John stared at his cell phone as it sat on the glistening black marble tile of the kitchen counter. He hovered over it, his elbows pressed firmly against the cold marble surface, fretting about having to make the phone call once again. Despite having done this for the last six weeks, he always had trouble dialing the number; as the days passed it only got harder and harder for him to scroll through his contacts list and press the call send button when he ran across Adam’s profile picture. By now the image of the silhouetted women posing suggestively over a star was indelibly etched into John’s mind. He saw it in his dreams as he slept at night, when he saluted the American flag as a part of his morning ritual before brushing his teeth. He even found himself having convulsions while watching his favorite sitcoms from the 1980s when star wipes were used as transitions between scenes.
John had it bad and could barely endure any longer. He had to call Adam, and he refused to give up without convincing him to accept what was truly best for business.
He tilted the brim of his periwinkle blue fitted baseball cap backwards, lifting the inspirationally colorful beret off his freshly trimmed hair. He ran his hand over his head, starting from his moist brow and culminating at the scruff of the back of his neck, something he occasionally did when he needed more time to consider his options.
“You can do this, John…” he said to himself, remembering all the things he learned from his life coach in developmental. “You’ve done it a million times…never give up, never surrender.”
He replaced the cap on his head and leaned away from the counter. Taking a deep breath, he snatched up his iPhone 6 adorned with the words “Hustle, Loyalty, Respect” and a Hello Kitty sticker, and scrolled feverishly through his contacts. He hesitated when the silhouetted women appeared on his screen…
“Sigh…” he exhaled, taking his next breaths in deliberately through his nose and releasing them carefully through his mouth. “Don’t chicken out now, John. Just dial the number…WE can do this.”
His finger quivered over the profile picture momentarily, and as if a surge of inspiration coursed through his veins, he pressed the call send button and placed the phone gingerly next to his ear.
This part always made John nervous. The last few times he called, Adam seemed to be a bit on edge…a tad bit testy and irritated. John knew that the constant phone calls caused Adam all sorts of frustration, but having Adam mad at him was the fuel that needled beneath John’s skin, giving him the gumption to at least attempt to make the call each week.
“Hello?” a familiar voice said tentatively on the other end.
“Hey! Adam!” John replied excitedly. “It’s John. How’s it going, bud?”
“Oh…John,” Adam replied. “Uhm hey…did you change your number again?”
“Yeah,” he replied with a slight chuckle. “You know me…always gotta have the best deal with the best coverage. Vintage Cena…hehehe.”
“Yeah…right,” Adam said. “Look, I’m kinda busy at the moment, so what is it you want this week?”
John relaxed a bit as the tenseness eased from his body. I’ve got him talking to me; at least he’s talking to me this week. This is going to be easy and sweet. “Oh, I just wanted to see how you were doing…the last time we talked you were busy filming a show or something.”
“Yeah.” Adam stated matter-of-factly. “Haven’s doing well and thank you for asking by the way. Look…if that’s what you wa…”
“Yeah yeah, I gotcha,” John stated. “You know Nikki Bella, my girlfriend? She’s on this show on the E! Network right now.” He backed away from the counter and turned towards the kitchen’s stained oak cabinets. “It’s called Total Divas, you might have heard…”
“I know the show, John.” Adam said.
“Right…I was on it a few times, but I try not to do it too much because it takes me away from the ring so much, you know?”
“This conversation is making my head hurt…”
“Okay, okay, I promise this won’t take long. Remember back when we had that feud?” John opened one of the cabinet doors, revealing a shelf chock-filled with a variety of spices and canned foods. His eyes became instantly transfixed on an unopened box of Celestial Seasonings Herbal Green Tea. A smile crept across his face.
“Yeah, I remember…that was back before I retired…” Adam said. “Look, I’ve really got to…”
“Those were great times, weren’t they Adam?” John asked. He removed the box of tea from the cabinet, opening it hastily and pulling out two tea bags. He brought the tea bags up to his nose and inhaled deeply, closing his eyes as he smiled gleefully. “We loved those days, right? Things were sooo cool.”
Adam groaned as the consternation in his voice grew with each labored sigh and completed sentence that rolled between his lips. “Look, this is ridiculous. You’ve called me for weeks now, John. I’m done; my in-ring career is over. I’m retired, why is that hard to understand?”
“Yeah, I know…” John said, now cradling the phone with his head and shoulder as he filled a bright orange metal tea kettle with water from the sink. “It’s just…it’s just that…”
“What, John? It’s just what?”
John placed the tea kettle on the electric stove top and set the dial to high, a bit too eager to have his nice cup of hot herbal green tea sooner rather than later. “I miss those days, Adam. I mean, we’ve got a bunch of guys—and don’t get me wrong, they’re all good guys—but they don’t have the fire that you have.”
“How is that my concern, John?” Adam asked. “I’m not a wrestler anymore.”
“Okay,” John said with a slight hint of defeat in his voice. “I’ll come clean. There are these two guys in a program…Seth and Dean. And they’re soooo good, almost like they hate each other in real life.” He cradled the phone between his ear head and shoulder again as he searched for a mug in the other cabinets. “You’re the first person I’ve said this to, but I think…I mean, I know… I’m a little jealous, you know?”
“John, you’re actually jealous of someone?” Adam said as he chuckled. “Say it ain’t so, champ; say it ain’t so.”
“That’s the thing, Adam…” John interjected.” “Nobody has had that type of chemistry with me since you! These two guys come up, and their program is solid all the way around, and before I knew it they had this instant Rhodes/Horsemen thing going, Adam. You and I made magic in the ring…our drama was irreplaceable. You were the perfect yang to my yin. I miss those days…I miss you, Adam.”
“…this is getting a little weird,” Adam said, his voice cracking slightly with a smidgen of fear mixed with a generous amount of confusion.
“No, nothing like that Adam” John said as he perused the cabinet for cups. He pushed a few colorful mugs to the side until he spied a simple white mug with “World’s Greatest Tag Team” stamped in large black letters across the front of it. “I’m just saying that your energy, your charisma, your way with words…that meshed well with my…well, with me.” He pulled the mug off of the cabinet shelf and placed it on the granite kitchen countertop.
“John, look; you think you know me,” Adam replied. “But that was just a character, an over exaggeration of parts of m…”
“Adam, I need you to come back.” John blurted out.
“I need you to come back,” John repeated as he carefully placed his tea bags into the mug he pulled from the cabinet. “I’m nothing without a guy like you, and you’re one of a kind.” The water in the tea kettle started to come to a boil.
“I really think you’ve got me confused with someone else.” Adam said. “And I’m flattered, really I am, but with my neck and Haven, I’m not getting back into a ring to wrestle ever again.”
John began to get flustered. He leaned on the countertop, hovering over his mug, and lifted his cap from his head as he rubbed his scalp again. “Adam, there’s so much we can do together that these guys just can’t accomplish with me or with each other. All I need is one more feud…one more feud between you and me…and we’d could have the world in our palms!”
“I could die if I got in the ring again. Everyone knows that, and I can’t believe you…have you really been calling me all this time for that?”
John hesitated before answering the question. “…maybe…”
“For Pete’s sake, John; this is my life you’re talking about here! NO, I can’t…I mean, what in the world got into your thick skull to convince you I’d consider getting in the ring again?”
“There was that one time you came back and threw a stiff punch.” John was now stooped over peering into one side of a black Maytag double-door refrigerator. “You looked pretty solid to me then; I figured you got a second opinion or something.” He closed the refrigerator door after pulling out a Ziploc bag of lemon wedges and a plastic bear-shaped bottle of honey.
“All I threw was a punch, a punch John,” Adam yelled. “That was one punch, one night…totally different from wrestling on a long term basis.”
John returned to the counter and removed two lemon wedges from the Ziploc bag. “C’mon Adam, that was one pretty stiff punch. We all saw it.” He dropped the wedges into his mug as steam began to spout from the kettle. “Your neck can’t be that bad to launch the punch you threw.” He pulled open a drawer under the counter and found a spoon.
“I can’t do this…” Adam muttered over the phone. “I just can’t do this with him anymore. John, I’m hanging up the phone now. Lose this number an…”
“Adam, before you say anything else,” John said. “We’ve got some great doctors now, and it’ll be easy to get you cleared.” The kettle began to whistle. “We still got Andrews in Birmingham on speed dial, so you really don’t have much to worry about.” The whistling from the kettle grew louder. “Ooh, the water’s ready…” John said loudly to no one in particular.
There was an awkward silence over the phone. “John,” Adam asked. “What was that?”
“Oh that was the kettle. I’m making tea.” John removed the kettle from the stove top and slowly poured the hot water into his mug. He filled the mug with water close to the brim and began dipping his tea bags up and down.
“You’re making…that was the kettle…” Adam asked.
“Yep,” John said as he squeezed a healthy portion of honey into steaming hot water. “It’s Herbal Green Tea,” he said while stirring the steaming hot tea with the spoon he found. He switched the phone to his left hand and lifted the mug to his lips, taking a nice and careful sip of his concoction.
“Ahhh,” he said sounding pleased and refreshed with a self-assuring nod to solidify his satisfaction. “That’s good.”
“Did you say ‘the kettle’?” Adam asked. “Wait…just wait a min…”
John placed the mug back on the countertop and leaned with his back against it. “Now Adam, I’ve talked to Vince and the guys, and all you have to do is sign the papers. I could even bring them to you. If you want, I could even sign them for you…”
Silence came from the other end of the phone.
“You still there,” John asked. “Adam? Adam? Stupid nationwide coverage my Aunt Fanny…” He stepped away from the counter and, pulling the phone away from his ear, began to wave it around in the air to search for a better signal. He took two baby steps to the left, two more to the right, stared at the phone and waved in front of his face.
“ADAM…CAN YOU HEAR ME?” he yelled at the phone, seemingly to no avail. He looked at the device once more and returned it to his ear. “Adam, if you’re still there, say something…anything…”
“John…what the hell are you doing…?” Adam said.
“Oh, there you are!” John said with a sense of relief rushing over his body. “I thought I lost you for a sec. I was trying to see if I dropped you.”
“No, John…what the hell are you doing…in my house?”
John’s eyes grew wide with shock. He quickly squeezed them closed, shrugged his shoulders and turned his head towards his left shoulder. He opened his eyes cautiously only to be confronted by Adam’s deadly accusatory and angry gaze.
“Adam!” John said nervously. “Hey bud! Want some tea, it’s really unbelievably awesome.”
“How the hell did you get into my house, John?!” Adam yelled.
“Now Adam, I know this looks weird, but I promise you I’m only here for us and I really think you should try this tea.”
“I don’t want any of the damn tea, John! Wait…is that from my brand new unopened box of tea?!?!”
“I get that you’re a bit frazzled, but we won’t be able to talk about your return if you stay narrow minded,” John said as he held his free hand towards Adam in a non-threatening way. “Just taste the tea and I promise you things will work out alright.”
“I’m not wrestling aga…” Adam started to say, but stopped after realizing he was still talking into his phone. He snatched the phone from the side of his head and furiously pressed the call end button. “Get out of my house this instant, John!” he said while pointing indiscriminately towards an unseen exit.
John sheepishly looked at his phone and glanced back at Adam. “Well that wasn’t nice. I guess someone needs an attitude adjustment. You sure you don’t want to try the tea?”
“GET OUT OF MY HOUSE, JOHN!!!!”
“Okay okay okay, I can take a hint,” John said as he placed his phone in his pocket and picked up his mug of tea. “So I can just ask them to go ahead and send you the paperwork?”
“GET OUT!!!! GET OUT GET OUT GET…OUT!!!!!” Adam screamed furiously.
“Alright, I get it!” John retorted as he picked up the mug and took a brief sip. “You want some time to think about it, but they’ll be expecting the paperwork back soon so they can get going on your return. I’m thinking we do the Royal Rumble return-from-injury-surprise entry thing, although it’s a bit of a cliché now even if it does still work…”
Adam grabbed John by the collar of his t-shirt and the waist band of his camouflaged jorts, and dragged him out of the kitchen. Before he knew it John had been unceremoniously tossed out of Adam’s house, completely oblivious as he stared at front door slamming shut in his face.
“So we’ll be in touch, Adam! No worries, this is gonna be great!” He yelled at the door.
John smiled. He dusted himself off and straightened his clothes, turning from the front door to raise the mug to his lips, relishing the one long satisfying sip of his tea that served as his self-induced reward for a perceived job done well. It was at that moment he realized the fruits of his labors were finally starting to bloom and blossom. He managed to convince Adam to return to wrestling, so he thought, and Adam’s return was worth more to him than gold.
You did it, champ, he said to himself while taking another sip of tea from the WWGT-emblazoned mug. You wore him down good; I know he’s going to come around. Now we just wait. Never give up, never surrender. John could barely contain the huge grin that began to grow across his face. Perfectly satisfied with his efforts, he strolled away from the house with a new song in his heart and the tune of his entrance music whistling through his lips.
This is it, champ, he thought again once more. Your time is now.