YOUR PLACE ON THE MOUNTAIN
“So did he just…get a spiral staircase installed for this skybox?”
The Event Horizon leads the way up said spiral staircase, the Risen Star following, cigarette dangling from his lip. Hayes Hanlon wipes his brow.
Nova: It surprised me the first time, too. The physics don’t make a lot of sense.
“Th’physics don’t make any god-damn sense!”
Hayes and Nova peek over the railing at the sound of the beleaguered, gravely voice of Wade Elliott, huffing and puffing his way with each heavy booted step.
Hayes Hanlon: How the hell does Bobby get up here?
Wade catches up, leaning a forearm against the railing and collecting his breath.
Wade Elliott: Gotta be by crane. Or helicopter.
Nova: Teleporter.. Gotta be teleporter.
Eventually, the trio reaches the top of the physics-defying staircase and collects outside the entry. Hayes fixes the rolled-up cuffs on his black button-up. Nova lights up a fresh cig. Wade hacks up a lung into a handkerchief.
Homerun Hayes looks over his shoulders at the veterans flanking him.
Hayes Hanlon: (whispering to himself) This is awesome.
With that, he knocks on the door, stepping back to prepare for anything alongside the Starchild and the Bad Dog.
They wait for an uncomfortable amount of time. Wade swears under his breath. Nova exhales a plume of smoke.
Until finally the door opens, revealing “Beautiful” Bobby Dean. And he is sweating profusely.
Hayes Hanlon: He makes you climb the stairs, huh?
Bobby Dean: (completely out of breath) Every…time…
Regardless, Bobby does his best to invite the guests, swinging his arm wide to offer entry, despite the beads of sweat on his brow and exhaustion on his face. The three walk in cautiously. Jiles’ security detail peppers the skybox, drawing a hard gaze from Wade. Nova jumps as Fred Mayhew materializes out of thin air.
“Read the signs!”
A voice booms from behind a comically large leather chair. Nova, naturally, ignores the “No Smoking” signs that might as well serve as wallpaper.
The COOLympian spins in his chair like a cheap movie villain, fingers steepled and tapping against each other.
Cancer Jiles: Well lookie here, boys. Hayes actually came, and he brought some of his friends, too. How are Curly and Moe doing? Hopefully the walk up didn’t take too much out of you.
A lofty chuckle resonates amongst Camp Bandit.
Camp Hanlon is not as amused.
Hayes Hanlon: Let’s cut the crap, buddy. Why the invitation? I get that these two wouldn’t have the sack for a downstairs visit…
Mayhew struggles with the cap to his Metamucil. Bobby doesn’t respond, mostly because he can still feel his heartbeat in his ears.
Hayes Hanlon: …but you? I’m not buying it. What does make sense, is that you’re afraid I’ll leave you staring at the lights again.
Hayes lifts the corner of his ‘stache into a smirk.
Jiles, from behind the cover of mirror tint, rolls his eyes. Maybe, just maybe, all of the extra time he’s been spending with Mom has caused some of her to rub off on him.
Cancer Jiles: Well, I was hoping you would have come alone. Then, me and the boys were going to jump the shit out of you and throw you over the railing for good measure.
Awkward second of silence.
Cancer Jiles: But, you didn’t, so here we are. Besides, it’s not like Mom wouldn’t have somehow caught you anyway… ya know, to ensure her final bullet not end up a dud… or like him.
Jiles points directly into Nova’s time traveled soul.
Wade Elliott: Hell, me’n Nova’d be happy t’step aside an’ watch the kid beat seven shades’ve shit outta ya.
Nova: (nodding in agreement.) Yup, and that way we can make sure Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, and the rest of Wonderland do the same.
Mayhew elbows Bobby and mouths “you’re Tweedle Dum.” The Champion makes a move to reply. Hayes, though, confidently speaks over him.
Hayes Hanlon: You heard ‘em, we can get the party started early. Right now, and give the Vegas PRIMEates who’ve been here since ReVival One a send off they deserve.
The crowd massively swoons for Christmas coming early.
Cancer Jiles: Easy there, Young Bull. There is no need to rush. I said this encounter would be a peaceful exchange, and I meant it.
Hayes Hanlon: Pretty sure you already threatened to toss me over the railing, so…yeah. I doubt it.
Cancer Jiles: Like I said, Mom would have somehow caught you.
The Champion snickers.
Cancer Jiles: I was kidding around, Hayes. Jeez. Lighten up. COOLOSSUS awaits for both of us, and I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize it. Plus, why fall now, here in Vegas, when the epicenter of the known world awaits?
The crowd boos. Hayes turns an eyebrow to Nova and Wade.
Hayes Hanlon: What are you getting at, Jiles?
Cancer extends his arms out.
Cancer Jiles: The Mountain Top, Hayes. COOLYMPUS.
Confused and narrowed eyes follow.
Cancer Jiles: Well, not the mountain TOP, that’s for me. Only me. But if you play your cards right, maybe there’s a spot somewhere close to the summit. A base camp or something of the sort.
Wade Elliott: If that ain’t horseshit, then I ain’t seen it.
Cancer Jiles: No one’s doubting that, hillbilly.
Hayes Hanlon: Cut the shit. What’s your point? What’s your game?
Cancer Jiles: No game, Young Bull. Just fairness. We walk into the COOLOSSUS Main Event, MY Main Event, and we put on the show of the century. All the fanfare and spectacle that you love so dear. I may even let you have a spot or two. But in the end, I walk out the CHAMPION, and in return, you…
A long pause. Nova nearly eats his cigarette.
Cancer Jiles: …get to be in the Bandits.
The trio lets it soak. Bobby and Mayhew shoot each other confused glances before Hayes steps forward.
Hayes Hanlon: Buddy are you high? Why the hell would I ever agree to that?
Cancer Jiles: BECAUSE THIS MATCH HAS AN ASTERISK ON IT ALREADY!
The COOLympian once again points a hard finger at Nova, the Guest-Referee-to-Be. The Risen Star no-sells, and instead reaches for his pack of cigs.
Cancer Jiles: You’ll never be able to claim that title as long as your smoke-hazed idol is involved! The whole thing should be tossed! But I’m not missing MY Main Event, and if you wanna hang on to any shred of dignity you’ll do the job, Hayes, because you know your buddy is going to do everything to take it from me!
Before Hanlon can bark back, Nova holds him at bay with a hand on his chest.
Nova: I got this one, Hayes.
The Starchild steps forward, tapping out and lighting up a fresh cigarette, much to Cancer’s chagrin, taking a long drag before speaking.
Nova: You know, Jiles, I’ve been around a lot of guys like you. Cheaters. The Untrustworthy.
Another drag, another plume of smoke.
Nova: And what I’ve learned, is that people react based on the kind of person they are themselves.
Cancer’s shades start freezing over.
Nova: Cheaters worry about getting cheated. The untrustworthy think everyone else is untrustworthy.
He flicks the filter, sending a spark to the floor.
Nova: And losers worry about losing.
On that note, the Risen Star flicks the remainder of his cigarette to the floor, exploding in a small firework. Cancer sits back into his chair, growling through grit teeth. Nova turns away, patting Hayes on the shoulder before making way to the staircase.
Cancer, meanwhile, does his best to return focus to Hammerin’ Hanlon.
Cancer Jiles: Cute. Remember this, Hayes, it’s not called Novalossus and it never has been. Nor will it ever be. Not as long as I’m here. Be smart and leave the past behind. There is no reason for your struggle to be for nothing.
The Champion smiles wide like he’s wearing a pearly white bear trap for dentures. Sincere, earnest, and trustworthy are words that shouldn’t come to mind.
Cancer Jiles: Take your rightful place near me, with the Bandits, at the top of the mountain.
Hayes Hanlon: Make no mistake about it, Champ, I intend to. See you at Colossus, buddy.
Hanlon turns away to follow Nova. Wade turns his sharp blue eyes to Bobby and Mayhew, offering an amused grunt before heading to the staircase himself. Beautiful Bobby and the Old Bull turn to Cancer for his reaction.
Jiles remains in his seat, eyes glaring behind his t-shades at the exiting trio.
Cancer Jiles: You will. One way or another.