The scene is a quiet, suburban neighborhood at 1:00AM. The houses line up nicely all the way down the street before turning into a courtyard. While the location is unknown, it seems far from a heavily populated area. A lime green car quietly strolls up to a gray-brick house with the numbers “120” on it. The engine is immediately turned off and inside the car is Conor Fuse as the driver and The Game Boy in the back, who’s taking up plenty of space. While The Vintage may be worried about the sheer size difference between himself and Dan Ryan, one look in the rear view mirror at how his henchman can barely fit across two seats, it helps Conor put his mind to rest.
“Ready?” Fuse says with a smirk.
Both men creep out their doors and close them softly. Conor takes in the two story house with a big side yard, next to an electrical tower, while the scene zooms out, showing the surroundings. Conor is carrying a lime green backpack but it’s not the same one as before. To an OCD mind similar to The Vintage, he would mention this is a Nike branded bag and not an Adidas one. Usually, Conor supports Adidas and only Adidias but this bag was discounted by 70% online, so he thought “what the hell”. Anyway…
“Around the side.” He states softly. The Game Boy nods and they both duck down while zooming across the front grass. The Halo From Hell shows surprisingly agile feet. From day one, he’s always come across like a big, immobile dummy, just not today.
The two men reach the side of the house. Conor checks around him to make sure the coast is clear, then he digs into his green track pants and pulls out a same colored ski mask. Perhaps, one would wonder why he still wears green at a time like this. If this is indeed a potential break-in attempt, shouldn’t he go with black? Black is the new orange and The Game Boy is dressed in all black.
“Now I have a mask, too.” Conor laughs softly, referencing The Game Boy’s mask.
The duo creep across the side of the house, ducking underneath the windows although no lights are on. Once they get to the backyard, they’re surrounded by trees and a forest in the distance. There’s a small patio that connects to a main floor door and two basement windows, covered in smoked glass so you can’t see inside.
Conor winks through his mask. He carefully slides the backpack off and reaches inside. Finding a special modified wrench, Conor treats it like some kind of power-up. Trying to keep a serious face, he holds it high into the air, as if Link from The Legend of Zelda received a power heart or raft from a strange man living inside of a cave.
“I got: wrench.” Conor can’t stop giggling at his attempt to unveil a power-up.
But Fuse is well-trained. It doesn’t take long for him to knock off the screws and stick the edge of the wrench deep into the crack of the window, opening it with ease.
“I know you won’t fit.” Conor says to Game Boy, as he pulls back the window. “Follow the plan.”
TGB nods and marches towards the forest. Once there, The Mini Boss stands beside a tree in order to “camouflage” himself. This location gives the hulking man a great perspective of the bedroom windows, other than the ones facing the front of the street. Conor gives a thumbs up to his partner before he slides inside.
“Dammit.” Conor mentions as he places both feet on the basement floor. “I forgot to tell him the code word is: Pillow.”
Like it matters. Not only has The Game Boy proven to be mute but how TGB could convey this without a walkie talkie-
Conor opens the backpack and takes out a walkie talkie.
“Stay prepared. Boy scout motto.” He says with a grin, even though he hated boy scouts. Fuse turns the volume on slowly. “Hey, hey Game Boy, the code word is: Pillow.”
There’s no response on the other end. So, it can be assumed Conor is only half of an idiot in this case.
Next item to take out of the backpack is a flashlight. Conor shines it around the unfinished basement, cluttered with storage boxes. There is drywall up throughout the rooms, meaning although it’s unfinished, there are numerous locations to explore. Fuse has landed himself in a very large, rectangular shaped room. There are two old sofas in the far corner and some posters on the wall. Transformers, Batman Begins and X-Men are the ones which are visible, making this look like an old children’s rec room of some kind. It takes Conor all of five-seconds to come to the conclusion that what he’s looking for isn’t in here.
“This isn’t in here.” He thinks to himself.
The upcoming ICON challenger carefully places foot after foot on the ground, making sure he shines the light in front of him before he does. Not one squeak comes out from him now. He’s truly in stealth mode, like never before.
Just as Conor is about to leave this basement room, he stops, happening to catch another poster out of the corner of his eyes. He shines the light on it and immediately smiles warmly. “Wedding Crashers: The Rules of Wedding Crashing.” Conor is trying to be so cautious of speaking out loud and yet, as he mouths the words he reads, he can’t help but have a tiny whisper flow through the basement unit.
“Rule One: Never leave a crasher behind.” Fuse stops to contemplate this thought. “Yeah, that makes sense.”
“Rule Two: Never use your real name.” Fuse nods. “I never do.”
“Rule Three: Never confess. Yep, can’t argue there.”
He skims the rules until he lands on something he really likes.
“Rule Thirteen: Bridesmaids are desperate. Console them.” There’s no additional comment for Conor to make on this one. He thinks that’s a super solid idea.
“Rule Eighteen: You love animals and children.” A mischievous grin takes hold of Conor’s face, as if insinuating he’s said a similar statement like this many times before and didn’t mean a word of it. “Of course I do.”
“Rule Twenty-One: Make sure she’s eighteen.” Conor rolls his eyes. “Duh.”
And he skims a few more…
“Rule Twenty-Nine: Always be a team player.” Conor nods again, really letting this one sink in like it’s excellent advice. “Game Boy, I got you bro.”
He could go on forever but alas, life moves on. It’s hard for someone who can get so focused on random items to feel the need to read it all. “Perhaps another time.” Conor says, still realizing there’s half the poster to skim through.
He shines the flashlight down the hallway location of the basement. There, he comes upon a furnace room to his right-hand side. This one is filled with similar storage boxes.
“Eureeka.” He says, almost a little too loudly. And into the boxes he goes, quietly opening one up, looking inside with his flashlight and moving things around with his hands, only to come up empty and move onto the next. There are approximately fifteen storage boxes in this room. By now, he’s on box three.
“C’mon. Where did you put it? I know it’s in here.”
After box five is opened, however, it’s a different story. You can tell by the look on Conor’s face he knows he is close. Too close. The Vintage rummages through.
“No.” He states sharply, putting his hands on an item and then moving on. “No. No. Wow, I didn’t know he kept this. Then again, should I be surprised? That guy-”
He stops cold in his tracks. His body is numb. Conor’s found what he’s looking for. He slowly pulls the object out of the box and holds it up, like he was Indiana Jones and found the Golden Idol.
“There you are. In all your beauty.” Conor’s absolutely captivated.
At first, it looks like some really odd looking white and black intercom box, made in the 60s or 70s. Upon closer glance, however, true gamers will recognize it as a Magnavox Odyssey, a video gaming system developed in 1972.
“I have you… again-” A basement light turns on. Conor is frozen in fear.
“HELLO!?” A voice shouts, beginning to descend down the basement steps. “I have a baseball bat and I know how to use it! I also have my lawyer on speed dial!”
The figure comes into view. She’s an older woman, looking to be in her 60s with her light brown hair tied back into a ponytail, wearing a pink nightgown. Maintaining true to her word, in one hand is a phone and the other a baseball bat. Once she reaches the bottom stair, the woman snaps her head in the direction of the man in her peripherals.
“CONOR! What are you doing here!?” She shouts, seemingly angry at first. The Vintage finally lowers the Magnavox Odyssey and turns to the woman.
“Mom, go back to bed, okay?”
The woman (for the sake of it will now be known as “Mrs. Fuse”) puts the phone in her nightgown pocket and rolls the bat on the cement floor. “I will not. What is the meaning of all of this? You know, you could’ve rang the doorbell or called.”
Conor rolls his eyes. “Yeah but where’s the fun in that?”
Mrs. Fuse’s anger has calmed down. How can she stay mad at that cute little face? “Well, you might as well come to the kitchen. Your father’s still sleeping. He was playing guitar in his room all night. Is your friend around too?”
Conor shakes his head no but Mrs. Fuse knows better than that.
“Bring him in. Is he by the trees again?” The woman walks up the stairs, trying to keep her mind from racing through the numerous offerings she could provide the duo. “Do you want tea? There’s chocolate milk in the fridge. I picked up some pop tarts because your brother is coming to visit tomorrow. Do you want to stay until then? I can make up the spare room or you can sleep down here, whatever you’d like.”
Honestly, she just keeps rambling. It’s best to skip ahead and take it from there.
It’s probably 3:00AM by now but to quote Matchbox 20, nobody is “lonely” here. The kitchen light is on, Conor sits at the table while The Game Boy leans against the side of a maroon colored cupboard and “Mrs. Fuse”, as she will continue to be referred to, works away preparing more snacks on the counter top beside the sink, in mid-conversation.
“So why did you come all this way for that old thing?” She asks, pointing to the Magnavox Odyssey on the island table, across from the fridge.
The upcoming ICON challenger sighs and rolls his eyes. “Mom, that’s a real vintage system. People think home consoles like Atari, ColecoVision and original Nintendo are the neat throwbacks. Naa, Mom, naa. Give me a Fairchild Channel F or an RCA Studio II. People forget about the Bally Astrocade but I’ll go Ballys Deep in those graphics any day of the week.”
Mrs. Fuse nods while slicing up an apple. “Uh huh. Your father and I watched Avatar for the first time yesterday. He did not care for it but that’s no surprise. All he wants to do is watch those old 50s movies and sometimes he can be so close-minded-”
“Mom, I don’t care.” Conor remarks, taking a sip of his chocolate milk. The Vintage looks at his Game Boy, who’s nursing his tea because it’s too hot. Otherwise, as always, The Game Boy is just an imposing background figure.
Mrs. Fuse walks up to The Game Boy and offers him an apple slice but The Mini Boss shakes his head no. Not even phased from his hulking definition, or the NES-styles mask over his face, Mrs. Fuse simply smiles and places the sliced apple pieces on a tray at the kitchen table. She takes a seat across from her son.
“So, tell me again, why did you need this system?”
Conor leans back in his chair and huffs. “It’s a metaphor, mom.”
“A metaphor for what?”
“That I’m gonna beat Dan Ryan. He’s old. Been around the block as they say. The Magnavox Odyssey is a tool I’m going to take with me to our title match. You know, maybe use it as a distraction. Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I go straight through him and I don’t even need it.”
Unlike before, Mrs. Fuse is listening to Conor this time but she can’t help but grow confused. “Dan Ryan? He’s the mean man on the television, isn’t he?”
“Mom, Christ, they’re all mean! HOW is a whirlwind of angry BOTS all trying to hurt one-another. It’s crazy!”
Mrs. Fuse puts a hand to her chin. “I thought you were scared of Dan Ryan?”
“I am scared. But…” Conor trails off, turning around to look at the Magnavox Odyssey. “I’m not anymore. At least not like earlier.”
Fuse finishes his chocolate milk before continuing. “He’s an evil Boss, yes. He’s going to overlook me, yes. Or maybe I don’t want that. Maybe I should get right in his face instead. Like I said, I’m no longer scared of him, not like that.”
Mrs. Fuse walks to one of the cupboards. She opens it, revealing a plethora of snacks. From Pop Tarts, to Snickers bars, to tons of Fruit Roll Ups, you name it, it’s there.
“He’s contradicting himself again.” Mrs. Fuse says, directed towards The Game Boy. “One day he wants to play the good guy, the next day he wants to play the bad guy. One day he’s scared, the next day he’s not.”
“MOM” Conor snaps. “We don’t use terminology like ‘bad guy’ and ‘good guy’.”
Mrs. Fuse takes out an enclosed tray of cupcakes as she walks towards her son. “Conor, my dear, I don’t know what to call things. Don’t jump down my throat, okay? I’m just saying… you need to make your mind up, honey.”
She hands the enclosed tray of cupcakes to Conor.
“Here. Before you go, I made a batch. Can you give some to that Best boy?”
Conor takes a deep gulp. “M- Mike?”
“Yeah. He seems like such a sweetheart on the television. A bit of a loner, yes but he needs some love to go along with that World Title. I don’t think he had a very supportive family so I’m sure you two can become Best friends. I made these with your grandma’s special recipe…”
“But I’m fighting Dan.”
Mrs. Fuse rubs Conor’s head, much like he would tussle The Game Boy’s hair in previous scenes. “I know.” She states. “He can have some too. I just think Mike needs a little extra attention.”
Conor grits his teeth. He begrudgingly snatches the tray of cookies, stands and turns to The Game Boy. The Halo From Hell walks over to the kitchen island and takes the Magnavox Odyssey.
“Okay Mom.” Conor says with a sigh. “This has been fun but we better get going.”
“That’s okay.” Mrs. Fuse says, giving her son a kiss on the side of the head, even though he clearly didn’t want one. “You have fun out there.”
They are about to head out the kitchen door before Mrs. Fuse stops them once more. “Oh and your brother Tyler is coming by tomorrow.”
“Yeah, I know. You said that.”
Mrs. Fuse smiles. “Oh right, silly me. Are you two not talking right now?”
“I’m not talking to either of them right now, I’m too busy.”
Mrs. Fuse takes the empty dishes, putting them in the sink. She seems to have tuned out her son again. “Well okay. Please do see Mike gets a cupcake.”
The HOW duo exit through the kitchen backdoor, while Conor impersonates his mother before the scene comes to an end. “Please do see Mike gets a cupcake.” He mocks. “Dan Ryan is a mean boy.”
Conor takes one look at the Magnavox Odyssey in The Game Boy’s hands. He drops his frustration and replaces it with a looming sense of mischief.
“Game on, Dan Ryan. Game on.”
Dan, when I look back on your career, a few things come to mind.
I respect what you’ve done with your career. Your story has been told over and over but it’s always compelling. That’s why you’re the ICON. That’s why you’ve won lots of achievement trophies.
Do I fear you? Yes, in certain ways, I do. You’re imposing. You’re much stronger than me. You have a mean-streak and you’ve taken down countless others who have followed a similar path like myself. So why should I be any different?
But I am different. My fear vanishes as I come to understand you more. As I watch your history unfold before my eyes. It’s not fear that’s inside of me, it’s simply pity.
You’re past your prime. You’ve been running on the same 16-bit system for years. Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t get it done inside the ring. My NES, SNES and clearly, as you saw, my Magnavox Odyssey still purr like a kitten. It’s the systems of today where you need your bullshit warranties, Pro-style upgrades and enhanced graphics where gameplay and story fall by the wayside because appearances… and eye candy is all the people care about. There is no substance.
You are as deeply intertwined as they come. But that’s why I pity you.
How long do you have to continue to prove your worth? Have you not done so already? How many extra lives does one have in the game of wrestling?
I may speak in riddles or metaphors, as you mentioned. And I will continue to do so.
But one thing I ask of you… one thing I ask from all of you is, am I wrong when I compare our worlds?
Wrestling and Gaming are the exact same thing.
You can’t give it up. You always keep playing, trying to find that rush. When you’re past your prime you stick to your roots and stay in the game. Keep playing and playing, because it’s what you know. In fact, it may be all you know.
I’m not saying you should hang it up, Dan. I’m not saying you should blow on your cartridge. I’m only wondering why you feel the need to continue to prove things you already have, time and time again?
Move on. Train someone else. Develop a new wrestler to take on the world. There are only so many times you can play the same levels.
These may be metaphors but like I said, tell me the wrestling world and the gaming community isn’t the same thing.
Wrestlers are stuck with the same addictions as gamers. They’ll go on like this forever until their system inevitably breaks.
Refueled XL. Like I stated earlier, I asked myself if I fear you. And yet, the anger you show towards me is being confused for fear as well. Fear I may be right. Fear that I am coming. You’re just not as in-touch with yourself as you should be.
Make no mistake, my ICON…
This is a game. I am a boy. And I’m about to show you who’s Boss.