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 instalments, 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!
Big Ben had been nothing but understanding when Jake told him the news. He actually gave Jake a big bear hug and wiped away a tear as he left. Jake knew that anytime he wanted to return to Winnipeg Big Ben would welcome him with open arms, literally. Jake’s goodbye with Allanah had not been as easy. He understood that they had only known each other all of 10 hours, and he felt silly as he welled up as they parted, but inside Jake knew that this was something special. They had exchanged addresses and phone numbers and Jake knew that he would be calling her as soon as he got the chance. As Jake headed to his father’s funeral his heart was breaking in more than one way.
The bus ride was a torturous affair. Jake had never thought he would prefer to be in a stinky van with a bunch of wrestlers but cramped into that bus destined for home Jake welcomed the thought of those frozen trips. Jake’s mind was racing and he didn?t know what to feel. He knew he was hurting but he just felt numb. He had never been to a funeral before and the prospect of his first time being his father’s made his stomach churn and his eyes sting.
Jake headed home first and was greeted by a monstrous hug from his mother. Jake then felt comfortable enough to cry. As his mother held him and rocked back and forth they cried together. His father had put them through so much and yet they both felt lost and alone. But as it had always been, they had each other.
Jake showered and dressed. As he walked across his basement hideaway he noticed the tattered old wrestling poster that his father had bought for him at their first match. Jake had been through a lot in wrestling but he never thought that a poster could make him cry. He headed upstairs and got the address of the funeral home from his mother. Jake was surprised to see that it was only down the road from his house. Little did he know that for all these years his estranged father had only lived 20 miles away from Jake and his mother. Sadness was replaced with anger and more questions than answers as Jake made his way to the funeral home.
Jake took a deep breath as he entered the funeral home. He hadn?t seen any of his father’s family since he was a young boy and the circumstances didn?t make it any easier. His mother had said she would go with Jake for support but he had wanted to do this on his own; he needed to face this on his own. Once through the doors Jake was bombarded by family members he didn?t remember and some he?d never even heard of. He remembered his grandparents and their hugs were the most genuine of all. Being good Irish Catholics, Jake’s family regarded the wake as an important part of the grieving process. As Jake approached the casket he wondered why anyone would want to put themselves through this, Catholic or not. He hadn?t seen or spoken to his father in years and now he was going to stare at him in a box. Looking down on his Dad Jake was overcome. His father was a shell of his former self. A yearlong battle with cancer had left him no more than a skeleton. Jake barely recognized his father but as he looked at his face, a face that so closely resembled his own, Jake knew it was his Dad and that he was gone.
Jake made a hasty retreat from the funeral home and avoided as many hugs as he gave. He reassured them that he would see them at the funeral the next day at noon. But he had no intention of going. Jake had placed a call earlier that day to the Crusher and found out that there was an all ages? family show taking place the next day at a local junior high school at noon. All Jake wanted to do now was to forget all this pain and to escape. And what better way to do that than in the ring. Jake’s father had introduced him to wrestling and now Jake would wrestle for him and his memory.
So the next morning Jake awoke early and headed to the venue. The Crusher spotted him as soon as he entered the building and greeted Jake with a sombre handshake and an unusually light pat on the back. Jake told the Crusher that he had avoided the funeral and all he wanted to do for his Dad was to wrestle.
?Kid? the Crusher raspily said ?It would be an honour to wrestle you tonight in remembrance of your Dad.?
Then the Crusher did something Jake would never have expected. He took Jake in his arms and hugged him. Jake tried not to, but he cried. This man had become like a father to him and under the circumstances it was a bittersweet thing for Jake to realize.
Jake and the Crusher went on last and wrestled a flawless match. Nothing was planned and the Crusher let Jake call it. They danced for almost twenty minutes and the crowd hung on their every move. At one point the Crusher smiled and winked at Jake; he knew why they were doing it and that it was working. Jake won the match with his signature moonsault. Jake pointed to the air before he executed the move; as if to say ?This one’s for you Dad?. A tribute Jake would repeat fro the rest of his career. When the ref had finished counting Jake sprang to his feet and did something he?d never done before. He called for a microphone. Jake was not a talker. He?d had some training in mic work but was by no means polished. But none of that mattered now.
?I just wanted to say thank you to all my fans and to each and every one of you for coming out here today and supporting your local wrestlers.? The crowd erupted as Jake continued. ?And on a personal note I?d just like to say that I recently lost my father. He took me to my first match many years ago and it’s because of him that I?m in this ring today. And I?d like to dedicate my win tonight to my Dad. Thank you.?
The crowd now erupted in a standing ovation. Jake could see parents holding their kids tight, a few of them crying, all of them proud of the young man in the ring. The entire roster appeared from backstage and lined the ring clapping for Jake and for Jake’s Dad. This was the moment Jake needed. And as he stood in the middle of the ring he felt closer to his Dad than he ever had before.
Jake went out for dinner and drinks with the boys and arrived home as it was just getting dark. As he approached his house he noticed that someone was sitting on his front porch; it was Allanah! She ran up to Jake and put her arms around him.
?What are you doing here?? Jake said into her sweet smelling hair.
?I just had to see you. I didn?t want you to be alone. It’s impulsive I know. Maybe a little crazy but I got on the next bus and headed here. I hope I?m not intruding. It just felt right.?
?You?re not intruding and you?re not crazy. I?ve never needed someone more in my life. I want you here. I?.I love you.?
?I love you too.?
Maybe it was emotion or infatuation but Jake knew that he was being truthful when he confessed his love to Allanah and he knew she was being truthful too. They were in love and Jake needed that more than anything. It wasn?t going to be easy for them to stay together. First off Allanah was Canadian. But luckily her grandfather was an American farmer and so she could apply to stay with Jake in the States. Then there was the fact that Jake’s wrestling career was taking off and he didn?t know where it would take him next. And then there was his mother to contend with! None of these things mattered to Jake as he stood outside his house holding the woman he loved in his arms. It had been a roller coaster of a day for Jake. From the overwhelming sadness of loosing his father to the euphoric feelings he had now. Jake had lost and gained in the same day but he felt content. He felt at home. And in Allanah’s arms he was.