Past Someone’s Bedtime
HOW the Couch Burns
It’s almost 8 PM.
WE ARE ABOUT TO GO LIVE!
TWENTY MINUTE SPECIAL!
ON THE HOT TEE VEE.
Pretaped Bandit shenanigans are a battery that needs recharging.
Doozer is likely fast asleep. The early bird dinner special strikes again. He also wakes up at 4:45 AM to take his pills and make cinnamon raisin toast, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise he usually doesn’t see the street lights turn on.
In any event, I’m in here, he’s out there, and there she is. My beauty. My place of comfort. My throne. My 97red, velvet loveseat. Too hot to touch, let alone sit upon for mortal men. That is… unless you got a pair of these.
Yeah, I pointed at my balls.
I know, you were probably thinking it would be the T-shades.
Next to her, of course, old trusty. Thee fern. The reliable green leaves look ready for the tea. I better not let it steep too long, I would hate to disappoint.
Can’t have that.
Won’t have that.
Once again, the still shot of a full moon is on the wall-mounted, giant flat screen. AKA, High Chief Graybush Wolfscornwalker is about to come out of the tent and dance around the fire. Also on the wall, the portrait of the Bandits’ pliable fallen brother of the yolk and shell. Taken from us far too soon, he is sorely missed more and more each day. I know for a fact he would have been able to help me with my personal struggle.
He would have kept me true to code.
I’d like to point out that some space has been made to accommodate the addition of another portrait. Matter of fact, the ornate, golden leafed, empty frame is already hanging on the wall.
Just like the one CBD has.
Which Bandit will it be this time?
Maybe it’s him.
And of course, there’s me. The Maestro. Back in the saddle and ready to eviscerate. Yes, those are my always lauded, jet-black framed, mirror lense tinted, Terminator Skull Fucker, Skynet Special Edition, T-shades for short, eh, T-shades concealing my gaze. The ones not even John Connor can get his whiny little hands on. Also on full display, a beacon of valiant determination in the face of crippling adversity: my slicked back, gray hair.
The gift Danny left me with.
Could be worse.
Could be Peg Murray.
No fancy t-shirt to promote this go around, just the tried and true company jumpsuit with the black track stripes. On my feet, a pair of vintage, all white, 2012 Air Stevens. I figured the sportswear conflict of interest would further accentuate my own.
Plus, I’m back.
I take my seat, causing my COOL to steam like a kettle.
“Hello again, Octabandits. Welcome. Thank you for joining me once again. Tonight, we have quite the trek ahead of us. A moment so special, the only way to do it was live! Two Bandits. A cow. An inmate. ONE match. ONE chance at immortality. Before all that though, a toast to the man of his word.”
A proud smile spreads across my face. I clear my throat, straighten my posture, hold out an imaginary glass, and jokingly quip, “Well, what do you know? How about that? Who’d have ever thought? Me? No. All I did was say what was going to happen. Explicitly. I even told Bobby what was going to happen before the match. I told everyone, everywhere, what was going to happen, and I couldn’t have been any more blunt about it.”
I take a cordial sip of imaginary bubbly, then playfully throw my arms up in the air as if to say I don’t know the answers.
Then, I chuckle after realizing that indeed I do.
“And I’ll be damned. It happened. Just like I said it would.”
“Do I feel bad about Totally Eggsecuting Brian Hollywood all the way to Rodeo Drive? No. That release was spiritual. Needed. Plus, it was a pristine example of what we, the Bandits, are capable of doing. Brian didn’t cross us. Hell, he didn’t even slander us. But, like I said last week, it need not matter what he did.” Sinister in tone, I add, “Everyone pays for the sins of the Bruvs. Guilty, and innocent alike.”
“That said, Brian, don’t blame me. Don’t blame Bobby. Don’t blame the Bandits. Don’t blame your front man. Blame the Bruvs for your Total Eggsecution.” I point to wherever Mikey and Kendrix are to further illustrate whose fault it is. “They did that to you. Whenever you remember your first name, go tell them how you feel about it.”
My intense pointing quickly snaps into a hearty thumbs up. I slowly ease back in my throne, crossing my right leg over my left.
“Which makes me wonder…”
A crack of the knuckles and a lick of the lips.
Time to savor.
“Who’s it going to be this week that suffers like I have suffered? Who gets to point their finger at the Bruvs and ask them why? Why did you have to go and turn him into Baba Yaga? Why did you remove the one thing keeping him in line? Why did you so willingly and thoughtlesslly fuck us and yourselves in the ass?”
Those questions and more, answered this Saturday Night as High Octane Wrestling presents on HOTv, Refueled XXXV: Who’s afraid of the Big, Bad, Wolf?
For now though, it’s always fun to speculate.
“Will it be Morris E. Goodman? The Miracle Man, and aloof preacher of Bandit slander himself? Very well could be. I mean, he does have it coming, right? Guy has taken so many pot shots at us since walking through the door I’m starting to think I should get another fern.”
“But really, Steve. Lets chat for a bit, shall we? I know you’ve been praying for the attention, and now that we’re sitting in the same pew I can finally properly bless you. You’ve done well for yourself this far into your High Octane journey. Without blemish. That ends. Doozer and I are going to beat the leprosy out of you on Saturday night. I don’t know who of us will enjoy it more, but know that we both will. Immensely. Better call Publishers Clearing House, cause it’s about to happen to you.”
That’s my phone telling me I have a new text message. So, being an always curious one, I decide to check it out. “Hold up a second.”
Better not be another one of Bobby’s…
Hey loser, I’m going on vacation this week. You and Dooze will have to wait. Tell Bobby and your gray hair I hate them. Thanks. M.
My lip curls from the disappointment. I look up, and conveniently add, “Well, how about that? I’ve just learned it only took one minute of being in the crosshairs for Steve to find what he’s been looking for. Shame.”
But I do not falter.
“The good news is there’s always more sheep for the wolf to prey on.”
There goes my phone again. If it’s Harrison fucking with me–
Not an unknown number this time.
But an alert from HOwrestling.com
High Flyer will be replacing Steve Harrison in the Number One Contenders LADDER Match for the LSD Championship. He will now face off against Cancer Jiles and blah blah…
I look up from my phone once more, show the text for all to see, slide it back into my jacket pocket, and confidently continue, “It would seem as if Uncle Lee has a soft spot for High Flyer. The former legend — Flyer, not Lee — is replacing Harrison in the newly announced LADDER match after Mr. Miracle Dip thought he would have better luck in VEGAS than against me.”
I’m going to make one hell of an LSD Champion.
Being the consummate professional I am, the news, while surprising, does not rattle my COOLYMPIAN reserve. I’ve been climbing the metaphorical ladder since April. I won’t bat an eye at having to climb a real one to continue doing so.
“That’s right. I said LADDER match; contract for a shot to dethrone Cecil and become ELL ESS DEE CHAMPION hanging high above the ring! A Maestro speciality! HA! HA! Where is my violin!?!”
I firmly, but delicately press my chin against my left shoulder, hold my left arm out in the front of me, and with my right arm begin to strum. I sharply snap my head to the tune playing inside of it, while rigidly swaying to the song’s mystical crescendos.
The four second piece concludes, and I take the moment to bask in your applause.
Okay, so the COOLYMPIAN reserve was busy tying its shoe.
“I’ll say this much, and pay attention closely to what comes next Greenhorns, you’ll be wiser to know it. That’s the Machine for you. HOW 101. I walk in here, prepared for one thing… now Harrison is out, Flyer is in, and it’s a LADDER match. Who knows what else might happen before the conclusion of this episode of HOW the Couch Burns?”
I perk up.
I’ve spent enough time spinning my wheels about where to go next.
“Only one way to find out. ONWARD.”
Unfazed, I ease back on the velvet, and return to form. “Let’s pick back up with the newly announced man of the hour, shall we? Mister! High Flyer. Tommy, boy. He’s got the jazz hands, will they help him climb the ladder?”
Slowly, but assuredly, I shake my head left and right.
“What bad luck you have, huh pal? I’m sure you were keen on the news before I was. Here you’ve probably been thinking what a golden opportunity to waste yet another chance at becoming something in High Octane Wrestling. Silly you. Instead, the reality of your situation is Dooze and I abusing you as if you were Harrison. Please know in regard to that, much like your spot in this LADDER extravaganza, you don’t deserve it, but you got it anyway.”
Guilty and innocent alike will face the wrath of the eGG Bandits.
It’s a theme.
So, get used to hearing it.
For another week anyway.
Then, wrongs get righted.
But, before the Bruvs can experience Total Eggsecution…
“Save it. I don’t want to hear about it being fair, or unfair. Everyone knows the rules. It’s nothing personal, just the way it is now.”
A toothy smile that’s longer than High Flyer’s career spreads across my clean shaven face.
“And remember, not my fault. Mikey Unlikely, and Jesse Kendrix. Those are the guys you should, I guess it would be, thank instead of get mad at. You know, since Dooze and I will finally put you out of your miserable High Octane existence should you force our hand this Saturday night.”
I want Tom to know.
“Okay, you can blink now.”
I own his ass.
I sigh. Not at the thought of High Flyer joining the gardening team at One Bandit Way. I would welcome his expertise with open arms. Plus, Lucky’s dad went missing; something to do with a domestic dispute, so we could really use another Head Honcho.
I sigh, because I know it’s coming.
Only one more to go.
“With that, I guess it’s time to start singing a little Hughie Lewis and the News. There’s one song of his in particular I like. It’s off his Jailhouse Blues album. The Freeman, who’s not a Free Man. It tells this whimsical story about a gypsy with DEVASTATING punching power who runs into a man from COOLYMPUS who has a knack for taking an opponent’s best shot, and still finding a way.”
I clear my throat, and recite some of the lyrics.
“As much as the Gypsy wanted to,
He tried and tried and tried.
But he met the man from COOLYMPUS,
Then went back to the warden and cried.”
“He hit him hard and he hit him good.
The Gypsy did all that he could.
It’s not my fault the Gypsy was told
Blame the Bruvs for why it’s so cold.”
“Hughie, Hughie, Hughie. RICK’s new pen pal. Guess what the next letter is going to say? BLAME THE BRUVS. I hope you love it as much as the last. I know making it come to reality will warm my heart and ease my vengeful fever some. And who knows? Maybe RICK learns a few new words and speaks in your favor. MAYBE, he’ll even move Doozer and I to let you walk to the back after the match is over for your medical attention, instead of receiving it in the ring.”
I shake an eightball.
Outlook not so good.
“Do be sure to take it easy on the goose fat this week. I’d hate for you to slide down the ladder. Not that it would hurt too much, seeing as you won’t make it far enough up for the fall to be impactful. I guess that’s a good thing though. Right? See. Not all bad news.”
Speaking of bad news.
I take a breath. Then another. The air I breathe in is unfamiliar. I need to adjust to it. Familiarize myself with it. Could be I’m just used to the rarefied air the couch emits.
Another breath. Hesitation weighs heavy. But, so does the burden of making things right.
I feel the ice forming where my heart should be. I wasn’t lying about missing CBD when I said it at the start of this. Dooze and I would be roasting marshmallows and telling campfire stories about the guys whose hair had turned gray if he were still around.
Howling at the moon, together.
Can I really do this?
After the despondent thought, I pick back up.
For the Bandits.
“Old friend, you might be wondering why me? You’re an eGG Bandit afterall. And a brother. What good would it be for me to tell you it’s the Bruvs fault you’re not the number one contender for the LSD Championship? Why make an example out of you?”
I shake my head, willing myself forward.
Good news for Dooze is just the act of me pinning him would be enough.
“Sadly, the answer is both simple and proficient.”
“Because of the message it sends.”
Here comes the howl.
“If I can put you on the wrong end of the next Bandit poster, what am I willing to do to the next guy?”
I sneer. The dread of who I am now fills me.
The eGG Den
The Next Day
The sun is up.
So is Dooze.
He’s seen it.
Now, we’re in here.
At the table.
We’ve talked over breakfast about how we are going to exert our massive advantage and Totally Eggsecute Hughie and Tom, and eventually, Blackjack Harrison.
It will still be the Bruvs fault.
And yeah, the Bandits freebird the maneuver.
We’ve laughed about who would look better with LSD gold wrapped around their waist. He made a good point about the drug being more popular within his age demographic, so that’s why he would.
I reminded him of my added Dan Ryan wonder years.
We laughed some more.
Then, I hid the knives and we had a cup of coffee. I wanted to look him in his electric blue eyes and make sure he understood where I was coming from. It’s the least I could do, after all we’ve been through.
“I will not rest, Dooze. It started last week, continues this week, and ends when the last thing anyone wants to do is crack our shell. There’s no limit to what I’m willing to do in order to achieve this. I’ll swim to the island and poison Hughie’s meal with that old school Visine drip if I have to. I’ll travel back in time and bring the crappy, dollar store version of Flyer to the match instead of… oh. Wait.”
You get the point.
That’s what I told him.
He understood. He half expected it. Said to me he’d be disappointed if I were to let up on his behalf. That’s not to say he liked it very much, because he didn’t. The thought of me misting him wasn’t a fond one. But he knows, more than the rest of the Bandits, what we must do in order to achieve not to be fucked with status.
The depths we must sink to.
No stone left unturned.
No monument to the fallen left unerected.
“I will, Dooze. I will. I’m going to make things right for us.”
I also told him that this week our resurgence comes with an added cost; not only will we both become further removed from the people we once were, but only one of us can climb the ladder to its top.
“It has to be one of us, no matter what. HAS TO BE.”
He agreed with me.
“And you and I both know I’m going to be the one to do it.”