The Crew’s Quarters
I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghost
“Okay. I’ll bite. Can you please jump off of a bridge?” — Me, asking with my fingers carefully crossed.
The boys were starting to come together.
Well, as much as we could.
I was talking to Scottywood again.
I didn’t hate it.
Harry seemed to be more determined than ever before.
Bobby and Doozer were emaciated rats in a cage.
Next, it was time to shoot my shot. The man of the hour, Clay Byrd. I hate saying Clay’s role is more pivotal than mine, but it is. I’m not too stupid or proud to admit it. When he beats Teddy Boombass the Best Alliance enters stage two with an extra life. That, in the grand P.E.M.D.A.S. of this year’s War Games is as important as it gets.
FUCK YOU, CONOR.
Just think, Clay wins and J&J hold court like the Tag Team Champions of old, the Best Alliance would carry a 3 on 1 advantage into the World Championship portion of the match.
Who doesn’t love those fiery odds?
That advantage ALONE could be what keeps the World Championship strapped around my COOL waist. That said, I needed to talk to Clay. Problem was, I had just gotten done checking everywhere on the ship for my pigeon-toed Alliance mate. I went by the meat and potato ranch. Spilled some swill in the saloon. Shot around the skeet range. Checked inside the BAMBoO Lounge.
I even looked overboard.
Then, it dawned on me. His room. Clay was staying on the ship, it was late at night, and just because I never sleep it doesn’t mean that he was the same way. Not to mention, I’m sure a nice, growing boy like Clay Byrd needs his six hours.
So, I headed in that direction.
I was making my way through the old crew quarters– where the officers and upper echelon stayed and not us wrestlers who now inhabit the ship. Well, it’s where I stay just don’t tell the other guys. Regardless, there I was walking towards Clay’s room to chat him up and make sure I could count on him to do what is right.
Help Big C retain.
That’s when I heard it.
Not a voice, but a tune.
It was faint, but clear.
It was something familiar, but hadn’t rang the inside of my ear in quite a while.
Most of all, it was unsettling.
I tracked the trancing strum down the hall and to the last room on the left. The initials above the doorway read “TM”, probably the last remnants of an officer that had previously worked on the ship. I carefully inched forward, and leaned against the cold steel door trying to get a better listen. It took a few seconds for me to cancel out the rest of the ship noise, but when I finally did…
“Ode to the Bandit?”
Full of disbelief I continued to question my sanity.
“How did those two pigs get out?”
Perturbed, I quickly pulled away from the door and cursed not having Laser with me. Then, I pressed both of my hands on the cold steel and shoved it open. The gentle strum of the Yolkulelee stopped, and my suspicions grew at an alarming rate.
The door had some weight behind it so I couldn’t necessarily kick it open, or I would have.
I didn’t think it was possible, but in an instant I felt like I was Zeb Martin seeing his cousin’s lady parts for the first time.
See, I was expecting to find my two old pals strumming the Yolkulelee at my expense, however, Doozer and Bob were nowhere to be found.
Instead, what I got was a dimly lit room that smelled of burning plastic. In the center of this room was a rickety old chair that Sutler Kael was sitting on top of.
Surprisingly, he was not holding a yolky heirloom, which really started to make me wonder. He did have his back to me though, so maybe he was concealing it somehow. Anyway, he was seemingly aware, but acting unaware of my presence which made things a touch odd. So, I didn’t enter. Rather, I just stood outside in the hallway and took a second before calling out to him, “Uh, you okay? It sounded like a folk concert in here.”
Clearly not startled by my intrusion, Sutler stayed seated. He kept his body completely rigid, but slowly started to turn his head against the current. Eventually, he was able to peek at me from the furthest corner of his seemingly glowing yolk colored eye. He held that stiff position for a few awkward seconds, and then emotionless in tone and expression answered, “Jiles, you startled us. No, we haven’t heard anything. We never hear anything here.”
The Son of Scions snickered loud enough for me to barely hear him. I began to get even more nervous than I already was. “Us?” I prodded, my face twisted with confusion. “Who the fuck is we?”
“..heh-heh..no one.” He sharply responded. His tone was gravelly, and void of his normal HR comfort.
“How long have you been on the ship for? Have you seen Clay?” I cautiously inquired in a half assed attempt to clear the air. “I want to talk to him.”
“I’ve always been here, as for Clay? He’s right over there.” Sutler pointed to the wall. There were no other rooms, compartments, paintings to be trapped in, whatever– like I said the space was barren except for him and the chair he sat on. He continued, “You can’t unscramble an egg, Jiles, you can only eat it. Won’t you join us for a meal?” He snickered again. This time there was malice and malcontent behind it. “Well? What are you waiting for?”
Good thing for me I’ve seen this movie before.
“What’s that? Oh, Lee is calling me. Let’s do it later.” I casually responded. “I’ll catch up with you later. All of you, I suppose. I’m COMING! Jesus, your uncle is a real ball buster. Then again I’m sure you knew that.” I hastily closed the door before Sutler’s head could spin one hundred and eighty degrees, and felt an amazing sense of relief.
It was like I had survived something traumatic that I shouldn’t have.
So how it’ll feel after The Maestro wins War Games.
I turned and started to walk away, but then felt this urge that stopped me dead in John Sektor’s track marks. “Fuck. If he’s stuck in that wall…” I said to myself as guilt and responsibility started to mount. “Damn it, why must he be so important? Stupid fucking cowboy.” Damned, I spun on a heel and headed back.
Sutler was a nice fellow. We were on the same team. We had always gotten along. Sure, maybe that’s because just a few seconds ago was the first time I had talked to him, but hey, I knew his father, and I know his Uncle.
Plus, he helped me out with Conor.
All of that’s got to count for something.
I knocked this time, like that would change a thing, and then opened the door once more. This time no one was in the room, and there was random equipment strewn about instead of just a chair.
In a panic, I gently closed the door and shuffled my cool ass to the safety of my executive quarters. There, I barricaded the oak double door entrance with whatever I could find. Then, I started the long process of convincing myself that it wasn’t an actual Sutlergeist that I had encountered, but a side effect of the weed I had smoked earlier in the day.
I hopped in my bunk, climbed under my covers, and closed my eyes tight. Right as I was about to fall asleep I started to hear it again.
The strum of the Yolkulelee.
“Everything is fine.”
Worth The Wait
“What were you thinking about when they took your new headshot? Did the photographer tell you to smile like you’re using a bidet? You fucking creep.” — Me, trying to get to the dirty bottom of it.
This is it. This is not a drill. Finally, it is happening.
The Big C is FINALLY going to defend the World Championship?
I’ve been on the War Games card before. I’ve allowed others to take my place on the War Games card before. I might have even flaked on the War Games card before.
I’ve never been a Wildcard. I’ve never been a Captain. I’ve never been the first person eliminated, or the last man standing. I’ve never even experienced anything in between. Matter of fact, the only time I’ve ever been inside the chaos structure was for a massive tag title romp a couple of years back.
In other words, however many years I’ve spent in High Octane, I’ve spent all of them watching the biggest match of the year from the sidelines.
Do those repeated and perceived as snubbing’s make me salty? Yes. Yes they do. Did I deserve them? Probably, but that doesn’t change the way I feel about it. Most importantly, will I use those jaded memories as a way of sharpening my boots before entering the cages? Yes, you bet your ass I will.
Artsy Peasant. Portuguese water crayon, Xander Azula. Soft shell crab, Teddy Palmer. Zeb Martian. The fuse box kid whose hair looks like he licked one. Sutler, Solex, Harrison, and Byrdman.
This is all of our first time participating in War Games.
What a fucking slap in the face.
Not a question.
Unlike those others who are joining me as War Games rookies, it took me twelve years. Not twelve months, minutes, matches, or licks off of Lee’s lollipop. I didn’t get a golden ticket. I didn’t ride a tidal wave. I didn’t mumble my way to this. I didn’t jump down the pipe and wind up on stage 8-4, War Games Main Event.
I grinded to get here.
To think that some people are even suggesting I’d mail it in.
I am the World Champion, and this is my FIRST War Games Main Event. That’s a pretty fucking big deal. The spotlight, pressure, stakes, you name it, it’s never been brighter, nor has it weighed heavier upon me.
MY FUCKING HAIR IS RADIATING BECAUSE OF IT.
Yet in spite of all this, and even after repeatedly quoting myself speaking the truth, people, both Mongoloid and Crumb alike, allowed their aspersions to get the better of them.
NOW wait just a hubric minute, dammet!
People like Dan Ryan who assume this is some sort of game to me.
War, a game. Ha.
People like Lindsay Troy who think I’m out on the battlefield as a part of the postal service.
People like Teddy Palmer who are under the impression that maybe I’d rather be eating steak dinners, surfing waves, and acquiescing my regrettable title of worst chest tattoo than properly defending my magnificent other worldly one.
People like Conor Fuse who seem to have forgotten I’m a salty motherfucker who enjoys spreading the NaCl because it makes me feel good and my dick hard.
People like Arthur Pleasant who simply need to be reminded that I LOVE BEING THE WORLD CHAMPION BECAUSE IT MEANS CRUMB FUCKS LIKE HIM, ZEB MARTIN, AND DARIN ZION ARE NOT.
Crumbs, the lot of them.
I’m not usually apologetic, but this time I will make an exception.
So fucking sorry for making it look so easy it seems like I don’t care, or that I’m lazy, or that I’m the most unmotivated World Champion since Dan Ryan.
It is no easy feat being a plus 17 handicap.
However, please continue to believe all that’s left for me to do is me lick the stamp. I’ll welcome your collective giant blunder with open arms, and further cement my legacy as High Octane World Champion at your miserable expenses. After all, I own some big fucking wrestling tights, and if I have to find room for five, six, nine… even fifteen faces…
Did You Hear That?
Of Course You Didn’t
“Do you realize that I Termiblasted Mike twice and you still lost to him?” — Me, still with my fingers crossed that he didn’t catch any of this because he is free falling from a bridge.
A day had passed since the Sutler incident. I am ninety percent convinced it was a weed induced issue, and not an actual apparition.
The other ten percent of me though…
Well, let’s just say I haven’t heard the Yolkulelee since I had my head under the covers. Also, I still haven’t been able to find Clay. However, both of those things were about to change. I was out on the deck of the USS Octane, running from the bow to stern as I normally do for my cardio workouts.
I was sweating, plotting, scheming, and thinking…
Who can I trust? Who is the threat? Who can I sacrifice? Who isn’t expendable? How will I get all of those faces on my wrestling tights?
Does Dan realize all the quotes are about him?
You know, Champion level shit.
Then, I saw him. Clay was out on my old rig, the one I used to prepare for the cage match at March To Glory. Pretty much just a giant section of chain link fence. He was getting around on it, not as well as I could obviously, but for a man his size I was surprised at how well he was moving about.
“Fucking favorite, I’ll gut Zipperlips McSnitches for doing me like that.”
I took a deep breath, as if swallowing my pride was dependent upon it.
“Just get him to play ball. He seems silly enough. Big. Dumb. Maybe just compliment him. Tell him he has a nice hat. That should work. If only he were from Boston.”
Confident, I calmly approached Clay as he got done scaling the cage fencing. I waved to him like I was from Texas, so like a steer, and then politely asked, “You got a minute?” Right as he was about to eat the apple, I started to hear the Yolkulelee again. It was apparent that he didn’t, because I couldn’t even hear myself think, and he just kept on talking like I had asked him about his rich family history.
“Wait!” I shouted out, interrupting him. “You don’t hear that?” He shrugged, and I winced as the strumming got louder. I was starting to get disoriented it became so deafening, and feared I might go overboard like he once did.
I’m a big irony guy.
It wouldn’t have been lost on me.
So, playing to the side of caution, I haphazardly waved goodbye and moved away from him as fast as I could. The further I got from him, the more the music subsided. It was as if it were protecting Clay from my presence.
Or protecting me from his.
“Everything’s still fine.”
“HOW does it feel to go through puberty at every High Octane Pay Per View?” — Me, using this space to clarify that quote was a ball dropping joke.
This goes out to you, and you, and you.
This goes out to you, and you.
This goes out to you…
The Best Alliance.
Don’t miss, boys.
Do. Not. Miss.
Not because I’ve been on both sides of the backstabbing coin before and am better at it than any of you. Not because I’ll cut out your heart with the lens from my BA-shades while smoking a joint and listening to Screamin’ Jay. Don’t miss because to fuck me over is to fuck over the Best Alliance, and therefore Lee Best, The God of War. I imagine all of you, like me, enjoy your eyes the way that they are. Should you choose to shoot your shot, and for some reason don’t finish the job, GOD fucking help you.
Actually, no, he won’t.
I am the Colonel. I live for the impossible. I double dog dare the never been done before. Some might even say I’m lucky like that. Oh, and I’m the World Champion of the Best Alliance. Therefore, I don’t have to trust any of you. I really don’t. I’m stupid enough to think that I can do this all on my own anyway.
But, I do.
You see, I trust in the horrific recompense Lee Best, The GOD of WAR will take for screwing him over.
I know you do to.
After all, that’s the one thing we all have in common.
We know the type of man Lee Best is.
Do yourself a favor before you get stupid, and remember what the sunrise looks like. Remember your mother’s smile, or how it feels watching your child laugh. Maybe it’s the way your favorite crack pipe billows, how you look wearing a stupid hat, or drinking out of milk glass. Whatever the fuck it is, remember it, cause if any of you fuck me, Lee, and the rest of The Alliance over by going into business for yourself I can promise you you’ll never be seeing those things the same way again.
Shoe, Meet Other Foot
“I hope you liked the quotes, Dan.” — Me, out of questions to ask.
So, I tried to talk to Clay.
I got Yolkulelee’d.
I went back to my quarters to actually get some sleep thinking that could solve my problem.
I got Yolkulelee’d.
I found a person the next day who worked on the ship just to ask them what time it was since I hadn’t slept and was starting to get delirious.
I got Yolkulelee’d.
Finally, and luckily, I simply passed out. When I woke I was famished, so I placed a takeout order online. I selected cash payment by mistake, and wound up tipping the delivery guy like twenty extra bucks because I couldn’t hear how much I owed him. Granted, he was speaking Japanese I’m assuming, so I wouldn’t have understood him to begin with. Still, I was robbed of finding out and you know why?
Because I got Yolkulelee’d.
Hopefully he didn’t get a flat tire on his way home.
I have had enough.
You’ve won, Yolkulelee.
I reached out, and released the lock. I pulled open the door, and sitting right where I had left them were Bobby Dean and Doozer. Somehow, they managed to not only get a bag of popcorn inside their domicile, but were also watching Zeb Martin predict my future via an old school, ten inch tube television.
Funny, I could hear their pig squealing and not the Yolkulelee.
After ignoring me and slapping fives while young Zeb cut his jib, Bobby offered me some popcorn. I smacked the bag out of his hand and Termiblasted the television for his insolence. They both thought it was hysterical, me being so riled up. Then, the Dooze casually asked me, “Hey, have you heard it?”
“Don’t you fucking dare.” — My inner voice
“Yeah, you’ve heard it, I can tell.” He dared, the bastard.
The room fell silent in an instant. Super hush. Even Bob’s belly ceased to growl. I cloaked my newly emancipated concern like the Champion of COOL that I am and answered, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Sure thing, liar.” Bobby quickly quipped, then farted, then lobbed a piece of popcorn he plucked from the ground into the air and caught it with his mouth. “Still got it.” He arrogantly said to me while looking into my eyes and winking. My blood boiled, nostrils burned, but more importantly, my bluff was called.
So, I conceded.
“Do you guys know what it means? I haven’t been able to communicate with anyone for the past couple of days. Each time I try, all I can hear is the Yolkulelee. You don’t think… is he back?”
Looking worried about his own skin, Bobby motioned for me to leave; acting as if my presence alone put him and Dooze in grave danger. Doozer, playing the role of bouncer, began to usher me out of their tiny room.
“Wait!” I screamed out, trying to rectify my situation. “You can go! I’ll let you go! You’re free! We’re in Japan, have fun.” I bowed, as if that would entice my old friends to leave their rathole and in doing so lift this jinx I’d fallen under.
Doozer though, well he remorselessly said to me before pushing me out of the room and slamming the door shut in my face, “Nah, we’ll wait it out in here. Good luck with that, though. Champ.”
I tried yanking the door back open, but amongst their petty laughter they had somehow locked it from the inside of the room.
Despicable, resourceful rats.
Then, I heard another bag of popcorn being ripped open, and Doozer casually instructing Bobby to, “Get the spare television out from under the bed and run Zeb back again. I can listen to our boy tell Jiles he’s going to die alone for days. DAYS! So good.”
I stood there with my shoulders sunken, and on the outside looking in for the first time in a while.
“Okay. Maybe everything isn’t fine.”