Best: Welcome home, Joseph Park
Every morning Joseph Park woke up the same way, gosh-darning Crimson under his breath for claiming the top bunk. It wasn’t his fault he was late on the first day of camp! Park, Park, & Park is a big firm, and it takes a lot of paperwork before you can just hand off all of your cases and spend the summer at Wrestling Camp.
Joseph looked at his alarm clock. 11:30am? Oh no! He was late! Careful so as not to hit his head again, he rushed to the chair beside his bed, grabbed the track suit he had laid out the night before, and ran for the bathrooms. Punctuality is an asset, but it’s not meant to take away from proper hygiene!
As Joseph painstakingly brushed his teeth, up, down, side to side, his thoughts began to drift. Ever since Taeler arrived, Joseph started paying less attention to his collar and elbow tie-ups and spandex macramé, and more attention to his physical presentation. He was bound and determined to become a wrestler, but something about the way she looked at him made his knees wobble.
“PARK! What in the name of Eugene are you still doing in the bathroom! Get yer goddamn ass OUT of this bathroom and INTO MY RING!”
Danny Davis. The meanest sonofabitch this side of Rob Conway you could ever meet. He could make your blood run cold just by looking at you. If he told you to move, you moved. And move Joseph did!
As he broke into a run, Park realized that his carefully side-parted hair was getting mussed in the wind, and regretted it almost immediately. She’d be there waiting, with her neon hoodies and five different colours of eye-shadow, and he’d show up looking like he had already been working out for hours. Gosh darnit!
As the summer wore on and the days grew longer, so did the training. In-ring work twice a day, cape & robe bedazzling before lunch, international object wood carving afterwards. Being a wrestler was hard work!
Joseph walked along the pathway, past the fire pit and Proctologist Memorial Dining Hall, into the woods. Moments before, Davis had yet again proved why he earned the nickname “Nightmare,” cruelly berating Joseph in front of everyone for not cutting an impactful enough promo on Sam Shaw.
“Aw, what does he know, anyways?” said Joseph, kicking a cluster of mushroom that had grown next to his favourite thinking stump. “Sam is barely even articulate enough to say his own name, let alone make me think he’s going to take me on in the squared circle! Why, Danny Davis is just a mean, no good-“
Joseph wheeled around to see two big brown eyes meeting his gaze.
“Taeler! Wh-uhh…what are you doing here?”
Hendrix smiled, making Joseph immediately feel like he had to lie down. “Oh, you own these woods now?” she said as she hopped up on the stump, challenging him face to face. “What are you going to do…sue me?”
Of the great many things Joseph Park could think of doing with Miss Hendrix, instituting legal proceedings against her was the last thing on his mind.
“Oh…oh no, Miss Hendrix. I could never! Besides, I’m not that kind of lawyer. You see, at the firm of Park, Park, & Park, we specialize in…well…it doesn’t matter. I’m a wrestler now! Or at least I’m trying to be.” Joseph cast his eyes to the ground. “I must confess, I don’t think I’m doing a very good job at it.”
Taeler climbed down off of the stump, brushing the dirt off of it before taking a seat. “It’s Davis, isn’t it. That guy’s just rotten! Did you know he told Sam that his tattoos were stupid? What a dick.”
Joseph fought the urge to smile. Sam’s tattoos were stupid, but any amount of schadenfreude might make him look as big of a jerk as Davis. Instead he nodded his head in agreement. “Yeah, that’s real mean. Especially since he’s stuck with them. That’s why I always make sure to carefully and thoroughly weigh the pros and cons of any major purchase. Proper research almost always helps you avoid buyer’s remorse!”
“Uh, yeah. Well. Either way, that guy’s gonna get his. Wanna help?”
Whether it was the scheming glint in her eye, or the way she threw around words like “dick” as an insult, Joseph immediately felt a tug in the pit of his stomach. Here she was -beautiful, dangerous- and looking at him like that. He would have followed her to the ends of the earth if she’d smile at him just one more time.
“What do you have in mind?”
He should have known.
Staring into the wild eyes of the Nightmare, a container of icy hot in one hand and the ragged, yellowed briefs of Danny Davis in the other, Joseph Park stood frozen in the middle of Davis’s cabin, petrified.
He should have known.
“Oh my god, Joe! I had no idea you’d actually go through with it! I mean, have you seen the stains on his sweat pants? Who on earth would wanna touch his grody underwear?”
It was lunchtime in Ohio Valley. The tables in the dining hall were filling up with budding wrestlers, currently hungrier for tater tots and jello than they were for big brand contracts. Joseph followed Hendrix through the crowd, trying his best to dodge and weave through the maze of muscles and lunch trays.
“What do you mean, Miss Hendrix? We clearly discussed, in detail, making Davis pay for being so awful to all of us. You were supposed to be there with me!”
Before she could speak, Sam Shaw sidled up to Taeler, draping one unfortunately tattooed arm around her shoulders. “Hey, Tae. Ha, that rhymes. Is this guy bothering you?”
“Totally. I mean, god, Joe, get a grip. It was a joke!”
“But…you said you would be there. And I thought…I had thought…I mean, you brought up the end of summer dance, and…”
“Whoa, hold up. You thought my girl Tae was gonna go to the dance with a fat geek like you? You’re…” Joseph could practically hear the cogs grinding against each other as Sam struggled to come up with another insult. “You’re…lunchmeat!” And with that, Sam dumped the contents of his tray over Park’s head.
Humiliated, Joseph turned to go, tears burning in his eyes. But before he could get far, his foot slipped on an errant slice of baloney from Sam’s now wasted lunch. He careened forward, smashing his nose into a nearby bench. Park looked down in horror. Blood was trickling from his nose onto the floor, onto his hands…so much blood….
“PARK! What in the name of Eugene do you think you’re doing? My office! NOW!”
Joseph shook his head, as if waking from a dream. Slowly, the realization dawned on him that everyone in the dining hall had gone quiet, and even worse, was staring right at him. Sam Shaw lay at his feet. Taeler looked at up at him, a mixture of shock and fear passing over her face.
What just happened?
Joseph Park sat awkwardly on a folding chair placed in front of Davis’s desk. “I’m sorry, sir. I…I don’t know what happened.”
Davis looked at Park, his eyes softening. “Son, have you ever heard of a lady names Missy Hyatt?”
Park racked his brain, but came up with nothing.
“Ah, well, it’s not important. The thing is, sometimes we do strange things when it comes to women. I understand. But the fact is, I haven’t seen a spinning side slam executed with that much ability and ferocity since…well, since your brother was last on TV.”
“Yeah, I think that’s what we’re ramping up to.”
Davis continued. “Look, I know I’ve been a little hard on you, but the fact is, you’ve come a long way since you first walked through my door. You’ve worked hard, and it’s paid off. I think you’re ready to graduate.”
“I….really?” Park had expected the thrashing of a lifetime for whatever had happened in the dining hall, but…graduate? Was this really happening?
“Go on, get out of here! I believe you’ve got some things to take care of back in Orlando.”
Joseph Park loaded his bag into the backseat of his rental car. For once the company had sent along the right one. He paused, taking one last look at Ohio Valley Wrestling Camp. He had come so far.
As he slid into the driver’s seat of his BMW, a smile crept across his lips. He was gosh darn Joseph Park, esq. of the firm Park, Park, & Park. He had a penthouse apartment and a bank account balance to rival any of the bigwigs at Panda Energy. But most importantly, he was now a wrestler. He could do this. And Danny Davis was right – he had unfinished business.
He tossed his glasses onto the passenger seat, replacing them with his trusty prescription shades.
“Hold onto your butt, Devon. I’m on my way.”