Post by Devon Ryder on Jul 26, 2022 22:59:12 GMT -5
Act One: Shadows of the Past
I am floating in a void, alone. Adrift. Cast headlong into the starless night of slumber, that treacherous liminal space between dreaming and the conscious world. I can feel myself fading.
The void roils, shifts, ebbing and flowing with an unseen tide as images begin to form out of the shadow. They begin as blurry flashes - eerie, indistinct - snapshots of a bygone age, which whorl and coalesce within the inky blackness into a single, vivid vision.
I have seen this place before. As it constitutes before me from the deep unconscious nothingness, I find myself supplanted into once-familiar environs. A chill runs through my psyche…because I remember where I am.
29 June, 2001
6:32 PM EDT
“Can you explain this to me, Devon?”
A young boy stands alone, face pointed towards the floor, examining the hardwood planks beneath his sock-clad feet. The boy’s face is full of sorrow; disappointment, shame and anxious desperation jockey for position in the hierarchy of emotion playing havoc with his features. I recognize this moment. I have lived through this before.
And I really wish I hadn’t.
The voice jerks me back into this moment; where I had begun as an observer, I now find myself one with this sad, frightened little boy. His angst and anxiety flood my sense of being, overwhelming any semblance of my dreaming state that I might have otherwise retained and plunging me headlong into the vision, reliving it as vividly and absolutely as if it had been presently occurring.
“I asked you a question, son. Can you explain these grades to me?”
A pang. Guilt, perhaps? No, this is…deeper. More corrosive.
“I guess it’s because…I didn’t do my homework?”
The figure in front of me frowns. It is an expression I have come to expect from my father, even at this early age. It is rarely accompanied by positive feedback, and I know that this will be no different.
“No. No, you didn’t. Why not?”
A twinge. I can sense what’s coming, but I can do nothing to prevent it.
“I…didn’t want to?”
The frown deepens. I want to scream, to warn my younger self not to listen to what comes next, to get out of that house and never come back. I can do none of this. I am trapped, a prisoner in my own mind, forced only to endure the berating that comes next.
“Devon, the next time a garbage man comes to the house, I want you to go outside and ask HIM how HE did in Grade Four! Ask him if he decided he wanted to do homework, and if he ever AMOUNTED to anything in life!”
A twitch. A tear. I can feel it forming, but I try my best to fight it back. My throat burns raw with the effort, and I find I fail anyway. He softens - for only a moment, mind - and he looks at me with consternation.
“Devon…how does a squirrel remember where its nuts are hidden every winter?”
“I…I don’t know.”
“They focus, Devon. And they remember. Squirrels are not smart animals, but they have spent the last BILLION years of evolution working to be the fucking best at hiding nuts and then finding them again for the winter. They give everything they have to doing this ONE thing, so they can do it better than any other animal alive. Are you telling me you can’t do what a SQUIRREL does? Are you STUPID, Devon?”
A pause. I have to ponder this one, honestly. My tears have not subsided, but they have ebbed to the point that I can answer.
“Yes. I’m stupid and lazy and I fail at everything I attempt.”
The frown again, but this time it is different. It seems less angry, and more…determined? Steely? I could never place him, and this time is no different.
“No. You are NOT. You SUCCEED at what you attempt, you just don’t ATTEMPT anything. You need to apply yourself, son. You made an Action Plan, but that means NOTHING with action. You can do so much more; you just need to FOCUS. Like the squirrel.”
He smiles. This is unfamiliar. As is the hand upon my shoulder, as he looks into my eyes.
“I don’t care what you do, Devon. I only care that you’re the best at it.”
29 June, 2022
6:32 AM EDT
The darkness vanishes, and I find myself in my room, Desiree’s body lying next to mine. I nudge her softly awake, her bleary beautiful eyes staring up at me quizzically.
I pause, the words choking in my throat. I need to ask the question. I need…to know.
ACT TWO: Shades of Violet
26 July, 2022
6:32 PM EDT
*We open on a shot of the United States Capitol Building, silhouetted against a setting sun, the sky painted in brilliant shades of vibrant orange and violet. A solemn American flag waves dutifully over this scene, and as we pan down from this flag, we come to focus on a figure; to be more accurate, a PAIR of figures, standing on the sidewalk just across the road from the front gates of Capitol Hill. Their backs are to the camera, but as the larger, male figure begins to speak, the identities of this couple become immediately obvious.*
"The U.S. Capitol building. A historic site. This is a place where history has been made, where some of the most influential and defining moments of Western society have taken place. It’s actually rather beautiful…when it’s not being stormed by insurrectionist terrorists."
*Devon Ryder pauses, flashing his trademark arrogant smirk over his shoulder into the camera as he lets that all sink in. He turns around, now, and the woman alongside him - his beloved, Desiree de la Roche, turns with him, wrapping one arm around Devon’s left bicep and adopting a similar facial expression. The pair wear matching outfits - a deep carmine polo shirt with a white maple leaf sewn into the left breast along with black jeans for Devon, and a similarly-coloured dress with white bracelets and hair bangles for Desiree - and Devon shoots Desi a quick glance for reassurance before he resumes his speech.*
“It is in that building that another historic moment occurred just weeks ago; when the U.S. Supreme Court decided, for the first time in its history, to strip away rights from the American people by overturning the longstanding decision of ‘Roe v. Wade’, which made abortions de facto legal across this nation. But that is not the end of this particular story, oh no. Do you remember what I warned you all would likely happen next? That I mentioned they would target marriage, both of the same-sex and interracial variety?”
“As we speak, the American house of representatives has just voted in favour of a bill called the ‘Respect for Marriage Act’, which would codify both same-sex and interracial marriages into law, making it IMPOSSIBLE to overturn those rulings. It was not unanimous, of course, as a staggering 157 Republicans voted against allowing this bill to pass…but their dissent was not enough to kill it. Not YET. Now, the bill moves to the senate - where Republicans occupy a far higher percentage of the seats than in the House - and it’s expected to be filibustered, voted down or otherwise stymied by the fascist, racist traitors who tend to fill those seats.”
*Ryder pauses again, his anger and disdain written clearly on his face.*
“I TOLD you this was coming. None of you seemed to want to believe me - you so often DON’T when I voice my opinions on your country - but I am not surprised. What I am is disgusted. Appalled. Flabbergasted that this is even a debate in 2022, and that half the people who you chose to represent your country are those who would vote AGAINST my ability to marry the woman I love. Who would vote against ANYONE’S ability to marry ANY human being they have feelings for. If this bill is voted down, if your Senate chooses NOT to pass the ‘Respect for Marriage Act’, then it will finally be admitting what most of the rest of the civilized nations on Earth have known for a very, VERY long time; that the United States of America is a fundamentally racist, hierarchical nation, founded on the principles of white supremacy and oppression of those it deems ‘minorities’. You should be revolted by this notion, whether you’re black, white, Latinu, Asian, European or identify with ANY race, colour or creed on Earth. It is unacceptable to have a DEBATE about this topic, and the rest of the world settled this imagined ‘problem’ DECADES ago. Yet, nevertheless, far too many of you have remained SILENT on the topic. You have not said or done ANYTHING to stand up for those whose marriages are threatened if this legislation does not pass. Straight, white, cisgendered Americans seem so reluctant to offer anything beyond a token show of solidarity with those who’ll be affected…and I am not surprised.”
*Ryder pauses, now, inhaling deeply to calm himself as Desiree softly rubs his back. He closes his eyes, then continues with a much more even tone.*
"Because why should straight, white Americans be expected to CARE about this bill? Straight, white Americans have never had to suffer in any meaningful, defining way. Most of you have never felt what LGBTQ+ and BIPOC folks have been feeling for generations; that inborn fear of being ‘lesser’, like you’re not wanted in your own NATION. You have never stopped to question whether "whiteness" even exists, or if race is just a social construct created by those who seek oppression and control. Most of you are happy being white. You are complacent. And why should you be otherwise? To be white in the United States - or, rather, to be among the people who believe that they are white - is to benefit from a system designed for white supremacy. A system BUILT on 200 years of exploitation, systemic oppression, and actual slavery of black and brown bodies! It is to benefit from and be complicit in the exploitation of the underclass; the mistreatment of minorities; the near-total cultural genocide of the indigenous groups who own this land you walk on… and it is to give in to the Dream. Those who call themselves ‘white’ in America have bought into the Dream, wholly and completely; they do not challenge its assumptions. They do not speak out against these philosophies. Even those who call themselves progressives will often deify the founding fathers, and stand with rapt attention to pledge allegiance to their flag. It’s almost pathetic…but what else can I expect? Yours is a culture that glorifies self-centredness; from the moment you start school, you’re force-fed a white-washed, nationalistic, individualist ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ mentality. The United States primes its people - especially its white people - to look out for themselves, often at the expense of everybody else."
*Ryder pauses here, and his disgust is written clearly on his face. Desiree smiles up at him, slowly massaging his left forearm, and the champion brings himself under control.*
“And nowhere is this more evident than in the human microcosm of American toxicity, the violent and unstable sociopath who leaves hell and destruction behind with every step she takes; Violet. Amelia. Holt.”
*Another pause, for just a beat this time.*
"Hello again, Violet. One more go-round, eh? I bet you feel like you've earned this match. Like you DESERVE another shot at this title that you covet…and truthfully? You have. I admit it; you've impressed me, Violet. Not as a PERSON, but with your actions in the ring. I underestimated you - how far you would be willing to go and how HARD you would be willing to FIGHT to get what you desire. I put you in a box, Violet, and I’ll take all the blame for that. You are FAR more than the brute I implied you are; you can truly wrestle with the absolute best of them. And I know, because you HAVE. You took me to my limit - you fought me to a draw...but therein lies the problem.”
*Devon pauses, staring into the camera with severe determination written on his features.*
“I am the greatest wrestler alive today, Violet Holt. I have to be, because I refuse to accept anything less. I have battled VIOLENTLY and VALIANTLY to get to where I am today - I have sacrificed SO MUCH, and put in SO MUCH EFFORT - to MAKE myself the man I am. I respect you for your wrestling, I admire the work that you’ve put in to prove yourself to me…but we are NOT the same. How many lives have you diminished, Violet? How many people have you hurt with your selfishness and greed? Conversely, how many lives have I IMPROVED? How many minds have I expanded, how many future freedom fighters - how many future HEROES - have I inspired through leading by example? I am not just a better wrestler than you, Violet; I'm a better HUMAN BEING. And tonight, I'm going to prove it."
*Devon pauses again here.*
"Let me ask you something, Violet. Why do you fight? What is the purpose of your wrestling? Have you given it much thought? Have you ever stopped to introspect, and consider WHY you want this belt? I have, and I think I know the answer. I’m sure you have some pride wrapped up in it - like me, you’re rankling after that time limit draw, and you want to prove that you deserve to hold this prize - but there’s more to it than that, isn’t there, Violet? You’re after the winner’s purse. The ‘Champion’s Advantage’, if you will. Your interests lie, as can be expected of MOST within this business, in the MONEY and the PRESTIGE that comes with being a champion. And I do understand that…but I’m still SO disappointed that it’s true. Because you could have been something greater, Violet. You could have done something interesting, or used your reign to make a POINT; I know you don’t agree with a lot of my opinions or values, and I HEARD what you said about using Desi as a ‘shield’...so why don’t we explore that? You could have touched on my perceived hypocrisy, made the argument that I’m using my relationship with Desiree to lend credence to my statements that they would not otherwise have. You would have been WRONG, but it would at least BE an argument! I would need to DEBATE that point with you! But you didn’t do that, did you? You didn’t mention any of my politics…because, frankly, you just don’t CARE. You’re not fighting for a CAUSE, you’re fighting for YOURSELF. For what you’ve been told that you should want. If this title belt truly mattered to you - if BEING champion is what sang to your heart - then you would not have lost to me when we first met at Destiny. If you NEEDED this title in your life, if you couldn’t BE who you want and need to BE without this belt around your waist…then you would not have given up.”
“But that ISN’T why you want this, is it? You want it because you’ve spent your life and career being told that it’s important. Because in professional wrestling, this...”
*Devon lifts the Canadian Domination Championship into view, hoisting it over his right shoulder and patting the faceplate.*
“Symbolizes wealth. Power. The profit of our labours in the ring. You do not crave this BELT as much as you desire the STATUS that it represents…but that’s why I’m going to beat you, Violet. Because how do you sustain that hunger? When your ambition has been tamped down again and again and again...how do you find the fire to continue? We both know what happens to fortune-seekers elsewhere in the world, don’t we, Violet? Unless they’re born into that privilege, they can never reach the top. That is why ambition far too often fades - why we fall into routine, going through the motions in an uninspiring life. Because we are not doing what our heart tells us to do. We are all living someone else’s Dream. Achieving the things they TOLD us we should want. And those things may make us comfortable, but they will not make us happy.”
*A beat. Ryder pauses for a breath, and then continues.*
“That’s the difference between us, Violet Holt. You are merely comfortable, but wrestling makes me happy. It is what I’ve always wanted. Being a CHAMPION - representing not only this company, but the PEOPLE who support it - has been my heart’s deepest desire since the moment I could THINK. Because I give a shit about these people, Violet. Despite popular opinion, the truth is that I care about those who aren’t named ‘Devon Ryder’. Can you truly say the same? Have you EVER cared about anyone whose last name isn’t ‘Holt’? I don’t think you have. And that’s what sets us apart; the fact that I am not fighting for myself. You want this belt for the prestige, you want it for the glory, but MY fight, on the other hand, is nobler. I am not interested in profit, I don’t CARE about the PRESTIGE or the FAME or the wealth this belt can bring me. I do not need any of that. What I NEED, Violet - the REASON I am fighting SO HARD for my position - is to make a point. To send a message. To STAND UP for the voiceless and the downtrodden, to fight against a system - a country - that's forgotten them, and show them all that there IS a better way. That their lives don’t NEED to be so difficult, that it IS possible for the future to improve! I’m working to show them that they need not be hopeless…because there's SOMEONE out there fighting for them. Because they HAVE a champion. A Hero.”
*Here, there is another Pause, and Devon inhales sharply, casting his gaze towards the ground. He smiles a sad, introspective sort of smile, and Desiree frowns softly, brushing a strand of hair away from his face and caressing his jawline softly with the back of one finger. She mouths to him “It’s alright, take your time” before Devon steels himself and then continues.*
"And I KNOW that I can't do that as well as somebody like Cleo Phillips can…but that's no reason not to try. I may not be able to do all the good that this world needs, but this world needs all the good that I can do. So it is my moral obligation to do all the good I can. Because THAT is what truly separates us, Violet. It is not our upbringings, not our histories within this sport or how we got to where we are; ultimately, what sets us apart is choice. I don’t choose to be an asshole. I don’t CHOOSE to be the villain. Whereas you have chosen evil, Violet - given in so easily to your darkness and your violence - I choose to take the high road. I do not want to be like you. I COULD make that decision; I know I have it IN me, somewhere. And things would be so much easier for me if I didn’t care about the rules. If I could just pick up some blunt weapon and bash somebody’s brains in to get what I want…but I won’t be that sort of person. I won’t - I CAN’T - let myself be motivated by my own selfish arrogance, or I will become everything my detractors have always SAID that I am. A narcissist. A Canadian supremacist. A self-important, petulant buffoon who only cares about inflating his own ego, bringing others down so he can feel superior…"
*A beat. Ryder shakes his head, as Desiree brushes another strand of hair out of his face.*
“But what would be the point of that? What would I accomplish if I gave into those urges, other than to make myself look selfish and pathetic in the eyes of others? I would be no different than you if I did that, Violet; and I would NOT deserve to call myself a champion.”
*Ryder smirks, now, his eyes flickering with a devilish fire as he looks into the camera.*
"I said earlier that you have earned this match tonight. That you deserve another chance to fight for this belt. And I still think that’s true. But if I can be honest, Violet? You do not deserve to WIN it. I admire how you’ve fought so far, I applaud your warrior’s spirit…but I think it was a fluke. I don’t think you would’ve won that match, if they’d given us another five minutes. But I hope you try to prove me wrong. I hope you bring your best into the ring tonight, Violet. Bring the SAME Violet Holt that fought me to a standstill. I know you can do it. Dig deep. I want you to draw on all that anger, all that pain, all that sorrow and frustration that you couldn’t put me down and let it make you the FURIOUS AND DEVASTATING force that I KNOW you can be! I want to face the maelstrom tonight, Violet…because I want you to know that I won’t break. I want you to look into my eyes while you’ve got that Full Nelson locked in - look up at the monitor and WATCH as you do everything you can to make me submit…and I want you to listen. I want you to hear the groundswell of support as you realize this crowd is NOT on YOUR side, as they chant my name and stamp their feet and SING the chorus of ‘Titanium’ for ALL the world to hear! I want you to listen to their chanting, listen to their singing - I want you to FEEL me PRYING your arms apart using every millilitre of strength that I have left in my bruised and battered body…and I want you to know, in that moment, that you were NEVER going to beat me. That whether we’d fought for five more minutes or five more YEARS, it wouldn’t make a difference. Because you’re good, but you’re just not good enough. You never were. You’re facing off against Devon Ryder, Violet. The CANADIAN. HERO! I am the single GREATEST professional wrestler who has EVER graced a ring…and I don’t give in under pressure. Pressure is what creates a diamond, Violet…”
*Ryder locks eyes with the camera, flicking his hair out of his face as his lips bloom into a grin.*
“And diamonds can’t be broken.”
*With that, The Guess Who’s “American Woman” starts up in earnest as Devon and Desiree lock eyes with the camera and smirk. The Canadian Hero slides one arm around his beloved’s waist and tugs her hips against his own, before the couple share a brief but fiery kiss against the backdrop of the US Capitol building. As Ryder pulls away, he flashes his characteristic smirk once more into the camera and winks, then the shot begins to zoom out as the pair pivot and saunter off together into the cool summer twilight. A beat, and then we fade.*