(FADEIN to a large, half-empty arena in the middle of a minor league hockey game. Fans are wearing all kinds of old Hartford Whalers t-shirts and newer Connecticut Whale jerseys. They seem to be cheering somewhat disinterestedly, except for some excited children. Thousands of empty seats litter the arena.
The camera pans up into one of the luxury boxes, where Anarky stands in front of the glass, staring down at the game below, a beer in his hand.
CUTTO: Inside the luxury box.)
ANARKY: “Sometimes, the dreams of men shape the course of the Universe. Their vision... their ideas... they echo out endlessly, shaping our day to day lives. Men like Bill Gates and Norman Bourlaug.
“Sometimes... the dreams die a quiet, pathetic death. Like the dreams of Howard Baldwin. The dream of the Whalers playing NHL hockey in Hartford.
“He would not be shaken from his vision. Long after all reasonable men had abandoned hope... long after the team shuttered its doors and left for greener pastures... Baldwin dreamed on. He rebranded the minor league hockey team. He held outdoor hockey events. He dreamed.
“But the dreams... the ambitions.. they are only worth so much. Try, try try as you may... the universe shrugs with indifference.
“And now he’s saddled with debt and back where he started... the broken dream of a broken city... the realization that it was all for naught. It can crush a man, can it not?
“Is it going to crush you, too, Castor?”
(He turns and looks towards the camera, smiling faintly, before seating himself in one of the empty leather chairs overlooking the game.)
ANARKY: “After all... it’s your tournament to lose, isn’t it?
“You are the heir apparent. You paid your dues. And now you’re ready. You’ve strapped your dream on your back. The whole world is waiting for Castor Strife to be the Next One.
“You can be our Shane Southern. Our Joe the Plumber or Sean Stevens.
“And all of the banners of all of the houses will unite under you and you will have the One Ultratitle To Rule them All.
“I think that’s about all the fantasy analogies I know.”
(He smirks and finishes his beer, going behind a bar and grabbing another.)
ANARKY: “Truth is, Castor, you seem aware of the danger of attempting to live up to mythologies, and yet incapable of resisting it. Torn between the two worlds.
“So what is it, then? Are you the Next Big Thing? Do you believe the hype? Or are you just another false prophet... making promises you can’t keep? Reveling in glory you know is all too temporary?
“After all... you are... as you say... the UNDISPUTED... number one talent in the world today. Which is interesting for a man who has made a career out of mocking others for such claims.
“You have unseated quite a few, have you not? Felled the infallible? Beaten the unbeatable?
“So what makes Castor so different? What makes you immune to your own humanity? Because you sell so many t-shirts? Because you’re the Justin Bieber of NFW?
“As you can imagine... I have heard these claims before, Castor. And I have grown weary of them. Names change. Today it’s you. Tomorrow it’ll be someone else.
“You think you’re different. You think you’re unique. Well maybe you are, Castor. Maybe they broke the mold when they made you.
“We can’t all be special like you, though. Me... I’m just fodder. Another step for you to take. Another notch in your belt. A cautionary tale you’ll tell someone else about someone else who crossed you.
“Heck, I’m not even supposed to be here. This should be the Castor/Doc show.
“Funny thing about expectations..”
(He stops and seems to measure his words for a moment.)
ANARKY: “The problem... is that wrestlers are like politicians. You gotta be out there getting your message out and shakin’ hands and kissin’ babies and building your brand. You gotta shout your own name from the rooftops.
“And you keep repeating it and repeating it and repeating it until it’s The Truth. Or the Truth as you know it. And everybody else eats it up. And it makes you feel real good about yourself, doesn’t it, Castor?
“I want to care, Castor. Really, I do. But I am reaching deep, deep down into my soul and I am finding exactly zero f*cks to give.
“Let the pundits talk and pencil you into the next round. I have... other concerns.
(He stops again and his eyes flicker for a moment, and he smiles very subtly, an almost ravenous look in his eyes.)
ANARKY: “I have heard a great many things about you, Castor... but up until this moment, you were just a name whispered on other men’s lips. A story from far-flung places which I know nothing of and care little for...
“You want to be The King. You want the crown. You want to your name to echo out. That much is clear.
“Do you know what I want?
“I want to know what kind of man Castor is when there is doubt in his heart. I want to see the look in your eyes when you realize that fate is just another word for an opportunity lost. I want to breathe you in when you’re not sure if you can take it anymore.
“I want to know you, Castor.
“But I want something else, too. Something more.
“I, too, want my voice to ring out. But my language... my words... are in my fists. And in my rage. And in my uncertainty and fear. And in my endurance and tenacity. And in my desire to constantly push myself to the brink of self-destruction. To come to know myself totally. To leave no monstrosity unmasked.
“They tell me it’s about the Castor Strifes and the Joey Meltons.
“Well... they said it was about the Joe the Plumbers and the Dan Ryans.
“I don’t pretend to know the truth.
“I’ll do the same thing I always try to do.
“Keep breathing. Keep fighting. Keep surviving and advancing.
(FADEIN: LOS ANGELES, CA – Inside the Staples Center, where crew workers are building a stage. The view is from the middle seats, and the camera begins to rotate around until it is fixed on CASTOR V. STRIFE, wearing a thin-material long sleeve black shirt, his hair slicked back underneath an LA KINGS hat. He leans forward, the NFW World Heavyweight Championship situated on his shoulder, eyeing the camera until it stops and reverses back to meet him dead-on)
CASTOR: “Tale of two cities. Los Angeles, home to millions of dreamers, people from around the country and around the world who left their families to chase a Hollywood star. Most fail. Almost all of them do, in fact. Only the very few shine – the very best.”
(Leans forward, looking deep into the camera with emerald green eyes)
“I am the very best. And if you doubt that, I will make you a believer, because reality is what I say it is. (Smiles, nods in agreement with himself while whispering) …is what I say it is.”
(Leans back, crosses legs, and from a tin box pulls out a mint that he tosses into his mouth and immediately chews)
“Hartford, Connecticut. (Places tin box into pocket) What a drab, awful place. I can see why you live there, Anarky. Or is it New Haven? Doesn’t matter. It’s all the same to me. Nobody ever moved to Hartford to make their dreams come true. People live there becausethey have to. Because there isn’t a way out.”
“And if I were to walk down your street, with a piece of the silver screen dream hanging from a stick, your people would follow me like rats followed the piper. Would I lead them down Laurel Canyon, into the Hills of Hollywood? Or would I lead them into water and drown them?”
(Inhales, looks up in mock thought, and returns to the camera)
“They would love me for it either way. Because people would choose even the false promise of fame over perpetual reality any day of the week. Just like their ancestors, from cave dwellers to Carthage to Conquistadores and the Mayflower itself, people tremble in the face of the brightest star. They love you when you’re cruel, and they love you when you’re kind.”
“So don’t hate me for what I am, Anarky. I’m just a boy who became a man who became a star, and there’s nothing in my expiration date that suggests you’re going to do anything about it.”
(Uncrosses legs, stands up and moves through the seats; he starts down the aisle towards the half-built stage)
“While you mull the demise of a long-forgotten hockey franchise, my city celebrates one of the most dominant Stanley Cup runs in history. I, in fact, spoke with their goaltender Jonathan Quick just before the finals started.”
“I told him I admired his work, and that I would be watching from above. He said, I know. Then I took him aside, and said Do you want to know the secret of being a star in this town? He said Yes I do. That’s when I told him he needed to be impossibly good, to stretch the limits of what men expect from mortals, and to leave nothing on the table for anybody else. Take the whole f[BLEEP]king thing. And he said OK.”
“And I know he understood, Anarky. I know he understood the very essence of my word, because he went out and six games later became a champion.”
“That’s what I’m interested in. Pushing the bounds of human potential. Reaching for greatness at the risk of a fall. Testing the limits at whatever cost. Surely you wouldn’t begrudge me that, friend.”
(Slides his hand down the aisle railing, and inspects his palm – he continues his walk, this time to a front row seat that he hops in, leaning back)
“Surely your years in the businesses haven’t blinded you to the meaning of what I am; what I’ve done. Even you could appreciate that.”
“Or are you so mired in teenage jealousy that the very thought of me calling my shot on this great stage is appalling to you?”
(Squints eyes perplexingly)
“Since when did you become such a pre-menstrual bitch? Is this what 15 years in the business does to a man? Turns him sensitive at the thought of a few writers and internet pundits picking against him? THIS is the face of fear itself? The ever-dangerous ANARKY: carnal, bloodthirsty, and delicate to love not reciprocated.”
“It’s not that glory doesn’t matter, or gold…”
(Caresses title belt, veering his attention off for a second or two)
“It’s that you don’t matter. And all the mascara stains on your pillow case won’t change that fact.”
“You say you speak through fists, through rage, but how is it that an unrepentant nihilist like you even finds his way out of bed in the morning? We’re different people, Anarky. We are… (shakes head, sighs with disappointment) I walk through mirrors, and you tread mud. You are a man, a dangerous man with scars on his head and tape on his fists. But you could never know me, not a man like you, because you’re just a beat up prior-model. You’re of limited capacity. And I am the pinnacle. The PEAK. Climbing up or over me is a life-threatening hobby.”
“You don’t get to know me. Only a brief introduction will suffice. Then I say goodbye and shut the door for good. That’s as cinematic an ending as I can afford to give you, friend.”
(Takes a mid-section bow while seated; brings his head up smiling, now turning his expression serious on a dime)
“Don’t tell me the universe is indifferent. I shrugged the Atlas, and the world as you knew it rolled off my shoulders like rain spilling through a gutter. The ones that came before me are GONE. There is no Joe Plumber, no Sean Stevens – The Windham plantation has burned to the ground! I am the LAST, and contrary to what you might have heard, there isn’t going to be a next one.”
“Call it what you want. Call it fate, or chance; and end to order, or...(smiles) Anarky. But you should know that Anarchy never reigns no matter it’s spelled. It only ensues, spreading like a vacuum that’s filled with the highest forms of human expression. It’s the visionary, the artist that reigns. It’s why the Greeks wrote plays and philosophized while their ships burned in the Mediterranean; why the Renaissance followed the black plague; why American cinema flourished during a culture war.”
“Chaos, uncertainty…these things don’t frighten me. I swallow them whole and they make me unbeatable. A living, breathing, Chaosbreaker. As you can see, friend, you really have nothing for me.
(Throws arms out, looks around the arena’s empty seats as if addressing a full crowd)
“So buy your tickets now. Come see the last great revelation as it comes alive, steps out of the wall, and claims another trophy. And then tell your friends all about it. They might not have believed you if one of them hadn’t seen it themselves in a town nearby. My reach is everywhere – my name is famous. They write it on walls like I am GOD, and every syllable is an instruction in fear, love, and everlasting celebrity.”
“My life is Proverbs in reverse: first came destruction, then came the fall…then came the rebirth, the glory, and the PRIDE. Now I’m immune to the cataclysm. And you think I tremble before a man who stands with a lit match over gasoline?”
(Shakes his head quickly and dismissively)
“Don’t go to the trouble, Anarky. I’ll hand you a Zippo myself. Because there is no level of pain you can bring me where I haven’t been before. And with all your experience, your YEARS of plying a brutal craft, you might just be surprised when you get lost along the way.”
“Los Angeles has many Kings, all great…but it has only one paragon. This BUSINESS has one paragon. The Sweet Sixteen is your chance to meet him.”
(FADEIN to Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, California. Anarky is walking along the Hollywood Walk of Fame with feigned interest in the stars beneath his feet as tourists make etchings of names of their favorite actors.)
ANARKY: “Hollywood. The big city. Big dreams. Bright lights. A million dreams.
And of course, the home of the one and only Castor V. Strife.
“He’s kind of a big deal, if you haven’t heard. Which, let’s face it, you have, because it’s just about all he f*cking talks about.
“You must be real fun at dinner parties, Castor. Constantly flipping over the table and singing the praises of your unmatched glory. Interrupting political conversations with tales of the time you beat some A1E Champion I don’t care about. Delaying dessert so you can regale us with the time you won the Stanley Cup for the city of Los Angeles, as if anybody here could stop talking about the Lakers long enough to notice you have a hockey team.
“I’ve never heard this one before, Castor. Honest. You’re the first to stake a claim to the Absolute Greatest Wrestler Ever. Nobody’s ever done it. Not GUNS. Not Mark Windham. Not Doc Silver. Not Michael Manson. Certainly not Sean Stevens or Joe the Plumber.
“Nope. They were all just waiting for YOU to come along and define an era for us.
“Up until this moment, we were just waiting for you to arrive and give us meaning and hope and perhaps a little bit of your reflected glory.”
(He smiles and nods in an exaggerated, patronizing manner.)
ANARKY: “They say that the stars which burn brightest burn fastest. Given your predecessors, Castor... I’m inclined to believe them.
“You’ll have to forgive my skepticism, friend, but I’ve already seen this movie once or twice. The NFW Hype Machine keeps pumpin’ out that same formulaic crap every time. You’re a Michael Bay film. Transformers 6: Revenge of the 3D Car Crashes in Slow Mo.
“It’s always the same. Unstoppable force rules over all. Call him Manson or Southern or Joe. Nobody can stop him. He is inevitability. Destiny. The next step. Greatness personified. And they all lap it up like mindless little sheep because it’s all they’ve ever known.
“And the hype builds and builds and builds. And then... ?
“And then, well... you should know the rest of the story, Castor. Everything fades in this world. Everybody f*cks up.
“All the greatness in the world ain’t gonna protect you from a bad fall on your shoulder. Or an untimely fever before a big match.
“That you don’t even accept you have an expiration date is meaningless. Your ignorance and lack of self-awareness doesn’t make you immune. It makes you... the same as those who came before you.”
(He stops and looks around at the people around him, with bleach blonde hair and tanned muscles. He smirks and sits down on a bench, lighting a cigarette.)
ANARKY: “You’re right about one thing, Castor. They will absolutely buy what you sell them. Their appetite for snake oil is insatiable. You sell them false promises and they swallow it whole.
“And if hype equaled reality, then nothing could stop you, Castor. But here’s the thing, buddy.
“Hype. Don’t. Mean. Sh*t.
“Remember at the beginning of this little tournament when you called out ol’ Joe and decided your reign wasn’t worth sh*t until you beat him. But then he withered like a dying flower, never to be heard from again.
“How’d that hype work out for ya?
“Now suddenly you ain’t so worried about ol’ Joe. Suddenly, you’ve forgotten that for two years, you were an also-ran just waiting your turn, staring up at the bright lights of The One True Champion. The NFW Hype Machine hadn’t quite used him up yet. And now that it has, you are more than ready to reap the benefits.
“So now here we are. You are the Next Big Thing and I am supposed to Believe the Hype.
“But there’s a problem, Castor. Because once you invent something like the Paragon... once you define yourself as perfection... then what... ?
“How does this all end in your imagination, Castor?”
(A Hispanic man walks by with a cart full of Mexican food. Anarky orders a taco and takes a big bite.)
ANARKY: “At least you guys have some bangin’ Mexican food out here. It almost makes up for the fact that your city is an endless sprawl of traffic and strip malls. Because who doesn’t enjoy sitting in traffic for three hours so you can be at a place identical to the place you just left?
“So let me guess, Castor. After you win Ultratitle and are crowned the Greatest Wrestler Ever... you’re going to what... take over ACW? Defiance? Jolt? Resurrect IWF and kill everybody there? Or perhaps the Empire... ?
“And after you’ve single-handedly conquered the sport of wrestling and saved us all from our own mediocrity, then what? Will you move on and start a glamorous movie career? Maybe play right wing for the Kings? Maybe work as a consultant for Kobe? Help him get his groove back?
“Could you do me a favor, Castor? Could you just carve a little bit of time out of your busy schedule to look out for an old buddy? Maybe help me work through some of my issues?
“Obviously, I’ve spent a lot of long nights lamenting my lack of street cred. I mean, if a bunch of other wrestlers I don’t even know don’t think I’m the greatest person who ever lived, then I should probably just kill myself. What’s the point?
(He stops and frowns, then turns serious rather suddenly.)
ANARKY: “The sad truth is that you’re a disappointment, Castor. I had heard oh so lovely things about you. About your creativity. About your genius for this sport.
“It turns out you’re just like everybody else.
“You don’t hear me. You hear what you want to hear on endless repeat, which just so happens to be... about you.
“I try to help you understand that greatness and confidence aren’t the same thing. That all the talk ain’t worth sh*t.
“But you can’t even get it through your thick f*cking skull that someone could actually enjoy the lack of publicity. That someone might not give a sh*t. It’s so inconceivable to you, because inevitably, this is just another exercise to fellate yourself on national television. Another opportunity for us to watch your preach and worship the Religion of Castor Strife in front of us.
“So the pundits don’t think I have a chance. Good.
“Take the hype. Take the money. The women. The name recognition. The fans screaming at you in worship and hatred. The paparazzi. The sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll.
“The certainty. The rush of destiny.
“Take them all, my friend.
“For I will ride on the tide of the unknown and the uncertain, the chaos and the confusion, the entropy stretching out across the entire Universe.
(FADEIN to a simple, almost entirely empty room. Sitting on a poorly made and painted throne is Anarky. He’s holding a pocket watch, and the only sound in the room is the pocket watch ticking away.)
ANARKY: “Tick... tick... tick...
“That’s the sound of me waiting for King Castor. The sound of patience. The sound of hype dying a slow, inevitable death.
“Where is King Castor? I have waited, Castor. Day. After day. After day.
“Tick... tick... tick...
“It’s the sound of your destiny slipping away, Castor. Because nothing can be taken for granted. No promises go fulfilled just because you think you deserve them.
“All the hype... all of the expectations... all of the analysis and predictions...
“... it doesn’t mean sh*t if you aren’t gonna step up to the plate and knock it out of the park.
“So here I am on your throne, Castor. Here I am, just waiting and watching.
“Wondering. Is the Great Castor Strife nothing but an illusion? A story parents tell children children about the dangers of ambition and greed? Are you nothing but a cautionary tale, Castor?
“Tick... tick... tick... “
(He leans forward and grimaces, clearly annoyed. He lets the pocket watch fall and it cracks on the concrete floor.)
ANARKY: “I am tired of waiting, Castor. Tired of everybody telling me what a big, bad, superstar you are. About how this is just a bump in the road... how I’m just another obstacle for you to overcome on your inevitable climb to the top.
“I am tired, Castor.
“I am not an obstacle for you to overcome. I am not a footnote in your best-selling autobiography. I am not a f*cking test.
“I am a man who desperately wants to leave a mark on the industry he spent the last 15 years destroying himself for. Bleeding out for. I am a man who wants to rip away the layers of deceit and bullsh*t and see the true faces of his opponents.
“I am a man who will not wait for The Great Castor Strife to decide whether or not he can be bothered or has the has time in his busy schedule to talk down to an old man in weird face paint.
“If you want the Ultratitle, Castor... if you really, really want it... you better come get it.
“Because right here, right now, there is only you and I. No NFW. No EPW. No past titles.
“Just the present. This moment in time. And it will define us forever.
“How will you define this moment, Castor? Will you rise to the occasion and fulfill your supposed destiny?
“The future is not mine to see. I’ve seen too much to think I can see it all.
“But I do not wear my ignorance like a badge of pride like you. So certain. So sure. So confident and young and sexy and absolutely destined for greatness.
“I admire you, in a way, Castor. I wish I could go back and feel it again. Feel the exhilaration of knowing you are absolutely the best. Of leaving doubt and fear in the past.
“But you can never go back. You can never forget the things you’ve done.
“The stench of your failures... the heights of your glory...
“They haunt you because you can never repeat it like that first time. You can never truly feel it again like you did.
“Even if by some miracle I somehow manage to win this match... even if I somehow get past the next few guys and it’s my name up there...
“I’ll never be able to be like you, Castor. I can never truly believe I am the very best because I don’t even know what that means anymore. I have seen greatness and weakness in so many men. And I know... that it takes so little to lose. So little to fail.
“One bad move and it’s you and not me. One moment among a million more and it defines you forever.
“It isn’t fair, Castor... but nothing ever is.”
(He picks up the broken pocket watch, now silent, and examines it. His eyes examine the watch for awhile, but no expression crosses his face.)
ANARKY: “This sport will go on without me someday. Maybe not today... maybe not tomorrow.
“But time’s slipping away. I can feel it with every breath. Every aching bone. Every doctor’s visit where he shakes his head, incredulous that I can still be such a f*cking idiot that I get the sh*t kicked out of myself for no good reason.
“He just doesn’t know...
“This is who I am. This is all I’ve ever been good at.
“I wasn’t ever the biggest or the strongest. And I sure as f*ck ain’t the brightest.
(At this he laughs for a moment and sighs, lowering his gaze from the camera.)
ANARKY: “But I am still here. And I’m still breathing.
“I don’t need your love, Castor, or the love of the fickle fans. Or the accolades or the money or the women.
“Or the cars or the photographers or the analysts or the basement-dwelling neckbeards in my corner.
“I just want to paint my canvas in your crimson. I want to know what greatness tastes like, Castor. You promised me. You told me this is what you are.
“I want to feel it running through me. I want to know your decay. I want to feel it slipping away from you.
“I want to make something beautiful with the small trickle of blood above your left eye.”
40 SH*T-STAINED SHEETS TO THE WIND Pt. 1 - Sex, Swords, & Krokodil
“When I was little…my father was famous.”
(FADEIN: Hotel television set, 32-inches. The screen is black with a white Japanese lotus symbol in the middle, and the first scene begins as the little boy narrator continues. A Japanese man walks out fully robed, inspecting the blade of his sword in what appears to be a low-grade movie from 1980)
“He was the greatest samurai in the empire. And he was the Shogun’s decapitator. He cut off the heads of a hundred and thirty-one lords. It was a bad time for the empire.”
(The next scene is a crazy old man closing his door to a crowd of angry people – presumably the Shogun. A black screen flashes with crimson letters – “SHOGUN ASSASSIN” – and the camera now pivots from the television to the bed where CASTOR STRIFE lays shirtless in jeans. With one hand, he points the remote control idly at the television. With the other, he holds a folded deal book for entertainment attractions in greater Los Angeles, reading carefully through circular red-lens glasses. It’s nighttime, a fact evident at-once by sight of the balcony behind sliding glass, unshielded from curtains)
“The Shogun just stayed inside his castle, and he never came out. People said his brain was infected by devils. My father would come home; he would forget about the killings. He wasn’t scared of the Shogun, but the Shogun was scared of him. Maybe that was the problem.”
(The Droid Razor sitting on Castor’s chest vibrates twice. He pulls his attention away from the deal book and reads his phone. A second or two passes – “Then, one night, the Shogun sent his ninja spies to our house.” – and Castor picks it up, makes a call)
CASTOR: “It’s 2020 Olympic Avenue. Why would I make you drive all the way out to- (interruption, some inaudible chatter is heard from the other end) Yeah, that’s the one.”
“They were supposed to kill my father…but they didn’t. (Female screams heard from television) That was the night everything changed.”
(Person on other line says something resembling, “Oh that place is fucking disgusting.”)
CASTOR: “Whatever, they let me drink for half price. The film crew is with me for two more days, I just got paid – figure I have to shoot something tonight, so we’ll shoot it there. If not, I’m looking at a coupon for that reptile shit off the highway. Make my night, what’s it going to be? I need some cheap entertainment in me fast.”
(Other line now inaudible)
CASTOR: “Done deal. I’m taking the boys out for a steak dinner on the way. Meet me at the Rhino something like 10, 10:30.” (hangs up)
(Castor rises from his bed and turns to the balcony glass door where he loiters for a moment. While he stands there, cracking his neck side to side, the music from next scene begins to play)
(CUTTO: Interior of the SPEARMINT RHINO gentleman’s club, North Hollywood, CA. The camera is at the back of a female with platinum blonde hair that’s cut around the chin and rises up over the ears, to the back of the skull. The camera wraps around to a side-view of the woman as she’s patted down, arms out, by one bouncer. Her eyes are fixed on the other bouncer, a man who looks eerily similar to NLW’s ‘Dangerous’ Duke Mackey. He checks her ID with a flash-light and she continues to stare at him. Being ID’d at the door is a flattering customary for a woman of 34 years, and her tongue begins to swirl around her mouth until it comes up with a mini razor blade. She holds it out between her lips, and the bouncer stares at her a moment before taking it. LANA DREMIRE is motioned into the club, a smokey room pale lit by red and yellow lights. The cameraman swings around to her front, and she walks toward him and through the crowd of suits, hips, bikers, battalioneers, foreign investors, and washed-out former Disney executives sitting around the edges of the three main stages. To her right, topless [blurred out] women slide down poles and gyrate atop paper puddles of crisp dollars bills – Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson. A cocktail waitress passes by to her left, and Lana grabs her by the arm, whispers into her ear. The girl points to a room in the back, and Lana continues in that direction. When she gets to the room, she flashes a smile to a bodyguard who reciprocates and opens the door. He resembles the African American gentleman from The Green Mile, who coincidentally had sex with Peter Windham’s mother in 1998)
I’m gonna do what I want, and I’m gonna get paid. Do what I want, and I’m gonna get paid.
(PR. ROOM ENTRANCE: Lana walks in to find CASTOR, two assigned ESEN staffers, and a handful of dancers. One of the girls is grinding on the lap of DEVIN MILLWOOD, ESEN and NFW interview man, running her fingers through his hair. SMITH WESSON, YouTube personality turned ESEN analyst, picks from the luxurious sushi spread laid out atop the body of a naked woman. Next to him is Castor Strife, with a stripper standing over him, gyrating her crotch into his face with the NFW World Heavyweight Championship slung over her shoulder. Lana takes a seat in the corner, crosses her legs and lights up a cigarette on the end of a black holder. With the ceiling lights directly over her face, we can now see the jagged self-inflicted scars, drawn in shapes like hieroglyphics down her arms, shoulders)
LANA: (blows smoke into an overhead cloud) “So I just wanted to thank you. Eric Dane robs you blind, you take off on a national bus tour without so much as a phone call, and repay a decade’s worth of devotion by taking me out to the shittiest club in Los Angeles.”
CASTOR: (distracted, takes a moment) “Is this on film?”
LANA: (pokes at her ashes) “It sure is.”
CASTOR: “Then I have a problem continuing this conversation. Don’t want to…be like everybody else. Opening a promotional with some crap dialogue between myself and a quirky female counterpart. Devin…”
MILLWOOD: “Yeah man…?”
CASTOR: “This all part of the show right here?”
MILLWOOD: “If you want it to be.”
CASTOR: “I want it to be. I won’t have you make all the best parts disappear like the Lindberg baby.”
LANA: “Castor Strife as he was meant to be seen.”
CASTOR: “That’s right.”
LANA: “Runtime limits be damned.”
CASTOR: “That’s right.”
WESSON: “I ain’t a killa but don’t PUSH ME!” (sucks rice off three of his fingers then SLAPS the ass of the girl dancing on Millwood)
LANA: “And somewhere in Connecticut, Anarky hangs on your next word…”
CASTOR: “I don’t give a damn. He’ll wait as long as I make him, and if he doesn’t like it he can cry some more about how nine out of ten Bleacher Report contributors prefer me to him.”
(Lana pulls an Rx bottle from her purse and dumps three blue pills into her palm)
CASTOR: “He’s flying through my timezone and the weather is lovely…”
LANA: (sips out of a rocks glass, swallows) “Whatever, just give the network some promo-candy so I stop getting calls. Call him a dipshit and send it in for all I care.”
CASTOR: “He is a dipshit. Whiney skull-faced dipshit, that’s what he is.”
WESSON: “KROKODIL. Turn that shit to a metaphor, son.”
LANA: “Hey YouTube guy, do you mind shutting the fuck up?”
WESSON: “My bad, my bad.”
MILLWOOD: “Ha, you saw that documentary too?”
WESSON: “YEAH man! KROKODIL! HEAVY!”
LANA: “You guys make zero sense. I’m leaving.”
CASTOR: “No, I wanna hear this. What about the Krokodil?”
WESSON: “Aight so check this out. I seen this documentary on BBC about a wild out drug that’s straight up killing like, thousands and thousands of people in Russia and shit. It’s like some moonshine heroin, they call it Krokodil. Word is bond this shit is so fuckin lethal, right, cause it’s real impure, mixed up with corrosive byproducts, fuckin’ red phosphorus desomorphine and shit, niggas is gettin’ they shits amputated and shit.”
MILLWOOD: “Yeah they start to turn all green and scaley, from gangrene, and die in about two to three years. It’s scary-addictive…”
CASTOR: “You don’t say…”
WESSON: “YEAH man, all these Russian-ass niggas be tweakin they selves on the homemade HERRON, lookin’ like fuckin’ crocodiles and shit.”
CASTOR: “Does Anarky have any Krokodil? And if not, can we arrange to give him some?”
WESSON: “Nah man, you gotta make it.”
LANA: “Joe The Plumber could, probably.”
CASTOR: “The odds are good that Joe invented it.”
(The stripper dancing over Castor drops the NFW belt on his lap)
STRIPPER: “Baby you gotta hold this for me. It’s too heavy.”
CASTOR: “THAT’S my reply to Anarky. This girl just took us home – GOODNIGHT, ED!”
LANA: “Fine, that’s a wrap. Send the cameras home. Cut the media entourage loose, and start game-planning for the match.”
CASTOR: (pours himself a shot of Maker’s Mark, slams it) “Absolutely not! Anarky waited, and I’m going to give him his money’s worth. He wants me to talk, so I’ll talk. DEVIN! Follow me outside. You’re going to interview me, and Lana, Smith…you’ll both occupy the room until we’re back.”
(Castor stands up, buzzed but not intoxicated, and walks out of the room with Millwood in tow)
CASTOR: “Let’s go boys, we’ve business on the street. (walks out into the club and begins yelling) Anarky’s waited for the champion, and here he comes, in the flesh, IN THE FLESH! On it’s way now…on it’s way…”
CASTOR: “You and I, Devin. Time to conduct business as only we can. PUT ‘EM BAAACK WHERE THEY BELONG! AIN’T FOOLIN’ AROOOOUUUND, ‘CAUSE-I-DONE-HAD-MY-FUUUN… I could have been a country rock singer, Devin. Keep moving, door is straight ahead…”
(Spots Duke Mackey at the front door and approaches him)
CASTOR: “Duke…Duke Mackey. (Duke is taken aback and shakes his hand) How are you my friend? My brother doesn’t owe you money, does he? The bastard.”
DUKE: (nervous laughter) “No no…”
CASTOR: “Look, if you ever need anything. If your family ever needs anything…do not hesitate, alright? It’s a rough business. Alcohol abuse, cocaine, pills, Krokodil…I want to be there for the people who need help. You know where to reach me.”
DUKE: (confused but delighted to be in the conversation) “Alright man, thank you. Thanks. OK.”
(Castor leaves the club with Millwood while Mackey stands there perplexed)
40 SH*T-STAINED SHEETS TO THE WIND Pt. 2 - Anarky's Slo-Death Into Order & Redemption
(CUTTO: Outside of the Spearmint Rhino, DEVIN MILLWOOD stands next to CASTOR STRIFE, who leans his shoulder on the side of the building. Millwood has the NFW World Title folded up and tucked safely in his bag, and Castor uses his the bottom of his black v-neck t-shirt to wipe the sweat from his forehead)
CASTOR: “Go on, ask me a question about Anarky. Anything you want. Leave no stone unturned. I want to be thorough.”
MILLWOOD: “Well I’d just like to get some of your general thoughts on what he had to say about you. He targeted you as a product of the NFW hype machine, a tournament favorite, trying to use him as a stepping stone…”
CASTOR: (winces) “First and foremost, I would like to apologize to Anarky. (looks directly at camera) I am very sorry that so many observers have counted you out. That’s terrible. All your years in the ring, to be dismissed as a second thought…that can’t be easy.”
“I have acknowledged you as no less than my greatest challenge at this stage of the tournament. And like every great challenged I’ve faced over the last four years, I will overcome and defeat you. Does my confidence frighten you? It should.”
“BUT, that doesn’t mean I…(trails off, regains thought) don’t respect your challenge.”
“Where you lose me, is with your undying resentment toward the fans and the media for not praising you. Is this your third match? Are you not the same Anarky who’s wrestled for over 15 years on the biggest stage? Your inner desire to be loved truly baffles me, even as you sit there denying and playing it off.”
“I go silent for a few days, giving you every opportunity to self-promote and tell the world why you’re the man to beat, and all you wind up doing is this ‘WHY WON’T YOU TALK TO ME?’ nonsense, and how you haven’t gotten your due. I have had psychotic ex-girlfriends that were less needy than you.”
(Pushes hair back, rolls his eyes with a tired relentlessness)
CASTOR: “The fact of it all is, as much as you like to accuse everybody else of being ‘same old, same old’, there isn’t a man in this businesses more guilty of serving up the same verbal schlock over the last decade than Anarky. See friend, you might be able to fool those who don’t know you very well, but I’ve watched you for a long, long time. You fought friends of mine going back 12 years, and for12 years you’ve sounded off non-stop about ‘Legacy doesn’t matter, accomplishments don’t matter, nothing and nobody matters, and I’ll see to it that we all fade into the wind like empty dust particles.’”
“It’s OK that you do this, but please realize, when you spend more than a decade telling the media and the fans how meaningless your every accomplishment is, you can’t wake up one day and decide you’re angry that they BELIEVED YOU.”
“Was this your shitty idea of reverse psychology, whereby the more you tell people it’s all an exercise in futility and pain, the more freely they offer their love to you? Is that how it went down backstage with Dan Ryan when you won the EPW World Heavyweight Championship? Did you try handing it back to him on the grounds that it was worthless tin, only to have him say ‘But that is why it must be YOU, Maximus!’”
(Millwood fails to hold back a short burst of laughter)
CASTOR: “It’s true, Devin! This is a man who has done very well for himself, built a great career, and spends 90% of his promotional time downplaying the importance as a burp of relativity.”
“Well the truth is, you’re an idiot, Anarky. Not every one can do what we do at this level. There are tens of thousands of people worldwide who aspire to step in the ring like us. Out of those people, a slim percentage will ever get up the guts to train for it. The ones who do train, little under half of them will actually wrestle an independent show. Half of those people will decide to make it a career, and only a slight margin of the ones who made it that far will reach the level of NFW, EPW, CSWA, or IWF. Three to four hundred men have walked through the door at NFW since the year 2000, and do you know how many became World Champion?”
“I imagine it’s no different in EPW or anywhere else you’ve been. And I say this not for my own benefit, but because I don’t want you going through life thinking you never made it, Anarky.”
(Millwood tries to stop himself from grinning)
CASTOR: “Am I saying anything that would lead you to believe I’m not being serious, Devin? I really mean it. I get concerned when I hear Anarky talk the way he does, like he might decide there’s nothing to live for after losing to me. So what that he didn’t win Ultratitle? He’s had a good career. WFW Champion, CSWA Champion, a coffee break as EPW Champion. Clearly he’s done more than the bare minimum. The man is a legend in my book, and he is the only legend that uses oil-based non-smear paint to disguise his face as a skeleton. Even after all these years. And as a man of the arts myself, I can respect that level of commitment to makeup and wardrobe.”
“Quick, Devin, give me the de facto Anarky response.”
MILLWOOD: “What do you want me to say?”
CASTOR: “You’re the media, why do I need to tell you what to say? Come on, do your job, what would Anarky say right now?”
MILLWOOD: “Uh, probably he would point out that you’re the 290[SUP]th[/SUP] person to make a comment about his makeup.”
CASTOR: “Probably, and that’s fine. He’s entitled to that. But now I would like to make a point of my own…”
MILLWOOD: “Oh yeah?”
(Castor rubs his bloodshot eyes, continues)
CASTOR: “Yes. I’m going to back up, retract a bit of what I said, and postulate something entirely different. I don’t think Anarky is upset with the media, or the fans, or even me. This goes back to a common theme with my opponents…”
“They all claim to hear so much about me, and then express disappointment with the flesh and blood original copy. Anarky is no exception. They come off more like obsessed fans than professional competitors, and I find that…sad. Maybe I didn’t sign an autograph for kid sister, or failed to answer a hand-written letter. Wherever my aura of celebrity fell short in their eyes, it’s convinced them that I’m nothing more than illusion; than hype.”
“Is that what you think, skeleton? Perhaps the Brothers Grimm wrote me in a fairy tale, or my career happened in a single Arabian Night? Does it satisfy your own fragile self-conscious to believe that Castor Strife is hot air, gassed up on premium unleaded, floating on hype alone?”
(Smiles, shakes head)
CASTOR: “You must have me confused with that other guy who relentlessly shills himself only to fall short on the proving ground. But while it might be easy to mistake me for Eric Dane – he is living in my house at the moment; he did steal my company and all my capital – I promise, a zipcode is about the only thing we have in common.”
“No, there is one simple reason why people watch me with wonder and wait on my every move. It’s because I’m the visionary who points to the sky, calls his shot, and delivers on every occasion. There’s nothing empty about a man who has fought strictly the very best competition the world over for four years straight, and summarily STOMPED each and every one of them in devastating fashion. The one man I’ve unfinished business with is Dan Ryan, who exited this tournament in the first round and went into semi-retirement due to injuries. 90 minutes and two draws will do that to a man.”
“But you know this about me. You understand why the people and the press covet me. You have spent countless minutes talking about the almighty New Frontier Wrestling hype machine, how I’m their golden star, and what a marvelous job they did in making me a household name, and now it all makes sense.”
“All you had to do was ask.”
“Yes, Anarky, you can list me as a professional reference on your NFW application. I’m sure Dan Ryan will understand. He saw the writing on the wall, and would be happy to grant you your release. You talk about the promotional power of NFW so much, it was almost too obvious.”
(Leans in to tell a secret)
CASTOR: “Between you and I, Dan didn’t have the heart to fire you.”
“EPW will be fine, don’t you worry. They are a marvelous organization that takes good care of their athletes. It’s just a shame that a former champion like yourself couldn’t find more time to talk about them, instead of making my home turf look like the gold standard in public relations.”
“Want to know a secret, Anarky?”
(Whispers) “There IS no NFW hype machine.”
(Nods head ‘Yes’)
CASTOR: “Eddie Mayfield has earned more achievement points on his Xbox Live Gamertag than he’s earned press reviews for NFW. The wrestlers largely promote themselves, and in my case…it’s much easier to self-promote when you’ve done nothing but win.”
WESSON: “ALL HE DO IS WIN!”
(Smith Wesson and Lana Dremire walk out of the club, escorted by Castor’s personal security)
LANA: “We have to get a move on. The cops are going to be here in five minutes – some idiot caused a riot when he got violent with one of the girls. Somebody’s prosthetic leg came off, I don’t know…let’s just leave.”
MILLWOOD: “What’s your prediction for the Ultratitle tournament then? You said you call your shot, so right here on the network, I’d give you the opportunity to call it again.”
CASTOR: “You want to know what I see? I see myself covered in a shower of golden glory, again, this time holding a trophy that says ‘ULTRATITLE CHAMPION’. Eli Flair will be the victim, and I’m going to break his arm in the process. Maybe even his neck.”
MILLWOOD: “And Anarky?”
(Castor leans over the sidewalk, watching for his drive whom he just texted)
CASTOR: “He can watch. Mired in bitter disappointment, or content as ever, he can watch all the same.”
WESSON: “With that facepaint he got on, I bet you anything that muthafucka is hidin’ some old ass Krokodil-related injuries.”
MILLWOOD: “You think Anarky is on Krokodil?”
WESSON: “Psshh, who KNOWS man, them shits has reached Germany already.”
(Car pulls up, Castor opens the door before the driver can get out)
CASTOR: “Well, he did claim to be 32 years old for a short time. Is Krokodil known to alter the memory?”
WESSON: “Oh HELL YEAH man, that got all that toxic shit in there, fuckin’ with some dude’s childhood memories and whatnot. I guarantee you whiteboy lost a good five years off he brain cookin up that nasty old shit.”
40 SH*T-STAINED SHEETS TO THE WIND Pt. 3 - Jumping The Krok at Denny's
(FADEIN: NIGHT – 2:30am in Van Nuys, CA. Disaffected youth stroll the avenue sidewalks; one in particular is a boy of 19, sporting a black shirt with a patch on the arm – red ‘A’ for ‘Anarchy’. His hair is messy, brown, cut into bangs in the front and covering the ears like a bastardized Beatles cut. He’s walking alone with his head down, hands in his pockets. Suddenly a black Lincoln LS speeds by, music blasting from the interior. About a hundred feet down the road, the car comes to a SCREECHING HALT, puts in reverse, and backs up parallel to the teen boy. He continues to walk, trying to ignore the car, but it slowly rolls forward, keeping in step with him)
CASTOR: “I was wondering if you would answer a question of mine. Swift query…”
TEEN: (stops, looks at Castor) “This isn’t like a date rape attempt is it? I have a knife in my pocket…”
LANA: (yelling from inside the car) “NO it’s a regular rape attempt. This kid is fucking stupid let’s DRIVE!”
CASTOR: “Shhh. Give him a chance, Lana. (addressing teen) I couldn’t help but notice your anarchy symbol. Is that your unshakeable belief? That the rule of law is no rule at all?”
TEEN: “Wha- who the hell are you?”
CASTOR: “Don’t you recognize me?”
WESSON: (yelling from inside the car) “Nigga that’s yo FAWWWTHA!”
MILLWOOD: (inside the car) “Smith, man, cool it.”
TEEN: “Yyyyeaahh actually you do look kind of familiar. Are you on TV or something?”
CASTOR: “Yes, from the television. I just…want to ask you a hypothetical. Say there are two opposites: men of severe disposition. And these men are locked in combat. One is a recognized name brand, but a trusted one. Everything he has, he created for himself.”
TEEN: “Corporate piece of shit, got it.”
CASTOR: “If you please. And the other is the anti-brand. He stands to devalue all brands equally, as they are equally worthless in a world of relativity that occupies an inconsequential section of boundless space.”
TEEN: “Hmm, alright. Is this like a Republican/Democrat thing? Because if it is I’m not-“
CASTOR: “Oh no. It’s more pro-wrestling…”
TEEN: “Wait, I know who you are now. Castor Strike?”
CASTOR: “Strife. I’m facing Anarky in a couple of weeks, do you know him as well?”
TEEN: “Sort of, yeah.”
CASTOR: “Shit, I’ll just ask him straight out then. (sighs) I had a Socratic dialogue loosely planned in my head. OK, so Anarky has accused me of being the dancing mouse of a corporate giant. You follow?”
TEEN: “I follow.”
CASTOR: “MEANWHILE…(Lana: Castor let’s just GO! You’re drunk!)…no! We’re settling this! Meanwhile, dear old Anarky has been headlining for corporate wrestling organizations since time immemorial. Problem is, he’s been ignored in the press lately…”
TEEN: “OK so he’s an old school sellout pretending to be for the movement when in reality he’s a masterless puppet…”
CASTOR: (blinks) “Would you like to have breakfast with us?”
LANA: “JUST DRIVE!!!!”
(Car peels off)
(FADEOUT/FADE BACK IN: The boy is still walking home, when Castor’s Lincoln pulls up again. This time, the window rolls down and Devin Millwood pops his head out)
MILLWOOD: “Hey, sorry to bother you again. We actually have another question that’s completely unrelated to the last one.”
TEEN: “Whatever, just ask me.”
MILLWOOD: “Cool. So would you by chance know where we can score Krokodil in Los Angeles? It’s not for us, we’re just doing a feature story on it as of like, five minutes ago.”
WESSON: (yelling from inside the car) “It’s an investigation!”
TEEN: “Man, I don’t even know what that is. Is it prescription?”
MILLWOOD: “No, it’s like heroin except you gotta boil codeine and burnt iodine. I dunno, I’m getting this off the Wiki. Could you help? It’s not for us, I swear.”
CASTOR: (from inside car) “I probably would have tried it eight years ago. Not so much today, but back then, yes.”
TEEN: “Honestly I know nothing about this stuff. Sorry. Could I still eat with you guys though?”
MILLWOOD: (pauses, looks back into the car for approval) “Yeah, sure.”
(CUTTO: The entire party is sitting at a Denny’s in Los Angeles. Castor is eating a plate of eggs and home fries)
CASTOR: “It’s a simple maneuver, really-“ (swallows) “You have to lock their neck up with one arm, like a vice, and then close it with the other hand. And it’s more a snap-swing than a classic swing.”
LANA: “He’s broken about five people’s necks with it. It’s a great move.”
(Wesson nudges Millwood, pointing to across the restaurant, then motions to Castor)
WESSON: (being low) “Yo CAS. Yo CAS, man! Check it out son…”
CASTOR: “What? Where are you pointing?”
WESSON: “That’s Zero dog!”
CASTOR: “I don’t see him.”
MILLWOOD: “Oh come on, that’s not him.”
LANA: “Yeah, I don’t know. Similar but it’s hard to tell.”
TEEN: “Who’s Zero?”
WESSON: “Castor, you be the judge, is it him or not?”
CASTOR: (pauses, looks hard; everybody waits on his word) … …
CASTOR: “That’s definitely him.”
WESSON: “I knew it!”
TEEN: “Who’s Zero?!”
CASTOR: “He’s this guy from the Ultratitle tournament I was telling you about. His promos are basically 40 minutes of him shaving and talking with his mom and sister. Total prick.”
MILLWOOD: “Smith, go fuck with him!”
CASTOR: “Guys, come on…”
WESSON: “Yeah I’ll walk right up to that muthafucka, I don’t give a fuck.”
CASTOR: “Alright fine, go do it. Don’t mention me at all though, I can’t stand to be fined by ESEN. I’m serious.”
LANA: “Well it’s gonna be on camera.”
CASTOR: “You’re right. Smith, come back!”
MILLWOOD: “Too late.”
(Wesson walks up to Zero’s table, grabs a piece of bacon off his plate, snaps it in half and eats it)
WESSON: (low, but we can hear him) “Sup man. You always eat alone? Like a little punk ass bitch.”
‘ZERO’: “Excuse me?”
WESSON: “Gilette sent me. They say they runnin’ outta blades, nigga, wassup? You gonna have to cancel that shit. Grow a beard or somethin’.”
CASTOR: “Hey, I just realized. I’m looking at him again…that’s not Zero.”
LANA: “So he’s just doing that to a random guy?”
CASTOR: “It appears so.”
MILLWOOD: “Fuck, I’ll go get him.”
(Wesson lightly slap the man in the face a couple times)
WESSON: “I could Norelco your ass with these hands right now, wassup? Huh? Nah, sit down, finish your food.”
MILLWOOD: “SMITH! It’s not him.”
WESSON: “You sure?”
MILLWOOD: “Yeah we figured it out. Come on let’s go.“
(QUICK CUTTO: In the parking lot, broad daylight. Millwood has the camera, and he’s filming Castor as they walk towards the car)
MILLWOOD: “So how do you feel about all this footage being sent to ESEN?”
CASTOR: “I’ll send whatever I want to them, they don’t care.”
MILLWOOD: “Yeah, they seem lax. I’ve only been there a year.”
CASTOR: “Since Dane took the house I’ve given people unprecedented access to my life. It’s like I said – with the money I bring in, they are creaming themselves at the prospect of my victory. Lucky for them I’m a man of my word. I said I’d win – and I’ll win.”
MILLWOOD: “What if you don’t?”
CASTOR: “I do. I walk into Greensboro or wherever the finals is being held, after I beat Anarky, after I beat whoever…and then take the trophy for myself. It’s the only play.”
MILLWOOD: (turns camera to his own face) “Millwood signing out. I’m shot.”
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