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live to regret, pt.I


Jan 1, 2000
upstate NY
(FADE IN: Tight shot of what might be an oak table. After a moment of nothing, a pale hand reaches into the shot clutching a digital voice recorder. The thumb deftly reaches the appropriate button and, at once, sound and screen burst to life. The initial noise is jarring; abrupt and almost static, cloth on mic.)

"Of course," we hear the reporter say after a few moments of muffled speech. "I understand."

(CUT TO: Close in on the screen of the digital voice recorder. The counter counts up, neon green and piercing. Each digit burns as it ticks.)

"I've agreed to this interview with the understanding that if I don't like your questions, your tone, or even the part of your hair, then I walk away."

The sounds of an American diner fill the background of the audio. The rattling of a spoon calmly stirring it's coffee.

"The American media has never been kind to me, nor fair, nor balanced or accurate. I've agreed to this interview against my better judgment and I truly hope I don't live to regret it."

The voice is equally calm. And quite British. Almost enjoying himself.

It belongs to Max Blackshire.

"Hang on," Lester Fields interjected quickly. "This is just an informal--"

"You people called me, I didn't call you. You have something approaching one hundred other wrestlers to hound, but you called me. Let ME ask YOU, Lester," Max asked, a clearly amused smile seemed to be on his face. "Why IS that?"

(CUT TO: The hand nervously readjusts the recorder, bringing things back to a much wider shot. The pale hand emerged from a navy blue blazer.)

"Why call me? After all, I'm assuming you've done your research. You know my story. The lies and half truths. I'm honestly struggling not to come across as belligerent, here... I'm truly curious why your paper would touch me, my story, who I am and what some say I've done."

There was a brief pause, the scuffle of fabric on fabric. "Well... the people behind the ULTRATITLE tournament called on you, didnt they?" Lester was clearly feeling confident. What he had expected to see in Max's eyes didn't seem to be there. He had expected a monster, an aberation of humanity. What he found was... unexpected.

"The ULTRATITLE is different," Max said flatly. "I pursued *them*. I petitioned to join. Yes, they know my history, who I am and what some say I've done... But they also know that I've managed to keep my name from your headlines for, what? Eight years? Your headlines and everyone else's. Strange, eh? In America I'm seen as a maniacal villain; a madman who tried to kill his own brother, a sadistic villain who'd stop at nothing to... Silly. It's all just silly. The moment I land back home in England and I'm just "Max". In Japan they don't call me an arsonist or deviant. No, there they just chant my name, clap their hands, and RESPECT what I do in the ring. Clearly the people putting this tournament together can separate fact from fiction. Those stories you've heard? The bad press and the "urban legends", as you say... Grow up and open your eyes. The wrestling business is a business. Especially back then, it wasn't as it is now... If they wanted to brand me as a maniac, then a maniac I was..."

A pause.

(CUT TO: An overhead shot of the same hand holding the same digital voice recorder.)

"Today," Max calmly continued, "and for the last eight years since last I left the US, I have been simply Max."

Now we hear Lester clear his already gravelly throat. A veteran newsman of over thirty years, he was used to asking hard questions and challenging powerful people. "I hear what you're saying and I appreciate that... however, I *read* the news articles. I've SEEN the news broadcasts.

"Ah. Yes. American Journalism," Max grinned. Lester couldn't help but be almost charmed by the man. "Listen... I'm not going to try to downplay the darkest moments of my life or tell you I have been a saint. I was a troubled kid who, yes, had a wild streak. But that was a decade ago. I'm a different person. Still flawed, mind you... But in... A better place. Here."

Silence, marked by what may have been Max tapping a forefinger to his temple.

"And here."

And that same forefinger to his chest? Perhaps in reverse order? "So...", Lester began.

"What's changed?' Max finished. "No spiritual awakening if that's your question." He cleared his throat and reserved a moment. "I'd call it a... Natural progression. Evolution, maybe?"

Fields chose this moment to lighten things once more. Bring the guard down further. "Maybe you found the right lady?" You could almost hear the smile on the reporters lips.

"A woman? I've found a few," they shared a chuckle. Max cleared his throat. "Really though, nothing specifically to point to. I suppose I've... Let go. Of some of my old hang ups."

This was what Lester had been leading to. "Your Brother."

"Cyrus," Max said - not as distressed by the name as Lester had expected him to be. "Yes. Cyrus and other things. It's funny... I obviously knew he would come up but until now, I haven't really known what to say. I suppose that's a credit to your talents at soothing your subject, eh?"

They shared another brief, nervous laugh. Lester let the silence hang for a moment. A moment that forced Max to fill that silence.

(CUT TO: Another tight shot on the recorders screen. Just cresting three minutes. Bright. Bold.)

"It's hard to describe the feeling... Like the world only got HALF of the story. Cyrus and I had a complicated relationship. He's been gone now for, how long? Ten years? More?"

Suddenly the sound of rustling paper filled the room; Lester leafing through his notepad.--

"God... I don't even know how long it's been... What was the date? No... Don't tell me. It doesn't matter. He's gone."

Another silence. This one punctuated by the waitress delivering another round of coffees to the table. "Sounds to me like you HAVE let go," Lester offered.

"I suppose."


(CUT TO: Extreme tight shot of a handful of pixels on the voice recorders LED screen. )

"Cyrus Blackshire was a good man," Max offered. "He was a good son to our mother... a decent enough father to his son... an incredibly gifted athlete and wrestler..."

Max would clear his throat now before what SOUNDED like resettling in the booth.

"He just didn't know how to be a good brother. Maybe I didn't either."

Another brief rustling overcomes the audio--

"But that was so long ago. I can barely relate to the man I was then. Which is why I've signed up for this ULTRATITLE affair. I've had success all over the world; most recently back in Japan as I've said. And while, yeah, I won some belts HERE and had some crazy, memorable matches here in The States, all anyone wants to remember is the lies and half truths. My days in this sport and in this business near their end with every turn of the globe and it's my obligation - to myself and to my name - that I make that climb back up the ranks here, where the competition is at its best, to prove to the world that I am who and what I say I am, not what YOU or your colleagues in the press say I am, to take that one last shot at attaining the very pinnacle of the sport. And THAT is what ULTRATITLE means to me. "

A brief pause. Perhaps the sound of pen scratching paper as Fields jotted down pertinent notes. Slightly muffled, his voice finally emerged. "And your opponents in the tournament?"

Max made a noise that may have been a snicker. It seemed he had "found his smile" again.

"There could be a hundred competitors in the tourney, a thousand, a million, or just two... In my mind, in my heart, it doesn't matter. The stakes are the same. The goal is the same. I have only one opponent, one true nemesis in this - and that opponent is who it's always been along my journey. And it's not Cyrus, it's not Smoove or Havoc, it's not Ice Tre, Dreammaker or "Triple X" Sean Stevens. It's who it's ALWAYS been. It's Me. And while I'll hope you'll avoid the obvious joke, I've beaten "me" before. I've improved, grown, adapted and excelled since the last time any of you fools have seen me in action. I am not the man I was."

And he wasn't, not by Lester's estimation in any event. "You mentioned Triple X--"

(CUT TO: Back to the wide shot. Again, the hand re-weighs the recorder in itself.)

"Not now. Not today. Let's do this again. I like you."

We hear what must be Max Blackshire rising from the table. Lester sounds flustered. "If we do, I'd like to cover everything; the fire, more about your brother, Cassidy Stewart and--"

"Yes, yes. All of it," Max cut in patronly. "The tourney and such, absolutely. You want to hear the truth about the lies? I'm game."

A pause in the action. Was there a handshake? Hard to tell from just audio.

"Next Wednesday. Same booth. Cheers."

(CUT TO: The same thumb that started the playback would bring an abrupt end to it with a simple flick. FADEtoBLACK.)

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