Hello and welcome to ?The Rise and Fall of an Underdog: The Story So Far?. It’s been six months of chapters of Jake’s journey into the world of professional wrestling. So I thought I?d bring everyone up to speed with the story so far. Over the next month I will be posting all the previous chapters so you can catch the bits you missed or get on board for the first time. We now continue with chapters 9-12. You can always send any comments or questions to email@example.com. Thanks for reading and enjoy!
Jake had just under two weeks to prepare for his first ever match against the Crusher. He hit the gym every day and trained in the ring with the Crusher one on one during the week. These evening sessions were usually reserved for the main event guys but the Crusher had invited Jake to be a part of it. Jake felt that a few of the guys resented him for this. In the long run though none of this would matter and Jake was getting the training he needed to move even further ahead in the company. His body ached, and he hated having to go to work each day as well, but Jake was bursting at the seams with excitement over the thought of stepping between the ropes and having a match in front of a crowd for the first time.
As much as the physical side of preparation was important, Jake quickly realised that there was a lot more to preparing for your in ring debut than just bumps and bruises. The main thing that Jake had to sort out was what was he going to wear? Much like a girl preparing for a first date, Jake was faced with the conundrum of picking the perfect outfit for his debut. Granted, he didn?t have to go to fancy shops or ring his friends to ask for advice, but he was as meticulous as any girl could ever have been. He asked around to see if any of the guys had any old ring gear they wanted to get rid of. He bought a few pairs of tights from a guy who was roughly the same size as him and tried them on as soon as he got home. Although the guy had looked to be the same size as him, Jake quickly realised that this was not the case. As he pulled with all his might, he just about managed to get the tights on. Out of breath, and struggling to catch it amidst the clench of spandex, Jake knew that he would have to hit the internet and find something more suitable; just as soon as he got those tights off!
A quick search of e-bay resulted in dozens of successful hits and in the right size to boot. There were all sorts of designs; bright neon stripes, pictures of wild animals down the sides of the legs, dangly strips hanging from the seams, and there was even a pair with a giant lipstick print on the butt! As much as Jake liked that pair he opted for a plain black pair with red and gold stripes down the sides. Picking tights was tricky business because as it was Jake’s first match, none of the fans would know him and he needed to establish whether he was a babyface (a good guy) or a heel (a bad guy). If he came out in a pair of tights with skulls down the side and wore a black mask, people would assume he was a heel. And if he came down in bright red tights with stars down the sides and a matching headband, people would assume he was a babyface. But as he was facing the Crusher, the most hated heel in all of the company, people would be on his side no matter what. Jake paid for the tights, and next day delivery, and moved his attention to the next piece of the puzzle, boots.
Jake had been making do with his shiny white boxing boots, but it was now time for a proper pair of wrestling boots. The Crusher had given him the name of a boot maker he had been using for twenty years and Jake headed off to a tiny workshop not too far from the gym where he trained. The little old man who owned the shop was named Giuseppe and fit every stereotype of an old Italian shop owner that Jake could have imagined. It was like visiting the set of Pinocchio; minus the creepy wooden doll and talking insect. Giuseppe whistled as he carefully measured Jake’s feet ankles and calves. Jake went with the imitation black leather as he liked the shine (and they were almost half the price of genuine leather). As Giuseppe finished the paperwork Jake looked around the shop and noticed a picture on the wall. It was a dusty old photograph with an inscription sprawled across it: Giuseppe, thanks for the boots, Andre. The picture beneath the inscription was of none other than the Eighth Wonder of the World Andre the Giant.
?Did you make boots for Andre the Giant?? Jake eagerly asked Giuseppe.
?Yes, once. He was-a comin through town and he lost-a his boots. So I stayed up all-a night makin him a new pair. You should-a seen these things. Like-a boats they were! He wore those boots for-a years. I think he was even wearing them-a the night Hulk-a Hogan body slammed him at-a Wrestlemania!?
Giuseppe was obviously proud of this fact and beamed as he finished up his work and gave Jake a firm handshake that the Crusher would have been proud of. Jake left the shop and started to head home but Giuseppe came running after him.
?I forgot-a to ask you? he puffed as he caught up to Jake.
?You want-a me to sew your name on-a the boots??
?Yes-a you name. So the people know-a who you are.?
Jake realized that he didn?t know his name. He wasn?t having some sort of amnesiac moment, he just hadn?t decided what his in-ring name was going to be. He thanked Giuseppe, declined the boot naming and headed home. He spent the whole rest of the night thinking of names and trying to be clever. Alliteration was the best way to go he thought. Jumpin? Jake, Jake Justice, things like that. He went to sleep with his own name ringing in his head and more worries than he had had before.
The next day at training he approached a group of the regular headliners and asked what they thought about a possible name. They didn?t take it as seriously as Jake had hoped. Each suggestion was more ridiculous than the one before but one in particular had stuck out; but not in a good way.
?Jake the Rake? a rather surly looking wrestler suggested.
The group burst out in laughter and agreement. Jake was mortified. He had a big enough complex about his size as it was and this new nickname certainly didn?t help. He had been trying so hard to gain weight and thought he was doing pretty well. He couldn?t? eat any more protein shakes or workout any more if he tried. He knew he was being too sensitive but it still stung.
?Leave the kid alone? came a booming voice from behind them. The Crusher had appeared from nowhere and shooed the group of wrestler’s away. ?Get back to training. Lord knows you need it.?
Jake felt relieved and a bit of a teacher’s pet at the same time. ?Ignore them kid. Most of them are too stupid to remember their own names let alone think up a new one. I pretty much gave them all their ring names. You, let’s see. You?re young, good lookin kid, a high flier; you?re Jake ?Rocket Kid? Reynolds. That?ll do for now. Get back to trainin.?
With that the Crusher limped his way back to his office and Jake finished the rest of his training session. On the way home he kept saying his new ring name to himself. ?Rocket Kid?. He liked it. He would have preferred to be a man instead of a kid but ?Rocket Man? was too David Bowie for his liking. Yes, ?Rocket Kid? would do just fine. With his naming complete, Jake was pretty much set for his debut match. He looked the part and now had a character for himself. Now all he needed was to know what the heck he and the Crusher were actually going to do in the ring that Saturday night! The butterflies in his stomach were already the size of bats but Jake trusted the Crusher and knew that he wanted the best for him. In a few short months this man that Jake referred to by a cheesy character name had become more of a father figure than his own Dad had ever been. Jake appreciated all that the Crusher was doing for him and felt deep down that this match was going to be the start of a career that he had dreamed about all his life. But he was still bloody nervous.
Jake had been nervous before; as he waited to cross the stage at his high school graduation, or when his band played their first (and only) gig at the annual talent show, even as he sat watching the final quarter of the Super Bowl with his team up by 2 with 1 minute to go, all these times Jake had felt a little twinge of nervousness come over him. But as he stood behind the curtain in a tiny rec centre awaiting his first ever wrestling match, nervous couldn?t even begin to describe what he was feeling.
Prepared was another word though that could also easily be used to describe Jake’s current status. His tights had arrived in the mail and his boots were back from Giuseppe in record time. Even his mother was impressed by the workmanship that had gone into them. When Jake put on his tights and boots for the first time he actually felt like a professional wrestler. He added his elbow pads and matching wrist tape and felt almost complete. The last piece to the puzzle was an old leather jacket that he hadn?t worn in a long time and was just collecting dust in his closet. His mother took one look at it and was struck with an idea. A couple of hours (and a lot of cursing at the sewing machine) later, Jake’s Mom presented him with his ring jacket. On the back she had embroidered ?Rocket Kid? in bold lettering. Jake took one look at it and grabbed his mother in a bear hug and held her until she was giddy with laughter. Jake’s look was complete and he was ready. All he needed to figure out now was what he was actually going to do in his match with the Crusher.
Jake had arrived early to the rec centre and promptly began to help with the construction of the ring. With the ring set up, Jake focussed his attentions on getting some clues from the Crusher on what they were going to do in their match that night. As hard as Jake tried the Crusher was more aloof and unavailable than ever.
?Check with me in an hour kid.?
?Just let me finish this up and I?ll come find you kid.?
?Jesus kid I?ll find you when I?m ready!?
After that last one Jake decided to leave it be for a while and catch a quick workout in the gym before he got suited up. He did a quick, light workout; just enough to get the blood pumping and some definition in his muscles and puffiness in his veins. As he towelled down and began to dress the Crusher appeared, drinking from an energy drink and looking focussed for the first time that day.
?Okay kid here’s how it’s gonna go. We both get in, I shout at the crowd, get in and out of the ring yellin? at ?em, the usual. You challenge me to a test of strength, more yellin? and avoidin? you. We tie up, go back and forth a bit. Then we go into the first spot we worked. Back and forth for a bit and then I sucker punch you when the ref’s not lookin? and begin the beat down. Just go with it. I?ll call it on the fly and then I?ll tell you when to go into the next spot we planned and your comeback. Momentum, momentum, momentum, and then you get me down and go for your finisher. Moonsault right??
?Right? Jake timidly and quickly replied.
?Good. Then I?ll storm out, shoutin? at the crowd the whole way and you stay in the ring for a minute and work the crowd. Slap all the hands you can and babyface it up as much as you can. You?ll go over just fine. Got it?
?If anything goes wrong I?ll just call somethin? new. Listen and pay attention. See you out there kid.?
With that the Crusher was gone, shouting orders at every wrestler he passed along the way, and Jake was left with his head spinning like an out of control amusement park ride. He knew that the Crusher had been speaking English but right now it was all foreign to him. He tried to remember all the spots they had worked out in training and the numbers that went with them. The Crusher had spent a whole afternoon simply barking numbers and launching into the moves that corresponded with them. It had been hard and Jake knew that having them whispered in his ear in front of a screaming crowd would not make it any easier. This would also be the first time that Jake would have to deal with another wrestler carrying the match and calling moves on the fly. Jake was fine with a choreographed, ordered match, but wasn?t sure that he could just do a move at the drop of a hat. What was a back body drop? How do I do a sunset flip? Do all moves go to the left or was it the right? Just like before a big exam Jake’s brain hurt and he hoped that his body wouldn?t be joining that pain when he stepped into the ring.
It was time for the show to begin and Jake was hanging out behind the curtain in anticipation. He nearly jumped out of his skin when a fierce Crusher back pat caught him off guard.
?You alright kid??
?Yeah I?m fine.?
?You don?t look fine to me? the Crusher chuckled. ?You look like you?re gonna puke!?
?Maybe just a little? Jake replied and attempted a chuckle.
?Well you won?t have to wait long, we?re on first.?
Another pat on the back and the Crusher went off to finalize some details before their match. Now Jake really felt like he was going to puke. He could see the lights go down through a tiny gap in the curtains and he could see that there was a decent crowd waiting to be entertained. The ring announcer shuffled past Jake and made his way to the ring. As the announcer did his usual introductory speech, Jake prepared backstage in anticipation of…
?Jake ?Rrrrrrocket Kiiiiiiid? Reeeeey-Nooooooolds!?
As the announcer finished elongating his name and his music began to play, Jake realised he had to go. He burst through the curtains and before he knew it he was slapping hands all the way around the ring as Metallica pumped out through the PA system. Jake leapt over the top rope into the ring and made his way to the corner, relishing the cheers the whole way. Those cheers quickly disappeared as the sound of Black Sabbath filled the arena and the Crusher made his way to the ring. The Crusher was an ominous figure at the best of times but standing there in the ring he was as menacing a heel as any. The ref checked them both for weapons and when he was satisfied he motioned for the bell and the match was underway.
The bell had barley finished ringing when Jake realised that he had forgotten absolutely everything he and the Crusher had planned. The Crusher was doing his menacing bit to the crowd when it clicked with Jake and he challenged the Crusher to a test of strength. Things were going as planned and Jake was loosening up a bit. Jake slipped up a bit though when he threw a punch that the Crusher didn?t think was up to scratch. Pulling punches was not something he liked and Jake had pulled that one way too much. They continued on and the Crusher tied up in the corner with Jake and whispered in his ear ?1?. With that Jake sprung into action. He reversed the momentum and sent the Crusher into the corner. As he staggered back to the centre of the ring Jake left his feet, grabbed the Crusher’s head between his legs and delivered a picture perfect Hurricanrana. The Crusher slid out of the ring and complained to the crowd and Jake got a chance to catch his breath. Not for long though as the Crusher was right back into the ring. Jake threw another punch and although the Crusher sold it, Jake could see in his eyes that he was not happy. When it came time for the Crusher to punch back he certainly didn?t pull any punches. He landed them; straight on Jake’s face. He didn?t try to kill Jake but to teach him a lesson about realism in wrestling. And Jake got it.
Jake was enjoying his first match, albeit with a splitting headache, and was even enjoying the part of the match where the babyface gets the beat down from the heel. Unlike his purposely powerful punch, the rest of the Crusher’s moves were executed perfectly and Jake felt totally safe. The Crowd were getting behind Jake and a chant of ?Rocket Kid. Rocket Kid. Rocket Kid.? hung in the air as Jake mounted his comeback. The final pre-planned spot, and a few moves later, the Crusher lay stricken in the middle of the ring and Jake was climbing to the top rope for the finish. He signalled to the crowd and they cheered as he flung himself backwards. He got so much hang time on his moonsault that the crowd actually gasped as if he wasn?t going to make it. But he did make it and the crowd erupted as the referee counted 1-2-3. As the bell rang the Crusher stormed out of the ring, spitting venom at the fans, and Jake ran to all four corners of the ring; celebrating his victory and celebrating the fact that he had done it. He had made it through his first match and the fans loved him. As the crowd cheered Jake drank it all in. He wanted this moment to last forever but knew that it couldn?t. Now it was time for Jake Reynolds to make a name for himself in the world of wrestling and become the star he had always dreamed of being.
Jake was on a role of sorts and in the couple of months since his fateful first match with the Crusher he had worked consistently on every show. He wasn?t undefeated (he had lost a couple of pretty bad squash matches to a rather large wrestler called Grand Sumo) but he was building a rapport with the fans and impressing the powers that be along the way. His job at the Electronics Emporium had taken a back seat to his wrestling and his manager Brad was starting to get suspicious of Jake’s calling in sick so regularly. But Jake didn?t care; he was doing something he loved and that he was good at. What more could he need.
Even Jake’s mother was beginning to warm to the idea of her son being a professional wrestler. She even made it to one of Jake’s matches and cheered louder than any other fan in the place. She caught his eye in the middle of a tie-up and he gave her a little wink; all the while fighting to stay in character. Afterwards they went for ice cream while the other wrestler’s hit the bars. People had always called Jake a ?momma’s boy? and he always took no notice of them. She was all that he had in the world and the fact that she was proud of what he was doing in the ring meant the world to him. And he really liked ice cream.
Conspicuous in his absence was Steve. Jake had gotten so wrapped up in his own career that he had failed to notice that Steve hadn?t been at training or on the card for the latest matches. It was odd for Steve not to be around especially since he was a new champion. The mystery was solved though when Jake noticed a couple of the guys mentioning Steve after a training session. Jake confronted them.
?Hey, are you guys talking about Steve??
?Yeah, what an idiot!? said a young wrestler called the Mystic (real name Allan).
?What do you mean??
?He got arrested last night for selling steroids outside a gym in the burbs. Huge sting operation. He’s probably going to do time. Moron?
Jake was crushed. The guy that he had looked up to and had helped him to get a start in the company was a drug pushing convict. The worst part of it was that Jake had taken a pain pill from Steve after he hurt his back during that first battle royale. Did that make him an accomplice? Jake had always been aware of the presence of steroids in wrestling but would never have thought of Steve as a proprietor of illegal substances. He felt as if everything he had believed in Steve had flown out the window along with such a promising career. Steve could have been like a brother to Jake but now he was gone from the business he loved.
?Enough gossiping ladies!? shouted the Crusher as he approached the group. He didn?t look happy and Jake new that he was about to lay something heavy on them. ?So Steve’s gone. You all know why. No need to talk about it. Just know that if any of you do the same you?ll be out on your ass just as fast as I can throw you. Understood?!?
There were nods and mumbles of agreement. Nobody looked up or made direct eye contact with the Crusher. This made Jake wonder how many of them had been customers of Steve’s and how many of them would be emptying out their gym bags when they got home. The Crusher continued.
?Luckily I managed to get the international title belt back off that lowlife before he disappeared off the face of the planet. So next show we?re going to have a mini tournament to crown a new champion. I?ll take on Mystic and Grand Sumo will take on the Rocket Kid. Then it?ll be me and the Rocket Kid in the final and he?ll win the strap.?
Jake froze for a moment. Win the strap? Jake’s knowledge of wrestling jargon was pretty comprehensive so he was pretty confident that he understood correctly and that he would be winning the international title at the next show. The Crusher must have noticed that Jake was practically vibrating as he chuckled and continued.
?Don?t get too excited kid. I?m gonna get on the mike right afterwards and call you out for a rematch. ?If you?re a real man? blah, blah, blah, stuff like that. Then when the ref turns to ring the bell I?m gonna knock you out with brass knucks and win the title in a couple of seconds. You?ll have the shortest title reign in the company’s history but it?ll give me huge heat and put you over with the crowd even more. And a little ways down the road we can have a big grudge match and then we?ll put the title on you a bit more permanently. Sound good??
This was all a bit much for Jake to take in. First he had found out that one of his best friends in this crazy business was about to go to jail for drug dealing and now he finds out that he is going to win a title and lose it in the same night. He mustered a head nod and a grunt of a reply. This seemed enough for the Crusher. He dismissed them all and Jake was left to ponder all that would happen between now and the next show. He had six days.
Six days can fly by really fast when you?ve got a lot on your mind; and as Jake headed backstage after his match with Grand Sumo he realised that time flies even when you?re not having fun. Grand Sumo was what you would call a stiff worker. Meaning he liked to hit hard and make things look as real as possible. But his reality was Jake’s splitting headache. Sumo had thrown him from pillar to post and corner to corner. Jake liked being the little guy fighting back. Hearing the crowd cheering as he made his comeback. But the crowd was hard to hear when Jake’s head was being squeezed in a sweaty, overweight man’s arm pit. Jake made it through the match and scored a quick pin after playing possum for a bit. Up next was the Crusher.
Jake had wrestled the Crusher countless times in training and a handful of times in front of a crowd but tonight was special. As the Crusher lead Jake through a smooth match, calling the shots the whole way, Jake felt totally at ease. Wrestling, when it’s done well, can feel like a dace. One person leads and another follows. Their moves intertwining and their timing hitting like nothing else. This match was a dance and Jake was loving it. Everything went as planned and the Crusher gave Jake a good crack on the head with his plastic brass knuckles. Jake’s title reign, the shortest in company history, was over. But for two minutes and thirty six seconds Jake had worn that title belt with pride. He knew deep down that this wouldn?t be the last time a crowd would cheer for him as their champion.
After the show was over everyone headed to a local bar for a couple of night caps. Jake was shaking hands like never before and laughing about his mini title reign with the boys. He saw the Crusher coming and braced himself for the back pat but it never came. The Crusher simply held out his hand to Jake and they shook like old friends.
?Thanks for doing that job for me tonight. I know you understand the business and how we?ll both benefit from that. You got a good head on your shoulders kid.
?More importantly though, do you have a passport??
?Yeah. Why?? Jake replied. His passport sat in his dresser unopened. He?d had big plans after high school to throw a backpack over his shoulder and travel Europe. Instead he got a job at the Electronic Emporium and his passport sat collecting dust. Was he finally going to get to use it? Was the Crusher sending him to some exotic location?
?I need you to go to Winnipeg for me?
Jake mentally began unpacking his board shorts and sun glasses. His limited knowledge of geography was good enough for him to realise that he wouldn?t be needing them in the frozen north.
?Yeah Manitoba Canada. Big Ben, an old buddy of mine, has a promotion there. We used to wrestle together as a tag team for Stu Hart in Calgary. Now he runs the biggest promotion in Winnipeg. He’s looking for a few guys to do a tour for 3 weeks or so. It?ll be a lot of work but workin? the territories never hurt anyone. You up for it??
Jake didn?t hesitate ?Sure. I?ve just got to sort some things out but yeah, I?ll do it.?
?It’s done then? the Crusher said as he started to head off. ?I?ll pay for your trip up there but after that you?re expenses are your own. I?ll give Ben you?re number and he?ll sort out all the details. You?re doin? alright kid.?
The Crusher headed off to shake hands and slap backs around the bar. Jake was left to let his head wrap around all the things he would have to sort out. He?d have to take a leave of absence from work as he couldn?t afford to quit. As much as he?d like to tell Brad where to shove his job he needed the security for a bit longer. Then he?d have to tell his mother. This might have worried him a year ago but now he knew how much she appreciated what he did and how much she wanted to see him succeed. Barring any unforeseen traumas Jake was about to set out on his first tour as a wrestler. This was it, his time to shine. Making a name for himself began here and now. Jake ?Rocket Kid? Reynolds was taking the next step in his journey into professional wrestling and that next step was… in Winnipeg!
Jake was two weeks into his month long stint in Winnipeg’s Prairie Championship Wrestling. And although it was only the first week of November there was already a foot of snow on the ground and the temperatures dipped to 20 below (Celsius) every night. Jake’s first international tour was anything but glamorous yet he was enjoying it more than anything he had ever done.
Big Ben, the promoter of PCW, was a jolly man with an abnormally large belly and an abnormally red face. He looked like W.C. fields with a sunburn. But Big Ben was one of the gentlest, most soft spoken individuals Jake had ever met; quite the contrast to the gruff demeanour of his former tag partner The Crusher. Jake felt welcomed in PCW and Big Ben had done his best to help him settle in. He found Jake a room to rent in a friend’s apartment and, unlike a lot of small scale promoters, paid Jake on time after every match. The apartment Jake was staying in was probably the most barren place he had ever seen. It took minimalist to the next level. But there was a bed for him to lay his head on (no pillow yet though) and a place he could call home for the time being.
Despite the frigid weather and bleak living conditions, Jake was there to wrestle and he threw himself into his work with every ounce of energy he had. PCW worked every Friday night in a small Winnipeg arena. Compared to what Jake was used to, the 400 plus strong crowds were a welcomed change. Jake was getting over with the Winnipeg fans and eating it up. But that was just Fridays. The rest of the week Jake was stuffed into a dilapidated old van with 6 to 8 other wrestlers with varying degrees of personal hygiene and traipsed around the frozen tundra of Manitoba. These trips ranged from quiet sleepy affairs to raucous, alcohol fuelled madness. And Jake, as the new guy, was the brunt of countless ribs. He couldn?t count how many pairs of boot laces he?d gone through or how much shaving cream ended up in every part of his gear. But it was all harmless fun and Jake enjoyed being one of the boys.
Once out of the van Jake found himself in Bingo halls, school gyms and community centres on Indian reservations. There was nothing glossy about rural wrestling road trips. Most of the places Jake wrestled in didn?t even have heat. You could see the steam rising from the sweating wrestlers and see your breath with every winded gasp. The style of wrestling was faster more out of necessity than style! But Jake was learning a lot from each match. He wrestled old school shooters who were as old as his grandparents and green young guys who were 120 pounds soaking wet and leapt around the ring like they?d forgotten their Ritalin. There were so many styles to choose from and Jake was using them all to form his own style and move set. His mat wrestling was just as important as his high flying and he was learning how to build a match and tell a story. And Big Ben was impressed.
?Hey kid? Big Ben near whispered to Jake one day. ?Just wanted to say great job. Chris was right; you?re a real up and comer.?
Jake tried not to blush ?Thanks Ben. I appreciate it.?
?Let’s try and get you out here for a longer tour in the spring. It?ll be warmer, I promise.?
Big Ben gave Jake a pat on the back that the Crusher would have probably laughed at and headed off. Jake wasn?t even through his first tour and he was already getting booked for his next one. He would gladly come back to Winnipeg in a second and knew that he would accept any offer from Big Ben. He?d learned so much and felt a real bond with the boys. His matches were improving and he was working the crowd like never before. All of this was great, but the main reason Jake would come back to Winnipeg in a second had nothing to do with wrestling; Jake had met a girl.
Her name was Alana and she was a regular at the Winnipeg shows. Jake first noticed her as he ran to the ring one night. As he slapped hands with all the excited kids he saw her standing up against the barrier with her hand stretched out. He also saw that she was wearing one of the hastily made ?Rocket Kid? t-shirts that were being sold before each show. Jake had a fan, and she was hot! Jake approached one of the other wrestlers after the show and asked about Alana.
?Oh her. Yeah she’s one of the regular ring rats. I don?t think anyone’s hit that yet though. Go for it brother.?
Jake knew nothing about Alana but still felt like defending her honour and punching out the crude punk. He didn?t though, and searched Alana out in the crowd of autograph seekers waiting outside the arena. Jake knew what a ring rat was and personally hadn?t had any dealings with these young ladies that lusted after wrestlers and fulfilled their wildest dreams. Deep down he knew that Alana was different. He spotted her from across the crowd, they locked eyes and she sheepishly approached him.
?Nice t-shirt? Jake initiated as he tried to play it cool.
?Thanks. It’s just some little guy I saw wrestling.?
?Well, I don?t really know that yet.? She cut herself off and blushed. ?What the hell am I doing. That was a horrible line. I don?t usually do this. I just thought you were really cute and I ?m nervous and now I can?t shut up!?
Jake laughed. ?It’s okay. Do you want to go grab a coffee or something?? Jake had never been so nonchalant with a woman in his life. But his newfound quasi celebrity status was kicking in.
A bunch of the boys hooted and hollered as Jake headed off with Alana. Jake simply flipped them the finger and headed off. They found an all night diner and drank burnt tasting coffee by the cupful. Sitting across from Alana Jake was mesmerized. Her olive skin and jet black hair were probably due to the fact that she was half M?tis Indian like a lot of people in the area but Jake thought she was the most exotic looking woman he had ever met. They talked for hours. She was a university student studying political science and even did Greco roman wrestling in high school. She regularly attended the pro matches, at first with her now ex-boyfriend but now she went for the thrill of the sport. Jake listened more than talked and told her about himself as much as he could muster. The hours passed and then came the awkward moment at the end of the night. It wasn?t too awkward though as they happily headed to Jake’s apartment.
As they lay in bed together Jake sighed and held her close. They had both agreed that they didn?t want to go ?all the way? out of respect for each other. But just holding her meant so much to Jake. He had begun his journey in wrestling as a way to find something that was missing in his life; to feel complete. And in the few short hours he had known Alana he was halfway to complete already.
Jake’s cell phone had been buzzing all night and he?d ignored it. As Alana fell asleep Jake carefully reached across the room and picked it up. The display flashed ONE NEW VOICEMAIL. Jake pushed the button to retrieve it and soon felt all the blood rush from his face.
?Jake, it’s Mom. I?ve tried calling all night. I didn?t want to do this on the answering machine. I don?t know how to say this. Jakey, it’s your Dad. He died tonight. I?m so sorry honey. You should probably come home. Call me when you get this. I?m so sorry honey. Jakey, I love you.?
The message ended and so did Jake’s euphoric feelings. He had been riding such a high; both professionally and now personally. Everything was going so well and now it felt like it was crumbling down around him. Jake hadn?t heard from his father in years and hadn?t thought about him in half as long. With a beautiful, caring woman lying next to him he still felt more alone than ever. Jake’s tour was over. He was going home.