Your recommended auditory companion: BLACK FLAG
Far outside of the Las Vegas City Limits, at a nondescript storage facility, the sound of a clenched fist hitting the aluminum bay door to one of the units three times pierces the early morning air. A voice follows.
“Hello? Anybody in there?”
The door swiftly rolls up. Appearing in the darkness of a junk-filled storage unit is the gaunt frame of a shirtless, tattooed, and unclean man. A lit joint hangs from his mouth. His reddened eyes look over the man who dared knock on his door.
“The fuck you want, normie?”
“Are you Erik Black?” says the courier, holding up a bright red envelope with the aforementioned name printed on it.
“Never heard of him!” says the occupant, and the bay door slams shut as quickly as it opened.
The courier lingers. He’s a typical Vegas native, all too familiar with weird behavior.
“Any idea where I can find him?” he asks the blank bay door before him. “Says this is an important message for him, all the way from Indiana.”
A moment of silence passes. Then finally, a reply…
“…is it a summons?”
“No,” the courier reads the return address on the envelope. “Says it’s from a bank. Has a lot of ‘final notice’ stamps all over it.”
The door rattles open a few inches, and a hand emerges from the opening. Its tar-stained fingers clench appealingly. The courier drops the letter into it, before it disappears back under the door.
A small baggie holding a single emaciated nugget of brown, ugly weed pops out after it.
“Here… forget what ya saw here! Which IS NOTHING!” rasps the voice from within, before the door slams shut again.
Attention Mr. Black:
We have made repeated efforts to reach you in regards to the property in your name located at 4266 Morningside Lane Lebanon, IN 46502.
As you know, the house on this property has been unoccupied and derelict for several years, and has been deemed unfit for human habitation by multiple inspector groups.
It would be prudent for you to know that several parties have contacted us in regards to purchasing the property for private interests, but they unfortunately have no way of reaching you.
If you do not pay the mortgage’s outstanding debt of $75,000 by the end of the month, the bank will have no choice but to seize the assets on this property and turn them over to the state, so that they may begin the demolition process.
We hope this correspondence finds you, so that prompt action may be taken. If you have any questions, please call the bank during normal business hours. Thank you in advance for your timely response.
-Frank Wherley, Vice President of Heartland Savings & Trust, Lebanon, IN Branch
“FUCK!” Rezin exclaims to himself as the contents of the letter fully sink in.
He couldn’t lose the old house! How in the hell was he supposed to come up with that kind of capital on such short notice?
“Goddamb parasites…” he grumbles to himself as he crumbles the letter into a ball and tosses it aside. “Now I actually have to WORK!”
Absolutely nothing about this situation is punk rock.
Classes are in session at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Three male students are walking from the dorms to the campus when a voice croaks out at them from just off the sidewalk.
“How’s it going, fellow kids?”
They all look over, where leaning up against a tree is someone who is quite obviously not a student. Once he has their attention, he slides in with the smirk of a snake oil salesman and makes his pitch.
“You guys lookin’ for any smoke?” asks the Goat Bastard, discreetly flashing a bag of the dryest, brownest, most unappealing looking weed.
The three students look at each other questionably. One of them speaks on their behalf. “Dude, are you kidding? This is Nevada. We could literally walk down the street and buy weed if we wanted to.”
Rezin’s grin melts into a snarl. “Look, you don’t want that Wal-Mart grade trash! This is HOMEGROWN and MADE WITH LOVE, and ya don’t have to worry about the corrupt state politicians getting a bite of the action! Trust me, this shit will get ya HIGH AS BALLS!”
“Gross…” said the kid, wrinkling his nose. “Nobody wants to hear about your balls, old man.”
“What’s up with that bud?” one of the others chimes in, pointing at the contents of the sack. “Did you grow that out of a toilet or something?” All three immediately burst into laughter.
“GODDAMBIT!!” Rezin explodes, his annoyance now ramped up into full-on rage. “Cut a hard-working cultivator some slack here! My grow operation is still DIY, so I gotta work with what I got until I can afford some real equipment! Now are ya gonna buy this lid, or not?! Only fifty bucks a gram, at a minimum of ten grams!”
Without another word they shuffle on to their classes. Rezin throws his sack of awful-looking homegrown weed to the ground and yells after them, shaking his fists over his head and practically frothing at the mouth.
“FUCKIN’ DEGENERATE CONSUMERS!! YOUR GENERATION IS GOING TO RUIN THIS SOCIETY!!”
It would otherwise be a slow day at Moondog Records, were it not for a strange, unkempt man walking in around high noon with a milk crate full of vinyl that he was looking to sell off. The beleaguered store clerk sighs as he flips through the last of the records and makes a rough estimate of the total value of the collection.
“I’ll give you a hundred bucks for them,” he says.
Rezin nearly falls to the floor as if slapped across the face. “
“A HUNDRED BUCKS?!” shouts the Goat Bastard. “Are you fuckin’ SERIOUS!? C’MON, that’s an ORIGINAL PRESSING of My War in there! GREG-FUCKIN’-GINN HIMSELF shipped me that record! Have you even heard the B side on that? It LITERALLY created sludge metal!”
The clerk sighs again. “A hundred bucks,” he repeats. “Non-negotiable. To be honest, I should be asking you to pay me to take all these stoner doom records. And who seriously owns five copies of Dopesmoker?”
Huffing angrily, Rezin seizes his crate of vinyl and storms out of the record shop.
“FUCKING CAPITALIST SWINE!! YOUR GREED WILL ONLY BRING ABOUT THE COLLAPSE OF YOUR OWN FRAIL ECONOMY!!”
The scene is very much the same hours later, at the World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. An appraiser, who may or may not be Rick Harrison, looks indifferently down at the wrestling title belt laid out on the counter in front of him.
The front plate reads “Empire Pro Wrestling Television Champion”.
The appraiser looks up at the ragged punk who brought it in and shrugs.
“Best I can do is fifty bucks.”
Rezin throws his head back and unleashes a loud, raspy groan. He rips the belt off the counter and heads for the door.
“FUCKING MATERIALIST JACKYLS!! CURRENCY IS THE GREATEST SCAM OF THE PAST MILLENNIUM!! AND I SWEAR, THAT CHEAP BASTARD DAN RYAN WILL PAY FOR THIS!!”
TWENTY PAST FOUR
Rezin parks himself on a bench and smokes dope, taking a much-needed break to chill the fuck out and ponder his next move. After a day of hustling around the city, he has a whopping zero dollars to his name.
Shit today was not punk rock AT ALL.
Simon Tillier crosses the lot to where he parked his car, thankful to be finished with another day of promotional work at the PRIME offices.
He was fenegled into staying over a couple extra hours to copy edit the forthcoming news announcements on the PRIME website. What seemed like a mundane task became something of a time-consuming undertaking, thanks to the astounding lazy attempts at composition by his senior associate, Mr. Matt Mills.
Simon is about to reach for his key fob, when he notices the microphone still in his head. Did he really absentmindedly forget to put it down when he punched out?
He turns around. A masked man has stepped out from his hiding place between two parked vehicles.
“GIMME YER MONEY, OR ELSE!!”
Simon blinks. His surprise comes from genuine confusion as opposed to a feeling of terror.
“Rezin?” he asks.
Through the eye-holes of what is clearly a luchador mask, Tillier sees his would-be assailant’s eyes pop at what could be called Nic Cage levels of extreme.
“WHAT?! NO!!” Rezin snaps back. “I’M NOT REZIN!! WHO’S REZIN?! NOT ME, I CAN TELL YA THAT!!”
“I mean, I’m preeeeetty sure that’s you under there,” Simon retorts. “I don’t know of anybody else who has ‘INDIANA’ tattooed across the stomach that way.”
Rezin looks down at his exposed torso, and the mosaic of ink he’s accrued over the years. Yeah, it would probably be a really huge coincidence if there happened to be anybody in the Las Vegas area with that stupid of a tattoo.
The junior reporter sighs. He is tired, wanting to go home, and clearly not interested in dealing with any of the Goat Bastard’s tomfuckery. “Look, I’ve had a long day… can I just give you twenty bucks to leave me alone?”
Rezin thoughtfully scratches the hobo beard protruding through the bottom of his luchador mask.
“…think I can bump ya up to twenty-five?” he finally asks after a long, awkward moment of silence passes.
Simon’s eyes roll as he pockets the mic and pulls out his wallet. He pulls a few notes from the billfold and gives them a quick count.
“Well, turns out all I have is eighteen, so–”
Like a regular Las Vegas magician, Rezin makes that cash disappear from Simon’s hand faster than the junior reporter can react. Tillier looks up to see the masked Rezin running away, triumphantly shaking his score over his head.
“HAHAHAHA!! EL CABRÓN STRIKES AGAIN!!”
The late-evening crowd is in full force in the MGM Grand Casino. The scene is pretty much what you’d expect in one of the largest gambling houses in the city. What few would expect, though, is what’s happening now at one of the tables: a dealer patiently waits on a disheveled louse who had just sat down minutes ago, insistently putting down all of his chips on his first deal.
After an extended moment of silent contemplation over his hand, a wry smile spreads across the Goat Bastard’s face.
“Whaddya call Iggy Pop, Tony Iommi, and Lemmy Kilmister?” asks Rezin with snide joy, laying his cards out on the table. “How ‘bout THREE KINGZ, BISH!? CAN YA BEAT THAT?!”
“Sir, this is the blackjack table,” replies the dealer, completely emotionless. “And that is a bust.”
Rezin’s smile dissolves into a despondent grimace as he watches all eighteen dollars worth of his chips get pulled over to the far side of the table. As it would appear, luck is not on his side. And after a day of dealing with dead ends, this final transgression was something he absolutely could not abide by.
His face begins to turn a furious shade of red. His eyes bloodshot bulge wider than ever. His cracked lips curl back, exposing two rows of clenched, yellowed teeth. His tar-stained fists clench into balls, and pound into the green felt surface of the table as he bursts to his feet.
Rezin looks the dealer straight in the eye and lets him have it…
“I must respectfully, though begrudgingly, concede the point. Good day to you, sir.”
Rezin leaves the casino, woefully empty-handed.
Not far from the storage facility where his quest began, Rezin is in the desert, enveloped in the black of night. He is a man without hope… nothing left inside. Which, one could suggest, would just make him a man living in the modern age of being.
Above him, the cosmic abyss stretches on to infinity. He’s reclined on his back, watching the constellations overhead while smoking down a fresh joint and waiting for the peyote caps he took a few minutes ago to kick in.
Overhead, the warrior Orion, with his astral balls of steel, hoists his shield and raises his mighty club as he confronts the nearby Taurus. He had no fucks to give about immaterial things like mortgages and Universal Titles; he just wanted to lock horns with the bull and fuck shit up. So fucking punk rock…
Today has been such a waste. Sure, he has at least a few more weeks to come up with the money, but it’s more than disheartening to realize that his regular rackets weren’t going to cut the mustard. He had come to the tragic realization that his services in chaos, anarchy, and malfeasance were a tad redundant in the place called “Sin City”.
In the Gemini constellation, twins Castor and Pollux stand frozen in immortality. Squinting just right, one could almost make the anguish on Castor’s face, forever trapped in semi-godhood thanks to the selfish bequeathment of his higher born brother. Denied his right to oblivion. What a horrible fate…
He hasn’t seen the old house in years, but in his mind’s eye, he can still see it clear as day. The chipped, graying paint… the lawn that was somehow both overgrown and dead brown… the everpresent reek of whiskey and menthol cigarettes…
The memory of that wretched place brings with it plenty of pain and unpleasantness. Still, something about letting it fall into the hands of those blood-sucking bankers doesn’t feel right to him.
The vain Queen Casseopia, on her throne of five stars, silently glides through the night sky around the axis of the North Star, looking down in judgmental contempt upon all the hideous, disease-riddled peasants on the Earth below. Somehow, it reminded him of his mother–
And just like that, KABOOM! Synapses fire off all at once through his brain. It could just be the drugs taking effect, but sounds and shapes are beginning to coalesce in the deeper recesses of his mind.
“Five stars…” he says aloud. Only the night hears him.
Now he smiles. An idea is beginning to form. He now sees the enticing opportunity laid out before him at ReVival Five. Maybe hope isn’t lost after all.
How much does a champ make in PRIME anyway? Could this open up a contract negotiation? And if not… if held hostage, how much would Lindsay Troy be willing to pay to get one of her precious titles back?
He decides that now is the time to light a fire.
A bonfire burns somewhere in the Nevada desert. Twilight forms on the horizon to the east. The blob of Vegas light pollution lies to the west west. Between these sources of illumination, both artificial and natural, the red glow of a man-made fire outlines the silhouette of a man standing before us.
“Hey there, scum…”
A Zippo lights up, revealing Rezin’s face as he lights up yet another doob.
“Yep… despite what I’m sure many expected, errybuddy’s favorite dope-smokin’ and fire-stokin’ Goat Bastard is still here in PRIME! If anything, just to spite all the haters and elitist snobs out there that don’t think a PUNK like me belongs here! I’m not at all sorry to disappoint you fucks!
“See, I ain’t the type to just slink away with my head hangin’ in shame whenever I get beat; when I get knocked down, I pop right back up! Stronger, wiser, high-er, and much, much MEANER!
“Cause like any good disease, I know how to EVOLVE to adverse conditions! And so, like the Joaquin Phoenix from the ashes, I shall RISE into a glorious new level of BADASSEDRY comparable to that of an Oscar-worthy performance of a comic book supervillain!
“…or something like that.
“Be as it may, my dream of bringing about the aPUNKalypse to destroy PRIME’s overblown legacy and rebuild it into a beautiful new age of pro wrestling chaos and anarchy won’t become a reality by way of the Almasy Invitational.
“But as someone once said, where one door closes, another waits to be kicked open, thanks to some dumbass who forgot to bolt it! And now here I find myself scramblin’ it up with a coupla other also-rans for a chance to swipe PRIME’s ‘honored’ Five Stars Championship!
“So… where do we begin?
“How ’bout Cyrus the Vyrus?”
Rezin looks westward.
“Lemme just say off the bat, Cy, I dig your style. Granted, personally speaking, I’m a tad removed from the whole ‘hardcore’ thing as it pertains to my wrestling career, but I can give props to a guy who managed to scrape himself up off the ground after a career-ending injury and came right back into the storm, hungry and ready to hurt.
“Pretty fuckin’ PUNK ROCK, if ya ask me!
“That being said… ya know I’m going after that leg, right?”
The firelight reveals his sinister smirk.
“I mean, I admire the fight in ya, and if you need a lead on where to get some good painkillers, ol’ Rezin can hook ya up…
“But if I’m being honest, I got few fucks to give about your situation! Once we’re in the ring, you’re going to find out the hard way that I’m not someone who believes in walkin’ any kind of high road!
“Well… in a manner of speaking anyway. I do a LOT of things while high…
“Unfortunately for you, Cy, I’m the kinda crazy sum’bish that is willing to go to any and all lengths to get the job done! Some might call it reaching for low hanging fruit, but fuck ‘em; I call it practical!
“And if cuttin’ that leg out from under ya ends up being the most practical way to put your ass on the mat, then so be it!
“Nothing personal; you’d do the same if you were in my position. And if ya didn’t, then I hardly feel your worthy of the title ‘Hardcore Messiah’!
“In case you haven’t noticed, this place PRIME is shaping out to be something of a survival-of-the-fittest environment! And for me, bein’ something of a new face around here, making an example of a weakling like you is gonna be how show all the other alpha complex assholes in that locker room that I am NOT to be fucked with!
“Really, it’s not all that different from life on the inside! At least one person in this match knows what I’m talkin’ about…”
Rezin pivots around to face the east.
“I guess I can skip all the PUNK ROCK flexing this time around, given you’re pretty much the OG in this place.
“But real talk here… if you really want to ditch that government shackle hangin’ on your ankle, the Escape Artist would be willing to help ya out!
“Consider it a friendly favor, from one dopesmoker to another, cause if there’s anything I hate, it’s seeing a fellow soaring eagle left grounded by having his wings clipped!
“In another time and place, maybe you and I coulda been regular chums. After all, we’re both lovers of drugs and skullets, and victims of cops and superkicks.
“Plus, I myself always wanted to one day retire to a cabin somewhere out in the untamed wild… far off the grid, living off the land, writin’ manifestos about the coming collapse of civilization like some kinda Ted Kaczynski of weed. A UnaBONGer, if you will!
“That being said, I’m gonna have to stop just short of being a Hayes Hanlon variety of pants-creaming fanboy. Right now, you happen to be standin’ in the way of something I want, and legend or otherwise, I’m gonna need to knock you the fuck aside in order to take that next step forward!
“Easier said than done, I’m sure… but the fact that you’re here in this match only proves that even PRIME’s own Risen Star CAN be beaten!
“And I’m fixin’ prove that it can happen twice!”
He turns to face the flames, basking in their all-consuming heat. Smoke drifts everywhere around him.
“Time to wake the fuck up, PRIME!
“Many of you are still riding the nostalgia high, but I’m here to tell ya that it’s only fleeting!
“Come Colossus, through the will of pure PUNK ROCK fury, I fully intend to set a fire here PRIME by triumphing over some of the so-called ‘best’ in this business and claiming that Five Star Championship for myself!
“Cause the HIGH one gets off the burning remains of wrestling company’s storied legacy? That’s what I’M all about!”
Fade to VOID.