Monument Wrestling Academy was barely located in Monument itself, straddling the border of the neighboring city of Wickburg. Formerly warehouse on the Nashua River, it sat nestled in a quiet, unassuming industrial park, which was zoned for almost everything that didn’t involve things like construction or blasting. When they scouted for the location, Jodie and her father had argued incessantly; he wanted to set up downtown off of Mechanic St, Monument’s heaviest foot traffic area due to all of the shops and restaurants, but Jodie insisted that they be closer to the commuter rail while stretching their dollar on square footage in a less “desirable” part of the city. In the end she won by reminding him that the business loans were in her name, and eventually he conceded that she made the right decision.
Jodie parked the car in front of the unassuming beige building, finished her cigarette, and stomped the butt into the ground. With an iced coffee in hand, she parted a small crowd of students that were already loitering by the entrance. It took almost no time for Mitch to be surrounded by his peers, and he stayed intentionally elusive while fielding questions about his current state. Off to the side, Jodie loudly cleared her throat and that drew everyone’s attention away from him.
“Come on, kids.” She held the door open long enough for the person behind her to take possession of it, and so on and so forth. They all funneled into the lobby, which functioned as both a place for reception and a showroom, exhibiting framed vintage posters and matchcards, as well as glass display cases of titles and trophies won by Jodie’s father and various alum. There were other relics as well, mostly from fellow Caribbean wrestlers, colorful masks and various costume pieces, autographed photos and so on. Jodie’s father, Victor, painstakingly collected this memorabilia to honor the greats from his region of the world, which according to him were too often snubbed.
Mitch waited until everyone else had gone on ahead before he followed suit, lingering along the edges of the group. Once inside, he made a beeline for Jodie’s office to escape just how out of place he felt. Compared to the lobby, the office was rather dim and dingy. The only source of natural light came through a single narrow window that was better suited for a basement; for some reason the architect elected to focus on a wall of interior windows instead, which separated the room from the short hall that led to both the lobby and the training area. More than anything, Jodie wanted to smoke cigarettes in there so that she could “feel like a surly detective in a noir film”, but Victor forbid it.
Jodie stood in front of a large mounted white board with a marker in her hand. There was a bracket drawn on it, which she studied.
“Obviously you can’t be a contender for the title now,” she plainly stated without looking over at him. A line was drawn through his name, and Lagoon Goon’s was moved forward. “This sucks.”
He didn’t respond, instead taking a seat on the worn leather sofa that was next to the door. From the corner of his eye, he could see students in the training area that prepared to spar in the ring. As if on cue, his shoulder throbbed, and he resisted the urge to rub it. Instead of contending with the physical pain, he checked his phone to indulge in emotional self harm and re-read messages from Calvin about getting in contact later so they could figure out how Mitch could collect his things. A mere 12 hours had passed since he’d been dumped, the body wasn’t even cold yet and Calvin was all business as usual.
And now a line crossed through his name on the board, which shouldn’t hurt as badly as it did, but it did nevertheless.
He exhaled and threw his head back. Waves of alienation now breached his shores, and he feared that the eroded concrete jetties were insufficient for the approaching storm surge.