Ezra looks after his family during rough times, almost injures himself wrestling a match for his tiny promotion and a chance meeting with a prominent figure at work provides potential opportunity.
Friday, December 28, 2018
"Tch! Oh, come on!" Ezra cursed silently and grimaced as the stream stopped. The last thing he wanted was to wake his brother and get a verbal beatdown.
The internet was dropping again right as Lance Lovecraft was ready to spin kick the shit out of Big Bad Jimmy while Diego Silva held him still. This always happened! The best parts of the show and the internet would fail for no discernable reason. Every blasted time! Piece of crap. I swear, if Diego walks out of this match as the champion, I will march into the next KADA show and kick his ass myself! Jimmy needs to win! Lansilva can go to hell! Pompous jackasses!!
"Ezra, love!" Glennys called from the other room, and he huffed.
"Coming!" He reassured his mother, pausing the illegal stream on his phone so it wouldn't continue without him if the connection returned, and he ducked out of the bedroom he shared with his little brother into the small, cosy room that acted as kitchen, dining room and living room. The apartment only had four rooms - two bedrooms, a bathroom, and everything else stuffed into the main room. "What's wrong?"
"The internet isn't working!" Her stream of Married With Children had stopped as well. An act of God, he thought privately.
"You brought me in here just to tell me that?" Ezra was annoyed, but he managed to sound amused. "Yeah, I noticed, Mom. You're not the only one who uses it."
"Can't you fix it?" Glennys asked, shifting in pain. "What if you turn it off and on?"
"Oh, trust me, if I could fix it I would!" He slicked his blonde pompadour hairstyle back with a stressed out hand. "Turning it off and on never does anything. Do you need something while I'm up?"
"Oh love, please turn on the fan!" She begged, and he looked at her strangely.
"Mom, it's snowing outside! It's about twelve degrees in here!" He could see the frost on his breath as he complained to her. "We're all freezing because you won't let us turn the thermostat up!"
"I'm having a hot flash!" Glennys defended herself, fanning the air to her face with her hand to prove her point. "You don't understand how menopause is!"
"Yeah, well I'm getting an idea, and it isn't pretty!" Ezra grumbled, flicking on the fan for her, knowing she would only summon him again in a few minutes to turn it off again after her hot flash finished. She was a freak! Hot, cold, hot, cold.
"And love, I need another one of my pills," she pleaded, but he looked at the watch on his wrist with the cracked screen glass and grimaced.
"Sorry Mom, I can't give you another one until eleven," he told her sadly.
It sucked to see her in pain, but he was going to follow doctor's orders to the letter, no matter how much he wanted just to give her the meds. Impulse control wasn't one of his mother's virtues, and she would likely overdose on them by accident. She couldn't have picked a worse time to break her hip, in his opinion. Right as he was ready to move out on his own and live life to the fullest, she now needed him to stay at home and look after her. Celeste was too young to do an adequate job, and Eamonn... well, Eamonn had done enough for the family already. It fell to Ezra. Eighteen and trapped at home to take care of his broken mother. Well, she took care of me. So I can take care of her! Not forever! Just until she can do things on her own again!
"Alright, thank you," Glennys smiled at him. "Eleven on the dot! Oh, I don't know what I'd do without you, love. You make me so happy. I'd be lost if you left me."
Yeah, great, Ezra thought sullenly. Every time he mentioned leaving home in any capacity, Glennys would make it sound like she'd slit her wrists and he immediately felt terrible for wanting to venture out on his own. I'm gonna be here till one of us dies, he thought sadly as he slunk back into his bedroom, leaving the paint-chipped door open a crack so that he could hear his mother when she needed him. He made sure to walk on the floorboards he knew didn't creak - Eamonn would otherwise sleep through the apocalypse, but a squeak in the floor from a single careless footstep would rouse him every time. The internet was still out and he let out a noise of frustration. He needed to watch the stream before he heard any spoilers - he could not afford to buy the Pay Per View himself, so he found other ways to watch it.
Determined not to waste a moment of time, he slid off his single bed and sat on the floor. He did not get time to go to the gym today between a long work day and his mother needing his help, but he never let that get in the way of a workout. Oliver Vickery, one of the wrestlers in the KADA promotion, once said in an interview that no gym and no equipment doesn't give you an excuse to dodge a workout. Ezra took that to heart, determined to get as fit and healthy as he could. He began with situps, but naturally, Glennys did summon him to turn off that stupid fan. Blasted menopause!! He wished his mother would do it herself, but he immediately felt bad even thinking that. She was broken and sore, relying on a pair of crutches to make her way around the small, crowded apartment and one of her children to push her around in a wheelchair when she ventured outside.
"Can I have my pill now?" She begged him, making sure he could see how much she was hurting, but it was only twenty minutes till eleven. Maybe it wouldn't make such a difference, he thought, but he promised Dr Ketch that he would adhere to a strict schedule and he did not break a promise. "Please?"
"No, Mom!" Ezra told her firmly, tapping on his watch. "Are you ready to go to bed soon? Because I have work in the morning and I can't stay up all night."
"Not yet, love," Glennys pointed to the television. "When my show finishes."
"That could be next week! I'll be back soon with your night pill and then I need to put you to bed," he explained, but she looked at him in that stupid way that made him feel bad for her.
"I don't think I'm ready for bed yet, love!" She complained, and he didn't indulge her in conversation. She better be ready for bed at eleven because I'm not staying up late just for her! Not again!
Disheartened by the dodgy WiFi, Ezra returned to his workout on the wooden floor next to his old bed. He did situps, pushups, squats and minute-long planks. He'd been doing them since he was young and he was getting fitter and stronger by the day! He worked twice as hard as anyone at that wrestling school, and he was starting to come into his own as a performer - even if his tiny company only did a small show in the high-school gym every other Saturday night. Sometimes he also got the call to wrestle once in a while in MCW in Minneapolis! Wrestling gave Ezra joy that was sorely lacking in other aspects of his life - well, not Beau, at least.
Ezra immediately smiled when he thought of his high-school sweetheart. He wondered what Beau was up to. Probably gaming or down at the bar with his friends. Ezra would love to join them, but he needed to be with his mother and he needed an early night. He sighed, scratching his head with blunt fingernails. He wanted to make the most of his life, but he couldn't leave his family to fend for themselves. His cheap smartphone vibrated to signal the alarm he set for eleven o'clock, and he decided to put the hard word on Glennys tonight. I'm her carer, not her slave.
"Just a second Mom," he promised her as he dashed through to the bathroom to fetch her medication.
He could only see his black speckled green eyes in the reflection of the mirror on the back of the bathroom cabinet, and that never failed to get a rise out of him - so to speak. How did I only grow to be 5'3? Gah! KADA will never sign someone so height-challenged! Sean Fox, one of the littlest guys to make it in that company, is four full inches taller than me!! It was unfair. Glennys was only 4'11, a tiny woman, and he blamed her entirely for the genes he got. Eamonn had already overtaken him the age of fifteen! A cruel world indeed!
"Hey!" He found Celeste poking around in the refrigerator on his way back. "Go to bed! You can't still be hungry!"
"I'm always hungry," Celeste didn't listen to him, choosing to snack on plastic-wrapped slices of cheese. "And you're not the boss."
"Oh, whatever!" Ezra rolled his eyes. She was eleven. Rebelling was all the rage for her. "You're the one with lactose intolerance, so have fun with that!"
She made a face at him and he returned to his mother, who made sure she was looking frail and inches from certain death, giving her the pain pill, her nightly sedative and a glass of water to wash it down.
"Love, I'm not ready for bed yet," Glennys whined, chugging her pain med but not the one that would put her to sleep. "I want to watch the last of my show."
"Your show will still be there in the morning!" Ezra hated that his mother was so inconsiderate, but she played the guilt card too damn well. "It could be hours before the internet comes back! And I need to sleep or I'll be a zombie tomorrow at work."
"Not everything is about you, Ezra," Glennys shifted and cried out in agony. Yeah, yeah, Mom. I know you're hurting. How could I forget? "You should humour your mother once in a while you know."
"Yes, Mom! I'm literally the worst," he agreed with her so that she would just shut up, but true to form, his mother wasn't ready to stop complaining as he readied her crutches and braced himself to get her out of her beaten old chair.
"Why can't you get yourself a decent job, love?" Glennys sighed loudly. "One that pays well and gives you better hours. You're too smart to be a waiter forever."
"Mom, lay off," Ezra growled at her, too tired and too full of stress to give a damn right now. There didn't seem to be a way to play their daily game without losing another shred of self-esteem. "I'm going to bed now. Right now! So if you want me to help you to your room, then you have to come now, or you can sleep here. Once I go to bed, I am NOT getting up again!"
"You can be selfish sometimes," Glennys grumbled as Ezra, young and strong, pulled her up and braced all of her feeble body weight with his solid body. I might be little, but I'm sturdy like an ox! "Take me to the toilet first."
Ezra didn't mind doing these jobs for his mother. She genuinely needed help, and he was happy to do it - but when she used her hip replacement surgery to play for sympathy or attention, he got angry with her. While everyone in the family pitched in with chores, Ezra was the only one who had a day job, a long-term relationship and dreams of becoming a bigtime wrestler like those fellows at KADA Wrestling. It didn't seem fair that he was the one to do the most work at home as well. There were only two bedrooms in this dingy apartment - Glennys and Celeste shared one while Eamonn and Ezra shared the other. When Glennys finished and Ezra helped her to her room, Celeste was back in her bed, chowing down on cheese slices.
"You're getting fat, love," Glennys pointed out to Celeste - who was indeed getting chubby as she approached puberty, but Ezra didn't see why Glennys needed to point that out every single day. "No more eating before bed - especially dairy! I don't need you farting all night. The boys will never look at you if you're fat and full of gas."
"Thanks, Mom," Celeste rolled her eyes as Ezra gingerly lifted his mother onto her bed, now impervious to her mother's relentless criticisms.
"Alright, I'll turn everything off and lock the doors!" Ezra exhaled, physically tired after a brief but intense workout and mentally tired from dealing with his sister and his mother. "Night, Mom! Night Celeste!"
"Goodnight, love," Glennys smiled at him. "I don't know what I would ever do without you. You're my guardian angel."
"Night Ez," Celeste was full of attitude at her age, but she wasn't an unpleasant girl, and he loved her a great deal.
Besides, even when the kids argued, there was no place for grudges. Like, literally no room, Ezra thought. We're packed in here like sardines so we can't afford to fight any more than we can afford a decent internet connection! When Mom's hip is better, I can finally start my life for real! Beau was keen to move to Minneapolis to get away from Litchfield. Ezra understood. It was a small town and Beau never fit in very well. He was a camp gay, and that didn't go over well in high school, so the brunette was desperate to go to college in the city and restart his life from scratch - with his boyfriend, of course. Ezra was intimidated by the thought of the big city, but he'd do anything for Beau - unfortunately, his family came first and right now they needed him.
His obligations done, Ezra stripped off and pulled on his boxer shorts. It was time for bed! Unlocking his phone, he sighed with disappointment to see his WiFi was still dodgy. I suppose I'll watch the rest of the show when I get home from work tomorrow, then. He had internet on his mobile, but nowhere near enough to stream a KADA show, and a giant bill for going over the limit was the last thing he needed. He sent his boyfriend a text, missing him terribly.
Ezra: < Hey cutie!! ❤️ are you having a good night? >
It took a while before Beau replied.
Beau: < Yes! You should come out with us x >
Ezra: < I have to be up before 6! Wish I could I miss you! I love you! >
Beau: < aww I love you too bb! I'll swing by the diner and see you tomorrow then. x sleep well, my big man! >
Big man? Beau was funny. He was nearly a full foot taller than Ezra, but he loved to call him his "big man." Ezra sent a provocative selfie of himself in his bed and received a picture of his boyfriend blowing him a kiss in return. Aww! Ezra kissed the screen of his phone before he locked it, set a silent vibrating alarm and stuck it under his pillow. Eamonn didn't need to wake up before the sunrise with him - the boy liked to sleep in during Christmas break. He thought of KADA Wrestling as he dozed off. The people that were already heavily influencing his attempt at a wrestling career. He learned the Moonsault from Sean Fox, the Silva Spiral from Diego Silva, the Diamond Dust from Lance Lovecraft. He used them in his matches - maybe not as flawlessly as them on TV, but he got a reaction every time. I'm gonna be a wrestler! I can do it! I will do it!!
Saturday, January 5th, 2019
Ezra let out a cry of frustration as the zipper on his bag broke and he was forced to stuff his wrestling attire in the other pocket. Blast this stupid Capitalism... blast! Being poor is so expensive, he thought angrily. Always having to buy and frequently replace cheaply made things added up and made it impossible to afford quality stuff!!
"Are you ready?" Ezra asked Eamonn, who was rugged up in his fluffy coat and baggy cargo pants.
"Ready to see you kick ass tonight!" Eamonn gave him a fist bump, and Ezra grinned.
"Please don't go, Eamonn!" Celeste begged, tugging on the middle child's hand. "Don't leave me with her!"
"Celeste, she's a fuckin' twig stuck in the recliner, the worst she can do is call you fat," Eamonn replied with his filthy mouth. "Just remind her how old she is, and that'll make her give you the silent treatment for at least two days."
Ezra giggled, and Celeste managed a smile.
"We won't be gone forever!" Ezra promised her and kissed her on the cheek. "If I can survive a chair to the face, you can survive a few hours with Mom! We'll be home before eleven, and I've already given her the seven o'clock pill, so she shouldn't be a whole lot of bother. You might need to take her to the toilet and back, but you won't have to actually participate."
"Okay," Celeste conceded. "But if she keeps calling me fat I'm locking her in there!"
"Whatever works for you works for me," Eamonn shrugged, and the children left the boys' room and lumbered through to the main room, where their mother was watching terrible, terrible shows she made Eamonn illegally download for her after the internet continued to fail on them.
"We'll be back soon Mom!" Ezra kissed her on the cheek too, but Glennys moaned in agony.
"I'm not feeling too good, love," she complained, putting her hand on her head. "I think I'm coming down with something. My throat's dry and scratchy and my head's starting to ache."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Ezra rubbed her shoulder. "Maybe Celeste can make you some soup or something."
"Celeste doesn't make my soup the way I like it!" Glennys' brown puppy eyes caught his, and he heard Eamonn snorting behind him.
"Then you should have said something earlier! I have to go now or I'll be late," Ezra replied impatiently. "I can make you some soup when we get back."
"Oh, don't leave tonight!" Glennys gave up trying to subtly manipulate her son and grabbed his arm. He looked at Celeste, who rolled her eyes. "Please."
Ezra hesitated, but Eamonn grabbed him and tore him away from her.
"Mom, it's not like we're leaving you alone in a prison cell," Eamonn tartly reminded her. "Get a grip, or maybe we'll send you to a padded room. C'mon, little big brother, we've got a show to get to! Have fun, Celeste!"
"Ahh-- see you soon," Ezra waved to his little sister, who looked uncomfortable as hell, and Glennys, who looked like she was about to cry.
As the Ezra and Eamonn shut the door behind them and descended the old staircase to the ground floor, the younger boy scolded his big brother.
"Don't you put up with her shit!" Eamonn warned Ezra, ever the sharp-tongued boy he always had been. "I did not go through all those transfusions just to watch you live your life being her slave! I mean it!"
"Alright!" Ezra agreed, never able to deny his little brother anything. "But you don't need to call me your little big brother! You should just have the decency to stop growing!!"
"Someone in the family has to be able to reach the top shelves and something tells me it's not gonna be you," Eamonn joked, and Ezra laughed merrily. Eamonn was the best brother anybody could ever hope for. "Is Beau gonna be there?"
"He better be!" Ezra fumbled in his pockets to make sure he had both the key to the building and the key to the apartment, and he and his brother walked across the snowy asphalt to where he liked to park his junkheap car. "I went to all those chess tournaments and debate nights for him, after all!"
"If he's not, I'll kick his ass for you," Eamonn offered, swinging into the passenger seat and buckling up.
"Nuts to that! I'll be the one to kick my boyfriend's ass, thank you!" Ezra started up the car and turned up the heater, his little hands freezing in his gloves. "What are you doing?" Ezra glared at Eamonn, who was looking at his phone. "If you want to ride shotgun, then you have to put those sick DJ skills to work! You know the rules!"
"Settle, Gretel!" Eamonn exclaimed, fishing a cord from his pocket and hooking his phone up to the car's stereo. "You want to hear the last track I put together?"
"Uhh YES!" Ezra was waiting for the car's engine to heat up before he tried to drive. It didn't do well in the frigid Minnesota winter. "Go. Go. Go. Now! Come on already!!"
"You need to calm the fuck down," Eamonn laughed at him, locating and putting on the music he'd created with that program he always played around on.
Ezra did tend to get overexcited about things and could very easily get carried away. Eamonn was often there to reel him back in, and in return, Ezra's infectious energy helped his shy, reclusive brother come out of his shell more often. Eamonn would not share his private hobby with anyone else. Only his little big brother - dammit! He needs to stop calling me that! Now I'm calling myself that!
"Oooh yeah!" Ezra drummed his hands on the steering wheel. It was a basic beat with a few sound effects and it went only for thirty seconds, but damn it was catchy! "I can't believe you can make stuff like that! You're a genius!" He was always supportive of his brother's musical pursuits - even though their mother insisted that it would only lead to Eamonn busking for quarters by the train station. "When I'm a big-time wrestler kicking ass and taking names, you're gonna make my entrance music!!"
"Awesome!" Eamonn's usually stoic face was almost 70% smile after that. "We'll be famous together!"
"Hashtag Ezramonn!" Ezra hollered, and he decided the car might barely make it all the way to the high school. He was right - this time!
Ezra had only recently graduated from Litchfield Senior High in 2018, yet he found himself going back every second Saturday night to wrestle. It was a small club from a small town, with only eleven active competitors - two of them women. Two or three hundred people would show up for a beer, a hotdog, and two hours - give or take - of home brand wrestling! Ezra, during the times he was well enough to train during his adolescent years, had been taking the bus to Minneapolis twice a week after school to learn at a small wrestling school since he was fourteen. It would often be at least ten-thirty before he arrived home. It paid off, though! He had been wrestling in matches since he was sixteen, and now he had a spot in every show!
"There's the Luczynskis!" Artie Jacobs, the producer, director, owner and manager of the LEW - Litchfield Extreme Wrestling - was glad to see them strolling up together. "Your car didn't crap out on you, did it?"
"Why? Are we late?" Ezra began panicking, looking at his watch and thinking of excuses on the spot - car broke down? Did mom break her other hip?
"No! No no," Artie put his arms around Ezra and Eamonn with a laugh. "I'm just making a joke, Ez! Good to see you boys! How's your Ma?"
"Irritating and unpleasant," Eamonn replied bluntly. "Not nearly as helpless as she pretends to be."
Ezra awkwardly nodded his head, pointing to Eamonn and opening his mouth to defend his mother, but not having any words when Eamonn's green eyes looked at him, and he shrugged. He was right, but he didn't have to talk about her like that!
"Well..." Artie was similarly taken aback by Eamonn's sharp words, but he laughed it off. "As well as ever, then! Tell her I'm thinking of her! You guys head in - Eamonn, you can have one beer if you want, but only one! Louise will turn a blind eye to one cup, but she'll probably lock me up if you get juiced. Not you though, Ez."
"Sweeeeet!" Eamonn reeled his fist in delight.
"What? I'm older than him! I don't get a beer?" Ezra spluttered, livid with the blatant injustice! Foiled again by my little brother because he dares to be taller and refuses to shave the fuzz from his face!!
"You have a match! And you're driving!" Artie lectured him, then he laughed heartily. "Go and get ready and help set the ring up, will you? We'll start in about an hour."
Litchfield's wrestling community was very close-knit. Even though Ezra and Eamonn were too young to drink alcohol legally, as were the other dozens of fans who were under twenty-one, the town's Police Chief Louise was a frequent guest and she didn't mind relaxing that rule to one beer inside the building - so long as that underage person wasn't going to drive. Some of the teachers at the school attended the event, and it was strange to see them so bloodthirsty and uncouth! Thrilling, even! In Ezra's Senior Year, Mr Smith would teach chemistry with a pole up his ass, but during the LEW shows, that same man would be half-drunk, cheering for Ezra and demanding that his student "fuck that guy up!"
"You gonna be okay here? You won't get bored?" Ezra asked Eamonn as he laced the ropes through the turnbuckles, making sure they were taut and secure. He knew Eamonn was here to support him and spend time out of the apartment, not because he had any particular love for wrestling.
"Mm? Probably," Eamonn never lied - not even a small one to spare someone's feelings. He didn't see the point. It didn't make him especially popular, but the few friends he did have trusted him completely. So did Ezra. "But I'll be fine. I get a free beer and hotdog thanks to you! At home all I get is microwaved soup and a migraine, so you don't need to worry about me."
Oh, Eamonn! Don't ever change, Ezra grinned as the younger boy ventured back outside to get his beverage and snack. I don't know what saint I was in my last life to deserve a brother like him, and what devil he must have been to end up with a brother like me. Without Eamonn, I wouldn't be standing here now! In a wrestling ring! Like Big Bad Jimmy! Maybe I can do the Powerbomb tonight!
Once the ring was nice and ready, Ezra eagerly scuttled to the locker room to change into his wrestling attire. He wore white trunks and elbow pads while his long, padded boots were red. Diego Silva wore the colours of his home country, so Ezra was inspired to do something similar. While he was second-generation American, his paternal grandparents were immigrants from Poland, and he represented his ancestry with the white and red combination of the Polish flag.
"Burns, Luczynski!" Artie was dealing out the card for the night. "You guys in a singles match, Luczynski for the win. Cut a quicky before you start. Regular time limit, do whatever the hell you feel like, but keep it exciting."
"Alright, kiddy beans!" Dale Burns was a thick-set man in his mid-twenties who packed a lot of power in his punch. He was friendly enough but fiercely loyal to the sport. He brought him aside while Artie gave directions to the other performers. "How do you want to play this?"
"We steal the show!!" Ezra as good as shouted back in Dale's face in his enthusiasm, hopping from one foot to the other.
"Hell yeah to that!" Dale was taller than him - everyone at LEW was - and wrapped his arm around Ezra, almost smothering the youngster in his man-boobs. Argh! "How do you wanna steal the show?"
"Um... I dunno," Ezra paused to realise he did not actually have a plan beyond... being awesome! "You want to call the shots?"
"Alright. Let's do a spot in the crowd! I'll throw you over the barrier, and we fight out there!" Dale suggested, and fire ran through Ezra's veins.
"Yeah! Yeah yeah yeah!" He bounced on the balls of his feet again, far too pent up with energy to be able to remain still. "Can I Powerbomb you for the finish?" Jimmy Vause style!!
"I don't know about that," Dale apologetically looked to the floor. "I think I'm too big for you to Powerbomb me. What about your other finisher moves? Diamond Dust? Moonsault? You don't want to stick with them?"
"I wanna try things out and see what feels good for me!" Ezra explained happily. He tended to vicariously live his dream of performing in front of tens of thousands of people on the grandest stages by mimicking the signature and finishing moves of the wrestlers he loved most. Jimmy Vause's Powerbomb would be insane!!
"I don't think so, Ez," Dale warned him, understandably cautious due to the small size of the younger guy, and Ezra nodded feverishly, rubbing his hands together. "I'm a big guy and you shouldn't push yourself too hard. Plus, I don't want a broken neck."
"It's easy-Ezy!" He reassured Dale, a little insulted that he was being underestimated. He could! He could Powerbomb someone Dale's size! He could Powerbomb someone Jimmy Vause's size!! "I'm a lot stronger than I look! I can do it! Trust!"
"Hahaha, sorry buddy," Dale pat him on the shoulder, amused by the sheer enthusiasm and pluckiness of his opponent. "I'm not comfortable with that. Use one of the other moves and save the Powerbomb for someone with a smaller gut than mine."
"Grr! Fine!" Ezra ruffled his pale blond locks and offered a smile. "Moonsault! Let's Moonsault!"
Dale knew him well enough to put his faith in him, and he gripped the teenager's hand and then gave him the secret LEW handshake. When it was time for their match, Dale went out there first through the archway with the curtain set up by the back doors of the gym to his theme. Welcome to the Jungle by Guns 'N' Roses! Dale was a respected and well-liked plumber in the neighbourhood, but when he went to the ring in character, everyone who knew him didn't hesitate to call him every filthy word in the book!
Ezra's music was Born This Way by Lady Gaga. He had no particular love for the song, nor was he huge into pop music. The same way Eamonn supported him in spite of his apathy towards wrestling, Ezra encouraged Eamonn's music passion even though he wasn't otherwise interested. When he was sixteen and wrestled his first match, though, he chose Born This Way for his music. Not because he was gay or interested in making a statement about himself, but for his boyfriend. At that time, Beau was miserably depressed and ashamed of who he was. He loved drag, arts, cooking, Gaga. He was effeminate by nature whereas Ezra was 'one of the guys' and loved sports, camping and bulking up. When Ezra used Beau's favourite song as his wrestling theme mostly to declare his love for his boyfriend, Beau cried in gratitude. Ezra kept it ever since as a tribute to the boy he loved, heart and soul.
Ezra was beyond pumped and bounced his way out from the curtain, the townsfolk all cheering him on. Yay! He made it to the front row of the audience and spotted Eamonn, who was on his feet. And Beau was with him! Double yay!! The 6'2 boy with the threaded eyebrows, styled brown hair and tight jeans held out his arms, and Ezra leaned over the barricade to hug his boyfriend, and then he fist-bumped with Eamonn. The townsfolk didn't seem to care one way or another that Ezra was gay, but they always cheered when Ezra and Eamonn locked fists before every single one of his matches. Everybody in Litchfield knew the story between them.
"Oh Jesus, isn't that enough?" Dale mocked him on the microphone. "You're making me sick. Get in here already so I can break you in half and get to the liquor store before it closes!"
Ezra grinned at Beau, who blew him a kiss, and he sprung up on the ring apron before somersaulting over the top rope, landing on his feet, throwing himself onto his hands and springing forward to land on his feet once again - the way he always entered the ring. He never felt more alive than when he leapt into the squared circle!!
"Let's make this quick," Dale shoved him back with one open palm to his toned, white chest. "It shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes to beat you to a pulp."
Ezra nodded and went to grab the microphone to have his say, but Dale slapped him in the face with his hand. The townsfolk booed loudly, and Ezra replied by charging at him and leaping directly on him, bringing the two down to the canvas and the underdog rained blows from above with his left and right onto the face of the man who dared to disrespect him like that. The crowd's rumblings were nothing compared to the big leagues on television, but their support filled Ezra's heart to bursting with joy and vigour! The support! The attention! The excitement! Aaah!
Ezra put a hundred and ten per cent into his match. He dabbled in many different wrestling styles that he'd learned from many different teachers. "A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one!" He was not the strongest guy, but he could lift, drop and slam people bigger than him. He was not the fastest or the most agile, but he could leap, spin and get some decent air from his springboards off the ropes. He was not the most technically sound, but he was capable of combinations and flashy moves. Most of all, he was determined to succeed! Dale put a mean beating on Ezra, and the eighteen-year-old hit the canvas hard many times, knocking the wind out of his lungs. But it was okay! Pain was the price for greatness!
However, he had a brief scare at one point when he scaled the turnbuckle all the way to the top, and Dale shook the ropes to unseat him. Ezra's foot missed the mark and he took an unexpected tumble all the way down to the gym mats around the outside of the ring. He seemed to fall forever, terrified out of his mind... until he landed hard on the back of his neck, his whole body weight crashing down it. The crowd didn't react with cheers or boos as Ezra went limp on the floor. He heard only cries of alarm and horror, and the referee, Yvonne, slipped out of the ring and crouched down to check on him.
"Ez! Ez, are you alright?" She asked him, shaking him with her hand.
"I'm okay," Ezra heard himself reply. "I'm okay!" I'm just in shock, he told himself, wiggling his fingers, then his toes, his body and then his head. Nope. Nothing paralysed and nothing broken! Huzzah! He got to his hands and feet, and he was sure he was ready to continue.
"You sure? That was a bad fall!" Yvonne told him, but he rose to his feet and raised his hands high above his head, and the crowd cheered for him.
"I'm okay!" He shouted, somewhat breaking the fourth wall. "He's gonna have to do a lot better than that!" He slid back under the rope, heart pounding in his chest. It takes more than a bad bump to scare me!
"You just don't know when to quit, kid!" Dale yelled out loud, back in character, for the show must go on!
"Exactly!" Ezra wore a massive grin on his face as he engaged once more with his opponent.
The match drew to a close when Dale lifted Ezra onto his shoulders, ready to deliver the coup de grâce, but the youngster wriggled off and performed the sequence that often lead to his victory. He ran at the ropes, rebounded and took Dale down with a single-legged dropkick, then a second one, then he ran again at Dale, who swung with a fist that Ezra dodged. Ezra leapt onto the middle rope and bounce back at him, spinning his body and taking Dale down. The teenager dragged Dale to the corner of the ring and pointed to the turnbuckle, and the townsfolk cheered, knowing what was coming. Ezra scaled the turnbuckle and executed professional wrestler Sean Fox's best-known move - the Moonsault - and landed on Dale, pinning him and picking up the win! Yes! Yes!!
"And the winner is Ezra Luczynski!" Yvonne always mispronounced his surname, but so did everyone else in this town.
Ezra, even though his body was screaming from the lengthy, intense match he fought, jumped to his feet and bounded over to the turnbuckle again, scaling it and embracing the love from his peers, his friends, his coworkers and complete blasted strangers! He caught the pretty brown eyes of the sweetest boy in the whole world and immediately hopped down, leaving the ring and embracing Beau by the crowd barrier, the two sharing a kiss on the lips.
"You scared me!" Beau whined, hugging him close and not caring how sweaty he was. "I thought you died! Oh my god! Don't ever do that again!"
"I'm never dying!" Ezra beamed at him, standing up on his toes again to be able to kiss him. "If the reaper comes I'll Moonsault him too!! And you!" He turned to Eamonn, who didn't look nearly as worried. "Don't you dare tell Mom what happened!"
"She won't hear it from me," Eamonn smirked, giving his brother a congratulatory pat on the shoulder.
Wednesday, January 16th
"Na na nananaaa," Ezra audibly hummed as he stacked empty plates from the messy table and collected his tip, bringing the dishes back to the kitchen. "Na na nanana nanana na na!"
"What tune is that?" Amy asked him, her pretty face frowning at him as he passed her. She was frying up eggs on the grill.
"Dunno!" Ezra admitted, grinning at her. "I think I'm making it up!"
"Thank God for that!" Amy laughed at him. "It's so tone-deaf I'm sure if someone tried to record that their manager would shoot them."
"That's why I do it here and not at home," Ezra slipped the plates into the dishwasher. "I don't think Eamonn would kill someone, but it's not a chance I'm gonna take when I sleep in the same room as him!"
"Hey, your boyfriend's here," Amy pointed through the breakfast bar, and Ezra's heart flushed with excitement and joy.
Of course! It was eight o'clock! Beau always dropped by for breakfast during Ezra's shift! For pancakes, bacon and a fried egg. Same table, same time! One cappuccino to start - one sugar, and one mocha afterwards while he surfed the web on his laptop for a while and made his boyfriend's day just a little brighter! Ahh, what a sweetheart he was! Ezra grabbed his notebook and immediately went over to the table with his notepad to pretend to take his boyfriend's order.
"Cutie!" Ezra greeted him happily and leaned down to peck him on the lips. "You're an especial cutie today!"
"I don't think that's a real sentence, but you look good enough to eat!" Beau giggled. "I think I'll settle for my usual while we're here, though."
"Oh? Well maybe I'll come and visit after my shift, and we'll work out something for dessert!" Ezra grinned, keeping his voice low. "I'll let Amy know you're here and I'll be back with a surprise for you!"
"Okay," Beau smiled and brought his MacBook out of his satchel. Ezra gave a wink and disappeared back into his kitchen.
"How long has it been with you guys?" Amy asked, cracking a new egg on the grill with some bacon rashers and reaching for the pancake mix. She cooked the same order for the same guy five or six days a week at eight o'clock. "At least since I was a senior."
"In two months, we'll have been together for three years!" Ezra sighed contentedly as he watched his sweetheart typing away on his computer. They'd been in the same class. Beau was sixteen and he was fifteen when Ezra grew the courage to ask him if he was gay - because Beau, deep in the closet, was very obviously gay. Ezra was not, and Beau was beside himself when the smaller boy asked him out. "We haven't seen a lot of each other since Mom broke her hip, but he's been pretty supportive. He's desperate to move to Minneapolis ASAP, but I can't go until Mom's better, so he's waiting for me!"
"That's nice of him," Amy made doing a hundred things at once look easy. She was cooking up three different orders all by herself until Harris would come in at nine to help her out. "Three years! I don't think I've dated for more than three collective months. He must be a winner!" Ohh winner doesn't begin to cover it, Ezra thought happily, smiling inside and out. "How do you manage to stay so happy all the time?" Amy asked him suddenly and cynically, noticing her friend's cheerful demeanour.
"Life is short," Ezra explained with a shrug. When she rolled her eyes, he explained further. "Yeah yeah, it's a cliché, but I was never expecting to live as long as I have. Plus, there's always a chance that I can get sick again. So I want to make the most of every moment I have!" He smiled at her, and she looked incredibly guilty that she brought that out of him. She didn't need to feel sorry for him. He wished she shouldn't. He hated pity and sympathy. They made him feel like a victim. Well, he wasn't a victim! He was a survivor!
"Here, take this to your beau," Amy winked. "Get it? Beau?"
"Yeah, Amy! Nobody has ever made that joke once during my entire relationship with Beau!" He teased her and took the plate. "Thanks!"
"Ooh! Extra bacon?" Beau clapped and brushed his fingers against Ezra's much smaller hand when the younger boy slid the plate under his nose. "Someone who works here likes me!"
"Amy??" Ezra scowled. "That backstabbing, two-faced tart!" He grinned when Beau collapsed into a fit of giggles. "Oh, shit!"
"Hmm?" Beau looked up and looked around. "What?"
"That's Gloria fucking Droese!" Ezra panicked and sat down in the booth opposite his boyfriend, his heart pounding in his chest. "She's a wrestler! One of the famous ones!"
"Oh?" Beau looked at the blue and black haired woman who entered with Kelsy McArthur, dressed a long, buckled coat and winter jeans. Ohmygod! Oh! My! God! Mrs McArthur had dropped once or twice that she knew Gloria Droese, but he never expected to see her in his town! Let alone the diner he worked for!!
"That's definitely her!" Ezra covered his mouth with his hands. "Ohmygod! WhatisshedoinginLitchfield??"
"How would I know?" Beau seemed to get snippy all of a sudden, and Ezra sighed. He didn't like wrestling. More specifically he didn't like Ezra wrestling especially after Ezra took a potentially dangerous fall in the last show.
"I better take her order," Ezra muttered, remembering that he was here to work, not to flirt with his boyfriend or to fanboy over, oh, only one of the most famous people from the wrestling industry!! "I love you, cutie!"
"Uh-huh," Beau replied coolly. "Love you too."
Ezra, his fingers trembling and his heart pounding in his chest so loud and fast he was sure everybody in the diner could hear it, sheepishly approached the two women sitting at the table.
"Er-ahh-um... hi," he introduced himself. "I'm Ezra," he tapped on his name badge.
"Heh, hello Ezra sweetie," Kelsey McArthur wasn't exactly a regular, but in a town like Litchfield, everybody knew each other. She always greeted him by name when she was in. A nice lady. "I take it you already know who Gloria is."
"Yes! Yes, I do!" Ezra blurted out, not having any idea how to behave in this situation and completely forgetting to do his job. "Umm... hello, Miss Droese... Gloria? I'm Ezra," he smiled. "Oh fuck. I already said that. Argh!" He covered his mouth. That word just slipped out! "Sorry!"
"I told you he was a character," Kelsey grinned as Gloria laughed at him, and he turned bright pink. "You can calm down, Ez. Big breaths, sweetie!"
"Pleasure to meet you, Ezra," Gloria reached up to shake his hand. Her New York accent was even stronger off television! Ezra was starstruck. "Kelsey tells me you wrestle! Good on you! Score one for the little guys!"
Why did she have to bring up my height? Curses! She must think I'm short!
"Yes, I do!" Ezra clutched his notepad and pen to his chest. "I want to wrestle for KADA someday like you do!" Unless I'm too short, he thought.
Gloria eyed him up and down, a friendly smile on her open face. She nodded as she assessed him, though Ezra had no blasted idea what she was thinking of him! A tiny nervous wreck, no doubt! Too short!
"I'm not with KADA anymore! I'm retired!" She reminded him, and he immediately spoke again. "Had my last match on the Pay Per View."
"Oh no! That was for real? You're never going back?" He was appalled. Gloria Droese was an icon! A legend!! "That was an epic match! I want to wrestle matches like that! So bad!"
"Don't you get to do that at LEW?" Gloria asked him, her dark eyes studying him.
"Oh, he does!" Kelsey answered for him, reaching over and putting her hand on his arm. "He's one of the hardest workers you'll ever see! Everyone loves him in these parts, but he has trouble finding work because he's only eighteen."
"Ahh!" Gloria nodded and swivelled in her chair. "You're only a baby! Most high-profile companies only like to sign wrestlers twenty-one and over."
"Yeah," Ezra leaned on the table and sighed. "I hate that. I've been wrestling for two years already and training for two years more! I wanna get into a big company!" While I can, he thought to himself. There was no telling how much time he might have. It could be weeks, or it could be another eighty years. The uncertainty was what motivated him to experience as much as he could in case he... had another bad roll of the dice. "Anyway, I've bored you enough! Can I take your order?"
"Ezra, I have had many impressions of you in the last three minutes, but not once did I think you were boring!" Gloria chuckled to herself, looking between him and Kelsey McArthur. "I'll tell you what! I'm taking a couple of months vacation that I haven't been able to take since I started in the professional leagues - it's a brutal and demanding career, honey. It takes a lot out of you! Now, I'm only in town for a couple of days while I visit my tool of a brother and my gorgeous sister in law--" Kelsey laughed out loud. "So I can't come to one of your shows. But if your heart is completely set on being a wrestler, then I want you to do something for me, okay? Make a video of what you can do in the ring and include a few promos, then give it to my dearest Kelsey along with your contact number, and she'll pass it on to me! If I like what I see, then I'll forward it to Michelle Peterson - she's in charge of KADA Wrestling, and I'll keep you updated. Sound good?"
"Are you... SERIOUS??" Ezra bounced up and down on the spot, unable to contain the overwhelming joy flooding through him. "Ohmygod that would be amazing! Thank you! Oh my god!"
"He's normally an excellent waiter," Kelsey explained as Gloria pointed in disbelief and amusement at the display she was seeing. "It's you. I blame you. You broke him!"
"I think he's a hoot!" Gloria laughed and put her hand on Ezra's arm to calm him. "I'm not able to promise you a job, honey - you're still inexperienced and you're very young, but I've heard some great thing about you, and I'll help you get your foot in the door. If there's anything that old tramp 'Chelle loves, it's an underdog with a good work ethic. Now, if I order the breakfast combo number two, can I get some hash browns instead of the bacon?"
"Yes! You can!!" Ezra scribbled in his notebook, his hand quivering with excitement. "What would you like to drink? Anything? Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, tea--"
"Some gin would be nice, but I'll settle for some chamomile," the veteran wrestler broke in with a smile before he could get on another tangent.
"And the usual for you, Mrs McArthur?" Ezra knew what she liked. The omelette, extra eggy and a short black. An easy order!
"You got it, Ezra. Thank you very much!" Kelsey smiled at him, and he took one more shy look at Gloria before he fled back to the kitchen to give the order to Amy, who had no idea who Gloria was and had no interest in learning.
"Holy meatballs, cutie!" Ezra took the first spare moment he had to sit back down opposite his boyfriend, his eyes rarely leaving Gloria while she happily ate her meal. "I think I might have made some progress with my wrestling career!!" When Beau, stirred his bacon around the yolk on his plate with an air of gloom, Ezra's eyes came back to him. "You're not happy," he observed sadly. "What's wrong?"
"Wrestling isn't a career, it's a hobby," Beau replied, meeting Ezra's gaze. "And it's a dangerous hobby, Ez! I know you love it, but I watched you nearly break your fucking neck, darl! I don't like it, and I don't want you doing it! You might really hurt yourself, and I don't... want to lose you."
"I'm okay, aren't I!" He rolled his head around his neck to prove his point. "Look! All good! Injury-free! And now Gloria's offering to show me off to KADA Wrestling! KADA! I can't believe how lucky I am!"
"Lucky? Hmph. Good for you," Beau didn't share his enthusiasm.
"Is this going to be a problem?" Ezra asked after a pause, and Beau's face crumpled.
"I'm tired of feeling like I'm going to lose you, you know?" The tall, effeminate boy had the 'gay lisp' when he spoke, and something about the natural inflexion in his speech was telling of his sexual orientation. "First cancer, now this? Do you know how hard it was to see you so sick? And now the first thing you're doing is putting yourself right back in danger with this stupid wrestling obsession? You're not supposed to push yourself so hard, and you're always doing the riskiest shit when you get in the ring. I hate it! I don't want you to do it anymore!"
Ezra wasn't sure how to respond for a while. Eventually, he leaned over to kiss the boy who loved him too much, the boy who didn't understand what it was like to face your own mortality. He spoke from the heart, trying to convey his feelings the best way he could.
"Not letting me live is never going to stop me from dying."
Thank you to everyone who is giving Transcending the Stars a chance! I hope the new direction is enjoyable, and I promise the primary cast from To The Stars has not been forgotten! I needed a breath of fresh air with which to continue the long-running story.