STRONK AND SHELLEY’S HOUSE
SOMEWHERE IN MINNESOTA
APRIL 27, 2022
Party rockers in the house tonight
Everybody just have a good time
And we gon’ make you lose your minds
Everybody just have a good time
Shelley Greene is not a fan of music. He doesn’t like it. He doesn’t understand it. Most of it sounds like a tin can being continuously booted down a sidewalk, at least since the molly lab explosion of ‘17 left him permanently deaf in one ear and partially hearing impaired in the other. Nevertheless, a party needs music (that he did understand, having watched a lot of house party-centric films throughout his life), and so Shelley Googled ‘good party songs,’ and selected a song—one song—that he considered suitable, based solely on his reading of the lyrics. Done. Nothing else needed. Check that box.
And so it plays continuously on loop in the background as we are taken on a sweeping tour of the bottom floor of the STRONK-Shelley household, where about a dozen or so of their neighbours are congregated. The lights have been turned down low. A disco ball hangs from the ceiling fan. There’s a fog machine. Bunch of lava lamps strategically setup in every corner of the room.
The room, in question, is literally a single room. Like STRONK stated when they first moved in about a week ago, it needed to be entirely open concept. And now it was. But it wasn’t done by a professional and very little care had been applied in execution. STRONK just… started punching holes in walls and ripping off chunks of drywall (which now sit in a giant, unsightly pile on their front lawn). And yes, the demolition included the bathroom walls, which is presently a frequent topic of conversation amongst a number of party guests.
Party rockers in the house tonight
Everybody just have a good time
And we gon’ make you lose your minds
Everybody just have a good time
Oh, and the song Shelley chose? He also trimmed out everything but those four bars. The hook’s all that matters anyway. No one really cares about the verses.
Greene: I think this is going really, really well. I saw that fat lady from the house down on the corner puking her guts up outside. She was turnt.
Actually, the poor woman got food poisoning from some shady-looking sausage rolls that Shelley made from scratch. Luckily, no one else was foolish enough to try them.
STRONK: YES. SHE LOOKED DANGEROUSLY POISONED BY ALCOHOL. SHE IS A PARTY ROCKER IN THE HOUSE TONIGHT.
Most of the partygoers are visibly confused and uncomfortable, many have pondered to themselves the polite time to make the ol’ Irish exit. Simple fact, no one is having fun, and everybody wants to leave. That is, except for Peter, the divorced dad who parties too much on weekends. He’s already drunk and having the time of his life. Thank god his ex-wife told him he wasn’t seeing the kids this weekend; something about him being a danger to himself and others.
Peter stands next to STRONK and Shelley, dressed in sweatpants that haven’t been washed in months and a stained Simpsons tee shirt. He runs a hand through the rats nest of tangled, thinning hair atop his head, while continuing to sway to the music.
Peter: Boys, this party fucks! Finally some bros on the street!
Greene: Thanks, Pete. Glad you’re having a good time.
Peter: The best, brother, the best! Hey, you guys like getting fucked up? I get fucked up, like, six or seven times a week. Maybe we can get fucked up together and watch old episodes of Dragnet.
Greene: Yeah, maybe. I dunno. We’re busy most of the time. Chasin’ dreams, y’know?
Peter shotguns another Natty Light, his eighteenth of the day (so far), and does a weird little shimmy dance.
Peter: Totally get it! But the invite stands! Just walk right in if you see my car in the driveway. Doesn’t matter the time of day. I’ll put a sock on the doorknob so you know if I’m inside pounding off or whatever.
Greene: Probably want to avoid walking in on that, yeah.
Peter: Not saying don’t come in! By all means! Just give me a holler so I can slap it back in my pants, y’know.
STRONK surveys the party, sipping a protein shake from a martini glass. He’s wearing a bright red Speedo, the HOTv Championship, and nothing else. He used to wear compression shorts, but now that he’s 307 pounds of grade A beef, he’s opted for the Speedo; it would be a crime to cover up the work of art that is his gargantuan body with needless fabric. Plus, the red Speedo really makes the HOTv belt pop.
STRONK: THESE WOMAN ARE TOO PROPER FOR THE STRONK MAN.
Peter: Get yo drink on, get yo smoke on, then find somebody to take home and poke on.
STRONK: STRONK DOES NOT DRINK OR SMOKE. OR POKE OTHER HUMANS. HE SMASHES OTHER HUMANS. ALSO, STRONK IS ALREADY HOME. THIS IS HIS HOUSE.
Peter gazes around the room, his glossy eyes landing on a tall man off in the corner.
Peter: Well, if you want someone to smash, smash fuckface over there. Jacob. Fucker’s been talking shit about my lawn—
He turns and shouts in the direction of Jacob.
Peter: —even though he knows DAMN WELL I hurt my back and my lawnmower’s broken and I have fucking allergies!
STRONK considers the proposition, but Shelley interjects.
Greene: There’ll be none of that. This man right here… is a prizefighter. He gets paid to beat up people. You see that championship belt? That upped his quote. He’s in demand, baby.
Peter: Too bad. I would’ve loved to see you twist that sonuvabitch up into a thousand knots, but I’m broke as a joke. At least according to the courts. Ha! Fuck you, Stella! But whatever. I get it.
Greene: If you don’t mind, Pete, we’re gonna circle the room, maybe have a gnash on some peanut dip. You try and get yourself home safely. Drink lots of water. Or don’t. I don’t really care.
STRONK and Shelley make their way over to the fireplace, which is stuffed to the gills with pieces of drywall. Before they decided to toss it all on their front lawn, they first made use of the space inside.
Taking hold of a wired microphone connected to a small speaker, Shelley addresses the guests.
Greene: Friends! Friends, please! A moment of your time!
Someone calls out from the back of the crowd: “I wanna go home! Give us back our phones so we can leave!”
Greene: Sssshhhhhhhhhh! There’ll be none of that. The party’s just getting started. And I have something important to say.
A different person responds: “It’s a work night! We have to get up in the morning!”
Another adds: “You said we could have our phones back whenever we want to leave! You said you just wanted everyone to be ‘present in the moment’!”
Greene sighs. He smacks the microphone on his thigh. Rolls his eyes.
Greene: Like I said, I have something important to say… and you can have your damn phones back when I’m finished if you all want to be rude assholes about it… Anyway, this man right here beside me…
Shelley gestures to STRONK, who is polishing the HOTv belt around his waist with a wet wipe, and looks upon him with great admiration and awe, like a lowly mortal in the presence of a god.
Greene: …is the reason your property values are about to skyrocket! And you’ve all been here, what? An hour? An hour and a half? And not a single one of you has come forth to properly pay tribute to the Stronk Man. Joe and Caroline—hey guys!—they came by on the first day we moved in to deliver cookies. Those cookies were, I’m told, excellent. That right, big man?
The question jars GODSON from his daydreaming state (thinking about what it will be like to smash people in a cage as opposed to a ring, the prospect delighting him); he shifts quickly to thinking about the two dozen cookies he consumed in, oh, four and a half minutes, assessing their quality in hindsight.
STRONK: NEXT TIME BRING STRONK OATMEAL CHOCOLATE CHIP.
Greene: Yes, oatmeal chocolate chip is a championship calibre cookie. Those… snickerdoodles? …mid-card, at best. Curtain-jerking, at worst. Nevertheless, it was the thought that counts.
STRONK: NO. YOU CANNOT EAT A THOUGHT. DO BETTER NEXT TIME, CAROLINE.
Greene: Yeah, do better next time, Caroline. The thought was there, but it was bad. Just bad and wrong and stupid, okay? But at least she and her cuck of a husband did something. Even Peter, that pathetic shell of a man, brought us a sixer of the shittiest beer one can buy—which I think he drank all to himself—as a housewarming present in a flawed attempt to honour the champ. The rest of you? Shaaaaaaame.
Shelley rests a friendly hand on STRONK’s massive shoulder, eliciting a non-verbal response of ‘Get your fucking hand off me,’ which Greene immediately does.
Greene: We live in a country where our Commander and Chief is elected through a democratic process. Fine. Good. Nice. Okay. But on this street? You have a king. You have a man that you can rally behind. Every time he competes, I want every person in this room to be glued to their TVs. And leading up to his matches, you should all be racking your brains, thinking—no, obsessing over how you can best support the one thing that brings pride and honour to your shitty lives. Because not only is STRONK the HOTv Champion, and not only did he beat the ever-loving piss outta Steve Harrison last week to qualify for War Games in June, STRONK is also, for the first time in his life, north of three hundred pounds. The man’s a gargoyle. And that alone should be enough for you to want to, I dunno… do your part. Rake leaves. Mow our lawn. Buy us groceries—expensive shit from Whole Foods. Cook us dinner. Pay our utility bill. Ladies, maybe offer yourselves up as stress relief to Stronk Daddy. The man needs—deserves—a harem of bitches.
STRONK: DO NOT DISRESPECT WOMEN. OR STRONK WILL DISRESPECT THE PUNY MUSCLES IN YOUR PENCIL NECK WITH HIS HANDS.
Greene: My apologies. Yes. You’re not bitches—I’m sure you’re all lovely people, with depth and nuance and individuality and all that. I’m just sayin’, you all need to do more. Because if STRONK moves outta this neighbourhood, it’ll be like when the automobile manufacturers abandoned Detroit. This once beautiful street will spiral into lawlessness. An unsavoury element will descend upon you, threatening your very way of life! And you’ll be left thinking about what could’ve been. Don’t make that mistake. Honour your champion. Do your bit. And if you go to church on Sundays, consider dropping that goofball religion of yours, and start believing in something tangible and real. Believe in the Stronkest Man Alive. Believe in STRONK GODSON. There’s a lot of him to love and cherish.
He hangs his head for a moment, building drama for his closing line.
Greene: They say it takes a village to raise a child… Well, it takes a predominantly white, middle-class, dusty-ass suburban street to sustain a champion. Your champion. Remember that: he’s your champion. And that is a privilege, not a right.
The crowd of partygoers remains silent. Someone coughs. Seconds go by…
Someone yells: “Now can we have our phones back?”
THE NEXT MORNING
The heavy thumps produced by a three hundred-plus pound man that doesn’t give a damn about being quiet and respectful in the morning reverberates throughout the house. STRONK makes his way down from the sleeping floor to the eating-lifting-pooping floor to find a random man passed out face down on the carpet.
He rolls the man over to find Peter.
Veiny dicks and weird vagina dragons have been scrawled in permanent marker all over his face. This he did to himself. Inebriated close to the point of needing medical attention, Peter, as he’s been known to do from time to time (even when home alone on a week night), graffitied his own pockmarked mug before passing out and almost choking on his own vomit.
It’s something he started doing in high school and he never really grew out of it.
STRONK: YOU. OUT. NOW.
The next thing we see is the front door of the house from an upward-facing angle. It swings open and Peter is launched like a sack of dirty laundry out of the camera’s frame like Jazz in Fresh Prince. A naked (save for the HOTv belt) STRONK dusts off his meaty hands, turns around, and walks back inside, closing the door behind him.
Shelley is on his way down the stairs with a little pep in his step. He spots GODSON as he hits the main floor of the house.
Greene: Neighbours, huh? I plan a nice get-together and everyone’s all, ‘I wanna go home,’ ‘I think there’s poison in the food,’ and ‘Can you please turn down the music? It’s hurting my ears.’ Pfffft—get over it, right?
STRONK: THE MUSIC WAS TOO LOUD. AND THE FOOD MADE STRONK’S BELLY ROTTEN. THE SHITTER HAS BEEN DESTROYED.
Greene: Destroyed? I’m sure we can get a plumber to come by and fix it. It can’t be—
Blank-faced, STRONK stares Shelley dead in the eyes.
STRONK: THERE IS NOTHING LEFT TO FIX. YOUR TERRIBLE COOKING COST US A PERFECTLY GOOD SHITTER.
Greene: All right. You good now, though? We can’t have you feeling sick before your match against Brian Hollywood this Sunday. I need my Stronk Daddy at a hundred percent. Pushin’ P, as the kids say.
STRONK: THE DEMON THAT POSSESSED STRONK’S BOWELS HAS BEEN EXERCISED.
Greene: You mean exor—uhh, you know what, forget it.
STRONK: ALREADY HAVE.
STRONK AND SHELLEY’S HOUSE
SOMEWHERE IN MINNESOTA
APRIL 29, 2022
The shed out back is of a decent size. Painted white years ago as a summer project by the previous owners of the house, the paint now peeling and chipping in spots, neglected and eroded like the failed marriage that prompted the house to be sold below asking solely out of urgency and necessity.
Neither STRONK nor Shelley had noticed it when they toured the house initially that day last week. It was an eyesore, purposefully overlooked. Shelley thought it could potentially make a halfway decent chem lab, and wondered if it was rigged for electricity and if it could fit an industrial pill press.
STRONK enters the shed, following behind Shelley.
A rat scurries across the floor, prompting Shelley to attempt to jump up into GODSON’s arms like a damsel in distress, but STRONK’s arms don’t move to cradle him, and he bounces off the big man’s chest before landing in a heap on the floor.
STRONK: YOU FEAR THAT WHICH YOU ARE. heh. THAT IS HUMOUR.
As Shelley is pulling his bruised carcass up off the floor, wondering if the mysterious cut on his forearm could lead to tetanus, something steals STRONK’s attention.
Transfixed, the Stronk Man stands, eyes glued to the cage-like structure before him.
It reminded him of the cage his father locked him in when he was off running around Atlantic City, boozing hard and gambling away what little savings they had. A wretched, foul-smelling prison, too small to either stand up straight or fully stretch out lying down. The persistent stench of canine urine; enough to make your eyes water.
“GET IN THE DAMN KENNEL, SKINNY BOY! YOUR MA AND I HAVE CHECK-IN AT ELEVEN AND A BUNCH OF DRIVING AHEAD OF US! LITTLE BRAIN-SHITTED SKINNY BOY PRETZEL BOY FUCK!”
The cage was where his dog Velcro died a slow, miserable death by way of starvation. Never got rid of his bones until the day the bright idea popped into his father’s head to have the dog kennel play babysitter to his adolescent son. And he did remove the bones. His father wasn’t an evil man. No, of course not. Stern, yes; quick to anger, absolutely; but evil?
“DON’T MAKE ME GIVE YOU THE BELT! YOUR PA AIN’T LOOKIN’ TO WORK UP A SWEAT IN HIS SUNDAY WHITES BEFORE DINNER AT THE CORRAL, BUT I’LL DRENCH THESE COCKSUCKIN’ PITS IF YOU DON’T CRAWL YOUR BONY FUCKIN’ ASS IN THAT DAMN CAGE RIGHT THIS SECOND!”
Sometimes he even remembered to leave him people food. That was nice.
“ARRRRRIGHT! YOUR MA AND I ARE OFF! MAKE SURE YOU RECITE THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE BACKWARDS THEN FORWARDS, AGAIN AND AGAIN, SO YOUR BRAIN DON’T GO TO MUSH! I MEAN, MORE THAN IT ALREADY HAS!”
And even when he didn’t, there was always Velcro’s leftover food. It was a few years past, but it did the trick in cases of emergency.
Greene: You’ve been zoning out a lot lately, big man. You sure you’re okay?
STRONK: STRONK IS HAVING THOSE THINGS YOU CALL MEMORIES.
Greene: Happy memories or sad memories?
STRONK contemplates the question.
STRONK: JUST MEMORIES. STUFF THAT HAPPENED BEFORE RIGHT NOW.
He is officially in War Games.
It’s to be his first cage match ever. Now, from the outside looking in, if you were privy to the grim details of his childhood, you’d be forgiven for thinking that perhaps stepping foot into a cage may trigger something inside STRONK. Past traumas and all that. But truth be told, his memories as a kid are neither happy nor sad. To STRONK, everything is dulled, the edges filed down, stripped of human emotion, lacking in any sentimentality, positive or negative.
Things were, or things are—nothing more, nothing less.
This is the way it has been… since before it wasn’t.
Greene: Oh! The cage? Yeah, I guess the last owners of the place bred dogs or something. Heh. But my thought is, why breed a fucking stupid mongrel when you can brew up some molly, right? People are so dumb. Wasted space and effort.
STRONK snaps his head around and stares at Greene with anger burning in his eyes.
STRONK: DON’T YOU EVER TALK SHIT ABOUT DOGS IN STRONK’S PRESENCE AGAIN.
Greene: I-I was just fuckin’ around, Stronk Daddy. I—
STRONK: STRONK IS SERIOUS. STRONK WILL HURT YOU. DON’T. NOT EVER AGAIN. NEVER.
Greene: (muttering under his breath) First women, now dogs. Jeeze—you’re a real Boy Scout.
STRONK: YOU UNDERESTIMATE STRONK’S HEARING MUSCLES. STRONK WAS NOT A BOY SCOUT. YOU ARE WRONG IN THAT ASSUMPTION. AND SHUT THE FUCK UP.
STRONK’s eyes return to the cage. Shelley offers a sincere apology, but it’s all clicks and buzzes in GODSON’s ears.
STRONK imagines himself in the War Games cage—for which he has no frame of reference because he was not a wrestling fan growing up, and so the structure in his imagination is gothic, the chain link charred, with fire billowing up around its edges; there’s a strange naked little man covered in silver powder except for a red smear across his mouth, accentuating a demonic smile, dancing on the roof of the cage while playing an electric fiddle. He visualizes JJR—who, in his imagination, perhaps as a way to compensate for his loss to him in his debut match, stands ten feet tall, gouging someone in the eye with an object he can’t discern. He visualizes Jace Parker Davidson (for some reason) executing a Lui Kang-style dragon kick, while looking nothing like his actual self; the only reason we know it’s Jace is his black tee shirt explicitly reads ‘Jace Parker Davidson’. He visualizes Rivers… actually he doesn’t because he doesn’t know who she is at this point in time. In time he will, sure, but STRONK’s mental capacity is limited. His brain can only render so many distinct characters ‘on screen’ at a time.
Then there’s STRONK himself, much bigger than he even is in reality, grabbing and smashing and then tossing members of the opposing team—though they all are faceless and look identical. The fans off in the distance cheer voraciously and chant his name.
Greene: Come on, big man, we gotta go.
STRONK gives his massive block of a cranium a shake.
STRONK: GAMES OF WAR.
You know the drill.
STRONK’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS ARE NOW MANY. THEY ARE VERY IMPRESSIVE.
WAR GAMES MATCH.
FOUR STRAIGHT WINS.
LEGIONS OF STRONKITES.
BUT MICHAEL LEE BEST HAS NOT GIVEN STRONK HIS NEW CONTRACT. HE HAS NOT HEARD FROM MICHAEL LEE BEST SINCE HE WROTE THAT VERY NICE LETTER.
STRONK UNDERSTANDS. MICHAEL LEE BEST WANTS TO SEE HIM COMPLETE HIS MISSION. HE WANTS TO SEE STRONK OBLITERATE ANOTHER HUMAN MAN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RING AND CLAIM HIS SPOT AT THE TOP OF THE RANKINGS.
SHELLEY DID THE NUMBERS IN HIS BRAIN AND THE NUMBERS TOLD HIM STRONK WILL BE NUMBER ONE AFTER HE BASHES BRIAN HOLLYWOOD.
BRIAN HOLLYWOOD HAS NOT WON A SINGLES MATCH THIS YEAR. IT IS SAD AND CONFUSING TO STRONK THAT MICHAEL LEE BEST WOULD PUT HIM AGAINST THE STRONKEST MAN ALIVE. THIS MAN IS NOT READY. HE IS NOT ON THE STRONK MAN’S LEVEL. AND HE WILL BE HURT VERY BADLY ON SUNDAY.
BUT STRONK DOES NOT LOOK PAST HIM.
STRONK WILL TREAT HIM THE SAME AS HE TREATED THE UNDEFEATED STEVE HARRISON. STEVE HARRISON EARNED STRONK’S RESPECT. STEVE HARRISON IS A TOUGH MAN WITH BALLS MADE OF SOME TYPE OF HARD NON-FLESHY MATERIAL.
SO NO, STRONK WILL NOT LOOK PAST BRIAN HOLLYWOOD.
SHELLEY SAID IF STRONK LOOKS PAST HIM THEN WEIRD SHIT COULD HAPPEN AND THE UNIVERSE COULD COLLAPSE IN ON ITSELF AND RIGHT COULD BECOME WRONG AND WRONG COULD BECOME RIGHT. THIS IS CONFUSING TO STRONK BUT HE KNOWS SHELLEY IS CORRECT BECAUSE HE READS WORDS AND KNOWS THINGS. STRONK MUST PROTECT THE UNIVERSE AND BEAT BRIAN HOLLYWOOD SO THE SUN DOES NOT BECOME UNHINGED FROM ITS PLACE IN THE SKY AND PLUMMET TOWARD EARTH.
STRONK WILL KEEP THE EARTH SAFE. HE WILL TAKE BRIAN HOLLYWOOD SERIOUSLY EVEN THOUGH HE DOES NOT DESERVE SUCH RESPECT.
THEN STRONK WILL CONTINUE ON HIS BODY CRUMPLING TOUR, WEEK AFTER WEEK, VICTIM AFTER VICTIM, AND WALK INTO WAR GAMES AS THE NUMBER ONE MAN IN H-O-W.
MICHAEL LEE BEST’S FAVOURITE CHAMPION.
THE CHAMPION HE WANTS AND DESERVES.
THE CHAMPION HE WISHES TO BRING INTO HIS INNER CIRCLE OF FRIENDSHIP.
HE WILL WANT TO PLAY TOUCH FOOTBALL WITH STRONK ON A MILD SATURDAY AFTERNOON AT HIS COTTAGE IN THE WOODS. STRONK WILL OBLIGE. A WOMAN WILL MAKE SANDWICHES AND STRONK AND MICHAEL LEE BEST WILL SIT BY THE WATER AND TALK ABOUT ALL TYPES OF THINGS.
MICHAEL LEE BEST WILL TELL STRONK HE IS THE GREATEST MAN HE HAS EVER KNOWN. AND STRONK WILL KNOW THIS IS TRUE BECAUSE IT IS TRUE.
MICHAEL LEE BEST WILL NOT LIKE SHELLEY. AND STRONK WILL TELL HIM, YES, STRONK UNDERSTANDS. SHELLEY IS UNUSUAL AND SMELLS TOO CLEAN EVEN LATE IN THE DAY. THE MAN ONLY SWEATS FROM THE SCALP. HIS BODY DOES NOT SWEAT. STRONK WONDERS IF HE IS HUMAN OR MAYBE HE IS AN ALIEN THAT CAME TO EARTH TO FIND STRONK AND READY HIM FOR GALACTIC BATTLE AGAINST THE ALIEN RACE HE BETRAYED. POSSIBLY.
WAR GAMES IS SECOND ONLY TO BRIAN HOLLYWOOD IN STRONK’S MIND RIGHT NOW.
IT IS AN HONOUR TO REPRESENT MICHAEL LEE BEST.
AND EVERY NIGHT WHEN STRONK SHUTS OFF HIS DAY BRAIN AND THE BLACKNESS COMES, STRONK’S NIGHT BRAIN PLAYS A PICTURE SHOW OF POSSIBLE WAR GAMES OUTCOMES.
BUT EVERY PICTURE IS THE SAME.
STRONK VICTORIOUS. STANDING TALL. ALL THE GOLD. BELOVED BY EVERYONE.
AND JUST BEFORE STRONK COMES BACK TO LIFE AND WAKES FOR HIS MORNING SHIT, STRONK’S PA WALKS THROUGH THE CAGE DOOR. HE TRIES TO WRAP HIS ARMS AROUND STRONK IN WHAT STRONK HAS HEARD CALLED A HUG.
AND STRONK WILL ‘HUG’ HIM BACK.
TIGHTER AND TIGHTER.
THEN TIGHTER SOME MORE.
HIS FEEBLE OLD MAN BONES CRUNCHING AND POPPING INSIDE HIM. BLOOD FOAMING FROM HIS MOUTH BUT STILL—TIGHTER AND TIGHTER.
STRONK THEN TOSSES HIM INTO A GARBAGE CAN.
MICHAEL LEE BEST HOLDS STRONK’S ARM HIGH.
STRONK CANNOT MAKE SENSE OF ANY OF IT…
BUT IT’S GOOD PA COULD BE THERE TO SEE STRONK ACHIEVE HIS DREAMS.
Fade to black.