Never party with Henry Fucking Keyes.
“YARRRRRRR, I KNOW THE LADDY NEXT TO ME WANTS ANOTHER RIIIDE WITH THE GREEEEEN FAIRYYYYYYYYY!!!”
Did he really “yar” that hard? No. Surely.
But the beating drums of hands-on-pine at the bar? That feels like a thing that happened. Throwing back shots of who knows what with a friend of the boss to try and fit in? That feels like a thing that happened.
But, come on. Anyone with their ear to the ground knows that wrestling pirates aren’t real.
Ah, hell. He had an eyepatch on, didn’t he. That’s disrespectful as hell – people with disabilities shouldn’t be pigeonholed as pirates, you dick. Hold on, check Jabber, make sure you didn’t jab something regrettable…checking…checking…whew. You were already locked out for biffing the password too many times. Thanks, Sober FLAMBO. SoFLAMBO. Heh…”so, FLAMBO, what’s the latest?”
“Well, I have to beat the hell out of Tony Gamble, but beyond that, Henry Keyes is an AWESOME GUY TO PARTY WITH!”
Good one, FLAMBO. You nailed it.
Good thing you loosened that tie earlier, too, by the way. Makes you look reeeeeeal casual right now. Distracts from the stains on your shirt and your very sober walk – hang on, focus on that part again. Posture – there we go. Very Sober Walk. Nod to the man at the desk – nailed it again.
You’ve got the room key, right? Hang on, one sec, time to check…not the jacket pocket, not the OTHER jacket pocket…left butt, ah, yep, left butt pocket. The Other Cheek. Card key pulled, time to swipe and – hang on, something else fell out. Something else fell out?
9:00pm. Six hours earlier.
“So, you’re the French kid Miss Troy keeps telling me about, eh?”
FLAMBERGE looks sharp as hell in a tailored navy suit with a bronze-colored necktie. He is seated at side table near the bar, clearly near casino action, though the casino’s particular branding remains hidden. Standing across from him is a large, broad-shouldered man with salt-and-pepper hair with matching goatee, a black-and-pink trimmed tux with tails, and most bewilderingly, a heavy leather covering over his left eye. Their arms are clasped in something resembling a Roman Gladiator Handshake.
“Oui, c’est moi Mssr. Keyes-”
“Kid, I know your English is good. Relax. You don’t need to wear a masque around me.”
FLAMBERGE blinks hard for a moment in self-deprecation – after all, to put it bluntly, every older man he’s ever met has tried taking advantage of him in one way or another. He would probably blink much, much harder at himself if he had been a proper wrestling historian and understood just who exactly he was meeting right now. All he knew was that Henry Keyes was one of Lindsay Troy’s closest confidants – and that he was apparently a wrestler of “some importance” in the New Orleans area. He looked old as shit, as far as active wrestlers go – and that eye patch? Really? Over-the-top gimmicks must slap harder in the Southern states, FLAMBERGE notes to himself.
He mentally checks over his List Of Five again – thinks of overt gimmicks again – yep. It allllllllll tracks, minus GREAT SCOTT. Always minus GREAT SCOTT. Maybe “Fine Scotthew”. Probably rude – we’ll keep that to ourselves.
Respect for the all-caps, though.
FLAMBO snaps out of his headspace and realizes that a double-shot of green liquid is now on the table in front of him. After a quick cobweb-shaking, he grabs the glass, toasts, and throws the –
WHAT IS SHAMAHAMALOOLAWWWWD…!..!…!!
We get, uh.
Hazy. We get hazy here.
Roulette wheels spin. Cascading dice. A waterfall of poker chips. FLAMBERGE is arm-in-arm with this weird older pirate-looking man as a unicorn rainbow pyrotechnic display.
Shake it out. Remember why you reached out in the first place.
Hoo. There you go. He probably didn’t notice your cough.
“Thanks? Ha, wow, kid…way to pretend like you got a handle on things!”
FLAMBERGE finds himself moving almost without his feet to a legit, for-real, Las Vegas blackjack table, Weird Pirate Man to his left. Thumbs ups are on display, all around.
Cards are in front of him – a 9 and a 6. Almost Nice, he thinks, but he ditches them. Keyes has ditched his cards as well.
“So, my French friend – I understand that you’re kind of an idiot. Is that right?”
Inside? FLAMBERGE is white hot with anger at such a blatant slam. With the previously-shot liquids doing their thing? All he can muster is a weirdly-aggressive raspberry and an eyebrow arch.
“Sorry, that was aggressive – I understand that you, how can I word it – you don’t understand that you’re a rookie, is that right?”
TWO raspberries from FLAMBERGE, can you believe it? It’s as if the second round of shots Keyes ordered were doubly potent, because…whoa, hang on. Nausea. FLAMBERGE only now registers the second downing of a green mystery liquid he’d never had in France. Sit upright, kid – the acid needs gravity to do its thing. Steady – STEADY…OK. Hoo, times two. Two-hoo.
“Here’s what I see when I see you…”
Monsieur Keyes continues – how many times have these motherfuckers trying to control your life said one time or another that they see themselves in yo-
“…I see a third shot. BARKEEP! ANOTHER!”
You don’t puke in a urinal – that’s just common courtesy. Find a flushable apparatus, you goon.
There’s a geek in this stall – who are you?
Yep, nope, yep – next stall. Empty, thank god.
Tony Gamble isn’t in your list.
It’s incredibly easy for your own emotions to boil over in an isolated environment – one you created yourself, in particular. Fuck Mr. Darby, fuck dad – this is your ship now. YOU rule the roost, YOU answer the phone calls – andd oh my god is it scary.
Miss Troy doesn’t know about the prescriptions yet. Probably worth putting that one on the back burner until life’s back in alignment.
Is Tony Gamble’s? I don’t fucking know – who the fuck is Tony Gamble, anyway?
Hang on, Hey Siri?
Who the fuck is Tony Gamble?
Here are top results for Who Is Tony Gamble.
Probably not the professor at Marquette…probably not the Flamenco Fusion musician…ah. Here it is.
Ah, hell. Why’d he have to be good?
FLAMBERGE scrolls and scrolls on his phone while an incessant BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM resonates in the background, pink lights pulsating with the rhythm.
There’s a “Top 20 Best Tony Gamble Matches” playlist – fuck. FUCK.
The problem with being talented when you’re young is that every outcome is bad – either you lose to a notable vet like this asshole right here and you gain nothing, or you BEAT a notable vet, and everyone assumes it’s artificial. At least – that’s what losing to Cancer Jiles a few moons ago has taught our French chiphead.
After all, how could he NOT know everything about wrestling by now? He’s TWENTY-TWO! That’s SO OLD!
“…and that’s when I figured, Miss Troy and I would create a faction that would run over every sad-sack pack-of-Rolaids shit-sipping pleb in allllll of New Orleans! Now, tell me – when did YOU come to this conclusion??”
Wait, hang on.
Hold Whatever You Can.
When did THIS topic come up? I remember talking about Nate Colton, because I got a blackjack on that hand at that moment…
“Nate Colton is the BIIIIIIIIIITCH!!”
Everyone probably fawned over me, right? …maybe? Did I say it out loud?
There’s a short glass in front of me. It’s got more of that green stuff. Heyyyyyyyy, pirate man.
“Clinks for drinks!”, he said. Miss Troy has all her shit together in a basket – how is THIS guy a confidant?
“And that’s how we buried the Kabal six feet underground!”
Raucous laughter seems to surround FLAMBERGE in this particular booth at the MGM Grand – though he does not recognize most of the faces. If he’s learned anything about himself tonight, it might be that he’s more of an introverted internal processor than he lets on. Henry Keyes, however, seems right at home. Uncomfortably so.
“So let’s lay it all out there, FLAMBEY – do you agree that Mr. Potswinkle stepped over the line on Thursday?”
Who in the sweet lord baby Jesus fuckitude was Mr. Potswinkle??
He looked over at a green bottle, which was ¾ empty to this point. Then, he shouted.
“À tout à l’heure!”
What are we doing here, FLAMBO? You’ve had the ear of one of Lindsay Troy’s closest affiliates, and you’re SHITTING THE BED. Read that note.
That note you were handed by Henry Keyes, the goddamn Kraken, you geek. You asked for advice, he handed you a thing, you’re a drunk 22 year old idiot, READ IT AGAIN.
“I can accelerate everything you hope to achieve, if you’re willing to sacrifice.
FLAMBERGE folds the note back up and sticks it in his back left pocket. He’ll find it again tomorrow, probably.
You won’t remember this part, my sweet French Prince. And that’s OK – you’ll probably meet Henry again. After all…you’re stuck in Vegas for a while, eh?