Years passed by and neither Son or Father saw each other driven apart by the mystery of the Plastic Parrots. That did not mean that the Father did not keep track of the life of his wayward Son. The Son proved to be as skilled and shrewd as his Father was amassing a fortune of his own and cementing his place as an Industrial Mogul.
And his industry of choice?
Driven by his obsession he had become the single largest maker of the Plastic Parrots he sought. In the absence of his Father he would gift himself thousands of Plastic Parrots that turned into millions as he rose through his twenties throwing ever more elaborate parties for himself and his plastic parrots.
Then they would disappear.
Like clockwork within two weeks, every scrap of plastic claw and brightly painted feather was gone.
When questions were asked people lost their jobs and so, very quickly, questions stopped coming. It was the Son’s charming characteristic, after all, didn’t all Great Men have some strange quirk? When you’re wealthy they call it being eccentric.
The Father watched and grew in awe of his Son. He loved him and he didn’t understand him and he couldn’t reconcile the two. So he stayed away.
And so did his Son.
It was then on his Son’s 28th Birthday did the Father receive a call.
“Sir, your Son was in a terrible accident.” the voice said on the end of the phone. “He will not make it through the night. You have a small window to say goodbye.”
It wasn’t the kind of news any parent wants to hear. He taped together his splintering heart and made the trip to the hospital to see his dying Son. There, lying in a bed hooked up to several machines was the Son. The Father had seen his son look so frail, so weak and tired. He felt his heart chip again as tears rolled down his cheek.
“Son.. I am sorry. I am sorry that I ever let who you are drive a rift between us,” the Father said as he knelt at his Son’s side. “Please, just know that I love you, now, then and forever.”
The Son’s eyes opened slowly as his hand moved to his fathers. He looked up at his Father with knowing eyes.
“I know Father, I’ve always known. Forgive me for never telling you, for letting this rift open between us. I love you and I am ready to tell you about the Plastic Parrots,” the Son spoke softly. “Please.. Bring me one last Plastic Parrot.. Bring it back here and I will show you what I have been doing with all those Plastic Parrots..”
“Open your eyes Mister Kael.”
The words seemed distant, behind a fog of light and mist.
Open my eyes?
Max hadn’t heard those particular words spoken to him in years, since before Michael took his second left eye at Rumble at the Rock so long ago. He wanted to reply but he couldn’t remember how to talk. So instead he focused on the instructions and thought about opening his eyes.
The light in his mind poured across his vision as he felt his eyelids, both of them, slide open. A groan escaped his lips followed by a sharp breath as the light slowly melted into shapes of distinct colors and textures. The world slowly widened and stretched and filled with dimension and depth.
“..I can see everything..” Max’s voice purred out, no hint of a rasp, no mechanical ting, no robotic breathing. He was shocked by his own voice, by the quality of it. He took in a deep breath and no pain welled up inside of him. No blood gurgled up, no fire scorching his chest. “And breath..”
He took in another deep gasp as he felt his body come alive once again. He felt.. Different. The pain was gone and in its place he felt his body tingle with life. The shapes and colors in his eyes slowly hardened and came into focus. The Doctor stood behind a glass window flanked by her medical technicians staring at him.
“Take a step forward, Mister Kael.”
He looked down at his body and at the brace that had supported him for well over three years now. It hadn’t occurred to him that he had been standing the entire time. Instead he focused on his legs willing them to function, to push forward. His first unsteady step forward felt stiff. His second was similar, his hip popping unexpectedly as he worked within the confines of his body brace.
For so long he had relied on his brace to hold him up and help him move and now? Now it felt more like a prison holding him in place, slowing him down. His brow furrowed as his hands slowly reached up, the fingers coiling around the metal bars of his brace. Letting a low growl out Max struggled against the brace, his fingers pulling and tearing at it.
Finally, the metal creaking and complaining against Max’s attack, the brace broke away. Max peeled the brace off as he stumbled forward like a snake shedding it’s skin, the metal clattering to the ground around him. Free of his worn prison Max stretched out to his full height, his arms spreading wide as he let out a deep, relaxed sigh, like a dog slipped from it’s collar for the first time in ages.
“I feel so fucking GOOD..” Max said as he looked back down at his hands in wonderment that his vision had so greatly improved. He looked back up to the Doctor behind the glass. “And I feel so strong.. What have you done to me? I’m not complaining I just.. Don’t fully understand.”
“The long and short of it is, Mister Kael, you were exposed to an experimental treatment and managed to defy the odds by surviving. Your lost eye was replaced with an ocular replacement that provides you with vision. I’d explain the science to you but it would be a waste of my time. Just imagine it runs off magic, Mister Kael.” As the Doctor finished she withdrew a mirror from her lab coat, holding it up to the glass wall.
Staring back at Max was himself but.. Different. He looked healthier, his body covered in his taunt muscles he had not seen in almost a decade. The scars and burns that covered his body were less noticeable, particularly on his face where he had suffered nearly fatal burns not less than five months ago. His jagged metal teeth were replaced with more natural appearance while most of the skin had healed around his left side of his face, hiding away the metal plating.
But most noticeable was his new eye that burned with a cold blue light. It sat deep in a black pit that had long been hidden away by his North Korean eyepatch. The skin and tissue there was healed, distorted and scarred just the same it looked like a crater in which the center a strange, futuristic eye glared out at the world dispassionately.
His lips stretched into a wide smile as he took in the sight of himself.
“It’s Perfect,” Maximillian Wilhelm Kael hissed through his lips as he stared at his reflection.
“We have a specialized suit prepared for you along with your other possessions. Of course we’ll need to speak with you about maintenance for your ocular prosthetic as well as the need to take constant monitoring of your body.” the Doctor said as she lowered the mirror and turned her attention to a series of charts one of her assistants held.
Max turned his head to the nearby medical table where he saw a black and red suit that looked like a considerable upgrade from the old latex one he wore beneath his old brace. A pair of leather fingerless gloves paired with the leggings and top fitting the aesthetic that he always loved. He changed quickly suiting up in his new clothing which clung to his body like a second set of skin. It stretched and folded perfectly and left him feeling even stronger then he had before.
It was missing something though..
His mind raced, there was still time before March to Glory, before he’d have to walk into the Rome Colosseum to face the Deacon, Chris Kostoff and Alex Redding. His eyes darted over to his phone which sat on the table as well, his fingers slipping over it as he checked his message history. He had no idea where Michael or Cecilworth were and even less of an idea where Troy and Ryan had taken off too.
The sensible place to check first was Twitter. He was amazed how the shakes had stopped, how quickly and nimbly his fingers scrambled across the surface of his phone. The wonder was cut short, however, when he made a shocking discovery.
“..Cecilworth hasn’t been on Twitter in almost two weeks..”
“Excuse me, Mister Kael, could I have your attention again, we need to disc-”
“HE HASN’T BEEN ON TWITTER!”
Max roared as he turned to stare at the Doctor, the glowing blue eye flickering for a moment red as the Doctor’s lab techs fell behind their boss. Taking in a deep breath Max’s voice evened out again as he spoke once again.
“I need to leave and find my friend Cecilworth. After I find him I need to get to Rome.. and once I get to Rome I’m going to use this new body for one thing..”
Sauntering up to the glass Max pressed his face up against it, his metal teeth tapping up against it as steam sprayed across the glass surface from his nose. A low, sinister giggle growled up from his throat as his fingernails attempted to dig into the glass creating an uncomfortable scratching noise.
“..heh-heh.. Glorious Violence..”
Maximillian Wilhlem Kael’s road trip to Rome had been an unusual one to say the least. First he was off to China to undergo experimental surgeries to save his failing body. Then he was off to the Farthington Estate in an adventure to be shared another time in search of his missing friend, Cecilworth Farthington. After being assured Cecilworth was both alive and heading to Rome the High Octane Hall of Famer made his final trip to Rome, Italy, once upon a time the Saddle of the Civilized World. The seat of one of the most famous Empire’s to ever exist in the world, the inspiration for Mario Maurako to create the eMpire in the beginning..
..the place he would defend the LSD Championship.
The Roman Coliseum was in many ways the perfect example of what High Octane Wrestling was more than any other federation. It was the violence, the drama, the spectacle that drew in the crowds that drank up the High Octane Koolaid. Lee understood his base were bloodthirsty, diehard wrestling fans who wanted to ignore the shitty world that existed just beyond the walls of the Coliseum.
He knew it, much like Rome, it was the mob that ruled the High Octane World. The people who spent their money to fuel High Octane Wrestling, cheered or booed, collected the broken tables after matches or took selfies with the blood stains. Deep down inside Max knew if he wasn’t in High Octane Wrestling he’d probably be one of those violence addicted fans..
Those were the kinds of people that would be watching on Saturday. They would be the ones cheering on the gladiators who entered March to Glory, men like the Deacon, Alex Redding and Chris Kostoff..
But there would be no cheers for Maximillian Wilhelm Kael.
He knew there would be no cheers as the High Octane Wrestling universe had a strange love hate relationship with the Lord Supreme Dictator. They loved his tendencies to elevate the violence of a match, particularly an LSD Championship match. However his desire to destroy HOW, to tear the entire machine apart and see it rot in Chicago had earned him a fairly strong anti-Max fanbase among the true believers.
Max did not care.
His eyes stared out over the crews as the floors of the Arena were being constructed so that the HOW ring could be installed. Around that a steel cage would be created and four men would enter. His attention slowly turned to the LSD Championship that sat on the stone bench next to him. In a few days there would be people filling these stands, or so he assumed. Where the LSD sat some fat ass would be filling that space, all full of farts and shit.
The thought made Max scoop the title up, slinging it over his shoulder as he looked back down at the construction crews.
“I remember when Michael got sent through those boards into the hard dirt below..” Max mused out loud as he stared at where the hole had been a decade ago. “It’s going to be Michael Lee Best Appreciate Night the same night March to Glory takes place. The same time I’m going to be defending you, again.”
He sighed as he looked up at the sky that was quickly becoming a beautiful mix of blue, purple and red, the sun retreating into the west. He had forgotten how distant and majestic clouds could look having spent the last seven or eight years with just one eye.
“I apologize that I never seem to have you around or pay attention to you. It’s just.. Well in reality I never really thought of you the same as I do with the World and specifically the ICON Championship. I know that’s wrong of me, I know that you’re just as important and mean just as much as the ICON Championship but I don’t know.. The Pale Strap has always called to me.. It’s always been something I’ve desired. Sadly the same can be said about Michael”
Pushing himself up Max stood and stretched once again. He was still getting used to the lack of braces to keep his body together. He felt so free, more free then he had in a decade as he felt his muscles stretch and flex before he started to slowly descend from the stands around the center of the Coliseum.
“But these last few months have taught me that I clearly share a special love for you. I’ve sacrificed more in the last four months with you than I believe I have ever done for the ICON or World Title. I’ve literally almost died in my wars at Rumble at the Rock and ICONIC. I’ve been burned and stabbed for you, I’ve undergone many experimental treatments to fix my body for you, to change my life to better defend you. I think without ever realizing it I made you matter more to me than any other title I’ve ever held.”
The Lord Supreme Dictator spoke to his LSD Championship as though it was alive, moving between the security barriers that kept people from hopping over the stone wall to the arena floor. He peered over the wall at the panels of the Steel Cage that would be affixed to the side of the ring for his match. Laying on the floor of the arena made them seem so simple, harmless even. Max knew better.
“Maybe I didn’t change the LSD Championship or the Division. Maybe the LSD Championship changed me instead, gave me a drive, a purpose, a reason to keep pushing on. A reason to fix the problems that were wrong with me, a hunger that I never realized I had? Maybe you changed me..”
He cast a glance at the LSD Championship one final time before he turned his eyes back down at the cage walls, a smile stretching slowly across his face. His silvery metal teeth glinted in the dying light of the Roman twilight.
“..and maybe together, you, me.. And these steel cage walls will change three more lives.”
Turning, another low chuckle wormed its way between his teeth.
The search for the Plastic Parrot had grown desperate, with his Son lying dying in a hospital the Father was in a race against the clock. It seemed no one in town carried the Plastic Parrot he sought, the Son had cleared the place out for his own Birthday until finally at last the Father found himself back at the beginning.
Standing outside of the small shop that his then six year old Son had selected his first Plastic Parrot from the Father reflected on the last two decades. How he wished he could have changed things.. If they had never come to this store would they be in a different place? Would his Son still be alive, would they both be enjoying a family dinner instead of a finale goodbye?
He brushed the thoughts off as he marched inside. The store seemed so much the same as it had two decades before, various knicknacks covering the shelves floor to ceiling. The Father rushed around in a hurry seeking the Plastic Parrot and yet in all the places he looked he found nothing.
Nearing the end of his hope the Father stood in the center of the store and slumped his shoulders defeated.
“Can I help you find something?” an older voice called out from behind the cash register. A wizened old man peered up at the Father with brown eyes set behind a pair of dirty spectacles.
“Yes!” the Father explained as he shuffled desperately toward the register. “I am looking for a Plastic Parrot, my Son needs one badly.”
He went on to describe the Plastic Parrot as he had never done so in the place with such intricate detail that the old Shop Keepers eyes light up with understanding. He reached down into a nearby cabinet and produced one singular, final Plastic Parrot.
The Father was overjoyed and purchased the Plastic Parrot immediately. Rushing from the store he cut across town with all speed to the Hospital that his Son lay dying in. He ran from his car, slamming through the doors to the Hospital and past surprised staff, charging to his Son’s side.
Flying into the room the Father approached the Son’s side, his last Plastic Parrot in hand. The Son looked up and youthful joy filled his eyes just as they had filled back when he was Six years old. The Son took the Plastic Parrot from his Father’s hands and examined it carefully, his weak smile growing stronger as he confirmed it was the correct Plastic Parrot.
“I love you, my Son,” the Father said, tears running down his face. “Now please.. What have you been doing with all these?”
The Son nodded his head, setting the Plastic Parrot to the side as he looked up into his Father’s eyes.
His final breath carried out those last words before life was extinguished from his body, his eyes frozen in a lifeless stare.
The Father looks down at his lifeless son as tears stream down his face. A wet sob is uttered before a pained wail as the Father sinks to his knees.
Slithering across the room appeared Maximillian Wilhelm Kael, the LSD Championship slung over his shoulder. His mechanical blue eye flashed at the Father and Son before he turned his attention forward, a smile stretched across his face.
“I don’t know about you but that was probably the funniest joke I’ve ever heard. Plastic fucking Parrots.” Max snickered as he spoke, his voice clear, strong, cruel. His eyes burn with a newborn viciousness as his silvery teeth peek through the smile. “Do you understand? Do you get it? I hope you’re laughing as hard as I am, even if it’s just on the inside. See, you’re the punchline. Deacon, Alex Redding and Chris Kostoff.. Each and every one of you was set up by Lee Best..”
The scenery of the hospital room darkens as a pillar of light shines down on Max.
“All of you think this is going to lead somewhere for you, you all think that at the conclusion of this LSD Match you’re going to walk out feeling satisfied. You won’t. You’ll leave exactly as empty handed as you did walking in, all that wasted anticipation. All that wasted effort hoping for satisfaction. Heh-heh..” another low, growling chuckle was accompanied by the slow tapping of his fingers against the faceplate of the LSD Championship. “So just one more time, just one last time for the road before I end this joke at March to Glory..”
“I am the Worthiest, the Great and Glorious Maximillian Wilhelm Kael, Lord of Kaelsalvania, Prime Minister of Maxopotamia, the Lord Supreme Dictator of High Octane Wrestling, the General of North Kaelrea, High Octane Hall of Famer, First of my Name..”
The sound of the light cutting out above Max washes the scene in darkness.
“..Long May I Maim..”