“Love is dead and the Love Convoy killed it.”
It’s right there, kid. You want that to be the thing so very badly, don’t you?
Why am I asking – of course I know what you want. I’m hard-wired in. Thanks again, Phil – what a peach you are.
You want the Love Convoy and their sicky-wicky lovey-dovey sunshine-and-rainbows-and-meth (apparently) story to be your hook here. Your focus. God, I hate them too. Probably even more than you! How is that a thing? How can a part of you hate something more than the rest of you does?
Wait…table that. We’re treading dangerously close to the other thing. We don’t do the other thing. Remember what we do? We tap into your subconscious’s raw wounds now…we find those taps that can fill that Loathe Lake. Remember Loathe Lake? It works best when you leave me in control of filling it. Just like ReVival 22, just like so many times before.
But back to the first point…just look at the situation. Look at how the stars have been so carefully aligned by the Powers That Be here in PRIME. The madwoman and other madfolks. You and Maskie get to each take your own little bites out of different parts of the Love Convoy all on the same night – back to back, even!
ON VALENTINE’S WEEK!
Magic. It’s all lined up for you, right there – print it on a shirt. Put it on a sign. Maybe Smoothie King™ will run a special on the “Love Is Dead”™ PRIME™ branded limited run collab. It’ll probably be pretty salty. Probably a little saccharine too, and then they’ll get cute and throw in a bag of American chips instead of Brets because who could be arsed with going all the way with the thing when all you need is the vibe in 2023, am I right? It would still sell well. Dollar signs. Man – maybe after I bring you back to the mountaintop of golden prizes here, that’ll be my side hustle – I’d be better at it than Darby, that’s for sure.
Say it with me now, “Love is dead and the Love Convoy killed it.” I know that’s what you want it to be. Say it. SAY IT.
What’s wrong? Why aren’t you saying it too?
We can figure this out together, FLAMBERGE, you and me. Is it time for another one? A long ago flashback? Sure, hang on, let me do some digging here…
…nnnnnnope, hang on. Technical difficulties.
See, this is the part where there’s usually a Glue component. That’s your wheelhouse, after all. “Rahr rahr rahrrrrr, everyone is OLD so they SUCK” and then you become a fucking chipper shredder in the ring, and the back of your brain where I live gets nice and warm and tingly at the thought that you might be making Phil Atken proud in the process, and I turn on the good brain juices for a while instead of the ones we cook in these moments we share together. It’s such a little treat.
He is, by the way. Phil – SUPER proud. Just, don’t ask him for confirmation, though, yet, he’s – he’s busy. Somewhere. Doing something really important. Hey, Hank’s around – say hi to Hank! Heyyyyy, Hank! He’s a good boy. So’s Cecilworth. Can’t wait for swimsuit season with the boys again.
But don’t ask them either. It’ll just be awkward, and they’re in a LOT of busy busy meetings lately. Some of them are international too! Can you believe that? Hank, allowed on a plane…wild. Trust me, though. Phil gets so proud when you start de-hoofing the old horses in PRIME.
I’ve isolated the problem here. Jonathan-Christopher’s too young, isn’t he? …shit. His age starts with a 2. Can you pretend? Hang on, let me play around here for a second.
Push this wire here, put a little chest hair on him there, maybe Vickie’s walking around with their fictional teenage kid who’s gotta be pregnant already too…Tristan-Crispin’s dead, of course, so that can artificially age them some more too…little salt and pepper, little beer belly, maybe a little balding, aaaaaaaand…
Behold that sexy image of a dying horse clinging to relevance at your expense, ready to be put down!
Is it working?
I fucked it, didn’t I. Well, can’t say I didn’t try for you. Jonathan-Christopher’s going to be young for a while. He’s going to be in love for a while, too, most likely – or at the very least, he’s going to try to be. Thinking real hard about it isn’t going to turn him into a neat allegory for the Anglo Luchadors in your life that would make my job so much easier.
I know my readings don’t lie, though, FLAMBERGE. I know that for you, love is dead.
Why is that?
“HIS DAD!”, screams everyone who thinks they can see inside your mind like I currently am right this very moment. Is that the whole thing? Pretty basic and lame, if you ask me, kid. You’d think that love would have been revived/ReVived a little after – how did you put it? – you “beat up daddy”. Catharsis personified, right?
So why is it still dead?
…hang on. Valentine’s week, I felt something flare up a little when I mentioned it earlier. I paused because I wasn’t sure it was worth bringing up – after all, why bring it up if it’s not a fresh line into Loathe Lake – but, yep, there, it’s flaring up again! There’s a spot a little further forward in your brain, see, and it controls the crying mechanism. I’m explaining this to you like you’re a child, by the way, because it’s been so devoid of activity for so many years that I felt confident in the fact that you were unaware that crying was a thing that just about everyone does. Foreign concept to you, crying, I know – but I say Valentine’s and –
There it is again! Good. Goooooood. I can work with this, but we have to be careful.
Some parts of Loathe Lake can empty out if we tap too closely on the crying mechanics in here, you see. We have to stay full up, because when we stay full up, we stay sharp. We must observe while not getting too close to the release mechanism.
NEVER release. Just like Phil taught you.
So, let’s start slowly. Valentine’s Day, 2023. Where were y-
SHIT! SHIT! REIGN IT IN, KID, DIAL BACK.
Eeeeeeeasy, FLAMBERGE. Deep breaths. It was just a few days ago, so whatever this is, it’s fresh. Understood. Lot of rawness, in that case, which can be PERFECT for me – I mean, for us. Never release, though. We can try to dip our toes in for a little bit, see how it’s treating us, and if it’s working?
Hooooo, BOY can that make a powerful addition to the little cocktail of emotions we’re brewing together.
So let’s dip, just one at a time here. Slowly. Slowwwwwwwwwwwwly. If I see you inch any closer to that goddamn emotional release button I swear to God I’m going to back us out, and trust me, it’ll be for your own good.
Ok, let’s start…
Well this is a safe and boring start, now – the sun is setting through a living room window and you’re on a couch. Your couch! This is your little flat in Vegas, isn’t it? Home for a few days – well, “home”, it’s not France after all – before getting right back on another plane, this time to New Orleans – I can see the ticket there on your little coffee table.
Wait…is that two tickets? First note for my detective case-solving board has been pinned, alright, let’s examine further.
You’re looking – pretty crap, actually. Not dressed up at all. Did you shower? When’s the last time you got your hair lined up? Surely you have a hot date tonight, right? What happened to that coffee shop girl from all those months ago? Ah, two dates, one awkward overnight stay, end of that line, found a new coffee shop – say no more. Been there – ha, just kidding. I couldn’t have been there, remember? I’m not physical! I like to joke, though. We toxics like to have fun.
Back on point – I’m aware of the effect you have on women. It’s not Idris Elba on The Office or anything (who is, but Idris), though it’s significant. Not for nothing and not for the local laws or anything, but you could probably trip and fall into a wide variety of women’s beds here in Vegas if you so chose.
Ah, hang on – here’s the second note for my case-solving board. You’re texting someone. Who is it – “Jordan”, ah. Who’s Jordan? She sounds interest-
Whoa whoa whoa, dial it back, FLAMBO, first warning. I saw the proverbial lights start flaring. No emotional releases. Pause. Deep breath. You good? You’re good. Let’s continue.
Ok, you’re texting this “Jordan” person. Lots of emojis, that’s a good sign, probably? I don’t know, I don’t understand emojis much. Seems to me like they’re a deflection mechanism for when you’re awkward with words. Same with GIFs. Oh, sorry – you use those all the time too. Cool cool cool. We’ll go with “good sign”. Animated back-and-forth you and Jordan are having, eh?
Is Jordan the person you’re supposed to see tonight? It is, isn’t it. Oooooooh, little romance for FLAMBERGE! Love to peel more layers off of this shit, you fucking disgusting horndog onion. It seems like she’s really-
Whoa, hang on, another rumble. SECOND WARNING, KID. BACK IT UP. Yellow Light, or whatever that bullshit Colton-ism might be.
You good? You’re good. Ok. I have a thought, I’m pinning it for now, but something interesting is happening.
…you’re bailing on Jordan tonight. Damn, dude. No wonder you’re not even dressed yet. You probably saw this coming all day. And, wait, yep – there it is. Second plane ticket, you’ve ripped it in two and tossed it in the bin. See, if I were an influence interested in your POSITIVE mental health, here’s where I might have thought to be a good time to call your mother, but ah – middle of the night in Strasbourg, wasn’t it? That’s how we “alternatively useful” mental health influences work, by the way. Helpful hindsight into what could have helped you in ways that you had no real way to control or execute.
I’m going to test something now. This scene in a vacuum is too boring and everyday to be the sort of thing that should trigger your descent into sobbing madness that you seem weirdly close to doing.
Hang with me, kid. I’m going to pull you immediately right the hell out of this if I’m right. Hard lines. Full recall. Phil’s provided me the power and technique to do that to you, my little croquette, so take a deep breath before I do this unless you want the whiplash to jar out some of this emotion we’re trying to bottle in here, ok?
Got it? Ok. Here we go.
I’ve been calling Jordan the wrong thing, haven’t I.
…Jordan’s a “he”?
See, there it is, FLAMBERGE. Immediately WHOOSHED you out of there and back to now. Tears contained behind your sexy little eyes! Crazy how good I am at that, right? Man. I could use this ability for something else, probably, but why would I when it’s churning such a tasty toxic mix of anger, sadness, and wrath in you? Sweet boy Julien. You dummy. You’ve liked girls, you’ve liked Jordan, who cares?
It’s 2023, kid. Your generation is the most wide-open positive about this sort of hither and yon lovey dovey crap. Lovey dovey, there it is again, isn’t it…ah, PRIME booking committee. Never change.
…but no. That can’t be it.
Anglo probably wouldn’t care about this revelation either – if anything, he’d try to spin this as some sort of positive quality in you, as if being attracted to anyone for any reason is quantifiably “good” or “bad”. The old fuck’s probably repressed something about himself in that regard too, for all you know, and in that light he can say YET AGAIN how he’s “just like you” or “he’s been where you’ve been” or whatever bullshit old people cling to when they try to connect with someone by talking at them instead of fucking listening to them. It’s all dominance games with these dicks.
Your mom probably knew before you did. That’s how good moms operate – and yours, she’s as good as it realistically gets.
Wait, oh! Hang on, kid. You, want to steer me, back in time to the next part of this trip? Hang on, does this mean you’re buying into my process without feeling, like, I don’t know – coerced?
Oooooooh. I’ll have to think about this. Last time you tried steering the ship on your own, you went on a pretty wild chaos blast that went everywhere and everywhere all over these PRIME motherfuckers – and I get it! Many jabs were jabbed. We’ve already tread on this ground, I won’t go over the risks with you again.
Tell you what, FLAMBERGE. This seems to really matter to you, so I’m going to let you steer the ship, but ONLY FOR A LITTLE BIT. You have to keep it brief. And NO. EMOTIONAL. RELEASE.
…ok. Let’s see what’s important here.
Ah, teenage FLAMBERGE. You shot up in a hurry, didn’t you? Looking fit, kid!
Ah, right, sorry, this is your show. What are you trying to show me here?
Let’s see…ah, is this your first judo tournament in the lycée? That would have put you at 14 years old…your first locker room environment, eh? Ooh, risqué, I like it. You’re popular, aren’t you? Look at these other boys in here, you’re all having a great time laughing, joking, teasing, all the classics.
Changing in front of them, that’s a real wild one, but you’re doing great at keeping your eyes forward, especially for the gross part.
Hang on, who’s that in the back – no, surely not. Is that Henri? How did he – nooooooo, the lycée let him come in as an “entraîneur adjoint spécial” because of his pull from being a former French national footballer? No! That’s so dumb – judo and football are completely different!
That’s how it was back then, I guess – awkward encounters between you two all your life, and then you very quickly got an athlete’s body…and so your father very quickly got heavily involved in your life.
You’re back in your street clothes. Silver medal for the U15 division in your district – pretty damn good, kid! Way to go!
Oh wow – you’re taking my earlier advice to heart, aren’t you? Fast forwarding through the award ceremony, fast forwarding through the goodbyes with your classmates and your head coach, fast forwarding through your mom giving you a hug and your dad pulling you to his car because it’s “his weekend”, ah. The fast forward has ended. Normal speed now, while you’re in the car with your dad.
Henri Lavigne: As-tu encore une petite amie?
You shake your head, “no”.
Henri Lavigne: Mais tu aimes les filles, non?
You nod your head, “yes”.
Henri Lavigne: Maintenant que tu es un athlète, tu dois avoir une petite amie.
Was this his way of having “the talk” with you, kid? Woof.
Henri Lavigne: Vous trouvez la plus jolie fille de votre classe, et si quelqu’un de plus joli vient, vous faites de cette fille votre nouvelle petite amie, compris ? C’est comme ça qu’on se fait respecter à son âge. C’est comme ça que je me suis fait respecter quand j’avais ton âge, tu sais.
I see that blank stare, Julien. We all see it. That cringe. This is NOT what you want to talk about right now.
Henri Lavigne: Il faut faire attention, tu sais. Vous ne voulez pas obtenir une certaine réputation.
You turned to him.
Julien Lavigne: Qu’entendez-vous par “réputation”?
Henri laughs like it’s funny. If it is, you weren’t in on the joke.
Henri Lavigne: J’ai vu comment vous vous comportez avec certains de vos amis – vos amis masculins.
Julien Lavigne: Je ne comprends pas…
Henri clears his throat. It’s a red light, conveniently, so he makes sure to look you in the eyes for this one.
Henri Lavigne: Quand j’avais ton âge, si j’avais vu un garçon agir comme tu le fais avec certains de tes amis, j’aurais…
The light changes and the car starts to move again, and the look on your face – OOOOH, the look on your face, kid! Daggers! Pain!
Let’s back it out now. You did good.
So that’s the thing, is it? That’s what’s blocking love from coming back to life for you – because you don’t know how to handle the possibility of sharing it if it really came back.
Man. Don’t tell Anglo about this, kid – he might try to give you a fucking Jabber hug or something. You’ve got to put up the wall. The big, spiky, chipper-shredder ass-kicker rage-monster wall.
The dam must remain strong.
No emotional releases, not while you’re on this warpath. You’re the only man behind the Glue Factory machine right now, and god DAMN it, you’re going to see this thing through, right??
Jonathan-Christopher Hall and the rest of the Love Convoy can frolic in whatever fields their hearts allow them to create.
And you’ll crash over it like the fucking tidal wave you are.