school.
After his altercation and near crippling in the prison showers, Jake settled down to serve out the rest of his sentence but to also make something of his life. He started a distance learning course and put everything into it. While other prisoners were working out in the gym and shooting hoops, Jake was in the prison library studying and writing papers. His cell was littered with medical books and practice tests. He was determined like never before and upon his release he enrolled in nursing school and was now set to graduate at the top of his class. He gave the Crusher a thumbs-up as his name was called. He quickly made his way up the stairs and across the stage: his limp as visible as ever. After two operations and countless hours of rehab and physiotherapy, Jake was able to walk unaided albeit with a noticeable limp. A constant reminder of what his life had become and what he had made of it now. He shook the Dean’s hand as the Crusher cursed at his digital camera. The crowd laughed as the Crusher finally got the flash to work and Jake released the Dean from his grip. Jake waved his diploma in the air. He couldn’t help but think of the salutes to his father he had done in the ring as he waved the piece of paper to the sky. This time it was for Mom though. As a newly qualified nurse Jake had already lined up a job at a hospice taking care of terminally ill cancer patients. He never talked about his motives, didn’t need to. Penance was his new thing.
Jake mingled with friends after the ceremony and proudly introduced the Crusher to everyone. One of Jake’s friends even asked for an autograph. The Crusher beamed as he signed one of the graduation programmes, and Jake beamed too. While the Crusher enthralled the crowd with his tales of the ring Jake took a look around at all the happy families assembled on the lawn of the school. It made his heart hurt but made him hopeful at the same time. Hopeful about what he could now do and become. He glanced at a young woman in the distance and if ever there was a time to do a cartoonish double take or jaw drop, this was it. It was Alana!
“The Crusher called me” was the first thing she said.
“Thought it would be as good a time as any to reconnect. Congratulations Jake. You’ve done well.”
“Thank you” was all he could muster.
“And I’m sorry about your mother. She was one of the greatest women I ever knew.”
“The best.” He agreed.
Alana half awkwardly introduced the man standing to her left. “This is my husband Greg.” They shook hands pleasantly. “He’s a software engineer. We live just upstate you know.”
Jake was amazed that she was so close. “No more Canada eh?”
“Nope. I’ve got my citizenship and everything. Things are good.”
“I’m so happy for you Alana. You deserve it.” Jake started to shy away.
“Oh, and there’s someone else I want you to meet. This is Clyde. Like the river in Glasgow.”
Alana’s husband Greg moved to the side and nudged forward a rather nervous young man. He clung to Greg’s leg and looked up with wide eyes, dark and native looking like his mother’s but with a glint that was all Jake’s.
Alana just nodded. Jake bent down and stuck out his hand to Clyde. He tried hard but tears escaped from the corners of his eyes and he quickly brushed them away.
“Hi there, I’m Jake.”
“Hi, I’m Clyde. Like the river in…. where is it Mommy?”
“Glasgow, Scotland honey.”
Alana put a hand on Jake’s shoulder. “I think maybe it’s time that you two got to know each other a little better. Since we’re only an hour or so away, Greg and I thought that maybe you could take Clyde for a bit on the weekends.”
“I’d like that.” Jake said with a sigh “I’d like that a lot.”
Clyde looked at Jake with wider eyes than ever. “Hey, my Mommy said that you used to be a wrestler. Did you?”
“Yeah. Do you like wrestling?”
“I love it!” Clyde shouted as he did a swift kick in the air and flexed his muscles.
Jake laughed. “Well maybe I could take you to a match sometime. Would you like that?”
“I sure would!”
“Yeah” Jake smiled at his son “Me too.”