INT EVENING: Harry Reid International Airport.
VOICE: JONES. BRADLEY JONES. WOULD YOU PLEASE COME TO THE COURTESY COUNTER? WE HAVE YOUR EMOTIONAL SUPPORT SQUIRREL.
A tinny-sounding voice blasts across the length of a busy airport terminal. Two crowds of people move opposite each other in consistent waves – some catching their flights and others departing. Some are families with small children and others are collections of hungover, single men with wrinkled dress shirts and popped collars.
Sitting with his head down, his knee bobbing up and down, in front of Terminal 40A, a non-stop United flight from Las Vegas to Detroit, is BLAZE CLAYMORE.
BLAZE is unable to hear the notice words as he nods his head along to Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”
BLAZE: GIMME THE MICROPHONE FIRST, SO I CAN BUST LIKE A BUBBLE
COMPTON AND LONG BEACH TOGETHER, NOW YOU KNOW YOU IN TROUBLE
AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT A G THANG, BABY
TWO LOC’ED OUT MMMMMM SO WE’RE CRAZY
That is when it comes into clearer picture that Blaze Claymore is wearing a Los Angeles Rams hat, sweatshirt, pants, and has – in his hands – a Sports Illustrated magazine with the Super Bowl champion Rams on the cover.
While the Detroit Lions fans in the vicinity have largely just given up at this point, it’s a bold move that provokes more than a few side-eyes from people who are Raiders faithful. However, sticking out like a sore thumb is something that BLAZE truly does best.
VOICE: BRADLEY JONES. PLEASE… WE NEED YOU TO COLLECT YOUR SQUIRREL. PLEASE COME TO THE COURTESY COUNTER OR WE WILL BE FORCED TO CALL CRITTER CONTROL AND THAT WILL NOT END WELL FOR ANYONE INVOLVED.
A light-but-firm tap of someone’s hand touches Blaze on his shoulder, causing him to jump slightly out of his chair.
The SAG Award Winning* Actor looks around wildly to find the culprit and looks up to see a woman (JUNE) with short black hair; she’s wearing a “Rocky Horror Picture Show” shirt featuring Magenta with the words “We’re All Lucky!” printed in large letters across.
Meanwhile, BLAZE’s playlist has already moved on to a different song as “The Goonies ‘R’ Good Enough” by Cyndi Lauper plays.
VOICE: BRADLEY JONES. YOUR WIFE, MARY, IS HERE. SHE SAYS SHE’S SORRY SHE FORGOT YOUR BIRTHDAY AND NOT TO TAKE IT OUT ON … WAIT, WHAT’S HIS NAME? … SHE SAYS WHILE YOU MAY BE MAD AT HER, THERE IS NO REASON TO TAKE IT OUT ON KING NUTELLA, LONG MAY HE REIGN. PLEASE COME TO THE COURTESY COUNTER… THIS IS YOUR FINAL NOTICE.
A confused-looking Blaze removes his sunglasses and tries to be pleasant but comes off exasperated.
BLAZE: YES? DO YOU NEED SOMETHING?
JUNE looks around awkwardly and then leans down to whisper, which only causes Blaze to squirm even more.
JUNE (WHISPERING): ARE YOU BLAZE CLAYMORE?
BLAZE reacts by mirroring her voice inflection.
BLAZE (WHISPERING): YES. I AM. IS THERE A REASON WE’RE WHISPERING?
JUNE surprises BLAZE by squealing with excitement. As the crowd around them lifts their eyes over to the pair he makes a motion with his hand as if to gesture “Yes, of course, that’s why…”
Reaching into her bag, JUNE pulls out a… DVD and has a Sharpie at the ready.
JUNE: OH MY GOD! I’M SUCH A FAN! CAN YOU SIGN MY COPY OF WEREWOLF OF WALL STREET? I MEAN… SORRY I DON’T MEAN TO BE A BOTHER.
BLAZE looks suspiciously at JUNE as he reaches for the Sharpie but is willing to play along.
BLAZE: YOU SAY YOU’RE A … FAN? I DON’T HAVE A LOT OF THOSE SO I’M NOT SURE HOW TO ACT IN THESE SITUATIONS.
JUNE: I MEAN NO, YOU DO HAVE A LOT OF FANS. I MEAN, THERE’S AN ENTIRE SUBREDDIT DEDICATED TO YOU!
We can see BLAZE sag in disappointment.
BLAZE: YOU MEAN THE CUCKMORE ONE? I’M AWARE…
JUNE: OH! NOT AT ALL – SO I GUESS THERE ARE TWO SUBREDDITS. BUT THIS ONE IS THE BEST BAD MOVIES SUBREDDIT. I’M NOT MUCH INTO THE WRESTLING STUFF BUT WE LOVE YOUR STUFF. I MEAN… KITY-O-DROME, CREEPY MOVIE, GONE GUY, GRANNY GET YOUR GUN – I COULD GO ON FOREVER!
BLAZE looks down at the DVD and sees that it is a legit copy, and, in doing so, sees a very young-looking version of himself hidden among the cast on the cover.
He smirks and signs the DVD, handing it back to June.
BLAZE: SO… YOU JUST WALK AROUND WITH A COPY OF A NEARLY 10-YEAR OLD MOVIE AND A SHARPIE AS PART OF YOUR CARRY-ON?
June looks at the DVD with eyes wide as she hugs it to her chest before finally realizing what it was BLAZE was asking.
JUNE: OH! NO, THIS IS… WELL; I’M GOING TO HORRORFEST. IT’S A BIT LIKE COMICCON BUT FOR HORROR FANS. AND IT’S HAPPENING IN DETROIT THIS YEAR – WELL, SORT OF. BECAUSE OF THE PANDEMIC THERE AREN’T A LOT OF LARGE GATHERINGS HELD MUCH ANYMORE. BUT THERE’S A GROUP OF US THAT WERE PLANNING ON GOING THIS YEAR UNTIL IT GOT POSTPONED AND SO WE DECIDED TO GO ANYWAYS AND HANG OUT AND – SORRY YOU’RE PROBABLY REALLY BUSY AND I’M JUST BOTHERING YOU.
BLAZE lets out a short laugh and shakes his head.
BLAZE: ODDLY ENOUGH… WAIT WHAT WAS YOUR NAME?
BLAZE: WELL, JUNE, I WILL BE HONEST THAT I AM NOT TOO FAMILIAR – NOR DO I GET INVITED TO THOSE SORTS OF THINGS, SO I APOLOGIZE IF I AM SEEING A BIT… CONFUSED. BUT, YOU’VE BEEN INCREDIBLY KIND AND AFTER THE WEEK I’VE HAD IT IS REALLY NICE TO MEET SOMEONE WHO ENJOYS MY WORK.
In a completely earnest gesture – reaches into her pockets and pulls out a sheet of paper, scribbling something down on it with her sharpie. She hands it over to BLAZE and he sees it’s an address and a phone number.
JUNE: I’M SURE YOU’VE GOT … A LOT GOING ON IN DETROIT, BUT THIS IS WHERE OUR MEETING WILL BE AND THAT’S MY NUMBER. THIS MAY BE VERY FORWARD OF ME, BUT I DON’T THINK YOU REALIZE HOW MANY PEOPLE ENJOY YOUR WORK… I KNOW MY FRIENDS WOULD BE ABSOLUTELY BESIDE THEMSELVES IF YOU SHOWED UP AT OUR EVENT. AND I’D BE LYING IF I DIDN’T WANT TO TALK MORE – JUST THE TWO OF US.
BLAZE puts the information into his pocket and nods with a smile – a visible sense of calm and confidence washing over him. As the exchange happens, a voice over the loudspeaker cuts through the crowd:
TRAVEL AGENT: ALL PASSENGERS BOARDING FOR GATE 10A, FLIGHT 1822 NON-STOP TO DETROIT, WE ARE BEGINNING PRIORITY BOARDING – THIS INCLUDES THOSE TRAVELING WITH SMALL CHILDREN, THOSE WITH DISABILITIES, THOSE WHO ARE PART OF OUR FREQUENT FLIER PROGRAM, AND THOSE WITH SERVICE ANIMALS….
As the TRAVEL AGENT says these words, an emotional-looking man and woman approach the desk holding a… black squirrel. They talk briefly with the AGENT who grabs the PA system and makes an announcement.
TRAVEL AGENT: EVERYONE, PLEASE ACCEPT MY APOLOGIES. WE WILL FIRST BE BOARDING OUR VERY SPECIAL GUESTS, BRADLEY JONES, MARY JONES, AND THE ONE, THE ONLY,KING NUTELLA, LONG MAY HE REIGN
CROWD: LONG MAY HE REIGN!
As the crowd cheers, Blaze looks around, confounded. He points dramatically at the scene, turning back to JUNE, who has tears in her eyes and begins clapping – soon the rest of the passengers follow as the Jones family wave in celebration making their way into the gate.
BLAZE: I’VE REALLY GOTTA STOP TAKING THESE RED-EYE FLIGHTS.
INT EVENING: An airplane lavatory. The dim fluorescent light glows in the tight, confined space as an overly large mirror is visible on one side and a large sheet of gray plastic is on the other. In between a stainless steel toilet that can barely fit the width of the average American while the amount of legroom leaves much to be desired.
The face of BLAZE CLAYMORE appears on screen – a cell phone video – as we see our favorite SAG Award Winning* Actor from the nose up trying to get into some sort of effective filming position.
BLAZE: ALRIGHT. HERE WE GO – I’VE MAYBE GOT TEN MINUTES – TOPS – BEFORE SOMEONE NEEDS TO USE THE CAN, THINKS I’VE FALLEN IN, OR THERE’S ENOUGH TURBULENCE TO TURN THIS AIRPLANE INTO A ROLLER COASTER RIDE.
BLAZE awkwardly runs his hands through his hair.
BLAZE: I NEED TO GET SOME THINGS OFF MY CHEST, ESPECIALLY AFTER HEARING WHAT MS. CAREY SAID. ALSO, QUITE FRANKLY, THEY WERE JUST ABOUT TO SING ‘FOR HE’S A JOLLY GOOD FELLOW’ TO A GODDAMNED SQUIRREL OUT THERE AND THAT’S A DISNEY BRIDGE TOO FAR FOR ME.
After a pause, BLAZE refocuses and looks into the lens of his camera phone.
BLAZE: I’M GOING TO SAY THIS ONCE TO CLEAR THE AIR AND THEN MOVE ON. MS. CAREY, MR. WING, I KNOW THAT MEPHISTO AND I ARE COMING INTO HIGH OCTANE WRESTLING AS OUTSIDERS. I KNOW THAT EVERY ARENA WE’VE STEPPED INTO SINCE THE START OF THIS TOURNAMENT WE’VE BEEN LOOKED AT LIKE WE’RE GODDAMNED LEPERS. WELL – THAT’S FINE. BUT LET ME MAKE ONE THING VERY CLEAR TO THE BOTH OF YOU – AS MUCH AS YOU WANT TO TURTLE UP AND MAKE US FEEL LIKE OUTCASTS, I WANT YOU TO REMEMBER THAT WE WERE INVITED TO BE MEMBERS OF THIS TOURNAMENT BY THE VERY MAN YOU, MS. CAREY, SAY WE ARE SOMEHOW DISRESPECTING. SO MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, BEFORE YOU TALK A BIG GAME ABOUT EARNING RESPECT IN THIS BUSINESS YOU LEARN HOW TO EXTEND IT TO YOUR PEERS – YOUR GUESTS THAT HAVE BEEN INVITED INTO THIS HOME YOU CLAIM TO LOVE SO MUCH.
With a shake of his head, BLAZE just sighs and closes his eyes.
BLAZE: LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING, BOBBINETTE, IF I MAY BE SO BOLD AS TO REFER TO YOU AS A PEER … IT’S THE SIMPLEST THING IN THE WORLD TO TAKE A LOOK AT SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T ‘BELONG’ SOMEWHERE AND WHO DOESN’T ‘LOOK’ THE PART AND IMMEDIATELY CAST THEM AS A ‘JOKE’ OR SOMEONE WHO ISN’T WORTH YOUR TIME.
WHAT TAKES REAL GUTS? THAT’S BEING OPEN TO WORKING WITH PEOPLE WHO AREN’T IN YOUR ‘IN’ GROUP – ACCEPTING THOSE WHO ARE DIFFERENT THAN YOU; TAKING A CHANCE TO LEARN SOMETHING THAT’S OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. YOU THINK THAT MEPHISTO AND I ARE BEST FRIENDS? WE’RE NOT. WE GOT PAIRED TOGETHER RANDOMLY AND YOU KNOW WHAT? WE’RE LEARNING A LOT FROM EACH OTHER AND IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T HAD A CHANCE TO LOOK UP FROM YOUR GODDAMNED NAVEL GAZING WE’RE ONLY ONE POINT BEHIND YOU IN THIS TOURNAMENT SO I’D RECOMMEND TAKING A STEP BACK AND TRULY ASSESSING THE SITUATION YOU FIND YOURSELF IN.
BLAZE is shaking with anger as he talks.
BLAZE: YOU THINK YOU’RE THE FIRST PERSON TO TELL ME THAT I’M A JOKE? THAT I’M NOT WORTH THE EFFORT? BECAUSE YOU’RE NOT. IN FACT THE MORE PEOPLE SAY THAT TO ME, THE MORE PEOPLE LOOK AT ME WITH THE SAME EYES YOU DID WHEN YOU READ THE NAME “BAD GUYS” ACROSS FROM YOUR OWN AND DARKWING? IT MAY AS WELL BE STATIC.
I’M THROUGH. I’M THROUGH SITTING BACK AND LETTING PEOPLE LIKE YOU – PEOPLE LIKE JILES, LIKE DEAN, LIKE HOLLYWOOD, LIKE DRESDEN LOOK DOWN AT ME – LOOK DOWN AT MEPHISTO – BECAUSE QUITE FRANKLY, BOBBINETTE, YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A BULLY AND YOU UNDERESTIMATE ME AND MEPHISTO; YOU UNDERESTIMATE SHOOT PROJECT; YOU UNDERESTIMATE THE BAD GUYS AT YOUR OWN PERIL.
I CERTAINLY HOPE YOUR PARTNER DARKWING CAN TALK SOME SENSE INTO YOU BEFORE REFULED KICKS OFF BECAUSE YOU MAY NOT BE ‘INSPIRED’ BY FACING OFF AGAINST THE ‘BAD GUYS’ BUT DAMNED IF YOU DIDN’T JUST LIGHT A FIRE THAT WILL TURN INTO A FUCKING BLAZE.
Suddenly, a knock comes from off camera and BLAZE looks up suddenly – his face awkwardly leaning too far into the camera screen.
BLAZE: WHO IS IT? OCCUPADO!
VOICE: SIR! YOU’VE BEEN IN THERE A LONG TIME AND THERE IS A LINE. ARE YOU OK?
BLAZE: I’M FINE! JUST… YOU KNOW… NATURE CALLS!
VOICE: FUNNY YOU SHOULD SAY THAT! WE ACTUALLY HAVE A SPECIAL GUEST IN NEED OF THE LAVATORY AND SO… WE’RE GOING TO HAVE YOU ASK YOU TO LEAVE.
BLAZE: IT BETTER NOT BE THAT DAMNED SQUIRREL.
VOICE: HIS NAME IS KING NUTELLA, LONG MAY HE REIGN, AND YES, HE NEEDS ACCESS.
MUFFLED VOICES: long may he reign!
A frustrated BLAZE stands up, the phone camera following him, his hand and our vision dropping to his side as we can hear the door open and a horrifying SCREECH before the recording stops and cuts out.