MD 147 - Vega vs. Wren
RP Deadline Tuesday 16th January 23:59 (Central).
Extensions available upon request.
"It’s good to admit your worst qualities to yourself. Our worst doesn’t make us bad people... ya gotta remember that." -William De La Vega
Hey, the regular?
The portly man with a receding hairline behind the deli counter smiles as he asks his customer a familiar question.
Yeah Jimmy, the regular.
The counterman, Jimmy, turns to his right to barks an order out to his cook.
Two bacon egg & cheeses on everything bagels.
The cook nods as he immediately gets to work cracking open some eggs and tossing bacon onto the grill. As he continues this culinary excursion, Jimmy the counterman turns towards the coffee pot behind him. He pours out two cups of coffee, pours milk in one, leaves the other one black, and tops both cups off with two packs of sugar. He seals the cups and places them on the counter. Jimmy then turns back around and reaches towards the cigarette display shelf. He makes his selection and slaps down a pack of Camel Menthol No. 9 cigarettes onto the counter next to the coffee. Just then the cook approaches and places a paper bag containing the breakfast sandwiches down on the counter next to the coffee and cigarettes.
Two coffees, one light one black, two bacon egg and cheese on everything bagels, and a pack of Camels… that’s $24.50
Before Jimmy can finish speaking a $20 bill and a $5 bill are dropped on the counter. After putting the cigarettes in his coat pocket the patron grabs the bag and a coffee with one hand and the other coffee with his other hand. Awkwardly he has everything in hand before heading out, ignoring Jimmy as he tries to hand him his change.
Take care, Jimmy.
Have a good one, Will.
Jimmy drops the 2 quarters into a tip cup on the counter as Will exits the deli.
We cut to a scruffy haired bearded man sitting on the steps of Union Square Park in downtown New York City. The odor that is bred by living in the same clothes for weeks on end keeps the public away on this cold January morning. He is wrapped up in a stained wool blanket, only tan combat boots visible from underneath. He wears a weathered look on his face, that is until something catches his eye. His tired look slowly fades as a smile takes its place.
Light, two sugars.
The homeless man reaches out from within his blanket with reverence, as if this coffee were the holy grail itself. His camouflage jacket is briefly visible as he stretches out to grab the cup. He basks in the warmth as it spreads to his hands.
Just how I like it.
He takes a cautioned sip, respecting how hot it is, but not wanting to wait.
Ahh. Thanks, Will.
Will takes a seat right next to the homeless man and pulls out the two breakfast sandwiches from the paper bag. He hands one to the man and takes the other for himself. They both unwrap their bacon, egg & cheese on everything bagels, the heat from the sandwiches causing smoke to rise through the cold crisp air as they take their first bites in unison.
Gotta love Jimmy’s.
Will smiles before taking another bite of his sandwich. His homeless friend nods in agreement, not wanting to waste time with a verbal response as he devours his sandwich.
So, what’dya say Will? Is today finally the day?
Mike asks the question but doesn’t look over towards Will. Instead he finishes his sandwich while Will has only finished half of his, leaving the other half in the paper bag. With a full mouth, Will responds.
The day you tell me why you do this?
Will shrugs as he reaches into his coat pocket.
Just trying to be nice.
He pulls out the pack of Camel Menthol No. 9’s and starts slapping it against his hand before opening the box. Will rips away the shiny pink metallic foil that neatly covers the cigarettes, grabs one and holds it between his lips. He motions the box towards Mike.
Those’ll kill you.
Will closes the pack and places it back in his pocket, bringing out a lighter this time instead. With a flick, a flame appears and he ignites his cigarette. Will inhales the first puff as the embers glow bright. He holds the smoke in his lungs…
I like things that kill.
…and then exhales it into the cold air. Mike shakes his head before pointing to the paper bag.
You gonna eat that other half?
Go for it.
Mike happily grabs the bag and opens it up.
You know, there’s a lotta homeless people.
So why me?
Yeah, why me? You could have chosen any homeless person in the city to have breakfast with every Sunday… but you chose me. Why?
Will continues to enjoy his cigarette, still not making eye contact with Mike.
I like your boots.
Mike looks towards his footwear in confusion while chewing the last bit of breakfast sandwich.
To die for.
Mike stops looking at his boots and turns his attention towards Will.
Those boots… simply to die for.
I guess they’re-
I heard they were all the rage in the desert back in ’02.
Mike’s expression transitions from one of confusion to a nervous caution.
I bet all your buddies had ‘em.
My buddies? You mean my-
Half a smile creeps across Will's face as he looks at his fading cigarette, judging how many more pulls he has before it's done.
Right, right. These... brothers, they know you're here?
Mike doesn't reply. Instead, he shifts his eyes towards the cold concrete beneath his feet.
If I had a brother, and he ended up living on the streets of New York City, I think I'd wanna know about it.
Still, Mike doesn't respond. He just stares at the ground more intently than before.
Remember the first time we met?
Mike barely moves his head up and down to signify that he does.
I was walking down this very block-
Thinking about things...
Drunk and high.
On acid… and I tripped over your feet.
But somehow stayed on yours.
My balance is good like that. My awareness of my surroundings, maybe not so much. When I turned around to see what I almost faceplanted over, I turned around and saw those boots. 2002 Bates M-8 Hot Weather Combat Boot in Dessert Tan, the most popular model amongst the soldiers in the United States Army stationed in Afghanistan. Then I looked up and I saw your face… I knew you were younger than me, but you didn’t look it.
I recognize eyes like yours.
Mike looks up from the floor and over towards Will, watching him as he takes his final puff before he flicks his Camel away. Sparks fly from the dying cigarette as it skips across the concrete a few times. Will watches it roll to a slow stop, and then turns his attention towards Mike. For the first time today, Will looks Mike in the eyes.
Eyes that wish they were blind.
Mike’s posture begins to sink, as if his spine was suddenly losing a couple of inches in length.
I didn’t say anything to you that night except “Sorry,” and I kept walking. But I couldn’t forget those boots... or those eyes. I told myself that night that I would come back the next morning and have breakfast with you. And that’s what I did. Every Sunday since.
Mike chuckles to himself, trying to subdue it but to no avail. Will notices it. Unsure of it’s origin, he inquires.
What’s so funny?
You didn’t say sorry.
No. You kept repeating the same thing over and over, but it sure as hell wasn’t “Sorry.”
Well shit. Sorry about that.
Better late than never.
The point remains the same… I saw you here, but I knew you didn’t belong here.
Will nods, somewhat oblivious to Mike’s sudden change in mood.
Sometimes I feel like I still belong there.
Afghanistan. Crazy, right?
Will smiles, almost as if he were proud.
You know they say that “belonging” is a basic human need. The bonds of community, the bonds of tribe, they are very particular things. In modern American society, the main unit is “the family.” Mom, dad, sis… but the thing is we have evolved as a species. We have evolved as a species to live in groups of 30, 40 or 50 people in a hostile environment inter-reliant on one another. There’s only one thing that even comes close to resembling that in today’s modern world… a platoon in combat.
The bond, the sense of belonging among the men in a platoon… it’ll be unlike anything these men will ever feel again. Nothing in the outside world will ever fulfill this basic human need for them. They’re stuck out there, in the desert, with no TV, no internet, no cars, no women. Nothing but each other, and combat. So you start to find enjoyment out of combat. Because, when you’re in combat time slows down. Adrenaline rushes through your brain… and you get high. You get…
And you start to miss it.
Start wishing you were there again.
…where I belonged.
Mike’s head sinks down low, lower than before. He’s ashamed to admit out loud a feeling he himself is uncomfortable with. Will, on the other hand, continues donning a proud smile as he looks off towards the pedestrians walking by.
It’s good to admit your worst qualities to yourself. Our worst doesn’t make us bad people... ya gotta remember that. I try to, at least. We all have somewhere we feel we belong, somewhere we feel like we lived the best version of ourselves… and where an even better version of you is possible. It doesn’t make you crazy to miss that.
What does it make you then?
Will shrugs lackadaisically as he continues his philosophical soliloquy.
Human… I guess.
Mike looks unsatisfied with his answer.
Will is unfazed by Mike’s deflated demeanor. Instead he suddenly seems to be pondering something specific, like he just noticed something.
That night we first met…
…and you tripped over my boots…
Will sinks into deeper thought.
I didn’t say “Sorry.”
No. You kept saying something else.
It’s silent for a few moments… Will seems a bit hesitant to dig any deeper, but can’t help it.
What was I saying?
Mike looks towards Will as he recalls that night. Will stares back towards him, genuinely curious about what he said.
You had this serene smile on your face…
And you just kept saying… Mayhem.
A sinister smile comes across Will’s face.
Will pats Mike on the back and gets up off the steps. He dusts off his behind and adjusts his winter coat as he prepares to leave.
So is that why?
Will searches his pockets, looking away from Mike as he responds.
Will looks towards Mike, still searching in his pocket.
Why out of all the homeless people in the city, you chose me to feed once a week?
“Support Our Troops?”
Will chuckles to underneath his breath.
Kid, the streets are littered with veterans. If I had a soft spot for every troop fallen on hard times I’d be feeding a third of you bums. It’s not about patriotism. You don’t have the eyes of a patriot.
Will shakes his head as he finally finds what he was searching for in his pocket. He pulls out his pack of Camel Menthol No. 9’s and flips it open, slipping another cigarette out of the box before closing it shut and putting it back away.
You’ve got the eyes of a killer.
In his other hand is the lighter. He flicks it and ignites his cigarette, taking a deep first pull. He stares lovingly into the red ember at the tip of his fingers, holding in the smoke as he continues.
And it’s like I said…
He releases a calming exhale, smoke fills the air surrounding him.
I like things that kill.
Will smiles at Mike before taking a step to walk away. Mike speaks up before he can get too far.
What does it mean?
Will stops, and turns back around but still continues only to look at his cigarette.
What does what mean?
To you, I mean... what does it mean to you?
Will takes another puff of his cigarette, and this time exhales before replying, wanting to take his time to answer as he studies the glowing ember.
It’s a reminder.
A reminder of what?
Will finally looks away from his cigarette and towards Mike. He still wears a smile as he reminisces about better times.
Of somewhere I belong.
The smile on Will's face grows bigger as he turns around and happilly walks away. Mike sits there, watching Will leave, confused... left to ponder the conversation alone as our scene comes to an end.
“You can’t hide this forever.”
“Shutup! I can, and I will. No one will ever know.”
“For how long can you really keep up this façade? They’ll find out sooner or later.”
“They won’t. They won’t!”
I splash my face with some more water. Somehow I made it through, and not only that, I managed to get a win thanks to Kagura.
“There’s no limit to how low you can go. For how long will you run like this? How many bodies would you leave in your wake?”
I couldn’t get her out of my head. I smashed the mirror with my bare hands. I feel a little pain as blood oozed through the cuts I just received.
“Fuck you! I DON’T NEED TO LISTEN TO THIS…”
I storm out the washroom, hoping for no one to see me. I heard someone calling me from behind.
“Hello, Wren? Could we have a moment please?”
I looked back. Leon was trying to get a word from me. I signal him to wait and barge into the locker room, locking the door behind me, leaving Leon waiting outside.
“Am I way in over my head? What was I thinking? Can I really be Wren?”
Her voice wouldn't leave me alone. I wrapped a piece of bandage around my hands. I change up from the wrestling gear to my usual clothes.
“Allison! Don’t panic. It’s alright. Calm down.” At this point, I was just trying to convince myself. I eventually muster enough courage and go out of the locker room.
“Ms Gale? We were waiting for Wren.”
“Whatever you need to ask her, ask away. I’ll answer your questions.”
“Alright. To start, while it was a vital win, Wren looked very off her game. She seemingly missed a lot of her usual spots and didn’t look her fluid self. What is the reason behind it?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Her performance seemed fine. That’s why she and Kagura won.”
“See, it’s a grueling schedule here in WZCW. Couple that with her disappointment over not getting a rematch with Titus, and there’s every reason for her to be off her game. The important thing is she’s still getting her results.”
“That is true. On that note, her next opponent is the returning Vega.”
Oh god! I’m sure Wren knows him inside out as she used to keep a tab on competition across the world. I on the other hand…
“I don’t think Wren is worried about it that much.”
“Vega is a much decorated superstar. Wren must have some feelings about facing a big time returning superstar.”
“Well, as we have stated a lot of times, a big or small star hardly makes any difference to Wren. She has her gameplan, and she’ll execute it. It wouldn’t matter who she’s facing.”
“Bold words. Are you sure Wren has nothing else to say about this? She doesn’t even know who she’s facing.”
Why would he not leave me to my devices?
“See, Leon. I like you very much. But this tendency of yours trying to pry information really gets on my nerves. As I said, she doesn’t care who she faces. She’ll be fine when she finds out who her opponent is. Doesn’t matter what he had done earlier here in WZCW. This is new WZCW. It’s him who is coming back after a long break. It’s him who has to go against a performer who wrestles week in and week out. It’s up to him to try and go against Wren. So maybe you should go and ask Vega all these questions.”
“Very well. Thank you for your time.”
I didn’t even wait for him to leave before slamming the door of the locker room on him.
“So what will you do now? A seasoned campaigner returns and once you go against him, everyone will know you’re not what you’re pretending to be.”
“Shut up! I can handle myself. I’m a survivor, and I survive by any means.”
I didn’t know how much I believed that, but I hadn’t left a lot of room for myself to doubt myself. Vega or not, I had to make it work anyhow. This was the only way I could get my life back.
|Thread Tools||Search this Thread|