The wave of chilling air struck Finn Donovan’s naked face as he stood there, little arm holding the fridge door open, looking up helplessly at the six pack of Bud Light on the top shelf out of reach. He looked longingly at the store clerk, hoping the man would notice his plight, but the latest edition of Sports Illustrated held his attention. So he waited, hoped, for help to come while he mourned in the cold silence, broken only by the humming of the fluorescent lights above him in the convenience store.
This was a monumental occasion, nevertheless, for it was the first time Finn Donovan had been seen without his signature lucha suit. Underneath the green and the black, he was just pale white with a smattering of freckles across the bridge of his nose and along the cheekbones, marks of his Irish heritage. His red hair, a further symbol of this stereotype, was buzzed short, not helping him in any attempt to look his age. No, only the thin lines across his wide brow, the gaunt look in his otherwise shrouded eyes, that gave away that Finn had seen more years that the presumed twelve or thirteen a by passer would otherwise assume him to have, given his size.
From the heavens, or at least outside of Finn’s peripheral vision, an arm reaches out and grabs ahold of the plastic holding the six blue cans together, bringing them down to the level where Finn was more comfortable at. “Can’t let a little thing such as size keep you in the way from a good time,” the scraggly bearded man said, his flannelled shirt giving him that lumberjack look, as he grabbed a six-pack for himself as well.
His words could’ve easily have been interpreted as a jab at his height, but something about the man’s tone said otherwise. Nevertheless, Finn was not in the mindset to protest even it had been, instead giving the man a weak grin and a mumbled utterance of, “Thanks,” before heading to the front to pay. The clerk didn’t even bother to check his ID, else he would realize that Finn wasn’t old enough to buy alcohol. No, he gladly took his money and then turn back to the latest college basketball updates in magazine. He didn’t even look up again as Finn exited the store, his departure marked by the chime of the bell.
A few steps across a thin layer of snow brought Finn to a burnt yellow Taxi already running, its fumes forming a haze in its immediate vicinity. Pulling the back door, Finn hops in and shuts it behind him. The driver, an Arab man with a serious aura about him, looks back at him over his arm that was stretched out across the top of the bench seat. “Where to next?”
Finn gazed at his reflection of his hard face for a moment, before replying, his hands never moving from their rest atop the alcohol. “St. Joseph’s Cemetary.”
The taxi pulls out, exhaling a final burst of off-white smog that swirls in the breeze until it covers the entirety of the scene, which conveniently fades during the haze.
“We missed you at Thanksgiving again this year, Dad.”
When the scene returns to us, we see Finn Donovan, still unmasked and naked to the world, sitting with his back against a headstone in a sea of graves. The six pack sat beside him against the marble, though it missed one of its pieces; that particular can was in Finn’s hand as he used liquid to stay warm in the early December morning. He takes a long sip of the Bud Light as he speaks to the crisp air around him.
“Hard to believe it’s been fourteen years. I wish I can saw I’ve grown up since you last saw me, but you know, that’s not a word that’s even been applicable to me. I’m still the same kid, save for one thing.” Finn smiles, a pitiful, pained twist of his thin lips. “I did it. All those Monday nights you’d let me stay up and watch our favorites, I finally did it. I’m a wrestler, Dad, just like I told you I’d be. And look where it’s gotten me?”
Finn exhales, an explosion of hot steam that shrouds his pale face for a brief moment. “I get to miss you even more knowing you don’t get the chance to see me try to be half the man you were.” A reminiscing pause. “A real hero.”
Finn finishes off the Bud Light and leans to the side to toss set it off-screen. With this movement, we see the name Braxton Donovan appear along with the date of death: September 12, 2001. And then it was all gone as Finn sat up again, closing his eyes to hide the bright blue orbs.
“Because if I have done anything to be labeled that name myself, Chance, it was because I was only doing it for my father. Because that what fathers are for, I realize now, to be the inspirations to their children. And if they aren’t, well . . .” Finn opens his eyes and looks straight into the camera, “take this into heavy consideration, Chance, because it may make the difference for you.” Finn straightens up against the tombstone.
“Maybe the child is just unable to understand.”
“My father had been a firefighter here in Boston since before I was born, your stereotypical individual to idolize. All I can remember, though, for my early years was hiding away when my father came back covered it soot and smelling of fire. Thing is, he scared me, despite all the good he was doing in the world.” Finn signs a long, painful sigh, almost to the point of him choking him. “When the towers fell, my father was one of the first to volunteer to go into New York. Five year Finn Donovan didn’t want him to, not because he didn’t care for all of those people, but because he didn’t know. So my father’s last memory of me is me throwing a tantrum in the floor as he left to be a hero.”
The inevitable words followed after a short pause.
“The next day, he was extracting a trapped victim when the rubble fell onto him, killing him instantly.”
Finn Donovan runs his hand through his hair, shaking his head to himself.
“So when I see your own son, Chance, putting on my mask and naming me his hero instead of you, it pains me. Not because I don’t want to be a hero here in the UTA, but because I wish at least for him, you could be it. You’re not a bad man, Chance, from what I’ve seen of you thus far. Sure, your gag with demonism was a little, umm, much. But hey, the lengths we go to make our point.” Finn gives a weak grin. “I mean, hell, I shoved barbed wire down my brow just so I could call myself the Messiah. Can’t say either of us are the brightest, are we?”
Finn shrugs as he leans his head back against the marble.
“But we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for this desire to defy normality, Chance. You’re a veteran in this business, a man who many would say has exceeded his prime; Yeshua’s attack of you after your match with him is just a clear message of what this younger generation thinks of you. And yet you’re undefeated since returning. And me?” Finn looks down at himself to emphasize his next point. “I’m just this little guy who hit women and smash light tubes over people’s head and get cheered for it. Children cheer for me, Chance, not just your’s!”
Finn pats his knees with open palms, as if loosening the joints as he prepares to stand.
“And that is why I’m going to bring the hardest fight into Wrestleshow #49 as I can muster. I’d hate it, truly I would, if I take away any chance of you being a hero in your son’s eyes, Chance. But there are another thousand kids who look at me the same was, as a man their size who proves you can do anything you set your mind to.” A pause. “Do you think my father would’ve been more a hero if he pick and choose who he tried to save that day, or was it because he was there to try to help them all that made him who he was?”
Pushing himself to his feet, Finn wipes off the snow that collected on his hands against the outside of his leather jacket. Then, grabbing the zipper around the neck, he begins to pull it down. Underneath the jacket, the black shillelagh and the green fabric of his lucha suit underneath.
“So for me to say, Chance that I’m going to step aside and let you have this one for your son would be going against the life lesson, the only lesson I really have, of my father. These people, the UTA universe, want to see me succeed and damn if I’m going to throw it away over the whims of a single person. Because, like I said, more than likely your son just doesn’t know what he’s saying.” Finn reaches into the pocket of his jacket and pulls out his mask. He unfolds it, but looks at the camera before putting it on, his thin eyebrow cocked. “Or maybe he knows exactly who you are, Chance, and why you’re undeserving to win come Monday, why you’re undeserving to be called ‘hero.’”
And with that, Finn Donovan dons the mask. He glances back once more at the tombstone, his voice muffled as he spoke.
“I’ll see you again soon, Dad.”
El Trébol turns back to look at the camera.
“And I’ll see you at Wrestleshow #49, Chance, where I try to be that man everyone, heh, looks up to.”
The luchador steps off-screen as the camera focuses on the six-pack minus one beneath at the foot of the gravestone before darkness envelops the screen
"That made my nuts draw up so tight you couldn't reach them with knittin' needles."
- Luke Dibbins