He had been asking himself the same question for the past ten years: how did I get here? Mike Sawyer, sometimes called Mean Mike Sawyer in theworld of professional wrestling, should have never ended up in this world. His entire life had been built around Greco Roman wrestling and judo, yet somehow he ended up in a high school locker room in small town Iowa wearing underwear to entertain morons.
“Shit... went... south,” Sawyer mumbled under his breath as the oddities of the wrestling world shuffled around him. He didn't like to think about thepast, he was angry enough without the reminders of a wasted life. But with recent developments in his professional life, the remembering was inevitable.
For the last decade, Sawyer has found himself surrounded by men wearing tights with baby oil lathered to their chest and knee high boots. Thetelevision was terrible – daytime soaps at best. He had hated it from the first second he laced the ridiculous boots. The obvious question is why. Why would a man who hates the wrestling business so much stay in it for as long as the 55-year-old Mike Sawyer has?
At one point in every man's life, a woman will attempt to steal everything. A pretty, skinny little number with blond hair, a flirtatious smile and a nice ass will come along and tempt him to throw his life away. For Sawyer, it had been only a matter of a year, maybe two, he couldn't remember – a man tends to forget these details as the years take their toll. It's a curse. The devil's in the details, they say. Sawyer had been well on his way to college on a wrestling scholarship, living the good life, when Lauren had come strolling into Council Bluffs, IA fresh from sunny California with tight tanned skin, long blonde hair, captivating green eyes. She had him before one word was exchanged.
Next thing Sawyer knew, Lauren's pregnant. Being a college student, while an admirable endeavor, isn't going to put food on the table or pay the massive bills that come with a baby. He had done what any man would do: he provided. Sawyer dropped out of school, found some work that he hated and wasn't compensated properly for. He took up drinking. Who didn't see that coming? Fast forward some years and the story gets so cliched it could make a man sick: another kid, a daughter, a mortgage, a piece of shit Chevy that never runs when it's needed and, of course, bills. Lots of bills.
Sawyer could admit that he didn't immediately notice his wife's errands running late. He was a busy man with a job that demanded extensive travel and a drinking habit to tend to, he couldn't be bothered with the gripes of an unsatisfied wife. After all, is there such a thing as a satisfied wife? A satisfied woman for that matter? He didn't think so. Looking back, he supposed the signs were obvious. Everyone but him had to have known what was going on. They hadn't been shy, often spending nights together in public while Sawyer wrestled all over the country, but he didn't much care.
What does this have to do with the wrestling business, one might ask?
She didn't want to tell him who it was at first. That he remembered clearly. She had come home late, probably after 1 A.M., but he couldn't be sure. She walked confidently into the living room, where she knew he'd be. Her arms weren't folded across her chest like they usually were when she talked to him. That, too, he remembered clearly.
“Michael,” she began, speaking a tone similar to that of a reprimanding middle school teacher. “We need to talk.”
She surveyed the coffee table: beer bottles, an ashtray with several pack's worth of cigarettes stacked and overflowing. His eyes were glossy, but he was sober enough to understand what conversation she wanted to have.
“Who is he?” He had hoped his voice would be clear, but he slurred slightly. Sure, she didn't ask for a divorce. Didn't have to. He knew. Lauren didn't want to respond. “Who is he, Lauren?”
“That's not important.”
She spoke crisply, business like. He rose from the couch, and the confidence drained from her face. He had never hit her, let that be clear. That's not to say that there is not something intimidating about a 6'3" 260 pound man who's had a few drinks making his way toward you. Sawyer stumbled slightly, planting a palm on the coffee table to steady himself. He sauntered toward her. She stood her ground, her knees felt weak.
“Michael, listen, it's best for both of us. You know that,” she began, speaking quickly. “It's the only way.”
He was close then. Two inches from her face. He was breathing heavily, the alcohol burning her eyes. He waited, a dumb alcoholic look on his face. He shook his head slowly. It was too late for the Hollywood forgiveness scene. He wouldn't be trying to fix his marriage this night.
They had only talked once after that night, the rest of the conversations held between lawyers speaking on their behalf. Between the child support and alimony, Sawyer was forced back into the only profession he knew in professional wrestling. Years of painstakingly planning retirement had went to waste and now here he was, back at square one.
He later found out the other guy was a dentist – the family dentist, in fact. He had filled a cavity for Sawyer... hell, apparently for his wife, too.
Back to the present...
A man in an off-brown suit makes his way over to where Sawyer sits, staring into nothing, remembering the events that led to this unfortunate career. He has a cigar – unlit- hanging from his mouth, the end chewed horribly. The man reeked of Wal Mart cologne and bourbon. He spoke quickly, thick Midwestern accent. His hands constantly moved, eyes constantly darted. The man couldn't focus on one thing for more than a second.
“Mikey, my boy,” he fired. “How's my number one guy?”
“I'm 55, sitting in a high school locker room in Ames,” He took a long swig from the beer on the floor at his feet. “Living the dream, Jens.”
Jens Erichsen. There was a piece of shit like him in every locker room on every indy show in wrestling around the country. He put the boys up thecheapest hotels, paid them half of what they were promised and was constantly blowing smoke up your ass – business as usual in this carny show.
“That's what I always liked about you, Mikey. You could always make me laugh!” He took the cigar from his mouth, eyed it for a few seconds. “I'm gonna miss it, Mikey. With you leaving us and all.”
That was rich. Leaving “us”. Like this was some big fucking happy family. Sawyer looked around him. It was like the land of misfit toys, except they weren't missing their legs or arms, they were missing their worth. A locker room full of people who were convinced that they were going to make it to the big leagues but never would. Skinny young kids with hair too long and acne mixed with fat has beens, guys with face paint, guys with glitter, guys with million dollar bodies and 5 watt brains – nobodies.
“Business is business,” Sawyer responded. “I'm looking to retire... again.”
“You and me both, brother!”
He laughed. Sawyer didn't.
“If it's all the same to you, Jens, I'd like to get the hell out of here.”
“Of course, of course, my boy.” Jens rummaged his hand through his pockets. He never could seem to find the payouts. “Ah!” he exclaimed, his hands coming to a stop in the breast pocket of his jacket. “Here we go.”
He handed an envelope with “Mean Mike” scribbled across it. Jens clapped Sawyer on the shoulder and walked towards the door. Sawyer held theenvelope up into the air for a moment, dropped his head and sighed.
“Jens,” he called after him. Jens stopped, a frown formed on his lips. Sawyer hadn't seen it, but he knew it was there. “You and I both know this is light.”
Jens waits several seconds and speaks with his back to Sawyer. “I know, brother. The gate wasn't what I was expecting tonight. You know I'd give you all of it if I had it, brother. That's the truth!”
Sawyer contemplated if it was worth the fight. It wasn't. He knew Jens had the money, but he also knew that the big time was going to be paying him far more than what this prick was.
“You're a piece of shit, Jens.”
“And you, sir, are a gentleman.”
Jens laughed once more and made his way out of the locker room. Sawyer chuckled briefly to himself.