“I can’t do this, Lindz. It’s too much.”
Sunday, January 22, 2023
Embassy Suites by Hilton
Downtown Tampa Convention Center
Sonny Silver lays stretched across a large couch in the living room of a hotel suite, sobbing into his phone.
“It’s been a month, Sonny,” Lindsay Troy’s voice crackles back unsympathetically on speaker. “Get it together.”
“The longest month of my life!” Sonny hisses through gritted teeth, his eyes darting behind him.
His shoulders slump back against the couch and his tone softens. “It’s just…so much.”
“Sonny…,” Nova wanders into the frame in a terry cloth bathrobe, brushing his teeth, “have you seen my reading glasses?”
“They’re on your face, dawg,” Silver replies, rubbing his temple.
Nova looks around, his eyes comically magnified behind his reading specs, gives a satisfied nod, and walks back to the bathroom.
Sonny’s head whips back to his phone. “Help me! PLEASE!”
“He’s always been a space cadet.”
There’s a brief pause on the other end of the line.
“Now he’s just…an institutionalized space cadet. Our institutionalized space cadet. And he needs us. He needs you. Johnny may have been clinically insane, but at least he was a second set of eyes. Now he’s gone, and I’m too fucking busy keeping the lights on and taking care of literally everyone to focus exclusively on our boy. That falls to you now.”
“Seems like a big ask,” Sonny offers grumpily.
“Well, maybe you should have thought about that before you slithered out of a piece of locker room furniture and tried to take away his spot in the Hall of Fame. That was mean, Sonny.”
“Oh, come on,” Silver throws up an arm, “I was just fucking with him, you know that!”
“Well you fucked around and found out, didn’t you?”
Silver sits up, swinging his legs around. “Excuuuuuse me, Sarge, but I’m the one who got dropped head-first through a grand piano, so I don’t think you need to remin-”
“Hey!” Troy voices barks, “I don’t wanna hear any kvetching about the use of props at Colossus, alright? Do you know I get two voicemails a day from NYPD’s theft unit? Jim Dolan is on the warpath…”
“That was brilliant!” Silver fires back before pausing uncomfortably, “I mean…uh, whoever did it…that was brilliant…”
Sonny’s eyes focus for a moment on his iPhone’s wallpaper photo of himself, Nova, and Richard Parker in a bathtub full of money and women, sword-fighting with bottles of champagne. He shakes his head clear.
“Well, you certifiable genius, you, you managed to plot and scheme your way into finalizing reservations and designing meal plans for Caes through the Culture Shock arc, so well done. I’ll see you at the show.”
“Yeah,” Silver says, shaking his head, “see ya.”
He sets his phone down on the coffee table and leans back against the couch, taking a deep breath.
“Sonny,” Nova calls from the bathroom, “have you seen my reading glasses?”
Sonny grins in spite of himself.
Later that day…
Silver slides open the door to the hotel suite’s balcony, a rush of seventy-degree air greeting him. Nova is stretched out on a lounge chair smoking a cigarette, clad in his tights and full wrestling gear, his gaze focused on the small rays of sunlight trying to fight their way through the thick dome of dark storm clouds over the ocean.
Silver all but collapses into the chair next to him.
For a moment there’s silence.
Nova takes a drag of his cigarette and smiles. “Hard work keeping me clothed and fed?”
Sonny takes one of the two margaritas from the glass end-table between their chairs in one hand, and extends the other in a dramatic flourish.
“I live to serve,” he responds in a dour, haughty tone.
Nova takes the other drink and raises it to his friend with a nod before having a sip.
They sit in silence for another moment.
“Well, I don’t suspect your tour of duty will be as prolonged as you may have thought,” Nova says, his eyes back out over the water.
Silver turns to him, arching an eyebrow. “What do you mean, Nov?”
“I’m thinking I may not stick around after all,” Nova replies, taking another drag. “I’m thinking…maybe it’s time to move on and see what the next chapter of life looks like.”
Sonny leans away, eyes narrowing. “Are you serious?”
“It just…things seem different now, right?” Nova says, taking a sip from his glass, “After Colossus? Hayes dethroned Jiles, so he’s not holding the company hostage any more. Violence Jack slithered back under the rock he crawled out of. PRIME didn’t just survive the first year after the reopen, it’s stronger than it’s ever been and people are coming from everywhere to be part of it.”
The Risen Star turns to his friend and smiles. “I think everyone’s gonna be okay.”
Silver stares back at him blankly, the drink in his hand forgotten. “You’re serious.”
“I think everyone’s gonna be okay,” he repeats, “and I think I can go.”
Sonny’s jaw hangs open…then he vaults himself out of his chair and pumps a fist in the air, careful not to spill his drink.
“FUCK! YES!!!” he shouts, turning back to Nova, “I knew you’d get your head screwed on straight eventually! Let’s blow this popsicle stand and hop on a plane, baby! Where we goin’? Where we goin’, big guy? Rio? Bangkok? Ibiza?”
Silver turns and grips the balcony railing, screaming into the gusty January air. “AHHHHHHH!!!! I feel fucking ALIVE!”
He turns back and sees Nova sipping his drink and staring at a crinkled note in his hand. Nova flips it around so Sonny can see.
Lindsay Troy’s handwriting.
Jail is not your home.
You are home.
Sonny winces. “Thinking about how you’re gonna break it to her?”
Nova holds the note to his chest and leans back in the lounge chair, closing his eyes.
He shakes his head.