VIDEO KILLED THE RADIO STAR
As the carnage from The Fool and The Tower is cleaned up in the ring we cut backstage to Rob Williams carrying a giant cardboard box. Inside the box? VHS tapes from Max Kael. Nothing good ever comes from a cardboard box of VHS tapes. How many children have let their curiosity get the best of them playing private dick through a booty of VHS tapes in their attic only to find video recordings of their parents playing a wholly different game of private dick through a booty? Not that many? Oh. Well then, let’s get back to the task at hand. Rob is traversing the backstage area trying to find a piece of
Rob Williams: A fucking VCR. Of course this guy has a box of VHS tapes. Hey, you!
A skinny man walking by in a black shirt with a set of in-ear monitors on stops abruptly.
Rob Williams: Where can I find a VCR? There has to be one somewhere around here. Everybody talks about “watching tape”. Help me out here.
Andy the IT guy stifles a laugh. Normally known for his adept wit and sarcasm, Andy fakes a smile at the 6’2”, 240lbs gorilla with a furled brow in front of him holding a box of antiquated technology.
Andy the IT Guy: (trying not to laugh) Uh… no. No sir, I’m not aware of any VCRs here.
Rob Williams: You better not be lying to me. If I find a VCR here I’m going to hunt you down and pull your fingernails off.
Under the front of the box Rob pantomimes sliding a fingernail off with an imaginary pair of pliers. His eyes smile in a way that alarms the poor IT guy.
Andy the IT Guy: Maybe try Ivan. I think the Kremlin still sends him VHS tapes for some reason.
Great. Further interaction with the Great Russian Bear. It’s not that Rob doesn’t like Ivan. In all actuality he finds an ever deepening affection to people with deeply held convictions and what is Ivan if not walking conviction? Yes, Ivan is the pinnacle of faith. Maybe that’s why their paths keep crossing? No, it isn’t that at all, more that Rob doesn’t like asking for help. Which could also be why he keeps finding himself in the shadow of the Ivan Too Many Names Stanislav.
Rob Williams: There had better be some powerful shit on these tapes. If this is just Max reenacting his favorite movie scenes I might commit a murder tonight.
The Father: Oh they’re scenes, alright. The content of these tapes is paramount to the next phase of your metamorphosis, Robert. Have I led you astray so far? Are your coffers not full?
Rob Williams: I’m not doubting you. I’m just asking if you know how impossible it is to find a VCR? Kael may as well have given me a goddamn alien artifact.
Turning the corner towards the place of their team rendezvous earlier, Rob runs smack into Ivan Stanislav. Neither man moves despite the great elemental force generated by the impact. There’s a threadbare saying used to describe this physical interaction that we won’t cheapen this beautiful moment.
“The Legend” and The Russian Bear. Who would’ve thought?
Stanislav lifts a bushy eyebrow and peers down at the 5 Star Champion and smirks and lowers his chin, staring down as he is nearly a foot taller than The Legend. But, despite most happenstance interactions with the frosty Russian, Ivan is quite cordial. Beating the stuffing out of a counter-revolutionary wrecker will do that to a man.
Ivan Stanislav: Comrade Williams. You should be watching where you are going.
He peers over at The Father for just a moment, and then back down at Rob.
Ivan Stanislav: You should always keep your eyes forward. Don’t let forces drag them away from what you, yourself, can accomplish. Distractions? They are bad thing.
He was nearly invisible in the wake of Stanislav, but Alexei Ruslan slides out from behind his huge friend, hands in the pockets of his brown overcoat. He says nothing, but his haphazard mustache twitches while his eyes glint curiously beneath his hat.
Rob Williams: Are all Russians like this with the constant fable-speak?
The Father: These are allies, Robert. Mind your manners.
Through clenched teeth Rob exhales a telling sigh. It has been a long night and he’s tired. He closes his eyes and shakes off the attitude, reopening them with a smile.
Rob Williams: Of course, I love it. You rarely miss the mark. Ok then. One of the IT guys owes me his fingernails if you don’t have access to a VCR. While I’d quite enjoy relieving some of this stress on his manicured hands, I’m hoping you might be of port in this storm.
Stanislav waggles a finger and chuckles.
Ivan Stanislav: You know, Rob, Arkhangelsk is port city in Russia. That is where I am from. Despite being in Russian Army, I do always enjoy a good naval reference. DYAAHAAHAA!!
It’s hard to say if Stanislav is seriously just in such a good mood, or if he’s messing with Rob. It’s not like he’s going to tell anyway. Nonetheless, he nods his head once more.
Ivan Stanislav: You need VCR?
The Russian Bear looks down and back at Alexei.
Ivan Stanislav: Алексей, у вас есть видеомагнитофон? (Alexei, do you have a VCR?)
Ruslan lets out a huff and purses his lips. The smaller Russian turns his back to the group and starts rummaging through his overcoat. He drops a few items to the floor. A wrench. A bookend. His baton. A taser. A spool of piano wire. A copy of Lenin’s “What Is To Be Done?”. A tire iron.
Alexei Ruslan: Aha!
Ruslan turns, and lo and behold, he has it. A VCR. He blows the dust off the top of it. Ivan chortles and nods.
Ivan Stanislav: Есть ли в этой штуке подслушивающие устройства?(Any listening devices in that thing?)
Ruslan blinks thoughtfully and begins rummaging in one of his pockets, while handing the device to Ivan.
Alexei Ruslan: Нет, вы хотите, чтобы некоторые из них были установлены? (No, do you want some installed?)
Ivan glances at Rob thoughtfully and then shakes his head.
Ivan Stanislav: Nyet.
With a wide, impossibly toothy grin that shines through his haggard beard, Stanislav offers the VCR to Rob. Rob drops the box of tapes along with his jaw.
Ivan Stanislav: From the bosom of Mother Russia, may you watch whatever it is you have there.
Without looking, Stanislav reaches back and Ruslan hands him the power cord and A/V cords, and Ivan hands those, as well, to Williams.
Ivan Stanislav: Remember, white and yellow, and most especially red cords all be put in correctly. Otherwise it does not work.
Rob Williams: You don’t know how appreciated this is. (Turning to Alexei) Do you have a TV in there, too?
This comment is somewhat in jest. Ruslan stares stone faced at Williams.
Alexei Ruslan: What? Don’t be ridiculous.
A sloppy but well-meaning salute is tossed first to Alexei and then to Ivan in succession. The two respond in a much more crisp fashion and then make their way past Williams, speaking to one another in their native tongue. Somehow, during all of that, Ruslan had managed to put everything back into his overcoat.
Rob tops the box with his newly found VCR and accompanying cables. So the Russians had everything but the TV. That shouldn’t be too hard to come by, right? Lo and behold there is a lonely television right around the corner just waiting for A/V cables.
The Father: You bring the shovel, I’ll move the mountain.
Rob smirks at the Father as he sets down the box. He makes quick work of hooking everything up. Anyone over 30 watching this should feel their hairs go up as the familiar mechanical click of the VCR accepting one of the VHS tapes deep within itself. The machine whirs a nostalgia inducing purr while the screen flickers to life.
The image is grainy, of course, which is to be expected from a technology that saw its pinnacle at the same time as JNCO’s. The scene is hard to flesh out due to the video quality but it looks like a place Rob would’ve scored dope from. It appears a man is teeing up a spoon to cook some heroin. A process that is all too familiar. The man grabs the field tourniquet he’s applied to his arm with his teeth, leaning in to find the bullseye on his arm. Why is this important?
Rob Williams: You wanted me to watch a video of somebody shooting heroin?
The Father: Look closely, child.
Squinting and leaning in, Rob focuses so hard on the man’s face. Shock begins to set in. No. It couldn’t be.
The Father: Oh, but it is. Mommy’s special boy Donovan Winters playing darts with himself. And there’s so much more, too. This whole box is full of The Revelator’s various secrets.
The “s” trails in a venomous hiss. Rob is enraged. The hypocrisy of this two-bit, pencil neck dork. The same man that told Rob to “keep his secrets” last week while ignoring him. What a discovery. He thinks about
Rob Williams: That son of a bitch.
His why is found. Rob has been questioning, at times quite audibly, why he would waste his time with someone of Don Winters’ caliber. For the life of him he hadn’t been able to imagine what this man has done to deserve a shot at the 5 Star Champion.Following instructions, Rob had extended the olive branch to Winters last week only to be snubbed and ignored. following instructions, extended the olive branch to Winters last week.
Rob Williams: That holier than thou pimp out here hawking his little resort and boner pills while judging ME? I’m going to fucking break his back.
The Father: My child it isn’t about what has he done to deserve a shot at you. This is about being of service. As always, more will be revealed. (smilingly wickedly) I have some very special plans for Donovan. Come, we have much to discuss.
Rob ejects the tape and returns it to the box with all the others. The Father rests a hand on Rob’s shoulder to reassure him that there is a greater plan than he can understand. We fade out on a tight shot of Rob walking away holding the box.