THE LONG PRAIRIE
Stars. An endless sea of stars. They all glimmer and gleam in the jet black night like glitter in the heavens, like gold dust in God’s own jewelry store case, like… like… diamonds. A million diamonds, all twinkling in an asynchronous array, beautiful and distant and infinite. The camera slowly pans down to reveal a vast desert landscape beneath that night sky. A tumbleweed blows across the screen from left to right. Cactuses stand tall and resplendent against the moonlight. In the distance, a solitary campfire burns and, from that campfire, an equally solitary baritone voice sings faintly against the breeze.
VOICE: Oh bury me not… on the lone prairie…these words came low and mournfully…
The camera moves closer and closer as the voice works its way through the first verse of ‘The Cowboy’s Lament’. As we close in on the campfire, we see none other than Daytona Diamonds sitting on a log and dressed to the nines, the rhinestones on his suit twinkling just like those stars in the sky. His eyes are fixed on the flames as he gently stokes the fire with a stick, cinder and ash popping in unison. Slowly, almost cautiously, he looks up and his eyes meet the camera, a slow smile curling at the edges of his lips.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Well, howdy there, pardners. Didn’t hear you sneakin’ up on me. I’m just sittin’ here by the fire, measurin’ my worth ‘gainst the flames. How are y’all tonight out there in the proverbial Heartland? Wish that I could be there with you, Ohio, but the desert was callin’ my name and far be it from this ol’ cowpoke to deny her of what she wants.
That curling smile soon gives way to a full-toothed grin as Daytona lays the stoker down and splays his hands out on his knees. There’s a ring on every finger, platinum and silver and everything else in between.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Last week, I made my acquaintances with a lot of y’all in my grand debut, but I figured there might just be a call for a more fittin’ introduction. After all, a man of mystery ain’t worth a good god dang in this here day and age, now is he? For those of you who might not’ve heard, my name is Daytona Diamonds. I’m the Rhinestone Cowboy, the King of the Rodeo, and the best damn wrasslin’ cowboy you’ve ever laid your weepers on. PRIME saw it for themselves and decided, aw hell, this boy needs to be in our ring… and welp, I reckon I decided to sign on that dotted line, as it were.
As if on cue, Daytona tips his hat to the camera, punctuated by a quick wink.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: But speakin’ of grand debuts… I think I might just end up feelin’ remiss if’n I didn’t send a special gracias to my two amigos from last week’s match, the beautiful Ria Lockhart and the ever-impressive Bobby Dean. Both of y’all put up one helluva fight, I want you to know that. If it were any other night and any other match, you might’ve even got the best of the Rhinestone Cowboy, but… well, I reckon I was just a little bit quicker on the draw, weren’t I?
Another grin. Another wink. Each word and every action is tinged with the faintest touch of insincerity, scripted and prepared in advance.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: And I suppose that’s what this whole dang thing is all about, ain’t it? I believe it was ol’ Wyatt Earp who said that there’s always a man faster on the draw than you are, and the more you use that gun of yours, the sooner you’re gonna run into that man. Well, folks, I am that man and there ain’t no two ways ‘round it. Next week, when I ride into Detroit, I want y’all to know that I’m fightin’ for each and every one of yuns, from the front row to the cheap seats. I’m a man of the people, baby, and I can’t wait to hear all you PRIMEorillas cheerin’ my na–
All at once, the stars and the desert backdrop disappear to reveal Daytona sitting in front of a green screen. Daytona throws up his hands with a confused expression on his face as someone rushes in from off-screen to put out the fire with an extinguisher. The lights come up to reveal we’re not in the desert, but in a carefully manicured studio. They even got real sand for the floor.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Now, god dangit! Why didja go and cut for?! That was solid gold!
DIRECTOR: Daytona, the fans aren’t called PRIMEorillas. What even is that? They’re called PRIMEates. We’re going to have to do another tak–
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: You think I give two festerin’ fucks what everybody else calls those pissants in the stands?! Nuh-uh! I’ll call ’em what I damn well please! You already got me sparin’ niceties to those two bumblefucks I was in the ring with last week! Stop tryin’ to choose my words for me! I’m tryin’ to make my damn money here!
All at once, Daytona is standing and marching away from the green screen. He points towards the cameraman as he passes.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: You! Turn off that camera! I’ve got a bone to pick and I don’t want you catchin’ my bad side!
The camera is pointed towards the ground, but not turned off. We can see the cameraman’s shuffling feet and, while unseen, we can hear Daytona and the director arguing.
DIRECTOR: Daytona, listen to me! PRIMEorillas isn’t a thing! That doesn’t even make sense!
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Fuck you, buddy! I’ll tell you what makes sense! My boot in your ass! How’s about that, huh? You lookin’ to earn yourself an all beef, USDA certified ass kickin’?! I ain’t talkin’ lean neither, fatboy! These fists are fat as hell, just like you!
DIRECTOR: What the hell are you even talking about?! That’s it! We’re shutting this shoot down! I’ve had enough of yo–
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Nuh uh! I’ll tell you when we’re good and goddamn done! C’mere, boy!
We hear the sounds of a struggle. The camera slowly, almost timidly lifts from where it’s pointed at the ground. Daytona’s back is facing the camera as he holds onto the director by the collar, pushing him up against the wall. Without even the slightest amount of hesitation, Daytona starts wailing on the man with a closed fist, punching him in the gut until the director doubles over and falls crumpled to the floor.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Piece of garbage! Tryin’ to tell me what I can and can’t say?! Boy, I’m a god dang star! I deal the cards! You ain’t even fit to shine my damned boots!
One last kick and Daytona turns around with his hands on his hips, face flushed with anger as he tries to catch his breath. Looking up, he notices the camera pointing back at him and goes wide eyed for a split second before his brows furrow, his fists clench, and his lips snarl.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: Oh, you sonuva… You still filmin’ me?! What’d I say?! What’d I fuckin’ say, you limp dicked peckerwood?! Guess I gotta teach you a lesson too, huh?! C’mon! Get your ass over here!
The camera falls to the ground sideways as the cameraman scrambles and Daytona approaches. All we see are a pair of bright white, bedazzled cowboy boots passing by the lens, followed by the sounds of more struggling, fists colliding with bare skin, shouting and hollering and all hell breaking loose.
DAYTONA DIAMONDS: I’m the god dang Rhinestone Cowboy and this here is my rodeo! Don’t you ever forget that again, you get me?! Never again!
The scene goes quiet. We hear a door open and then slam shut. The cameraman crawls into view, his face turned bloody as he reaches a hand out to grab the camera, covering the lens and fading us to black.
We then cut to the ringside area.