The atmosphere, it’s electric.
The stage, it’s set.
The arena, it’s packed.
Red and white pyro EXPLODE out of the stage, the lights go nuts, and the patrons of the Star of the Desert Arena get real loud, real fast.
Once all that dies down, the lights in the arena go all the way down to black.
The arena is hushed.
The camera opens on Johnny Patriot with his back to a closed door. The room is full of brooms, dust pans, and other cleaning supplies. Patriot is holding up his cell phone as he speaks to the camera from behind his mask.
Johnny Patriot: It’s immediately after Revolution 135. Just a little bit ago, Dan Stein threw me into this janitor’s closet. Apparently when he lost to Jonas Coleman, he was planning on using my spot in the World Heavyweight Championship tournament as his own. Well, that, My fellow MCGA Patriots, wasn’t in the cards. Azraith DeMitri beat me, and threw a wrench into Dan Stein’s plans.
Patriot sighs, shaking his head.
Johnny Patriot: I have no signal to call out, and nobody seems to be coming around to this side of the building, but I’ll find a way out of here in no time at all. I just wanted to document my struggles as a cousin of the most vindictive man in SHOOT Project.
Patriot takes a deep breath.
Johnny Patriot: Make Championships Great Again.
Patriot’s finger comes up and presses the screen, and the camera cuts to black.
As Buck rolls from the ring to the roar of the crowd, Nate eyes him with seriousness, sucking for breath. He gets himself slowly to his feet with the assistance of the ropes, then leans over, yelling at the timekeeper’s table and holding his hand out. When he is finally provided with a mic, he taps it twice and bellows in a yell that we’ve yet to hear from him before.
Robideau: Buck Dresden!
Buck turns, maybe a little too quickly, as he winces and favors his side. We can hear him yell “What?” even though he isn’t on mic.
Robideau: Slide back in here. We are not finished, you and I.
Nate paces with a pronounced limp, clearly in pain. Both men are out of breath and look entirely worse for wear. The crowd’s buzz gets more and more electric as Buck gets closer to the ring and finally rolls in, eyeing Nate with suspicion as he gets to his feet. Nate stops moving and faces his opponent head on.
Robideau: I survived years in a cage. Cruel tutelage. I survived building myself into a weapon after I had become yet again soft. I survived all of that to bring me to this tournament. I survived the bombs and slams and salvos of the men I bested, all to bring me here, face to face, with you, tonight!
With emphasis on the last word, the crowd starts cheering. Buck is standing tall, though he starts to drop into a defensive stance as Nate strides right up into his face, his own gaze almost severe.
Robideau: If I am meant to lose, I do not want it to be to a rabid dog. I do not want it to be to some madman on a rampage. I want it to be to someone like me. A warrior. Someone who has the spirit and drive of a warrior. Who respects the fight.
Nate finally cracks a genuine smile and extends his hand. Buck looks at it, then back to his face, and tentatively reaches out. Nate shakes it firmly, no tricks, no deception.
Robideau: I am honored that I was bested by you, Buck. Take it all the way to holding that belt.
With that, Nate throws down the mic with an authoritative thud and raises Buck’s hand, causing the crowd to erupt into cheers. Nate points at his opponent, and the noise ratchets up even louder. The two warriors briefly trade words with a smile and pats on the shoulder before separating and heading to the back.
The feed cuts back to the closet where Patriot is making his home. He’s created a makeshift bed out of paper towels and toilet paper (little did he know how valuable it would come to be). Luckily enough for him, the closet is reasonably sized. Patriot lays on the ground, his red beard starting to grow beneath the mask.
Johnny Patriot: It’s day four here in the Closet of Despair. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about when I’d get out of here. I’ve started using two different mop buckets for my bodily functions because like a True American Hero, I never give up. Thankfully, I found some non-perishables in a box in the corner and unsweetened coconut milk.
Patriot’s eyes water behind the mask.
Johnny Patriot: I heard a janitor in the hallway the other day waxing the floors but he must have had his iPods in or something like all the Millennials do. I overheard the artist saying something about “social distancing”. Typical introverted Millennials.
Johnny Patriot: Remind me when I get out of here to give Dan a piece of my mind. It’s one thing to throw someone in a closet overnight, but four days now?! Where is the compassion? I’m his family! Our dear president would never do this to HIS family.
Patriot’s eye well up with tears.
Johnny Patriot: I know that Dan loves me. He must just think I got out a couple days ago.
In the background, the sound of electricity shutting off can be heard approaching from afar. The power in the closet turns off and Patriot begins to flip the switch repeatedly, to no avail. Johnny collects himself and looks at the camera.
Johnny Patriot: I only have 30 percent battery, so I’m going to let you all go. Need to conserve it so I can try to get the attention of the janitor the next time they come by. Remember everyone, Make Championships Great Again!
Patriot again turns off the camera.
She strides slowly. Buildings of this size are a maze of hallways, service entrances, maintenance walkways. She strides the bowels of the center with no particular goal in mind, head down, stretching her body, punching her palm.
CJH: Crossed this country on a tear. Traveled mostly by night. Less questions ‘round then. And when you need answers, it’s easier to give ’em in the silence under the moon. Let the world slumber while I traveled. Easier.
A pause. Knuckles cracked. Looking down.
CJH: But why do it? Why travel and beat yourself to death and survive on the animals of the wild…when one couldn’t?
She smiles, almost rueful, happiness never looking like home amidst the scars and pockmarks.
CJH: Most of y’all never knew a higher purpose. It’s fine, some folk don’t. Live their life happy and carefree and say their prayers and brush their teeth and they’re just so very proper. I’ll never have that. I suppose I regret that, in all of this. Making bread in the oven and feeling the sun on my face with a cold glass of tea brought me no peace.
A shrug. Not sad or depressed, just matter of fact.
CJH: Lord came down when I was but a babe and blessed my eyes so that I might see the true form of things. Blessed my nose so that I could sniff out corruption. Blessed my hands to be his own instruments, scalpel, chisel, burning torch and cutting scythe. You go to bed one night with songs in your heart, you wake up and the world changed. The sickness in the chests of people is plain to you as mold on white loaf. Their wounds festering. All smiles and handshakes. “Yes, Jesus Loves Me.” He does. The bible told me so. And then god whispered to me night after night until the truth became apparent to me in all situations.
Her eyes meet the camera as she rolls her shoulders and arches her neck, a brief struggle before it pops.
CJH: I see the truth of you all. Lust lives in your bones and makes you weak. Hatred poisons your flesh. You are brittle. You are holding onto a life that is no life at all. You are slaves to your every vice. Husks. I know why the lord has put every one of you in my path. I know the lesson and the purpose.
One finger pointed in accusation. Eyes flashing under the shadow cast by the brim of her beaten cap.
CJH: You are practitioners of meaningless violence, pain with no purpose. You are lower than hyenas and rattlers. And you will begin your path to repentance. Tonight.
With no ceremony, she walks past the view of the camera: slow, steady, and humming a hymnal song. We cut away…
The feed again cuts to the iPhone camera with 5% shown up at the top of the screen. The date is tonight, Revolution 136’s airing date. The camera is on but the room is dark. Patriot is hiding behind a desk with his hand up to protect his eyes. His t-shirt is around his face, covering his nose from the smell of the mess he’s made in the mop buckets. Cans of spaghetti-os and raviolis that he ate cold out of the can lay strewn across the desk. Patriot keeps his hand up to shield his eyes.
Johnny Patriot: It’s been five years since I’ve seen sunlight. Martha, darling, where are my shoes? Someone get my teeth, they’re the wooden ones on the credenza. I’ve got a cherry tree to chop down.
Patriot stands up, his t-shirt dangling from around his face.
Johnny Patriot: The English captured me. The war is over. We’ve lost. This torture is tremendous. Tell my men that crossing the Delaware River was the best time of my life. I had hopes we’d retire, Martha and I, to Monticello, but it appea
Just then, keys at the closet door. The door swings open, revealing the light. Patriot squeals in pain as the light hits his eyes. The janitor yells out in fear as the large, thinning man with a t-shirt around his face squeals. Patriot takes the shirt off of his face, hurrying to the door. Patriot slips on the makeshift bed he had made by the door, but catches himself on a desk and steadies himself before walking out into the hallway where he collapses to his knees – orange beard fully bushed out behind the mask. He looks over at the janitor, and reaches out for him. The janitor scurries away – a mixture of the fear of coronavirus and a fear of whatever made that God-awful smell in the closet.
Johnny Patriot: Finally…freedom. Thank you, Kind Sir. You saved me.
Dan Stein: HIM?! I’m the one that had him open the door!
Stein walks over from behind Patriot now, with Molly and Toni and Tina behind him. Stein pats his cousin on the back with white gloves on his hand to protect him from germs.
Dan Stein: Where’s the love for me?! I saved you!
Johnny Patriot: You…
Patriot turns around, pointing at Stein.
Johnny Patriot: You did this. You locked me in there.
Stein chuckles, stepping back.
Dan Stein: Whoa, there, Patient Zero. Hands off the merchandise. We’ve got a match to get out to.
Johnny Patriot: A… a match?
Dan Stein: Uh, yeah? Why do you think I let you out?
Patriot’s hands collapse at his knees. His head falls to his chest.
Dan Stein: …hello?
Patriot stands up.
Dan Stein: Ugh. Smells like somebody needs a shower. Whatever, it’ll have to wait. Let’s go, people.
Stein walks past Patriot, with his wife and bodyguards in tow. Molly reaches out to Patriot, careful not to touch him, but mouths, “I’m sorry,” to him. Patriot nods and follows behind the gathering toward the ring.
“Chuuch!!!” by Bun B hits the PA, announcing the arrival of the one, the only, Real Deal! The crowd goes nuts as he walks out, taking in the moment.
Eryk Masters: You know, you say what you wanna say about the Real Deal, but the people love him and what’s more, he always has something interesting and useful to say.
Other Guy: People DO love him, but have you considered whether or not it’s possible that they love him because he… doesn’t stay out here very long?!
Eryk Masters: Of COURSE it’s possible, but really… it’s Josh! One of our esteemed bosses!
Real Deal makes his way down to the ring and stops and nods at the two guys at the announce table. He picks up a microphone and slides into the ring.
Real Deal: Fuck yeah! Guys, can you even believe it right now? We have our TWO FINALISTS for the World Heavyweight Championship, and it’s some dudes with some SERIOUS history and SERIOUS background with each other.
The crowd pops, acknowledging the wins of both Buck Dresden and Jonas Coleman previously in the evening.
Real Deal: But, ladies and gentlemen, what good is a finals of a tournament if there’s no EVENT in which those finals can take place!? That’s right, I’m talking about a fuckin’ PAY PER VIEW.
The crowd pops again.
Real Deal: That’s right, folks, we’re talking about a SHOOT Project supershow, just like a phoenix, we have risen from the ashes, and so it is fitting that our very first PPV back? It’s RISE. RISE will take place on Sunday, April 26th and will feature the match to decide the NEXT World Heavyweight Champion, BUCK DRESDEN or JONAS COLEMAN. That means we’ve got two more Revolution’s until we get there, so who KNOWS what might happen by then.
The crowd loves that idea, but Real Deal doesn’t let up.
Real Deal: But that’s not all, of course. While one of those guys will be the next World Heavyweight Champion, we’re deciding our NEXT SIN CITY CHAMPION RIGHT HERE, TONIGHT. So with THAT said, I’m going to shut the fuck up… get the fuck out… and let these guys fight it out for that honor.
Just like that, “Chuuch!!!” hits and the Real Deal disappears from the ring with the quickness!