Standing On a Tokyo Street Corner, Watching the Flames Rise Oct 1, 2017 2:40:20 GMT -5
Post by Teo Blaze on Oct 1, 2017 2:40:20 GMT -5
“The downside of being placed on a pedestal is that you have the farthest to fall.”
“For every moment of success, there are hundreds of failures.”
“Thousands of aches and cries of anguished fury.”
“I deserved that loss to Johnny Rabid. I cost myself the world title, gave Stephen Singh the keys to rip me off of him.”
“After earning my way to a world title shot, I’ve fallen short against both men.”
“So what happens now?”
“What happens now that you’ve failed against both men?”
“Ah…there’s the rub. The losses are definitive, no? I lost to them once, so I will obviously lose to them again, the hierarchy has been decided, right?
Don’t make me laugh.
Johnny Rabid is in the worst place a man can be right now.
He thinks he’s safe.
He thinks he has my number.
That victory last week? That gave him the worst possible thing that he could have asked for. A bicycle pump attached to his ego.”
“But every critic, every pundit has placed their money on John Rabid being the new world champion.”
“So they have.”
“Are you saying they’re wrong?”
“Not wrong. Misguided.
Following a pied piper to the edge of a cliff.”
“…So what are you? Their savior?”
…savior. No. I’m not a superhero.
Superman would be Television champion right now.
But I have something John Rabid does not. I have something that even Stephen Singh, the beloved world champion does not.
But I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Come on, we’re in Tokyo!
Let’s have a little fun.”
A new Challenger Appears!
The air is filled with a peculiar aroma on this cold September evening. The first touches of winter beginning to break through the warm malaise of summertime. The sun peaking just below the tips of the skyscrapers, the orange glow giving way to the blue, star-dotted blanket earlier than Teo was used to.
Walking down the crowded streets, the former People’s champion lets his eyes wander all about the new location, taking in the local flavor. Small, compact shops line either side of the street, with brightly lit neon signs advertising every imaginable luxury. Suit-wearing businessmen and schoolchildren crowd into packed ramen-shops, pushing their way to the counter to grab a seat, while vendors adjust the stock in their windows to make up for new sales.
The name of the district was known colloquially as Akihabara, gaining prominence for becoming a major shopping center and site for Japanese culture. If you were coming to buy something, this was the place to do it.
Teo grinned to himself as he looked over the various shop windows, covered with products to lure in the unwary tourist or connoisseur alike, from bootleg DVD’s to used famicom games next to large pillows with Hello Kitty faces plastered along one side.
He could have sworn he also saw a poster with Jay Price advertising sake, but it’s entirely possible he could have been imagining it.
The entire scene was a joyous assault of colors and sounds, overrunning his senses with an indescribable feeling that comes when you can’t quite explain what you’re seeing all at once, but you know you like it.
And that was when he saw it. Sitting at the end of a barely distinguishable street, a large sign.
Even among the brightly lit street, the sign shone like a holy sign, beckoning him forward, the red and white letters calling to him from deep inside his childhood. Despite all of the trials, all of the weight and stress on his mind, the siren call of that beautiful sign could not be ignored.
And then, almost without realizing he had done so, he was inside. Hundreds of machines were lined up back-to-back, with schoolchildren furiously tapping away at buttons, possessing the type of dexterity usually reserved for Olympic DJ’s. Jet planes roared by military bases, claws reached into piles of stuffed animals, and the entire collection of sounds coalesced into a joyous electronic chorus.
And that was when he saw it.
Sitting at the back of the arcade, with an open seat in front of it, there was a virtua fighter machine.
Teo blinked his eyes, and when they opened, he was already in the seat, a pile of coins placed on the counter. Never in his life had he needed an escape more than this, and he was going to enjoy it.
He dropped in a coin and selected a fighter, the game beckoning him to begin with a shout, but something was different. The machine was not playing an Artificial intelligence against him, but rather hooked up to all of the machines in a row. A killer’s row of anonymous fighters rotating in and out to face him.
Teo chuckled and reached into his pocket, pulling out a pair of cracked red lenses.
Alright then, if these kids wanted to see how a veteran handled a virtua fighter machine…
Singhin' the Blues
The sun shone brightly on the humble Tokyo playground, as a group of children ran happily amongst the grassy park, playing a game made up with wielding a stick as a magic artifact. The imagination of children never ceases to charm the occasional passerby, and these children could easily have been on a postcard.
But far from being the only visitors, the park was bustling with activity, from the same suit-wearing businessmen attempting to get their daily intake of fresh air to religious practicioners covered in orange robes performing ceremonies of cleansing. The site was filled with just about every imaginable person, place, or thing.
But in the center of the park was a peculiar sight, as many musicians sat, cross-legged, singing traditional songs with open guitar cases. One benefit of public areas is the innumerable opportunities to earn a living through talent, and the talented gathered on this sunny day to make the most of their natural gifts.
And here is where Teo del Sol now sat, cross-legged, among the musicians. The man next to him was a local artist, and had just finished his set. Teo smiled, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a wad of bills, the advance pay from the trip. He peeled off a significant portion and dropped it into the open guitar case with a smile. The man looked up with a surprised stare, and then bowed his head to thank Teo for the donation. Teo nodded, then held up his finger in a beckoning motion. The man leaned over, and Teo whispered in his ear. After a few seconds, the man nodded, and retrieved his instrument, a well-worn but expertly made six-string guitar. He leaned his head to one side, popping his neck, and began to play a tune, quietly at first. The music was melancholy, as though backing a tragedy, but it carried with it something different, a strength, a determination, possibly an anger.
This was a blues riff.
Exactly what Teo had been looking for. He had to admit he was surprised to find someone who got it so well, but then again you never know what you’ll find around the world. He closed his eyes, listening to the beat. The “Ba daaa da dum”, waiting patiently for his moment.
Dum Da dum da dum.
Ba daa da dum.
“My name is Stephen, and some call me a god.”
Ba daa da dum.
“Some call me a liar, and some call me a fraud.”
Ba daa da dum.
“Some call me lazy, and others call me crass.”
Ba daa da dum.
“And come this Sunday evenin’ man, they’re gonna kick my ass!
I got those bluueeees.
Those paper champion bluuueeees…”
Ba daa da dum.
“I use policemen, I lie and cheat and steal.”
Ba daa da dum.
“They say I’m a loser, but I say I’m a heel.”
Ba daa da dum.
“That Teo del Sol, he beat me, he pinned me 1, 2, 3.”
Ba daa da dum.
“But I got him arrested so the title stays with me.”
I got those bluueees.
Those paper champion bluuuueees…”
Ba daa da dum.
“I won’t say I’m sorry, I won’t apologize.”
Ba daa da dum.
“Cause I’m the world champion, and you should realize.”
Ba daa da dum.
“That come this Sunday, I’ll be consumed with pride.”
Ba daa da dum.
“Cause War will be the night they say that Thievin Stephen died!
I got those bluuueeeess.
I got the paper champion bluuues!”
The song fades out and Teo grins to himself, looking with a smile into the camera.
Teo del Sol: Hello Stephen.
I hope you got enough sleep flying over on that private jet. I wouldn’t want you to get any more rings under your eyes.
After what I did to you on Slam two weeks ago, I’m surprised your damn hair didn’t turn white.
Tell me, how are the ribs? I hope that they’re healing up nicely, wouldn’t want you to have any excuses this Sunday after all.
You know, I’ve thought long and hard about what I want to say this week, given that there’s little point left to prove.
I pinned your shoulders 1,2,3 at Revenge, and the entire world saw it. I know that the record books will call it a no contest, but frankly I’ve never cared much for what the record books say. If you look it up, they’ll tell you all sorts of inconsistencies, all kinds of weird goings on and happenings.
But the fact stands Stephen Singh that I have already stood over you as a victor, that I have placed a stamp of fear upon you, that you have been trying since this entire thing started to do everything in your power to get away from me.
You went so far as to take out a restraining order, like a battered housewife. Mean old Teo is going to come to your house and rearrange your underwear drawer.
Teo chuckles to himself with a grin.
That’s the question, isn’t it? What is he afraid of? Because quite frankly Stephen, when I look at you, I see two prominent faces.
I see a man who stands at the pinnacle of WCF, but who has done everything in his power to try and make himself into a joke.
A fool of a champion.
The critics all agree that this Sunday your time is up. The smart money says Rabid, and the fans say that it’s my time.
Well, Vegas is about to have a record breaking weekend Stephen, because no one is going to see it coming this Sunday.
This Sunday when I make the beating that you got at the hands of the Captain look like a pleasant massage! When I take those two over-inflated blowup dolls you call a security force and throw them into the third row!
Stephen Singh, you want to know how I feel right now? You want to know if I’m angry about you stealing the world title from these hands?
About taking my place in the history books and whiting it out?
I should be mad.
I should be shaking with fury!
I should be telling the whole world about how I’m going to Tonya Harding your kneecaps with a baseball bat and leave you lying in the locker room being fanned with $100 bills by your only two fans!
That’s not how I feel Stephen.
I should be angry.
Instead I just feel sorry for you.
I feel sorry for you because you had a chance. You had a chance to show the world what kind of a man you were. That belt puts all eyes in the world on you, it sticks you up on a pedestal and lets the entire planet see you unobstructed.
You could have taken the chance to turn around and prove yourself a hero.
To show the world that you were more than a rhyming nickname.
And what do you do?
What do you do you cockroach? You piece of filth?
You double down.
You take out restraining orders.
You bring in outside help.
You treat Everest like a mercenary group until David Sanchez is on the borderline of beating your head in with a tire iron.
Save me the trouble, honestly.
Your power base is eroding, Stephen.
You caniballized your own friend to try and prove a point.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.
You don’t play well with others.
You manipulate. You put your best friends against each other and you let them eat each other.
If only the Captain had realized sooner, you wouldn’t have had the chance to turn on him.
Nice little asterisk on that tag title reign, wasn’t it Stephen? You couldn’t even keep a partner for a single title reign.
You’re like Paris Hilton throwing away a Chihuahua to get one with a bigger eyes.
Except if you released a sex tape it would get fewer views than a Torture guest spot on Sesame street.
Come to think of it, I should start calling you Oscar, not because you’re grumpy, but because you are happy to live in a proverbial trash can.
Teo laughs to himself, turning towards the musician, who his giggling at the assertion.
Teo del Sol: Oscar Singh the grouch, who lives in a trash can. He could have been a great world champion, but he’s happy to let the world feel sorry for him.
Teo shakes his head, turning towards the camera and walking down the path.
Teo del Sol: And don’t think I haven’t heard what you have said about me, Stephen Singh. Don’t think I haven’t heard your words.
You said that my Internet and People’s Championship runs were the deaths of those divisions.
This speaks of ignorance, my friend.
Let me fill in those gaps in your knowledge real quick- when I was People’s Champion I defended the belt against Kyle Kemp, Andre Holmes, Torture, Adam Young, Spencer Adams, and…oh yeah, John Rabid. Just to name a few.
As Internet champion, I defeated Gemini Battle to crown myself the king of all media, asserting the Internet belt’s importance over one of the most prestigious titles, and went on to defend it against Zombie McMorris at One.
You call that killing divisions? I am not the kind of guy to put up quotes on a video screen, to outline the points like I’m giving a powerpoint presentation.
But if I remember correctly, you told me that I killed those divisions.
You told me to look at where they were once I let them go.
So…what’s your point? That my reigns were so good, so untouchable that WCF hasn’t been able to replace me?
Sick burn, pal.
Teo smiles, looking out over the park, softly humming that same riff to himself.
Teo del Sol: I’ve got those blueees. Those paper champion bluueeess…
Because that’s what you are Stevie. You’re a champion in name and name alone.
A man who ascended the ranks on the backs of other men’s hard work.
Who backstabbed everyone he could get his hands on and kept backstabbing until he had the world in his back pocket.
But any thief knows that the back pocket is the easiest target, Stephen.
Let me make it real simple. You are the worst example of a human being that I could possibly imagine. Your small and selfish mind is so wrapped up in its own delusions that you probably can’t remember what planet you’re standing on. You think that you have strength in numbers because you managed to sucker the only two gorillas in the local zoo dumb enough to believe that you were anything more than a sad imitation of a scared child!
You are so low that to aspire to be a cowering insect would be a goal for your entire fucking career!
I have stepped in piles of dog crap with more backbone than you, you spineless jellyfish!
And you…you have the fucking!
To say one goddamned word about godhood? To try and sell the world a narrative of stolen divinity? Of broken promises?
I’m not just facing a deluded self-absorbed moron!
The only reason you’re not being forced to wear a helmet this Sunday is because your head is jammed so far up your own ass that nobody can pull it out!
But let me hear it, Stephen!
Let’s hear the same tired schpiel about how Teo del Sol just doesn’t understand you.
About how my words are misguided, about how wrong I am.
Like a half-priced DJ trying to impress a coed, keep on spinning, maybe someone will fall for it!
The simple fact is Stephen that as of this moment, I am done trying to help you.
I am done trying to show you the error of your ways.
As Teo speaks, there appears to be more of an edge to his words, a hardness to his tone that was not there prior.
Teo del Sol: You had your chance to stop this Stephen, you had your chance to turn off the flames, to keep yourself from getting burned.
But quite frankly, you’re out of chances.
I beg you, Stephen Singh.
I beg you from the bottom of this simple heart.
Try it again Sunday.
Try to stop me.
Step through those ropes, and throw those same stormtroopers at me one more time.
As Teo speaks, he reaches into his pocket, pulling out the lenses, and looking deeply into them.
The camera pans slowly back, looping behind Teo’s back, slowly passing over his shoulder to show the reflection in the cracked glasses.
The face in the glass is not the smiling luchador, it is not the carefree smiling face that adorned countless T-shirts and carried the People’s championship with honor.
There is only one thing in his eyes...
Teo del Sol: Stephen Singh, you poor motherfucker.
You’ve finally done it.
You’ve finally brought it out of me.
You want to see the flames?
You want to see what these hands can do when you take out all other recourse?
You want to know the dirty little secret?
I’ve never reached my full potential under that mask.
And I don’t want to.
I don’t want to know how far I can go.
When I pull that cord Stephen, when those doors open…
People get hurt.
I want you to think Stephen.
I want you to think about what you have brought out.
I want you to look deep into these eyes, and I want you to know that I’m coming.
I don’t hold back for me, Stephen.
I hold back for you.
You think you know pain?
You think you know suffering?
You want to see what I can do when I stop holding back?
Teo’s face finally twists into a smile, but something is different- where before the grin was a happy, child-like expression, an appreciation of nature. This is something different. This is a grin of pure wickedness. Of gleeful and willing sadism. The vile expression engulfs his face, the chipped ivory of his smile mixing with the scars on his face.
Teo del Sol: Do you want to know why I’m going to break you this Sunday, Stephen?
Do you want to know why I’ve decided to take the safety wheels off?
Do you want to know why you’re going to be staring up at those lights, your vision consumed by red, your only thoughts enraptured in a glorious chaos of suffering and anguish?
You remember who.
You remember the man who destroyed a god.
You remember the face that pushed you off your pedestal.
You remember what happens when you push me too far.
What happens when you try to hide from me.
What happens when you steal from me.
And you remember that I told you so.
As Teo speaks, the camera pans down to the glasses in Teo’s left hand.
As he stands, a new crack begins to form down the middle of one of the lenses.
Teo walks slowly down from the park, humming the riff to himself one last time as the camera cuts to black.
The evening was not going how Teo had envisioned. While he had his moments of glory, every single time he put in a coin, within seconds the faceless challengers would cut him down in a glorious rush of kicks and punches. He tried every character, every trick he knew- he had been playing virtua fighter since he was a young man, surely he could win at least one match?
But the longer he played, the smaller and smaller the pile of coins got, and the more and more times he had to hear that noise.
“KO! YOU LOSE!”
The sound was not making the evening go any faster. Teo breathed deeply, doing everything in his power not to rip the stick right off the console, and stared deeply into the machine, looking for some secret, something he was doing wrong.
And that’s when he noticed something strange. The face on the opponent was not Wolf, it was not Lion, it was not any of the fighters he recognized. Before his very eyes, the face had morphed into someone he recognized, despite his best efforts.
Johnny Rabid was staring at him from the screen.
Teo breathed deeply- was this a hallucination? His mind had played these tricks on him before, given him visions to help him provide clarity.
Teo continued pumping coins into the machine, trying to find his center, to find the rhythm that had guided him since childhood.
But the pile of coins kept shrinking.
Rabid Dogs Should be Put Down
Teo now stands perched in a new location, his eyes shining like beacons as he looks out over the crowd below.
He has made his way up to a balcony, the same fire in his eyes from before prominently shining, making the glasses almost unnecessary. He considers the people below, his face an enigmatic blank as he watches the people hustle and bustle beneath a night sky. The prominently lit neon signs are all the more noticeable in the cool night air, the neon reflecting off his face in pink and greens, a neon demon perched over an unsuspecting populace.
Teo del Sol: You know Johnny, I’ve been playing that moment over and over in my head.
That moment at Slam 400 where everything went wrong.
And that’s when it hit me.
I have been running the same routine for almost 50 slams in a row. I almost caught you with the same moves all over again, but you knew what was coming.
Teo sighs, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a lollipop.
Teo del Sol: Never could bring myself to pick up smoking- don’t worry though, these things’ll kill ya just as fast.
Do you know what the most dangerous thing in this business is, Johnny Rabid?
Because last week, we couldn’t have put on a better demonstration if I had sent you a script beforehand.
Teo shakes his head forlornly and looks up at the night sky.
Teo del Sol: Success.
It’s a drug, Johnny. The high of hitting that move, that pinfall, the thrill of getting your hand raised.
I tell you, if you could bottle that you’d put Pablo Escobar out of business in an hour.
And quite frankly, I have to admit. Before last week, I was starting to develop an addiction.
I had drank the Kool-Aid, I thought that I had figured out this pro-wrestling puzzle.
That I could beat you with the same tired schtick, the same tired words.
So Johnny, I want to thank you.
I want to thank you for pinning me to that mat last week.
Because you gave me a wake-up call.
You gave me a shock to the system when I failed to wrench that TV title from your iron grip that made me realize that despite my best efforts, I was backsliding.
I was trying to recapture what Teo del Sol was at Slam 350.
I was trying to be the hero again.
Teo smiles to himself, the words pouring from his lips like honey, seeming to run into each other. With each sentence Teo seems to drift further and further into a memory.
Teo del Sol: But the simple fact is, I was hiding from myself.
You can’t turn back the clock, John, and last week you helped me realize that I should stop pushing away those parts of my personality that helped keep me alive.
As much as I don’t want to admit it, when I picked up that Teddy Blaze mantle once again, I got better.
I could do things that Teo del Sol could never do.
But now? I’ve come to a realization that if you have even a fraction of the sense you claim to have should shock you to your dark, hollow core.
I’m not Teo del Sol
And I’m not Teddy Blaze.
And you? You Johnny Rabid? You are the perfect canvas for me to paint a masterpiece. A work with the heroic triumph of a greek classic and the sharpened edge of the hungry wolf.
I can defeat you in the name of the WCF galaxy, I can call upon the strength of the hearts and minds of a hundred voiceless names, all calling at once for a heroic figure to stand up and win them the world!
And I can reach down deep and find a determination, a drive to win, a hunger that drove me to the top in the first place!
It’s not a Yin or a Yang John, it’s both.
You have it in your mind that you can resurrect the Teo del Sol of old, I believe you said those very words yourself two weeks ago.
Johnny, I thought you were smarter than that.
I thought you were supposed to be god’s gift to the silver tongue.
I thought you could pick out opponents and pull out dossiers longer than Jay Price’s bar tab.
But you, you’re so misguided.
So fucking blind!
That you can’t see the truth in front of your very face.
You stood in front of the world and you announced that you had realized my secret, that my whole reason for existence was about Mexico.
Teo suddenly bites down on the lollipop, a sickening crunch echoing throughout the street. Any semblance of amusement or relaxation gone, replaced by a stone cold glare.
Teo del Sol: Get over yourself motherfucker.
I give about of much as a damn about Mexico as I do about Stephen Singh’s restraining orders.
You’re bringing up ancient history like it’s some kind of trump card.
Your ego is so astronomical, your delusions so…Rabid. That you have the gall to try and accuse me of caring about your little excursion?
Let me go ahead and nip this right in the bud, Johnny boy.
Nobody gives two shits about what happened in Mexico except people who want to act like it meant something.
Do you know what happened after you left? After you and all of those little pot leaves fell off the branch?
We kept going.
WCF not only carried on, but it only got bigger and better.
I never left.
I was here each and every week when we didn’t even know if there were going to be seats in the arena.
I’m not going to get mad at you for leaving Johnny, because quite frankly all you did was prove that we never needed you in the first place.
So I hope I have made my feelings on Mexico perfectly clear Mr. Rabid, because if you think that you can hold that up as some kind of psychosocial silver bullet, then I have nothing to say except Fuck you, move on already.
Teo begins to lean over the balcony, looking into the camera, he spits the lollipop stick onto the ground and stares into the camera, his eyes piercing into the viewer with an incinerating glare.
Teo del Sol: Johnny Rabid, you should be scared.
You should be running, and I don’t mean your mouth.
If you have even one percent of the knowledge you claim to have about your opponents, you should know what this means.
You should know what it means when I let myself go.
You know what scars line this body, you know what I will put myself through to give you exactly what you have coming.
I’m not going to beat you Sunday.
I’m going to destroy you.
You have spent so long on top of your little mountain that you have forgotten exactly how far you have to fall.
You may have gotten me last week, you made me realize that my success had gone to my head.
But it’s time for me to return the favor.
I am not done with you yet Johnny, not by a long shot.
If success is a disease, I had an infection.
You’re rabid with it.
And Rabid dogs get put down.
With that, Teo leaps from the balcony, his clothes flapping in the wind, down to the street. The camera pans to follow him, but is unable to keep up with the man as he disappears into the clouds below.
The Last Man
Teo sits now, with his head down on the arcade cabinet, the Johnny-Rabid headed fighter taunting him. He looks down at the console, where his last coin sits. He picks it up, staring at it wistfully. He was so certain that he was the best at virtua fighter. He had always won back home.
Teo sighed, looking at Kage. He had always played Kage, he knew the moves inside and out. He had played Wolf once, but he didn’t care for the aggression.
Teo looked at the laughing Johnny Rabid on the screen, and clutched the coin tightly.
Then again, aggression had its place.
Teo leaned forward, dropping the coin into the slot.