The following is an excerpt from Nathaniel G. Moore’s forthcoming novel Savage 1986-2011. The story tracks Nate’s idyllic teen years in the 1980s to his disorganized and funereal twenties to his hopeful thirties, chronicling the middle-class implosion of his family, bracketed by July 1986 – when Nate first saw Randy “Macho Man” Savage in person – and the wrestler’s death in May 2011.
FRIDAY NOVEMBER 26TH, 1992
“Oh, right, I forgot.” Steve Spice said, shuffling papers at his desk. At Rogers I had asked my supervisor if he could tape the WWF’s Survivor Series event which was airing on Pay-Per-View.
“He didn’t tape it,” I said on the phone to Andrew.
“Oh, well, call me later or something,” Andrew said and hung up.
I was shocked that morning, walking up to Steve Spice, a bit of trepidation, nervous to get the tape. Giddy even.
I had been looking forward to watching the event all week. Getting the courage to ask my supervisor to tape it had been a big deal; this omission to tape it was just cruel, humiliating and awkward.
I’d bragged to Andrew about watching the event at work and in a note had tried to lure him into watching the event with me on the hopes that Randy Savage’s replacement tag team partner might be a surprise return of Hulk Hogan. Of course, that turned out to be a rumour I had conjured in my own mind, perhaps only for a day or so, when it was finally announced at the last minute that Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig was Savage’s new tag team partner, replacing the suspended Ultimate Warrior.
Now at home, the early evening was filled with my usual near-silent bedroom activity. I was cuing up tapes on my VCR. Just before dinner Mom and I visited Grammy at the hospital. She was barely holding on in her giant bed. They told me to take the video camera out of the hospital. I filmed my mother in the elevator, she scowled and waved her hand in front of it. Then seconds of Grammy’s hand and a bit of her cheek behind the steel bars of her hospital bed.
Grammy’s small body, tangled with tubes and monitoring systems replaced the humorous vigor I had known her to possess while playing piano, frolicking in the park when they’d feed the geese. Grammy would call them “dirty birds”.
Mom’s voice snapped down the stairs from the kitchen.
“Nate, it’s for you,” she said. “I think it’s your supervisor from Rogers.”
Scraps of bright neon material had covered my bedroom floor for days. I put off vacuuming for days, and opted instead, to pick things up manually, at my leisure.
“Just a sec,” I said, lifting the phone. My head was a haze of neon glows, of frayed hope and determination, obsession drove me as I cut jaggedly this nightmarish outfit, a poor man’s version of Randy Savage’s hyperbolic ring jacket, cowboy fringe and glitter.
“It’s Steve Spice, can you meet me tomorrow at 10am instead of 8am, the shoot time’s
“Yeah that’s no problem.” I said.
“OK great, see you tomorrow.”
I gazed down at the remnants of my tailoring project. The fluorescent routine had consumed me for the last two months. A late Halloween costume that would never fully materialized in public; its assembly ate up countless solo hours, including trips to fabric and hardware stores.
Once I had the long segments pinned in position along the inner arm, I had my mother sew things into place, turning a once simple jean jacket into a bright laughing stock.
Each arm had six eighteen-inch strands that fell to the ground to create a curtain of colours. With glitter paint I wrote the words “MACHO MAN” on the back, added some glitter and covered a garage sale cowboy hat in orange spray paint. Wearing the hat and jacket, I turned on my video camera and stood in the southeast corner of my bedroom.
I cued up Sir Edward Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance on my cassette player, did a dramatic twirl in my low-lit bedroom and pointed my finger at the camera. In a soft growl of a voice, one that tried to conceal my intent to my buzzing family who hovered, newspapered and dish-washed above me, I laid out a challenge to Andrew; to face him one on one, somewhere down the road.
It was the usual spiel I’d send him in letters or live talks:
“The Mega-Powers will explode oh yeah Andrew I’m gonna getcha! You’re in the
danger zone, oooohhh yeeeaaahhh! Eleven years is a long time brother, yeah, the Mega-Powers, the irresistible force meets the immovable object, we will finish the score!”
I raced towards the camera; fraying neon streaked at my arms. I was slightly winded in frenzy, trying to hit the pause button, the neon strips drooping from my arms and got tangled in my armpits of my insane coat.
I shook them free.
Peering into the camera’s view-piece I relived recent history: “Andrew, you are in the danger zone—”
The eerie taunt clip would appear at the end of a 30-minute VHS that featured road hockey clips mixed with wrestling audio, a few minutes of George Harrison’s “All Those Years Ago”, and the pivotal chorus in Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. There were also clips of George Michael’s “Monkey” and even original audio dubs of Andrew and I from 1986, play-wrestling in the basement.
NATE: “I’m Macho Man Roddy Piper!”
ANDREW: “Macho Man Roddy Piper?”
NATE: “I’m Macho Man and Roddy Piper, put together…”
ANDREW: “Put together as one…there are people dying…” Andrew sang, channeling his best recollection of We Are The World.
The editing I was proudest of however, was the final shot of Andrew walking to his car some six months earlier, shot from my front porch, with me in the foreground, watching Andrew leave while I began to clean up the hockey net and other clutter. To me it all looked unbelievably real. As the shot’s trajectory played out, an interview clip from a 1987 George Michael interview was dubbed in: It was an incredibly intense four years, you know um and I think I lost maybe some of my uh, perspective during that time I became uh, very negative about a lot of things which I should have been very grateful for I think I got back that kind of perspective. Also I’ve had time to remember myself as an individual again as appose to being part of what was called a phenomenon. And I worked very hard to create that phenomenon, but um, having created it, it did kind of run away. And its taken me a while to see where I want to go and what I want to do with the rest of my life. But I’m happy now, I’m very happy than I’ve been in probably four or five years and I think I’m very balanced at the Moment.
I showed Mom the clip and she scoffed, “Balanced? Good one,” she said. I had asked her to watch that particular segment, not fully explaining the context of what I believed to be an epic film. After weeks of editing, re-editing and culling references that only Andrew and I would know, I prepared his package.
“DEATH OF THE MEGA POWERS: 1987-1992” was etched across the load label in a fat green marker, wrapped in hardware flyer newsprint. I slipped the VHS anonymously in between Andrew’s front door.
One of the last clips was Andrew and I in low-fi resolution racing their remote control cars on the street with jagged lightening beckoning the night. Andrew had left because of the pending rain, but I remained outside, filming the lightening from the safety of the garage.
I peddled home, my bike a seamless tool along Broadway Avenue, then Brentcliffe, traversing the slackening rain-wet pavement, my heart pounding, feeling lost, defeated, souring and slithering in the neighbourhood’s hostile groves.
The next morning I awoke to the usual bronchial rustle, pending call from Holly and scramble of groceries being separated from their plastic cocoons. A blanket of fresh snow that guarded my basement bedroom windows was now in decay by an impromptu shower.
“It’s raining, where’s Sadie?” My mother asked. I shook my head in silence, still groggy, emerging from my sub terrain. “Maybe she went to the store.”
I continued my groggy stomp to the main floor bathroom.
The phone rang.
“When?” My mother said with a stern tone, slightly doubtful sounding. I was in the bathroom, but my ear was listening with acuity to the tone of Mom’s voice. It was super early, no one called us this early.
“Well, thank you, yes, we’ll call later on then,” she said, hanging up on whomever.
I brushed my teeth. When I stopped running the taps, I could hear my mother sobbing, and Dad’s distinct treble bouncing in every few seconds.
Her nasal ignition turned on and began its familiar gunning sound, water works, bright red.
“Just now, I have to phone Unc,” she said.
I washed my hands and walked into the hallway.
“Grammy died this morning,” Mom said, her steps slow, her eyes watering, breathing hard.
“Just about an hour ago.”
A growing abject itinerary seemed to follow, which I found curious. My stomach ached with each commandment Dad began to unleash. I got a drink of water from the kitchen, trying to drown out my father’s current rant in the process.
“I better call your sister too,” my mother said.
I was amazed by my father’s insinuation: Once he found out about the death and that the cadaver was cold, he went into funeral planning mode, as if his mother-in-law’s death was a scenario drawn from the night school course material he had been reviewing. Dad repeated himself, insisting that I be one of the pallbearers at the funeral, which by all accounts seemed to be scheduled for Wednesday.
“Hell no!” I said. “I’m not carrying my dead grandmother’s coffin!”
“What did you say?” Dad asked.
“That I don’t want to be a pallbearer, it’s too weird.” I turned the tap on fiercely, watching the stream blast the mustard and ketchup from the plate.
“You have to or else we have to pay someone.” Dad said.
I poked my head into the living room. Dad raised his eyes to catch my face.
“Then pay someone.”
“If he doesn’t want to he doesn’t have to,” Mom said. “There’s still time to think about it, all right?”
Dad huffed deeply, huffing and coughing on the couch in obvious distress and agitation.
“You don’t deserve to go to the funeral,” Dad snickered.
“Fuck you.” I said. “You’re not even related to her.”
“Just calm down,” my Mom said.
I ran to my room, pulled my bed across my door frame and got dressed for school. I felt tears in my eyes, swelling. And a clamp along my throat. I didn’t know why I was crying, whether it was anger or fear or sadness or everything swirling in a threaded heap of brutal annoyance lodging itself miserably in my throat. I turned my electric heater off, closed my window and turned off the stereo.
I drew a sketch of my father’s severed head boiling in a big translucent witch pot then a caption: “LOOK SON, IMAGINE I DIDN’T GET A JOB AT A FUNERAL HOME BUT AT AN ICE CREAM PLANT. THEN I’D BE LECTURING YOU ON HOW TO EAT ICE CREAM, TELLING YOU THE RATE AT WHICH IT MELTS, THE TYPE OF CAKE TO SERVE WITH IT, HOVERING OVER YOU AS YOU ENJOYED DESERT. BUT I WORK AT A FUNERAL HOME NOW AND KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE DEAD AND SO EVERYONE IN THIS HOUSE MUST OBIDE BY MY CENSUS CANADA INSIGHT, REMEMBER WHEN I FILLED OUT THOSE FORMS FOR US WITHOUT ASKING YOU GUYS ANYTHING? SAME DEAL.”
I HIT REC ON MY camcorder and in a retro outfit a little tight and binding from my fall 1987 collection, recorded the following video diary entry in fuzzy low lit headshot, interview style: “This year no one is going to stop Nate Savage no way no how, dig it yeah! Death by Squash? Hell no, I will squash squash Andrew! It took three of you to destroy me, you Scott and Alex may be best buddies now, driving around eating sandwiches at all hours of the night talking squash hog wash while I sit here waiting for a title shot yeah! Well go to the woods of your world Andrew Beverly yeah, and take your buddy Alex with you and slice open his heart and let him slice open yours, and you shall see there will be no blood flow, because from black hearts no blood can flow! Dig it?”
“Nate, your inserts are here!” My mother bellowed from the kitchen.
I was always suspicious how the inserts and ads came the day before and the main paper arrive at 5 in the morning on Sunday. Assembly usually took close to an hour, and depending on the weather, I would line my shopping cart with a garbage bag to prevent the newspapers from getting soaked.
In the morning I clutched my duvet, bunching it up towards me until the cold segments began to warm against my chest. I could hear my parent’s jaws opening, speaking some mysterious words, words slackened in coffee and toast as they prepared for breakfast then church. I took refuge in this crack in time; inhabiting the morning sun, listening to them work in the house with tread and routine.
On these early morning paper route missions that spanned sixteen blocks (four west of my house) that I would pass Andrew’s house, imagining him asleep then waking up, eating breakfast and then being filled with the desire to call me, see what I was doing for the rest of the day. Maybe a movie, maybe a game of street hockey. I sometimes left Andrew a note on his car windshield, and would follow this gesture up with a phone call. Late in the afternoon that Sunday, I found Andrew at home, apathetic over the phone. I squirmed on my end, unable to speak, then suddenly, need to say anything, the simplest arrangements of words.
“I just wanted to hang out,” I said.
“What’s with the note, it’s like you’re acting like I broke up with you or something,”
“No, it’s just,” I said. “It’s just –”
“There were tear marks on it!” Andrew laughed, a scalded brief laugh, followed by a
“No, it was the rain,” I said, now more nervous than excited.
“Didn’t rain today,” Andrew said.
“How’d you know it was like seven in the morning.”
To read more about Savage 1986-2011 please visit the novel’s website here.