BRAD GARRETT IS THE BIGGEST HEEL IN PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING
We find ourselves on the casino floor of the MGM, a different but not welcome sight as the lights, noises, and chatter make you feel alive and like anything is possible.
Unless you’re not a degenerate gambler and find all of this depressing, in which case good for you for having your life together.
Anyway, we pan across the casino floor and take in the splendor of old folks tugging on slot machines until we settle on a small table near the entrance. A large sign stands behind the table that reads MEET BRAD GARRETT AND GET A CHANCE TO WIN A FIGHTING FOR NORA CUSTOM GOLDEN KNIGHTS JERSEY! Next to the sign is a cardboard cutout of Brad Garrett, TV’s favorite deep voiced thespian, smiling.
Sitting at the table are Jonathan Rhine and Paxton Ray. Rhine is interacting with the line of people stepping up to donate money for raffle tickets, smiling and making small talk. Paxton Ray is sitting back, looking around lazily.
Person: Hi, where’s Brad Garrett?
Jonathan Rhine: He should be here soon, I’m told. Would you like to purchase a raffle ticket to win a custom Golden Knights jersey? All proceeds go to the Fighting For Nora foundation.
Person: Sure. How is the jersey customized?
Jonathan Rhine: On the back it says Fighting For Nora and has the jersey number F4N. And to commemorate our celebrity sponsor, there’s also a Brad Garrett patch!
Jonathan points to the shoulder of the jersey, which has a terrifying smiling face of Brad Garrett.
Person: Creepy. I’ll buy six tickets.
Jonathan Rhine: Excellent! The foundation will really appreciate it.
As the person hands Rhine their card and begins to sign the raffle tickets, Melvin Beauregard shuffles to the table, leaning on it and looking at the cardboard cutout nervously.
Jonathan Rhine: Oh hi, Mr. Beauregard. How is everything going?
Melvin Beauregard: Not great, I’m afraid. I wanted to let you know that Brad Garrett…isn’t going to make it.
Jonathan Rhine: What?
Groans can be heard from the line, along with cries of “Well I’m not standing in line now” and “That jersey is ugly anyway.” Then the line gets significantly shorter.
Melvin Beauregard: Something about scheduling conflicts. I’m really sorry. He sent a fruit basket for Nora.
He holds the fruit basket out to Jon, who looks at it skeptically. Paxton leans forward and grabs it.
Paxton Ray: She loves pineapple.
Jonathan Rhine: That’s a shame. Thanks anyway, Melvin.
Melvin Beauregard: No problem, Jonathan. And if–
Suddenly Melvin spots something from across the room and his eyes widen.
Melvin Beauregard: Nope. Nope. See you later.
Jonathan watches him go in confusion, but after a moment the confusion gives way to realization.
Jonathan Rhine: Oh. Hello, your highness.
The figure in blue and white stops dead in his tracks, paralyzed by the realization that he’s been spotted. This should not be a surprise to him, as despite considerable time spent with spies – time he would gladly regale you with tales of – he is not a master of disguise himself. After all, it’s hard to be subtle when, though your mask may be covered by a hooded sweatshirt, the rest of you still looks like King Blueberry. He pivots slowly, withdrawing one hand from a pocket and offering a weak wave.
King Blueberry: Hey yo.
Jonathan looks at his sometimes friend and smiles, offering a pen.
Jonathan Rhine: Want to donate for the raffle? You can win this great jersey.
King Blueberry: I can, yeah. Only problem is I don’t have my wallet on me. If you’re doing this all night I can catch you after the rumble with the Bandits.
The blueberry cranes his neck to get a better view of the shirt, then cocks an eyebrow. Of course, no one can actually see that happen, because of the mask.
King Blueberry: There’s a Frankenstein on that jersey. Why is there a Frankenstein on that jersey?
Paxton Ray, who has not taken his angry eyes off of the man who tried to taze his tag team partner last ReVival, is first to speak.
Paxton Ray: Your ma wanted to be a corporate sponsor.
Jonathan’s eyes widen as he puts a hand up to his young mentee.
Jonathan Rhine: Paxton, that’s not right. I’ve met Mary-Ellen and she’s great.
Paxton Ray: Funbags over here tried to shoot ya with volts. Why defend him?
King Blueberry: Because he’s a good guy and knows that “taze Jonathan Rhine” has been on my bucket list for a while. Probably be on yours eventually, too.
He smiles and pulls his other hand out of his pocket before wiggling his fingers.
King Blueberry: Don’t worry though. I’m not armed.
For what it’s worth, Jonathan’s smile hasn’t wavered during this conversation. However genuine it is, at least he’s trying.
Jonathan Rhine: Well we’ll be here most of the night, yeah. If you want to come back after you take down the bandits, we’ll be waiting for you. This is a pretty fun tag division, isn’t it?
Before King Blueberry can answer, Paxton Ray stands up suddenly.
Paxton Ray: Is that…is that Brad Garrett?
The camera doesn’t follow in the direction Paxton is staring, but he seems to get his answer, because he rips the plastic off of the fruit basket and grabs a banana.
Paxton Ray: Excuse me. Think I need to show Mr. Garrett that we appreciate his gesture.
He waves the banana.
Paxton Ray: Give him one’a my own.
He walks off as Jonathan watches him go. After a second, he chuckles and looks up at King Blueberry.
Jonathan Rhine: Kids.
King Blueberry: I would not want to be on the receiving end of that angry man’s banana.
King Blueberry: I really gotta work on my phrasing. You know, I’ve been at this over 20 years and that’s the first time someone’s ever namechecked my mother. Feels weird.
Jonathan Rhine: I remember family names and sometimes birthdays.
He points at the Blueberry awkwardly.
Jonathan Rhine: December…18th?
King Blueberry: Eh, close enough. So, anyway, hate to run but I really need to find Mark, and see if he knows what happened to the mannequin. Guy’s apparently supposed to be keeping an eye on me, but now I gotta go find him, and-
Jonathan Rhine: Hey…Jared. Wait a second.
It’s his real name that causes King Blueberry to stop and turn around. When he does, he sees Jon is looking at him with concern.
Jonathan Rhine: This whole thing. The mannequin, the taser, the…all of it. What are you doing here? I know you’re better than this.
There’s a brief pause as someone walks up to the counter and asks to donate. Jonathan hands the woman the piece of paper and takes her card. Then, without looking up, he gives the dagger.
Jonathan Rhine: You know you’re better than this.
King Blueberry: Oh for… Look, things got a little out of hand a few weeks ago, I admit. I’m sorry I tried to zap you with Count Shockula. It was never my intention, despite what I told your buddy a minute ago. But let’s be clear about something, because it’s a little fuzzy right now. Me using a stun gun is bad and wrong. You guys capitalizing on it is just goddamn fine though? Really?
King Blueberry: Or are we just scratching that “tell Jared he makes bad life choices” itch? I mean I know it’s been a minute. Gotta be hard to ignore that craving for ten years and not dive on it first chance.
Of everything Jonathan just heard, many of which were hard hitting truths, he focuses on the easiest thing to respond to.
Jonathan Rhine: Count Shockula. Really.
King Blueberry: Yeah. Really.
Jonathan Rhine: And yeah, maybe I do concern myself with your choices. Because it’s been over a decade, and I come here trying to start fresh. Trying to do good. Trying to help someone. And I see you here, just like I saw you a decade ago, doing the same things you did a decade ago. Maybe my bad life choices are pointing it out when I shouldn’t. I guess I’ll live with that.
King Blueberry: That one’s good. That one’s real good. Hey, you know what you should do? Go chase down your friend. Save Brad Garrett from an impending banana-ing, and then tell him what you just told me. When he’s done pissing himself in hysterics he might put you in his stand-up show. Jonathan Rhine doing something for reasons other than optics? And you think I’m the one who needs to reevaluate here? Buddy. I don’t need two working eyes to see through that BS.
Jared – the blueberry – cups his hands together in front of him.
King Blueberry: But don’t worry. I will hold your fragile ego and keep it safe. Everyone loves ya, Jon. You’re the most special-est boy.
Luckily for Jon, another casino patron wants to give a donation, so he can let that sting sit in the air a bit as he collects another small donation.
Man: You’re doing a great thing here, son.
Jonathan closes his eyes as if the man’s words were a slap to the face. King Blueberry simply points a thumb in the man’s direction. After a moment, Jonathan looks down at the donation slip he just received.
Jonathan Rhine: I know I’m a good person.
He sighs, then looks up at King Blueberry.
Jonathan Rhine: See you at the Survivor, Jared. Hopefully with a real partner.
King Blueberry: We’ll see. Never needed a soldier to fight for me before, Jon. Why start now.
He turns and starts walking backwards away from the table.
King Blueberry: Gotta run. Circus needs its clown.
Almost immediately he bumps into Paxton Ray, now standing nearby and eating the banana he left with. Blueberry continues moving away, though now it’s Paxton he addresses.
King Blueberry: Good luck with your fundraising. I mean that, for whatever it’s worth.
Then he nods in the direction of Rhine.
King Blueberry: And good luck with that guy. Goddamn gonna need it.
Paxton snarls at King Blueberry as he walks away, then takes his seat next to Rhine.
Paxton Ray: God I hate that fuckin’ guy.
Jonathan Rhine: Sometimes…I don’t blame you. So, was that actually Brad Garrett?
With his free hand, Paxton holds out a check.
Paxton Ray: Sure was. Had a real scheduling conflict with that slot machine. He felt really tore up about it when I talked to him, though. Gave me this check for 5k to ‘pologize.
Jonathan raises his eyebrows.
Jonathan Rhine: On top of the fruit basket? What a generous guy.
With that, we go elsewhere.