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Got Blood? 

Mike Woods and Dayion Pruitt are good friends who share a common goal: To become famous by beating the crap out of each other.

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Which makes it that much harder for Woods. He's got to take pain to another level. And it shows.

"He's been hit in the head too many times," Pruitt says.

"By you," Christa shoots back. Woods is inside Wal-Mart buying the clamp. The fight is supposed to start in 10 minutes.

"I don't aim for the head," Pruitt says. "He walks into that shit."

...

The Corolla nearly passes the driveway, which loops behind a bungalow in Forest Park that looks like the other bungalows in Forest Park. Pruitt and Woods get out and look around. They must determine where in the yard to fight.

Inside, Tim and his girlfriend sit in Tim's parents' basement, waiting on the wrestlers to knock. The walls of the basement and the ceiling are painted black. A camouflage spread covers both couches. On one side of the room, two flesh-eating fish circle each other in a dim tank. On the other, a kitten bats at caged crickets. Three television sets sit silent in a wall-sized entertainment center. Tim rolls a joint. The stereo plays Tchaikovsky.

"Tchaikovsky," his girlfriend says.

"Jack-offsky?" He grins.

Pruitt raps on the door and enters, followed by Christa and Mike Woods. The CD player changes discs, from The Nutcracker to heavy metal rockers Slipknot. Pruitt and Tim talk music. Woods ignores them. He waves away a joint passed to him. He's intent on fixing his mask.

He has three others he can wear, but he considers this one -- white latex with black horns and black mesh -- the prettiest. He's using the binding clamp he just bought at Wal-Mart to refasten the elastic band that holds the mask to his head.

Tim's brother Chris walks into the basement with a friend. Another friend will arrive later, in a white pickup, and Mike Stone, a promoter and the founder of Shrapnel Films, will show up with the video camera. A bigger crowd was assembled four days earlier, when the match was originally scheduled. But Pruitt didn't show, and the whole crowd has not returned. Pruitt would only say that "some shit came up."

That was Saturday. Tim's parents seemed uninterested in the fight scheduled in their backyard, although one of the older men in the crowd brought a waiver for the wrestlers to sign. It stated that if they got badly hurt, or killed, they wouldn't sue the homeowners.

Today, Wednesday, the arrangement is more chill.

"My parents said if one of you gets killed, we're gonna have to bury you in the backyard," Tim says to Woods.

Woods keeps working on the mask.

...

By the time the match approaches, it is getting cold in the shade. A shadow covers most of Tim's backyard. A gravel driveway forms a donut around a wooden shed and a sign that says: "Don't spin out in the driveway. MFRS." Beyond the gravel is a pit of wood chips surrounded by thick pine trees.

Woods walks the few yards from the basement to the Corolla and starts unloading the trunk. He throws on the ground three-foot-long florescent bulbs, street signs, sheetrock, a metal folding chair, an axe and a tangle of barbed wire.

He suits up. First on is the Point Blank bullet-proof vest, then the City of Atlanta "Recruit" shirt with matching navy pants, followed by Ace bandage elbow pads and plastic shin guards. He duct tapes the shin guards around his calves.

He gets back to work on the mask.

The crowd of five, which has moved from the basement to a cluster of lawn furniture, rails Woods about his fixation with the mask. One person raises his voice, but not loud enough for Woods to hear: "I wanna see blood and broken bones."

People have poked fun at Woods before, but back then it was different. Back then he was in grade school.

"I was called Porky Pig because I always stuttered and all," Woods says. "It wasn't because I couldn't communicate. I was nervous because I was afraid of being hit. I was just beaten all the time, as far back as I can remember."

The training began. Somewhere along the line, Woods' stuttering become less obvious. The more he fought, the less afraid he was.

"For some odd reason, I like to be hit more and abused more," Woods says. "And I think that that's from my childhood. I like to be at the bottom end and work my way up, just to show that, hey, I can fight my way back."

Woods tries the mask on. A tight fit. Perfect. He takes it off and approaches the house.

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