The Age of the Viper: "It Only Took Three Months"

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The Age of the Viper:

I leaned against the wall behind the door of a main office.  I took slow, deliberate breaths and closed my eyes as I recalled everything that led to this moment.  It only seemed like yesterday when my livelihood was threatened as I searched to return to my true self. 

In my quest for self-realization, I got caught up with trouble in paradise and was forced to play games with a blue-blooded American as he sought vengeance for my attempt to usurp his familial dynasty.

My legacy of violence and domination began to slowly fade into obscurity and irrelevance; my last glimpse of the brass ring dangling from the edge of an unavoidable skirmish with a fiery-headed warrior who stood in my path to the grandest stage of them all.  

I was forced to listen to the cheesy motivational speeches of an overgrown pee wee football coach that refused to surrender to my attacks.  My devoted followers began to bicker amongst themselves, allowing the sophomoric high jinks and playthings of degenerates lead them astray. 

I grew weak and lost my focus, my viciousness no longer guiding the way toward greatness.  I was reduced to a mere shell of my former self, a walking corpse among an elite corps of men and women that lived for the thrill of epic battles on the hallowed ground we called the squared circle.

I was alone and often retreated within myself as the world passed by before me.  I was unable to talk with anyone that shared my hunger or my thoughts.  There were very few people I could relate to, and I longed to have someone understand the true me.

Even the voices inside my head were silent.  They no longer comforted me or consoled me, leaving me to fend for myself as the putrid stench of mediocrity overpowered the sweet taste of destruction that I so desperately yearned for.

But as I sat with my back pressed firmly against the wall, the bright promise of a new era fueled my innermost desire to reclaim what was mine.  The rage inside me steadily grew, swelling with fury as I lay in wait for the right opportunity to strike. 

The time for complacency was over, and it was my goal—no, my duty—to once again show the world my unbridled, ruthless aggression.  It was my time to feed my viciousness, to spew venom into the hearts of my enemies, and to be the viper that I was born to be.

It was time for me to separate myself from those weak-willed individuals that had a hand in my downfall.  It was time for me leap over all of my obstacles in a single bound for glory.   It was time for me to fight against all odds to obtain what I had sacrificed so much for. 

At this turning point, it was time for me to cross the line.

I inhaled deeply and absorbed the stillness of the moment.  I pulled out my Blackberry, and powered by pure instinct, I pressed the send button twice to dial the only number in my call log.

“This better be good,” a familiar raspy voice said on the other end of the phone. 

It was the old man, and he seemed to be in a sour mood.

“It’s time,” I replied calmly.  “I’m ready.”

“Just stick to the plan, dammit!”

He hung up the phone in my face.  I wasn’t shocked by the old man’s response.  If I were in his position, I wouldn’t trust me, either.  Although our relationship hadn’t been the best as of late, we both knew what lie ahead. 

We were able to put aside our petty differences in order to understand the big picture.  As much as we disliked each other, we both wanted to reclaim the malevolence that made us infamous.  We both liked to see people squirm, and we bathed in the anguish and hatred of our enemies.  The pain of others was our pleasure, and we could easily stand to deal with each other if it meant torturing all those who opposed us.

Two men walked dressed in black walked through the open door I hid behind.  This was it, and this was the opportunity that I had been craving for so long.  The picture started to become clear, and the plan began to take shape. 

I leaned slightly to my left to peer from the side of the door to get a view of the two men.  One was wearing a black bandanna and a pair of black sunglasses, while the other carried a large camera on his shoulder.  

The man with the bandanna was essential to my destiny.  Our paths had crossed before.  I was younger when we first met, our battle an epic encounter that left me staring at the heavens during that fateful warm summer’s night.   It was a crushing defeat that burned deep within my heart.

I was inexperienced then, a tad bit impetuous and wild. But time has a way of forcing maturity upon us.  I became wiser; I learned how to stalk my prey and strike at their weakest moment.  I was still in my prime, while his iconic star faded with each egregious and foolish move he made to keep his mythic status intact.

The silly old fool would never imagine that he’d see me again, let alone fathom the severity of the storm that was brewing in his office. 

I began to count backwards from 60 while I held my breath to listen to the subtle sounds whispering through the room.  I leaned back behind the door and suddenly, the voices in my head returned.

We understand you ,” they said.  “Their savior is a sinner and deserves to crawl…they will question everything they’ve believed in .”

I grinned as I recognized the voices.  They knew that this was the time; they hadn’t deserted me after all.  Pride began to swell in my chest as they fed into my desires.

No more prayers, no more vitamins ,” the voices said.  “It’s time to break the rules.

…60…59…58…

The man with the bandanna began to shuffle papers on his desk.  I imagined him organizing his documents into neat piles, cherishing the false sense of order he believed he brought with him.  Soon he would find the conveniently placed note I left on the desk.  He would pick up it and try to convince himself to crumble it up and toss it into the trash basket behind him.

But he wouldn’t throw it away.  He would shake his head and take a seat in his plush leather chair.  He would take a deep breath and reluctantly reach for his office phone.  He’d slowly dial the phone number on the piece of paper and would nervously wait for the raspy voice of the old man to answer the dial tone. 

…55…54…53…52...

I recalled the plan and all of its intricacies as the scene unfolded in front of me. 

Your time will come soon, ” the voices said to me as I nodded in agreement.

“Hello,” the old man would say as the man with the bandanna took a deep breath.

“Hey brother,” he replied, his responses right on cue with my thoughts.

“Terry, how are you?” the old man would ask.

“Doing good, brother.  Look, I know you’re probably busy, but you got a moment to talk?” It sounded as if he were not convinced of his own words. 

“Sure, Terry.  What’s on your mind?” 

The hum of the cameraman’s machine brought an eerie sense of doom to the moment.   I reveled in the escalating excitement as the muscles in my chest tingled from the lack of oxygen that breathing gives.  I continued to count.

…47…46…45…

“I think it’s time, brother.  I think it’s time for me and you to tear it up again.”

The plan dictated that we play hard to get; we stall to make him sweat a little.  “I’m not sure I catch your drift,” the old man would say.

“We should talk business,” the man with the bandanna said.  “The maniacs down here are restless, and a lot of good people left once we brought a few guys in.”

“What’d you expect, Terry?” the old man would ask.  “You did the same thing you’ve always done, and the business has changed without you.  You had a good thing before bringing your band of nasty and oversexed cronies with you.”

I pictured the man with the bandanna running his hands over his head in frustration.  My insides burned with delight over the look on his face.  I wanted to see his expression, but the voices held me at bay.

The taste will be sweeter if you wait…keep counting…

…35…34…33…32…

“I know, I know,” said the man with the bandanna.  “But I really thought I could do something big for the both of us.  It all seemed like a good idea at first, but it got so messy that we couldn’t even understand it anymore.  We even had your guy make it here, so we couldn’t have been doing that badly, y’know?”

“Well, Terry,” the old man would say.  “You knew he had a monkey on his back.  All the money in your savings account couldn’t change that.  Even still, I recall you saying some pretty nasty stuff about me.  How’s that going to make me look to work with you again?  I’ve showcased your finest work to the world, and you threaten me publicly.  How does that make me look, Terry?”

“That’s just the business, brother.  You and I have traded blows for years, and it never got in the way of our partnerships.  Remember the hell I took for you back in ’94?”

This was the moment where the old man would pause to give the man with the bandanna a chance of hope, a sliver of salvation peering over a dark horizon.  I wanted to peer from behind the leather chair to witness the plan unfold, to bask in irony of the moment and gorge on the overwhelming humility this immortal icon felt.  My muscles began to throb from the lack of oxygen, but the thought of the savory taste of the fruition of the plan was enough to satiate me.

Keep counting… ” the voices said.

…22…21…20…

“I think now is a great time for both of us, brother,” the man with the bandanna said.  “We’re both about one thing, and I got a couple of guys still here that would look great with a few of your guys up there.  It could be 2001 all over again—a new start for both of us and a chance to really make some money.”

“Well Terry, I’ll tell you this.  I’m good for holding a grudge, but I’ll make an exception for business…” the old man would say.

…13…12…11…

“How ‘bout Thursday I come down there and we talk about this?  I’ll even bring my guy and you can help him work on his tan.  How’s that sound?”

…10…9…8…

“Sounds great,” the man with the bandanna said.  “I can’t wait to see you.”

…7…6…5…

“Good,” the old man would say.  “I’m sure we can come up with something that’ll make…quite the impact…”

…4…3…2…

“All right, brother,” the man with the bandanna said.  “See you then.”

…1…

Get ready… ” the voices said.  “It’s almost time…

Time seemed to move in slow motion.  My breathing was steady, my nerves on fire, and my gaze deadly.  A sneer crossed my face as the scent of blood in the air teased my senses.  I licked my lips in preparation for this moment.

I could hear footsteps coming toward me.  I was anxious to make my presence known, but the voices urged me to wait for a few more moments.

Not yet…just be patient .” 

“We better get out there and tell them,” the man with the bandanna said.  He was taking huge strides toward my direction, my nostrils flared as the tawdry scent of his cheap cologne grew stronger. 

Now !” the voices screamed in my head.  “Now !”

I sprang from behind the door, catching the man with the bandanna off-guard as he walked right into my line of fire.  Surprised, the cameraman took a slight step backward as he struggled to steady the camera.  My veins throbbed from the thrill of the moment.  My destiny was being fulfilled live for the world to see. 

A look of sheer terror and fear crossed the face of the man with the bandanna.  I leaped into the air and wrapped my arms around his neck. I gripped his head tightly with my hands as my body hovered in midair parallel to the ground.  I seemed to float for an eternity as the voices in my head cheered for this moment of pure euphoric intoxication.

I shifted my weight to allow gravity to take over.  Our bodies fell toward the ground, the man with the bandanna flailing his arms in desperation to protect his head from its inevitable fate.  His resistance was futile.

His skull smashed into the carpet with a sickening crack as the rest of his body went lifeless.  The camera was now focused on me, an expression of disbelief crossing the cameraman’s face as he peered from behind it. 

I quickly stood up from the floor and stared at my victim, a large purple knot growing on his forehead and a pool of blood slowly forming underneath his nose.

I kneeled over his body, turning my head sideways to soak in the beauty of my latest masterpiece.   I lowered my hand to the pool of blood under his face and scooped up a good amount of the warm, life-giving liquid.  I rubbed it across my face, an orgasmic feeling of ecstasy engulfing me and taking control.

With this vanquished hero lying before me, I returned to my true nature…what I was meant to be.  With this defining moment, the legend killing viper inside of me came back.  My destiny was almost fulfilled.

Just a few more moments to go ,” the voices said.  “Then all will hail your new era .”

I stood back up and glared at the cameraman.  He began to shiver in disbelief as I watched him struggle to wrap his mind around what occurred before him.

“Let’s go,” I said to him in a cold and deliberate tone.

We exited the office and navigated through the labyrinthine corridors toward my destiny.  We came to a corridor filled with men and women holding on to shattered dreams and promises.  I peered into eyes of frustration and apathy, staring into the souls of once-great warriors that yearned for years to bask in the limelight they so rightfully deserved. 

I laughed to myself, but I felt pity for them at the same time.  These were my brethren, soldiers that stood with me in the trenches as we clawed our way to the top to carve our names in the great tapestry of fame that hung from many hallowed halls across this country.   They placed their dreams in the hands of greedy and selfish men, their aspirations sacrificed for unnecessary controversy that created revenue to line to pockets of individuals no longer truly invested in our craft. 

Their livelihood became playthings for charlatans that knew nothing of the blood, tears, drugs, and alcohol that coursed through our veins and splattered the canvas of our lives week in and week out.  These men and women stood in the shadows of our forefathers that hovered above us all in that corridor, the ghosts of our past that tried desperately to guide us on our journeys.

“This is no time to sympathize with them!” the voices yelled at me.  “These sacrificial lambs are necessary for us.  We will feast on their sorrows and cover our body with their blood.

I pushed forward, realizing that my brethren served a greater purpose that must be fulfilled.  I surveyed this boulevard of lowered expectations, reveling in the beauty of my inevitable conquest over them.  The suicidal thoughts of a potential victim brought me delight, while the idea of four beautiful people and one dirty b***h made me laugh. 

I passed by a few chaps that considered themselves among the world’s elite, but I figured that my era would be the plague that killed their paltry invasion.

The old man would’ve loved to walk this corridor.  It would have pleased him to stare into an abyss to find the broken-down remnants of a hard-core icon.  He would have been elated to see the irony of a fallen angel hiding behind a beloved pontiff.  He would have even enjoyed trying to understand how the blueprint for these lost souls centered on giving beer money to a genetic freak and a nation of violence.

I faced lethal consequences by masterfully maneuvering my way through machine gun ammunition.  I narrowly escaped being gored by a wild beast and mauled by a snarling wolf.  I chuckled to myself, amazed at my ability to walk this proverbial green mile without fear or intimidation.

My destiny was unraveling; clearly, there was no need for fear. 

You’re almost there ,” the voices said to me.  “Just a little further.

As the cameraman continued to follow me, two men stood in the path toward my greatness.  One man was a machine of Olympian design.  He and I clashed several times before; our encounters brought the best out of me, and he seemed to enjoy testing his limitations against my prowess.  But here we stood in front of each other once again—stoic in demeanor and ready for war.

His cold, blue eyes stared back at me, devoid of any signs of remorse or sorrow for our past battles.  I grimaced at him, recalling the brutal beatings he unleashed upon me during the prime of our careers.  Neither one of us flinched, neither one of us gave up an inch of space as we stood nose-to-nose and glared at each other.

Slowly, he backed away from me, giving me an evil glare that seemed to say, “We will meet again.”  I welcomed his challenge.

To my left stood the other man, perhaps the most phenomenal athlete I’ve encountered in a long time.  He was the quintessential babyface, like I once was, and a beloved figure to tons of people.  He stared at me with pride filling his chest and a championship belt draped proudly over his shoulder. 

I stared back at him with the same intensity, but he seemed to be threatened by me.  There was a slight sense of hesitation that came from him; he knew he could beat be, but he was fearful of the casualties that war would bring.  He was ready to ascend to heaven, but he wasn’t ready to die.

I took my eyes off of him and stared at his belt.  His gaze followed mine, and he looked back at me with an uncertainty that spoke volumes.  He took a cautious step back and licked his lips, clinching his fists and preparing himself for an intense throw down between us.

I stepped closer to him to size him up.  He was an impressive specimen, but his abilities and physique would definitely fail against one swift punt to the skull.  I pulled out my cell phone and placed it in his face, showing him the last dialed phone number.  He licked his lips once more and looked at me with the intent to kill.

He then looked at the ground, and without question, the belt slid off of his shoulder and into my hands.  I took it and continued toward the ring.

I stepped out into the arena amidst a throng of spectators easily divided by my presence.  My music piped through the loudspeakers, but it was drowned out by the sounds of the roaring audience’s response to my presence.  I was surprised at the number of supporters I had in this arena, their chants climbing over the small chorus of boos that sounded like it came from a handful of people.

I took long strides to the squared circle that had brought me such notoriety.  Amid the catcalls and cheers of the crowd, I felt at home.  I felt welcomed and happy.  I was as giddy as a school girl.  This was it, and I was poised to reclaim my throne.

I slid into the ring and walked to the middle of it.  I stood there and basked in the glow of the spotlight and the roar of the crowd.  I was back where I rightfully belonged.

You’ve done it, ” the voices said.  “Now your new era begins.

I pressed the call send button on my Blackberry again.  The phone rang, and the old man’s raspy voice came through the receiver.

“Is it done?” he asked.

“It’s done,” I replied.  “I’m ready.”

“Good."  He said.

I hung up the phone and made a long sweeping glance over the crowd.  I had them eating out of the palm of my hand, their assumptions and expectations shattered by my appearance.  Their hero had been vanquished, and all that remained was the expressions of shock and awe on the faces of all those who believed my time was over.

I climbed the turnbuckles and held the championship belt in the air—the crowd loved every bit of it.  I took one last look at the title and spat on it.  Boos filled the arena as the fans pelted the ring with trash. 

The Age of Orton had begun once again.

I pointed to the large screen in the front of the area.  It blinked twice, and the old man appeared on it.  He too stood in a squared circle surrounded by thousands of fans screaming and waving their arms in the air.

The old man smiled and placed his cell phone back in his pocket.  Placing a microphone to his lips, he paused to let the crowd’s reaction sink in.  His plan had come full circle, and it seemed as if he too felt a surge of unadulterated power jolt through his body. 

The huge smile on his face signified that both of our destinies had been fulfilled, and it only took three months.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said as he placed the microphone in front of his face.  “Total nonstop action…is finally…RAW!”

 

Dedicated to Jose; may all of your dreams come true.

 

 

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