King Me! and Other Rare Chess Moves
Jaclyn Pierrot's eyes watched from the second story window as the man pointed at one of the red solo cups on the small fold-up table. Each one was flipped upside down on it’s lip. The woman across from him hesitated above it, drawing in the suspense, but Jacky already knew it would come up empty. It was called the shell game, or sometimes three shells and a pea.
She knew it well.
Some believed it to be a game of chance, but those who ran it knew that the chances of losing were slim. It was simple: the dealer would “shuffle” a ball underneath three cups while the player tried to keep up. Conceptually, with a little bit of distraction and a whole lot of razzmatazz, the chances of selecting the correct cup rapidly dwindled. Realistically, with a little bit of prestidigitation and just a touch of misdirection, those odds rapidly declined to zero. The dealer expertly caught a pass and tucked away the ball.
“Sucker,” she giggled, jamming another handful of Lay’s Chicken and Waffle flavored chips into her mouth. Crumbs piled up on the window sill in front of her.
The room she had been staying in was immaculately decorated, ‘was’ being the operative word. Cardboard boxes with the Amazon logo scattered the floor, topped with the fresh glaze of partially worn clothing and other various nicknacks. A partially disassembled drone sat in the center of the king sized bed. Her best friend and companion, Bunny sat quietly on the center of the bed next to it. There is a screwdriver stuck to his paw and he is leaned over it as though in mid-repair.
“Ooooooo, it’s heatin’ up out there, Buns!” she snorted. Their argument had begun to escalate as the man flipped the remaining two cups before she could reach them. They both turned up empty. The table did it’s best imitation of a cup as he shoved it out of his way. He made a move closer, but a .38 special suddenly blocked his path. Jacky’s eyes widened and she leaned towards the glass, whispering as she spoke.
A single chip dangled inches from her mouth. She breathed heavily. Her hand was shaking, pupils fully dilated. There was a knock on her door, but she didn’t turn - her gaze was fixated on the action down below. She began mashing chips again into her open already agape mouth.
“Jacky?” Morgan Freeman’s voice could be heard, followed by another knock. After a tense stand-off, the man on the street turned and walked away, yelling to himself. “Jacky.”
Scowling, she turned to the door. “It’s open!”
Seconds later, he stepped into the room. He was dressed simply enough: a button down and a pair of slacks with a pair of Gucci house shoes. What stood out, however, was not what he wore but what he held - a box tucked under one arm. Her eyes widened with horror.
Over the past month, Jaclyn Pierrot had been living in a guest room at the actor, and her closer, personal friend, Morgan Freeman’s house after being sentenced to house arrest. Roughly a week ago, Jacky, a liquor cabinet, and her long barrel .44 had done their best to redecorate Morgan Freeman’s living room.
“The internet’s out for the rest of the day while they repair the lines,” he began. Her eyes didn’t leave the box as he shifted it about while he spoke. “I was thinking since we’re offline for a bit…”
“No…” she whispered. He pulled the box free. It wasn’t just any board game. It was smaller. Square.
“Maybe we could do a different kind of training?” He turned the box, the rest of his words fading in the distance. Mental something-something. She didn’t hear - it didn’t matter.
“No!” she shrieked, dropping to her knees. She closed her eyes and reopened them, looking up at the word. The hideous, evil five letter word:
She shrieked again, realization setting in: it was a bottle episode. Morgan Freeman watched as she continued to dramatically melt to the ground. He appeared unphased.
“Are you done?”
There was a long pause as she considered, finally answering weakly from the floor. “Yes.”
“Then are you ready to play?”
“Can I say no?”
“But you just did-”
“I’m just saying it doesn’t sound fair if you can say no and I can’t. I would say it’s almost a double standard! What’s next for me? I’m already barefoot, should I go to the kitchen? I know you do so love it when I cook!”
Recipes, reasons, and even a rant about women's liberation, she was doing her best to filibuster, standing beside Bunny on the bed to help sell her speech. No matter what?
She was absolutely not going to play chess.
“What can we learn from chess?”
Morgan Freeman has added a pair of bifocals to his ensemble, somehow increasing his already overwhelming paternal charm. He slides each piece delicately into place: pawns, knights, rooks, bishops, kings and queens all meticulously laid out and arranged to be facing forward. They’ve moved to the study, unscathed by the clown's manic sprees, where the two sit in the corner at a small table, the hand-painted chess set between them.
The walls are lined with books, each shelf arranged according to size. A globe sits in the corner of the room. Dominating the center of the room is a massive oak desk with a finely crafted leather seat. Behind the desk, there is a life-sized oil painting of the actor, shirtless and ripped, his fists locked around a bull’s horns. As he shifts the last pawn into place, he looks up. Jacky’s cheek is leaned into her palm. Her eyes are closed, a thin layer of drool rolling down her wrist.
A light snore escapes her lips.
She bolts awake.
“Bottle episode!” The clown shrieks, before looking around. Morgan clears his throat.
“What can we learn from chess?” he tries again. Jaclyn rubs angrily at her eyes then pulls herself upright. He motions towards her with a hand, “You go first.”
“Why is that?”
“Because I’m white?” she scowls, flicking a pawn forward before dropping her cheek back into her fist, “How is that fair?”
“It’s not about being fair, it’s about following the rules.” Morgan Freeman folds his hands in front of him as he examines the board.“And you’re playing white. You’re right though. It is problematic in nature and worth exploring and challenging, but it’s a good example of the reflections you can have in life through the board. There is an advantage to going first, certainly, in the game and in life, and an advantage in privilege. However, when you go first, you are forced to show your hand and risk exposure. Is there not then advantage also in the preparation? Strength in defying the expectation?”
Jaclyn’s leg begins to bounce as she watches him hover over the set. He considers each piece before finally landing on a pawn of his own. The moment he releases it, she moves her same pawn forward. She slouches back into the seat.
“If you take your time, if you watch and if you wait - you can learn a lot about a person and a culture. Where do their thoughts and values lie: are they in the present or in the future?” Morgan leans back in the chair, his hazel eyes settling on the clown. “What do you think that means, Jacky?”
“It means you’re stalling.”
“I’m stalling?” she gives him a curt shrug, reaching up to physically hold her own eyelids open. “Jacky, are you familiar with the idea of not looking before you leap?”
“Are you familiar with video games?”
“This is different.”
“Chess teaches you patience. You can take your time,” he waves his hand over the board. “Study the field. Your opponent. It’s about finesse and not just brute force”
Jacky moves and he counters, removing a piece. She glares across at him. “I’d nerf you in Halo.”
“Nobody says that anymore, Jacky. Even I know that,” he chuckles confidently, shifting his bishop across. Jacky takes one of his pawns.
“Pwned!” She flicks her tongue out in his direction. Morgan moves the bishop once more.
“Check.” He leans back in his chair, smiling over at her. “Noob.”
The crash brings her attention back to the street.
It was still early in the afternoon and Pixie Sloane had stepped off the main road to wolf down a pre-wrapped sandwich. She had grabbed it off the shelf at the 7-11 in a rush, thinking it was chicken salad. You could trust chicken salad.
“Tuna,” she had groaned before settling in. Better than nothing.
This wasn’t her first time on the streets - she had been here before, a lifetime ago. Things had changed though - she had changed. She was stronger now. Smarter. The fear and isolation she once felt had been replaced by feeling of control like she had never felt before. She moved where and when she wanted. Her engagements were bright, brief, and then gone.
And the isolation?
It once felt like a prison, but now she could see it for what it was.
She tosses the sandwich down, only a few hesitant bites taken out. On her feet, she makes her way out of the alley in time to see Louise pull a gun from her thick coat and aim it at a man wearing a houndstooth jacket.
She had known Louise for about a week. She ran the shell game on the corner and they talked from time to time - they even shared a double-pepperoni deep dish pizza when she first rode into town and Louise had shown her the best places to sleep. She knew she loved RC Cola, Sour Skittles, and her favorite movie was Clerks, often shouting, 'I shouldn’t even be here today!' in between patrons.
And now she knows that she owns a gun.
The man stares down at her, considering if he could bypass the snub nosed special and get ahold of her before she is able to shoot. Her finger trembles, but it's confidently pressed against the trigger. Louise had been here before as well. The man called her a few names then stormed away.
A blue Ford Focus drove past forcing Pixie to wait, a moment longer than she would have liked, before busting across and over to the woman chasing one of the cups. It has been picked up by the chill Chicago window and dances just a step in front of her. She stumbles over the long, bohemian dress and drops to her knees. Pixie gets beside her just as she begins to sob.
“Are you okay?” Pixie asks, but immediately kicks herself. Of course she wasn’t okay! That man…that…She looks over her shoulder and sees his almost checkerboard coat as it moves around the corner.
Let it go, this is more important.
She felt Louise pull her in, her body shaking. This feeling, the closeness, the comfort…
Push her away. No - push it away.
She draws Louise in just as she begins to wail, the sound muffled only by the thick cotton hoodie Pixie had pulled on for her break. After several minutes, the two pick themselves up. This time when Pixie asks the same question, the woman is able to nod. They pull together the table and after a short walk to the store, Pixie returns with a full sleeve of Solos and a chicken salad sandwich. She had checked this time.
“Here,” she says, pulling half of the sandwich free and handing the rest over. She watches as Louise rips the wrapper off and tears into it. She considers her half then holds it out, just as Louise finishes. “Actually…do you want my half too?”
She can feel her stomach grumble. The woman nervously takes the food and digs in, more reserved this time, the first half having helped push down some of the panic. She wipes at her mouth, smiling over towards Pixie.
“Thank you,” her lip trembles after another bite. Her eyes grow distant. She stares down at the bread. “I would have done it.”
She looks up into Pixie’s eyes, something inside her unsettled. Broken. She wasn’t supposed to be here today.
“I would have shot him.”
And they would have thrown away the key.
Pixie knows there is a certain responsibility in freedom and certain risks are involved. Inevitably, someone always challenges that and the questions still remain…how far would you be willing to go and what would you be willing to give up?
Pixie glances down at the gun.
Jacky watches Morgan Freeman, wide-eyed, as he examines the board. He has taken half of her pawns and one of her knights. He goes to move, then stops. He reconsiders, then finally settles on a pawn. Jacky instantly takes his with one of her own.
“You should slow down. It’s not always about the quick victories. Sometimes, it’s about the sacrifices you’re willing to make,” He smiles as his knight lands into that space. “You have to think ahead - the next step matters.”
“And that’s like war?” He smiles slightly, nodding. Jacky tilts her head to the side, waggling her finger as she speaks. “Have you ever been to war?”
“Well…” he starts, suddenly finding a reason to fuss with the button on his sleeve.
“Now hold on…” Her honking laughter interrupts his stammering. She slides her Queen into a space occupied by his bishop, then peels his piece free from the board. Jacky bobs her head to a rhythm only she can hear.
“War…hmm…what it isn’t good for…”
To her surprise, he smiles back. “You know the problem you have, Jacky?” His rook moves into place, taking the Queen. Her face drops.
“Maintaining your morale after a setback..”
The clown glares angrily across at him then looks down to the board, scanning frantically for her next move. A wave of relief washes over her as she sees hope hovering just at the horizon. She moves her pawn forward, into the space once occupied by his rook.
“That’s Checkers,” he takes the pawn. “And this is check!”
She stares down at the board for a full minute before abruptly standing, the chair sliding backwards. It teeters on its back two legs before crashing back into the hardwood floor.
“I’m gonna go smoke.” she mutters and storms off towards the back door. Morgan Freeman can’t help but smile and shake his hand as she stomps away.
Pixie leans into the wall, her hands tucked into the hoodie, watching her breath rise into the air. The Chicago air had gone from cool to crisp before becoming biting and barely bearable. It wouldn’t be long before she would be forced to follow the rails - Austin was nice this time of year. She looked down at the watch on her wrist, a small Casio that had seen better days.
“This is a mistake…” she sighs. Time was not on her side as the sun slowly began to settle its way down over the horizon. She knew she had another hour of daylight before she would need to find shelter. There was a time in her life where she would have continued into the night.
Light the fire - swallow the flame.
Something felt different now though. Something about that look in Louise's eyes felt like a reflection of her former self.
“I didn’t think you’d show,” Benny says, slinking around the corner. He doesn’t seem as bothered by the weather, having grown up in the area.
Benny is the guy you went to for the things you can’t buy in stores. Guns, dope, there was even a rumor he was into running whores, though police had yet to pin that charge to him and make it stick. He grew up watching Happy Days and it showed as he could always be seen with his black pompadour oiled and greased, slathered and slicked. His Fonzie fantasy didn’t end there though and spread to his attire: he could usually be seen wearing a pair of black boots, jeans, a white shirt, and a leather jacket. Tonight was no different. Despite the dwindling light, he has a pair of dark shades over his eyes.
“I’m true to my word.”
“I like that. Louise said you were looking for a little protection,” he tugs a small gun free from his jacket. The barrel aims at her for a brief second, making her heart jump, before he spins it around. “High Power™. 10 rounds, 9mm. Two hundred.”
She reaches for the gun and he pulls it back, repeating the price: ”200”.
Her hand fishes the bills free from the interior pocket and she stuffs them into his hand. The gun feels heavier than she imagined. She aims it at the wall, her finger hovering over the trigger.
“Whoa!” he reaches out, taking hold of the gun. He flips a small switch by the trigger and hands it back. “Be careful, toots. You don’t wanna go playing bang-bang just to hear the noise.”
Benny counts the bills, then slaps them against his palm, looking her over. He nods briefly and turns back towards the street. She considers the firearm once more. It was one thing to own it, but could she use it? She aims it at the the back of his head.
“Twenty bucks says it doesn’t fire.”
Startled, she drops the pistol against the ground before scrambling to secure it inside her coat. She turns. On the back dock of the building, a woman leans against the back door, propped open with a brick. She takes a drag from what looks like a hand rolled cigarette and pushes away from the wall. As she approaches, Pixie gets a better look. Diamond and tear tattoos, stitches along the face, and that sinister clown smile.
“You’re the Ragdoll.”
Jacky giggles. She does a small, somehow exaggerated curtsey. “Guilty as charged.”
“That’s not what I heard,” Pixie says, nodding to the ankle monitor. Jaclyn drops down at the edge of the dock and extends the cigarette, which Sloane can now see is a joint. She reluctantly picks it from the clown's hand and takes a toke, before erupting in a fit of coughing.
“He-he-here,” she reaches it back to Jacky who's honking laughter pierces her eardrum like a sharp blade.
“Hit it again,” the joker-faced woman says. Pixie tries, this time holding it in for a second longer only to result in her doubling over. Jaclyn pats her back like a mother trying to burp an infant, taking the joint from her with the other hand. As Pixie continues to suck at the air, desperate for breath, she smells the faint hint of gushers.
Is it the clown?
Pixie shakes her head then wipes a tear from her face, finally able to catch her composure. “Why don’t you think it will fire?”
“Did you see his fit?” she takes a pull and holds it out again, but Pixie declines, causing the clown to smile once more. The truth was, Jacky knew it wouldn’t fire because she knew all about Benny and his little operation. She had been watching. She had gotten to know the regulars on the street.
She had been watching and waiting.
Pixie looks to the end of the alley and the rapidly dwindling daylight. She coughs once more and nods to the clown. “Thanks for the advice and the…” Jaclyn extends the roach, but the street performer waves it away as she heads back towards her stage.
“Hey!” the clown calls out. Pixie turns. “If you flick your wrist more on the fifth turn, you can make that catch you keep dropping.”
She nods, the warm feeling of the hashish slowly starting to ooze its way down the back of her brain and into her spine. “I’ll keep that in mind” she says, only half aware of what they are talking about. Pixie Sloane had to get back to work…and also Gushers…she needed Gushers.
Maybe Louise wants to do a candy run…
Just as she rounds the corner, Jacky pulls the small pistol out and looks it over.
Morgan Freeman sits proudly at his seat, his fingers interlaced and folded in front of him. In the low light of the office, his freckles practically smile, mocking the weary clown. Her face is long from the chess match, which to her has dragged throughout the day. Exhaustion and copious amounts of blond Lebanese hash have left her eyes bloodshot and only partially open. She squints down at the board, trying to piece together her next move, now only down to one bishop, a rook, two pawns, and her king.
“So have we learned anything today?”
“I hate chess.”
“Is that a new revelation?” She groans like a wounded animal, moving her king out of danger. He chuckles and places his rook back in line. “Check.”
Jacky’s head drops down to the table with a thump. Her voice is muffled as her mouth is mashed against the wood. "Let's call it a draw," she offers.
“You’re welcome to forfeit. Just place your king on his side.”
She sits up, her space buns loose and slowly unraveling on one side.
“A forfeit isn’t a draw.”
“There must be a winner and a loser.” The king moves and the rook follows. “Check.”
“Are you sure?” she ducks her king around a pawn, finally safe from the threat. He sets himself to take the pawn, but is unable to secure the call on this turn. There is a long pause as she awaits his answer. He finally looks up, confidently smiling.
“It’s your move.”
She nods, her hand hovering over the king. Morgan can see the victory at hand, her troops rapidly diminishing. She’s tired and bored and frustrated, with few options. Nothing left but the chase. Just before she moves it, she lifts her fingers and then adjusts to her own remaining rook, sliding it forward.
He laughs, probably harder than he should considering the crimes she’d been false acquitted of, but try as he might he couldn’t help it. He leans forward and looks over the board. His laughter turns to stunned silence.
“Checkmate…” he repeats, the whisper his acceptance of the reality he saw before him. Morgan Freeman looks up. “How?”
“You forget,” Jacky says, leaning back into the chair. She sits upright, her eyes blinking twice before the joyful chaos dances across her face once more. “All warfare is based on deception.”
The clown pulls the cotton candy pink strands of her hair back into the bun, pulling it tight once more.
“This could mean feigning weakness when you are strong or…” she picks up his king, waving it in front of him, “…ignorance when there is none.”
“But how?” he motions towards her. Once the picture of desolation and despair, she is once more the laughing lunatic.
“The problem wasn’t your vision,” she cackles, “but your understanding! War isn’t a rigid set of rules - it’s determined by being flexible enough to be unbreakable. It’s about being unreadable. Unpredictable. It’s about knowing yourself. Understanding yourself and even through the chaos, finding out who you are - and what you’re capable of. You control that? And you do so with purpose? Then you control your opponents.”
His eyes scan over the board as she places the king on the table in front of him. She drops a hand on his shoulder patting him before moving towards the door. Her hand catches the frame and she turns back towards the actor.
“And Morgan?” she asks. He turns his head to look her way. “War?”
“War never changes.”
Jaclyn giggles to herself, spinning away as she heads back towards her room. With her voice moving away, he can once again hear her singing those famous lyrics by Edwin Starr. He leans back and nods, allowing himself to smile once more.
The black town car pulls away from the front of the building, passing the lone woman walking along the street. Pixie Sloane has her hands jammed into her pockets as she makes her way back towards the building. She had gotten halfway to the women’s center she was staying at when she had a startling realization: the gun was missing.
“I probably just dropped it,” she had reassured herself as she slowly traced her way back. It wasn’t easy: the hashish fog made it difficult to focus and even harder to remember. She looks over the building. It looked different at night, dark and uninviting. A form moves in the window and she quickly decides to move along.
Pixie ducks behind the building and squints her eyes. She’d rather not draw any unwanted attention, at least not until she found the gun. Preferably not after either. She crouches down, moving at a slow crawl along the alley way.
She scowls, finally tired of shuffling in the dark. Pixie fishes her phone from her coat and flips on the flashlight application.
“Ayyyy…” She jumps, whipping around. Benny slowly walks towards her, doing his best Fonzi sway. “I saw you coming back down this way…you lookin for me?”
She shakes her head. “I dropped my…”
My what? My sanity? What was she going to tell this man creeping closer to her in the dark alley? I lost my gun?
“Your keys?” he looks around as he walks, slowing just a step as he draws near, standing well over a foot above her. He looks down at her. “You don’t sound that sure about that. You want a hand figuring it out?”
He reaches out and she shoves his hand away. He pauses and then lunges forward only to be greeted with a well-placed knee. She pushes past.
“You got guts, kid,” he says, clutching at his damaged groin. He turns towards her as she makes her way back towards the street. Benny pulls a pistol from his jacket pocket and aims it in her direction. “But I got a gun.”
She feels it again. That old familiar feeling rushing inside her and she freezes.
The control she had sought on the street. To her, it was a return - and her test. Has she grown? Has she become stronger since the time Big Tony pulled her away? Had she grown, through her terms and by her means? She turns, her eyes locked on the pistol.
The freedom, the control?
All gone, choked out by the barrel of the gun.
Pixie struggles to breath, she struggles to remain calm. She knows she should reach for the gun, try something. Anything. Her hand balls into a fist as he takes aim. She closes her eyes.
Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
Silence. Pixie hears the man fall to his knees in front of her. She can feel the warmth of his blood as it splatters over her face. Her eyes open and look up to the dock and the figure standing in the dark.
Like a bad dream, she watches as the clown-faced creep Jaclyn Pierrot steps out into the light, holding the gun. Her gun. The clown waves to her with the still smoking pistol and Pixie can see the black gloves covering her hands. In the same motion, Jacky tosses it towards the still startled street performer.
She looks down at the pistol…
…and she understands: she has no choice. She has to retrieve it. To hide it. To squirrel it away.
The gun, her gun.
The one that had just killed a man.
The scene opens up to Jaclyn Pierrot, sitting in the window. Her corpse doll is pulled into her lap, clutched against her chest. Blue lights flash outside, causing a flare that occasionally will blind the screen. She watches something intently for a moment before turning to the camera.
She bounces the dead rabbit in the air in front of her before booping it on the nose.
“New Year, New You.” Her eyes get wide as she stresses the word. “Right?”
Jacky rolls them back.
“This is how you speak, in this annoying cadence to try and accentuate a point more than the words can carry. You force the weight upon the audience.” she gets bug-eyed once more. “Why?”
She looks over to the rabbit for an answer. It does not come. She turns back to the camera.
“Cause you need that. Cause it’s necessary - after all, what is a balloon without all the -” She puffs up her cheeks. “Hot Air.”
Jaclyn Pierrot laughs and sets the rabbit aside. She kicks one leg over the other.
“Wild isn’t it? How replicable you are. How replaceable you are. How generic you are. It’s funny, Lucy, I only know you through people, or I guess more accurately through people who have run through you. From CJ to Maggie to JC…” she makes a gagging face then composes herself, “...and now through Rogan and the-”
She tosses her arms up in the air in exasperation.
“Numerous Falls you two have suffered at the hands of others. It’s like you always just get your palms on the prize only for it to slip away. Kinda apropos to you then, isn’t it? Always with a prize in hand…just slipping away. Lucy Wylde…” She salutes. “I will say this about you, Lucy: nobody in this tournament deserves this more than you. Nobody has worked harder, or longer, or fought from so low to get so…” she searches the air for the words, “where you are. Nobody has gone through what you’ve gone through: the ups, the downs, the highs, the lows and all the other positions you’ve been willing to put yourself in. Nobody can compare their battles to the hell you and Maggie put yourselves through. Nobody else has felt the yearning, the desire, the burning inside themselves for so goddamn long except - well, I guess there was Sebastian the Third and the Bubblegum Bitch, and I’m still not convinced they’ve made it there quite yet. But Lucy, this isn’t about them, because I don’t want you to feel overshadowed and outclassed - this is about you and what you deserve. And so Lucy, from the bottom of my heart I want you to believe me when I say: Nobody and I mean nobody deserves this opportunity like you.”
She smiles, leaning forward slightly.
“Nobody, that is, except for me.”
Jacky extends her arms out in welcome in front of herself.
“Nobody has more reason to get ‘the Big Shot’ than you…except me. And nobody is more likely to walk out of that ring on Monday with the shot clinched than you Lucy…” She winks. “Except me.”
Tilting her head to the side slightly, she shakes it.
“I know the plan. New Year and New You, right? You’re gonna show me a little bit of that pain you brought to Mac Bane. You’re gonna show me a little of that fierce you brought to Travis Pierce? And you’re gonna bring it all when it comes to Ragdoll?”
“Right? Close honey, but the W is heading this way, so you’re gonna hit a wall when it comes to the Ragdoll. New Year, New You and you’re smashing through all the glass ceilings, right? Give me a break. Let’s give the cliched resolution it’s cliched ending. Three weeks in, you in spandex looking up at the lights saying, ‘What happened?’ quickly followed by: ‘At least I tried.’” she holds her hands out to the camera, slowly clapping. “At least you tried Lucy. Better luck next year - time to dye your hair and say ‘I’ve changed, I’ve changed’, but really?”
Her hand points towards the frame.
“You’re just the same. Same you and just as disappointing as you were last year. Nothing without CJ. Nothing without JC. Nothing without Rogan and soon to be nowhere near the big one, once again. The positive part about this all is that when you do lose, at least as a consolation prize, the United Global Wrestling Coalition will allow you a second chance to fail, but Lucy don’t listen to them: listen to me.”
Jacky cups her hands over her chest, just above her heart.
“I believe.” She blinks slowly and nods, doing her best to appear sincere despite the smile creeping at the corner of her lips. “I believe in you. I believe you’ll have that second chance to do last year all over again. You can pick one up here or there only to immediately put it right back down - that is as long as you have someone else there to do the heavy lifting. Hey, what if I shot you straight for once Lucy? About you. And about Rogan?”
Her golden eyes dart around to make sure nobody is listening. Spotting Bunny, she clasps her hands over Bunny’s ears, folding them down.
“You hold him back…” Jacky looks down to make sure the dead rabbit cannot hear then decides to fold them down for good measure, “…and you make him weak. Because after all? At the end of the day, you’re only as good as the company you keep, or at least the ones you’ve kept inside you.”
One of the ears comes loose in her hand. She looks it over, then quickly tucks it behind her back, beaming brightly.
“Hope that wasn’t too personal, after all, I’d hate to ruin what we have, because at the end of the day? You and I do have a lot in common - we’re a lot alike and I hate that about myself. I too have tasted the top of the mountain only to tumble to the bottom of the hill. The difference though? Two paths diverged, like Marlowe and Kurtz, the choices we make define who we are and when we make that choice? When we finally decide that it’s by any means necessary?” Her shoulders slowly shrug. “Well, it gets easier each time.”
Jaclyn Pierrot sets Bunny aside once more. She pushes away from the ledge and takes the camera in her hand. Her breathing can now be heard. “You’ve defined yourself through others, Lucy and so now it’s time to define yourself through me. Define yourself through this, what is truly your first fight in this tournament and really, truly? Also your last. Don’t get me wrong, I know there’s others. There’s more steps, there’s more stairs - a whole ladder lies ahead, but this?”
She nods her hand, turning in the room. The blue lights now flash across her face and she looks into the distance.
“This is the one that matters.”
Her intense golden globes turn to the camera, the pupil merely a dot lost in the sea of ocular opulence.
“You and me and the last opportunity you will have to stop me or veer me from my path, but I got news for you Lucy? I will not lay down. Not this time and not to someone like you. Not after what I worked for and no, I don’t mean here in the ring and in this tournament so far - but in here.” she points to her head, then aims the camera towards her ankle, “and because of this.”
It tilts back towards her face. She leans in closer, her high-pitched voice almost growling as she speaks.
“Because I’ve been forced to stop and step away from who I am and all I have is time because time is the prison we all find ourselves in. Only I am using mine wisely. While you run to-and-fro, I run for a cause - to be faster. While you spend your days lifting up your friends and your family, I lift - so that I can be the reason you find separation from yours. And while you run your mouth in an endurance race to say more than I can with more emphasis, I say what truly matters cause I know and so do you Lucy.”
She raises her eyebrows.
“Even if you made it past me, you know you: you’d choke in the end anyway, so I may as well choke you out now.”
Jaclyn Pierrot winks and then erupts with her patented honking laughter.
“See you Monday, Lucy.”
Her laughter stops. Only one smile remains on her face: the one painted above the grim frown, the clown suddenly serious.
“I look forward to being your New Year's Revolution,” she says, forcing a smile across her face.
The feed cuts to black.
Just as Jaclyn clicks her camera off, the phone begins to buzz in her hand. She looks down.
Facetime from Montague Cervantes?
She giggles gleefully, hitting accept as fast as her thumb allows. His face pops up onto the screen and she can see Rett whirling about in the background.
“Hiya boys!” she says, louder than necessary. The mechanical dog tips something over and Montague turns his attention to the mess. There is scurrying and the frame jumps around for a moment before he appears once more.
“Sorry, hi. Listen, how much do you know about Slenderman?”
She looks down to a stack of books piled up beside her bed and her face lights up.