Disposable Heroes (Saul Morgan RP v Howard Duncan) Oct 9, 2016 17:19:26 GMT -6
Post by Better Call Saul on Oct 9, 2016 17:19:26 GMT -6
Somewhere in California
October 9, 2015 02:35AM
Bodies fill the fields I see
Hungry hero's end
No one to play soldier now
No one to pretend!
I can't help but join my own hoarse voice to Hetfield's as the convertible cruises down an empty California highway, top down, radio blasting some of my favorite tunes. I tap my hands against the steering wheel, attempting to keep time with the song, as I turn to my shotgun passenger:
'This is what it's all about, huh, kid?'
My companion, however, does not reply; in fact, I doubt she even heard me. She is clutching her phone tight, her eyes screwed shut, earphones jammed firmly into her ears, trying to drown out the sound of my music with her own. Her lips are moving, as if she's mumbling something to herself, but otherwise, she might as well have been asleep for all the excitement she shows.
Oh well. Her loss. I'm having a blast!
'Check this part out, kid!' I turn the volume even further up just as the song kicks into the chorus, and try to air-guitar along to it. Normally, I wouldn't take my hands off the steering wheel like this, but we're cruising in a straight line down a highway at the back end of California, at two-thirty in the morning. It's not like I won't see a car coming.
I turn the volume back down as the solo ends, and go back to drumming my hands against the steering wheel, my foot pressing the gas just a little bit harder, pushing this beauty to its limit. I'd forgotten what a rush it was to drive something as powerful as this, to know you're in complete control of the vehicle, that you can make it do whatever you want; that you are its master and it is your bitch.
As the song thumps its way to the end, the scenery around us changes. The dusty, barren nothingness of the California desert gives way to another type of barren nothingness, one that looks and feels a lot more foreign; the ground is more greyish-yellow than brick-red, and instead of cacti, there's thorny shrubs and big rocks pushing out of the ground like those sand-worms from Dune. The road ahead of me is no longer a straight stretch of concrete, but a narrow dirt track, barely wide enough for our vehicle to go through, and most definitely not deserted.
I startle as the sound of gunshots sounds somewhere immediately to my right, and look over in alarm, only to see Williams leaning out the passenger side of the SUV, firing blanks at the startled goats and chicken dodging out of our way. Somehow, it's not surprising for me to find Williams there; just like I knew we were no longer in the California desert, I also knew the kid would not be the one riding shotgun anymore. Hell, this isn't even the same car.
The only thing that hasn't changed is the song on the radio.
Life planned out before my birth
Nothing could I say
Had no chance to see myself
Molded day by day!
'That's right! Fuck out the way, you sons'a bitches!'
Williams lets out a whoop as he pulls himself back into the SUV. His cheeks are glowing red and his eyes sparkling as he turns to me and barks:
'Crank that shit, Morgan! Burn rubber, baby!'
He leans back out of the window, shoots a few more rounds, pulls himself back in once more.
'Hot damn, this shits gets you in the zone, man! By the time we find these fucks, ain't a single one of them gonna be left in one piece!'
'Cool it, Williams,' I warn him. 'You know that type of shit can fuck everything up.' Yet I myself can't hide the grin on my face as I let the jeep fly through the only road of the village we recently secured. Williams is right; this shit is a trip. I'm just about ready to go shoot some Arabs myself.
'Where'd Sergeant Franklin say these fucks were hidin' again?'
'Somewhere up in the mountains. And we're supposed to be there at eleven hundred hours. So enough fuckin' around. Let's get our asses in gear and head on up to...'
It all happens in a flash; I hear a whizzing sound somewhere to my right, and Williams lets out a curse. A moment later, something small and very fast flies by, inches from my face. Moving almost on instinct, my mind very slowly putting together the different pieces of what is going on, I whirl my head to the right and confirm my worst fears; Williams is lying there, dead, caught by the enemy before he even had time to react.
I'm in an SUV with a dead man, and barrelling down a dirt road at around ninety miles per hour.
And there's someone in this supposedly secured village trying to kill me, too.
Suddenly, there's a storm inside my stomach, and a downpour across my face. I do my best to hold in a heave of vomit as I push harder on the accelerator, watch the needle go past 100, then 110. I have to keep going. Have to outrace this bastard. Have to find cover, alert Sergeant Franklin, and tell him to send reinfor---
Another whizzing sound, and something clangs off the back of my SUV, sending sparks flying. I let out a startled cry and a curse, and the car flies out of my control. I grasp desperately for the steering wheel, but know it is too late; the vehicle is already careening off the road, veering to the left, totally loose now, totally free from its master, and heading hood-first towards a particularly big rock. Knowing there is little I can do anymore, I gather as many belongings as I can and steel myself to bail out. My hand shoots towards the door, that rock looming closer and closer, the car hurtling toward it faster and faster, my window of opportunity diminishing---
I snap back to life to the dual sound of an 18-wheeler horn and the shrill cry of the kid in the passenger seat. As my mind processes what just happened, I see her lean over me to grab the steering wheel, her face ghostly-pale, eyes wide as a deer in headlights. I am vaguely aware of a large, hulking shape going by to our left before a jolt runs across the car; we've gone off-road, and pulled over onto the familiar reddish clay of a Baja California kerb.
As the car slows to a complete stop, my mind begins to piece together what happened, and a chill runs down my spine. I could have---we could have---the kid---
Now that the worse has passed, she is curled into a ball in her seat, arms wrapped around her knees, her back to me. I can hear her murmur softly as she rocks back and forth, trying to calm herself down. I hesitate about whether or not to check and see if she needs a friendly hand, figuring maybe she just wants to be left alone to recover; in the end, however, my conscience gets the best of me – this was my fault, after all – and I reach an arm out to touch her shoulder, comfort her, let her know everything's all right...
I draw my hand back as she whirls around to face me. Her face is a mask of rage, her eyes glinting manically as she lunges forward with a primal shriek. I barely have time to turn my side to her before her fists come raining down on what would have been my face, but ends up being my shoulder.
'Asshole! Asshole, asshole, asshole, ASSHOLE!! Goddamn fucking piece of shit braindead ASSHOLE!!!!'
I give her the space and time to vent, knowing what it feels like to go through a traumatic situation. Besides, it is not as though her punches are exactly bothering me all that much. So I give her a good long moment to call me every name in the book before making a grab for her wrists and attempting to calm her down.
'All right, Caitlyn, listen...'
She cuts me off with a primal groan, her knee shooting out to connect with my stomach as she pulls her wrists loose.
'DON'T touch me, you motherfucker!'
I go to retort, say something, anything, but the only thing I can think about is how bad my reflexes have become. There is no way the guy I was just daydreaming about a moment ago would not have seen that knee coming. If that's how bad my awareness has gotten, I don't see big things in my future as a wrestler.
This thought, and the sudden, sharp, stabbing pain of the knee shot to the groin, are the center of my world for the following few moments; so much so that, when I finally look up again, the kid is nowhere to be seen.
I feel my stomach tighten as I realize what just happened.
Shit shit shit shit SHIT.
I can't lose the kid. I can't. I'd get in all kinds of trouble. Be blamed for all kinds of shit. Probably thrown in jail, 'cause what sort of judge is going to believe a bum about something like this?!
Calm down, Saul. Calm down.
There aren't a lot of ways she could have gone. She either went left, right, forwards or backwards. With a little luck, she'll have followed the road, but there's nothing to say she did; if she went into the desert, though, good luck catching up with her in a car. And even if she didn't, what if you go the wrong way? What if you end up moving further away from her, and end up never finding her??!
No, man. There ain't much I can do right now. I'm just one bum, with one car, and one---
Of course, Saul, you dumbass. People have phones. Just 'cause you were behind for like a decade, doesn't make that any less true. And the kid damn sure has a phone. A phone with a number that's pretty much the only one on your contact list.
I breathe a sigh of relief as I dial the kid's number, knowing in just a few minutes everything will have been explained, and she'll be back here, and everything will be all---
---my heart sinks as a familiar ring tone emanates from the front seat of the car. I walk over, peer over the door, and confirm my worst fear.
She left her phone back here.
She's in the middle of the desert, at night, with no way for you to contact her.
And it's all your fault.
Nice going, you lousy bum.
Somewhere in California
October 9, 2015 06:35AM
'I ain't in a real good place right now.'
The first thing I say when the phone's camera starts rolling could not be more true. Hell, I don't even know what I'm doing shooting a video when the kid's still out there somewhere. Seems kind of irresponsible, y'know? Then again, it's not like sleep is coming anytime soon; and as for looking for the kid, I figure I'd better stay put 'till morning, just in case she comes back. Just in case she shows up and I'm not here to meet her. And hey – you gotta kill time somehow, right?!
Besides...talking about it is helping, even if it's just to a camera.
'I did something real fucked up tonight. Something that put someone else in danger. And the thing is...I didn't even mean to. It just...happened. I was drivin' down this highway in California, and suddenly I was...drivin' someplace else. In another time. And that nearly cost me and someone else our lives.'
A chill runs down my spine just then, and somehow I don't think it's just because of the desert wind.
'So you're gonna have to excuse me if I ain't all there in the head...an' if my focus isn't all on this wrestling thing. But I got some time to kill right now, so I though, why not talk about it?! Might get my head off things, y'know?! And so far, yeah...it's working.'
I pause to re-light my cigarette as the wind blows it off, take a drag, let it warm up my insides as I continue:
'So...Howard Duncan. Howard the Dunc. Guess I got you next, huh?! Another guy making his debut, looking to make it in the big leagues, and running into a bum in his first match. Hope that goes better for you than it did for that Cass kid...'
I chuckle, take another drag.
'Little different from my last opponent, though, ain'tcha, Howard?! Little older, for starters. Hell, you're older than me, man! And I'm gonna be honest here, man...you look about as ready to be a wrestler as I am. We don't look like wrestling superstars; we look like a comedy duo from a freaking Seth Rogen movie.'
Hopefully, that shows Howie that I don't just poke fun at others; I can make fun of myself, too.
'What's that they say, though?! Looks can be deceiving, right?! Don't judge a book by its cover?! 'Cause see, I heard you trained in a bunch of styles, and I had some training in the Marines myself. So even though we're probably gonna look like Dumb and Dumber out there, when push comes to shove, we're probably gonna be able to hold our own.
Or, you are, at least.'
Another drag. Man, this is good tobacco. Not used to shit this good.
'See, Howie, I told the last two guys I faced, and I'm gonna tell you too – I'm a bum. I've been livin' under porches for ten years. I eat maybe one meal a day, if I'm lucky. I ain't in the peak of physical form, know what I'm saying?'
I chuckle again.
'But that doesn't matter to me, anyway. All that matters is that whatever happens, at the end of the night, I'm gonna get paid. All that matters is that win or lose, there's gonna be food in my stomach, gas in my tank, and a cigarette in my mouth. So when I step out there with you, Howie, of course I'm gonna be doing my best, I'm gonna be looking to top my personal best grand total of two moves...but it ain't life or death. Know what I mean? It's a job. It's a living. It's something I'm good at, and it pays better than being a garbage man or whatever. But if I lose, it ain't gonna ruin my life.
And you know what, Howie? That actually helps.'
I flick my cigarette aside.
'See...all these kids, like Jacob Cass, like that Katie girl or whatever...they get in their own damn way. They all want to make an impact. Put the roster on notice. They're all the future of the business. And their debut? That's always their big moment. Their time to shine. Their turn to make a difference.
And none of them sees they're two random dudes in a match that ain't even gonna be on TV.'
I chuckle again, prop the phone up against the windshield so I can roll another cigarette.
'See, Howie...this thing at Armed and Dangerous...this ain't our big moment. This ain't the match that's gonna get people looking. Hell, we're lucky if people even are looking to begin with. They're probably gonna be busier trying to get in. We're probably gonna wrestle in front of forty guys. You really think that's gonna be our big break?!'
I shake my head.
'Nah, dude...we ain't stars. We ain't heroes. We're two random dudes in a warm-up match that no one's gonna see. Two nobodies, who ain't about to become somebodies in a match that's not even on TV. The day after Armed and Dangerous, nobody's even gonna remember our names. We're those guys who got off the boat first in Saving Private Ryan. We're foot soldiers, man. Stormtroopers.
We're disposable heroes.'
I light up the new cigarette, take a drag, blow a smoke ring.
'So my advice to you, Howie, is this: don't make a big deal out of this. Don't try to shine. Don't try to impress. You ain't impressing nobody but that mom in the third row with the four kids and the fifty extra pounds. Just go out there, do your best, enjoy doing something you're good at, and once it's over, go get yourself a chicken burger or something, and a good night's sleep. That's what I'm gonna do. That way, there won't be any bruised egos, and rivalries and shit.'
I take another drag, pick up the camera again, stare straight into it.
'Duncan...your moment in the sun's gonna come, dude. Trust me. It comes for everybody. Just don't think it's gonna come on Thursday. Don't think you're gonna get it from beating some bum in a warm-up match. Remember man...disposable heroes. At Armed and Dangerous...that's all we can hope to be. So let's chill out, take it easy, and have a match at least the two of us can remember. No matter who wins.
I lean in closer to the camera.
'Howie...at Armed and Dangerous...let's the best damn disposable heroes we can be.'
'That was pathetic, you know that?!'
The voice startles me, but in a good way; it's as though a weight has been lifted from my heart. I turn around, hoping against hope that I'm not dreaming, and there she is – messy and dusty and dirty, but alive.
'Kid, I'm sorry...' I stumble forward to wrap my arms around her, and feel glad when she doesn't try to stop me. 'I didn't mean to...I'm fuckin' sorry, man...so fuckin' sorry...!'
'All right, all right, cut the mushy crap,' she says after a moment, pushing me away gently. 'Don't think I came back because of you. It's only that this movie is a potential goldmine. I don't want that to go to waste.'
'Sure, sure...' I grin, and she knows I know she doesn't mean it. She grins back, only for a moment, then puts her professional face back on as she takes my phone from my hand and swipes through to the videos.
'So,' she says, as her finger flies across the screen, 'let's see if this stuff you just shot is useable.'