Title: The Ballad of Jimmy Dufresne, Chapter 3: The Duality of Man
Featuring: Ned Reform
Date: Various
Location: Various

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

January 10, 2015
The Greatest Bar
Boston, Massachusetts
11:32 PM

The multicolor lights swirl throughout the packed bar. People aren’t quite shoulder to shoulder, but it’s damn close. The venue is full of mostly younger people: taking shots, dancing, laughing. On the stage, a twenty year-old clean shaven Pat Cassidy is singing his heart out at karaoke (how he got in this place is none of your business, thank you very much). And at the bar, in a circle of people who are waiting for ten green-colored shots to be poured, is the guest of honor: Melinda Gaughn. A woman in her early twenties with long black hair and an infectious smile. 

Melinda, with that very smile on her face, takes her shot and holds it into the air. The group of nine people around her do the same, and the group of friends clink the tiny glasses together before the green liquid of unknown origin goes down the hatch.

That’s when, at the main entrance, appears Jimmy Dufresne. After showing the guy at the door his identification, he walks into the bar, scanning the room. It’s all familiar faces - this is largely a party made of his co-workers at Grill 23 - but Jimmy is looking for one person in particular: Melinda, the hostess at that establishment, for whom this going away party exists.

Melinda is just recovering from her shudder-inducing drink when she spots Jimmy. Her face lights up in a smile as she charges forward, wrapping her arms around him and nearly jumping into his arms. Dufresne responds with a shaky smile before putting her down.

“You’re finally here!” Melinda says with a wide smile.

“Yeah,” he says. “Hey - can we talk outside for a minute?”

Melina looks confused, but agrees.

Just as Pat Cassidy hits the high note in “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” Dufresne and Melinda duck out into a back alley. They move away from a rather loud crowd of people smoking cigarettes, finding relative quiet near a dumpster. 

“What’s up?” Her alcohol-induced smile is still strong.

“I’ve been thinking. You’re going away in a couple days.”

Melinda’s face sinks. “Come on. We’re all having fun. Don’t talk about that. Come do a shot with me!”

“No,” he says. “We haven’t really talked about it… because to be honest, I’ve been trying to pretend it isn’t happening.” This is difficult for him to say.

Melinda, now looking sympathetic, puts a hand on his shoulder.

“I had an idea,” he continues. “What if…”

He swallows, working up the courage to offer: “What if I came with you?”

This takes a moment to register with Melinda. She removes her hand from his shoulder, blinking a few times and struggling to find a way to respond to that.

“I… I’m going to Yale, Jim. You can’t just… come. You’re not a student. They won’t let you.”

“Well, yeah… I don’t mean that I would attend the school. Who says we can’t get an apartment? There’s restaurants in New Haven, I could easily find a job. You’re riding on scholarships so school costs aren’t an issue, and there’s no reason I couldn’t make enough for…”

As Jimmy is speaking, Melinda’s eyes aren’t looking at him, but are instead tracking back and forth - as if she’s thinking of a response. Jimmy picks up on this and stops talking, squinting at her in anticipation. 

“Jimmy…” then she trails off, but she doesn’t have to finish. Her look and tone say it all.

“Got it,” Jimmy interrupts gruffly. “Stupid idea, right? Sorry. Forget I said anything.”

He moves away from her, his tone and face going cold. He turns to leave and she puts a hand on his shoulder.

“Jimmy, wait! It’s not that I don’t want you to come…”

His eyes narrow. “Then what is it?”

“It’s just… this is all so sudden, you know? I haven’t been up down there yet. I need to settle in, find my way, get established…”

“Ah. Got it. You can’t get in good with the geniuses of the world if your restaurant-manager-loser boyfriend is hanging around. Wouldn’t want them knowing you associate with common working losers, right? Bad for the image.”

“That’s not what I mean,” she says defensively. 

“Yes, it is. You know you think of this as a step up for you. An upgrade. And yeah, it is… I just didn’t realize you saw it as an upgrade from me, too.” He pulls away from her touch.

“That’s not fair!”

Dufresne seems about to say something, but he stops himself. Suppresses the growing darkness from inside him. There’s a million things he could say to that, all of them rooted in anger, frustration, resentment, sadness, jealousy, insecurity, and rage. Instead, he opts for a cold and indifferent response.

“I don’t give a shit. Have a good life.”

As tears begin to run down her face, Jimmy Dufresne storms away, leaving Melinda alone in the dimly lit alley.

March 31, 2023
Unknown Location
1:25 PM

The mid-day sun streams through white blinders, illuminating the various dust particles swirling in the air. We’re in an academic office with the usual props: overflowing bookshelves, credentials hung on the wall, big desk, and comfy couch. This is the couch on which we find Ned Reform, hands folded behind his head as he stares at the sky. 

“I guess this is the logical conclusion,” he says to the other person in the room. “I suppose my journey was always going to end up here.”

The person he is speaking to says nothing. Only the tick of the clock - presumably keeping track of this session.

Yes - Ned Reform is in therapy.

“Three years ago I entered the professional wrestling business. In that time, I’ve journeyed from SHOOT Project, to DEFIANCE, and now to PRIME. And all along the way, I had one singular goal: I wanted to leave this industry in better shape than I found it. I wanted to be a guide for those lost souls, those rejects, those misfits that propagate the sport.”

There is none of his usual vocabulary flexing. No arrogance. He sounds like… dare I say… a real person.

“And if I look back on these three years, can I say I was successful? Have I changed things for the better? Left a lasting impact? Other than poor Levi, have I really changed anyone’s trajectory?”

He sighs.

“If I’m honest with myself… I suppose I have to say no.”

March 24, 2023
Freeman Coliseum
San Antonio, TX
11:59 PM

The Freeman Coliseum sits silently - the ballyhoo and bustle of ReVival 25 has faded. The seats remain empty, but the PRIME banners and equipment is still out and the house lights are still on - and there is a singular figure standing in the middle of the ring, microphone in hand. At his feet, the remnants of the globe that he broke over Abe Lipschitz’s skull mere hours ago. 

Ned Reform. Still dressed in his wrestling attire.

“Hello,” he says into the mic to… nobody.

“I’ve asked the production staff to leave the microphones and cameras on, as well as the ring crew to delay breaking down the canvas. I have some recent developments to interrogate, and as usual wrestling crowds are full of charlatans, ingrates, and dullards… an empty arena appears to be the only way to ensure my voice is heard. I will be speaking to empty seats, but at least I won’t be speaking to a group of mindless drones staring at their phones, yes?”

Reform clicks his teeth and looks directly into the camera.

“I’m sure many of you will condemn my actions toward Mr. Lipschitz. Frankly, I am apathetic to your feelings on that particular matter. But while I have no interest in justifying my actions to people who couldn’t lace my intellectual boots, I did want to offer an explanation. Tonight, you see, was a landmark moment in my career. Tonight marked a drastic shift in my pedagogical approach to professional wrestling.”

His brow furrows.

“Dr. Ned Reform… has given up.”

January 12, 2015
Pat Cassidy and Jimmy Dufresne’s Apartment 
Boston, Massachusetts 
2:23 AM

It had been so long since Jimmy had an episode. Since childhood, it had been a constant battle with himself: getting angry, blacking out, and returning to lucidness to find out he had done something stupid at best and terrible at worst. It had cost him so much as a youth: a relationship with his parents, completing secondary education after he punched his principal in the face, and any chance at long-term romantic involvement. 

He had worked so hard to get a handle on these “episodes” as an adult, but he had found a way. He managed to hold down several jobs. He was promoted. He communicated well with staff. He had friends. And even a semi-stable sorta kinda maybe relationship. 

But tonight, Melinda (whether she intended to or not) had broken him. The visions wouldn’t stop running through his head: Melinda dating a fellow Yale student. His pearly white smile. His condescending laugh. The sweater tied around his shoulders. They go to fancy parties. He speaks with elegance and poise and she stares at him with loving doe eyes. Earlier tonight, Melinda hadn’t said it out loud, but she had nonetheless communicated one simple message.

You’re not good enough for me.

And for the first time in years, he succumbed to the monster inside him. He made it home, but after that: darkness. Next time he becomes cognizant, he is curled up in his bed and listening to the sound of his own breath, not daring to step out into the living room to see the aftermath of his episode.

But he does hear the door slowly creek open. His roommate’s voice… and the voice of a young woman of unknown origin.

“Woah!” the woman says. “Have you been robbed!?”

A beat. Sounds like Pat slightly stumbles over something.

“No.” When he speaks, it's with the unmistakable cadence of someone who has been drinking. “No, I don’t think so. I think this was my roommate.”

“What? What’s wrong with him?”

Silence. For an uncomfortable amount of time.

“Well,” she finally interrupts the quiet, “should you go talk to him?”

Another beat.

“No,” Pat says. “I think he needs to be alone. Come on.”

Cassidy and the mystery woman navigate what is likely a mess, and then Cassidy’s bedroom door slams shut.

And Jimmy Dufresne begins to cry.

August 24, 2022
Salt Lake City
Maverik Center
DEFtv 174

Ned Reform:
Oh yes, that’s right, children. Patrick and I have known each other for a very long time. Haven’t we, Mr. Cassidy? And I’m happy to report that he’s always been an ill-tempered, uncouth, smartmouthed thug with zero self control who thinks he can skate by in life with a smile and a joke. Nothing changes, you see.

Pat Cassidy:
That’s funny, Doc. Cause I was just going to tell the people how you’ve never stopped being an annoying, attention-starved, insecure little prick who needs to put others down to prop his sorry ass up.  How’s the dating life, Doc? I bet you’re beating ‘em off with a stick.

March 31, 2023
Unknown Location
1:32 PM

Reform, still on the couch, continues to stare at the overhead fan.

“I suppose ‘given up’ is misleading language,” he says. “I am not leaving the world of professional wrestling. I’m not even leaving PRIME. But I have had a revelation, Doctor. A light-bulb moment, if you will. It is no longer my job to help people.”

He sighs.

“I know that sounds counterproductive to the mission statement of an educator. But I’ve come to realize you can only help someone who doesn’t want your help so much. For all my victories, wrestling continues to be populated by people who lack critical thinking.”

“I think, Doctor, it is time to focus on me.”

March 25, 2023
Freeman Coliseum
San Antonio, TX
12:02 AM

“That’s right, children: I am done with you. I am done being the magnanimous, giving, paragon of brilliance I have been. I am no longer your guiding light: I am going to leave you to stumble in the dark like the primitive cavepeople you are.”

Reform moves forward, leaning over the top rope, but still looking directly ahead.

“My sole focus from henceforth is going to my professional career. I will forsake you all in the name of the resume of Dr. Ned Reform. I will win championships, I will defeat the top names in the sport, I will crush all those who dare oppose me, and I will then use my newfound glory and power to shape this entire industry in my image.”

A sinister smile.

“And there is not a thing anyone can do to stop me.”

March 31, 2023
Unknown Location
1:36 PM

“I see my fatal mistake now, Doctor. You see, for all my attempts to guide people to a greater sense of self, I lack the credentials. Oh sure, I am a titan in the world of academia, but I lack similar pedigree in the field of professional wrestling. I’ve never been a world champion, Doctor. This is why the uninitiated of the world will continue to listen to the Lindsay Troys, the Brandon Youngbloods, the Conor Fuses… even the REZIN’S of the world over me. They have been, at one point or another, benchmarks in this world. Until I reach similar levels of success, I cannot hope to reach anyone, no matter how powerful my rhetoric.”

March 24, 2023
Freeman Coliseum
San Antonio, TX
12:06 AM

A single finger pointed into the lens.

“I will bend this entire sport to my will. And I will start with the Culture Shock Battle Royal. It’s fitting that this is my first match with this new professional philosophy, as I will, in a sense, defeat the entire PRIME roster. Then I make headlines by humiliating an ignoramus posing as a “tech genius.” Then I take my rightful place as Universal Champion. What began with Abe Lipschitz will continue with all of PRIME until there is one man left standing: Dr. Ned Reform, the very height of this industry, ready to guide it into the future. I will go down as the greatest professional wrestler of all time, and all of you will have NO CHOICE but to follow my lead!!”

Ned’s eyes are ready to bug out of his head.

“I don’t care who is in this battle royal!! I don’t care what ‘surprises’ that fraud Lindsay Troy has up her sleeve!! If Lipschitz is foolish enough to enter, I will again thrash him until he cannot stand!!  You people have NEVER seen a singularly focused and 100% ambitious Dr. Reform, and you are ALL going to see exactly what I can do in that ring!! THE ENTIRE ROSTER WILL BE MY STEPPING STONE!!!”

He calms himself. Goes cold. Calm.

“And even though I’m finished trying to teach you, this shall nonetheless be a lesson that none of you shall ever forget.” 

March 31, 2023
Unknown Location
1:45 PM

“I really think this is the best course of action, Doctor. Both for my career and personal life. A whole new me, and I see this leading to greater heights of success. Don’t you agree?”

Reform sits up on the couch. Smiles. He stands up and walks over to the therapist's desk. He sits in the chair, folds his arms together, and leans forward on the desk. His face breaks out into a sinister grin.

“I concur wholeheartedly.”

March 28, 2023
Grove Street Cemetery
New Haven, Connteituct
6:34 PM

Ned Reform, wearing a winter jacket and scarf, stands over a grave as the wind whips past him. The sun has just set and the orange glow of dusk has not left the sky. The trees around the grave have not yet grown back their leaves from the winter, giving this particular cemetery a somewhat spooky aesthetic. 

Reform hangs his head, his eyes swollen. He sniffles as he looks down at the grave in front of him.

Our Dearest Angel
Never Forgotten
Melinda Gaughn
August 12, 1992 - October 17, 2017

And Jimmy Dufresne begins to cry.


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