Goodbye, Sweet Prince
Another satisfied, sold out audience has long since exited the building. The concession stands have been wiped clean and are closed for business. The lights hanging high inside the arena are no longer abuzz from the electricity powering them.
The show is over.
Refueled Thirty-Three has come to pass.
What a night it was.
Most of the HOW family has packed up and left, but not me. I’m still here walking down some dimly lit hallway within the deepest recesses of the arena. Aimless, I’m searching for an exit I hope leads to the other side of door number one. That said, it’s unusually cold where I am, and the air around me breathes a blight of pure despair.
I’m tired, and mentally defeated. I’ve spent the entire night searching for The Bandits’ bleeding heart. My hope was to rescue him after being foiled by The Hollywood Bruvs. I looked up. I looked down. I looked all around. In the end, I was too late.
All I want now is peace of mind.
Thankfully, after coming up a day short and a dollar late…
…I think I’ve finally found it.
I say that because I suddenly smell the smoke permeating from presumably my friend’s final resting place. The toxic scent stings my nostrils and seizes my lungs.
Determined, I follow the pungent aroma around the bend, and that’s when I spot it: the door leading outside to where I lost my friend, and the barrel keeping it open. I think to myself, what nice guys The Bruv’s are for leaving the door propped so the Windy City’s breeze could slowly usher the smoky scent throughout the building. I etch into my memory how much I can’t wait to thank them for leaving me a trail.
My lip quivers.
Doom and gloom engulf me.
The Bandit incinerator lurks a solid ten feet away. All that’s stopping me from getting to it is going down one, last, corridor. I presume this homestretch is exclusively reserved for the rats inhabiting the building. That would certainly explain how The Bruvs found their way around back here.
Tepid, I push myself forward. However, no matter how hard I try, I’m slowed from reaching my destination. The hallway leading to the exit seems to grow five feet with every three foot stride I take. My feet are gradually becoming heavier with each step, as if I were trudging through wet cement that’s quickly drying to the outsides of my shoes. Then, like a Hughie Freeman Power Punch, the aforementioned odor becomes so noxious I have to pull my shirt over the bottom part of my face in order to proceed.
So I do.
I’m close now. Close enough to look up at the stars, and down to see there’s nothing left. Not a scrap. Not a remnant. Not a thread of the fishing line connecting his head to his body.
Just a pile of ash smoldering inside of a metal barrel.
Oh, and of course, two melted plastic cups for good measure.
I stand still for a while; gazing down through my T-Shades, trying to figure out answers to the questions riddling my mind. Where did it all go wrong? Was it triple camel fudge macchiato? How could I allow something like this to happen? Ironic, I asked Dan Ryan SOME of these very same questions just a few weeks ago, and now I’m asking them to myself.
I’m not turning int….
Then, after what seems to be days of contemplation, slowly, cautiously, I break from my statuesque posture and hold my hand out over the barrel. The air feels warm to the touch, as if my friend still burns. My mind begins to wander once more, this time zeroing in on one specific question. How many more will we lose? The answer rattles me; shaking me to my COOL core and causing my still extended hand to tremble. But, my shaking hand is not from the fear of possible loss. Rather, it shakes in fear of what I must do in order to prevent it.
“I want to say this one last thing before you go.” The words flutter from my mouth, as if I can hardly believe what I’m about to say next. My eyes close, and I envision the near future. “I’m sorry. I’m extremely sorry. I was hoping it would never have to come to this.” Apologetic, I continue. “That was my goal at least. That’s why you were here. To balance. Now, the scales have been tipped, and I must change in order to even them.”
“You should know, as I stand here talking to you the change has already begun. The guilt I feel manifesting inside of me isn’t from the sorrow of losing a Bandit.” Gluttonous, I grab the metal edge of the still hot barrel with my trembling hand, putting my moniker to the test. Then, I change the tone in my voice to one that is void of doubt or pain. “Shamefully, the guilt I feel now is because I’m happy things played out the way they did. That, and I’m the one who’s still fortunate enough to fix it.”
Without expression I quickly release my grasp of the barrel and inspect the freshly branded line running across the palm of my hand– my always reminder of what happened here tonight. Luckily for me, I can’t really feel much of anything right now, but that doesn’t stop me from gently blowing on the wound in a jokingly attempt to ease the nonexistent sting.
“But, I promise you one thing.”
With honor and reverence I take a knee by the side of the barrel. I lower my head, and swear to my fallen brother of the yolk and shell, “A lot of good will come from this. For us, and for the Octabandits. Your sacrifice will not be in vain.”
A moment passes and my thoughts become clearer. I go on with a hint of detriment, “They may have taken our heart, old friend, but little do they know we won’t need one for what comes next.” I pull my shirt down, stop to smell the fumes, and take them in as if they no longer can bother me. As if it smelt of roses. The recognition of such a fact brings a brief smile to my face.
“From the ashes of sacrifice, The eGG Bandis will rise anew. We will become, and then we will overcome.” Content, I confidently stand, look down into the barrel, and address my scorched heart for the final time. “Rest easy knowing you will be the reason they forever rue the day. Revenge season is over. Avenge season is upon us. Goodbye, friend. Goodbye to you, and everything you stood for.”
Before I can turn to walk away a familiar, warming, angelic voice calls out from the corridor behind me. “It’s going to be okay.” He calmly tells me. “We will get through this. Together. Like we always do.” Of course I know eggsactly who it is, and believe me his beautiful words are not lost on me. Part of me wants nothing more than to dine in, but, like I said to the pile of ash earlier, I’ve already begun to change.
Poor guy hasn’t put it all together yet, but “like we always do” is crisping at the bottom of a barrel.
So, I choose to swallow my tongue instead of responding to his kindness. Believe me, it’s not that I wish to shield him from the facts; the sooner he knows that nothing will be okay until we can guarantee this never happens again, the better. It’s just, well there’s an easier way for me to clip his flapping wings and bring him down to the cold reality us Bandits must now embrace.
I just need to look at him.
Yes, I we’re COOL like that. It also helps that I got quite the vibe going on. Pretty sure I could scare the brace on Dan Ryan’s elbow straight by simply howling the word ‘cradle’ at him.
And once the Honalean does lay his eyes upon me and sees what I’m becoming, I guess you could say he’ll quickly realize that The Silver Fox who sneaks about The High Octane Hen House is gone. While I might still be gray haired, T-shaded, and sly; the fox in me has been sent off to guard the remains of The Cardboard Hound. Fret not, precious brood. I’ve replaced your sneaky tormentor with someone from the same Canidae family.
Turns out, I got bigger game than any of you thought.
This sly fox is becoming the thing he fears the most.
The big, bad wolf.
BAAAAAAAAAAA, BAAAAAAAAAAAAA, High Octane.
High Chief Graybush Wolfscornwalker
You should know of all the entrapments.
Sexy, potted fern.
Lava hot, 97red sofa.
TV with a still shot of a full moon.
One new addition: a beautiful portrait of a fallen comrade hangs on the wall next to the TV.
And then there’s me. The Maestro. Ready to serenade you with a song. However, all good artists warm up first.
So shall I.
I only got the bottom half of the company jumpsuit on today. No, I’m not some freak who is going to cut a promo with his shirt off. However, since everyone is doing it, I will be promoting the sale of my new t-shirt. It’s a good one, too. It says, I nailed Dan Ryan. Then below the, I nailed Dan Ryan, there’s a picture of the finishing pin from our match. SO, underneath the, I nailed Dan Ryan, is basically Dan folded up in the Magistral Cradle. But, and here’s the best part, instead of me being the one pinning him, it’s an eGG Bandit themed nail being hammered through him.
I won’t tell you if the play on words is intended or not.
“Well, well-well, well….. WELL. So many elephants, so little time. Where, should I begin? Maybe with the most obvious elephant of them all? Take your mind off of it?”
I search my courage well, dig deep, and reach that place you go to when Zionwood is ringing the dinner bell.
“Yes, my hair is gray. Doctors said it’s because of trauma I suffered in my match against Dan Ryan. My initial reaction to the news, not so good. Then, I took some sound advice and slept on it. I’m glad I did. I had a dream that night. It was a crazy dream. I was wearing this shirt, and as much as I hate to admit it, Dan was also there. He was indisposed. I remember looking out, and seeing water all around us. Then I looked down, and saw my reflection. My face was a thick shade of 97red, and my hair was back to its natural color.”
I take a breath.
“Did I mention I was wearing this shirt?”
Let MY DREAM sink in.
“Anyway, that was the dream. When I woke up, I still wasn’t the biggest fan of the new color. I mean, is it a constant reminder of the beating I took while still managing to overcome defeat in the face of ultimate adversity?”
“Sure, call it whatever you want. To me it’s just gray hair.”
A grin that invades nightmares.
“Next elephant up for bid is a two for one special: a burning barrel with one of your friends roasting inside of it!”
“I’ll always remember him in his prime, and with that new cardboard smell.” I sidetrack, getting caught up in a thought about if Bed Bath and Beyond sells life size pots for me to cook Bruv soup in. I come back from my tangent, stung. “Fucking, Bruvs. You VILE, despicable, no good, dirty, bottom of the barrel, rotten-ass, Frappe Boi, motherfuckers.”
Charcoal loogie, engaged.
“It takes a real man to sully something innocent and pure. Congrats on puberty, Champs.” Irony shows its head once more. “Did you know when you two were burning the ties that bind The Bandits to, oh, let’s call it our laissez-faire attitude, how badly you were fucking up?” Rhetorical. “You couldn’t have. If you did, you never would have done it.”
Not for me though.
Luckily, the act calms me.
“Now, obviously you Mongos made an enemy out of us when you tortured ours, and the hearts of Octabandits everywhere. But, I’ll bet you didn’t know that you also made an enemy out of every person who crosses The Bandits’ path from now, until we get our proper hands on you. Whoever we face, whoever decides to take their shot, they will have you to thank for the fate that befalls them.”
We have lost face.
Only one way to get it back.
Pain. Humiliation. Eggs. Gold.
And telling whoever it is on the other end that it’s The Bruvs fault.
“Until that day comes, to keep any aspiring new hires away while our fences are down, innocent and guilty alike are on level ground.”
“Except Blaire. She’s been bullied enough.”
“I can’t wait till August 22nd.”
A righteous nod.
And then back into the wild.
“Our next elephant to have its tusks removed is a doozy of a question. Can The eGG Bandits protect their own? History says no. However, speaking for myself, the blond haired guy didn’t really like getting his hands dirty. The yolk and shell, no doubt. To injure or humiliate in a way that spells not to be fucked with? Nah bruv, not that game.”
Arrogant, I conveniently ease back on the warm confines of my plush evisceration throne, lick my chops, rub my hands together, and let out a brief chuckle.
“But, the gray haired me? High Chief Graybush Wolfscornwalker, if you will? The NAIL of The Bandits, if you will? The answer to if The eGG Bandits can protect their own, if you will? Well, frankly I’m a fucking savage who does whatever it takes to ensure the safety of the pack. Not to be fucked with is MY game. I’ll have no issues with spending the rest of my days creating ultra-realistic monuments to why you don’t crack our shell.”
“Which, finally brings us to Darin, and Brian. Light, and Switch. The on again, off again, when does Hanson finally show up, good cop good cop, all bad luck odd couple of High Octane Wrestling. The first of the presumably many who will be able to blame The Bruvs for what happened to them over the course of the next three shows. Now, you may be wondering why I decided to address you last. I promise you it has nothing to do with your status in the company. There’s a few reasons, and like I just said, I promise you that your status within the company is not one of them. Don’t worry, I’ll be quick.”
Punctual, I begin.
“Reason one. I have a bet with Bobby to see if you two goons could hold your concentration for this long. I’m guessing what comes next will fall upon deaf ears. He is an optimist. Prove me wrong.”
“Reason two. If I did manage to keep you vested, I wanted you to hear about how The Bandits have suffered, and how we’ve persisted. I wanted you to know what we’ve given up to make sure we never suffer like we have again. That way, when I tell you both it’s because of these things that you stand no fucking shot this Saturday Night, you’d believe me.”
“Reason three. Along the lines of reason two, I wanted to make sure you’d believe me when I told you I’m not the same person you’ve faced in the past. The one you’re familiar with, and had success against, the blond. He’s an old discarded shell of the person I am now.”
Sans the extra Ryan years.
“To think of me as him, will result in Total Eggsecution.”
Now there’s a finisher no one kicks out of.
“FINAL REASON I WAITED THIS LONG TO ADDRESS YOU, WHO COLLECTIVELY ARE KNOWN AS THE ZIONWOOD MEN. Simply put, it’s the most important of them all, so I figured a little suspense might go a long way with the Mardi Gras in your lives.”
I cough to clear my throat.
“Gentlemen. Friends. Foes. Frienoes. Whatever you guys are when you see this, I’ve shed my sheep’s skin.”
“You see me coming now.”
Factor in Bobby and NASA can see us walking to the ring from space.
“I can’t sneak up on people.”
Certainty not with Flaps McDean whisking like a kite in the wind.
“My greatest advantage is gone. As one of you might put it, thee elementals of my surprise is been lost. In order to compensate for such I have certain demands to ask from the two of you. Compliance is key to the revitalization of The eGG Bandits. Failure to comply would ultimately be futile. That said, I don’t care who it is, you guys can decide. You’ll both be blaming The Bruvs anyway. But, I want to see some begging out there. I want to see some suffering on scale with what I have had to suffer through. I want to see an egg on one of your faces, and pin one of your shoulders to the mat for a ten count to make up for past matches.”
A five count would be fine.
Settle at three.
“Most of all, I want one of you to join the rest of the guys we put on Lee’s Inactive List.”
He said it.
“I’ve been burned in the past.”