by Leo King

Approx. 900 Words

Beyond the Mask Series:
Part 1 | The Prayer
Part 2 | The Sell
Part 3 | The Walk

Furio was no more.

As Emilio Alvarez leaned forward, eyes closed and hands on the side of the shower so that the water could cascade over his head and down his back, he reflected back on his match. He had followed the script to the letter with no deviations, as he had done his entire career. Even in his rebellious youth, he always did what was expected of him. It was the nature of his profession.

Still, the sting of loss was there, despite begin mixed in with the relief of it being over. Now more than ever, he could feel his age. He wasn’t young any more, and his entire body ached. It would be days before the pain would wear off.

But, it was over. He would be allowed to show up at the Monday night event to say his farewells, likely to rousing cries of “Thank you, Furio!” and “One more match.” He would likely remove his mask for the crowd before leaving, as was traditional for those with masks, or he may not – the Promoter had given him that option. Then he would leave, go treat himself to a nice steak dinner, and prepare himself for a life of retirement.

Money wasn’t a problem. Unlike some in his profession, he had wisely invested a good portion of his earnings. His family would live comfortably, and his children would go to college. It was a good end to what everyone was calling a storied career.

And yet, despite all that, Emilio felt the finality of his situation. It was over. He would never again head down that ramp to his music playing, the smell of the pyrotechnics and the roar of the crowd assailing his senses. He would never again know the rush of flipping through the air at a downed opponent, or the glory of getting that three count.

It was over. Furio was no more.

With a sigh, Emilio recited the last words his mother spoke to him before she passed away.

“Always believe in you.”

Emilio shut the shower off and stood there a moment longer, letting the water drip off his battered and long-abused frame. With a chuckle and a nod of the head, he said, “Thanks, mom.”

It took Emilio an agonizingly long time to dress, and despite his best efforts, his thoughts kept going back to the match and how he could have done better. He had done that after every match, mentally reviewing it to improve his performance. This time was no different, and by the time he realized that he was reviewing something when there was no need, he was completely dressed.

“That’s funny,” Emilio said to himself, reaching into his boot to collect his rosary, the memento from his mother.

Nothing was there. With a tight-lipped grimace, Emilio remembered that the rosary was gone, having flown out into the crowd. It was unlikely that he’d ever see it again.

The tears in Emilio’s eyes as he packed his bag one last time were real. The rosary was likely the only thing he had left of his parents, and in a moment of carelessness, it was gone. He’d try to find it, maybe hope an honest fan would return it, but that was like hoping to be young again.

Bags packed, Emilio left the locker room and headed out to the hallway and down to the arena offices. His visit with Louis, his manager, was very brief. There would be paperwork to fill out later in the week to officially retire him. Emilio mentioned the missing rosary and Louis, although he gave a very sympathetic shake of the head, said, “Not much I can do there, bud. I’ll see if maybe the cleaning crew finds it.”

Shaking hands with Louis, Emilio headed out towards the exit. He was nearly there when the imposing form of King Rex stepped into his path. Still wearing his championship belt around his waist, Rex was covered in several bandages. Emilio figured he had just finished a visit with the Medic.

“You look like crap, Emilio,” he said.

Emilio chuckled and replied, “You aren’t looking too good either, Tyler.”

Rex gave a toothy grin and reached forward. Reflexively, Emilio ducked back and was surprised when Rex grabbed his hand, albeit roughly, and pressed something into it, something small and wooden.

“Good match,” Rex said, walking past Emilio, “I hope I go out that way.”

Emilio stood there for a long moment in silence, looking down at what Rex had pressed into his hand. It was his mother’s rosary.

Emilio had no words.

Quietly, Emilio Alvarez, formerly known as Furio, took the walk out of the arena. Waiting for him in the parking lot was his beautiful wife Maria and his two beautiful children, Amada and Antonio. Maria hugged him, crying and covering his face with kisses, while Amada and Antonio hugged his legs and repeated “Daddy is the best” over and over again.

He would go out and eat dinner with his family, then go back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow, he’d start to plan the rest of his life. Tonight was about celebrating his retirement.

Tonight was his night.

The End

Note From Leo: If you wish to leave feedback on this general fiction short story, please fill out the comment form below. I make sure to read all feedback, both praising and critical.