“In two weeks PRIME presents COLOSSUS!”
My ears perk up, as my honey brown eyes are drawn across the gym to the bank of mounted televisions for the people using treadmills. I watch the commercial hyping the approaching two night event play out as I continue to churn the water wheel on the Ergatta rower beneath me. A puddle of sweat pooling along the length of the redwood, as I continue to glide back and forth.
My eyes narrow at the familiar face as it flashes across the screen, and I find my pace rising as my temper unconsciously flares.
I notice it’s getting worse.
Perhaps it’s time?
~ ~ ~
My world is crumbling down all around me.
I feel lost, alone, drowning in an overwhelming, all encompassing, ocean of despair.
I’m Jack, moments after Rose pried my cold frostbitten fingers off of the lifesaving plank of wood.
You remember Titanic right? You know, the one with the two people banging in a car and you get the horror hand on the steamed up window seconds before Michael Myers arrives with Mini Me. Wait, I think I might have gotten my movies mixed up…
Regardless, I find myself standing in the airport terminal watching as the plane taxis its way towards the runway. Tears are streaming down my face, and I’m not ashamed of them. My kiddo is on that plane, sulking with her arms crossed over her chest, scowling at anyone and everyone brave enough to make eye contact with her.
The vacation is over. Her mother is back home with her new husband, and poor Annabelle has been recalled. My little ankle biter is on her way back to Texas, where she’ll stay for the next seven months before she can come back for her summer break.
I have to admit, I don’t regret much in my life, but I definitely regret not being a better father. The time I got to share with her at my side has been some of the happiest days of my life. But, watching her go, has hit me a lot harder than I expected.
“You ready to hit the road, bud?” the artist formerly known as Doozer asks, as he slides up to my side, draping an arm over my shoulders consolingly. I wipe my tears with the back of my hand, nodding my head with a look of pure gloom on my face. “I know buddy, it sucks.”
With the plane in the air, the two of us begin making our way through the congested airport and back towards our awaiting car. “Hey, how ‘bout we stop and get some ice cream? Eh, bud?”
I shake my head in the negative, which causes the Old Goat to gasp in surprise. “I’m not in the mood.”
Drowning in the enveloping darkness of despair, ice cream is not going to save me this time.
~ ~ ~
After three days of moping around, the elder Bandit has had enough. He understands my pain, but he’s not one to wallow in self misery. He’s the kind of guy who sees a problem and seeks a solution.
He has yet to realize that sometimes there isn’t a solution. A problem remains a problem, whether we like it or not. Sometimes problems have to play themselves out.
In the words of Dooze himself, “Fuck that, put some pants on, we’re going out.”
I’m beginning to think the Old Goat misses Annabelle’s presence in the Carton more than even I. Because ever since she left, I’ve had no reason to put my pants on. I don’t have the sensitive sensibilities of a 16 year old girl to worry about, so welcome back to the clothing optional eGG Carton.
An hour and forty minutes after being told to put some pants on, a lot of scolding, harsh words, and a hurried load of laundry, we’ve finally made it out of the MGM Hotel and Casino. The two of us walk down the sidewalks of the Las Vegas Strip, Cancer Jiles nowhere to be seen.
“Listen,” Doozer begins in a consoling tone. “I know it sucks, but just think, seven months and she’ll be back amongst the Bandits, you’ll be forced to wear pants at all times, and maybe we can even get Cancer to climb down from atop his mountain and give us peons a moment of his time?”
I smile at the thought of all of us together once more, but it’s a short lived smile, as seven months is still seven months. I wish it were seven seconds instead. I’d even settle for seven minutes!
I’m sure there’s a “That’s what she said” joke somewhere in there…
“Where are we going?” I ask, changing the subject.
“Oh, just a small little place I happened across once.” Doozy offers with a confident smile, causing me to notice that he’s changed recently. I’m not quite sure what it is that’s different but, he’s been walking around with his head held high a lot more lately, offering his opinion on matters that he normally wouldn’t have an opinion on. “We’ll just pop in, have a drink or two, and hopefully an afternoon with just us Bandits will bring the happy Bobby Dean back!”
He leads the way into a hole in the wall pub I’d never heard of before, but I’m stopped dead in my tracks as every person in the pup turns at the opening door and they all call out, “FREDDIE!”
Dooze smiles and proceeds to go around the room shaking hands, clapping people on the back, laughing at inside jokes that don’t mean a single thing to me. I’m at a complete loss for words as I stagger my way towards a nearby empty barstool, watching my friend, as if seeing him for the very first time.
As he approaches me with an easy laugh on his lips and a happiness in his eye, I can’t help but wonder aloud, “Who the fuck is Freddie?”
The smile falters, the happy gleam fades, and his shoulders visibly slump as he climbs onto the barstool next to me. Without looking my way he mutters under his breath, “It’s me. Fred Mayhew.”
“When did you change your name?” I ask, still not comprehending the words I was hearing.
~ ~ ~
“Here is your boarding pass, sir,” the stewardess says with a thick southern twang, as she hands over my pass with a bright smile on her face.
Her hungry emerald green eyes look me up and down, before locking onto my honey brown eyes, the mischievous grin that emerges as she obviously likes what she sees before her. I offer her one of my megawatt smiles causing her cheeks to pink, as I reach out and take the offered boarding pass from her grasp, making sure to make as much physical contact with her hand in the process.
For I am the hungry predator on the prowl, she is the succulent sheep braying before my eyes.
“Please, enjoy your flight” she offers, shaking loose my wandering mind. Reminding me that I’m not here for fun and games. I’m here on a mission. I toff my invisible cap, still offering her my gorgeous smile, before turning towards the exit.
With pass in hand, and a duffel bag slung over one very broad shoulder, I begin making my way through the tunnel towards the awaiting plane.
For I have a man to see.
I have a wrong to right.
~ ~ ~
The three mighty eGG Bandits make their way out of the very exclusive, very pricey restaurant, with Fred Mayhew leading the way out with a confident smile on face, followed by the cherubic grinning face of Bobby Dean right on his heels, and a scowling Cancer Jiles playing the role of the caboose on this eGG Train.
“I can’t believe he did it!” Fred cries out happily as Bobby and the elder Bandit watch Cancer roughly shove his once full, now dwindling wallet back into the back pocket of his pants. “I really have to wonder if people are ice skating in Hell?”
“Maybe pigs are finally flying?” Bobby chimes in, licking his lips hungrily, as if he didn’t just eat a five course meal not two minutes ago…
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” the COOLympian mutters, taking the ribbing in typical Cancer fashion. “Listen, I know things have been weird lately amongst the Banditry. What, with me climbing the mountain with an entire company perched on my shoulders and everything, and you two floundering down at the bottom of the tag team kiddie pool. We just haven’t had much time to hang out.”
“Ouch.” Bobby offers with an expression of hurt on his face. “Don’t hold back, tell us how you really feel.”
“Come on guys,” Jiles says simply. “You really think you stand a chance against Dangerous Mix and the B-Team? Really? What I’m saying is, it’s about time we get the Bandits back on the same page again. Mayhew has past his transitional period. Bobby’s little hellion is not here to distract us. I’m no longer contemplating a change of careers. I say it’s time we show PRIME what we’re really capable of.”
“I like the sound of that.” Mayhew says, “Plus, if it means you start paying when it’s your turn…”
“Listen, I didn’t buy dinner tonight because it was my turn to pay,” Cancer says with a conspiratorial wink, before pausing to look around suspiciously. “I need your guys’ help with something at COOLOSSUS…”
“Here we go…” Fred calls out as Bobby Dean just smirks, greedily rubbing his hands together in anticipation at whatever crazy scheme Cancer Jiles has cooked together.