Title: Darkness
Featuring: Arthur Pleasant
Date: 5/19/2022
Location: Exam Room # 1

 

“People pay for what they do, and, still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it simply: by the lives they lead.” 

- James Baldwin

 

While others may define darkness as the absence of light, I find myself defining it as the presence of an old friend. In fact, for decades, it had been my only friend.

When I lived in Alaska, during that shitty chapter from my life known as “childhood”— under what many know to be the phenomenon called “The Midnight Sun”— I would often plead for my friend to show itself. Imagine, for a moment, what it was like to endure an entire summer of endless light. It’s inexplicable, though if I had a gun to my head I’d simply describe it as “brutal”. Maybe even a veritable hell no one could possibly imagine unless they too experienced it first hand. 

These days? Boy did I ever need my friend. 

Sitting on the examination table with an augmented sense of anxiety eroding the lining of my stomach worse than the dollar menu at any fast food restaurant, the head of DEFIANCE Medical herself, Dr. Iris Davine, flashes a pen light in my eyes. Searching for dilated pupils, Doc expresses some concern.

“They’re a little non-reactive, Arthur. You might have a concussion.” 

Motherfucker.

A wave of nausea wafts over me and it isn’t from the concussion. Though, it very well could be.

“Non-reactive? To what, exactly?” I say, half-rhetorically, knowing that, in conjunction with the pen light, they were looking for my pupils to react to light. Typical concussion protocol as I’ve been through it time and time before. Yet somehow, this time felt… different.

Doc sighs as she has me move my eyes and follow her fingers in every direction: side to side, up and down, to the edges of my peripheral vision, and even diagonally. She has me do everything with her finger save for pulling it.

“Fuck, Doc.” I say, angrily. “Should I be worried?”

“You should always be worried when it comes to concussions.” she admonishes, ”The brain, as much as modern medicine can understand it, is still, for the most part, a mystery to us all. You really should’ve taken care of yourself for… how long have you been wrestling?” she pivots, suddenly taking an interest in my background as a pro-wrestler.

I had to think about it for a moment as I honestly can’t remember. It hurts too much to even think let alone crawl into the banks of my own latticed memory. Not a particularly good sign if I’ve ever seen one.

“I’m not sure. I want to say seven years. Well, four in the good ole U-S-of-A. The former years over in Japan. Something like that.” I said, almost sheepishly as I couldn’t hide my sporadic memory loss from Doc any longer.

“How long have these lapses in memory been happening, Arthur?“ shes asks me with a light, delicate tone. The sudden shift into a tip-toeing display of bedside manner instantly worries me.

I heave a big, labored sigh. The irony of it is I can’t  remember how long my memory lapses have been happening.

“Not too long. About a few days.”

Liar, liar, pants on fire.

“Mhm. A few days, huh? Okay, Arthur.” she says, immediately picking up on my lie as my facial expressions continue to betray me much in the same way they always have.

“Alright. So maybe more than a few days, Doc. Again, should I be worried? And if so, how much? What are we talking about here, exactly?”

Doc doesn’t say anything for several moments as she looks at the image from my recent CT scan.

“Arthur, I think we need to start discussing some options here. Because I don’t like the looks of this.” Doc says as she points to a dark spot on the black and white image. 

“What the fuck is that?! Are you saying what I think you’re saying, Doc?!” I yell with utter panic stuck in my throat like a sharp and uneven pill that's been lodged after an attempted dry swallow.

“It looks like you may have a tumor.”

”A…t-tumor.” I reply with fear in my eyes and voice.

Neither of us say anything for what feels like an eternity until Doc speaks up first.

“They’re going to need to go in, most likely.”

“You mean operate?”

Motherfucker.

“I’m gonna have brain surgery?!” I say, with the amount of panic I’ve been experiencing rising higher each and every second I sit on the crinkly protective sheet.

“Yes. Well, most likely. I’m not a neurologist or brain surgeon but I’ve seen this in patients before. There are three takeaways from this, though. One, it’s in a good place, as far as possible tumors go, and it looks like it can be removed. BUT, we need to send it out for a biopsy A-S-A-P. Oh and you haven’t had any seizures have you?” she asks without hesitation.

Holy shit. I can’t even remember if I’ve had a seizure. What the fuck is happening to me?!

“No fucking clue, Doc.”

“I see.” she says, pausing to write some things down on the two-inch white space beneath the CT scan’s image.

“Get some rest, Arthur. I’ll give you the number to a good neurologist. He’s the best. He’s over in Birmingham, Alabama. I think he’s the best option you have at the moment, to be honest.”

We both go silent again, but this time I’m the one who decides to break it.

“When can I compete again, Doc? Level with me here. Give it to me fucking straight.”

Doc says nothing but looks at me with eyes that tell a very sad story.

Mother...fucker.

 



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