Two weeks in solitary confinement? Pffft, try living here for 24 hours…
The ceiling fan is on high. The blinds are closed, the lights are off. A small desk light is situated in front of a miniature tube television screen, hooked up to a PlayStation 1 which is running but currently on pause.
The bedroom is covered in posters, some NHL, NFL and MLB. Otherwise, the shelving units are lined with nothing but Batman and X-Men comic books or Funko Pops. There, in the middle of the room is a smaller size bed covered in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bed sheets. Leonardo, to be exact. And across those sheets lies Conor Fuse, facing the ceiling, his body half hanging over the bed he’s on top of. Conor looks to be in roooough shape. He doesn’t grow facial hair well but today, for some reason, he’s got a faint 5-o’clock shadow going on.
Fuse wears lime green PJs with sports balls printed all over them. There’s a baseball, football, hockey puck, tennis ball… you name it, it’s on there. The front of Conor’s shirt reads “MVP SPORTS STAR”. It’s debatable but play along anyway.
Conor is groggy. More groggy than when Dan Ryan crushed him in the side of the head, all 300+ pounds of the big man. More groggy than when Jatt Starr made him “bleed his own blood”. Even more groggy than when Conor took that trip down the flight of stairs inside the Best Arena last week. Fuse had to be evaluated for a concussion, it was that bad a fall. Thankfully, no one else saw it.
Conor gurgles his own saliva, trying to speak but ultimately nothing comes out.
It’s safe to say it has been a difficult 24-hour period.
The Vintage takes a deep breath. Games are scattered everywhere across the floor. In what looks to be a normally well kept room, it’s a mess of PS1 jewel cases everywhere.
Spiderman 2: Enter Electro.
Mega Man 8.
Metal Gear Solid.
Cool Boarders 2.
Jatt Moto (called Jet Moto but Conor has doctored up the front of the case with a ripped out white piece of paper and some tape, reading “JATT” on it where “Jet” should be).
Tomb Raider 1-5.
Spyro the Dragon.
NHL Face Off ‘98.
Conor finally sits up and makes eyes with his television screen. Intelligent Qube or “IQ” for short is in the system. It’s a puzzle game with demanding difficulty as you make it to the higher levels. The player has to set bombs on the floor, blowing up the regular cubes which fall towards them with the added challenge to avoid blowing up the colored-in cubes. It’s been known to cause problems for some gamers, particularly in the ending levels. Yet, to Conor Fuse…
He’s beaten the game five times.
In the past two hours.
“There’s only so many times…” Fuse mutters to himself, clearly frustrated. “So many times I can play all of these.”
Trying to sit up but ultimately failing, Conor’s eyes stare into his ceiling fan, unable to blink. “I should have taken another two or three systems up here with me.”
And what is Conor doing here in isolation? Why has he confined himself to a bedroom?
Patience, please… patience.
Fuse closes his eyes. He tries to drift away into the Best Arena, in front of another rabid sold out crowd with Hughie Freeman standing across from him, the LSD Champion.
It’s non-title, sure but that doesn’t make a difference to Conor Fuse. He’s been fighting his way into those harder levels and, recently, he has not been successful. However, The Vintage made a promise to himself to take these losses in stride. You can see on his face how desperately he desires a few big victories, to ultimately solidify himself as a player in High Octane Wrestling.
Fuse’s mind trails off… he’s inside the ring with Freeman in front of him. They lock up…
And Conor’s popped square in the face.
These are the words floating around the arena as Conor tries to battle Hughie. The Vintage attempts to hit the champ with his high flying array…
Only to be struck down and struck down, time after time.
“Enough!” Conor shouts inside his dream, also realizing he screamed it out loud. “I’ll beat Intelligent Qube for a sixth time, what the hell.”
As Fuse pulls himself together, rolling off his bed and collapsing onto the floor, he almost lands on the video game Crash Bandicoot: Warped. Surprised, Conor picks it up and walks the game over to the television and PS1 system. “Huh…” He trails off. “Can’t believe I haven’t played you today.”
And as Conor unpauses the console, systematically running through the last level of Intelligent Qube in record time, a voice is heard from elsewhere, inside the home.
Conor ignores it.
He still ignores it.
The voice does not say anything else. Fuse takes out the IQ disc and replaces it with Crash Bandicoot: Warped. The game case has dust on it, making it look like Conor hasn’t played the Naughty Dog classic in years… and yet, you’d never guess it. The montage speeds up and The Green One knows exactly where he’s going, every single time.
No use of continues.
No resetting the system or getting angry if something doesn’t go his way.
Because the entire game… goes his way.
“Zero damage.” Conor says, smacking his hands together as the scene speeds up again. The timeline isn’t exactly known… but it’s probably an hour or so before Conor finishes the game, easily. Fuse stands, scratching his “beard” and taking a look around the room. Maybe it’s time to read a Batman comic? He could look at his Funko Pop collection, too…
“Honey!” The voice is heard from outside the bedroom and likely down on the main floor. “Honey, can you come out of your room, please!?”
Sighing heavily, Conor decides it’s time to give in. He opens his bedroom door a crack and looks down the staircase.
“Mom, god almighty! I am trying to do a science experiment here!” He snaps. Meanwhile, “Mrs. Fuse” has her arms crossed in the middle of the hallway.
“Yes that’s nice dear but normally when your brothers come to visit they actually… visit. Your father and I are wondering what you’d like for dinner. We can make homemade pizza or bacon and egg McMuffins. Your choice.”
Conor rolls his eyes. He’s in an agitated mood already and the idea of having eggs for dinner is something that baffles his mind. “Homemade pizza.” He snaps, deciding not to go on that tangent to his mother. “Call me when it’s time and… I guess… I can come down. It’s been long enough.”
Mrs. Fuse smiles warmly, happy her youngest son provided her an answer. After all, Conor wasn’t answering for the longest time. “Okay, great honey. I’ll tell your father.”
She’s about to turn away but pauses, putting a hand to her chin. “You’ll come down for dinner, then?”
Conor rolls his eyes. “Yes, mom! I’ll come down for dinner then… Jeez! The experiment will be over by dinner time!”
Mrs. Fuse was probably told what Conor’s doing up there but she’s in her 60s now and doesn’t always remember. “So what experiments are you doing? I thought you didn’t like science.”
“I don’t.” Conor quips. “Science is stupid, the earth is flat, yadda yadda yadda…”
Of course Conor doesn’t believe that, he’s just being annoying.
“I need to stay in this room for 24 hours, mom.” The Vintage continues. “I thought I told you this. You see, this week I am wrestling Hughie Freeman, the LSD Champion. He spent TWO weeks locked up in solitary confinement before taking on, -AND defeating mind you,- Scottywood for the championship a few weeks ago! I don’t know what that does to a guy! Two weeks in JAIL! Insanity! But after Jatt Moto beat me at Rumble at the Rock… I heard him tell that John-Sektor-guy he beat me by trying to BE me, locking himself up and playing nothing by video games in a bomb shelter! Well, I am so so so so clever, I’ve decided this is the pathway for me to take, too! I need a small understanding of what solitary confinement looks like. I need to know what Hughie went through so I know who I am dealing with! That’s why I’m here, mom! That’s why I’m visiting! I’m staying in my old bedroom for 24 hours! No funzies. No escapzies. Black-ball-beats-it-all. Thankfully, I had a PlayStation 1 console still in the basement so I’m not completely losing my mind, if you get what I’m saying. I don’t know what it is with all these High Octane freaks and enjoying punishment… and confinement… but I guess I have to get in on it, too! I mean… I COULD kill a guy and get locked up but apparently it’s more than a week or two of jail time. Who knew!? Also, Mike Best did it! Mike does everything!”
Mrs. Fuse didn’t really hear all of Conor’s ranting. She tuned out at “I am wrestling Hughie Freeman, the LSD Champion.”
“Well whatever you want, honey.” Mrs. Fuse states before walking into the kitchen. “Your father and I will call you when it’s time for dinner. Just don’t do drugs…”
The mother mentions, hearing the words “LSD” made her concerned.
The 27-year-old Conor Fuse goes back inside his old bedroom but sticks his head out after remembering a vital thing. “And no olives on my pizza, please! There was one time years ago you put olives on it and I don’t like olives.”
“Yes, dear.” The nonchalant reply is communicated from the kitchen, insinuating Conor has never let his parents forget this off-chance incident.
Back to his room, Conor closes the door and looks around. He lets out a sigh. “I have three more hours in here. Three. I can do this. Stay… strong.”
Fuse’s eyes scatter the games on the floor. He’s played them all through this period, he’s beaten each one. He looks over at his comic book collection. Sure, there are lots of good Batman comics and Conor could go for another round of Batman: No Man’s Land or Batman: The Court of Owls series which is so underrated. To be honest, there are many good stories to choose from… but Conor also knows he’s having a difficult time focusing right now.
His mind still wanders…
Wanders into the ring, with Freeman in front of him.
“Got to make a good impression…” He says to himself. “Got to…”
And then, for some reason, the crowd inside the Best Arena seems to morph…
Into red and black blurs at first.
The Hardcore Artist.
The man who has been “watching” over Conor the past two weeks.
“What are you doing here, Scotty!?” Conor shouts in his dream sequence. “I am not the LSD Champion! You don’t even know me, bro!”
Scottywood fades away and the crowd goes back to normal.
Freeman punts Conor in the side of the head!
Fuse falls over.
Freeman covers for the…
SNAP back to reality.
“Damn.” Conor states. “I really am losing my mind. Solitary confinement is no laughing matter!”
Fuse collapses on his bed, his eyes scanning the games on the ground. He ensured he did not bring his cellphone into the bedroom. The Game Boy has also been given the week off. This was going to be a serious 24 hours.
“There is nothing to do.” Conor rambles. “Except play the same games over and over… on the PlayStation console…”
The Vintage trails off. “Being in jail is a nightmare.”
Conor says this as if he truly believes a prison sentence comes with the ability to bring a console along with you.
… … …
Fuse wanders himself back into the dream sequence and another futuristic battle with Freeman.
2 HOURS LATER
Conor is sitting on the edge of his bed. His 5-o’clock shadow is even more filled in. Dark circles form under Conor’s eyes as he sees NHL Face Off ‘99 on the carpet, starring Chris Chelios. “I could play this but I doubt they have a barbed wire hockey stick…”
Conor giggles to himself, remembering how Scottywood used a barbed wire stick on Kevin Capone last week, beating him to a pulp and then leaving… with Capone’s own blood on The Hardcore Artist’s forehead and chest.
Fuse gives a shiver.
Then a smile.
He starts laughing hysterically.
“Darkness, darkness, come my way…” The Vintage has certainly lost his mind by now. “Darkness, darkness… take me away!!”
Fuse remarks, giggling mischievously as he takes himself into the dream sequence once more… standing over top of Hughie Freeman, the LSD Champion, victorious in his non-title match.
Conor looks down at his hands, covered in Hughie Freeman’s blood. And there, in the crowd, are numerous Scottywood’s… watching… waiting… stalking.
“Whatever you want from me, Scotty…” Conor screams into the “crowd” of Artists. “I am an easy man to find!”
Coonr turns his attention to the LSD Champion, holding back manic laughter when he’s able to.
“Hughie, you’re a legit bad-ass MOFO. You beat Cancer!” The Vintage is shouting into the motionless body of Freeman. “You were successful at Refueled XL where I was not! Your uprising; my downfall!”
“HONEY, it’s time for pizza!” Mrs. Fuse shouts from downstairs. Conor immediately stops giggling and snaps out of his hallucination/trance. He stands from his bed and marches out the bedroom door. The scene does not follow.
“There better be no olives on that pizza! Remember the one time you said there wouldn’t be and dad put some on? That was ridiculous!” Fuse is heard racing down the stairs. “Wait, was that Hughie’s blood on my hands or mine?”