The camera opens inside of a 1983 Chevy Celebrity. The interior is beat to hell and a large gothic looking man sits in the driver's seat. His eyes are like the slits of a reptile, deep and penetrating. He wears a shirt that reads "GCW: anything can work." Across his lap rests the MVW World Heavyweight title. The man squints as he looks out over the sidewalks of east end Macon. Turning to his companion in the passenger seat, the large gothic man has a look of genuine concern.
Viper: Nightmare, you see him anywhere?
The passenger seat man looks away from his side window, flicking his cigarette out into the gutter. He too wears the GCW shirt and the OWA World Heavyweight Title rests over his lap. Flicking his head to the side, his hair is tustled by the breeze. He looks to Viper's side of the street, still seeing nothing.
Nightmare: Nowhere, man. I think he's having one of his episodes?
The car continues to move at only ten or fifteen miles an hour. Quite the line is forming behind them. People honk and seem generally very upset. Through the ruckous, one can almost be center to decern a gunshot. Viper and Nightmare turn down an alley two blocks later, much to the relief of morning traffic. Nightmare is jarred in his seat for a moment as they drive through the debris of the back alley's, looking for something or someone. The camera's vision falls upon a man sitting on a fire escape which is pulling away from the alley wall. The man looks like hell. Not hell-scary, he looks like hell as in terrible. His hair is dark and limp, with just enough grease in it to make it look wet even on a hot day like this one. It hasn't been combed in days, possably weeks. A scraggly beard hangs from his chin, the goatee area nearly an inch long, and the rest of his face with just the fine quarter-inch growth of an uneventful three weeks. He scratches his neck. His fingernails are dirty, black earth underneath them, and the nails alone are weeks passed due on being cut. A large clear plastic gumball machine ring rests around his right ring finger. He too wears the GCW shirt, only his isn't the normal navy shade of blue. The collar and front of his shirt has been sun bleached to a near sky color, while the back and underarms are nearly black from the stains of his sweat. His black cargo pants are faded to a gray, with the knees nearly white. His steel toe boots from the salvation army are scuffed far beyond repair. His earth brown eyes are glazed over as he stares across the alley at the opposite wall.
Viper: Don't do this to yourself, bro. We need you.
Viper was more speaking to himself than anyone else as he pulls the car to a stop and he and Nightmare get out, sitting down on the hood below the man on the fire escape. The man doesn't seem to give them any consideration at all. He only stares across the alley at the opposite wall. Viper and Nightmare converse among themselves.
Nightmare: And remind me for a second why we wanted C Plus to make the run for GCW. I mean, I not sure I even want people knowing I'm with him. Look at him, man. He's got problems.
The man on the fire escape lifts a bottle of Jim Beam by it's three-finger handle. He tears off the plastic pouring spout with his teeth and spits it down below. He takes a long draw from his bottle, closing his eyes with a look of pleasure. His body tone relaxes and he exhales slowly through his nose, content with this as his entire life. The man is still obligatory to his comrades below, staring across the alley at the opposite side. There is a window with yellowed lace curtains pulled over it. Nothing can be seen inside of the room, but the man continues to stare at the window, almost as if anticipating something. Viper digs in his pocket, producing a quarter. He throws it at the man, trying to get his attention. It goes right and the man still doesn't act to notice them.
Viper: Above Average Man! Hey, C Plus! Yoohoo...
Nightmare: Give it up, bro. He's canned again. He doesn't care. GCW is just going to disappear in this tournament. All of us combined aren't enough to save it. You think Bryan c-
Above Average Man: Yo.
Above Average Man: What. You said my name, right man? Sorry. I guess I've had a little more than I thought.
Viper: No, dude. It's cool. Really.
Nightmare: So bud, what you doing? We ain't seen you in almost four weeks. You been training for the big tournament?
Above Average Man: What? Oh yeah. The tournament. Well, you see, I just kinda came up here a while back. And I guess I lost track of time. You know, just sittin' around, being patient and all.
Above Average Man: Yeah. It's Jenny. But some day, man. Any minute now she's going to open that window. And I'm going to get to catch a glimpse of her. And then, I'll have enough that I can keep on living.
Viper: Dude, did you ever think that maybe you stalking her is the reason she won't talk to you?
Above Average Man: It's not stalking. It's dedication. Focus. Sit here day in day out. Never move. Never speak. Just wait for her to open her window. And when she sees what I'm willing to do for her, she'll finally give me that chance I always wanted. Life doesn't give me very many opportunities...
Viper: It's nothing you did, man. It's Tanner. She's in "love" with him. You can't change that. She just doesn't feel that way about you.
Above Average Man: There's got to be something I can do that will make her see I'm twice the man that stupid little redneck piece of garbage is. He uses her. It's not fair, man. And what am I supposed to do? Just let him get away with it?
Nightmare and Viper exchange a mischievious glance.
Nightmare: Hey Bryan. I know what would help. You see, you know that tournament that you promised you'd represent GCW in. Well, I hear Tanner's going to win that thing. And he's going to give the title belt to Jenny. You know how she is about shiney stuff.
Above Average Man: Who do I have to take down first?
Viper: Oh, just some Blaze guy.
Above Average Man: He any good?
Nightmare: Dunno. We haven't seen him in action. But Bryan, we know you can pull this one off. Good luck bro.
Above Average Man: Laterz.
Viper and Nightmare climb into the car, leaving Above Average Man behind. Viper revs the engine for a moment, trying to get the heap to turn over. Nightmare looks up at Above Average Man, who has gone back to staring at the closed window. Nightmare nudges Viper.
Nightmare: He's your friend.
Viper: Oh alright. Hey Bryan. You want us to send a camera crew down here later?
Above Average Man: I guess. I got a little bit of thinking to do first. But wish me luck, guys.
Viper and Nightmare: Good Luck.
Viper and Nightmare pull out of the alley. Above Average Man takes another long draw from his whiskey. The curtains start to twitch from the inside. He looks up in anticipation. Fade to black.
The camera opens on Above Average Man sitting atop the same fire escape from yesterday. His legs dangle between the spindles of the railing. Brown lines run horizontally along the back of his legs from the rust that he brushes against, staining his grayed cargo pants. His GCW shirt is bathed in sweat. Sweat runs down his face, beading over his eyebrows and gathering in the scraggly beard on his chin. His oily hair hangs down in front of his eyes and over his ears, ratted in nearly a dozen differant directions. Above Average Man takes another draw off of his Jim Beam. He exhales slowly through his teeth, stomaching the warm whiskey.
Above Average Man: Blaze, so I finally get to see the man who's got my number. I see you approaching this match with a little bit of maturity, but not much realism. I guess you're just an optismist. You have alot of faith. Like somehow things are going to work out. Oh well, to each his own. Let's just say I've always been a bit more skeptical. You don't know much about me, and as long as we're talking, well, let's chew the fat.
Above Average Man: I'm not exactly the biggest man in the world. Not really that strong. Not really that fast. Not really that talented. I've never claimed anything really. If I have a strong point, it's just in my attitude. I have no work ethic. I could give a damn less about what kind of a match we have or what kind of a show the fans see. It doesn't matter. All I know is that I want to survive. Not win. Survive. I wrestle because I have to. Because after I left my folks' house, they've only talked to me twice. And, quite frankly, it was not a pleasant experience. I had an okay life... for a time. I wrestled. I had fun. I got my neck broken. By my own flesh and blood, my brother, Alien, broke my neck. My first taste of defeat. My first huge crushing blow to my pride. And let's just say, I wasn't humbled. GCW shut down and I was homeless, trying to nurse back from a broken neck. Refusing to die. Refusing to let GCW die. I put in a few calls. I found the men that ruined my life. I hunted them down and made them all pay. Except Alien. He beat me again. With both my losses being to my own brother, I realized something. I'm not invinsable. There are days that I hurt so bad I can barely walk. But I go out their and I give it my all. Not because I care what people think. Not because I even care about winning. I do this because it's the only thing I know how to do. And if I let down my guard for one second, I may never walk again. Because of that, I have a focus that you've probably never seen before. But then again, maybe you have. I wouldn't say that I'm the best at anything. I wouldn't even say that I'm good. I'm nothing. Just another face to be overlooked and underappreciated. Nobody is going to care about me when I'm gone. And I don't even want to make a differance while I'm here. I just don't want it to end like this. I have a chance to go down in history. Winning the Last Man Standing tournament would force me into the limelight. But I really don't care. That's not why I want to win this. I have a federation riding on me. GCW died. I built the Alliance. We're back together. And if I win this, then we get our fed back. I've got a lot of pressure riding on me. And when push comes to shove, I usually get hurt.
Above Average Man: Now Blaze, I don't know much about you other than you don't pay much attention. If I'm not nearly as good as I think I am... well, that would just be impossable. Because I don't think I'm good at all. I don't know how I managed to get where I'm at today. I guess it's just Karma. My personal life sucks, so my wrestling career balances it out. In my eleven months of wrestling, I have never said I was the best. I've never even said I was good. Honestly, I hate myself and I hate my life. But I guess you just want to lump me in with every other guy you've ever fought; treat me like Generic-Wrestler-Man. I'm not just some guy who can be thrown into a catagory of wrestler. I'm an individual. And unless you realize that, you're as good as toast.
Above Average Man: As far as what I know about you, I know you're bigger than me. Not a ton, but enough that I put it in my game plan. I know you look at the big picture. You look at the tournament and not the match. You don't have alot of focus. And life has been good to you. You don't have to suffer. You'll say you have, but we both know the truth. There is the kind of suffering that all those "Hardcore" wrestlers do, and that's supposed to be so terrible. But being put through a table, having my neck fold like a twig, and then staring up at the lights trying to move my arms, my legs, anything, and knowing that they wouldn't do what I wanted, that was terrible. But not near as bad as the next week, when I laid in the alley behind a porno theatre, not even able to crawl the few feet it takes to grab my bottle of Gin to numb the pain. And that didn't hurt near as bad as going back to see my parents, only to have them say they didn't even know about my neck breaking. They didn't watch me. They didn't care. And the only reason they wanted me back was because I was finally a champion. That hurt worse than anything you can imagine. You tell me you've known that kind of pain and I'll call you a damn liar. Respect me? Sure. That would be a change. Having someone look me in the eye. But when I've had to go from fighting my worst enemies to my best friend to my own brother, I guess I really don't care what kind of a relationship we have. After this match, you'll forget about me. Just like everyone else.
The sod has spoken.
The camera pulls back. The curtains across the street rustle. Above Average Man stares at them with anticipation. A man opens them wearing a cowboy hat and leather duster. Above Average Man drops back flat on his back. The man doens't seem to notice him as he turns away from the window shortly and leaves the room. Above Average Man stares across the alley again. Fade to black
SOMEBODY SUFFERS FROM A LACK OF ORIGINALITY
Above Average Man shakes his head as he drops from the fire escape with a pull-up. He cocks his neck back, flicking the hair out of his eyes and scratches himself on the cheek. He's really starting to look like hell. He glances up at the window above, then shrugs and stumbles drunkenly out of the alley. The remnants of the Jim Beam label can be seen on the ground, busted glass held together by the glue of the label. Above Average Man steps on it as he staggers out to the sidewalk. He pauses for a moment, leaning to the left and bracing himself on somebody's 97 Mystique. He puts his hand on his forehead, massaging his temples. It's been a long night. Another day without even a glimpse of his love. Above Average Man slides down the side of the car and takes a seat on the curb, laying back on the cold ground and looking up at the stars. He plunges one hand deep into his pocket and produces a pack of Virginia Slims Lights. Above Average Man slides out one of the three remaining cigarettes and holds it calmly between his ring and pinky fingers. He braces it between his dry, chapped lips and sparks a strike-anywhere match off the hubcap of the car. The flame bursts for a moment, then crackles back to the gentle glow of the burning stick. Inhaling deeply with the first drag, the cherry glows a bright red. Above Average Man blows a mist of smoke up above him as he stares into the sky.
Above Average Man: Hmp. So it seems like the man who wants to fight with respect is already on the defensive. Damn, John Blaze is one of the most indecisive fence-sitters I've ever seen. If he bounces sides on another position, I swear I'll have to vote him into office. Well John, you see I know alot about having a terrible past. And I call you John for the same reason your parents did. Come here, John. I just want you here with me. I'm not your friend. I'm not mad. It's just the calm, cool way of dealing with you. That's why you are, and to me will always be, a John. Just another John Doe that will be forgot about when it's all said and done. You think we make a differance? I really can't tell. First you're saying how you feed off the fans, then you say how you don't give a damn what they think. It sounds to me like you're just trying to tell them what they want to here. It's really sad that that's what this buisness has come to. Only one stereotype of person can be successful. It's sick how the majority claim to be "non-conformist". So spout your little prepared routine that you've said a million times. We all know you're reading from the script. To you, this is nothing more than a job. You just another actor out there trying to get a paycheck. Good luck. That's what it's all about, anyways. It's just a job.
Above Average Man: What just absolutely makes me laugh was when you said the three magic words: Below Average Man. chuckles If you only had any idea how many times I've heard that one. It's tired. It's old. I got that from Extreme Icon back in the UXCW. I got that from Raven in ECW. I got that from Hell's Angel in ICW and The Rock in RPWL. I heard that line from Omega and Alien, from Williams and Silkk. All those people and then some more took the same three seconds to come up with that one, and all of them have something in common. Anyone who was dumb enough to think that calling me Below Average Man would hurt my feelings or get me pissed, they were stupid enough to not give me full credit. And it cost each and every one of them the match. I guess at a hundred and seventy pounds I didn't have much choice but to become a thinking man's wrestler. So I'll let you in on a few things that you're probably just too cocky to realize. First, we are a collection of the best hundred twenty eight wrestlers in the world. No one here sucks. There are no pushovers or easy fights. And maybe it's going to take a nice slap in the face and check in the loss box to wake you up to the truth. Am I the one to do it? Maybe. But I've never looked at a match like I had it won until after I got my hand raised. And even then I keep an eye out. What else you don't seem to notice is that there are going to be sixty-four people who lose their first match. That's the nature of the beast. You're not invincable. While you center in on that big picture of winning this whole thing, and while you worry about your image and your reputation, I just sit back and try and learn what I can about John Blaze, the cocky man who gives in to just about every stereotype. And if you think I'm impressed by your World Title you're defending, you've got another thing coming. I'd wager that there are at least eighty World Titles being worn throughout this tournament. And any time I've had a shot at one, I've walked away with it around my waist. But that could change rather easily. I don't want to get a big head. I hope you're just trying to trick me into thinking you're an idiot, because you certainly aren't made of anything special.
Above Average Man: You said you knew nothing about me. I told you more than you needed to know, and now you act like I'm trying to intimidate you. Man, you wanted to know what you were getting into the ring with. I told you. I don't see a reason to hide it. Ask me and I'll tell you. But since you seem to think the past holds no water, and since I have never put any stock in the future, I guess it comes down to the present. Right here in the here and now. Well, how's this. Right now, I am a man without a fed. I only walk back to an arena to fight in if I walk out of this tournament with a title. So I don't have to defend my honor or worry about my fellow employees. All I have to think about is that beating you is step one of the five step program to ensuring I still have a paycheck. Titles? I've held my share. I've left federations as champions when the challenge was gone. I've never had to know the heartbreak, though, of having a belt ripped away from me. But that isn't exactly an issue either, since this isn't a defense. I'm a fed-slayer. Yes, I have shut down entire promotions with my actions. I won the DRW World Title only to rip the belt in half and give it away at an MVW event. They closed over that disgrace. I've killed three separate feds, and I will probably end more in the future. Let's just say I don't like watching young potential get crushed by a biased executive. In the ring, I'm a safe guy. I keep almost everything center circle. Mat technician, no high risk crap. And in almost a year, I have yet to ever do anything hardcore. That's just not my style. People get hurt. That's fine on the job. It comes with the check. But when they have to go home and have their kids sobbing at bedside, well that's something I could never put anyone through. I've even won Hardcore titles without ever touching a foreign object. My individuality is far too important to sacrifice, just to hear the applause. Some of us who have our own personalities don't like to become the generic-form wrestler. But you wouldn't know much about that.
Above Average Man: That's everything you wanted to know. I'm not hiding it from you. You're entitled to know what you're up against. And I learn more and more about you every day. You see, you give things away with your attitude. With how you wanted to be the nice guy. But in reality, you wanted me to push your buttons so you could be some sort of enraged maniac. It's an act. And you're not that great of an actor, because we all saw right through it. When I wouldn't play your game, fight your fight, you got thrown off your gameplan and ended up switching sides. Now your the man with a personal vendetta against me, even though I've never done anything to you. I love it. It's like you're playing the only role you know how to. Well, you know the law of the reed? Bend with the current. Never go along, but don't try and fight it. Just be. You've got to adapt to survive. And that's just something you don't know how to do. When I had to go to the Mental Health Management Center, they told me all about that. It's called an "adjustment disorder". Apparently someone can't deal with change. Well, I guess I'll make things easy for you...
Above Average Man breathes deeply, almost like unto a sigh. He stares up overhead, watching a satalite fall far to the left. The two blinking yellow lights are seen from a plane passing overhead. It's distant hum reverberates off the buildings and through the alleys. Above Average Man stretches his legs out, over the curb and into an empty handicapped spot. He sits up, turning to the camera and raising his eyebrows to an obviously sacastic face.
Above Average Man: Oh Mr Blaze, blah blah blah. I'm the best in the world. I'm going to beat a hundred twenty-seven other guys. And I'll do it with one arm tied behind my back. Because I'm invincable and it couldn't be possible that anyone else in the world has talent other than me.
Above Average Man lays back down onto the sidewalk exhaling the final drag from his cigarette. The mist rises from his mouth in a thick gray cloud, but Above Average Man french inhales, pulling it back in through his nose, only to exhale it a second time. He shifts the cigarette butt to between his index finger and thumb, then flicks it off into the center of the street. The filter hits the concrete, rolling down into the gutter where it floats away with the rest of the scum and sewage. Above Average Man draws his feet back in as he curls up into the fetal position.
Above Average Man: There, that's what you wanted to here. Now get into your old shoebox full of scripts and give the same prepared speech you always do. You want to treat me like everyone else? Fine. Go right ahead. It'll just be that much more of a shock when you realize that I am not just another generic wrestler. John-John, I'm only out here talking to you now because you wanted to know what I am like. And if you don't like what you see, join the club. Even I don't like me. All I wanted to do was sit in an alley until I saw Jenny. Then, in a perfect world, she'd come outside and talk to me for a moment. But even if it's only a glance we exchange, it's worth waiting for an eternity for. That's what Above Average Man is about. I don't get to be anyone special. Just Bryan Barnes with a fancy shirt. But when I put on that GCW shirt and get to be Above Average Man, that's when I get to do things that I only wish I could do in real life. I guess the little in-ring alias I take on gives me a little more confidence. Maybe Above Average Man can have the life that I never had. Maybe he can actually be successful. But for some reason, I doubt it. Life has never been good to m-
Above Average Man jerks his head hard to the left, his eyes falling upon a set of keys sitting on the edge of the curb behind the car. A car alarm remote is attached, as well as a tag that reads "97 Mystique". Above Average Man's jaw drops. He stands up, circling the car. It has no plates, only the showroom plastic that reads "Bubon Auto". Peeking out from between the seats is the title. It bares the signature of the dealer, all ready to be registered at a courthouse. Above Average Man's jaw drops just a bit, his lips parting. He picks up the keys and stares at them in the palm of his hand.
Above Average Man: I need another cigarette.
Above Average Man taps out a second cigarette, setting it carefully between his lips again. He paces the length of the car once, then steps away from it a few feet to sit on the steps in front of Bruce's Furniture. He sets the keys down on his left and rubs his eyes with his right hand. He looks back up to the camera with his bloodshot eyes, looking even more tired and even more in need of a drink.
Above Average Man: This wasn't exactly what I meant. Damn Karma anyway, always making me try and do the right thing. And I never get anything in return. But maybe if I store up all this good fate on my side, some day it'll come back to me. I doubt it. I mean, everything that's mattered to me has ended in failure. And I get wrestling wins in return? Not worth it. How's about a family or a friend I can trust. I guess God's just having fun with me. I'm supposed to be happy because I have a good job, where it could end any second and I don't even make enough money to rent a crappy-ass apartment. I'm getting the shaft on about everything. And John, if you think that wrestling isn't a venting experience for me, then you've got more than a world of problems. You alot like type B of people I fight, the ones who underestimate me. The ones who think they're so freaking great that the match is won before we ever get in the ring. You're just like the guys that think that desire alone can carry them to victory. I gave you every advantage I could. I told you my style, my inspiration, hell I'll even tell you the counter to my finisher if you want. I don't care. Because you're not going to believe a word I say. You've got the Blaze way of doing things and it won't adapt for anything. It some time soon, it's gonna cost you.
A woman steps out of the Tom Tom Tap and crosses the street. She stands outside of the Mystique, rummaging through her purse. She starts to get frantic. She runs her hands over her jacket, trying to find her keys anywhere. Above Average Man holds them up and jingles them. She looks up in horror and takes a few steps back.
Above Average Man: You dropped these. Here.
Above Average Man throws the keys over the car and they clatter on the concrete at her feet. She picks them up, finding everything still intact. Her head jerks sharply to either side as she takes a pan of the belongings in the car. Above Average Man sighs and slumps back into the steps. The woman nods in contentment as it seems to be an act of genuine honesty.
woman: Thank you, sir. Somehow, some day, this will be repaid to you. It's nice to see that there are still some good people left.
Above Average Man: You give me a ride?
There is an uncomfortable silence.
Above Average Man: No prob. Laterz.
The woman gets into the car and drives off, Misery by Soul Asylum playing out of her car CD player. Above Average Man nods his head to the music until she's out of range. He turns back to the camera, shaking his head in disgust.
Above Average Man: The world is an ugly place. It's not my place to save it. I just call them as I see them.
The sod has spoken
STICKS AND STONES
The camera opens on Above Average Man walking down West 2nd Street, Macon Georgia. His hair is ratted up on the top of his head, curling down on either side of his ears. A thick week's worth of stumble has grown on his face, and in two little runs on either side of his chin, he is beginning to gray. He walks down the street, shuffling his feet a bit and scuffing his boots. Every fifteen or twenty feet, he pauses to braces his hand on the picture window of the building on his right. He swoons for a moment, the effects of the liquor still wearing off. At the end of the street, a large arena looms over Macon. Like the sentinels of old, it stands there, large and dark and silent. Above Average Man takes another couple steps. Thunder rumbles overhead and he pauses for a moment, rubbing the back of his neck. He traces the scar line from his surjery with his thumb in remembrance of all he's been through. Lightning splits down in the distance, cutting the sky in two. All the hidden features of the night step into the light for just a brief moment, then silently meld back into the returning shadows. Above Average Man comes upon a bench along a bus-stop. It reads "Taco Johns: Two for Tuesday". Above Average Man sits down slowly, his knees popping as he collapses back into the wooden bench. Above Average Man looks up at the clouded night sky as the thunder starts to roll again. He shuts his eyes, deep in thought.
Above Average Man: John, I hate to get technical, but I've never liked being called "A.A.M." It just doesn't roll off the tongue. And it seems like everyone lacks the patience to call me Above Average Man, so I'll just let you in on a few little things. First off, most of my friends call me Bryan. Most of my opponents call me C Plus. Both of those just flow alot better. But call me whatever you want, because I could really care less. It all comes down to names, really. And what do they really matter. A name isn't going to make or break me. I proved that with my career. Sticks and stones may break my bones... and that would hurt.
Above Average Man: And oh for the man who doesn't care about pasts, you certainly bring them up alot. To answer your question, yes. I have felt the sting of having my best friend turn on me. But I don't think it happened quite in the same way it did to you. In the RPWL, I was a Tag Team Champion alongside Dark Justice. And I swore an oath to the world that if Disco Inferno held a title there, I would retire. I held the World Title and the US Title and won the Cruiserweight Title just to keep him from taking it. I would give title shots to his opponents, so they would swap places with me and I could make sure that he never saw gold. He really didn't deserve it. And in the end, I was defending my three singles titles, plus the Tag Team Titles alone. Dark Justice started being seen less and less. And that's when he donned the buisness suit and took over the fed. And I got the worst betrayal I could ever imagine. DJ gave Disco the TV Title. No tournament. No rumble. Not even a title shot. DJ just walked out on live television with the vacant TV Title and handed it to Disco for free, crowning him a champion. I was forced to retire because my so-called best friend decided to have a spell of generosity at my expense. I lost my career, without even a match to defend myself. Have you ever known that helpless feeling and losing everything and there's nothing you can do to change it? I did. I had to drop my five title belts and walk out of the RPWL with my head held low, undefeated and still a failure at the only thing that had mattered. I know the drill. Now if that isn't betrayal, I don't know what is.
Above Average Man: And on the topic of sob stories, of which my life is one, let's touch on the man who was basically my father. The man who took me in and taught me everything I know. Chaimber did alot for me. I stood by his side, along with Azreal, and we were the most powerful force ever seen. Six months running we were undefeated. Then our good ol' prez DK decided that he wanted to have fun with us. World Title shot on the line, I had to face the only man who was there for me. Me and Chaimber had to get in the ring as opponents. And I let him tell me that if I took the dive, I'd get my shot soon enough. And Chaimber was our best bet at the World Title. Well he was dead wrong. I handed him the match, so he got his World Title shot and I faded into obscurity. That's the job of a friend, eh. But when the night came, Chaimber made a decision that changed everything. I went out and fought my Iron Man Match, defending my US Title. Then, with thirty seconds down time after an hour in hell, I turn around to defend our Stables Titles. And guess who was by my side. No one. No one came to help me. They were done with me. Chaimber wanted to stay fresh for his World Title match, and Azreal sided with him and left me out in the cold. After an hour of hell, I walked into a three on one with three separate Hall of Famers all teamed up to end my life. That was betrayal. I still managed to win without them, but that was when I realized that friends were worthless. And I've been alone ever since. A word for the wise, John. Trust only yourself. Even when life sucks, at least you'll know how you got there.
Above Average Man: Now the only other thing you said that generally concerns me was how I won't tell you what I'm like. I've told you everything. Ask and ye shall recieve. It's not that hard to find footage of me. I've fought nearly thirty of the people in this tournament. Give me an address and I'll send you a tape. I'm not afraid to let the opposition know me. You have a right, after all you did finally get one thing straight. And that is, I am nothing like anyone else you've ever been with. I guess when you realized that, I got the huge advantage of having you off your game plan. That's why I want to tell you everything there is to know. I don't want an advantage. I've never gotten anything the easy way. And if something's started going in my favor now, then something is definately wrong. Things are never going to work out for me. And in the end, I'm just going to have to fight tooth and nail, and take what I want again. I've never been given anything; I've been denied half of what I earned. And John, you're just a match.
Above Average Man: Respect me. Hate me. Like me. Every time I hear from you, the story changes. Our relationship is as bad as the Bill and Monique. Because you keep changing sides over and over again, and I just don't really care how you feel. I find that a cold numb to the world is the best way to deal with anything. But to each his own. If rage "fuels you" or some other jeebenhaben that I've heard from a million other people, then give it your best. You can't blame a guy for trying. I will just try and cope with my life from day to day. That's the only way I can live. If I looked at the future, even for a moment, I'd probably have to kill myself. But if I can make it through this one day, this one match, then everything will be fine. Until the next morning when I wake up and realize that my life still sucks. But I just got to take it one thing at a time. I guess I'd rather be a small picture kinda guy. It allows me to concentrate more. To never lose my focus. Focus is about the only thing I have. Say what you will about me not training, but that's just because you're blind to the subtle ripples in life. Maybe I've got more of a buzz going than I thought, because I guess it's time for me to enlighten you.
Above Average Man stands up, doing a full circle turn, nice and slow, and letting the camera take him in. The oil gleams in his hair, almost screaming out "wash me". The deep circles under his eyes showing the world of rough nights he lives through. Above Average Man turns to face the camera, walking backwards down the street and by some miracle not tripping in his drunken state. He talks back to the camera as he backs up down the sidewalk.
Above Average Man: I'm five foot eleven. I'm a hundred and seventy pounds. I'm giving up almost seventy pounds to you. Try and tell me that hitting the gym for a week is going to make that up. Trying to win this match based on strength would be the stupidest thing I could do. I've never faced anyone who I didn't give up at least twenty pounds to, so I've got a differant way of handling things. You can go to your gyms and lift your weights, but you know what you do before each bench press. You take your three deep breaths and psyche yourself into it. That's what I'm doing now. I'm doing the same tedious things to keep my focus. I'm concentrating on you, not on me. I'm getting myself in the mindset so that I may actually believe in myself. But I've always had a little belief. You can't win a fight by default. You're not ever going to be so well prepared that you're ready for everything, so you have to pick and choose. It's like a game of Rook. You discard some things that you could work with and you hope that things turn out good in the end. Some times they do. Some times they don't. But you can't be ready for everything every time. And saying you are is just the blatant mark of inexperience. If you want to beat someone in particular, you have to prepare for them and only them. I'm getting ready for what it's like to face John Blaze, and you're getting ready for what it's like to be John Blaze. You're training for you, not for me. In the long run, that's a great move. You'll be better prepared in the end. But life's full of trade-offs and this match is one of them. You'll have to pay for your foresight. Everything has a cost. That's a rule of life. There's no such thing as a free lunch.
Above Average Man: You know, I was in accounting school before life dealt me a bum hand and I ended up on the streets. One of the first rules of economics: Opportunity Cost. Everything has a price that must be paid. If you want to win, you have to fight for it. I'm nothing like anything you've ever faced. I was thrust onto the road that few are willing to travel. And rather than trying to climb myself up, I found my contentment as the king of my rut. I don't think you understand me. And without that, I don't think you have what it takes to beat me. Somebody thinks he's great. Somebody needs humbled. And I think I may be just the one to do it.
Above Average Man reaches the doors of the boarded up GCW arena. He looks up at the marquee sign reading Winter Warfare: Alien versus Black Cherry. Above Average Man leans up against the boarded front doors, folding his arms in disdane.
The sod has spoken
A loud crack is heard as light bursts through into the darkness. A sillouetted figure struggles in the light, fighting against the blackness. Another loud crack is heard and a board is tossed down just shy of the camera. The sillouetted man continues to fight against the boundaries until finally he rips away the last of the barracade, the light taking on the form of a door. He steps into the blackness of the room, the light adjusting behind him and it can be made out as Above Average Man. The lobby has been wallpapered in flyers to events that have long since passed. Above Average Man takes a deep breathe, inhaling the musty scent of the dead arena. He steps forward, placing a hand on either side of the double doors that lead into the performance floor.
Above Average Man: It's good to be home.
Above Average Man shoves the doors open, bursting out into the center of the arena. The empty chairs travel back as far as the eyes can see, the haunting eyes of the ghosts from the past prying down upon him. Each footstep echoes coldly through the eery silence. As Above Average Man makes his way towards the ring, he begins to hum the familiar tune he's heard so many times. His voice carries out as he only whispers the words gently into the cold unsettling breeze.
Above Average Man: [whispering]They say misery... loves company... We could start a company... and make misery... Frustrated Incorporated... Well I know just what you need... I might just have the thing... I know what you'd pay to see... [normal speaking voice, but still to the tune] Put me out of my misery... I'd do it for you... would you do it for me... we will always be busy... making misery...
Above Average Man's voice trails off into the distance as he reaches ringside. No cheers from the fans. No rustle of people or buzz of excitement. He stands their alone where he'd been so many times before. At the timekeeper's table, a thick layer of dust has fallen over the woodwork. Above Average Man breathes in sharply through his teeth, then raises his hand, smacking his knuckles down sharply over the edge of the bell. It rings out beautifully, just as it had so many other times. Above Average Man looks back to his hand, his knuckles split open and bleeding. He sticks his fingers in his mouth, trying to nurse away the pain like an infant. Above Average Man spins slowly in a circle, looking up to the rafters. Everywhere is empty, but he sees something more of the abandoned place. He hikes himself up onto the apron, sitting their with his feet dangling over the edge. Above Average Man raises his hand to his mouth like he was holding a microphone and tries to do his best Michael Buffer voice.
Above Average Man: Ladies and gentlemen. Tonight's GCW main event. Abooove Aveeeraaage Maaaaaan versus hiiiiimseeelf!
Above Average Man rolls under the bottom rope, slumping down in the corner of the ring. His eyes glaze over as he stares out at the arena balconys. Slowly, his ratted hair falls from grace, one strand at a time hanging in front of his eyes. He licks his chapped lips, not really caring what he looks like.
Above Average Man: John, it's like I said. You're not going to hurt my feelings. I don't really have any. I basically feel empty all the time. So I'm not going to get upset over a name. I'm not going to get angry with you for what you say. And I'm not going to walk out of this with some form of friendship and trust for you. It's just a match. It's just a job. For me, it just so happens, this job is the only thing that goes right. You seem so adamant that without stability in my life somewhere, I'll never be able to win. I've heard that alot since the broken neck. But things still stand the way they are. I'm thirty-seven and three. One time I took the dive on purpose for a friend. Twice, my brother, Chris, beat me. I know defeat. I coped with my first loss kinda difficult as well. But it wasn't because I didn't win. It was because the bastard broke my neck to get it. I couldn't walk. I couldn't even sit up in bed. Yeah. Life's rough. But just because I've got personal problems doesn't make me an inaffective wrestler. Someday someone other than Alien will beat me. Oh well. I'm ready for it. But as of now, I've watched dozens of people who get their confidence from the exact same things you do. I've faced opposition who's said the same things and thought the same things, and I hold my own fairly well. I guess since I'm a failure at everything else, I won't let myself be a victim in wrestling. But I'll never get my just due, either, so I just do my best and wait to be forgotten. That's the way life is. The world is a horrible place. You deal with it.
Above Average Man stands up, walking over to the opposite corner, leaning against the turnbuckle. He looks deep in thought. Above Average Man turns, stepping center ring as he had so many other times. He looks down over his body, nothing outstanding, and at his slothful appearance.
Above Average Man: I've got to clean up a little. The demons are running through my mind. I've lost track of time. They don't get control of me. I keep them happy. They are the slaves of the bottle, and me, I am the master. I can control my feelings. I don't have to feel anything I don't want to. Love. Friendship. Trust. I took that out of my life a long time ago. And if I can control myself that well, then I can shut out a less than pleasant past for twenty-some minutes while we mix it up. But since you asked, and it might help to get some things off my chest, I'll tell you about my childhood.
Above Average Man: I was born March 2nd 1980. Born in Ottumwa, Iowa. I had one older brother by the name of Chris. We moved to Texas. In Texas, Chris got to go watch wrestling when the shows came about once a month. I got to hear the stories from him. Mom and Dad wouldn't take me because I was too young to get anything out of it. I wasn't Chris. Chris was bigger. He was stronger. He did better at school. Anything I tried, he'd come along and do it better, just to spite me. Just to prove that he was the good son, and that I wasn't worth anything. And it worked. Mom and Dad didn't care about me. They didn't love me. It was always "this is our son, Chris. And this... is Chris's brother." I put up with that for a long time. I was ten before I did anything.
Above Average Man: We went on a family vacation to Niagra. It was supposed to be fun. But Chris wouldn't stop making fun of me. He just kept pushing and pushing. And I finally had enough. We were out playing... and I...
Above Average Man chokes for a moment, feeling a bit emotional. He takes a few deep breaths, trying to calm down for a bit. After a nice, relaxing sigh, he looks back to the camera, back to his normal par.
Above Average Man: I pushed Chris into a river and he went over the waterfall. I killed him.
Above Average Man sits down, rolling under the bottom rope and out of the ring. He walks up the isle, the camera following along behind him. Above Average Man talks over his shoulder with a cold detachment to the subject, almost like he were recounting the events from a movie instead of his life. He doesn't seem to put the feeling into it, just keeping his cast iron facade of no emotions.
Above Average Man: But he didn't die. He lived. And he found me. And he got his revenge. I guess that life is funny that way. I got so sick of him showing me up, that I had to take the biggest cheap shot of all. I became everything I'd ever hated. That's why I hate myself. I ruined my own life. It's no wonder my parents still miss Chris and won't even speak to me. I did this to myself. I deserve this. It's all my fault.
Above Average Man steps into the back. Locker rooms are seen to the left. On the right, there is a door with a C+ drawn on it in faded yellow paint. Above Average Man opens the door, spying into the closet that was once his room. Cobwebs cover most of the room. Above Average Man reaches up above his head, sliding his hand over the top of a shelf. He finds his old photo album. Above Average Man blows off the dust as he opens the yellowed pages. The first photo is of Above Average Man standing in a bright green bodysuit. His hair is neatly trimmed and he is well groomed. Looking like the perfect gentleman, he holds up the ECW Extreme Title.
Above Average Man: They said I couldn't win it. Just because I've never touched a foreign object for a match under any circumstances, I was supposedly not "Extreme". It was so fun going out there, Raven holding his baseball bats and barbedwire, and me just grounding him like anyone else and beating him with a boston crab. The not-extreme Extreme Champion. Now that was fun. If only I knew then what the price of signing a Hardcore Match was. There are times they tell me I may never walk again. But I always do. It's all part of my never ending focus. My drive. My complete refusal to fail.
Above Average Man turns the page. There is a picture of him wearing the OWF Cruiserweight Title. Below that, him wearing the OWF US Title, and all three of the Stables Titles Belts laying at his side. He looks in a drunken blur, his body in sorry shape. Above Average Man nearly cracks a smile over these ones.
Above Average Man: This is more like how I remember life. When things got rough, I found ways to cope. Maybe I didn't have the friends that I thought I did, but I held the gold. But that was when I found my only true friend too, at the bottom of a bottle. I found my way to cope with my life. I figured out more than I'll ever need to know. And I almost became happy. Too bad everything went to shit.
The next page shows Above Average Man wearing a mask identical to that which Alien wears. Blood stains the forehead and military dogtags hang woven through the laces. He wears a large army jacket with no shirt and snow camo pants with parachuting boots. He has put on about thirty pounds of muscle and through his fingerless gloves you can see his promise ring. Above Average Man shakes his head while staring down at this picture.
Above Average Man: Becoming "chaos.." was one of the biggest mistakes of my career. I got stabbed in the back by everyone I ever imagined close to me. No, that is a page I would rather not come back to and remember.
Above Average Man turns the page again. He wears clown makeup in this photograph, another odd looking clown beside him. Their shirts read "Consider Yourself Handicapped".
Above Average Man: Good lord, we do stupid things, don't we. I was a handicapped match fighting clown. Well, Billy needed the help. And for a big stupid gator-wrestling hick, he was one of the few friends that never did jump me. I think I got a picture of us in here somewhere.
Above Average Man leafs through page after page, fed after fed, until finally he finds the last picture, hidden away in the back. He places his thumb over the name of the fed, as if he's ashamed for anyone to see he was there, and looks down at the interesting trio. It is himself in the green suit again, a four foot midget holding a lead pipe over his shoulder, and a large, fat man in overalls holding an aligator back on a leash. They all wear baseball caps that read Frustrated Incorporated. Above Average Man cracks a smile looking at this one.
Above Average Man: The only ones who didn't screw me over. Above Average Man, Billy Bubba Bo Bob Ray, and The Midget Giant, we were unstoppable. They were the ones I still think of as friends. They still call me Bryan. Then again, they don't wrestle any longer. I guess that's why I can trust them. They're not coming back. They can't hurt me. But you can. And that's why I don't trust you. At first you said you respected me. Then you hated me. Then you didn't care. And now it's respect again. John, I'm afraid that your word just isn't enough for me. I'll believe it when I see it. I don't need to build friendships, because my life outside of the ring doesn't matter. You know alot of the story now, and I hope it helps you, but I doubt it will. Understand me as best you can, but what you know has no ring significance. I'm coming to that ring and fighting for my livelihood just like I always do. And hopefully I'll move on and get to meet that bastard brother of mine, Alien, one last time. Because we've still got some unsettled buisness to attend to. Until then...
The sod has spoken
The camera opens on Above Average Man sitting to the left of a six stair concrete flight coming from the door of a western-looking apartment complex. The brown speckles of blood tint his blue GCW shirt as he sits there staring up into the sky. A warmed bottle of Korski's Vodka sits between his thighs, making a slight scraping noise agaist the concrete with each move. Above Average Man runs his hands back through his damp hair, pulling it back out of his bloodshot eyes, and runs his thumb over the quarter-inch stubble on his neck and chin. At the tender age of nineteen he is already beginning to gray. Above Average Man runs the back of his arm over his lips, whiping away the remnants of his vodka from his mouth. The camera closes in on Above Average Man right hand, which trembles around the neck of the bottle.
Above Average Man: Well, I managed to last one more day. I fought off probably the toughest man in my division, and got my hand raised. Should I feel good about myself? Yeah. Do I? No. I just want to die. You see, even though seventy to eighty people didn't win their matches, any one of them could still come out on top of me. No one has been eliminated. Yet. As of now, I could still end up in last. My win, and all the work I put into it, really doesn't mean anything. But on the bright side, everyone is treating me just like normal.
Above Average Man: I'm so used to be ignored that even I don't notice me sometimes. I guess it sorta comes with the teritory. I just have the look of an easy mark. I'm the little scrawny kid that everyone beat up on the playground. And now, because I'm nothing special to look at, I get ignored. I won my first match here. I would have thought that at least the other two men in my division would bat an eye at that and do a little scouting. But I guess they just lack the same focus I do, because they don't even seem to know who I am. Well, Shadow, we climb into the ring shortly, so allow me to introduce myself. My name is Bryan Barnes. My little wrestler gimmick that was meant to grab a fan's attention here or there is Above Average Man. Most people just call me C Plus. I'm nobody special, but you've been put into an awkward spot. Have you ever felt like you were completely wasting your time with a match? That's what wrestling me is like. I'm not big. I'm not strong. I'm not fast. I'm not talented. I'm just another nobody who will be completely forgotten when it's all said and done. But that really poses a problem for a lot of people. Have you ever fought nothing before. Had something so insignificant walk to the ring that you just shrugged and let things take their course. That's the part I've been in this grand scheme of life for a long time. Nobody cares about me. But it doesn't upset me. You see, while you concentrate on all the worthy things in your lives, I concentrate on the only thing I have a chance of doing right. Wrestling. These matches are my very exsistance. And, not to sound hardcore because I'm the furthest thing from it, but I'd rather die than lose. Please Shadow, just get the job done. I'm begging you. When I wake up on these cold, rough concrete streets and look around at the people everywhere with their families and their friends, and then I look at how I don't have anything like that worth living for, I start to think about things. I've come to the conclusion that I understand how life is going to be too me. Nothing is ever going to go right. And I don't know if I can take that.
From the room above, Gravity by Type O Negative starts to play. Above Average Man screams along with the first couple of seconds.
Above Average Man: 1. 2. 3. 4. I don't wanna live no more!
The music continues to blare and the passerbys stare at Above Average Man. He nods along with the beat of the music, raising one arm to pound a fist overhead to the beat. Growing unconfortable, people begin to pass on the opposite side of the street. Above Average Man takes no note of them.
Above Average Man: Shadow, I've been doing this for way too long. I didn't used to be this way. There was a time... when I was happy... with her. But she's gone now, and I have to live with it. But I just don't want to. It's not a life that I live, but a never-ending, repeating death. I'm ready for it to be over. Please, finish the job that Alien started. Break my neck once and for all. Put me out of my misery. Kill me. It wouldn't be murder. It's a mercy killing. Save me from this cold world that doesn't give a damn about the little guy anyway. Please. Kill me.
Above Average Man lifts the bottle to his lips again, taking another long draw. His inhale through his nose clears up as the Vodka clenses his system. Above Average Man sets the bottle down to his side, striking up a cigarette. A long drag from it clouds the air overhead with the thick mist as he rolls his eyes back in agony.
Above Average Man: Every morning when I wake up, especially after wrestling, my neck hurts. Every time it rains, my neck hurts. Every time I sit down to fast, or stand up without stretching, my neck hurts. Nothing can stop this. My life is one never-ending pain. And I'm ready for it to be over. I've been ready for a long time now. Please Shadow, it would be a personal favor to me. But I'm only going to ask once.
The sod has spoken
fade to black
The scene opens on Above Average Man sitting behind the abandon GCW arena in Macon Georgia. A security light hangs from overhead, sitting in front of him and sillouetting his body into only a dark outline. A cobra commander style hood rests over his face, dangling to the collar of his dirty GCW t-shirt. Above Average Man looks to his side where the empty plastic bottle of Gin sits. He nods his head back and forth as his whole body rocks in place, sitting on the single step outside of the fire exit.
Above Average Man: When this arena shut down, that marked a major change in me. That was when the cold reality of life came down on me. That was when I was called to bear a burden that is all too great. That was when I left the spotlight and took to the shadows. And now, Shadow, I see that you have chosen the same route. But you, I would think, have chosen it for differant reasons. Since you refuse to give me any insight, why don't I take a guess. You're "evil", right? You're in the shadows because you enjoy the darkness. Because you want to be seen as a man who relishes in darkness's cold embrace. You want to be feared. Maybe it's even more than a part to you. Maybe you even believe that you are this evil monster and you deserve to be feared. But Shadow, it's differant for me. There's a reason I stay back in the darkness, out of the prying eyes of the world. And it isn't to inspire fear or twist my image. I'm here because I have no choice.
Above Average Man: Why do I hide from the world? Because the world has done everything in it's power to hurt me. I have nothing left living for, so I don't live any longer. I simply am. I exist. There is a big differance between existance and life. And I don't have the desire any more to live. Only one thing is left for me. I just have to sit back and wait for death to find me. I'm not afraid of it. I mean, it's not like it could be any worse than this. But I've been waiting for too long. Things aren't going the way I planned. I thought that I would have been gone by now. Something keeps me going. And I think it's wrestling. For some reason, when I'm in the ring is the only time I feel like survival is worth fighting for. But my luck can't hold out forever. Some day, someone is going to get the job done. Maybe it will be you, Shadow. At times, I hope it is. You could be the one to put me out of my misery. But then I think about all I've been through in the past year, and I realize that I've came out above a lot tougher opposition. I've faced dozens of "dark this" "dark that" "dark something else". And I don't see anything in you that I haven't already seen in a dozen other people and beaten down for it. This may be my end, but I doubt it. I think you'll fail to get the job done, just like so many others. And I'll go on looking for the man who is capable of taking me down. Shadow, I don't think you're that one. And I don't even know why I waste my time on you.
The sod has spoken