HATS OFF TO YA
Once again, we’re in a hallway somewhere backstage.
Once again, there’s a door.
It’s an ordinary door. Metal, of some sort. It’s painted blue. It has one of those stainless steel foot guards running along the bottom so that it doesn’t get scuffed by ruffians. Judging by its orientation, it opens inwards. It’s nothing special, as far as doors go. Boring. The type of door you walk by each and every day.
Except there’s a large, horned steer skull hung in the center of it.
And beneath that steer skull? Well, there’s a sign. It’s wood carved, hung with twine, probably bought custom made from Etsy. It says:
THE DIAMOND MINE
A HONKY TONK SALOON
FOR HONKY TONK HUNKS AND HONEYS
NO TROYS ALLOWED
Really says it all, doesn’t it? The door swings open as the cameraman approaches and… it doesn’t look half bad. This time around, there’s an actual bar cart tucked in the corner, stocked with liquors; mostly whiskey, but also a couple bottles of wine (you know, for the womenfolk). There’s a jukebox in the other corner, Hank Williams singing a song to ease the pain. There’s a bear skin rug on the floor and a chandelier made of deer antlers hanging from the ceiling. A poker table, a neon sign advertising Michelob Ultra, and even a cardboard cutout of America’s sweetheart, Alan Jackson.
And there amongst it all, nodded off on a beat-up couch that’s most likely been dragged from the dumpsters behind the arena… is Daytona Diamonds.
The Ol’ Rhinestone Cowboy ain’t lookin’ so hot. He’s battered. He’s bruised. He’s bloody. Various parts of his body are bandaged after his war with Kaz Troy. There’s even KT tape all over his shoulder, running down his bicep. He looks absolutely spent, slumped over and snoring on that decrepit couch, mouth wide open and eyes closed tight. He doesn’t even notice the cameramen in the room.
Shakespeare said it best, huh? Innocent sleep. Sleep that soothes away all our worries. Sleep that puts each day to rest. Sleep that relieves the weary laborer and heals hurt minds.
Or, more succinctly, Daytona is fucking tired, so he’s taking a nap on the job.
No one would possibly bother him.
Except, of course, whoever’s decided to pinch his nostrils shut
Daytona splutters awake and falls off the couch onto the cold, unforgiving floor. This sends a new wave of pain shooting through his body, and he groans loudly while trying to get to his feet.
Daytona Diamonds: WHAT IN TARNATI–
After the Rhinestone Cowboy finds his bearings, he sees a young woman of average height standing in front of him. Her purple and pink hair is shoulder-length, styled in a ponytail with side bangs. Ear, brow, and lip piercings complement her features. Her toned arms are folded over the front of her shredded Vae Victis tank top and her dark brown eyes stare daggers through Daytona.
Ami Troy: Nice digs, dickhead.
Daytona Diamonds: Oh, for fucks sake…
Exasperated, Daytona pulls himself back to his feet, a pained expression on his face as every muscle aches at the slightest amount of movement. He uses the couch to hoist himself up until he’s standing on two baby deer legs, wobbling for a moment before he finds his balance.
He looks, as I’m sure you can imagine, hella annoyed.
Daytona Diamonds: No. Nope! I ain’t doin’ this whole song n’ dance all over ‘gain with another one of you crotch goblins. Nuh-uh. No way. Ain’t you read the sign, honey? You ain’t welcome here. Go on. Get. Lemme lick my god dang wounds in peace.
The Queen’s daughter snerks at that last word.
Ami Troy: You’re dumber than you look, Dumbtona, and you already look like Tom Waits’ sleep paralysis demon. You want peace? You shouldn’t have messed with my brother.
Her eyes narrow as she points a finger in his direction.
Ami Troy: Now you have to answer to me.
For a moment, Daytona just stares. His nostrils flare. His upper lip snarls. There’s a crinkle between his eyes… and then those eyes roll as he throws up his hands, shrugging his shoulders in unison.
Daytona Diamonds: Alright. Fine. I’m answerin’. We tradin’ barbs? That’s how this is gonna go, right? You insult me, I insult you, and then we get to fightin’. Right? Okay. Your face looks like a god dang pin cushion, your dye job looks like a thirteen year old goth kid’s wet dream, and you can Vae Victeez nuts. There. You happy? We done now?
Ami grins vindictively. She’s not even close to being done.
Ami Troy: Your hat. looks. stupid.
Daytona’s eyes go wide.
Daytona Diamonds: …you take that back. Now.
Ami Troy: (still grinning) Make me.
Here we go again. History, as they like to say, repeats itself. Daytona’s hands ball into fists. That snarl gets snarlier. Violent thoughts go swirling through his mind’s eye, each one more violent than the last, and he’s just about to put a hurtin’ on another Troy…
…until he plops back down on the couch instead, shaking his head.
Daytona Diamonds: Nope. Been down that doggone road once already, little lady. Ain’t doin’ it again. You ain’t gettin’ a rise outta me, even if’n you insult my hat. Go tell your mama you wanna wrassle that mean ol’ Daytona Diamonds and maybe she’ll be dumb enough to book it. Til then, I ain’t makin’ you do jack fuckin’ shit. Had ’bout enough of you shit stirrin’ Troys…
Eyes closed. Arms crossed. For once, whether out of learned mistakes or post-match exhaustion, Daytona decides to take the high road, ignoring Ami and trying to get back to sleeping.
But his hat…
Well, his hat is still just sitting there, right next to him on the couch.
See how it twinkles with rhinestones?
See that embroidery, the letters D and D stitched across the front in cursive?
See the way it’s not on his head?
Well. With Daytona’s eyes closed, there’s no one to keep watch on that hat, now is there? Just the hat, Ami Troy, and a cardboard cutout of Alan Jackson, but he ain’t doing shit because like most things cardboard in PRIME, he’s completely useless.
Ami deftly reaches over and plucks Daytona’s hat from the couch. She turns the gaudy head accessory over in her hands, then swats the Rhinestone Cowboy across the face with it and dashes out of the room.
Daytona is jarred awake yet again and catches the brim of his hat making its way around the door jamb.
Daytona Diamonds: Goddang lil’…
He jolts to his feet, cries out in agony, and takes off after the little mischief maker. While it might all be fun and games to Ami, Daytona looks like a raging bull, face gone red as he stumble-runs on two tired legs through the back halls of the KFC Yum! Center.
Daytona Diamonds: C’mon now! Get back here with my god dang hat! I spent a lotta money on that! God dang it, you thieven’ little shit!
It’s almost sad. Daytona barrelling by workers and pushing them out of the way, narrowly avoiding running into equipment boxes, ducking and dodging on aching feet in hot pursuit. You ever see the end of The Shining where Jack Nicholson is chasing after his son through the hedge maze? Yeah, it’s a lot like that, minus the ax.
…until Daytona passes by one of those ‘break glass in case of emergency‘ boxes with a fire extinguisher and an ax in it.
This being an emergency as far as he’s concerned, Daytona breaks the glass, obviously.
He grabs the ax, obviously.
He continues the chase, obviously.
Daytona Diamonds: AMMMMMIIIIII!
Ami skids around a corner just as alarms start blaring and the sprinklers in the hallway turn on. Angry shouts and surprised shrieks are heard from all corners of backstage as various wrestlers pour out of locker rooms and workers dash through the halls to avoid getting soaked.
Except for Daytona. He keeps going.
He eventually rounds the same corner as Ami, but since he’s on jelly legs he wipes out on the floor and loses his grip on the ax in the process. It slides down the hall and comes to rest against a production crate, where it’s picked up by the last person Daytona Diamonds wants to see tonight.
Lindsay Troy stalks to where the Rhinestone Cowboy is groaning in pain and taps the ax against his boot.
Lindsay Troy: You are in a world of shit.
Suddenly, the alarms turn off, as do the sprinklers. Daytona looks at the ax tapping his boot and then up to Lindsay before letting out a long, drawn out sigh. As he pulls himself back to his feet by grabbing hold of one of the production crates, he’s nodding his head.
Daytona Diamonds: Yep. Alright. I get it. I got carried away. That’s on me. Whoopsie daisy, huh? Reckon I’ll just be… moseyin’ back to The Diamond Mine. Yep. Good seein’ ya, boss. Tell your daughter she’s a real… a real… a real gem.
This is the part where Daytona would tip his hat, if he had a hat to tip.
But he doesn’t.
So, instead, The Rhinestone Cowboy simply points a finger gun at Lindsay Troy, makes a half-hearted ‘pew pew’ noise, and turns to try to walk away.
Lindsay Troy: Not so fast, cowboy.
She clamps her hand on the back of his neck and grabs his jacket.
Lindsay Troy: You and I are overdue for a chat, don’t you think?
With no means of escape, and no energy left in him to fight, Daytona lets himself be hauled off to the Principal’s Office as we cut to commercial.