(warnings for explicit language)
For Bernard Donaldson, the Breaker of Men, anything is possible in wrestling. Long time friends can suddenly turn heel, and even pariahs can make triumphant comebacks. But when Luke Jackson, ex-friend and lover, makes his return, Breaker knows something is wrong. Stronger, faster and better than he has any right to be, Luke is everything the aging Breaker wishes he could be. But the closer he gets to Luke’s secrets, the more he can feel something malevolent closing in. Because when it comes to dreams and desires, nothing is more hellish than the human heart.
About the Author
Henry Corrigan is a bisexual author, poet and playwright who wants to write every kind of story. He knows this sounds pretentious but screw it, he’s going for it. Always an avid reader, Henry started writing poetry in middle school but it wasn’t until he started writing erotica in high school that he really learned the mechanics of writing. What started out as private stories and love letters, soon became publications in anthologies.
To date, he has self-published a novella, Carnal Theory, and written one full length dark fiction novel that he is currently shopping around. He also has the rough drafts of two science fiction books, one horror novella, one play, four children’s books, numerous poems and several song lyrics. Above all, he wants to be known for not staying where he’s been put. To always surprise people, especially himself. Because that’s what makes it fun. The feeling that even he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next.
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We start every night with fireworks. Even through the heavy curtain I can smell it, the industrially acrid scent mixing with the salty hops of beer and fried foods. My stomach rumbles and Scottie nudges me gently.
“I’ll buy you a hotdog after this is over,” he says, which makes me smile.
“Just don’t let Marlina put any hot peppers on it this time.”
Marlina, Scottie’s valet, slaps my shoulder. “Wimp,” she says, leaning against me like I’m a tree, which for someone like Marlina who’s five-foot-four, I might as well be.
Out in the arena the fireworks die down but not the roar of the crowd. Twenty thousand people stand ready as Scottie’s music hits.
“Ladies and gentlemen!” peals the announcer. “Please welcome the XZW General Manager…Scottiiiiieeeeeee Class!”
Scottie’s music is a chorus of regal horns, like the king descending from on high. I kiss him as he steps through the curtain, Marlina at his side.
They hit the ramp with their noses in the air like they’re snorting cocaine straight outta the clouds. I smile as Scottie twirls his cane with each strut.
By the time they reach the ring, I’ve got my game face on. My sneer stretching ’til it could whip the skin off somebody else’s face. I glance behind me at the crew guys running back and forth and the script helpers making final tweaks, but it’s what I don’t see that worries me.
Luke should be here, and my gut can’t help but worry. If he’s drunk it’ll screw up more than our angle, but before I can think about it too much, my music hits, all shrieking guitars and pounding drums.
Time to be the Breaker of Men.
I walk out to a sea of boos and hisses, which I swallow down like candy. I make a point of snapping at those who reach out for a high-five.
Down in the ring, Marlina puts a hand on Scottie’s shoulder and starts looking for an exit. But Scottie doesn’t run. That’s not who he is and more importantly, that’s not who he plays.
He waits until I’m through the ropes before he steps to me.
“What the hell do you want, Breaker?” he shouts and I have to fight not to smile. Nobody else can put a quaver in their voice and make it crack on the mic.
I hit everybody with my best growl. “Sorry to interrupt the grandstanding of a crippled old man…”
The boos double up now Scottie’s beloved and everybody loves to hate me. Never mind the fact that I’m actually six months older than Scottie. The feeling in the arena is like static sparking between my fingers.
“But I’d like to talk about a sniveling, ungrateful, backstabbing little bitch who got very, very lucky last week.”
A cheer goes up. Some start to shout Luke’s name while others chant ‘Live-and-Primed! Live-and-Primed!’ I give it a three-count before continuing.
“Now, this bitch, used to be something special. I thought I saw…” I hold up my thumb and forefinger. “A sliver of talent there. So, I did what any good owner would do. I took it home, I fed it, I trained it. I brought it to the top of the food chain. And what do I get for my trouble?”
People are starting to clap now. Signs with Luke’s picture get held up high. Another two-count and then I scream right in Scottie’s face.
“I get a super kick to the back of the head!”
The crowd goes nuts and now even Scottie and Marlina are smiling.
“I want him. Do you hear me? I want Luke Jackson! Now what is the general manager, gonna do about it?”
Scottie looks me up and down and sniffs, like I don’t have a good six inches on him.
“Listen Breaker, I shouldn’t have to explain this to you, but you’ve always been a little slow, so I’ll make this real easy.”
I snarl at Scottie but he just keeps on rolling.
“I don’t owe you any favors. You don’t have any friends. And you definitely,” he taps me in the chest with his cane. “Don’t get to make demands of me. So why don’t you take all that dead weight and go find somebody who gives a-”
My hips clicks as I kick Scottie in the midsection, but my boy sells it just like we planned. I start hammering on his back with my forearms while Marlina tries to pull me off. Hauling him up onto my shoulders makes my back creak, but I do it anyway because the Death-Valley Driver is what I’m known for.
Quick as a rocket, Marlina hits me with the same padded, sequined fist that brought her five championships and I roll with it, being sure to drop Scottie in a way that doesn’t hurt him.
Marlina makes to run but I’m too big to be done yet. I grab her by the throat and start bellowing in her face. Scottie comes off the mat swinging his cane, but I grab him by the throat too and that’s exactly when Luke’s music hits.
Luke’s music is all frenetic beats, like the musicians were ripped on speed and playing ’til their hearts gave out.
Luke comes charging down the ramp, his manager Mr. Best right on his heels and I only have to look to know Luke’s straight as an arrow which kicks all the worries right out of my head.
I let go of Scottie and Marlina and turn as Luke baseball slides beneath the ropes.
Before he’s even on his feet, I level a haymaker at him, but Luke sidesteps it easily, almost too easily. Bouncing off the ropes, he comes flying back and hits me with a dropkick that I sell even though I have to grit my teeth as I hit the mat. Even rolling to the outside, little sparklers of pain shoot up my spine.
Luke follows me and we begin to brawl right in front of the fans. Clotheslines, chops, a chair-shot for each of us but it’s how fast Luke is moving that almost scares me.
We’ve been brawling for at least a minute and he’s not even slightly out of breath. His abs fucking ripple as he grabs the ring bell and charges me.
I barely have time to duck. The edge scrapes my cheek as it passes. If he’d hit me, my head would be up in the rafters by now.
After that though, there’s not a thing out of place. The refs and security people show up right on time. Luke and I end up on opposite sides of the ring, shouting at each other and the crowd eats it up.
I let security drag me away, but even as I make the ramp, I can’t decide whether I’m happy, surprised, or jealous at how well Luke is moving. The urge to talk to him is strong but by the time I make the curtain, Luke’s long gone and Mr. Best along with him.
Scottie and Marlina wave me over to the locker rooms and I follow, stopping just long enough to wish the tag teams up next luck in officially starting the show.
The night moves on.