Don’t Meet Your Heroes
Inside the MGM Grand, there’s a bar shaped like a wide, polished, cherry wood horseshoe, full of people who didn’t win wrestling matches last week. Several paces behind that bar stands “Event Horizon” Hayes Hanlon, smoothing out a black button-up and doing his best not to hyperventilate.
Hayes Hanlon: (to himself) Be cool, Hayes. Be cool. Act like you’ve been here before.
Directly in his line of sight is Nova, seated at the bar in jeans and a knit sweater, working his way through a glass of seltzer water. It probably has a fun, muted fruit flavor. Yay.
Hayes Hanlon: (to himself) You’re colleagues now. Peers. Game respect game. (shaking his head) God, I hope no one heard that.
Hanlon gives himself a shake and takes a deep breath.
Hayes Hanlon: (exhaling) Okay. You got this.
He takes a few steps forward and Nova turns in his chair, raising his glass.
Nova: Hey! Would you like-
Hayes Hanlon: I love you.
There’s a pause. It’s an awkward pause, not a pregnant pause, but if it were a pregnant pause, it would immediately go into labor and give birth. That child would be a boy, and that boy would immediately feel less awkward than Hayes Hanlon feels right now.
Nova: (shrugging) At least buy me din-
Hayes Hanlon: Oh, shit! I’m sorr! Not what I meant!
The Event Horizon recollects himself, taking a deep breath.
Hayes Hanlon: Sorry about that. What I meant to do was introduce myself. I’m Hayes Hanlon, and I’ve been watching you wrestle since I was 9 years old. You are maybe the biggest reason I wanted to become a wrestler, and I’m having a mild panic attack now that I finally get to meet you.
The Risen Star grins and gestures down to his ankle bracelet, blinking a bright green light around the bottom of his barstool.
Nova: Well, I just punched my ticket home from a tournament named after Seymour Almasy at the hands of the…(wincing)…”COOLympian,” and I’m also being supervised by Nevada Department of Corrections, literally by GPS, with a parole officer.
He shrugs, careful not to spill his seltzer as he holds his arms out.
Nova: How am I doing so far?
Hayes Hanlon: Well, Bathory took me out in the same night, if that makes you feel any better. As far as the ankle monitor goes, I don’t have a lot of experience, but it’s a good look!
Nova finishes off his bubbles and hoists himself onto his feet. He claps a hand onto Hanlon’s shoulder.
Nova: It’s good to meet you, Hayes. I’d be happy to-
Eehhhh!!! Eehhhh!!! Eehhhh!!!
Nova and Hanlon’s eyes shoot down at his ankle bracelet in horror as it sounds off and blinks bright red.
Nova: Oh, FUCK! This thing cannot keep it together!
Hayes Hanlon: What?! What’s going on?!
Nova: (grabbing Hanlon by the collar) I do NOT want to go to jail tonight, Hayes! We need to fix this before my babysitters get here, and I mean NOW!
Hayes Hanlon: Okay, oh man. I’m NOT gonna be the guy who let Nova get arrested! What do we do?!
Nova looks around for a moment in total panic, then re-orients to Hanlon.
Nova: Is Garbage Bag Johnny here tonight?
Hayes Hanlon: I definitely smelled weed earlier…a LOT of it…why?
Nova: I honestly don’t know how, but I have to imagine he can help. We have to find him before they find me!
They take off away from the bar as other patrons stare on quizzically.