Taking Hold of the Flame Battle Royal
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This was an emotional CD to write. Work was a bitch today, busy all hell so I had to sporadically write some of the CD during my break. Since then I've been on fumes writing the shoot but still  happy with what I've brought to the show and now i've opened pandoras box as they say.

Enjoy & Good luck to all.

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Taking Hold of the Flame
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SCW: 26 - 35 - 5 || Career: 35 - 41 - 5
SCW World Champion
4X SCW Tag Team Champion W/ Tommy Valentine
[The Connection]

The scene opens up to with the KABLAM News Network logo on the big screen! Chesty LaRue, our famously well-endowed anchorwoman, sits on top of the news desk now in a dress that looks like it had to be physically stitched onto her. Her legs crossed over, wedged in place by the tightness of the dress, hang over the edge of the table, and her best assets protrude out in awe-inspiring 3D on a 2D camera. She smiles her pearly whites for the camera as the scene fades in.

Chesty: “When we last left Man-Mountain Derek Adonis, the King of KABLAM, he had fallen in defeat at the hands of… what was it? Scarlet Gray for the Television Champion? Or maybe it was his Tabula Rasa victory over Total Terror?”

She pauses and thinks about it, the blood flow to her brain possibly being inhibited by the tight dress she is stuck in.

Chesty: “It’s so hard to figure out what’s what anymore when you’re as in-demand as the Lady’s Man’s Man, but Derek finds a way to keep on keeping on as only he can. But we’re now on the cusp of Rise to Greatness season, with Taking Hold of the Flame just around the corner, and I can confirm to you now that, in addition to the KABLAMpress, Cookie, hosting the show, Derek Adonis WILL be one of the 40 competitors in the big battle royale!”

Chesty cannot contain her excitement, bouncing in delight of the news she just shared, nearly popping out of her dress in what would’ve been the greatest moment in KNN’s short history. She catches herself and readjusts her top, making it among the saddest.

Chesty: “And believe me… if Man-Mountain has anything to say about it, we’ll be headlong on the road to RISE TO KABLAM! I mean, who could possibly beat him? Casterillo? That guy’s a joke. BUT ANYWAY… I’ve been Chesty LaRue! Signing out!

The logo comes onto the screen before going to black.
I figure I can post this now lol...


Life... Life is a cruel thing.  It's something we have all taken for granted at some point in our lives...

The sound of a heart monitor and oxygen pump is heard.

Beep.... Beep... Beep... Pshhhhh... Beep... Pshhhh...

Life is something that is always there for us, or so we think.  We just assume we are going to wake up the next day.  At least, most do.  I know there are those who embrace death, like the elderly, for example.  But there are those of us right in the middle and prime of our lives that just assume tomorrow will come, just like today, just like yesterday.

The heart monitor begins to speed up and beep faster and more erratically.

Beep... Beep Beep... Beep Beep... Beep Beep Beep Beep...

A woman's voice is heard.

Woman: Hey... HEY!  Can someone come in here please?!

... But that's not how life works, is it?  Life isn't always as guaranteed as it could be.  Like Thanos in the Avengers, with one "snap," it can all end for anyone.  And that's exactly what happened to me...

The heart monitor flatlines.


Voices begin to frantically enter the picture, taking their positions to try and save this patient's life.

Doctor: Crash cart... GET THE CRASH CART!

Nurse: Here, sir!

The physician applies the pads to the patient's chest.

Doctor: Alright, is everyone clear?

There is a chorus of "clear's" coming from all in the room as the doctor pushes the button on the AED to activate the shock.  After it doesn't work, the team resumes CPR while awaiting for the machine to be charged again.

Doctor: Alright folks, clear!

Another wave of "clears" rings out, and the AED delivered a shock, convulsing the body, but still keeping the heart monitor  on a flatline.

I layed there for, probably for those in the room, probably what felt like hours.  I wouldn't respond to CPR, I wouldn't respond to the AED, I wouldn't respond to anything.  This whole time, I felt like I was watching it happen.  I don't know if it was real, or if I've just heard people tell me, but I felt "out of body" the whole time.  I remember the beeping.  I remember seeing my wife in tears.  I remember when the doctors were about to give up, my best friend yell, "I dfidn't fucking die on you, you better not die on me."

I remember it as if I saw it.

The last thing I remember was a glance out the window.  A glance into the eyes of someone watching this horrific event through a plate glass window, having wanted to finally come see me after everything we had endured.  And instead of finding me simply in a state of uncertainty, she found me literally dead on arrival.  It was then, things get more blurry.  Things get a little more extraordinary as the last thing I remember is my lifeless body having a hand reach out from inside and pull me back in.  And that's when everything changed...

Nurse: Doctor he's gone...

Doctor: The hell he is... Keep going with CPR... Give him one more dose of Adrenaline... And I'm charging this one more time...

Nurse: Doctor, he...

Doctor: ONE... MORE... DOSE... STAT!

Nurse: Yessir...

The nurse administers the drug and the doctor orders all clear one more time.  The doctor looks down and pushes the AED button to initiate the shock, and after the body convulses, the heart responds.  It is still in a state of arterial fibrulation, but has resumed pumping blood, just abnormally.  The AED is quickly charged again, and shock administered, this time bringing the rhythm of the heart back to normal, and the oxygen machine resuming normal oxygen to the body.

Doctor: He's back... For now at least... Good job everyone...

And at that point, I was alive again.  But for minutes, I was dead.  I wasn't with this planet.  I was off on some other journey through another plane of existence that, yes, did lead toward a light, from what I remember.  It wasn't the stereotype.  It was just a feeling of warmth.  It was the closure of everything.n  I remember looking up, and then back at my lifeless body.  But it was those eyes.  That look on the outside of the glass that told me my time here wasn't done.  The craziest part of it all was that I swear she looked up at me hovering above myself and saw me in both my physical and ghostly self.

Do I know if that really happened, no.  Again, all of this may be something my mind made up when it was devoid of oxygen.  But my simple question is, how did I know she was there, then?

Shortly after the doctors got my heard pumping again, she ran off.  Nobody in the room noticed her, and she wanted it that way.  The only reason she stayed, after seeing my friends and family on the other side of the glass, was because I was dying in front of her eyes, and she felt responsible.  Many in there would have potentially felt the same, and knowing that made her definitely not want to have that situation arise.

Now the big question... What happened?  Why was I there?  How did I get there?  What's gone on in the milenia that has passed between posts?  It's not something I'm going to hype up as a tale to be told.  The past almost year has been one of the most difficult in my life.  Friends... Family... My work life... Everything began to cave in around me as I tried to adjust to the realization that I wasn't happy doing anything.  Everything suffered as I tried to blame one thing after another for my disdain for life, but myself.  It was never my fault.  To this day I don't know if I can say I have fully accepted any responsibility in the matter, or if it's still a work in progress, but what I do know is my path was crossed by someone who made me rethink everything I thought I held true...

After the 2018 ediiton of Rise to Greatness, Jake Starr and Mr. D sat down and talked about the possibility of Jake Starr taking some time away to really focus on life.  Between the battles with his family, his daughter's schooling, professional wrestling, and Tommy's issues, Jake was to the point he needed a break from everything, and time to just get a handle on his life, rather than the many extraneous entities that had rooted themselves in it as well.  It was a conversation both had felt was necessary, and it didn't surprise either side when it was mutually agreed upon.  Mr. D even went as far to let Jake know if he needed help in any way of getting his life in order, SCW's resources would be behind him.

Jake appreciated the gesture more than he thought he would.  He thought he would feel like he was being told he couldn't handle it himself.  But it was a point in Jake's life where he understood that there may come battles he can't fight alone.  He knew that things could creep up, and any and all support would be golden.  It was a mindset where Jake truly realized he couldn't be the "lone wolf" in a battle against the world, and had to turn off being a "Social Misfit," and turn on being a living human on planet Earth.  So it was that night Jake packed his bags, shook the hand of Mr. D and many others in the locker room, and left on his terms, to hopefully begin a healing process for himself, and not for any other reason.

Over much of the initial part of his hiatus, Jake told Roeper he needed a lot of time to think.  He said the only distraction he wanted was their daughter.  He didn't want Thoren, his therapist, Tommy, Shawn, Brandon, or any of the "usual suspects."  He wanted his little girl to have her father and let him have the time he's felt he's lost and also be in a situation where his heart is.

This was one of those days.

Jake decides to take Mara Jade to Adventureland for an afternoon at the amusement park.  After hitting a growth spurt she's anxious to finally ride some of the "big kid" rides she's been eying all of these years.  Jake, not the biggest fan of roller coasters, but closet enabler to those who are, is quick to encourage his daughter to scare the hell out of herself as many times as possible.  Jake, for his part, is a fan of the carnival games, which he knows how to beat, even if rigged.  So while Mara rides, Jake wins her oversized and overpriced stuffed animals for bragging rights.

As Mara stands in line, Jake is playing the milk bottle toss and actually knocking the three bottles down time and time again, even with the carney arranging them where it theoretically should be impossible, or at least highly improbable.  The carney is getting visibly annoyed at Jake continually winning and upgrading his prize.  A woman stands to the side watching Jake, and becoming quite impressed with what he's been able to accomplish.

Autumn: Helluva run there...

Jake Starr: Meh...

Jake walks over to her so as not to be heard by the carney.

Jake Starr: ... He sets one bottle just slightly behind the other two.  Throwing it sidearm gets the angle right to come in from the right trajectory... He also keeps trying to shift it a little further back and when he does so I move about an inch in the direction of the bottle he shifts.  Basically just evens the odds...

Autumn: Huh... Never thought about that!

Jake Starr: I like to win, what can I say.  I typically give half this crap away, anyway.  It's more the thrill of the win, you know?

Autumn: No... I don't... I suck at these.  My son is 3 and he's better at this shit than I am...

Jake Starr: Nah, not my daughter.  She just EXPECTS me to have big stuffies ready for her when she's done riding whatever the hell it is she's riding now.

Autumn: You're not riding with her?

Jake Starr: Nah... Daddy isn't the biggest fan.

Autumn: Oh c'mon... Big guy like you?  Scared of a roller coaster?

Jake Starr: More that someone my size usually doesn't always do well when his feet go above his head.

The woman looks unimpressed.

Autumn: Yet you do a lot of that flippy shit on TV?

Jake realizes he's been recognized, even though usually in Des Moines he's rarely "called out" for who he is.

Jake Starr: Yeah well that flippy shit doesn't make my balls feel like they're then in my throat.

The woman begins to laugh, not expecting the crass response.

The woman's laughter was pure.  A stranger who had just struck up a conversation, knew who I was, and still just felt like she wanted to shoot the shit.  She wasn't a "fan" but she knew who I was.  The best part to me was, she didn't care.  I didn't have to be that amped up persona that I took out in front of fans.  I didn't have to be the guy who was the "leader of the pack" like I did around my enterage.  I don't have to try and be the great husband like I do at home, questioning if I'm even happy there.  Instead, I could just be me.  I could just talk to someone for the sake of talking and carrying on a conversation.  I didn't have to impress.

This was one of those moments for me I didn't expect to have.  I expected to do my normal shtick at Adventureland, and just win shit, give it away, and watch others a lot more happy than I was.  It was a feeling of comfort that I didn't get anywhere.  It was something that felt good, and not even something my therapist would ever suggest.  Hell, I probably wouldn't have ever asked if that would work, you know?  It was a foreign concept.  Fo  once, I just felt like an average Joe again.  There was also something different about this woman.  The way she looked, the way she acted, the way she just talked to me like I was a nobody who somehow learned how to outrig the rigged games, she was special.  At the time, I didn't realize how special, either.


Inside an ill-lit room a man stands in tattered clothes, with his back to the camera.  The one light bulb swinging and illuminating the room occasionally flickers.  The man in view can be seen having a fairly bushy and unkept beard and mustache, and his hair, long, greasy, and keeping with the homeless and dissheveled look of the man.  As the camera gets closer, the man senses it's presence.

Dissheveled Man: Stop...

The camera quits approaching him.

For several months, I've laid dormant.  For nearly a year, I've been a figment of everyone's imagination, including my own.  Why?  Because I've been in a darkness that nobody deserves to be in.  I have walked through the valley in the shadow of death, and I have had the audacity to knock on Death's door.  When he opened it, saw me looking him in the eyes, he asked if it was my turn.  I told him I didn't care.  I told him to tell me himself.  And that was when he shut the door in my face.

So I walked on...

For more months I scoured my own mind and my own demons for answers.  I wanted tranquility.  I wanted peace.  I wanted to be released from the darkness I created for myself.  Nothing worked.  Not... One... Thing... Instead, I fell deeper into darkness and realized that there was only one path for me, and it was back to Death's door, and this time it was my decision.  Again, he slammed the door in my face.  Again, I was denied peace of mind and a relief from the pain I was facing inside and out.  But this time it wasn't without a final message from him... "Come back a third time, I end your journey before you do."

Those were powerful words for an apirition of existence which some may or may not believe in.  The pain that it imparted in me, I will tell you, showed me that it was no joke, and no figment of my imagination.  It was my reality.  So when I woke up from that mistake, I left everything I had created.  I left everything I had worked so hard to build.  I left it all behind because it wasn't what I needed.  What I needed were answers.  I needed to find out who I was, why I was even still alive, and where I went from there.  The days would turn to nights as I would sit alone, the weather taking its toll on my body as I just sat outside letting Mother Nature do her worst.  Why?  Because the me that changed the world, the me that rose from the ashes, the me that had been a mainstay in professional wrestling and in life in general felt dead to me, and I had to figure out who I was now... Because what I saw in the mirror, and what I see now, are shreds of who I was, let alone a human being in general... What I am now, is nothing.  I'm a nobody.  I'm a tired and wasted bag of existence searching for something that he may never find...

Or maybe... Just maybe...

The man turns around, revealing himself to be a very different looking Jake Starr.

Jake Starr: ... Maybe the path I forged by the decisions I made over the past almost year have led me to this moment, where I look you all in the eye once again...

Jake pauses.  A slight smirk crosses his face, mostly obscured by his unshaven self.

... What?  You act like you've seen a ghost.  Arguably what many would say is SCW's "Ghost of Main Events Past."  A man who is just a mockery of what he once was.

And you'd all be right.

I'm not here to tell the world this is the Second Coming of Christ.  I'm not here to act like I've been biding my time.  No.  This isn't about that.  This is about me saying, "fuck it, why not?"  Taking Hold of the Flame is a night where the world can enter for a chance to be greedy.  So why not just goi out there for greed's sake?  Why not just take the opportunity everyone else is taking?  It's something I haven't done.  It won't make or break my legacy.  And ultimately the fact that I'm there will simply make one or two people excited.

Jake breathes and snarls simultaneously.

But I won't lie... I'm not there for a specticle.  I'm not there for nostalgia.  I'm not even there to win.  The fact is I'm not a version of Jake Starr that Vegas would even bother running odds on.  I'm a version of Jake Starr who doesn't even know if he can take a punch, right now.

I mean, look at me... I look like a fucking homeless man from the streets of some small town where they can't even find a way to make it panhandling.  I'm a man who hasn't seen family, friends, or people who I can talk to in months.  I don't fucking care, either.  Nobody knows about this, but me.  And why?  Because every one of them things I'm crazy.  Every one of them thinks I'll relapse.  They'll think I'll be clinically dead for another period of time in my life, and none of them wat to see that.  But here I am, being sucked back into the vortex of this business because of greed, and I don't care.


Because while I say it won't tarnish my legacy, it'll do a lot to make it even more LEGENDARY.  And yeah, greed is playing a role.  Everyone mocked me for being greedy.  Everyone mocked me for being like Greg and demanding title shots.  So fuck it, let's embrace it.  I don't truly stand a snowball's chance in hell of magically appearing and winning like guys like Ace Marshall have, but in the end, I have the same odds.  It's the same 1 in 4,254,221,544,444,878 that everyone has... Or however many entrants Mr. D decides to expand to this year.  And yeah... There are favorites.  There are those who have proven themselves as SCW's elite.  I won't lie... I don't know who it is.  I haven't turned on a TV in ages.  I don't know who is in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, or what number baby Kim Kardashian is on.  All I know is that there is always, and will always be, that upper echelon of SCW talent who ultimately shine through Taking Hold of the Flame.

So I may look like a mess.  I may sound like a mess.  I may have been the guy who, over the past several months tried to rid this world of his own existence, but i know the reality of the situation.  The reality is if you want to be one of the big dogs of SCW, you have to earn it.  You have to put your best foot forward.  For me, I don't know my left from my right.  All I know is one shoe has toes sticking out it.  But I know that this sounds enjoyable, it sounds fun, and it sounds like something that I want to do.  I'm not in it to win it.  If I were to pull off the Miracle on 34th Street, then so be it, but Jake Starr hasn't smiled in almost a year.  Jake Starr has been a man on Death's doorstep, practically BEGGING for entry for the past year.  Jake Starr has been NOTHING for a year, and it's time I figure out who I am.  So why not go to my roots?  Why not test the waters?  Why not go out there and know that I can maybe do something special?

Where's the harm?


There aren't any expectations.  Everyone's going to assume I'm walking in, saying hello, maybe knocking some nobody out ahead of me, and then getting eliminated myself.  So truly, what is there to lose?  I'm in the Hall of Fame.  I've won countless SCW World Championships.  I've done everything I can do but this, so if it happens, then you know what, my career is complete.  If not, I STILL have the one achievement I set out for, and that was to be inducted by Tommy and David.  But the reality is I have no friends in this.  I'm not bringing backup.  I'm not having some secret plan to give me an edge.  Instead, I'm walking out there alone.  I'm walking out there as Jake Starr.  Not the "Social Misfit," not a member of the "Resurgence," not a man trying to restart his career.

Hell, this could be a one-off, let's be blunt...

I'm going out there, though, to simply enjoy myself.  I want to feel the energy from the crowd again.  I want to feel like I'm something bigger than what you see before you.  I want the world to remember who I was and hope for that, when deep down, I know that person doesn't exist.  So I'm ok if this is some run of nostalgia for some.  But for me it's something much bigger.  It's a chance to redefine myself.  To prove to myself that I can overcome adversity.

And sure, that message sounds like everyone elses.  But I'm not talking about the other superstars and being ablw to overcome whatever they throw my way.  Instead it's personal redemption.  It's a chance for me to simply exit the curtain under my own power, doing this just for me, and enjoying the moment as it comes.  It's not about the big Jake Starr "redemption story."  It's about me knowing that I put my family through hell, walked on Death's doorstep, and made the decision FOR ME to not give in.  Taking Hold of the Flame isn't truly about the title match.  It's about me showing myself I've overcome odds that I should have never endured.  It's about me showing I can make the worst decisions in my life and walk out and instead of letting them haunt me, I overcome them.

It's not about a title... It's about taking control of my life!

You see, for once, I walk into Taking Hold of the Flame with a new mindset.  A new outlook on life.  It's not about wins a losses, titles or no titles, history or no history.  It's about what I have inside to give to myself.  Yeah, when I say I've never been selfish, people in SCW would laugh and mock me.  But the fact is, the only time I was selfish, I ended up having to have a difibrulator used on me to jump start my heart.  Tangible shit like title shorts isn't greed.  It's achievement.  People want achievement to feel vindicated for their work.  For me, just knowing my music will play, and I will walk out of that curtain, that's my vinidication.

Jake strokes his bushy beard, and sighs.

And for all of you in this match, don't you, for one FUCKING second, expect the same, old, Jake Starr, either.  Why?  Because I don't even know who that guy is anymore.  He died on a table in a hospital in Des Moines.  Who I am now, I'm a fucking mortal.  I'm not this immortal entity that can't be beat.  But I'm also not some Joe Shmoe you get to walk all over.  Yeah, my mindset is different.  Yeah, I'm not at the pinnacle of my career, but I'm STILL Jake Starr.  I'm still a man who disappoints people in their times of triumph.  I'm still the same physical being that has surprised the world.

Do I expect to again?

Meh... Probably not...

But in the flesh THAT IS WHO I AM!

So I'm not going to call people out.  I'm not going to mention names.  I'm simply going to say that Taking Hold of the Flame makes a momunemtal point in my LIFE.  Not because of what I think will be the end result.  But because I'm even there to begin with.  Face it... Over the past year, a lot of people have wondered what happened to Jake Starr.  Let me tell you, the story isn't pretty.  The story isn't graceful.  It's not something I'm proud about.  The fact, though, is, it's still my story.  And the fact that I stand here today, no matter how I look, what physical condition I'm in, no matter how much of the proverbial "ring rust" I have in my system, I am walking out there aiming to beat some asses and turn some heads.  If I win, GREAT!  Bring on Rise to Greatness!  If I lose, who knows.  I haven't thought that far ahead, and I'm not going to.

Not because I'd be bitter...

Not because I'd be upset....

Taking Hold of the Flame isn't a "benchmark" for me.  It's a moment for me to do something for me, and be happy just enjoying life, for once.  It's not a dream... It's not a legacy... It's not history... It's Jake Starr reminding SCW that he is alive and kicking, and if ANYONE ever doubts that he would ever be JUST THAT, they've made the biggest mistake of their lives.


Because I've made that mistake, you asshats, and I can promise that is ONE you will NEVER see me make again!


Fast forward a couple of months and the story continues to evolve.  This woman and I have been crossing paths at almost every turn.  It didn't matter whether it was at a store, at an event, the Farmer's Market, you name it we were both there.  We both made the jokes of the other stalking, but we both knew better and knew this was just complete coincidence.  It got to a point where we finally formally introduced ourselves to one another, and decided that we would swap contact information, and what started as harmless banter about food and inane bullshit blossomed into a friendship that neither of us really expected.

Now, this story may sound familiar.  It may sound like that same formula that led to my daughter's teacher and I creating a friendship, and honestly, it's pretty damn close.  The difference with this one is I didn't feel a need to "save" or "protect" her.  This woman wasn't involved in any drama where we had to deal with that on top of everything else.  She was just... Different.

For me it was a breath of fresh air.  It was someone new in my life who wasn't after me, my family, my money, my fame, anything.  It was someone who finally just could look at me and have a conversation with me and it literally turn into anything.  It was also something I thought nothing much of.  We were both married with kids, and we literally were relative strangers still to one another.  We just happened to cross paths enough times where we figured we might as well get to know one another and see what kept making our paths cross.  And that's what we did.  We chatted more and more.  We got to know one another better and better.  Hell, it was to the point she refered to me as her best friend, and she was referred to as one of my best friends as well.

It was a friendship that escalated from nothing to something in 0.5 seconds.

Initially it was innocent.  Initially there was nothing there but a friendship between two people.  The problem was, the more we got to talking, the more personal the talks got.  The more I entrusted her with the realities of the difficulties I was going through. The more I confided in her instead of those close to me.  I was constantly on my phone texting her, meeting up with her around town to talk, and did everything I could to find time to just see her and spend time with her.  It wasn't just on my end, either.  She was doing the same.  We couldn't refute the emotional attachment we both had for each other, and anyone who knew us, they could tell, too.  It made home life for both of us quite difficult.

Roeper walks into the living room where Jake is sitting on the couch, phone in hand, and a grin on his face.

Roeper Hart: Let me guess... Texting Autumn...

Jake looks up.

Jake Starr: Yeah she's complaining about her day.

Roeper Hart: Why doesn't she complain to her husband?

Jake Starr: Like I've said... He scsres the living shit out of her and he doesn't give a shit about her feelings.  So she reaches out to someone who actually doesn't treat her like a waste of space.

Roeper Hart: Yeah, and you realize you're still MY HUSBAND, right?

Jake Starr: Yes, and am I not allowed to have friends?  I mean for fuck's sake, I get it, the whole "other woman" thing again...

Roeper Hart: Jake, I'm not talking about Pepper.  I get you two are close, and I get that you two are always going to be.  I get that you protect her from her past.  You have that "knight in shining armor" complex you can't ever get over.  This girl, she's different.  You act different when you talk about her, talk to her, whatever.

Jake is annoyed and defensive.

Jake Starr: What do you even mean, huh?

Roeper Hart: It means it's painfully obvious to me you have feelings for this woman.  So just be blunt with me, Jake, because I'm tired of playing these games, are you in love with her?

Jake freezes, being called out on something he had truly never thought about.  He could tell he had feelings, but the mentioning of the "L-word" brings a new curveball into the mix.

Roeper Hart: ... Because that's what it feels like.  I've dealt with women like Rachel, like your stalker, fuck, like Pepper, but NONE have had me feeling so cast aside like Autumn does.  NONE of them have made me worry about our family like she does.  So just be honest with me, Jake... Do you have feelings for her?

Jake doesn't even think before speaking.

Jake Starr: You know what, yeah.  Yeah I do.  Why?  Because I feel like I matter.  It's about me in life.  It's not about how I'm supposed to act, what I am supposed to be, or anything of the sorts.  It's Jake Starr getting to be Jake Starr.  Do I want to run away and elope, no, but is there something there where I feel like I have someone who actually GETS me to talk to, there is something there.  Should I?  Probably not.  But the fact is I do.  And the truth is you know how it goes, too.  I know you've had people who you've developed feelings for simply because you can talk to them...

Roeper Hart: Like who, Jake?

Jake Starr: Oh, I don't know... Tyler, maybe?

Roeper freezes, not realizing Jake knows about one of the few people she talks to that she thought she had hidden.  Tyler is a long time friend and former lover of hers that has recently resurfaced in her life to be a "listening ear" and friend to her.

Roeper Hart: H... How do you know about Tyler?

Jake Starr: You left his text wide open one day on the table.

Roeper Hart: And you went through it, let me guess?

Jake Starr: Honestly... No... I didn't!

The fact was she had set her phone down one day before locking it and I saw his name appear.  I didn't grab the phone but I could make out a couple of messages, and it was obvious she was confiding in him.  This argument, it was waged for days.  Back and forth we would fight about who was doing the more nefarious thing.  It was a stalemate until the moment where it wasn't... The moment when I found out he was a frequent guest at my house when I wasn't there.  It was when I found out he had tried to get physical, but according to her, she always refused.

Truth is, we were both guilty.  But I didn't see it that way at the time.  I saw me as the victim.  I hadn't brought anyone into our house, and possibly defied the sanctity of our home.  I hadn't brought my daughter into my messes and transgressions because she didn't deserve to have that weighing on her as well.  And it all began to haunt me, day-in and day out.  I'd not sleep, I'd not eat, I quit caring.  Everything began to close in around me.  I felt the world crumbling.  I felt the reasons for my existence fading... And I just couldn't handle it anymore...

Roeper walks into the house after buying groceries to an uncomfortable silence.  She calls out for Jake's name and gets nothing.  She was expecting help with carrying in groceries, as she and Brandon figuratively bought half the store.  When he doesn't respond she does think about the possibility that he's taking a nap, but something doesn't feel right.  She begins to walk down the hallway, and as she sees Jake's office door closed with a bedsheet wrapped around the handle and looping over the top, she knows something bad is happening.

Roeper Hart: BRANDON!!!

The shreik is one Brandon knows is not good and he drops the groceries on the ground outside and sprints in.  As he enters he sees Roeper pushing the door open, being pushed back on by the dead weight of Jake's lifeless body.  Brandon immediately shoves Roeper out of the way and slams his way in.

Upon entering, the sight is as grim as expected, as Jake's face is blue, and as they untie the bedsheet, his body falls to the floor.

Brandon Evans: OH MY GOD, JAKE! Call 9-1-1... NOW!

Roeper's shock makes her stand there frozen, looking at Jake, possibly dead right in front of her.

Brandon Evans: ROEPER!  NOW!

Roeper snaps out enough to call 9-1-1, hysterical and in tears.  After what seems like an eternity, paramedics arrive on the scene and immediately begin applying CPR to Jake.  The team gets him onto a stretcher, and as he's being rolled out one of the EMS members hops on, straddling Jake, to continue applying CPR and not giving up.  They are unsure of how much time his brain and body have been devoid of oxygen, but they are not willing to give in that he's gone, yet.  Just prior to getting to the hospital, the EMS personnel are able to shock Jake's heart back into pumping, and have administered a breathing tube to begin the process of breathing for him as well.

And like I said, here we are.  Me... Clinically dead for a period of time all because of my feelings toward the women in my life.  Me hovering above my own body, and seeing her standing there, then running away feeling responsible for my own selfishness and stupidity, it hurt.  It killed me inside, obviously, to know she felt responsible for my own actions.  It also told me that my battle wasn't over.


She didn't have to show up.  She didn't have to come check on me.  She didn't have to risk being ridiculed and blamed.  But she did.  She did it selflessly for me.  She did it because she cared, and it wasn't something I wasn't going to let her not have closure to.  She wasn't going to go through life believing she caused me to do something so dire.  She deserved to know the truth.  She deserved to know that she wasn't responsible.  I had to find a way to communicate that to her.  So when that hand reached out from my heart, no matter how real or imagined it was, I knew I had to grab it and live to fight another day.

I also knew that it meant there would be a lot of difficult conversations and times ahead.  But no matter what warmth lay behind me in that moment, no matter what words I heard from the angels above, and my brother before me, it wasn't my time or place to make that decision on my own.  If it was my time, someone else had to make it.  If I had a choice, I'd reach out and grab that hand and figure out why I'm even given the choice.

I made a dire mistake...

I have to live and reap the consequences I sew...

I chose to fight on...
For years I walked this Earth not caring who thought what about me.  All I cared about was caring for myself and others.  If others wanted to step up and care for me, I brushed them away.  Why?  Because I felt below most individuals.  It may come as a surprse to those who know me deeply, but was never as conceited as the persona I put forth.  I just didn't know how to accept the caring of others as something that was natural and not faked in any way.  I also know that mentality is full of flaws and weaknesses.  I know that there are those who legitimately care about othere and their feelings but I never could figure out why ANY of them would feel that same compassion for me...

Let alone two of them...

When my selfishness got the better of me, there were two people who knew that their feelings for me mattered both in my eyes and in theirs.  They may have not agreed on the fact that they both felt as they did, but nevertheless, when it came to the living and well-being of me, they did their best to put it behind them, as I understand.  The reason I say this is because something happened after I was revived.  Something transpired that led both of these individuals to confront one another and address the matters at hand, in this case, me.

I won't lie when I say the details from as I understand it are sketchy, but it seems as if my wife reached out to the woman I saw, and who saw me, and wanted to meet with her.  The reasoning, I don't know.  Neither have opened up to me on it.  Neither have broken whatever agreement they made to one another.  But the fact is they met.  The two that mattered in my life came face to face.  They met on the decision of my wife, as I understand it.  It's a detail I still find quite difficult to believe in full, but everyone who has explained this situation to me has corroborated it, so it's what Ihave to go on.  Nevertheless, when I came to and realized they had talked, my heart raced, my level of fear rose to new heights, but at that point, there was nothing I could do about it...

It is a warm, Spring, day in Des Moines and the woman at the center of the strife between Jake Starr and his wife Roeper, Autumn Ross, sits alone outside one of the local Starbucks.  She's obviously very uneasy, looking around and trying to sip her beverage without shaking too much.  She's not a fan of confrontation, and typically does everything in her power to avoid it.  Unfortunately, in this situation, it is one she knows she must face head on, and accept whatever comes her way.

As she sits and waits, a woman walks into the establishment, orders herself a coffee, and immediately walks back outside.  She begins to scan the tables, and upon seeing Autumn alone, begins to approach her with pace.  Autumn, back to the woman is unaware she is being approached.

Roeper Hart: I'm going to assume you're Autumn...

Autumn gasps, closes her eyes briefly and then stands up.  As she turns around, for the first time ever, she and Roeper Hart look one another in the eye.  Before everything went down with Jake ending up in the hospital, Jake had told Autumn about his feelings for her, and that Roeper was aware of them.  She had, in turn, professed her feelings for him as well, but was also adamant about not being to ruin Jake's life because of how she felt.

Autumn Ross: I... I am... I presume you're Roeper?

Roeper Hart: Yes... Shall we sit?

Autumn Ross: Um... Sure...

Roeper takes a deep breath.

Roeper Hart: Listen... I'm not here to attack you, berate you, or tell you that you're a bad person.  I'm here because of Jake.  As I'm sure you're aware he knew you were there that day he coded?

Autumn's eyes widen.

Autumn Ross: How?  I didn't even come in the room.

Roeper Hart: That's a spiritual thing with Jake that I don't quite understand, either.  But the fact is, he says he saw you, and he saw you run off crying.

Autumn is almost creeped out, with Jake knowing exactly what she did.

Roeper Hart: ... And the fact is he wants to see you.  He wants to talk to you.  But I told him before he got to talk to you, I wanted to talk to you first.

Autumn Ross: But why?  Why would you want anything to do with me?

Roeper Hart: Because of this simple reason... I love him, and I want him happy.  I've sat around these past however many months seeing him legitimately happy when he's talking to you.  He's not uptight, and hell, he's even been nicer to me.  Yeah, when he told me he had feelings for you, it was a bit of punch to the gut.  But I also know he was honest about it with me.  He was honest enough to admit you make him happy, too.  And as much as I want to follow blind jealousy and say to stay away from him, I know that would do me more harm than good, and he'd distance from me...

Autumn Ross: How do you know that?  How do you know he wouldn't go along with it?  I'm a nobody.  Our history is short compared to the two of you.

Roeper Hart: It may be, but right now you're in his life for a reason.  Do I want this to blossom into romance, no.  But I also don't want to see him feeling guilty that you caused this.

-i -But I was a key figure...

Roeper Hart: No, Autumn.  Jake has been spiraling for years.  He's been facing more demons than anyone has known about, and it culminated in what he did to himself.  You had nothing to do with it.  As much as I don't have the highest opinion of you and my husband having feelings for one another, I'm realistic enough to know you didn't cause this.  This was something he held off on doing far longer than I think any of us who love him can imagine.  He still made this choice himself.  Whatever made him do it wasn't anyone's fault but his own.  He let everything build until he couldn't fight back anymore.

He let his demons win.

For years he put on the persona of Jake Starr to try and push them to the back burner, and you know what, he did a good job of it.  He fooled me, he fooled his best friends, he fooled us all.  Then reality sank in, and he gave up on himself.  And yeah, like you, I take part of that blame, even though it's hypocritical of me to say...

Autumn Ross: How are you even remotely to blame?  How is it not completely on me?  Had I not talked to Jake at Adventureland we would have never met, and never gotten to this point...

Roeper Hart: Because you're not a demon to him. Regardless of your relationship, whether anything has happened or will happen, it's irrelevant.  He was never letting the emotion of you or his feelings for you get over him and beat him down.  He was always smiling.  Am I jealous, you're goddamn right I am,.  But do I also want him happy?  Yes!  So that's why I asked to meet with you.  You made him happy.  Do I want him to leave me for you, fuck no.  But do I realize you are a mainstay in his life regardless of how I feel, yes.  Why?  Because you centered him.  He didn't think about any fucking drama when he talked to you.  He was relaxed.  I can't even tell you how many years it's been since I've seen him like that.

Autumn Ross: Maybe he is finally just getting used to being a normal person instead of a celebrity?

Roeper Hart: Maybe... But the fact is, Autumn, you're the first person in a long time not to ask for an autograph, try and slip him your number, try and hit on him, try and do whatever.  You and Jake became close naturally.  You didn't develop feelings for the celebrity or the aura of "The Social Misfit," you met the man I met.  And I get why he's alluring and I get why he's attractive.  But right now my goal is to get him to a place where HE is happy.  Not me, not you, not anyone but him.  That's how much I love him.  And honestly, as much as I hate to say this, I think that's how much you love him, too.

Roeper begins to get emotional.

Roeper Hart: I'm sorry... Watching the man I love die on me, and have to be brought back to life at the last possible second made me realize, yeah, this was his doing, but we all should have seen it coming.  We weren't responsible for his actions, but we should have been there to protect him.  And now's our chance.  Every, single, one of us.  We all have a responsibility to HIM to help him through this.

Autumn has tears slowly rolling down each of her cheeks.

Autumn Ross: So what do you expect me to do then?  I feel like I put him there...

Roeper's tears increase as well.

Roeper Hart: He wants to see you more than anyone...

Autumn Ross: Why me?  Seriously, why me?

Roeper Hart: He saw you... He said you saw him... I don't know what that means, but he won't stop repeating it over, and over, and over again...

Autumn Ross: Do you realize how uncomfortable I'd be seeing him?

Roeper Hart: You wouldn't have an audience... You wouldn't have a time limit... Whatever you two need to discuss, you need to discuss...

Autumn Ross: I woudln't know what to say to him...

Roeper Hart: I can promise he doesn't know what to say either.  You're an enigma to him.  You're special.  I can't pull rank and try and put pressure on that bond you two have created.  If I did...

Roeper gets choked up.

Roeper Hart: ... If I did I'd be no better than anyone who says they care about someone and then tries to hurt them ina nother manner by controlling them.  Jake needs to make a lot of decisions for himself.  I can't make them for him.  You can't make them for him.  But what we can all do is fucking be there and support him, and show him he isn't fighting alone anymore.  I mean, do you realize how miserable he is, strapped to his bed?  He can't hug his own daughter.  Until he is stable again, he can't even hug his own fucking daughter.  Not me, her.  Why?  Because he lost a battle we didn't help him fight.  So we all have to show him we are there.  For fuck's sake... I don't know how you became this perfect to him, and I don't fucking care right now.  I just want him to be able to hold his daughter again.  I want his daughter to start forgetting about her father's corpse being risen from the dead and remember the dad who took her to Adventureland that day.  I can't do it all...

Autumn's tears become heavier and heavier.  She still feel sthe responsibility of Jake's actions, but also realizes that, from one woman to another, from one woman who loves this man to smeone her equal, she doesn't want to see Jake fall down the same path again.  She knows there are a lot of questions and answers they need to have with one another, and she wants Jake better as much as anyone.

It's all of that, right there, that makes you wonder what happiness truly is.  Is it something as easy as a puzzle geared for a toddler, or is it something more complex, like a 3D puzzle that pisses more people off than it does make them feel satisfaction?  But the question is, were they right?  Could they have helped me prevent this?  Were there warning signs I was putting out, letting them know I was leading myself down a path that would make me say, fuck life?

I think even more important than that... Why should it be their responsibility to "help" or "save" someone like me?  I know I am the furthest thing from a model citizen.  I am a creep.  I'm a shitty person.  I've had my transgressions, but yet there are people who are willing to put those transgressions behind them to say, "we need to fight beside him?"  I don't know how to comprehend it.  I don't know how to feel about it.  Why?  Because my whole life has been spent playing that role for others. I've been the guy who has supported others and been able to read them, and know when they needed someone by their side.  I've never needed someone by mine.  But yet... People think I do.  And for once, I realize they're right.  I realize I can't fight my own demons alone.  I can't fight my own unhappiness alone.  I need the power of others to supplement my own.

I just can't do it...


The cameras begin rolling on a much different scene than the last.  This time, there is no dimly lit room.  This time there is no dissheveled man.  This time there is only one Jake Starr walking into the door of the training facility he has called home for his entire wrestling career.  Jake's demeanor and look is much different.  He is more clean shaven.  He looks like he's actually had a bath and put on clean clothes.  He looks healthy.  It's a stark contrast to the man who looked like a shell of the man who is seen now.

As he walks in the front desk area is empty.  Jake begins to look around, seeing the pictures on the wall of himself and others who have come out of that training center.  He approaches one, a picture of him with his head shaven, his mustache and goatee trimmed, and the persona of Justin Halesz written all over the attitude in his face.  Jake knows the camera is there and without prompting or hesitation, he begins to speak.

Jake Starr: You know... I remember this night.  It wasn't a title fight, it wasn't even a match with any title implications, but it was a night I will never forget.  Why?  It was the night where I realized how much I was unhappy pretending to be something I wasn't.  Now, in this picture what you'll see is Justin Halesz beating the fuck out of X-Terminator in a grudge match that was years in the making.  It was a grudge match that originally started with X-Terminator and me as Bobby Denton, but then gradually built over the years until I finally just went out there and said, "fuck it."

That was that night.

I won.  I got the victory.  I won the feud.  I did everything I was out to accomplish.  But I wasn't happy.  I wasn't happy not being me.  Not going out there and just being genuine with everyone.  Sure, I can play a role.  I can be put in a persona to try and "get over," but inside, inside they all were a waste of my time and effort.  I don't care what I won as Thrawn, Justin Halesz, Bobby Denton, or any of the other names and personas I was given.  None meant much more than a short moment of happiness followed by a continual disgust that I was having to play a role, and not be myself.  All of it became one giant demon inside for me to constantly have to live with, even to this day.  Why?  Because, look around us, there are pictures of me in many different get-ups and personas, but very, very, few of them are of me as Jake Starr.  Very few of them are me as me.

Jake hangs the picture back on the wall.

... And I know I could go into a fit of rage about it all, but seriously what does that prove?  What does it get me?  More anger?  More frustration?  These pictures aren't here to do that.  Shit the owner of this place does it to honor me, and while it bothers me that there's less of "Jake Starr" versus others, I appreciate what he's going for and I can't say it doesn't mean something to me on the whole.

But that picture was the night I realized I needed to quit playing games and start being myself and making me happy.  The problem was, I didn't, and probably still, don't know how to make myself happy.  When Jake Starr jumped from fed to fed and had so many black marks after his name, it was necaise I was still playing a role.  I was still playing this idea of me being this social outcast that fit in nowhere in life, where truthfully, inside that ring I fit in better than most in the world.  This idea I had that I would always be this "Social Misift" became my crutch.  It became what I would say when I would piss people off.  It was never, "blame the guy who ran his mouth," it was "blame society, blame others."  For a long while I had success, too.  But that success just kept making me always go back to the well, and try it all over again.  I would recycle catchphrases, I would recycle threats, I would just repeat myself until I was blue in the face.  It was all I knew to do in order to win...

Many tried to get in my head.  Many tried to tell me that I needed to "evolve."  I never even made an effort to do so.  I never TRIED to evolve.  I would claim I did by tweaking some minor aspect of my game that, in the end, didn't matter worth a flip when it came to winners and losers.  I was still the same guy.  And honestly, to this day, I probably am still 95-99 percent that same guy, too...

Jake starts walking to the back of the facility.  They come to the door where behind holds the wrestling portion of the gym.   As Jake enters, a few lights are on, what looks to be a converted basketball court with a wrestling ring in the middle, and as he walks in, the lights turn on one by one, illuminating his path to the ring.

As Jake gets closer to the ring, and the lights illuminate more and more of the training facility, it is quickly seen that Jake isn't alone.  Instead, standing inside the ring are all of the people who have ever impacted Jake's life and been members of his inner circle.  From his parents, to his family, to the many members of the Social Misfits over time,. to even Pepper and Autumn, they all stand there, leaning over the ropes and looking down at Jake as he turns back toward the camera.

... And while many people tried, individually, and failed, it took an army to finally make me sit down and listen.  It wasn't an intervention.  It wasn't a moment where I felt compelled to run.  No, for once I felt like everyone who had seen me FUCKING DIE in front of them, were there to stand by me and tell me that it was time to simply listen to what they had to say.  And they didn't opt to do it when I couldn't move.  They didn't make me listen when I was shackled to a bed because they could guarantee I wouldn't run away or ignore them.  No... They waited until I was out of the hospital.  They all told me they wanted to talk as a group individually.  They didn't want me blindsided.  They wanted me to be so scared straight from what I had just done that maybe, just maybe I would listen to them as a whole...

Jake makes eye contact with all behind him inside the ring, and nods.

... And they were right!

Their message, it was clear from the start.  It wasn't, "oh Jake, you need help."  That was too fucking obvious.  No... They all said it was time for me to be selfish in a way that wasn't a detriment to my health, but instead a positive.  They all said that for years I've been spending my time trying to play the role of Superman to everyone, and it was time Superman got to take a fucking break and do what he wanted to do.  They said it was time for Superman to have some fun in his life.  They said it was time for me to just quit trying to be this person fitting into whatever mold my own mind made up, or I was told to fit into, and just be whoever I was born to be.  And yeah, sure, that makes me unique.  It makes me one of a kind.  It makes me, and here I give everyone a chance to throw shade, yes, a Social Misfit.  But in the end, it just makes me one of the billions of people in this world who are all Social Misifts in their own right.  But they wanted me to remember, to learn, and to enjoy being myself for once in my life.

Which is why I am here now.  It's why I am entering myself into the Taking Hold of the Flame battle royal.  It's why I have the support of every, single, person behind me supporting me on this quest as well.  They're not questioning my motives.  They're not telling me I'm insane.  They're not telling me I'm wrong and I should push the business out of my life.  When they sat me down they told me I needed to do something for myself.  You all saw me.  You saw the state I was in.  It wasn't me.  It wasn't Jake Starr the MAN.  It was a complete farce of who I have ever been.  And their words, their encouragement, all of it reminded me that sometimes in life you need to go out there and you need to fight for what you believe in and what you want.

And what do I want?


Jake's cheeky grin, a mainstay in who has defined Jake Starr appears.

... I kind of want to main event Rise to Greatness!

Now, I know what you're saying.  i know you're saying, "oh here goes Jake, wanting a title match, yadda yadda yadda."  You're thinking, "oh what else is new, he wants to be the center of attention."  And to that I say, "and your point?!"

See folks, you're going to always hear the same people talking about why this match matters, and what storylines it can further, but for me, this is a moment where I get to just go out there, do my thing, and if I win, YAY!  Do I want to win, FUCK YES!  Am I guaranteeing it by saying I'm a Phoenix, or this is my last hoorah, or this is my comeback, FUCK NO!  I'm walking out there purely for the sake of saying, someone created a match where I can have a title shot and, ultimately, I take as little damage getting there as possible.  So why the fuck not try?  Shit, Greg did it for how many years, and he finally won it?  Apparently that strategy works.  The difference here is, if I don't win, maybe I call it the end of the road.  Maybe I don't.  I don't have a plan and there are no threats either way.  I'm walking out there to have fun, to feel the energy of the fans when the "Sound of Madness" begins to echo and they go, "OMG HE'S ALIVE!"

The irony of that thought will be that since they saw me last I did technically die...

And yes, I'm about the only one here who will make comedy out of trying to kill myself, but I digress...

The fact is I am walking into Taking Hold of the Flame about as blind as they come, and I love it.  I don't know who the champions of SCW are.  I don't know who has entered.  I have been so isolated from everything, I don't know who is even in the battle royal.  So in essence, I have to prepare for everyone.  I have to prepare for ANYONE.  I have to be as surprised that they arrived as they are that I will, and I am OK with that.  Why?  Because too many times I have gone into this battle royal with too much on my mind.  I have overanalyzed the competition.  I have overanalyzed and had to come up with reasons why I was the front runner for the victor.  This year, I just don't care that much.  Whoever shows up, I'll fight.  Whoever doesn't show up, I won't even pay no mind to.

And most importantly, whoever is the World Champion come the end of the night will be who sees Jake Starr at Rise to Greatness!

Seriously, you people think that I am not going to TRY and win?  Yeah, I get it, I'm "Captain Ring Rust," and I'm the guy who was truly last seen losing at Rise to Greatness, so why would this be any different?  You may be right.  You could be so on the ball that I applaud you when all is said and done, but the fact is I am coming in there to do the unthinkable and that is be gone for God knows how long, and win.  I'm going in there to be fucking GREEDY and take something for my own enjoyment that others may not necessarily approve of.

Jake throws his arms to the side.

And I'm not ashamed to admit it!

In the end what do I have to lose, huh?  I look around me right now and all I see is SUPPORT.  This isn't "wrestling" support.  They're not going to come make the numbers game in my favor, and help me win.  They are people who love me and want me to simply be happy, and if that means being a little greedy bastard and trying to get a freebie World Title shot, then so be it!  If I come back empty handed, you know what...

Jake gets close to the camera.

They'll all be right here waiting!

That's the thing... I have everything I've ever wanted right here behind me.  I'm a Hall of Famer in SCW, and that was something I never thought would happen.  I've won every title I could win, and I did that before anyone else in SCW.  I've held titles in two organizations at once.  I've done a lot in my wrestling career, and ultimately, to these people behind me, none of it matters.  Taking Hold of the Flame doesn't matter.  What matters is simple... I walk out there, and I walk back proud.  I have to be proud in what I do, whether is stereotypically point at a sign, or come up short like I have in every other Taking Hold of the Flame I have ever entered.  They simply want me proud.

Jake takes a deep breath, calming himself before wrapping up.

And I'll tell you that right there means more than winning.  It means I've already won.  It means I've already achieved what I wanted to achieve.  It means that those I care about most are ALREADY proud of me.  And that means that I am already walking in playing on house money.  If I had something to prove, someone to prove it to, or some reason to prove it to myself, I'd say so.  I have nothing to prove.  SCW bestowed that honor on me when they gave me a ring and a "title" that I can't lose.  They told me I had proven it all.  But it took everyone behind me, and my own selfish stupidity to understand it and believe it.  That night I walk in a new man.  I walk in, for the first time ever, as Jake Starr.  I walk in as myself, my true self, and my only self.  I don't fit a mold.  I don't fit a storyline.  I fit the only mold I should have tried to fit into, and that is my own.  Because when the dust settles, win or lose, Jake Starr's name goes on the tongues of the masses once again.

People will remember me...

People will see me...

People will fear me...

And Rise to Greatness will CALL me!

I'm back, bitches!


... Admitting I needed help was the biggest struggle I faced for the longest time during this ascension from my rock bottom.  I'm me.  I'm Superman.  I don't need help, I am the help.  I helped a friend through an abusive relationship, I helped my daughter through a lot of bullying in school, hell I helped my best friend through his own suicide attempt, and subsequent patching of a relationship with my nephew.

I never needed the help.

They needed the help.

And I was always there for them.  But now it was my turn to truly accept the help, appreciate the help, and ultimately embrace it as well.  If I couldn't, I was destined to crawl right back in the hole I was trying to escape, or worse, lose my grip crawling out, and fully fall back in head first.  So when I finally awoke from my, oh hell let's just call it my little nap, to find so much support in the room with me, ready to fight by my side and not chastize, blame, or question me, was encouraging to see.

The only thing missing was her...

Yeah, I can't lie and say that her not being there when I woke up was kind of heartbreaking.  But I also didn't know what was to come and that we would have our moment to talk.  And it was a conversation that we both needed to have, and watched to have.  I think we wanted to have it on different terms.  I mean, seriously, who wanted to discuss how they feel about someone when they're literally shackled to a bed frame, and not in some "50 Shades" kind of situation.  I was stuck being shackled to my best with minimal freedoms from them until my psychiatrist deemed me mentally stable.  But even with the restraints, even with the limited mobility, I was able to have a moment that truly, I don't think I'll ever forget...

Inside the hospital room of, a now conscious but still medicated and shackled to the bed, Jake Starr, he slowly begins to wake up from one of his many naps a day.  The TV is still on from when he dozed off, and is now on some random show that Jake was not watching initially.  Jake begins to pat the bed, looking for the remote and when he can't find it by simply feeling, he turns his head and looks down by his restrained hand.

As Jake looks down his eye immediately catches something in his peripheral vision, a pair of legs sitting in the chair in the corner.  Jake has been used to people coming and going, so it's not the most surprising thing for him to see, but as his vision clears up, he notices it's not one of his usual guests, but the first-time appearance of Autumn, herself.  Jake blinks his eyes hard, not believing what he's seeing.  When he realizes he's not dreaming or medicated, he's able to utter words.  His voice is scratchy from the breathing tube they had him on while unconscious, but still audible for her to hear.

Jake Starr: You... You came back...

Autumn looks a bit confused.

Autumn Ross: What do you mean?

Jake Starr: I saw you when I coded... Clear as day, I saw you...

Autumn Ross: You may have heard about a woman outside who saw it, but you and I both know you didn't see me, Jake...

Jake Starr: You ran off crying.  You were terrified.  You felt responsible... I could see it, and I could feel it.  And I swear you looked right up at me before you ran off...

As Autumn sits there she remembers a point where she did look up toward the flourescent light in the room, and it seemed to go super bright for a split second.  She remembers it adding to her worry for Jake, and contributing to her panic attack.

Autumn Ross: The light, Jake... It just flashed at me... It probably was when they shocked you, and it effected the electricity in the room.  It just added to the panic, Jake.  We both know this.

Jake realizes what he believes and what she believes may not ever line up because of the difficulty in believing what he said, and that's fine with him.  He's more happy that she's there.

Jake Starr: Well... Regardless, you're here.  And I've hoped that you would come and see me.

Autumn Ross: I've wanted to see you more than anything.  I figured I was the last person you'd want to see, though.  I mean, I put you through a lot of this.  I'm the one who pushed...

Jake is quick to interrupt.

Jake Starr: Autumn... Stop... Only one person is responsible here and it's me.  If you were responsible, you'd be equally as restrained and locked up like a prisoner  The fact is, it's my own damn fault.

Autumn Ross: It feels like mine, Jake...I came into your life, and I've done nothing but cause you problems at home.

Jake Starr: I'm pretty sure it goes both ways, dear...

Autumn sighs.

Jake Starr: ... Why are you here if you feel responsible?  You coming to apologize?  Beg me to forgive you?  What?  Why come if you feel I'm going to have such negativity toward you?

Autumn Ross: I... Because...

She sighs.

Jake Starr: Autumn... Talk to me dear...

A tear falls down the cheek of Autumn's face.

Autumn Ross: I've wanted to be by your side since this happened.  I've wanted to be right here waiting for you to get better and wake up, even if I felt it was my fault.  I've wanted to hold your hand, tell you I'm here for you, and you're stuck with me.  I don't know how you feel but, the fact is, I wanted to be by your side through all of this and even if you hated me after, always be there if you needed or wanted me to be.  You mean the world to me, and when Roeper contacted me, I...

Again Jake interrupts.

Jake Starr: She contacted you?  Why?

The tears begin to fall more.

Autumn Ross: Because she said she could tell I made you happy... And... She wanted... She wanted me to come and talk to you and see you by myself, when nobody else would be around.  She wanted me and you to figure us out.

Jake Starr: She wanted you to come see me?  Why?  That doesn't make sense...

Autumn Ross: She loves you, and yeah, I'm not going to lie, I love you, too.  You're literally the only person I've ever been able to open up to.  She says she seems the emotion in your eyes as well.  And like I said, I don't know how you feel about me, but I want to be in your life and have you in mine.  If I can't have you, I still want you in my life.  I haven't been as happy, or as confident in myself since I met you.  You bring out a side in me I want to let out more.  But I also respect your feelings, and...

Jake, as he has done multiple times, cuts her off.

Jake Starr: I love you, too...

Autumn freezes.

Autumn Ross: What did you say?

Jake Starr: I said I love you, too...

Autumn Ross: Jake, I get that what I'm saying is a lot, but you don't have to say something to make me happy and...

Jake Starr: Listen to me... I love you, too.  I don't know why.  I don't know how.  I don't know what it means for the future.  But there was a fucking reason I saw you, and nobody else did.  There was a reason I NEEDED to know you were there.  When I woke up you were the first I looked for after I looked for Mara.

Autumn Ross: I call bullshit...

Jake Starr: Then fucking call bullshit.  This room was packed.  I saw everyone, but knew I didn't see you.  I knew the last thing I could remember was you in tears running, and knowing you felt responsible.  You're the one I've needed to talk to more than anyone because I've felt your feelings like I know you've felt mine.  I also know we're both in positions where life wouldn't be the easiest for either of us if we just pursued everything at once.  My guess is that's what Roeper felt, too.  She could tell that you and I have to figure out what there is or isn't.

Autumn Ross: And if there is something?

Jake Starr: Then I guess we figure out what we are doing from there.  But right now, I can't really get on a knee and proposse for multiple reasons.

Jake holds his shackled hands up, and shrugs.  This gets a small giggle out of Autumn.

Jake Starr: ... But Roeper isn't stupid.  She knows something is there.  She also knows coming at it like a bat out of hell will make me run another direction faster than a tornado in Kansas.  She knows I have to figure my own shit out.  Hell, how do you really think I ended up here?  Hell WHY do you think I ended up here?  I thought I was taking the right way out to finally shut all the voices, all the demons, all the negativity out of my life.  But then I remembered one bright spot.  I remembered one shining light to show me life isn't just darkness.  And that light gave me hope.  Yeah, I watched it run away, but it being there, seeing me flash at her, I suppose, and me knowing she was right there all along, was the hope I needed to fight on.

And I won't lie... It sucks because it puts pressure on you.  It puts you in a situaion where you feel like you have to "save" me.  You don't have to do anything but be in my life.  A wise woman said it best, like a couple of minutes ago, you're stuck with me...

Autumn reaches out and grabs Jake's hand.

Jake Starr: ... What comes of this, neither of us know.  And honestly today isn't the day to figure it out...

Jake's sarcasm comes out.

Jake Starr: ... Mainly because I'm liable to fall asleep on you.

Autumn chuckles.

Autumn Ross: I won't lie, you're kind of cute when you sleep and snore.

Jake rolls his eyes.

Jake Starr: Yeah, thanks babe...

Autumn takes another sigh.

Autumn Ross: So what now?  What is the next step?

Jake Starr: First and foremost, I want my friend back. Yeah, we love one another.  Yeah, we may have a road to travel together in the future, which will require some serious thought and tough decisions on each of our parts.  But the fact is, I just want that friend, that BEST friend, there to be by my side while I figure out why I did what I did.  Why did I think killing myself was right?  I know, now, it wasn't, but what was it that made me so hurt inside and so weak that I took that route?  It's a question I have to answer on my own, but for once, I can't fight this alone.  I need ALL the help I can get.  And honestly, that means EVERYONE fighting beside me.  But without you, that's a big puzzle piece missing.  That's a big cog in the wheel that makes the entire machine not work.

Autumn smiles as another tear rolls down her face.

Autumn Ross: You're... Stuck... With... Me...

Jake takes a deep breath before a tear also begins to roll down his cheek, and Autumn finally stands, walking to his bedside, and reaching down to embrace Jake.  Jake's restraints keep him from being able to hug back, and his hands sit on her waist.  She whispers in his ear, again, "I love you," to which Jake replies with a response only fitting of someone who always believes in having the last word, "I love you more."

... "You're stuck with me" is a phrase that will forever be etched in my soul.  Something nobody has ever told me.  I've seen wedding vows in my day, and I have also seen reiterations of love from a spouse.  But never has someoine promised that they were never going to exit my life, and always be there in some form or fasion.  I've never had that reassurance.

But she was willing to give it to me.

Like I said, where everything goes from here is up in the air.  I have a lot I have to figure out about myself.  I have a lot to figure out about what drove me to such selfish decisions.  It wasn't anyone else's fault, it was mine.  Anytime someone tries to off themselves, it's a personal decision.  My best friend made it and everyday I questioned his motives and felt responsible.  Now, I know he did it because it was the only way he felt he could escape the pain.  I also realize it was the dumbest decision I ever made.  Why?  Not JUST because it is never the right answer, but because I realize, now, it'd hurt others more than I ever hurt.  It'd make people feel like I did when he tried.  Ultimately, it'd make me the bad guy in a situation where my demons are the bad guys, and I was simply a victim of their attacks.

So what's next?

Where do I go from here?

Well for one, I don't fight alone.  This isn't me needing someone by my side in a professional or personal setting.  It's me willing to ask for help with I need it.  It's me being willing to accept the help of others.  I'm not perfect and I have a lot to figure out.  I'm not giving up.  I'm not backing down.  I've never let a fight beat me, but  that track record almost went to shit because I gave up on myself.  Now... Now I re-energize that faith, and simply take it a day at a time.  It's time to stolp trying to solve the World's problems everyday, and simply worry about what crosses my path instead.

One day at a time...

Take hold of it... One day at a time...

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