CROSS COUNTRY TREK
The camera opens on Above Average Man, Midget Giant, and Billy Bubba Bo Bob Ray back in Midget Giant's Chevy Celebrity. Midget Giant drives, Billy's got shotgun, and Above Average Man sits in the back with the cameraman. A bottle of Sour Apple Pucker lays on the seat next to him, still sealed, as Above Average Man exhibits an unusual amount of self-control. The countryside racing by is unlike that of the Louisianna Bayou's of late, but rather somewhere in the middle of Texas. Cacti dot the desert landscape and a wind rushes through the windows of the racing car, easing up the heat and tustling Above Average Man's hair. Above Average Man shoves one hand deep into the thigh pocket on his cargo pants and draws out a pack of Marlboro Ultralight 100s. Tapping out a cigarette, he presses it firmly between his lips and draws out a book of matches. He cups his hands over the tip of his cigarette and strikes the first match. It blows out. He strikes a second. It blows out as well. Above Average Man shakes his head and places the cigarette back into the crushed case. He slumps back against the car door and sighs.
Above Average Man: You know, for some people things just never manage to work out. Then those people look at my life, and even they have to feel good. I swear, I must have personal killed Christ in a past life to deserve all this. I finally thought I had a break, the break that was going to bring my life all together, and now even that is gone. My battle royal was looking so well. My competition didn't care, but I did. It was just me and Carter, and I even had him off his gameplan. Now Hamid went and gave them all an extra week to train, snatching victory out of my grasp. And as people start placing their bets up in Vegas, Above Average Man is more than a long shot. It just seems like life goes searching for a way to take away anything important to me. But this time, I'm not going to just fade quietly into the night. It's time. I've stood through way to much to give up now. It's like I've always said...
Above Average Man pulls up the sleeve of his Frustrated Incorporated shirt. On the back of his shoulder is a picture of a man in white robes with flowing white hair and a beard. White light shines down upon him and he has an incredably bright countanance. It's obvious. He's God. Below him is the sillouette of a tiny man. He stands on one knee.
Above Average Man: "Life just keeps hitting me and hitting me and knocking me down. But if I get up enough times, eventually his hand will get tired."
Above Average Man rolls back down his sleeve, covering up his tatoo. He shakes his head in a deep realization sort of way. Picking up the bottle of Sour Apple Pucker, Above Average Man pops the seal and flicks the cap out the window. Above Average Man takes a nice sip off the top of the bottle, draining it halfway down the neck, and sets the bottle down between his thighs. He turns back to the camera, seeming more pacified.
Above Average Man: That's one of the few things that makes me feel any better. Things can't go wrong forever. While everyone else in the tourament was bitching about the present, I was looking to the future. And I know that is going to pay off. I've been working for this match a lot longer and a lot harder than anyone else. And when we finally get it all in the ring, all my preparation is going to pay off. Nobody has this much riding on it. Not Carter. Not Icecold. Not Exx. And especially not that Titan Bahadur. I've heard him picked to win it all, and I wouldn't say that I deserve that same honor, dispite the fact I've worked twice as hard as him. I guess it all comes down to size. A titan against the smallest man in the match. But if determination amounts to anything, then I can pull this upset. You see, any match I'm in is considered an "upset". That's why I win. When someone like Titan gets the picked as the favorite to win it all, that is like putting a big red bullseye on his head that says Kill Me. Now everyone is gunning for him. And still, only Carter has given me more than a glance. I'm not getting ignored because I'm not good enough competition. I'm getting ignored because I don't come with all the pomp and circumstance of the bigger names. That low profile I keep is my sling, and I'm David looking to slay some Goliaths. As my opponents discard me as nothing, I won't be cast aside so easily at the beginning. I'm going to be ignored by most of the opposition. The battle royal is a defensive fight. I only have to throw out one man, and that's whoever comes in second. Other than that, I just have to watch myself. The only men that matter are me and the guy who's trying to throw me out. If I go into this watching my back instead of someone elses, I'll last long enough to carry out a Last Man Standing Title belt. And all I need is a belt, any belt, and I can go talk to Jenny. I think I've got this thing under-
The car jolts sharply and Above Average Man lurches forward, smacking his head on the seat in front of him. His bottle of Pucker falls to the floor where is pours out in slow steady spurts. The car shakes violently as Midget Giant pulls over to the side of the road. They all pile out and look at the car to see that the rear driver's side tired is torn to ribbons. Midget Giant kicks the side of the car.
Midget Giant: Dammit!
Billy takes a seat along roadside, while Above Average Man shakes his head in amazement. Midget Giant looks at the other two, notably concerned. Above Average Man cuts him off before he even speaks.
Above Average Man: Let me guess, no spare.
Midget Giant nods his head, fuming mad at the situation. Above Average Man turns and looks down the road and the long stretch of desert reaching the horizon.
Above Average Man: Figures. Life just knocked me down again.
Billy and Midget Giant both look to Above Average Man for some sort of saving guidance. Above Average Man merely shrugs.
Above Average Man: Let's get walkin'.
The sod has spoken
DEALING WITH A PROBLEM
The camera opens outside of a salvage yard in the middle of nowhere Texas. Billy, Midget Giant, and Above Average Man stumble up the driveway, sweat soaking through their Frustrated Incorporated shirts. Above Average Man's chin length hair is matted down to his head, tangled up in front of his eyes. Billy carries Midget Giant piggyback style. Above Average Man pushes the flat tire, rolling it up the gravel driveway and into the lot. Above Average Man steps into the lot, looking around at the shells of hundreds of cars. Signs of failure stand on all sides. He walks on, heading up towards the main office. Inside stands a man behind a desk who looks to be too overweight to get up if he tried. A Pizza Hut Big New Yorker box sits next to him, down to it's last slice. Scattered over the desk are empty cans of Sunkist Orange soda. The man looks up as Above Average Man clears his throat.
Above Average Man: Uh, sir? We've got kinda an emergency.
The man points over his shoulder at a sign posted behind him. It reads Poor planning on your part, does not constitute an emergency on my part. Above Average Man looks at it, his shoulders slumping forward. He glances out the door, seeing Billy making his way up the driveway. Billy forces himself into the room, blocking out the window and casting shadows over the room. The man looks up at Billy and raises his eyebrow for a moment.
Billy Bubba Bo Bob Ray: Hey Misser, Billy's got an e-mer-jin-see.
attendant: You Billy?
Billy Bubba Bo Bob Ray: Yup.
attendant: Well why didn't you say so? Terry, get in here. We've got customers.
A young red headed boy walks in from the back. Above Average Man looks at Billy, then Midget Giant who's wandering around outside. Above Average Man looks to the kid, then looks to the tire.
Above Average Man: I need one of those.
kid: Sure thing. What size is it?
Above Average Man: I dunno.
The attendant and the kid both look at each other and smile. The kid heads into the back and rummages around, finding the wreckage of a Celebrity. The kid removes a wheel, takes the tire off to the side where he mounts it on that spinning collumn, and starts to remove the new tire. Above Average Man looks to Midget Giant, who has just walked into the back alongside him, holding his checkbook in his left hand.
Above Average Man: We are going to get so screwed.
Midget Giant: Kick a tire. It'll make you look knowledgeable.
Above Average Man: Okay.
Above Average Man walks over to the remains of the Celebrity. The man behind the desk looks out the window, puzzlingly, while Above Average Man kicks the tire. The man looks a bit worried. Above Average Man walks across the lot, kicking a tire on an '87 Escort. The man behind the desk pushes the button on the intercom, talking back to the kid mounting the tire.
attendant: We were wrong. They aren't as stupid as we thought. Do it right or we'll end up in court.
The man takes his finger off the intercom as Above Average Man leans up in the door frame, looking over at Midget Giant. Midge looks out over the lot, seeming content. Above Average Man still gazes off into space, alot of his mind.
Midget Giant: What you thinking about?
Above Average Man: Something that the other Icecold said. For the first time in my life, I've got an opponent who thinks that I'm actually a threat. But he's an idiot, so I don't know if his word even counts. I mean, look at him. He says that I'll be in the top four. But he also says that I don't have the motivation to bring me through this. I've got my entire federation ready to shut down if I don't win this thing. And if I don't walk out of this tournament with a title belt for Jenny, I'll never be able to talk to her. My entire life hinges on this match. But then there are people like Icecold. He wants a belt. That's it. I don't see how that makes him more motivated than me, but I guess it comes down to greed. I need to think more shortsighted. Then I'll have an Icecold style motivation.
Midget Giant: He's none too shiney, that's for sure.
Above Average Man: Yeah. And that's the man that says I'll be placing. Maybe I'm wrong and I can't pull this off. Nothing else Icecold has said makes any sense, he's probably wrong about me too. I mean, look at what he said was my biggest downfall. I know the opposition. I've fought some of them before, and I've never lost to any of them. That's my disadvantage; I know how to beat them. Whereas people like Icecold, who watch footage but have never actually been in the ring with any other these men, he's somehow at an advantage. I just don't get it. Either this guy's an idiot, or everything I've ever learned about wrestling must be wrong. I don't know about this Icecold guy. It's just so hard to predict what a complete idiot will do. He could be dangerous. Or unpredictable, to say the least.
Midget Giant: Who else is worrying you?
Above Average Man: Executioner. He's rich. I'm poor. He's big. I'm small. He's strong. I'm... me? And he brawls, to the point where he thinks he can beat the hell out of anyone, and I'm a friggin' mat technician. How am I supposed to throw him out with an arm bar? I can't beat him.
Midget Giant: You don't have to. This guy has made a point of standing up in front of the world and saying he'll win. The only man with more people gunning for him than Exx is Titan Bahadur. You just need to treat this battle royal like all the others. Stand back, let everyone ignore you, and you'll end up in the title running before anyone realizes that you're even in the ring. Keep your game plan, kid. Keep your game plan.
Above Average Man: Yeah. I know. But there are already people like Carter who fight the exact same way I do. What happens when we get to the end and Carter's fresh too? I don't have that same advantage I'm used to. Or if I try and take care of Carter early on, then I get to the end more battered than I'm used to. Then how do I take out the big men? Carter gives this match an element I've never had to deal with before. I'm fighting someone so much like myself, I don't know what to do. Looking at Carter is like looking in the mirror. Except I'm sober. And happy. And a little more popular. And got a home, a car...
Midget Giant: Listen to me, Bryan! Don't get like this. None of that stuff matters. At the end of this tournament, you'll still have us, your friends. You'll have Jenny back. You'll have a title and you'll have a little bit of money when you return to GCW with the biggest contract ever.
Above Average Man: Thanks man, but life's far from being that good. I've got more work in front of me than I've ever had to do, and all for one match. I've been paying my dues for a long tim-
attendant: That'll be ten dollars.
Above Average Man glances over the Midget Giant, who looks up at the desk.
Midget Giant: Hang on a second. I'll write you a check.
The sod has spoken
THE LONG WALK BACK
The camera opens on Billy off in the distance, carrying Midget Giant piggyback style. They pass over a hill about fifty feet off, disappearing under the horizon as the sun sets in front of them. With a clever hundred and eighty degree pan, the camera falls upon Above Average Man who is left behind. He sits on the tire, turned on it's side, and holds one hand up just above his shoulders blocking the sun from his eyes. Sweat cascades down his forehead and nose, gathering in small droplets in the two week growth of beard under his chin and along his neck. He kicks his head back sharply, flicking his hair back out of his eyes, and adjusts his shoulders for a moment trying to get comfortable.
Above Average Man: I hate this time of day, when all the light comes down on me and there's nowhere to hide. I mean, I've just gotten so used to slinking back into the shadows when the heat is on, and now I've got nowhere to go. It makes me... uncomfortable. I can't see. I can't even think straight. I guess I've spent too much time on the streets. It didn't make me tough; it made me dull. Looking up at that giant sun, all I want to do is disappear. I want to hide. Even when you're alone on the streets, you can always find a place to disappear to. But not here. It makes me feel... vulnrable.
A white pickup blows by Above Average Man, rustling his greasy hair with it's passing. The driver chooses not to see the poor man along roadside sitting on the tire, but rather to move on by and pretend he doesn't exist. Above Average Man sits there, calmly blocking out the outside world. The sky shifts to a beautiful bronze, sinking partially under the horizon. Above Average Man turns his back on the sunset, facing the darkened skies of the East. His shadow stretches out before him, disrupted by the occasional rock or scorpion.
Above Average Man: I guess I can still hide. Even when I'm face to face with people, they choose not to see me. Not that I blame them; there isn't much in me worth seeing. But still. It's a little disparaging the way the world looks right through me. Battle lines were drawn today, and the official battle royal lineups are ready. I've got fifteen opponents, including my own brother, Chris. Though I sorely doubt he'll show, after that nasty knee injury he suffered. He won't be ring worthy for a few more weeks. But rehab is going well. Of the rest of the opposition, there are others I've faced before, and some I haven't. Pretty much like any other battle royal I've been in. Some old "friends" will get their second chances, and a few new people will get to meet my aquaintance. Icey, Alien, Fallen, you three know what it's like to have me breathing down your neck. From you, I expect a fight. But not much of one. None of you seem to have the *snickers* motivation I do. You don't need this. Funny that motivation would be one of my cards I play, as that was the very thing that Da Man's clone Icecold called into question. Apparently, having the shutdown of my federation riding on this, having my relationship with the only person I've ever said that "L word" to riding on this, and basically having to risk my life every time I set foot in the ring, isn't enough for you. What's it take to be motivated in your eyes, bogus Ice? Do I need to bet my left arm against some Vegas drug lord, or what? I think motivation is about all I've got going for me. But then again, you're probably right. I guess you probably know more about me than I do, what with the alcohol clouding my judgement. [to himself] damn I wish I hadn't left my Zimas in the car. They're going to be warm and everything.
Above Average Man nods his head in appreciation as his shadow fades out along the road. He turns around in time to see the last of the sun disappear below the horizon. Setting the tire back up, he rolls it along the road, uncomfortably bent over. His hair hangs down in front of his eyes, and occasionally gets into his mouth causing one of the few notably upset points in his life.
Above Average Man: Stupid life. I've got so much to do and here I am, walking along roadside just like I have been for the last nine months. I need this. I need some stability in my life. I need to get some money, put a down payment on an apartment, get a home for me and Jenny. I need to start a real life. But wrestling is just so much of me, as much as I hate it, I can't break away. I tried. Heaven knows I've tried. But I just can't turn my back on it. This is the only thing I know. And even if I can't make a differance in the world, at least I go home feeling hap- content. I feel content. After I win, then I get a few moments of contentment, before the urge strikes me again. There's no more doubt in my life. It isn't the opposition sucking worse. It isn't luck on my part any more. I'm getting my chance to actually prove myself. At the end of this match, I'll know if deserve what Karma's given me, or if a massive payback is coming.
Above Average Man passes over the top of the hill, taking the car into view where Billy and Midget Giant sit impatiently. Above Average Man shoves the wheel, sending it rolling down towards them, and stands up straight, stumbling onwards towards them.
Above Average Man: Doubt, cities can be built on it, but lives will fall through the cracks.
The sod has spoken.
SLOW AND STEADY AMOUNTS TO NOTHING
The camera opens on the outside of the shut down OWF arena. The Chevy Celebrity sits in the parking lot, Midget Giant sitting on the hood. Billy sits in the back seat, notably upset. Above Average Man walks across the empty parking lot that formally held hundreds of cars. The camera drops from it's overhead view to film behind him as he opens the main door. Above Average Man walks in as Billy and Midge stare on in disbelief.
Midget Giant: So this is where Bryan went when GCW collapsed beneath him?
Billy Bubba Bo Bob Ray: Yeah. And let me tell you, this place screwed Billy blue. But Bryan had a good run here. He even left with a few belts, if I remember right.
Midget Giant: So why'd he come back? He acted like it was so important.
Billy Bubba Bo Bob Ray: Something about needing to get back to his roots. Shoot, ol' Billy be needin' to get back to his roots too. Billy needs to get back to defendin' his Gator Wrasslin' Tah-tel.
Midget Giant: I thought finding us was Bryan getting back to his roots. He never had any better run then he did with Frustrated Inc.
The camera cuts to inside where Above Average Man walks through the empty halls of the OWF. Around him are the posters of May's Spaced Out pay per view, which never came to pass. The main event, Kremlin versus Above Average Man for the World Heavyweight Title. Above Average Man sighs. He reaches the main office, where the name DK is still legable on the window's glass. Above Average Man reaches deep into the thigh pocket of his cargo pants, producing a key to the main office, that he had gotten way too long ago. Walking inside, everything sits in perfect order, waiting for a new president to step up to the plate. Above Average Man sits down behind the desk, opening one drawer after another. Opening the bottom, righthand drawer, he lets up a sigh of relief, and picks up another key. Above Average Man leaves the executive office, careful not to disturb anything, then turns down the hall and walks three doors. Pausing at that third door, he nods.
With almost a quiet reverance, Above Average Man unlocks the door. Ten months of tapes line the walls on six shelves which circle around the entire room. On the opposite wall, there is one space missing tapes, just large enough to fit the thirteen inch television and VCR. Above Average Man begins to scan over the tapes, mumbling names to himself.
Above Average Man: Agent oo6 versus JayPac. Kremlin versus Kozmo. Chaimber versus DiamondKid. Azreal versus Omega. Ah, this looks promising. April Extreme, 1999.
Above Average Man takes the tape from the wall. Inserting it into the VCR, he begins to fastforward through the preliminary matches. In a blurred haze, Omega beats Taker, Above Average Man beats Jesse Williams, Icecold beats Azreal, and a few other matches play themselves out in rapid succession. Above Average Man pauses the tape at the end of Steiner's retirement speech.
Above Average Man: One of my few moments in the spotlight.
The screen returns to motion as Williams and Diablo square down in the ring. They tustle back and forth for a few moments, but nothing much happens. After nearly three minutes, the bell sounds and Azreal rushes down to the ring. Azreal and Williams go straight at each other, while Diablo sits back. After much of a struggle, Williams tips Azreal out of the ring with a back body drop. The bell sounds. Taker runs to the ring, sliding in a putting a boot into Diablo's face. Williams turns on Taker, who brushes him aside. Taker tosses Diablo out of the ring with minimal effort, then beats Williams down in the corner. The bell sounds again and out come Icecold. Icecold hits the ring, jumping Taker from behind. Taker goes down just long enough for Icecold to pull Williams up and put him out, then Taker and Icecold begin to mix it up alone. The bell sounds. Above Average Man stumbles his way to the ring, tired and hurt. He slides in, then slumps down in the corner, trying to catch his breath. His body is notably battered from his earlier Cruiserweight Title defense. Icecold and Taker both ignore the tiny man, continuing to batter each other. Above Average Man pauses the tape for a moment.
Above Average Man: You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see where this is going. But this is more than me just blowing my own horn. Watch it. I'd say I deserved to win that match more than any other, but others would say otherwise. I'm not watching this tape to see what I've done right in the past; this is so I can see how I can handle my opponents. Take Williams. That guy was on pot. He was proud of it too, and he did it in public. It's not just a nasty rumor. He actually missed a couple matches when the cops nailed his ass. Jesse Williams reminds me so much of Titan Bahadur. Never making a lick of sense. I know you've got your own little world you live in, and you trip out with your crazy dreams, but there is a match that you should be preparing for. That was Williams problem. Wrestling wasn't his top priority in life. He had other things, other people, that mattered more. And Titan is the same way. Sometimes I wonder if Titan even realizes what he's got ahead of him, because the match doesn't seem to be at all what's on the forefront of his mind. And as you can see, good ol' Jesse Williams took a spill early on. He wasn't ready for the opposition. He didn't hone his own skills. And when the match rolled around, he didn't put up much of a show.
The screen cuts to static as it has been left on pause for too long. Above Average Man hits play again, then pauses it on a closeup of Taker's face. Above Average Man turns away from the video, looking at the cameraman, to make his second analogy.
Above Average Man: Now you see Diablo? He was so confident in the preliminary matches that he would walk out the champion. But after he got added to the long list of qualifiers, it was too overwhelming. He got lost in the shuffle. No one cared about him, and he lost his motivation. More than anyone, he reminds me of Fallen. Fallen seemed so confident when he beat my brother, along with the rest of his division to walk away with a spot in this Battle Royal, but now Fallen vanishes. He felt good, thinking that he was beating the best of the best. But now that we've weeded out the nothings in this tournament, it's time that he actually step up to those who've proved themselves. And against us, he's slinked back into the shadows. Fallen is another who showed so much promise, but really amounts to nothing.
Above Average Man presses play for a moment, and the camera closes back in on the screen. Icecold powerslams Taker, then turns to the corner where he tries to stomp down Above Average Man. Above Average Man rolls out of the way, stepping back and keeping his distance. Icecold stalks him across the ring, before being nailed from behind by Taker. Above Average Man's hand blocks part of the screen as he presses pause again.
Above Average Man: I know, I've yet to do anything. And three men have already been eliminated. Just wait. I've got a strategy. Anyways, we've got Azreal, my so-called teammate. One of many who left me out in the cold. He's alot more like Marcus. You see, he tries to act like he respects you out of the ring, then he stabs your back in the matches. And really, if you've got your guard up, he's no competition at all. As you can see, certain types of people don't last very long, traitors and big mouths especially.
Above Average Man presses play and the match resumes, the bell sounding and Chaimber heading to the ring. As Chaimber rolls in behind Above Average Man, both Taker and Icecold back off. Chaimber's size is overwhelming, paling all three others put together. Chaimber completely ignores Above Average Man, going straight for Taker. With his distraction gone, Icecold turns to Above Average Man. The two grapple for a moment, and Above Average Man manages to overcome the nearly eighty pound size advantage to lift the man up and drop him back with a vertical suplex. Icecold hits the mat, stunned, and Above Average Man immediately backs away from him to where Chaimber stands holding Taker in a full nelson. Above Average Man drops to one knee, swinging for a low blow, but Taker escape and Above Average Man nails Chaimber. Chaimber topples over and Taker nails him while he's down. Icecold steps back up and Above Average Man clips him across the throat with a lariett. The bell sounds. Kozmo makes his way down to the ring, slipping in unnoticed. He jumps at Above Average Man, who ducks, and Kozmo nails Icecold. Above Average Man seems to slink back into the corner while Chaimber and Taker brawl on one side of the ring, and Kozmo and Icecold go at it on the other. Kozmo puts Icecold down with the Kozmopolitan, then turns his attention to helping Taker try and put out Chaimber. Icecold eventually gets back up, rushing in and dropping Taker from behind. The bell sounds and Omega makes his way to the ring as the final competitor. He has a certain air of confidence about him. Above Average Man pauses the tape, nodding along with it.
Above Average Man: Now Omega had this cocky attitude, like he was so much better than everyone else. He was one of those men who claimed he'd singlehandedly throw every last one of us out of the ring. He had a lot of advantages coming into this match with him, but this just proves my point. A big mouth will always come back to bite you in the butt.
Omega grabs Above Average Man, irish whipping him to the corner. He rushes in for the sandwhich, but Above Average Man raises a boot, planting it into Omega's chin. Omega stumbles back, breaking a setup that Taker had for a tombstone on Chaimber. Taker drops Chaimber, turning to Omega and lashing out with a forearm shot. Omega slips behind him, then kicks out his knees, hoisting him for an Omega Bomb.
Above Average Man: I love this part.
Above Average Man kicks Omega square in the small of the back while he's got Taker up. Omega drops Taker and tumbles forward. Above Average Man rushes in, connecting a closeline to the back of Omega's head and tipping him out of the ring.
Above Average Man: Mr Big Mouth goes down hard. So much like Executioner. The man who thinks that he's got it all won before he ever gets near the ring. I've personally never been a big fan of confidence. The more you count on something, the more of a letdown it is when it doesn't happen. Big Exxy, you need to be objective for a moment. I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but I've fought alot better than you. Say what you will about having this match already won, but I'd say you've already painted a bullseye on your back in gold paint. And if nobody else wants to do it for me, then I'll kick your targeted back and send you out myself. You and me couldn't be more opposite. The battle royal is the one match where I feel at home, knowing that nobody cares about me. It's going to be a rough morning after for both of us, when you see that you're not number one, and I wake up with a hangover. I like to look at the past, because it's concrete, and the present, because it's soon to be the past. But the future, that's something that only a fool worries about. When you and Rock Hollywood started saying how you'd already won this match, I checked you off my list of possable winners. Ex, you're about to get a real humbling experience.
As Above Average Man unpauses the screen again, Kozmo and Chaimber go at it in the corner. Taker catches Icecold off balance and steps up to the turnbuckle, walking along and twisting Icecold's arm. Above Average Man hits pause again.
Above Average Man: Two men making one big mistake. See this. Icecold had a real tough guy attitude that made him bite off just a little more than he could chew. And instead of biding his time and picking his shots, he tried to be a hero. On the other hand, Taker got just a little too carried away in the heat of battle. Taker concentrates on the opponent and not the match. And it costs them both.
Above Average Man pauses the screen and Taker takes the final step on his march across the ropes. Above Average Man dives across the ring, shoving Icecold into Taker. Taker tips off the top to the outside, and drags Icecold out with him. Above Average Man thumps the pause button again.
Above Average Man: Now Taker is just like Kenny Rock, getting to wrapped up with the just one opponent and forgetting there are fourteen other men to worry about. You lose your [clears his throat] control for a moment, and it will end up being your downfall. On the other hand, we've got Icecold. Now this is beautiful on so many differant levels. First off, Da Man is in this match, so I get to show everyone just how I dealt with him. And of course, the parallel, the fraud Icecold. He lets himself become thrown off guard. He worries more about Da Man, the Icecold that I know and beat, than opponents who will make ten times the showing. And he guns for me because I don't see him as the real Icecold, even though there are alot of other people he's overlooking. Icey old boy, you've got one real problem. You're a first come, first serve person. You only worry about the people who come after you first. And though that kind of a strategy can win you alot of matches, in a battle royal it's not the way to go. In a battle royal, you need to pick your spots. That means hitting everyone at their weakest point. Your name was just one way of me getting under your skin, making sure that you're not fully focused on the match. I'm a firm believer in Karma, and Da Man showing up in our battle royal was Karma's way of telling you to cool it. The world does not revolve around you. It's not like there's a fake or a real. It's just neither of you were too original. And now, you let it get to you when you get that first dose of reality. Well there's alot more where that came from. And as you worry about all these little petty things, the rest of us take advantage of all your shortcomings. Ice, you've got some training to do.
Above Average Man unpauses the screen and you see a younger version of him turn to Chaimber and Kozmo tied up in the corner. Above Average Man rushes across the ring, gaining his momentum, and slams into both of them. Chaimber topples out but Kozmo clings to the ropes, rolling back in. Above Average Man is caught off guard and Kozmo clocks him from behind. The tape pauses, yet again.
Above Average Man: Chaimber is the toughest one to relay. I could say that his size was his weapon, or his strength, or his hardcore nature, but I wouldn't say any of those things are what carried him. He came to the ring with a clear strategy, with a good record, and with plenty of fans cheering him on, but those weren't the factors either. The reason that Chaimber did as well as he did is sitting right here. Chaimber was a friend of mine, and I agreed not to come gunning for him until there was no other option. Really, I'm not a man of my word, but you know, that's life. Sitting through a match with me, knowing that I won't attack you is a huge advantage. And that advantage belongs to only one person. Alien. My brother, Chris. Yeah, Chris hasn't been seen as of late; he'd been told he got the pink slip, so he went on hiatus from wrestling. But I've placed a few calls. We tried being friends once, long ago. Things worked out really well. We were separated by fate, and now we're thrown back together. Honestly, I hate Alien. Chris, you know I hate you. But I'm willing to put that aside one last time, and help you accomplish your goal. We're going into this match side by side. I'll watch your back, you watch mine. Until it's just the two of us, or until it becomes inconvieniant. Either way, no regrets. You know where I'll be.
After the unpause, the match resumes. Kozmo pulls Above Average Man up, and gets a thumb to the eye. Above Average Man and Kozmo exchange blows for a moment. The grapple up and Above Average Man pulls Kozmo into a side headlock. Then he bulldogs Kozmo down to the mat. Kozmo clutches his head in pain. Above Average Man waits carefully and Kozmo begins to stand up. And Above Average Man locks on the Alluminum Claw. Kozmo screams out in pain, struggling against it and slowly being forced back to the corner. Once against the ropes, Above Average Man releases the hold and smacks Kozmo with a short-arm closeline, sending him over the top. Above Average Man turns away from the tape, not bothering to pause this time.
Above Average Man: Who Kozmo is is obvious. But I'll just let you in a little bit on the guy and see if you can put two and two together. Kozmo kept a low profile. He went into the match being told that he was second best. He played the lesser half to all the greats, but never got his own chance in the spotlight. And when he went out alone, people stopped giving him opportunities. He let others do his work for him, then betrayed them when it was convieniant. He did everything the easy way, or not at all. Give up? No, it's not Carter Hayes. It's myself. I'm the one who hasn't been given any credit through this whole damn tournament. And I'm the one that needs to get a grip on reality before I cost myself this match. In this match, I'd say the part of Above Average Man was played by Carter Hayes. He's beaten me at my own game, staying completely overlooked since moment one. I even let him in on my trade secrets, and now he uses them against me. Yeah, Carter's the man in this match. He's going to be the deadly one that I've got to watch. After all, why prepare when you don't really have to do anything.
The sod has spoken.
There is a knock at the door as Midget Giant opens it politely. He looks in, watching Above Average Man proudly hoist up his US Title on the television screen. Midge approaches Above Average Man, tapping him on the shoulder to get his attention.
Midget Giant: Hey bro, it's getting late.
Above Average Man: Go get some chow or something. I could take a while.
fade to black
WEEDS AND RELIGION
Sunrise brightens the Colorado sky over the closed OWF arena. Above Average Man stumbles out into the light, shielding his eyes with his arm. He scans over the parking lot for a moment, searching his companions. The car is nowhere to be seen. Billy and Midge are gone. Above Average Man sits down on the sidewalk, shaking his head slowly. He bright morning sun continues to beat down on him, nearly blinding with it's rays. Above Average Man holds up a tape, using it to block out the sun, and turns to the cameraman.
Above Average Man: Damn...
An unconfortable silence ensues that leaves Above Average Man sitting speechless on the curb outside of the former OWF building. To his side rests a tanned gym bag, something he'd retreived from the building. The zipper is missing, but the flaps are closed well enough that the contents cannot be seen. Above Average Man scans the parking lot a second time, coming to the gritty realization he's been left out in the cold by his "friends" yet again. His look isn't one of surprise, just disappointment.
Above Average Man: Yup. "Damn" just about sums up my whole life. Damn...
Above Average Man stands back up, snatching the gym bag up in his left hand and marching along the sidewalk, somewhat tightroping the edge of the curb the way small children do. After fifteen feet or so, he starts to wobble, toppling off the curb and stepping down into the parking lot. The suns rays beat down mercilessly. Above Average Man shakes his head, walking along the side of the building.
Above Average Man: Damn...
Reaching the corner of the arena, Above Average Man looks across the street. It's a large green field, dandylions growing sparcely in small patches. Above Average Man steps into the street, walking across towards the feild. A car swurves to avoid him. He walks onwards, ignoring his surroundings as people honk horns and scream profanities. Above Average Man reaches the field, laying down in the lush, green grass. He breathes deep, soaking in the freshly cut sent as a man on a lawnmower circles around in the distance, catching the first patch of dandylions.
Above Average Man: Weeds. They're not really that bad. I remember, as a child, I used to pick dandylions in the back yard. Everybody did, I guess. I'd take them inside, put them in a glass of water, and admire how beautiful they were. Sooner or later, I'd lose interest and go outside again, and my mom would throw them away. To her they were weeds. To me, they were flowers. Everything just comes perception, really. You see what you want to see. Everything is created, lives out it's existance as best it can, then comes to an end. It's life. To me, those weeds are something to be admired. They didn't sprout as a beautiful rose. They didn't grow on a farm where they'd be ignored. They can into existance right here, and within a week, they are killed. They are killed for doing the only thing they know how to do. For living out their purpose. I guess it's sorta like me. Only one thing has ever gone right for me, and it's wrestling. Every other part of my life has fallen to sh- well, fallen apart. But wrestling seemed to take shape, holding me together in those rough times. Wrestling was their for me. There when nothing else was. And it's the only place where I've found any sort of success. Any sort of accomplishment. Of course, I got my neck broken in my fifth match, so it's just a matter of time now. I'm not something beautiful to the rest of the world. I'm just something that came to be, did everything I knew how, and have been marked for removal. Why do I attract so much hostility? I don't know. All I want is to be left alone. To find someone that makes me happy and live my life. But the world denies me that. I'm a weed. I'm not entitled to live. I am just some problem that needs to be dealt with.
The mower approaches where Above Average Man lays. The man riding it waves him out of the way and Above Average Man slowly climbs up to his feet. Coughing on the smoke kicked out by the mower, Above Average Man bends over, grabbing his gym bag in his left hand. With his right, he picks a single dandylion and sticks it behind his ear. He steps out of the way and the mower blows through, kicking up a fine mist of grass into the air. Above Average Man turns away, trudging further up the hill. Over the crest of the rising hill, a cross can be seen. Above Average Man moves further in as The First Church of the Nazarian comes into view. Above Average Man walks to the church, taking a seat against it's outer walls and resting in the shade of it's eve. The sun licks over his boots as he stretches his legs out, enjoying the shade. Above Average Man looks up, taking in the church as best he can.
Above Average Man: You know Christ was like me.
Above Average Man stays silent after this profound statement. Overhead a bird breaks the silence. Above Average Man plunges his hand deep into the thigh pocket on his cargo pants. Pulling out his pack of Virginia Slims, he strikes a match and blazes up his first cigarette. He breaths deep, pulling in as much of the nicotene as he can, while the end glows and fades into embers. Above Average Man shakes his hand, putting out the match, then tosses the matchstick off into the grass. Gripping the cigarette between his ring and pinky fingers, he takes it from his mouth as he exhales the first drag. He sits, a blank look covering his face.
Above Average Man: Christ was born just another guy. Born in a barn. Carpenter's kid. Nothing special. He was a weed too. He did what he thought he should, just trying to live his life, and nobody accepted that. [very bitterly] He "attracted hostility". [normal empty tone] So he was removed. His friends betrayed him. The people who claimed to be on his side, turned when it was more convieniant for themselves. People would rather see some murderer walking the streets then a guy who just calls it as he sees it. That's why people don't like me. I make you think. Just like Christ. When you look at me, you can see all the things wrong with yourself. Of course, I do it in a bit of a differant way. I'm not the "good" example. Oh well. Damn...
Above Average Man takes in another deep drag, holding it for just a few moments. Then he exhales, blowing the smoke in a mist about his face. It clears slowly, as the lack of breeze keeps it condensed, and Above Average Man leans forward through it in a more slouching forward position. He taps the filter on his cigarette, knocking ashes off at his side. They glow for a moment, then fade and disappear into the dirt. Above Average Man smirks.
Above Average Man: Ever heard of the garden of Gethsemeni? Need I say more? Preparing for what was shortly to come, and your so-called friends are not willing to wait. Nope. Karma's saying something to me. I'm not sure what yet, but I'll just have to keep my mind clear. Things didn't go to well for Christ this time around, but he managed to make his, what shall I call it, comeback? [smirks] I think I'm in line to get beaten to death in this battle royal. So why is it I feel like I will be seeing gold in the end? I don't know. With all the dues I've paid, Karma will get around to me. This time, I know it.
Above Average Man stands up again, tossing his cigarette to the ground dispite how much remains, and crushing it under his heel. He walks on, passing by the church entrance. He eyes it for a second, then turns away.
The sod has spoken.
A PERSONAL MESSAGE TO ICECOLD
The camera opens on Above Average Man walking down the hill away from the church. The noon sun sits high in the sky, placing his shadow directly underneath him. Above Average Man stumbles a bit, falling down and rolling down the hill til he reaches a small dip, where he comes to a hault face-up. His gym bag bounces off his chest sharply, winding him. Above Average Man squints as the sun bombards his eyes. He sits up, nothing but empty field and cut grass all about him. Above Average Man turns his head down, avoiding the sun, and runs his index finger along his jawline as he sits deep in thought.
Above Average Man: For a long time now I've stood by a few beliefs. Not exactly my own morals or anything, because I really have no standards to life, but there are certain things that have always proved true. First, anyone who says they're invincable will eventually lose. Or quit, hiding from some opponent they know can beat them. Second, when it comes to the ring, I'm blatantly screwed by nature. Third, anyone named Icecold will inevitably be immature. Three great truths to life, take them for what you will. These lessons were taught to me by experience. I've had a long eleven months, and just to come up with these three things, I'd say it wasn't worth it.
Above Average Man stands up, brushing the cut grass off himself, and picking up his gym bag. He walks across the field even further, until an elementary school comes into focus in the distance. Above Average Man survey's the playground, looking for any signs of movement. There is nothing. He walks onwards, his gentle steps padding out over the grass. Pausing before the giant slide, he looks up at it with a humble reverance.
Above Average Man: A slide. So simple. People get on. They climb up and up, getting their hopes up. Then swoosh, they're at the bottom again. Only a split second and their exactly where they started. The entire world is like that to some degree. I guess this stuff is just made to get kids ready for what a letdown life is going to be. Then again, they seem to enjoy it. Maybe it's more of finding happiness in defeat. But that's something I've never been able to do. I work and work, busting my knuckles and skinning my palms, and I want something to show for it when I'm done. I guess that's what the Last Man Standing tournament is all about. You can't take the entire journey back with you, so the best you can do is pick up a souvenier. A belt? Yeah, that's great. But for me it's just a little more. Icey, ol' boy, you seem to think it's pathetic of me to want to have something to show for my troubles when I go to see my girl, but I guess you're still too young to understand. There comes a point in life when you place a value on someone else that is higher than yourself. When you tweak that up a couple of notches, then you know what Lo-
Above Average Man chokes on the word. He tries to say it, but he holds it back, only shaking his head and knowing it can't be true. Above Average Man lets out a sigh, feeling another of life's crushing defeats, and looks back to the camera.
Above Average Man: To care about someone a great deal. When I look at myself, I don't see anything of any worth. I'd gladly recycle my body for the twelve dollar carbon value. I have nothing to offer anyone, and if she decided to spend her life with me, she'd be giving up so much. Some people deserve better things than what they get. Right now, I'm not much more than a vagrant. But if I can win this thing, then I'll be a champion. A champion that can hold his head up high. A champion who has something to offer. My motivation is questionable? What could be better motivation than true lov-
Above Average Man coughs abruptly, moreso to avoid opening himself up than out of any need. He gazes up to the sky, looking over the horizon and watching. The blinking yellow light of a satalite passes by in the distance. Above Average Man turns downwards, staring at his feet. It's obvious that he doesn't want to talk any further on the subject of his personal life. Things are just a little too sensitive there, ever since he was forced from his parents home. Above Average Man looks down at one of the supporting poles from the slide, carefully watching the ants scurry about from their home at it's base. Above Average Man kneels down, picking one up on his index finger and turning his hand to watch it as it scrambles about looking for a way back down. Above Average Man almost breaks a grin at the corner of his mouth.
Above Average Man: It's not easy being the little guy, is it little ant?
The ant runs frantically to the tip of Above Average Man's index finger, then circles under along his palm. Above Average Man sets his hand down, watching the ant rush off and back into the anthill. Above Average Man nods in appreciation.
Above Average Man: Find refuse where you can, little ant. That's the only way to survive. There is always something bigger to watch out for. The big fish eat the little fish. The gator eats them both. But he stays plum away from a hippo, because he'll chomp a gator clean in half. It's the way of the world. There's always someone bigger gunning for you. There's always someone capable of taking you out. No one's invincable. Everyone gets cut down to size eventually. So where's the advantage? Is it better to be the big man, so used to taking out the smaller. Or is it better to be the small man, so used to avoiding the big? Either way, it's the people in the middle like Icecold who are out of their element. You're just small enough that you can't power through everyone, and you're just big enough that you can't run either. You're that medium fish. Me, maybe I've got some serious giants to tip over, but that's what I'm used to. If there's one thing I hope I never meet, it's someone even smaller than me. I don't know what I'd do. The closest comparison I've ever had was when I was giving up thirty pounds, and still. But I guess that was all just preparation for this one match. Size isn't really an issue, when you're prepared for it. So, Icecold, the Jack Of All Trades, which way are you preparing? Let me guess, you're perfect at both. That kind of attitude will get you into some trouble.
Above Average Man circles around the slide, sitting down on the steps in it's front. He carelessly drops the gym bag at his side, turning back to the camera on the opposite side of the slide. Above Average Man turns his head away, dropping it forward and showing the back of his neck to the camera. Running his fingers through the back of his hair, Above Average Man lifts the mop from his neck and reveals the six inch long scar from his spinal surjery. He speaks over his shoulder, not turning to face the camera, as it takes in only the visage of the scar.
Above Average Man: There you go. The number one reason that I don't think I'm great. Ice, you sound like you're deaf and dumb, and we both know you can speak. Yes, I broke my neck. Not me, actually. Alien broke it. But we're passed that. I know I can be hurt. I know I can lose. I don't know who you're talking about thinking they're so great, because I haven't hid any of my flaws yet. Then again, you aren't one to say anything but the highest for yourself. It's almost like you think you're, dare I say it, invincable. That'll cost you. I've been beat. I thought I understood wrestling. I got beat again, and now I know what I was doing wrong. I don't let myself get confident. Not just overconfident; I don't even let myself think that I can win. The end is near. All that's left is the best wrestlers the world has to offer. That's some pretty steep competition. Anyone who thinks they can win, obviously hasn't been around the block enough times. Then again, Icecold, you'd never faced any of these guys before. You wouldn't know what it's like to be in the ring with real competition. I've beaten a quarter of our battle royal in singles competition. Will they be gunning for me? Actually no. I've come to respect them as I had some of the toughest matches of my life. It's just a job. We go out, we give it our all, and in the end, we get cut a check and go home. Well, those of us who have homes. I've got an edge that you refuse to acknowledge. In your self-absorbed little world, you've managed to convince yourself that inexperience is going to work to your advantage. That sounds like a real rookie mistake to me. Tell me, how long have you been wrestling? And what have you actually learned? I'm hoping you'll surprise me there, because my hopes aren't too high.
A loud bell sounds, interupting Above Average Man's train of thought. He immediately takes a defensive fighting stance, before turning to the realization that it's time for recess. A flood of children pour out onto the playground and Above Average Man slinks back a bit. Teachers eye him suspisciously, as the greasy nineteen year old in an elementary school playground is a bit out of place. Across the playground, Above Average Man spies the infamous bully found in every school. The kid stands a foot taller than the rest of his peers, probably held back a grade, and muscles over a few kids in the corner. Above Average Man turns his back on the situation, knowing there is nothing he could do about it without getting himself into some serious legal trouble.
Above Average Man: Wow, now where have I seen that before. A bigger man bullying around a couple of nobodies so he can feel good about himself. Jeese, Ice, you're pretty tough what with beating up those three guys who put no effort into this tournament at all. Oh wait, you didn't beat up all three, did you? You tied in the first round, because you really didn't care either. The only reason you're here is because you were spoonfed the nobodies, and basically given the spot in the battle royal. I suck? Well I met actual opposition in the tournament, and I went three and oh in the first round, neither of which you can honestly say. But you sure think you're hot stuff in your mind. You're just a bully who picked on a few little guys, guys who didn't even want to fight you, and now you think you're really great. Does the truth hurt? It usually does. You're not great. You're not even good. You didn't get here by skill; you got here by a lucky draw of opponents upstairs. And now your strategy towards the battle royal is so simple it's pathetic. Try and point fingers to turn everyone against everyone else. Well when you're telling ten men to gang up on me, Titan, and Executioner in one breath, and saying you're the greatest in the next, you're drawing the type of attention you don't want. You picked the top stars, the ones with the potential to win it all, and tried to set the world against them. I doubt anyone is listening to your ever so sacred advice, with three posible exceptions. The three men who hang on every word anyone makes, myself, Executioner, and Bahadur. You're trying to take the people who have only the slimmest chance of winning as your allies, and turning them against the major trump cards as your enemies. You can go ahead and side with Red Jones, Sephiroth, or Rebel Youth. You've made it obvious that you are after Titan, Exxy, and myself. And honestly, the three of us, and Carter Hayes, are the only allies worth having. And even then, it's just plain better to go it alone. Your plan will blow up in your face. Everyone will not be gunning for us. They'll be gunning for the easy mark. What's the point in putting out Ex, if he takes four of you with him. Bide your time, throw out the losers, the unfocused and the uncaring, and then you'll stand in the running for a title. Ice, your plan has more flaws then merit.... I hope you use it.
The sod has spoken
Above Average Man picks up his bag, which kids have begun to eye. He walks off the playground, circling around a fence and following the sidewalk along the road. He passes by the corner where the bully has a small boy corner. Above Average Man shoves the fencing, knocking the punk to the ground. The kid younger boy kicks the bully square in the groin. The bully doubles over, yelling profanities.
Above Average Man: I hate Icecolds and bullies. That's one type of people I'll never tolerate.
fade to black
The camera opens on Above Average Man walking along roadside. His fourty mile overnight trek has been rough on the cameraman, as now the camera is several feet behind him. He trudges on, not really caring about the interviews. Above Average Man is just trying to make sure he gets to the arena on time. The camera clatters to the ground as the cameraman trips and takes a spill. Above Average Man turns around, facing the poor man. The camera films only his boots.
Above Average Man: I'm sorry, man. Do you need a break or something?
An off-camera voice responds Yes and Above Average Man's feet step a little closer to the lens. Some rustling of the roadside gravel is heard as Above Average Man helps the man up, then lifts the camera in his own hands.
Above Average Man: Catch up as soon as you can.
Above Average Man raises the camera, taking over the filming himself. The bedraggled cameraman is seen for the first time in front of the lens. He is a small man, around Above Average Man's size. He has chin length black hair and a bad jawline beard. His glasses are smudged over and he has a look of panic on his face.
cameraman: You can't take that. I'll get in trouble.
The camera pulls a shakey one eighty as Above Average Man turns away from the cameraman to walk off. The man doesn't bother to chase him; only sitting down and giving up. Depression is contagious, you know. Above Average Man walks down the road, filming the passing cars with minimal enthusiasm. Car after car blows by him, each stirring up a small dust cloud and fading off into the distance. Nobody seems to acknowledge the existance of the vagrant walking the side of the road, holding a television camera.
Above Average Man: Sometimes I can't help but feel life is passing me by. Like these cars, one after another, everything that should be important to me fades into the distance. I'm so far away from my goals that I can't even remember what they are any more. I've got a long rocky road ahead of me, and not much choice but to walk it alone.
A semi driver blows by from the opposite direction, the force of his cab nearly knocking Above Average Man off his feet. The camera shakes violently for a moment, then centers on the horizon ahead once more. Above Average Man marches on. Another string of cars passes him, heading off his way but at so much the quicker pace. Above Average Man continues to trudge ahead, trying to block everything out.
Above Average Man: Why do I do this? Day in and day out, what makes wrestling worth it? It's far from the glamourous life I used to see on television. There's so much I never thought I'd see. Not everyone gets a limo and can guest star on major television shows. Life's a struggle. It's just like any other job. For some people, things just fall into place. For others, we have to bust our backs just to scrape by. I never should have dropped out of school. I've hit that rut. There's nowhere to go now, except keep on wrestling and hope things work out. Maybe this tournament will change things around. Maybe this will make me into a somebody. Maybe I'll get the money I need to...
Above Average Man's voice fades off into the wind as a large prison van passes by. The convicts can be seen through the barred windows, their heads held low and their orange jumpsuits pulling snugly at their shoulders. Knowing very well that they may never see the light of day again, they choose not to look up to the windows. Sometimes it's easier not knowing what you're missing. Above Average Man pans the camera carefully, stopped in his tracks and keeping his vision locked solely on the prison van until it disappears over the horizon.
Above Average Man: [whispering] ...escape.
The camera jolts again as Above Average Man rips back to reality and starts trudging on. The silence builds for several moments before Above Average Man begins to spill his thoughts, much as a drunk to an attractive woman at a party.
Above Average Man: I know what it's like to be a prisoner. I've been a prisoner of this body, trapped as the small man whom everyone picks on. Unable to do anything to change my situation, and having to learn to deal with what I am. I've been a prisoner of a bed as my neck folded and I found myself unable to walk. But I ended up dragging myself out, crawling on my hands and knees to an arena that didn't want me, so that I could face off in my first ever Hardcore matchup. I hate hardcore stuff. I've been a prisoner of the bottle for a long time. There, I think I may have escaped. I haven't had a drink for three days. That's a big step for me. But I guess I need a clear head to prepare for a match like this. The worst thing though is how I've been a prisoner of wrestling. How, after you claw your way to where you're something in this business, you refuse to give it up. I wouldn't say I've been successful; I haven't had the opportunities to do so, but I'd say that I've put in too much hard work to walk away now. I guess turning my back on wrestling would leave my life empty. It's all I have any more. But after this tournament, that's all going to change. I'll be a champion. I'll be someone that the world can look up to. And I'll bring that Last Man Standing title belt back to Ottumwa, walk myself down the street to see one Jennifer Hopwood, and ask her to marry me. Maybe I wasn't willing to pull my life out of the gutter for me, but for her, I'd face the devil himself.
Above Average Man pauses for a moment, filming the passing of a hippy painted bus. A little snort is heard as Above Average Man exhales through his nose, almost seeing happiness in it's occupants.
Above Average Man: I'd lose, but I'd still do it.
Above Average Man marches onward. There is another elongated silent pause as the cars stop for several moments. Above Average Man walks through the perfect silence, drooping the camera down. It takes in the scene only of the road ahead of him, the rolling white line never changing.
Above Average Man: Everyone wants to win this thing for their own reasons. Maybe I do have the best motivation, but what does that really amount to. The end result means nothing if you lose yourself on the path there. I've got to stay better focused. Wrestling is all I have. Even if I hate it, I'd better do it well.
The sod has spoken
Above Average Man sets down the camera on the ground in front of him. Running his fingers over it for a moment, he falls upon the glowing red power light. Then the button next to it. Above Average Man seems to hold his breath and close his eyes as he presses it gently and the camera cuts to black.
The camera opens on with an extreme closeup of Above Average Man's face. He looks a bit puzzled as he fiddles with the buttons just off the camera screen, trying to straighten out the picture. The sound cuts to static, then the picture goes fuzzy as the sound returns. After a moment, everything returns to normal, but in black and white. Above Average Man looks into the side window, nodding at the results.
Above Average Man: Not what I was trying for, but much more appropriate.
Above Average Man pans the camera around, showing the black webbing and the handleless doors from inside the back seat of a squad car. They have left him his camera, basically because he seemed barely able to hold it. Above Average Man mumbles into the camera, in an obvious bad mood.
Above Average Man: Apparently, that fraud of Icecold thinks I've robbed him. He put a warrant out on me, or some bullshit like that. There are so many loopholes in his claims that I know it will never stand up, but still, it comes at an incovieniant time. When I should be thinking about the most important match of my career, I have to worry about drownding in a sea of red tape. As long as I'm on camera, I want to go on the record as saying...
Above Average Man clears his throat politely, wanting to sound his best since he seems positive this will be brought into court. Licking his chapped lips, he takes a deep breath and gathers his thoughts, trying to come up with the perfect way to phrase this.
Above Average Man: Icecold is full of shit.
Above Average Man smiles, knowing that his statement won't be censored in court, and everyone will get to hear the blunt truth about Icecold. Above Average Man runs his fingers through his hair, keeping it back out of his eyes, and tries to maintain an outside level of professionalism, rather than letting these accusations make things very personal. He takes a few deep breaths, gathering his thoughts again.
Above Average Man: Now I want to defend myself against Icecold, since I'm not going to let that immature little punk get away with saying these things, but I can just tell that he thrives off the attention. So I'm going to make my statement about Icecold, then turn back to the tournament like this whole nasty thing never happened. I've got more important things to concentrate on. First, I'd like to call into question the act. Icecold claims I stole from him. All I can say is that with where I've been, what I've been doing, and no more than I know about this guy and the official mumbo jumbo of the Last Man Standing tournament, that's impossible. I'm just not smart enough to pull that off. I'm a drop out. I know nothing about really anything other than wrestling. And I don't let my job get personal. Icecold's just another opponent. An exceptionally annoying one, yes, but he's just another of the millions of faces I've seen. I've been wrestling for a long time, and I do not think that Icecold is some sort of outstanding competitor that I would need to cheat to beat. Cheating has never been my style. Yes, I take shortcuts. Yes, I fight to win. But just as with Alien, I'd rather lose to a great competitor, than win a match that I didn't deserve. I could live with another loss. No big deal. At least in losing to the best in the world, there is no shame. Then again, I'm speaking of the best in the world, like Carter Hayes, Dickie Wreenkle, and Rain. Icecold isn't even close to that level of skill. And if I planned on being underhanded before the match, it most definately would have been towards someone who was an actual threat. Not someone who I've got so off his gameplan that all he can do stare blankly at a television with me on it. I'd never thought I was anything special, but for some reason Icecold devotes alot of his time and attention to me. He's played back two of my interviews in full on the air. Hey, double publicity. Thanks bud. Although people get so wrapped up in listening to Executioner and Bahadur, they forget that Icecold's even there. When Icecold goes on the air, more footage will be shown of his opponents then himself. I guess he's just always living five minutes in the past, one step behind us. That's why he doesn't have a prayer.
Above Average Man is notably becoming angry. He sets the camera down next to him, and turns to face the scenary. Several minutes pass by before he feels calmed again. He turns back to the camera, his composure regained, and picks the camera back up.
Above Average Man: I've got to keep a level head about this. It's cool. Everyone knows that Icecold's just trying to make himself look important. I'm the only one who's even noticed he exists. Stay calm. Got to stay calm. Okay. Unlike Bahadur, Exx, and Fallen, who let their rage fuel them, I don't let my emotions get involved in the ring. They just cloud your thoughts. Emotions are what tell you to attack, to the point you leave yourself open. Emotions make you center on the opponent you hate or fear, rather than the one most vulnrable. Without a level head, I'm as good as toast. There are fifteen opponents in this match, each one without a face. I don't care if it's my brother, Alien; the man I respect, Carter; or the man I dispise, Icecold; this match is just a match. I'll never seen half these people again. It's about proving myself. It's about doing the best I can, and seeing if that's good enough. I entered this tournament to see if I really amount to anything in the grand scheme of things, not to get caught up in an seven day feud. Icecold, I'm glad to say that after our match on Sunday, I'll never have to see you again. You'll disappear into the obscurity of whatever indy fed you crawled out of, and I'll either walk home with my head held high, or hung in defeat. But I'll know exactly how good I am. That's why I started out in Last Man Standing. This is my chance to prove what a competitor I can be in the ring. Icecold, on Sunday you lose your face. On Sunday, you're just another body. I'm not going to give you any more concern than any other opponent. However, you seem to have some sort of thing for gunning straight for the top guys. Well, I hope you know what you're doing. Because you've picked the handfull of guys that stand a chance of winning this, and given them all a slap in the face. Some turn the other cheek. Some ignore it. But I just lick my wounds and wait for the chance to slap you back.
The sod has spoken.
The car pulls to a hault in front of the Ottumwa Police Station. Above Average Man looks up the flight of stone steps and walks a differant path in life. For the first time ever, he's gotten someone's attention. Too bad that man is a start raving idiot. Fade to black.
The camera opens outside of a YMCA where Above Average Man sits, a pile of change at his feet. His gym bag is to his left and one hand rest comfortably on it. Above Average Man looks up at the dimming night sky, his eyes blankly gazing off into space. As an elderly couple leaves the building with their grandchildren, the woman pauses to drop a quarter next to Above Average Man. He looks up into her sparkling eyes and thanks her. As the people walk away, Above Average Man fingers over the change again, finally counting up enough.
Above Average Man: Okay, finally.
Above Average Man scrapes the change together into his palms and walks through the large glass doors. He drops the change on the receptionists desk and she tries to feign a smile.
woman: Have a nice time.
Above Average Man: Whatever.
Above Average Man steps into the weight room, the stench of sweat overpowering. Oddly though, it seems more of these men are disturbed by Above Average Man then he of them. He bipasses the equipment entirely, walking onwards into the shower room. Above Average Man drops his gym bag on a small wooden bench turns back to the camera.
Above Average Man: Everyone always loves to make their comparisons. How they're like a man possessed, or how they'll be an uncontrollable monster. Me, I like that control. I like to keep a level head. I've got alot to worry about in the ring, I don't need to let my emotions getting ahold of me. I've got fifteen faceless opponents. Regardless of who you are, it's just a job. I'm not letting it get personal. I'm staying in control. And while everyone gets in touch with their hardcore roots, becoming like warriors of old, I'll just look at what best describes me.
Above Average Man holds up a bar of soap in his dirty hands. The lather rubs off as a cleansing brown, taking away several weeks of dirt. Above Average Man digs his fingernails into the bar, the white of soap layering with the black of so much crud under his nails. Lather slips out between his fingers.
Above Average Man: I'm a bar of soap. That's how I win a match like this.
Above Average Man peels off his Frustrated Inc shirt, the sweat gleaming unattractively on his body. He begins to run the bar of soap repeatedly over a lock of hair from his bangs, lacking both soap and shampoo.
Above Average Man: What the hell, right? Well, it actually makes alot of sense. I'm small. I'm easily overlooked, especially when you're in a hurry or you've got something important to do. I'm not exactly something to be feared, and I'm easily replaced. But, and this is where I see my advantages, I have a way of wriggling out of your grasp at the most annoying times, and if you don't watch where I'm at every moment, I can really trip you up.
Above Average Man works a good soap lather over his hair, the grease slipping down his hands and over his forearms. Soap drips down his dirty chest and onto his cargo pants. Above Average Man opts not to remove them, as it's been several weeks since he washed his clothes either. Running the bar of soap over his arms, he looks back to the camera.
Above Average Man: Now I'm not fast, so I'm not your every day lightweight. In fact, most people have never had to face a man like me. If there's one thing I am, it's surprising. It's hard to find a man this young with this much of a grip on reality. Man, it's hard to find anyone who isn't hardcore in this day and age. I guess all my mat skills are lost in this type of scenerio, but that's okay. In a battle royal, I do actually very little wrestling. I pick my spots. Like everything in life, it all comes down to timing. And timing is what a technician is all about.
The sod has spoken
The camera pulls back as Above Average Man turns his back. Above Average Man drapes his shirt on the ground, standing atop it and letting the shower wash his clothes as well. Rinsing the soap from his hair, he slicks it back out of his eyes and turns back to the camera, his clean white flesh looking surprisingly good. His black hair sits neatly behind his ears, making it look several inches shorter than it actually is. Above Average Man brushes the water from his eyes, stepping out from under the shower spout and directly under the single light. He looks nice.
Above Average Man: I can really look nice when I want to. Normally there isn't a point, but this time, Jenny might be watching. I'll do you proud, babe. I'm almost home.
Fade to black
Above Average Man stumbles to the door of the FWF Last Man Standing arena, clutching his back in pain. His battered gym bag sits at his side. The left leg of his cargo pants is torn from his frantic struggle to break a grip on him in last night's match. Above Average Man rests his forehead against the door for a moment, pausing to breath one last taste of the sweat of so many greats. He turns to face the camera, standing just inside the doors. Looking up, there are tears running down his face. With his right hand, he tugs his hair back out of his eyes, holding it on the crown of his head. A bead of salty water gathers in the facial growth on Above Average Man's chin as his tears flow down, clinging to the hair before they drip onto his tattered GCW shirt. Up the hall, a man is packing Last Man Standing merchandise, tearing down his cart until next Saturday. Above Average Man sees the final steps of the night, still shocked at the realization of events.
Above Average Man: I still can't believe it. I survived. Fifteen of the best men in the world, including the only man who's ever beat me, and I came out on top. I never thought a day like this would come. I've struggled for so long and so hard. I've got so much riding on this tournament. I need this. And it happened. For a while, I didn't think I'd even be able to make it to the match. I figured Hamid wouldn't want to have anything to do with me after the stunt that fake Icecold pulled. I was sure I was going to rot behind bars forever. Then I just get let go. Icecold printed a retraction, but that wasn't what did it. Titan Bahadur drove all the way to the middle-of-nowhere, Iowa, and bailed me out of jail. If anyone deserves that title, it's him. It takes a certain kind of man to help the opposition, just so he can say he's done it without any help. Titan, standing alone against you in that ring was something I never wanted to do. In any other match, you would have won. Honestly, I think this was Karma. I've just got so much riding on this tournament, I've got to win it. That's all there is to it. If I fail, I can't go back to my promotion with one more loss. I won't have anywhere else to go back to. And when I'm this close to finally having something, I can't imagine failing now. I've been second best all my life. Now it's time for me to drag my ass out of the gutters and make something of myself. You, Bahadur, have been fighting your demons as well. And I hope you find your peace, because, though you, I have a chance to find mine. For once in my life, I have a chance to be respected by the world. This is something I've always wanted. It's not about the title. It's about a life coming full circle. Titan, I want to thank you for what you've done for me. And believe me when I tell you this, I'll get you your money back.
Above Average Man walks over to the merchandising cart. The vendor looks at this battered man and at first shrugs him off, before turning back for a moment with a strange look of realization. Above Average Man rummages through his pockets, taking out a single dollar bill, then several dollars in change. Counting through the dozens of dimes, the man stares at Above Average Man for a moment, looking as if he wants to say something, but doesn't want to sound stupid. Above Average Man continues to count the last of his change, reaching the three dollar mark, then looks up at the man.
Above Average Man: What. Something wrong? Oh, I bet you're closed. Sorry man.
The man holds out his arm, catching Above Average Man by the shoulder as he turns to leave. Above Average Man spins around, surprised, and the vendor looks at him very oddly.
vendor: No, wait. Um, excuse me. I know this sounds stupid, but aren't you one of the guys who won tonight? C Plus or something?
Above Average Man: Yeah, Above Average Man. Probably better recognized as Number Fourty-One. I mean, I'm just anoth-
vendor: No way, man. You represent so much to all of us. I mean, you're everything.
Above Average Man: Who's "all of us"?
vendor: You know, us, the working class. The little guy who gets ignored every day. The faceless man pounding away at the cash register or the steel mill, just trying to make a living. You're not like these other guys. You don't say how perfect you are. You stayed in touch with your roots. You're for real, man.
Above Average Man: Listen, bud. You give me way too much credit. I don't do this to be a hero. I'm just trying to get by. I've failed at everything else. I mean, this is all I've got l-
vendor: Exactly. Do you think I chose to get stuck in this dead end job? I'm here because I've got a wife and kid to feed, and I'd do anything to scrape by. I hate jockeying a counter like a high school drop out. I wish I could do something differant, but I'm stuck in this rut. And there's no way for me to get out.
Above Average Man shakes his head in awe. The man scrambles around, looking over his boxes. He turns back to Above Average Man, a puzzled look on his face. Above Average Man nods understandingly.
Above Average Man: You're not going to find anything about me. I'm not exactly a marketer's dream. Just another guy.
Above Average Man takes a deep breath, as if he's considering something drastic. He leans over, opening the gym bag with the zipper broken off. Out of it, he removes a small doll. It's the OWF series II Above Average Man action figure. It's been taken out of the box, and the included Cruiserweight Title belt and whiskey bottle are long since lost, but Above Average Man sets the figure down on the counter, letting out a sigh. The vendor picks it up.
vendor: Whoa. Shit, this must be like a collector's item or something. How many of these do you got?
Above Average Man: Just the one. It's not exactly something I'm proud of. I got it when I bought an Omega. Above Average Mans: free with every purchase. They couldn't give the things away.
vendor: What's wrong with them?
Above Average Man: Squeeze his legs.
The vendor squeezes the doll's legs together while Above Average Man hangs his head in shame. The doll does an action similar to the old battle damage He-Mans. His chest flips around, revealing an identical shirt only with vomit splattered down the front, while the doll's head clicks forward and hangs low. The vendor starts to laugh, while Above Average Man shakes his head in disgust.
Above Average Man: That's really how people see me.
The vendor realizes how serious Above Average Man takes this blow to his pride, and gains his composure almost immediately. The vendor notices now the handfull of change that Above Average Man had presented earlier. He breaks the uncomfortable silence with a more professional question.
vendor: So, was there something you wanted? I mean, I'm supposed to be closed, but I bet I can dig it up.
Above Average Man: Forget it. I don't have enough money anyways.
Above Average Man starts to turn, but the vendor stops him. The vendor looks genuinely sorry for the blow to his pride, wanting to somehow comfort the vagrant wrestler. He runs his hand over the counter, resting his fingers over a black marker.
vendor: Well, um, if you would, I don't know, sign this figure or something, I guess we could make a deal. I mean, autographed shit sells like hotcakes. I'll make my money back.
Above Average Man: Sure.
Above Average Man spins around, taking the marker in his right hand and scratching out a C+ over the figures back. The vendor smiles, setting the figure down behind the counter.
vendor: Thanks man. So, what did you want?
Above Average Man: One Titan Bahadur t-shirt.
The vendor digs a shirt out from one of the boxes which reads Horde across the shoulders on the back. On the chest, it has a picture of Titan wearing his full suit of armour, a dramatic gleam drawn off of his left shoulder. Below him in block letters it's printed "The Bahadur". Above Average Man peels out of his GCW Shirt and drops it into his gym bag, dawning Titan's emblem. He turns, walking towards the end of the hall. The vendor waves in the distance, as he blurs out. The camera comes to focus on Above Average Man face. He has a look of emptiness, still in shock over his upset.
Above Average Man: Well, I guess it's down to me and Markovitch. Funny, I had him picked as one of the men I was most likely to be facing in this match, but I had us both down the card a little ways. I guess I didn't give either one of us enough credit. But now I've got to focus solely on one man. Eldar, let's give them one heck of a show.
The sod has spoken.
Above Average Man reaches the double doors, exiting the arena. He places a hand on either one of them, pushing them gently. The incredably bright rays of the sun shine in, blinding everything as Above Average Man's body shifts to a sillouette. The entire camera shifts to white, fading off into the brightness of the light.
The camera opens on Above Average Man sitting on a bus stop bench. It's around midnight in Ottumwa, Iowa, so it's highly unpractical for him to be there. No buses will show until nearly noon the next day. Above Average Man sits their silently, his gym bag on the bench next to him and his wrestling boots laying at his feet. His left foot is up on top of the bench, where he rubs the arch, trying to ease the pain of all the walking he does. Far down the street to the right, a stop light switches from green, to yellow, then finally to red. The bus stop lights up a little further as a car pulls to a hault before the red light, it's headlights illuminating the entire street. The scene stays frozen in time for just a moment, until the light shifts back to green and the car passes by, leaving Above Average Man again in the shadows of night. Above Average Man turns in his seat, looking over the back of the bench to face the camera. His hair whisps back out of his face with the cool night breeze. Above Average Man licks his lips.
Above Average Man: Now Eldar, you say you've been preparing for this match since the tournament was first announced. Back in your division, you had your eyes focused here. During your battle royal, your sights were set higher. Now the future you've been planning for for so long is finally the present. You've reached the last match of the largest wrestling tournament ever. It's you and me alone to determine who is truely the Last Man Standing. Me and you, Eldar, couldn't be more differant. The things I avoid with every essense of my being, are the things you say have propelled you to the top. And you've claimed two things that you say no one else can rival you with. Determination and ego. Those are your strong suits. That is what has carried you this far, and that is what you feel will take you to the top. Eldar, determination is a powerful thing; when you're willing to win at any cost, you are a hard man to beat. But you highly underestimate the competition. Other men have worked just as hard, if not harder, than us in this tournament.
Above Average Man straightens out his The Bahadur shirt, allowing Titan's picture to glow with the passing of another car. The armour seems to shine even brighter as the lights of the car fall upon Above Average Man, then continue onwards down the street, before disappearing around the next corner. Above Average Man looks down at the picture of Titan with a sollemn reverance.
Above Average Man: Just getting into this tournament involved an incredable amount of hard work. Then winning your division involved beating three differant men. It was well known that if you lost even one of those matches, your chances of making it to the finals dropped exponentially. But, as is always true with battle royals, the best man does not always come out on top. Alot is in luck, when other people eliminate your chief competition for you and your own risks are diminished. Alot is in profile, as the greatest of the wrestlers are the ones who are ganged up on. You know what it's like to face more than one man at once, Eldar; you were just forced into a handicapped match in the FWF. That is two on one, and the odds are highly against your favor. What happens when it's three on one? Or four on one? Neither you nor myself was picked as the favorite to win our matches. We both rose from obscurity by being overlooked by the competition. Men far more determined to win this tournament have fallen in matches with us, and sadly, it wasn't at our hands. They eliminated each other; we just cleaned up what's left. Determination is a powerful thing, and now that it's just you and I, determination could work as quite the advantage for you. I know how badly you want this. But with all your "unrivaled determination", I don't think you realize how badly I want this.
Above Average Man turns back around in his seat, resting a hand on his gym bag. The stoplight up the street changes to red again, bathing the bench in it's crimson light. Above Average Man looks to his gym bag, then shakes his head No, whispering to himself. He puts his leg down, lacing up his wrestling boots, pulling each of them extra tight around the ankles for the added support. As he leans forward, his hair falls from grace, toppling over his ears and into his eyes, resting on his lips. He gets a look of irritation, exhaling sharply to blow the hair out of his face, but it bobs forward, then promptly returns. Above Average Man finishes lacing up his boots, turning back to the camera with a look of focus.
Above Average Man: I've got alot at stake in this one match. Riding on this tournament is the fate of my federation, as the president has insisted that no one in his promotion has the dedication he would need to see to believe that everything is worth his effort. This tournament was his task, assigning his best men to it to see if we had the determination to succeed when everything was on the line. Viper fell short. Hammer did as well. Alien tried his hardest, but his efforts were not enough. But for myself, things fell into place. I am here, standing only inches away from success. Truely, the weight of my entire world rests of my shoulders, and I have allies and enemies alike depending on me to win this match. You claim to have the ability to walk through one hundred twenty-seven men to win this tournament. That is something I can not say. But I do believe that if I try my hardest, I can walk through nineteen men to claim that same honor. I can't say that I've beaten such greats as Dickie Wreenkle or Happy Clown. I never stepped into a ring with Hammer or Viper. I beat three men in my division. I hold a win over fifteen more from the battle royal. And then I face you. I'm not going to deny the significance of these accomplishments, but when you say Bragging Rights, you definately mean Bragging. It's sad that with such a prize in your grasp, you still need to lie to yourself to feel confident. Making it this far is quite the accomplishment in itself. I'm just sorry that you can't take things for face value. Your determination to be the best has blinded you to the truth. The truth is, even the men we've personally beat, we are no better than. Dozens of people in this tournament showed the potential to win it all. And any one of them could beat either of us on any given day. Anyone can be beaten, Eldar. That is something that we both know all too well.
Above Average Man stands, rested well enough to continue another cross country trek to the next arena. He slings his gym bag over his shoulder, stepping off the curb and onto the side of the street. The camera follows him, walking along the sidewalk and filming him walking through the gutters of this rural Iowa community. Above Average Man steps over a sewer grate with a slight hop in his step, and speaks to the camera, his gaze still focused forward at his inevitable goal.
Above Average Man: The horizon. I know I'll never reach it, but I just keep on trying. Walking day after day. It doesn't take determination to stand up, head held high after a victory, and claim that you shall soon know another. True determination is the man who pulls himself up after a defeat and tries his hardest to do better next time. Even if I win this thing, and even if the name Above Average Man is forever etched into the history books, the name Bryan Barnes will be lost as I step out of the arena. I'd rather people knew the man than know of the legend. I never asked to live forever as a legend. I only want to live my life in happiness. Wrestling is all I have right now. I would hope that I won't fail there too. Determination. It's a beautiful thing. I can't argue how important it is. And I'm not going to argue who has more. I'm just concentrating on the match at hand, and everything I've got riding on it. And I'll do my best.
The sod has spoken.
Above Average Man turns, his back now facing the camera. He steps out further into the street, not looking either way. The empty night streets of Iowa are nearly always safe. Jaywalking to the opposite side, Above Average Man pads onwards down the side street. Limbs from several large trees hang out over the sidewalk in front of an enormous Victorian style house. They form a canopy, blocking out the street lights. Above Average Man steps into their blanket of darkness and disappears from the camera's view. The camera slowly closes in on the inky blackness where Above Average Man disappeared until the entire screen is engulfed in the shadows. Fade to black.
The camera opens on the outside of a local Kum 'N Go somewhere in rural Illinois. Above Average Man sits on the curb outside of the door, a pack of Marlboro 100s resting next to him on the cold concrete. Above Average Man's palm rests on the ground, his fingertips touching the plastic of the unopened pack. He looks up at the chilly night sky and shivers for a moment, his body generating it's own heat. Stars wink out one by one as the night sky grows later and later. Above Average Man looks down at the picture of Titan Bahadur on his shirt. It almost looks as if Titan is gazing off into the heavens as well. Shaking his head much in the ways of a dog, Above Average Man casts his hair back out of his face. He tips his chin upward, staring blankly into the sky and the heavens almost seem to be gazing back at him. He smiles, knowing that it won't be long until he is once again in the ring, doing the only thing he knows how to do. The jingle of a bell is heard, breaking the perfect silence, as a customer steps from the gas station door. A pornographic magazine rests under his arm in a brown paper bag and he walks briskly to his car, seeming almost paranoid of being seen with his purchase. Above Average Man's gaze drops from the heavens and falls upon this man as he climbs into his red Jeep Wrangler and the engire roars. Headlights flip on as the man carefully backs out of his perpendicularly parked space, ignoring the fact there are no other cars present. The jeep pulls back, then shifts into drive and kicks up gravel as it cuts through the breakdown lane and into the empty street. Above Average Man watches as the jeep disappears in the distance.
Above Average Man: Now that's a damn shame. A man who tries so desparately to hide what he is, ashamed that the world might know the real him. Way too many people put on a fascade in these days, trying to be something they're not in hopes it will impress someone. Life isn't something to be glamorized. We all have our shortcomings. Even Eldar Markovitch has had those mornings where you wake up and shake your head in defeat. But now he seems to block those times out. As if, by insisting time and time again that he refuses to lose, he can somehow convince fate that this match must belong to him. Oh, but there is no fate. There is no destiny. Only Karma. You get what you deserve. And Eldar, that rests true for you as much as the next guy. You've worked hard to get where you are, just like I have. But the differances between us are just too great. You continue to insist that you will win. I continue to know that anything can happen. Differance one. You're an optimist, while I'm a realist. I take the world for what it is. You take the world for what you want it to be. Sure, you'll be happier. But that is why people lie to themselves, isn't it? Keep telling yourself that you will win the tournament. I like a confident opponent. They get so flustered when things go wrong. Eldar, I've got a million reasons why you should be worried about this match. The most obvious one is this; I've won the exact same matches you have through this tournament. You say how I was a long shot, and I fully agree with you. It wasn't thought that I would make it to the battle royal. It wasn't thought that I could come out anywhere near the top. It sure wasn't thought that I'd walk out first, and be squaring off against the likes of you in the finals. This entire tournament has been me proving myself time and time again, and still not getting any credit. And now, Eldar, you think that it's just too much of a long shot for a no one like me to walk out as the winner of it all. All I've got left is you, bud; the long shot has long since passed. I've done things that I doubted alot more than this match here. And you, sir, have a few definate problems of your own to overcome. I've never been involved in anything like this before. I've never seen success of this magnitude. No one in the world, including myself, knows what I'm capable of now. I've opened my own eyes even with this tournament, and I'm not backing down. Me and you couldn't be more differant, and both ways have worked thusfar. You can demene me all you want, but I know how hard I've been working. And Eldar, I deserve this far more than you give me credit for.
Above Average Man picks up his pack of cigarettes, peeling the plastic wrapping off and crumpling it up in his right hand. He drops it on the sidewalk next to him, flipping open the top of the box and inhaling deep the fumes of tobacco. The pressure scent of the slow death he's been knowing for oh-so-long. Above Average Man pulls off the front foil peice, then rips away at the rear one, and pauses for a moment. With one deep breath, he blows the brownish flecks of tobacco from the filters, clearing off the pack. Then very slowly and very deliberately, Above Average Man draws out the middle cigarette from the front row, turning it upside down, and sliding it back into the pack. Above Average Man taps the bottom of the pack, jarring one of the filters up only slightly higher than the others. He draws this cigarette out, placing it firmly between his lips. Plunging his hand into the thigh pocket of his cargo pants, Above Average Man produces a book of matches. He strikes one, it's flames glowing and illuminating his face as he takes the deep inhaling breath that ignites the first cigarette.
Above Average Man: Eldar, you seem to think that you're the only one who's had to work to get this far in the tournament. And you believe that you're the only one worthy of the honor of being the Last Man Standing. You've got yourself all "psyched out", and you say you're willing to do anything in your power to win this tournament. Well, that's how I approach every match. You give your all. Every wrestler does. And if you think that being willing to put forth your full effort for a match is something special, then you haven't been around the block near enough times. Or maybe it's that you usually fight half heartedly, and now you're finally going to step it up a notch. I don't know. Don't really care, either. I come to every match being willing to do whatever it takes to win. And I've fought dozens of opponents with that same mentality. Each and every one of those matches had a loser, and it wasn't someone who just felt like losing that day. Everyone tries. You give yourself way to much credit for being something special. But it was you, yourself, that said ego carries you through matches. That a wrestler without an ego, without that mentality of insisting he was going to win every match, could never win. I am living proof that you were wrong, Eldar. I've never claimed myself as better than anyone, not even people I've beat before. Your ego makes you believe you're some sort of superior man who will win because you refuse to lose. But honestly, how much choice do you really have in that. You admit you've been beaten before, and that it could happen again. Did you want to be beaten before? I'd wager not. Did you want to win? Most likely. Did you believe you could win? Knowing you, I'd say yes. But you fell short. It's nothing to be ashamed of. It's called reality. There was only one perfect man, and he died two thousand years ago. You, Eldar, are simply a meglomaniac with some decent wrestling skills. You think your ego is your weapon, whereas, I see it as your Achilles Heel.
Above Average Man lays back on the sidewalk, taking in another deep drag off his cigarette. Holding the lungfull of poison deep inside himself, he counts out the seconds by tapping his index finger on the pack of cigarettes. One. Two. Three. Four. He exhales, breathing out a mist of thick smoke which clouds his face for a moment. Laying flat on his back, he gazes up past the eve of the gas station and again into the stars. Above Average Man raises an arm, extending his finger to point out The North Star which he uses to navigate his cross country trips by. As the camera pans upwards to have it's gaze fall upon the North Star as well, Above Average Man speaks very calmly, relaxed by the cool night air and beautiful sky.
Above Average Man: That's Beatlejuicia, the closest star to the Earth with the exception of the sun. Next to it, to the West, that's Clorin. It's about seventy billion miles further out than Beatlejuicia. So Beatlejucia shines brighter. Alot like you. You see, you're the major star. And me, I'm the little one. I'm the one that gets overlooked or lost in the shuffle. But it's not about one star, Eldar. Look up there. There are millions of stars. And even the brightest star gets lost in a field like that. Eldar, we're both just part of a picture. This tournament is bigger than any one man. It's not about you. It's not about me. It's not even about us meeting in the ring this Sunday. It's all about a tournament, that with it's presense, managed to bring together the greatest superstars on the planet and put them all in the same place. That's the real feat. I'm honored to have even been a part of it. I'm extatic to have done this well. But if I win, and carry home that little plastic trophey to show to Jenny, it won't be about Above Average Man. We're not going to live on, forever etched in the history books. This tournament is. We'll just be one man out of dozens. That's what life's about. Finding the place where you fit in, and finding a way to be happy there. Wrestling has been all I have for a long time now. After all the work I've put into it, after all I've given up to do this, I ought to be good at it. But I've tasted defeat just like every other man, so I keep it all in perspective. Anyone can be beaten, Eldar. You admitted that yourself. So if you simply refuse to be beaten, then perhaps I will have to spend Sunday night persuading you otherwise. After all, it isn't up to you if you can be beaten. It's up to me. And I think that I'm willing to do every last ounce of work it takes, and give up everything else in order to show you the way. Humility over ego. Walk softly and carry a big stick.
The sod has spoken.
Above Average Man lifts his
cigarette from his lips, casting it off into the parking lot with
a flick of his index finger. A chilly night wind blows by,
sending the filter rolling off down the lot and into the gutter.
The camera closes in on it as it floats along in a small stream
of water, then vanishes into a sewer grate. Raising gently, the
camera takes in the vision of the night sky, as the stars twinkle
in the distance. A weather balloon slowly raises above them,
black against the night sky, and blocks out Beatlejuicia; the
major star. The light of the starry skies shines just as bright
without it. Fade to black.
LACK OF FOCUS
The camera opens on Above Average Man standing at a crosswalk. He presses the dummy button with his index finger, changing the light to Walk. Roughly two seconds after stepping off the curb, the light turns back to Don't Walk, as usually. Above Average Man sprints to the opposite side of the street, dispite the fact that no cars are anywhere in sight. As the stop light turns from red to green, the Horde emblem across the back of his shirt shines out. Above Average Man turns back around, facing the camera so Titan's picture can reflect the dim flash bulb which sits atop the shoulder mount. Above Average Man leans against the stop light post, his knee giving a pop sound as he pauses on his journey for a brief rest. As the camera pulls back, it takes into view Hardees. Above Average Man walks across their parking lot, weaving in between the three cars that remain there (presumably employees). He steps into the drive through, sitting down on the grass on the opposite side and staring up at the drive through menu. Because of his small frame, he doesn't trigger the weight sensor designed for cars. He sits across the drive through, just staring for a moment, deciding what he wants.
Above Average Man: Life's just about deciding what you want, and what you're willing to give to get it. And life's about the present. The future doesn't mean anything. Who says we'll even be alive tomorrow. Being remembered as a permanent part of history? Who cares. I sure as hell don't. Had I not battled through this tournament myself, I wouldn't care who won. But that's the way life is, I guess. Live in the now. Enjoy what's right here before you. And what that is, is a chance to stand in the spotlight and earn a bit of respect. Eldar, you can concentrate on fifty years from now the stories you'll tell your grandkids, but all I can think about is the present. This Sunday, when I meet you in the ring in the most important match of my life. That's all I can think about. Well, that, and getting some supper. Let's see. I've got three dollars thirty four cents. What will that get me?
Above Average Man continues to scan the menu, mumbling to himself and doing some rudementary math on his fingers. Counting over his change again, Above Average Man sets down a pile of coins to his left, counting out the second half and scanning the menu again. After several minutes of carefully arranging prices, Above Average Man stands up, walking over to the speaker and leaning in so his mouth is only inches away.
Above Average Man: Excuse me, I'd like to order.
The voice on the opposite side seems surprised, as the weight sensors were never triggered. A woman leans out the window next to the cash register and spots him, adjusting her headset as she slips back inside. He's only another vagrant who doens't wish to walk inside. The static sound begins as she turns on her microphone, giving the rehearsed greeting to their customer.
lady through speaker: Thank you choosing Hardees, would you like to try a Value Meal?
Above Average Man puts in no pause, immediately beginning his order and completely ignoring her suggestion. He looks at the menu sternly as he focuses on the task at hand.
Above Average Man: I'd like a Hamburger, just ketchup, and a medium Fries. That will be all.
lady through speaker: That's one hamburger, just ketchup, and a medium fries, would you like anything to drink tonight?
Above Average Man once again gives no pause, while repeating himself in a firmly set manner.
Above Average Man: That will be all.
lady through speaker: Your total comes to three thirty four. Thank you, please drive through.
Above Average Man steps away from the speaker, walking through the path designed for automobiles. Reaching the window, he sets his change out on the ledge, carefully divided by types: pennies, nickels, quarters, dimes. The stack of dimes seems to consist of the majority of the money, as that's what people usually hand out on street corners. Above Average Man turns back to the camera, leaning up against the window as he waits for his food. A car drives by the emptied streets of Colona and it's headlights illuminate Titan's face on Above Average Man's t-shirt once more. Above Average Man looks down at Titan, seeing the focus in his eyes. Titan's gaze, firmly fixed upwards and towards the right, Above Average Man tries to strike a similar pose.
Above Average Man: Focus makes up alot when it comes to wrestling. You have to be able to concentrate only on the thing at hand. You have to be able to leave everything else behind, knowing only your opponent and the match. The man who lives only for wrestling is the most dangerous of opponents. And Eldar, you know that's what we both are. You don't give me my due, saying that I am the fluke. I'm the nobody while you are the major star. But we come into this match on even terms. And I have one very obvious advantage that the opponents both you and I have faced point out on quite the regular basis. I have focus. This tournament, this match, is all that matters to me. You, Eldar, are the center of every thought I have. I have everything riding on this. It all comes down to beating you. I need this win. Without it, I start over from scratch once more, fading completely into obscurity. I don't know if I have it in me to begin anew. I need this too much. But you, you seem comfortable in your station. You refuse to lose this match, just like any other. And that stubborn attitude is supposed to carry you to another victory? I think not. Your efforts are too divided. You have many things in your life. And even if the Last Man Standing tournament was your top priority, the little distractions are getting in the way. This isn't just what I want most. This is all I want. Every thought I have is geared towards you and this one match. No one fighs the flawless match. And while you prepare for the differant styles of Justin and Joel, of FrenchFry and Live, of Extreme T and myself, you leave weak points. Something gets neglected. You would do much better to shut out everything else. But you can't do that. You enjoy your limelight too much. You won't step back into the shadows and be forgotten in the FWF, in order to win this tournament. Too many things other than me clutter up your mind. And those distractions will cost you.
The window opens and the lady looks out. Above Average Man doesn't turn around to face her, instead keeping his unsettling gaze fixated on the camera. He guestures over his shoulder with his thumb, pointing down at the money on the ledge. The lady sweeps it in, counting out Above Average Man's money down to the last cent. The window closes as the food continues to prepare. Above Average Man is given no change.
Above Average Man: You won't be able to get everything you want unless you're willing to give up everything to get it. You've got a title to defend. You've got grudges to settle. Your life is broad and encompasses a wide spectrum of people. I'm just another faceless man in your career. No one special. Coming all the way to the finals of this tournament hasn't won your respect, yet you think winning one final match against "a longshot who got lucky" is going to win you some infinite respect. That's one match. We've both done great things. But in the total view of the world, it doesn't amount to anything. You're deluding yourself. This tournament means nothing to me right now. Only this match. On this match, I've got everything riding. But you, it's just one of several matches. And your "most" isn't more than my "everything". Without this focus, you're going to come up short somewhere. And I'll do anything to make sure it happens on Sunday.
The sod has spoken.
The window slides open and the lady shoves a small brown sack into Above Average Man's back. He turns, snatching it up in his left hand, and walks on down the drive through. His footsteps pad softly against the concrete as he reaches the street. He pauses for a moment, leaning against the Exit sign. Moths batter theirselves against the glowing sign and red letters. Above Average Man looks back to the camera for a moment.
Above Average Man: For being so Extreme, you certainly don't have the devotion to this match to win. Extreme isn't beating your opponent with a chair. Extreme is getting up after a two hour beating, because you still refuse to lay down. You're not giving everything to this match, and you aren't going to able to go through this war. You'd better pull out all the hardcore stops, because I'd rather die then watch everything I know crumble over my defeat. Eldar, feds come and go. Opponents come and go. But lives don't just come and go for me. I'm not going to pick up my few belongings and move for a twelth time. Not again. Never again. I'd rather die. And come Sunday, you'll see what this kind of devotion can do to a man with so many distractions. Eldar, you're in trouble.
The camera pulls back as
Above Average Man turns on the horizon, a gentle wind rustling
his shirt. The image of Titan Bahadur seems almost to smile as
the first crack of thunder hits in the distance. Above Average
Man stands still, almost frozen in time, as a gentle rain begins
to fall. Fade to black.