Post by Dom Strife on Feb 27, 2021 23:23:17 GMT -5
Somewhere deep in the heart of normal, there was a kid from Baltimore who sat dejected on a concrete curb. What sat before him was the greatest metaphor for his life so far: an old pickup truck that had clearly clocked its last mile, as it was now nothing more than a charred, rusted remain.
His mind told him that he didn't know where things went wrong, but his heart could fire an arrow and pierce the exact date on a calendar blindfolded from 500 (back)yards away.
The truck had gotten so hot that some of the pitted sheet metal had twisted and warped. The paint boiled off and the tired exploded and then burned. What the tow truck brought back it should have taken straight to the salvage yard, because it was literally worth its weight in rust and nothing more. Yet our young man from White Marsh couldn't bring himself to the obvious truth, that truth being that sometimes things get so broken that they are no longer worth the effort of fixing.
The bitter February air that wisped through the cabin of the remnant only to tried to comfort him when it bit him on his cheeks. The sunglasses he wore for the glare did little to shield him from the reflection that was the state of his affairs. Finally, the kid's heart knew that it was all over. Without the truck, there was no Delivery Service. Without the Delivery Service, there was no Isla. Without Isla, there was no reason to continue to pretend like all of this was going to work out in the end.
'Nothing that was worth it in life was easy,' said the ringing in his head.
Dom glanced up through the fourth wall at me, the narrator, and made a comment I shall not repeat. For it is I, the narrator, not to be confused with all of the "other" narrators. For I am both omnipresent and individual, and I have my own story to tell.
Dominick Strife's Narrator Presents:
The last time we saw this young man, he wasn't saving Christmas. He was making what best could be described as a mockery out of Valentines' Day.
I thought we had agreed that we would limit our interaction, as it would impede on your style?
"Yeah well we're thirty-seconds in and you're already p*ssing me off."
My apologies to the children.
As I make it so that Dominick cannot hear my voice, I can't help but notice the sadness in his. As you see, our hero is no hero, not quite one anyway. Actually, it would seriously depend on what your standard of a hero is, much less a "super" one. Since the Entourage had fallen apart, Dominick's career's trajectory could be best described by an airplane whose wings magically disappeared at 30,000 feet. For a while, Dom considered himself a villain... and to be fair... his desperation only pushed him further in the direction of accepting short-cuts as an acceptable means of winning. But Dom was no villain. Not in the traditional sense. He had his own motivations and a well-constructed story-arc, just an over-abundance of tough luck after some really poor decision-making.
Dominick sighed as he stood up, and brushed the wrinkles out of his Walmart jeans. He knew what he had to do, but he wasn't sure if he had the strength or would be sued for copyright infringement if he actually did it. Yet it was still time to let the past die, and that meant killing it if he had to. One phone call was all it was going to take to truly say goodbye to everything he had built (or ruined) in the past year or so.
It's in moments like these where what's truly important to someone comes to the forefront. Like the bubbles in a boiling pot, these things will eventually rise and break through the surface, and if left unchecked long enough, spill out onto the floor. Our-not-so-hero pulls out his phone and has to choke back the tears that would clash with his gelled hair and his studded leather jacket. He wanted to have that truck forever, he tells himself.
"I wanted to have that truck forever."
"It was the first thing I ever had that I could truly call mine."
Which is pretty F-ed up if you think about it. But Dom doesn't try to think about his Father anymore. That piece of crap would rather debate the efficacy of mask-wearing and claim election fraud than take care of his own son, so he deserves at the very least to be dead to him.
Dom sobbed as he made the call.
Behind him was an empty apartment. Sure it had some sticks of furniture, a working refrigerator, and even a flat-screen, but it was all condiments and no food. Dom chose to sit out in the throes of a harsh winter because to him it was the better option. It reminded him a lot of the time when he and the Strife family were all sitting during the family-only time of Grandpa Strife's last viewing. Silent, pretending what the dead would say if they were still here among us, how that final goodbye would and should play out. A truck wasn't as important to him as a family member, but what it represented to him was the death of an ideal.
Any moment now the tow truck would arrive, and then, defeat would be realized, galvanized, set in stone like a monument. For all that it was worth, he might as well ask the tow trucking company if they were hiring as well because, in the end, he'd have to admit that his father was right all along.
He was nothing more than a F-up. Ask Axton. Ask Sebastian. Ask Christopher St. James. Hell, I could probably ask the other narrator too cause Vengy is way too nice to be as harsh as to tell Dr. Dominick Doom the real truth.
"Doctor Dominick Doom?" He asked as he swiped his forearm along his cheeks. "You're f*cking stupid, dude."
Oh shit, I thought I had turned my mic off in your earpiece. Fuck, I meant to say s@#!.
The real truth being that there was no way in Mephisto's playground that Dr. Dom was ever going to become Baltimore City champion like this. His last two efforts at becoming a Carnage champion both ended in epic failure, so epic in fact that it would be weirder if Dom were to somehow walk out of Ft. McHenry with a victory than it was to lose to a real-life superhero. What twisted the knife that Dom buried in his own back was the fact that every other member of the Entourage was walking into the historic battleground weighed down by their own greatness. Sebastian won the Chaos championship that Dominick couldn't when he squared off with Harry Hampton, (who apparently was blipped shortly thereafter anyway,) and Ax and Jon were the tag-team champions who had proven that Dom was never a necessity in the Entourage in the first-place.
Yet it was Dom's misdeeds that brought him here. Brought him to a Middle River sunset, with the smell of freshly smoked meth swirling in the wind. Dom peered to his right to see one of his neighbors imitating Michael Jackson's dance in the Thriller video in his underwear, and for a time he wondered why this cameo was even necessary, but what Dom didn't tell you was the cheap beer that had overtaken his own breath.
"So what if I had a few drinks?" Dom belched. "It's been a rough stretch."
I just don't want to see you end up like Resident Evil Robohigh over there.
"Yeah, well, it's still a better neighborhood than the last shithole I lived in. Trust me." Dom crossed his hands in front of him as he sat on the curb. "Doesn't mean I'm going to turn to drugs."
Excuse me, but didn't I just see you chugging Natty Boh's earlier?
"Beer doesn't count. Now pipe down before you give 'cracky' the impression that I'm holding a white infinity stone."
Still, I worry about you.
There's only so much a man can take, down here in the real world, or whatever you mere mortals call realm 616. The pain and damage that surrounds your aura are palpable, just as it is in the (chuckles) fine city that you hope to represent. I'm not as privy to these human emotions as you are, but if I were to endeavor towards empathy, I'd feel sadness and shame.
Your cohorts, your fellow citizens, are like your opponent in a way. They see something that's broken and they make a joke about it. Some of them because they are so insecure in their own selves, and some because they use humor to mask their pain. Dom, you truly are a son of your city, a son of Baltimore. You are the son of a town that is in desperate need of heroes, super or not. Poverty and inequalities are the driving forces behind the crime that you hear on your news channels. Pride withers as desperation and hunger become the new laws of your land, and these are nothing that being crowned a champion can fix.
These are only things that can be fixed by being a champion.
"Yeah, well, maybe the Avenger can change all of this when he becomes Baltimore City Champion," Dom shouts to the sky. The methhead stops dancing long enough to look over at Dom like he's the crazy one, apparently. Dom turns to the methhead and gives him the finger.
"Hey buddy, better run. I just saw the alien mothership landing."
"Razzle frazzle shizznits!"
The methhead ran and lept into a nearby dumpster where he later died, sadly.
Just kidding, I don't know. He served his purpose to our plot, and now Dominick sees his own future as a sad old man with two teeth dancing in the streets of Balti-
"No the f@(k I do not," He commands as he pulls himself up by his literal bootstraps. "I may be a lot of things, God, but I ain't no fucking loser."
I'm not God, but I'll kindly take the compli-
"...and do you know why I ain't no fucking loser? Because I ain't no fucking quitter, and you can't lose if you never quit."
Dom turned just in time to see the tow truck arrive, having heard the loud diesel engine roar the moment it had turned into the parking lot of his complex. A wave of reality crashed over him like a thousand beached horseshoe crabs on the sandy shores of nearby Rehoboth. Sacrifice is real, Dom. Pain is real, and so too are the consequences of your actions. You'll have to go into Earth 69,420 if all you want is an endless pleasure regardless of your personal choices. I hear that Jack Michaels has been confusing Earth 616 with that one for years, so at least you're not alone.
A choice to quit is sometimes a choice to live. A choice to throw away a bad decision and to not let it continue to eat at you. But you're still young, and there's much that you still don't understand.
Dom watches as the tow truck makes a hard "U" before backing up to the nose of his metaphorical life. Another thing that Dom didn't tell you was that, with his willingness to go find a real job, he's also been keen to admit the obvious in that he never had what it took to make it in Carnage Wrestling anyway. As he watched the diamond-plated flatback's rear end nose itself up towards my implied vantage point, and knife itself downward toward destiny, he dreaded that the time in this fantasy of his had run out.
The driver of the truck casually pulled a hook from a winch and hooked it to the carcass of what was once a working man's proud vehicle. He didn't have to say a word to Dom, because there was nothing to say. Just as Dom felt he had nothing to say to the Avenger. What would happen at Act of Defiance was as obvious as picking out which of the cars in the parking lot needed the tow. The metal rims of the old brake rotors scrapped the asphalt as the truck was forcibly dragged forwards and upwards. That was until, almost comically, the front bumper (in its own last Act of Defiance) fell the F off.
"No the fuck I am not.. Did not... whatever."
Hey pal, it's alright. I understand.
Dom was forced to watch as the driver got his truck up on the bed and strap what was left of it down. One final shame was the fact that even this stranger knew that this old P.O.S. couldn't be trusted even when it was being hauled away. Dom's eyes followed the tow truck as it rounded the corner when his truck an unwilling bondage victim strapped to the back. It was the last time he was ever going to see that truck again, and he knew it.
But at least now it was over, and the grieving process could begin.
"I'm going to be serious right now. Can we stop doing this? It's really not fun."
Dom tried to hide his own dejected-ness as his feet shuffled towards the front door of his apartment.
"No, I mean, like seriously. I get the joke and all. Nobody has to tell me that I'm the one that fucked up, either. I get it."
Yes, but did you also know that things always seem their darkest at the end of the second act?
Yeah, it's when our hero is faced with their darkest moment. It's the thing that you've been building to, man. So what if everything seems hopeless? Don't you know that the only thing standing between you and redemption is the opportunity to make a new choice?
Dom shakes his head at me as if he doesn't know what I'm talking about.
If I had hands motherfucker, I'd nudge you. Shake you. Give you... a freaking hug or something. Come on!
"I'm going inside. Night night, creepy voice in my head," He murmured sarcastically. "Can't wait to go to my first AA meeting tomorrow."
Dom banged on the dumpster.
"Night night, crackhead."
First of all, I specifically said he was high on meth.
Second, you should turn around.
Just shut the fuck up and turn the fuck around.
Dom heard a quiet engine purring, and the sound of rubber wheels rolling on the pavement in the parking lot behind him.
Third act time.
You see, Baltimore doesn't need superheroes. It just needs more of its citizens to choose to be heroes. Like Andrew Burke said in the last episode, the good in life never comes easy, and that includes the toughest lessons in life as well. The harder it is, the more you learn.
Dom's eyes widened like mine would if (I had them) every time I would crack open a brand new comic book. Isla Burke, in all of her beautiful glory, comes rolling up into Dom's parking space with a brand new old truck. She slides the gear shifter on the column into park, and steps out to strike a quick pose for Dom next to the truck that he knew nothing about.
"Ta-da!" She says with an infectious smile that could literally force your concept of sunshine through any of your paltry rain clouds. She closes the drivers' door and tosses Dom a brand new set of keys. "So, do you like it?"
The keys hit Dom on the chest and drop to the ground right next to his jaw. Now's your chance, Dom. Tell her that you love what you see, but strongly imply that you don't mean the new old truck.
Dom shakes his head.
"I-is this for me?"
The blonde goddess nodded her head. "Yup. Dad pulled it out of storage. It's gonna need a little bit of work to pass inspection, but I don't mind helping you with that if you want me to."
Like I was saying, it's the moment of truth. The point of redemption. Does Dom accept the truck and repeat a past mistake without thinking of how things turned out last time? Or does Dr. Dom find it in his cold heart to accept the virtue of humility... to take the hard path... to accept his current hardship and to face it head on-
"Well actually," Isla says up to me, "He isn't giving it to Dom." She turns back to him. "Dad said 600 bucks and it's yours."
"Really?" Dom replied.
Isla nodded her head. "Yeah, he wanted to make you earn it, or something. I dunno. He just kept goin' on and on about how it was his first truck and he wanted to make sure that you'd appreciate it."
A flood of emotions... Sometimes the crashing waves pull us back into the current, they don't always leave us stranded out on the beach in the sun.
"Which I told him you would, because I mean, come on."
"Isla, I-I, I don't know if I-"
"What, deserve it?" She cocked an eyebrow. "Of course you do, Dom. Dad knows you're a great guy."
Isla saw that Dom had been sobbing, though she couldn't really understand why. But the key to Isla was that the why didn't matter as she carefully removed his sunglasses to look at him in his glossy, bloodshot eyes. Dom looked back at her, a blender's finest mixture of gratefulness, humbleness, unworthiness, and shame. She traced her thumb along the stream on his icy cheekbone.
He bridged the gap between them, and he kissed her.
He actually fucking did it, about Ken-damn time, too.
Ooh, and Isla's kissing back. You go, boy. Now tell her the truth you've been hiding from her for quite some time.
"Isla, I love you."
Even heroes need help, too.
Hello, it's me, I'm back again.
Now I don't usually narrate Dom's promotional work. As a celestial, cosmic being, I tend to not get involved in the affairs of barely involved monkeys who want to beat each other senseless for that useless 'currency' you call 'money'. Or whatever reason you all do it.
In all honesty, I kinda think you all like hurting each other for fun.
But alas, I'm not here to judge. I'm here to tell you that Dom is standing with his back pressed against the grill of his new, old truck... the truck that once belonged to Andy Burke, Isla's father. You see, the story isn't over, because it's not like our hero has 600 dollars just lying around in a piggy bank somewhere. Our real hero, Isla, is soaking in the warmth that is Dom's arms as they wrap around slash drape over her.
Before I let him speak, I just want to browbeat you, the viewing audience, with my heavy handed attempt at revealing the moral to this story. You see, Dom couldn't bring himself to accept help from Axton Gunn when it was offered to him as a friend. Then, Dom did accept the help from that dastardly Christopher St. Pain (great villain name btw) when it was offered with his own seedy bad-guy plot in mind. But now all Dom needs to do to set things right is-
"We're saving that for the next episode."
Dom and Isla smirk up at me and he gives me a lil' winky wink.
Alright, alright, fine. It's always nice to leave off on a bit of a teaser. Get the audience talking and asking questions about what they might think will happen next. You know, like if it would turn out that C$J was really Agatha All Alon-
So... uhm... anyway... yeah...
You had something you wanted to say to the Avenger?
"Yes, I do." Dom said, as he switched his focus back to the 'camera'.
"Avenger, you've been on a hell of a roll since the New Year, and I wanted to congratulate you. You've proven all of the naysayers wrong lately, from chokeslamming a 400 pound man to vanquishing foes like the right hand. Hell, you even saved Christmas from Krampus or something, I don't know, I almost regret missing my cameo in that."
Dom hugged Isla a bit tighter and smirked.
"But you see, we're here now, because of circumstances or whatever. What's in the past doesn't matter. Adrienne Levi would probably have kicked the shit out of both of us with both her hands tied behind her back, but in her departure she left a void that you and I both earned the right to be the one to try to fill. And I'm going to be honest with you, I apparently suck at these things. I can't win a title match to save my life, and you're a freaking superhero, bro. I can tell that since the start of the new year you've been taking advantage of this desire to be more competitive in the ring. You've grown tired of not being taken seriously and it shows."
"I understand man."
"But, I don't see you that way. Or rather, I'm willing to meet you half-way. And if I may be so bold, I think most people, most of us in Carnage rather, seem to meet you half-way too. I think they're willing to take you at least as seriously as you're willing to take yourself seriously. I don't think that it's fair when people outright think that you're a joke, though. I know that you know the opportunity that you have in front of you."
"I know you have far more history than I have, here. I know your experience both as a wrestler and as a crime-fighter far outweighs my own. And I know that your partner, sidekick, whatever, was a highly successful Baltimore Champion back in the day, so... it would seem so poetic and appropriate that you overcome your naysayers yet again and become a champion in your own right. I know that you'd love to put your name in the record books alongside Sam Action's. It would be a fitting finale and a perfect first episode of your next adventure, where the Avenger isn't a joke anymore."
"Now I only really have one thing to say, but I think it's worth saying before we end up throwing down in Fort McHenry in two nights. But just because you're facing me and you know my track-record in these matches doesn't mean that it's a guaranteed win. I'm fighting for things, too."
"I want to be taken seriously, too. But unlike the Dom of old, I'm not going to let the quest for gold ruin all of the good things that I have around me. I'm not a superhero, I'm just a normal guy, or a citizen as you might say, but it's people like me that make up the City that you see before you. The championship is a representation of that. I'm not going to stand on a soapbox and tell these people, my fellow citizens of Baltimore, that winning the Baltimore City Championship is going to make my life better or make their lives better, because it's not. I'm not going to walk into the fort and try to beat you so that I can feel better about myself, either. I'm going to do it because it's my job."
"I'm not promising anything other than the fight of your life... and on that promise, I will deliver... first class."
You're damn right you will, Dom.
Now you two go and make one of those baby things.
"Excuse me?" Isla shouts directly at me.
Last Edit: Feb 27, 2021 23:27:59 GMT -5 by Dom Strife