BURN THE SHIPS
Fade into a small corner of the locker room reserved for the characters filling the dark matches and spillover belongings of the stars and their entourages. We get a very square, old-school frame of Rob Williams standing with his back to the camera. John Gordon stands beside him, hand on his shoulder. Both men are in blue jeans, Rob shirtless with cowboy boots and John with a finely pressed white oxford shirt.
His back tells his story without saying a word- weathered and colored like the treetops across a chiseled mountain ridge in peak foliage. A large cobra with a bright red belly makes eye contact with the camera. Rob takes a deep breath in, closes his eyes, and reaches deep down inside to that little spark.
Rob Williams: Can you feel it?
Rob turns around to face the camera, his heart pounding so loud he can hear it in his ears. They don’t have live TV promos in the places Rob’s been bouncing around the last few years. He knows, though, that he’s still got it.
John Gordon: Feel what, buddy?
Rob Williams: That bubble in the stomach, John. That gnawing and scratching. The fuse is lit, baby. America’s mouth is watering and throat is tightening – the natives have grown restless.
John Gordon: Oh, buddy, that. You mean “The Legend” Rob Williams lacing up those size 12 white boots again?
Rob lovingly moves John’s hand off his shoulder. He speaks calmly, staring directly into the camera as if he’s personally reaching out to the fans watching at home.
Rob Williams: No, John. Well, yes, but also no. It’s the kid crying, but you’re too damn tired to appreciate holding him cause you’ve been working two jobs. Walking out in the sweltering heat or the freezing cold and turning that key, praying that the engine turns and those balding tires hold up one more paycheck just so you can go make some other joker rich. It’s turning on the news and watching the “leaders” of the “free world” gamble away your future over petty squabbles.The endless lobotomy of ADHD inducing “entertainment” they force down your throat, streaming non-stop to keep you from feeling a damn thing. The system of diminishing returns for the everyman we’re all stuck in.
Now Rob reaches his other hand out, holding the camera. His voice is building in momentum. Calm, steady.
Rob Williams: I know it, and you know it. We’re tired of the chores, of wearing the suit of civility. I been down bad, too, jack. Hustling with two-bit low lifes just to stay on the fringes of this business. But a change is coming, baby. Can you feel it? I can feel it. And I know, I know, that you can too. I’m here to be the accelerant. That little thing that’s been missing.
The spark burns brighter and larger, encompassing more of Rob’s gut in its hypertrophy. Rob now puts both hands on the camera. He smiles with surprisingly whole and white teeth, a reassuring and doting smile. This feels like a “father-knows-best” moment.
Rob Williams: I woke up early this morning in a cold, dark hotel room. Pitch black and silent. My heart was beating fast and I couldn’t catch my breath. And I know that you at home know this feeling. But we’re not going to feel it anymore, baby. It’s always darkest before dawn and this is your watershed moment and I am the usher.
His soul is now ablaze, passion teeming from every word. Every molecule is a supernova as Rob’s eyes bore into the camera. With every word his voice rises in volume and sharpens in tone. He has gone from a loving father delivering a reassuring message during a teachable moment to the raging alcoholic woken up to a terrible hangover.
Rob WIlliams: This may not look like the salvation you expected. No, I’m not some flashy, punk-ass kid. But this (releasing the camera and holding his arms out in a sacreligious cross) this is what salvation looks like. Hold your goddamn kids, cancel the streaming service, and quit your job because we’re going to burn it ALL down, because I will be the accelerant that tears down the entire system.
The lens nearly fogs up with Rob’s breath as he gets intimately close.
Rob Williams: Witness me, PRIME, for I am enduring.
Abruptly the camera drops to the ground, watching Rob’s snakeskin cowboy boots disappear from view before cutting back to ringside.