(Chris Shepherd sits on a wooden altar at the front of a church, recognized by a cross emblazoned on the wall behind him. Holding his staff in his right hand, he leans against it as he rises to his feet and turns to the camera. He’s dressed simply, even as the area around him is a bit more elaborate than where he’s been shown recently.)
CS: Godfather. It seems every round I end up doing this – thinking back to a time before. It seems that’s what so many of us are doing. Remembering times past. Deacon faced a Godfather, not you, but like you in at least a few ways. That was quite a few years ago, and for the historians out there, they’ll remember it as Deacon’s rookie year. And for the rest of us, they’ll start to realize - yesterday is gone and I have a feeling if we spend our time looking back, we’re not going to see that train mowing us down.
(Chris looks away for a moment, biting his bottom lip as he considers his next words carefully.)
And maybe that’s what happened to Dan Ryan, Sean Stevens, and later by both men who had only one match earlier took these favorites out. (Chris turns back to the camera.) Maybe, but somehow I doubt it. They got caught, not by looking back, not by expecting a win, but by the reality any of the wrestlers in this tournament should expect – you had best BRING your BEST every round or expect it to be your last.
Unless you can psych your opponent out before they even step between the ropes.
(With a shrug, Chris begins walking in front of the altar, working his way toward the church’s podium.)
Some would say that’s what happened with Rezin. He’d listened to the hype. He’d looked at the man he was going to face, the train that was about to obliterate him, and Rezin gave up. Some would say that. (Chris looks away for a moment and shrugs his shoulders.) Of course, others would say it’s a casualty of the choices he’s made in life. Whatever you choose to believe, only one fact is for certain –
(Chris stops walking and stares at the camera for a moment.)
Deacon got a pass.
(Chris continues his walk, going up two stairs to the “stage area” of the church, little more than a raised platform carpeted in red.)
Some would say that Bonecrusher was psyched out before his match as well, that he’d already given up before he ever stepped into the ring with the Deacon. But I would say not Bonecrusher, but Lane Cash did that, not in facing the former Greensboro champ, but in looking at the fabled “hardest bracket in the tournament” and flinching. He didn’t show up, and Bonecrusher, for the first time in years, did… and gave what he had. It was enough for one round, but as all the craziness hit round two, Bonecrusher stumbled and then fell. Literally.
(Chris pauses for a moment as the lights behind him dim.)
And Deacon got another pass.
(He nods. A spotlight glows behind him, illuminating the cross, then moving to various other areas – the piano, the drums, and finally Chris.)
Some have said that it was Providence paving Deacon’s road to the final four, God Himself making the paths straight, the mountains made low and the valleys rising to meet Deacon as he walks upon the golden road of promise. (Chris shakes his head) Pardon me why I doubt, for the God we served compelled us to carry a cross not be carried upon a lectica.
(Chris begins walking across the stage area toward the podium.)
Godfather, your road isn’t all that much different. You fought the Hayes boys, and they might as well have been twins. Neither was willing to meet you, to do what was necessary to give you anything beyond their shoulders to the mat. The only question is – was that what you wanted?
(Nearing the podium, Chris pauses again, his clothing changing from the t-shirt to a polo and khakis.)
To Jethro, you dared him to cut the strings cinching about him. Evidently, he stayed a puppet to the puppeteer you claimed to be. To Alexander, you gave him an offer – forfeit. He responded affirmatively, silently skulking in whatever cave he called a home. And as he stayed silent, you sulked that he had taken your offer of forfeit, you going on to state how you were hoping for a challenge. I’ll leave it to Kendall Codine to tear apart your logic.
(The spotlight focused on Chris as the everything else gets dark.)
And you can leave it to me to offer you a deal.
(Chris’ staff is gone.)
(The cross glows brightly behind him.)
Bring your puppet strings. Just try to cinch them about Deacon’s arms. Just try to make him dance to your song.
(The camera pans to a crowd in the formerly empty sanctuary. Now full of people in their Sunday best.)
Bring your deals and promises that kept Jethro quiet. Offer us a chance to survive the war you are going to bring us. Promise us that we can live to see another day if only we lay down for you.
(The church sanctuary morphs into an arena.)
And Deacon…(Chris smirks) he’ll bring his.
(The camera pans again, the crowd’s cheers meeting Chris’ own intensity.)
His first offer will be to take the strings that you’ve used to easily entangle your opponents, and well… the righteous have this nasty little habit. The evil planned against the chosen? Don’t be surprised when your own actions entrap you.
(Cuts back to Chris as he holds up 2 fingers.)
His second offer? Let’s see this war you talked about. Let’s see if, after we meet in this 3rd round, refusing to lay down for you leads to anything other than the Deacon moving on to the 4th round.
(Cuts back to the crowd, and once again, the arena is the sanctuary Chris started in. And as he continues, the crowd responds by getting louder and louder.)
We’ve gotten a pass for 2 rounds. Some would call it a gift, and I’m fine with that. But your gifts are over. And if you have half the guts of Bonecrusher, Deacon’s gifts will be over as well. I assure you, Deacon would have it no other way. The valley won’t rise up to make Deacon’s way smooth? He has no problem digging deep into the valley to see what gems are there. The mountain isn’t going to be made flat? That’s just perfect.
(The camera cuts back to Chris.)
You can’t move a mountain that isn’t there, and as Jesus said - with less than a speck of faith, moving that mountain is exactly what Deacon’s gonna do.
(Behind him, no spotlights are there. No drums. Not even a piano. A barren stage. A barren sanctuary. Only a cross showing as the camera pans up.)