The inside of the Athens Emergency Food Bank is busy. Workers are making sure the food baskets are set up. Families are collecting their goodies. The holiday season is in full swing.
In the middle of the mayhem, helping load a rather large turkey into one of the food baskets is our resident THRILLmaker, Will Haynes.
Haynes is dressed comfortably. He's casual. Trainers, a pair of khaki colored joggers, and a black thermal. His hair is cut short, cropped tight to either side.
He loads the turkey in and then dusts off his hands. He turns, recognizing the camera.
Haynes: "Oh hey there, Happy Thanksgiving! Well not quite yet, but you get the picture."
Haynes looks over at the check in table. Two middle aged women are going over lists, signing people in and out. Keeping track of how much food is given out. A lot of busy work.
Haynes: "Girls, gonna take a short break. That okay?"
The two women turn around to address the UTA Superstar.
Woman #1: "Sure sweetie, whatever you need."
Woman #2: "No problem. We've got you covered."
They turn back to their work as the THRILL heads towards the a back door. He slips outside. The Georgia sunshine cascading down on him. He closes his eyes, lifting his head to the sky. Basking in it.
Haynes: "Ya know I look around at all those less fortunate than I am, all those poor souls who gotta come in here t' get their Thanksgiving feast on n' I'm reminded at how truly blessed I am."
"I'm reminded how good I got it. All the things I'm blessed t' have."
The THRILL nods his head.
Haynes: "I finally can say, I got my health."
Haynes nods his head. He closes his eyes, taking a deep breath.
He's worked hard to return from the injuries he's suffered over the past few months. He's happy that he wasn't reinjuried at International Affair. That was one of his fears.
Haynes: "I got a great job. I mean we all get paid t' do somethin' most folks would do for free. We get t' entertain people around the globe. Get t' make them forget about their problems. Even if it's just for a few minutes. N' lemme tell ya somethin' that's a real treat."
Haynes: "It'd be nice t' tell y'all 'bout my grand Thanksgivin' plans. Talk about all the family I'm gonna get t' see, all the friends that are gonna stop on by for some Mulled Wine n' Hot Cider, but this year - can't say there's a whole lot a' that."
"Hell I didn't even get invited to Slaw's Momma's house. That should tell ya somethin'."
"So after I hit the soup kitchen up the road n' serve some a' those who are more needy than you or me; I'm gonna be flyin' redeye style right int' Montreal. Save myself a few beans in the process."
He shakes his head.
Haynes: "Travel vouchers ain't what they used t' be, lemme tell you."
"Montreal should be great. Can't really remember bein' through there before. Hell maybe I'll be a tourist on this trip. Haven't done that kinda thing in a long while."
His eyes quickly find the ground. He kicks at a small pebble sending it across the yard. Haynes shakes his head.
Haynes: "We used t' do that all the time when I first started. We'd hit the town a few days early, stretch the food vouchers as far as they could go n' take in the sights."
"I always told folks that when I got t' be this big shot I'd fly in early n' party in every town. N' for a while there I could'a done just that. Stead what did Slaw n' I do. We blew all our money out in Vegas."
"We were so damn stupid."
Haynes walks a bit further away from the door.
Haynes: "We were so full a' ourselves; acted like nothin' mattered. That everythin', no matter how vile would just roll off our backs. Like our actions didn't have consequences."
"N' then we got run out of Vegas. Got taken off the pay roll n' ended up renting a house here in Athens."
He looks down the back alleyway. Sees a few recycling cans put out waiting to be picked up. Athens has been good to him over the years.
Haynes: "Glorified Air BNB, but hey it got the job done. I got a new job. Worked hard. Made friends with the right cats, got a big pay advance n' wound up in Nashville.
"We did alright for ourselves. Then that job went belly up, like most a' the other ones I had n' we found ourselves tryin' t' make ends meet."
"That's when I got the call from James Wingate."
Haynes leans on the fence that is out back. Pushing down on it, lifting himself off the ground a bit. Letting his top half dangle for just a second before letting himself back down again. The kind of a thing you used to do as a kid.
Haynes: "That's when I got my shot here in the UTA, Jim. Wasn't but about a month or so later that I was standin' in that Chamber Match with you."
"Now, that guy you faced in the Chamber, he just wasn't ready. He wasn't ready t' step int' the ring with someone like you, Jim. Someone trained on his goal. Someone so dialed in that there was simply no stoppin' him. That version a' me, he gets beat in that Chamber Match ten outta ten times."
Haynes nods his head. He's coping to it.
Haynes: "But that version a' me, ain't who's standin' across the ring from you come Victory, Jim. My past, as pronounced as it may or may not be, ain't what's standin' in the ring agains't you next Monday Night, Jim. Nope, it's my present."
"Hell it's my future."
Haynes takes another deep breath.
Haynes: "If I beat you, Jim, the possibilites for me - are endless. Not only will I hold a pin fall over the ACTUAL World Champion, but I'll also hold a pin fall over the Number One Contender as well."
A devlish smirk builds on Haynes' face.
Haynes: "I mean that'll certainly get people talkin'."
Haynes: "Presently, Jim, while you were out chasin' waterfalls, or whatever it is you were doin', I was holdin' it down inside that ring. Didn't matter who they threw at me, I was shuttin' them down, takin' them to their limit. What were you doin' before you left? What were you doin' t' reclaim your once fallen dynasty?"
Haynes with another smirk following the pun.
Haynes: "You were losin' t' Pin Smith. You were steamin', red in the face mad about it."
"N' that's the thing, Jim. That's the reason that no matter what you do in that ring, no matter how many Five Star Classics you put on, that you won't get the respect you feel ya deserve - cause ya got this crappy attitude."
Haynes shakes his head. Bringing a hand up to rub his temples. He's had visions of Perfection with his feet up in his office running through his head since seeing the promo tape. Haynes didn't miss Perfection during his time off.
Haynes: "Maybe, just maybe if you weren't so egotisitcial - If every positive thing someone said didn't go straight t' your head, people would show you the respect I think you've earned in that ring."
Haynes is firm here.
Haynes: "There ain't no denyin' that Jim, you're career has been impressive. Hell that's why beatin' you, regardless a' what title shot you're holdin', would be a big ol' notch in my belt when it comes t' paddin' my resume. You're a former World Champ, that's somethin' t' be considered here."
Haynes holds out his hands in a gesutre of good will before pulling them back quickly.
Haynes: "Jim. Ya know what I'm gonna do?"
"Just cause I'm a sweetheart."
He waits, as if Perfection is going to answer him. And then he continues.
Haynes: "I'm gonna show you how I manged t' beat Eric Dane."
Haynes nods his head.
Haynes: "I'm gonna push the pace, Jim. Make you pay for ever single drag of that overpriced cigar ya had. Just like I did t' Dane, tax them lungs for all those years a' smokin'."
"I'm gonna work the knees, Jim."
"Workin' your knees will keep you not only off balance, but will render that Figure Four you're so partial to pretty much obselte. Dane also has incredibly fraglie knees. Guy is also pretty smart, he keeps them wrapped inside of a Titanium brace. Don't let him knock ya upside the head with that thing, hurts like hell."
Haynes rubs his head, he can still remember getting hit with one of those in the Leather Strap Match. Suddenly Haynes realizes something.
Haynes: "Ya know, Jim, for someone who talked so much about the past, n' how much it defines us maybe ya wanna do a little readin."
"What did Spectre, Sean Jackson, Eric Dane, n' Mikey Unlikely all have in common?"
"They all overlooked me."
"Thought they were better than me. Thought I'd just roll over, just causeI wasn't in their future plans."
"How'd that go for all a' them?"
"Huh, Mr. Student of History? How did they all fair against me?"
Haynes leaves space here for Perfection to answer.
Haynes: "Keep forgettin' the history, Jim cause it's gonna be real fun t' watch you repeat it."
"I think its time for you to take that ‘last nap’. Maybe someday, we will have the science to fix you, but for now, it seems as if all hope is lost buddy!’"
- Mikey Unlikely