The dam’s about to burst…right?
Your FLAMBOrghini made it to Orlando in one piece. I don’t know HOW, you maniac, but you got here, truly to America’s razor bump. You didn’t say a word the entire drive – that’s not so weird. You get in these sorts of tea-seeps all the time these days. When do you think you developed THAT toxic coping strategy by the way – was it the pennies?
It was the pennies. Of course it was. Still smells like copper in your sweet ride, for the record. Don’t ask how a narrator smells, I just know.
No, the tea-seep moody sadboi routine is normal now. The concerning part, at least from a perspective, is what you kept forcing upon us.
“I used to be you.”
“Iii uuuuuused tobeyou”
“I uSSSedd to beeEEEEEEEEEEEEE”
“I USED to beyou”
“I used to be you.”
The fuck, kid? That’s not great. I’m pretty sure most of those voices were fake, aaaaand of course that’s what it is, isn’t it. Consarnit and phooey, quite frankly, FLAMBERGE. I think it’s rude and reckless of you to fall into rabbit holes that I don’t create for you myself.
MY rabbit holes come from the real world, don’t they? Your experiences! Your papercut-level first world problem experiences that festered until they blossomed into trauma, you know them! That Christmas story rabbit hole I had you relive? Look how well you did after that! That’s what it’s all about, right?
The hero wins and the hero gets prizes! Acknowledgement! Maybe even some respect for once in your long life, FLAMBO!
You got a prize before, FLAMBO. Right here in PRIME. Where is that prize now? I didn’t see it in the FLAMBOrghini.
All I saw, all WE saw over and over again, was you taking snippets in your mind of so many shit conversations with shit people and projecting them how others might say it.
And then warping it.
It’s weird. Stoppit, sadboi. You don’t need to be in charge of this ship. Captain Kirk wasn’t behind the steering wheel – the protagonist always has loyal followers, or something? Don’t worry about it. Let me handle it. You took care of the larger traumas, in your way, when you jumped the Kool-Aid Man version of your father…that stuff rarely sits with you now. Let me mess around with the wires, FLAMBO. Memory acupuncture, if you want to think of it this way.
You’re in Orlando, you’re not going to have anything to do here because even though you’re a dedicated Slytherin you wouldn’t be caught dead in Harry Potter World by yourself. You look too good for that.
Yes, there it is. A beige hotel bed and a bag of mediocre Sour Cream And Onion chips. Let me tap in, now, ok?
Phil Atken said you should.
FLAMBERGE remembers when FIFA 13 came out – it was in the fall, right around the time Lil FLAMBO made a big leap towards becoming Medium Sized FLAMBO. His mom was super excited because she found that one sale where she could get three of the same style shirt in three different sizes, the “Spécial Poussée de Croissance” they called it. The kid didn’t care. Boys don’t care about clothes, mom.
Boys care about video games, amirite fellas? Anyone? …Doesn’t age well? Fair. That’s fair.
Home was still mom’s house, but dad’s house was getting…betterish. Full Sized FLAMBO has a better understanding of how medical provisions are written into athletic contracts as an adult, but at age 12, best he could figure was that something was wrong with dad and so he got more money from somewhere. In contrast to Christmas 2010, Christmas 2013 came early in dad’s house.
He didn’t even wrap it. He had it plugged in and everything. He even wore one of his old playing jerseys when FLAMBO and his mom showed up to drop off for the weekend, though it fit a lot tighter around the stomach now.
“Henri, tu n’as pas besoin d’essayer si fort.”
“Je ne sais pas ce que tu veux dire.”
“Vous ne pouvez pas échanger des années sans être là pour une X BOX.”
The kid heard it and remembered that mom pronounced Xbox strangely, but he didn’t register it for anything deeper at the time – all he saw was a brand new Xbox 360 with FIFA 13 booted up and ready to go.
Mom and dad fought all the time about sports for lil FLAMBO – mom, understandably now but “unfairly” at the time, concerned about how overly competitive dad was. Dad, understandably then but disgustingly now, used some frankly unacceptable language in describing the type of people boys who don’t play high-level competitive sports become when they grow up. It was a clear black and white for the kid back then – mom didn’t like sports, dad did. The kid liked sports too.
And now was the chance for Julien Lavigne to fall in love with a sport on Henri’s terms – and to flaunt his swing of good luck in front of an ex-wife who has had a leg up with the kid since the divorce.
RC Strasbourg Alsace wasn’t in the game, of course – not just because they just switched names that season, but because they’ve suuuuucked for a few years now. You don’t end up in FIFA if you’re not a professional-level club and we were years from getting back to that level. Next best thing – PSG. Dad scoffed at first, forgetting that mom was still there – he remembers her shooting him a death glare, but he didn’t know why.
They were rated really highly and it made Mediumish FLAMBO laugh that when he selected one player, his name just showed up as “Alex” instead of a last name. What if there’s another Alex, Alex?! What’s he supposed to do! You’re crazy!
When mom finally left, lil FLAMBO was planted on the floor in front of the tv, running around at full sprint with Alex. He hadn’t figured out how all the buttons worked yet, which added to the challenge, but he’d gotten “move” and maybe even “move fast” figured out.
Pretty quickly he accidentally hit the slide tackle button when he was frantically chasing some guy from Olympique de Marseille, and for those who don’t really know about soccer, there’s a rule that’s pretty straightforward. It’s as true in futbol/football/soccer as it is in basketball, golf, and bass fishing – you can’t just sweep the legs out from a guy on the other team for no reason. It’s cheating. And you usually get punished for it.
Alex sure did – yellow card, 8 minutes into the first half. An inauspicious start, but hey – it’s his first try at this. He’s bound to get bett-
“Fils, tu n’es pas censé utiliser un défenseur comme ça.”
But it’s Alex, dad. Alex rules.
“Alex est un défenseur, cela signifie qu’il doit travailler aux côtés des autres défenseurs. Vous le faites courir partout sur le terrain comme un idiot. C’est du mauvais football.”
Lil FLAMBO turns to look at his dad – when did he have time to fill and then empty that glass that’s in his hand? The water droplets inside look new enough.
It’s bad football? But it’s fun to run around. You don’t play video games to stand around in one place. Don’t listen to him, just have funaaaaaaaand you gave up a goal. Oops. Pretty wide open one, too.
Oh no. You’re sucking at this. Dad doesn’t really seem mad, instead it feels like…a pop quiz that you’re failing. You always fail in front of him. Get it together, you’re fine. It’s one goal, you’re smart, you can figure this o-
“C’est bon, laissez-moi vous montrer comment tout faire…”
Henri snatched the controller out of Julien’s hand and paused the game. Julien remembers that dad’s grip didn’t hurt, but he was definitely not in control of his thumb or fingers as Henri grabbed and pointed to each button one by one, explaining two different pass buttons, a shoot button, this button switches players so you can stop running around with Alex, this part of the menu lets you turn…down…the difficultyyyyyyyyyyy…….
The sound lowers in pitch and slows, like a record player that’s been unplugged. It’s past midnight in Orlando – was that ahead of the clock your body got used to in Vegas? Behind the clock? Hard to tell if it matters. You didn’t take breaks on your drive here, after all, apart from peeing and refilling gas. Pee-fills, if you will.
You’ve been tired for months, haven’t you? Challenges and temptations, my man – that’s what we can call it when we look back and you have a Hero Prize again. Water began to fill your Loathe Lake in Christmas 2010, but for a while, it was only a dribble – now, nearly three years later, the dribble turned into a small stream. It’s a big lake to fill, though – it takes. It TOOK time. Moments in your life continue to happen, and these adjust the knobs controlling the flow of loathing.
Nate Colton came around, and boy HOWDY did he provide a nice new source of loathe-flow. Production increased from that moment, but what’s REALLY increased that flow?
I like to call it the “Pre-emptive Invalidation Knob”.
The way it works is this: every time someone says they’ve seen your experiences before, every time someone insists on telling you what to do without being asked, every time someone at the end of the day decides that it’s their right and obligation to stop you in your tracks and live your life for you?
The Pre-emptive Invalidation Knob gets turned up. Sometimes, it’s a little bit. Sometimes, it’s a lot bit. Little bits of loathe-grow happen every time you choose to experience Jabber, but they peck like little rapid-fire needles…larger turns happen face-to-face here. Plenty of examples to go through over your first year here in PRIME, but something about that last one really did a number on you, kid.
Something about The Anglo Luchador.
Maybe it was how you watched him sitting in his seat typing thoughts and prayers on an app as Paxton Ray tried to do a murder or two in the Belmont. Maybe it was how despite that, you saw him climb to the top of the ladder here like so many oldheads seem to do – how DO they keep doing that? How do they keep getting AWAY with it?
Anglo literally said the words “I used to be you”, and you didn’t do a great job of hiding how hard that turned up the loathe-knob in your mind…the camera sort of…lingered. I’m not sure your eyes were looking in the same direction.
Right before you hopped in your car and made the Frankly Too Long drive in your Too Nice For This Sort Of Endeavor automobile, you saw your opponent for ReVival 22 and you blue screened.
The Risen Star his goddamn self, man.
That’s when the voice warping started, now that we’re replaying this whole scene back, FLAMBERGE. Nova’s just about twice your age, after all – that’s TWO of your whole lives! Surely this would infer that he, too, has been in your shoes and will be ready to tell you all about it the moment you cross paths.
You haven’t talked to him though, have you, FLAMBERGE? Have you stopped to consider that maybe this is all in your – oh? You have? You have! Good. No, more than good.
That must mean you REALLY don’t know what’s going on in his life these days, do you? Do you care about the rumors floating around this place? You don’t. Fair, I guess. He’s old, that’s the focus, right? Old and not you. He hasn’t lived your life. He doesn’t know what it’s like to be you. Does he even KNOW trauma?
You can fill those gaps in your mind yourself, can’t you, FLAMBERGE? He’s just like Youngblood, he’s just like Gamble, he’s just like Anglo, he’s just like every crusty sack around here who clings onto the ledges right above heroes like you.
By the way, FLAMBERGE, did you stick around all night last ReVival? Weird small world moment, but…Paxton Ray beat the hell out of Nova. A tooth clattered. Then Paxton Ray beat the hell out of the very man who would have live-jabbered Nova’s assault if he wasn’t wrestling later, the Anglue Gluechador himself.
A statement piece. Paxton Ray has a Hero’s Prize now, doesn’t he…
Sometimes I don’t know if I know your mind, FLAMBERGE, but I do know there’s a dam built into your Loathe Lake. The lake has filled and filled, bit by bit, and an awful lot faster as time has gone by and you’ve grown into manhood…damn. Damn dam.
I don’t know how much more it can take…and I for one am mesmerized.
Watch Nova closely. NOW now. See what you learn.
It might break the dam thing.