Some of the best things about foreign translations of American movies are the titles. English slang and turns of phrase don’t often come across one-to-one when translating to Spanish or Japanese, or in this case, French. As FLAMBERGE sits reclined in his seat of this private plane, a giant bag of Bret’s Fromage Frais & Fines Herbes Chips in his lap, he cycles through the amazingly-titled in-flight movie options. Having apparently mastered the craft of cleanly eating messy snacks, we don’t see a single chip crumb on his white hoodie.
“Sex Friends” (No Strings Attached.)
“Sexy Dance 2” (Step Up 2 The Street.)
“Sex Intentions” (Cruel Intentions. Ah, the French.)
“Mom, I Missed The Plane!” (Home Alone.)
Eventually, FLAMBERGE settles on a classic turn-off-your-brain comedy, “Very Bad Trip” (The Hangover) and puts on a pair of noise-canceling headphones. French subtitles run across the bottom of the screen, but he isn’t reading them – instead, he’s looking out the window at the Atlantic. It’s all he’s been able to see outside for a few hours now, and he has several more hours to go.
In two seats facing each other a bit further forward on the plane, we see two men having an animated conversation. One mustached pudgy man who bears a passing resemblance to Reginald VelJohnson wears a navy tracksuit, and eagle-eyed viewers will recognize his face from FLAMBERGE’s first televised teaser. The other, a salt-and-paprika haired man in his 50’s, wears a brown suit and is new, and possibly unwelcome here. The coach seems pushy about something but FLAMBERGE has chosen not to listen, instead settling for Zach Galifianakis and a steady crunch…crunch…crunch.
June 23, 2006. It’s about a three and a half hour train ride from Strasbourg to Cologne, but when you’re 6 years old, time doesn’t really have a reliable framework. You could have told him it was a week, you could have told him it was half an hour, wouldn’t matter. He was just so very excited to be on that train with mom, wearing a too-big-for-him blue jersey the whole way, hopping up and down as they whipped through the countryside.
France was still in the group stage at this point in the World Cup, and mom didn’t yet know that the team would eventually make it all the way to the finals. For now, at this moment, she and her child had the Friday off and could take this trip to maybe, MAYBE, see if his father plays a few minutes in garbage time in this one. It’s Togo, after all. Of all the possible matches in the Cup, this is surely the biggest slam dunk.
He had never been around this many people in his whole life, and it was so LOUD…but everyone was so friendly to him, especially when they saw his full-body-length jersey and his screams of joy and love for his dad. If he wasn’t 6 and this wasn’t his first match, he might know that these seats were about as bad as you could get in this arena. All he knew was that his dad was on the team and they were probably going to win, and he had never had all five senses hit so very very hard before and it was a RUSH.
France defeated Togo 2-0. Henri Lavigne was not called into the match. France eventually made it to the World Cup Final, losing in heartbreaking fashion via penalties. Henri’s number was never called.
“Henri, you’ve done an amazing job with him up to now, it has to be said. No one else in PRIME looks like him, wrestles like him, carries themselves like him…he’s got something special.”
“You do not need to tell me this, I KNOW he has got the something. I am the RAISER of the something.”
The salt-and-paprika’d man pauses and collects his thoughts for a brief moment.
“I am not here to take anything from you, Henri. I am here-”
“Oui, Monsieur Darby, you ARE here to put your face on the televisions, to take the place as the mouthpiece, and to act as if it is you who has done this thing for my son! You have not done the thing! I HAVE DONE THE THING FOR TWENTY YEARS!”
“Henri. PRIME hired me because-”
“I do not give the DAMN why the PRIME hired you, he is MY SON! He is MY PRODIGY, he is-”
“-they HIRED me, Mr. Lavigne, because you have a HISTORY of not being able to handle yourself on TELEVISION.”
Henri scoffs loudly and waves dismissively at the man before him. Mr. Darby gives two beats to see if the conversation is really, truly done for the time being – French people, am I right? – before rising from his seat. He slicks back his hair, adjusts his suit coat, and starts walking towards the back of the plane.
The Three Best Friends That AnyoneCouldHave just woke up and found the tiger in their hotel room. FLAMBERGE loves the tiger and can’t wait for Mike Tyson’s cameo. It’s the closest he’s come to a smile this trip. He catches the tentative approach of Mr. Darby out of the corner of his eye and pulls his headphones partially down. crunch…crunch…crunch.
Coach Lavigne was displeased at the technique shown by his super-green recruits.
“In the wrestling match, if you throw the wrestler with this piss, you get DESTROYED!”
All Coach Lavigne ever told FLAMBERGE about his transition from football to wrestling was that it was his choice. Natural athletes could always find their way to this industry and learn the ropes, at least in his mind. Some took to the sport better than others. Coach INSISTED his son take to the sport better than anyone else, train longer than anyone else, show more discipline than anyone else, or there would be problems.
Mom didn’t like that framework.
“FLAMBERGE, VIENS ICI.”
He had been sitting comfortably in his hoodie outside the wrestling ring in the middle of this training gym, chomping on some chips as these rookies flailed about in front of him. When Coach was happy, or at least neutral, he would usually let FLAMBERGE be…but something was bothering Coach. Maybe it was the greenhorns screwing up. Maybe it was the so-called “heavy recruitment” from PRIME that saw representatives travel all the way to eastern France to tell him his only son might, MAYBE, have a spot on the roster if he tests well. FLAMBERGE had his own guess that he kept privately.
FLAMBERGE stepped into the ring, a recruit who probably hadn’t yet graduated lycée standing before him.
“Jeter cet enfant sur la lune.”
FLAMBERGE nodded. They raised arms, and clinched. FLAMBERGE hooked the shoulder. The poor kid was 12 feet in the air before he knew this fact and had been planted to the earth just after that fact became known.
It’s never exactly a scream when the wind gets knocked out of you – more like you’re in outer space and your mask is suddenly down, and there’s that brief moment of panic before the gasping semi-silence.
FLAMBERGE grabbed the teen by head and hustled him to his feet. Another sky-high toss, another rough landing.
FLAMBERGE hesitated and gave Coach a look.
FLAMBERGE didn’t flinch at being struck. He just needed to know if this teenage decimation was necessary in the eyes of Coach. Having received the answer, he hoisted the kid up in a half-and-half and just flung him across the ring, HARD. He saw that the other recruits were upset at this throw. “He’s new!” “You can’t do that to him!” ”Bâtarde!!”
FLAMBERGE looked at Coach, who only nodded before half-gesturing towards the door. Message received. FLAMBO was always his favorite way to wind down from these escalations.
“Now FLAMBERGE, be ready – the first microphone in front of you, they’re going to ask you about Genie Carlson. It’s your first match in front of a major audience, so I want you to know that it’s ok if you have nerves-”
FLAMBERGE doesn’t react to Mr. Darby’s advice. He’s got his shoulder bag with all the Brets Chips branding as he steps out from his plane, heading towards a waiting white Escalade. The Las Vegas skyline glows in the backdrop. A handful of other vehicles comes into frame, with reporters seemingly being tipped off to the landing and making their approach. Mr. Darby raises his hands to the flashing bulbs of cameras and steps forward. No one stops Henri as he pulls his travel suitcase with him towards the Escalade in hurried steps.
“Yes, I can confirm, FLAMBERGE is here in Las Vegas and he is MORE than ready to stake his claim as the man to watch in PRIME. We’ve had a long trip, and I now must insist that we need to-”
Reporters shout and cut him off. We notice now that FLAMBERGE has brought those noise canceling headphones with him to the airstrip and he seems intent on pushing forward towards his ride to l’hôtel. Seeing that it’s a sea of electronics in front of him, FLAMBERGE pauses and lowers his headphones. One question gets through clearly.
“FLAMBERGE! FLAMBERGE! What do you have to say to your opponent, Genvie Carlson, before your match on ReVival 5?”
A hush washes over the assembled as a single microphone approaches the handsome young malefactor.
FLAMBERGE steps forward and leans in. His voice is deeper than you might expect.
“I’m going to throw that child into the moon.”
Hurried voices clamor for more, but FLAMBERGE has none of it and power-walks his way to the Escalade as Mr. Darby runs interference. After a few moments, all three men enter the vehicle with the doors slammed shut as it peels off towards the lights of Las Vegas.