Posted on 04/01/23 at 10:43pm by FLAMBERGE
Event: CULTURE SHOCK 2023 NIGHT TWO
Ooooh, who’s our big strong buzzsaw boy?! Is it you? Hell YEAH it’s you! That’s our French Phenom, there he is! I know what you’re here for, you’re here for the good stuff. That little drip-drip-drip I gave you when you wiped out the little love boy, our happy little REWARD neurotransmitter! Hell yeah, man. You know I’ve got the hookup for you. As soon as Nixon called for the bell because TAL was too Knocked Dafuq Out to tap, I called my guy. We got the stuff.
Here we are – aaaaand there it is. Bask in the dopamine, kid. You fucking EARNED it. The Anglue Gluechador? Are you KIDDING me kid?? He was #1 in PRIME for like…
…man, you really do soak in this stuff fastly and furiously, don’t you? I guess after years of never really getting any, it makes sense. It’s addictive, this feeling, and with you (and just as importantly, with ME), when winning begets winning which begets more winning, which bestows my generous gifts, and so the cycle goes.
Ok, ok, I see that the well is immediately dry in here, I’ll press a Minor Reward Button again. Gotta pick the right one here, let’s see…”You’ve been here for a year now and no one has beaten you for the last six months” ohhhhhhHHHHHHHH YUP THAT WAS A BUTTON. MAYBE THE WRONG BUTTON. TOO MUCH BUTTON. HANG ON, TIDE’S FLOWING A LITTLE FAST ON ME FLAMBO, BUCKLE IN, I GOTTA…
have you ever noticed that if you ever try to scream as loud as you possibly can with just your imagination, you can only max out at a low and soft volume? try it. scream as loud as you possibly can with your mind. now try imagining the sound of a balloon popping, or a jackhammer. crazy how quiet that is, right?
his arms are set on his knees, his eyes are closed, his frame leans back on the couch
now imagine the tidal waves as they crashhhhhh
Ok ok ok shit shit shit shit, gotta slow this down…uh, uh, ”HEY, FLAMBO, REMEMBER WHO BEAT YOU SIX MONTHS AGO? NATE COLTOOOOOOOOOOON”nnnnnnnwrommmmmmm ok, we’ve got the epinephrine coming in now, that anger should stem some of that ecstatic joy, let’s see…ok, we’re blending, we’re spreading, we’re creating interesting combinations…ok. A little unstable, but well, that’s not new. We can work with this. At least now, no one single thing is over-saturating this whole situation.
Whew. You ok? You’re ok. The whiplash isn’t new, I guess – I’ve seen enough of your teenage years by now to understand that. I wasn’t expecting THAT level of grasping for self-worth, though – should I have been? I should have been. Come on, man – rookie mistake, that. These damn Minor Reward Buttons are so finicky when working with Clean Slates like you, and – listen. I’m much more well versed in aggressively fighting the other thing you’ve heard me vaguely reference week after week now. The thing your mom keeps pushing for. Phil wants my assignment to have these little reward moments, and I – you know what? No excuses. I missed the mark. Sorry about that, FLAMBERGE – I didn’t mean to press it so hard.
(did you hear my Fezzik voice there? do you get it?) (no?) (well, it was a reach, and you are very French.)
the low ambient hum, a nearly Ambien hum
Ok, you’re owed a status report. Good news is we made it through that little episode, and I think there’s no damage. Some of these things have a way of “allegedly” “coming up” again, but if that’s a thing it’ll be years and yeeeeeears from now, and I’m not even sure I trust Big Brain Chemical’s real agenda. It’s probably bullshit. Follow the money, FLAMBERGE.
There is one thing though. I mentioned how addictive that joyful feeling can get, and it’s true – it’s an addiction MOST dangerous for you, my friend. You’d be particularly susceptible to this type of addiction, I imagine, what with your father being who he is. I’ve heard a bit about his file through the grapevine, and let me tell you – that man did NOT do well when he couldn’t find his own little “dopamine triggers”, if you know what I m-
-you do, you do know what I mean, and you’re not digging the visual. Loud and clear. We’ll pivot.
All’s to say…how can I put this.
Starvation makes us all desperate.
Never forget, that’s what drew you to Phil Atken in the first place, wasn’t it?
Yes, we’re talking about Phil. We must ALWAYS talk about Phil.
He recognized a certain starvation when it came to the top of the top of the top of professional wrestling (yes, it’s PRIME, don’t be a kiss-ass). The starvation of the future of this sport, caused by the clinging fat at the top, the ones who would go back for seconds before everyone at the dinner has been served, the TALs and the Youngbloods and the Novas and the Gambles and…you get the picture.
And you came to him, and you were welcomed with open arms. And, AND, you got to hang out with him one and a half times. You know how valuable that was. Hank STILL texts you every morning with another X/6 on the day’s Wordle and a crying emoji.
When Phil introduced me to you, right there at the end…it was because he knows how a malnourished dog reacts without a Leash.
So call me that, if it helps – call me Leash. I’m not here to make you a prisoner or anything, no no no – I’m just here to keep you safe. Safe from your own correct instincts.
Your poor starved mind has been so very desperate for any glimmer of hope for so long, you would frankly become erratic the moment you thought you found your new source. How could you not? I’m just here to regulate.
So call me that, if it helps – call me The Regulator. I’m not here to –
– no? Too much. Cool. Thanks, epinephrine, for being such a little bitch.
he hasn’t been able to open his eyes for hours
two letters in the mail, one addressed from Him
one, from the hardest thing to read in the world, at least right now
Julia Lavigne, ## Rue Schubert, 67000 Strasbourg, France
Julia Lavigne, the fencer known as “La Dague du Strasbourg” and frankly the most skilled athlete in the family before her son Julien came of age – even more than Henri, though football of course accrued him exponentially greater notoriety in comparison.
She had this trick she could do with her foil, it got her booked for many local television interviews anytime internationally lesser-known sporting events would place – with a hummingbird-like series of flicks of the wrist, she could make her sword undulate into a perfect wave, and it would remain perfectly steady to the naked eye all while she maintained this intense focus and control with her movement.
She called it the Flamberge.
Then the interviewer would inevitably act dumb and ask “qu’est-ce qu’un Flamberge?”, and so of course Julia would play along and say “le Flamberge est l’épée flamboyante”. Then “Appelez les pompiers!”, ahaha how funny, because words! Mom always said that it was a privilege to share her craft with the world, even if it felt silly in the moment…she said that the most important skill in life is sharing.
he’s been asking himself the same question in his head, over and over, for years now – from the moment it happened
from the day his choice was denied
the choice to keep on keeping on, the same way he always knew
unhappy, but navigable
a map plotted.
how could she let a monster win this fight?
$$$@###@$$$@#!@$and then things started getting hard.
All you knew anymore was that it felt scary to share. Even if you could ask yourself now, you might have a really fair guess at where that came from – I doubt you’ve figured it all out.
And so you retreated for so, so long. Julia tries to reach out. She’s told you she has never known how she lost you, which is probably true because I don’t even know and I’m hard-wired in!
And there’s that letter. Sitting there, right next to the one I see your little Voldemort wrote you.
(did you get the reference? he who must not be named?) (…yes, the harry potter thing) (YES, it’s about jordan!) (no YOU’RE a squib)
You imagine the feelings that letter will fill in your heart. What a battle THAT’S gotta be right now, yeah? You know what we’re doing here. You know what the mission is. The mission you’ve been absolutely masterful at accomplishing over the last six months.
You are become FL-ELMER-GE, Gluer of Worlds. Fight after fight after fight, you and me (but mostly me) – by Phil Atken’s wisdom and forethought – have become nigh unstoppable.
You know I can’t let you open that letter from Julia yet, you stupid little boy. It will compromise EVERYTHING.
And yet. What a carrot to dangle.
…tell you what. I’ll let you spend a little more time in this Julia Appreciation Society situation, but you must not let it get so far that I have to jam any more emergency switches.
You saw them earlier. You know what they are. It’s the punchline of a Hurts Donut joke, just in your brain.
In exchange, I’ll come up with a plan for how to appropriately deal with this whole…”maternal love” thing you’re physically fighting with yourself over right now. The letter’s a real tricky bitch, alright? It must be handled delicately. By the way, kudos to you for utilizing your coping skills (thinking of Nate Colton drowning in glue, thinking of Brandon Youngblood drowning in glue, imagining brewing a whole bunch of drown-graded glue) which stopped you from ripping open that letter.
Ok. You know the deal – moderate your shit when choosing motherly memories to explore right now, FLAMBERGE.
Julia Lavigne: “Pourquoi es-tu triste mon petit épée?”
I can’t see you, where?…when are we? How old are you here?
I see the backpack you dropped on the ground, let’s see, I recognize that weird-ass cartoon…9 years old, am I close?
Julien Lavigne: “Où est papa?”
It’s really blurry…those are tears, aren’t they. Oh. Alright.
Yeah. We’re here.
Even accounting for Henri’s athletic days where he was still trying to scrap together any sort of work coaching football on a professional level, eight days was a new record for the number of days in a row you had not heard from your father at all.
Julia Lavigne: “Mon petit épée, tout va bien…tout va bien.”
Julien Lavigne: “Où est papa???”
Uh, let me tap in here for you, kid. doot doot doot – can you hear me?
THIS IS TOO HEAVY, FLAMBERGE, DIAL IT BACK A TOUCH. WE CAN’T OVERCOMPENSATE JUST YET, NOT WHILE WE’RE STILL DEALING WITH THE WEIRD IMBALANCES FROM BEFORE.
Take two? Three? Don’t worry about the number.
Well, ok, FLAMBERGE, there you have it. Every reason you need to deeply, to your core, understand why we must tread so very very lightly when it comes to these matters.
She could undo everything, couldn’t she? Everything we’ve built. You and me and Phil makes three, eh?
I had to push the emergency buttons again because I had to fulfill the commitment. What you and Atken set out to do. You remember, no?
Do you think Atken was so foolish as to abandon you without tremendous reasons? They were always so apparent, I think to everyone here – even if they aren’t apparent to you.
Phil Atken fell so FLAMBERGE could rise. Phil Atken built so FLAMBERGE could destroy…
Phil Atken WAS real. FLAMBERGE IS real.
And now, the locker room abandons you, fleeing in terror. There are no friends here, even if Stanislav would wish he could claim you. Rats fleeing the Titanic. Deep, guttural understanding that you and me (again, mostly me) have been pitching a perfect game for six goddamn months against some of the greatest and best talent PRIME can possibly offer and that even deeper, earth-moving grinding of a landscape being irreversibly changed.
You define this generation of wrestling, FLAMBERGE. Your mark is the most indelible. The Protagonist of PRIME.
As 39 other plates spin in front of you, each feeling so very distended, so full of effort and preparation and anxiety for the wrong thing entirely…I ask, what is a plate to a buzzsaw, nay, an unstoppable and eternal force of nature?
You are The Omniglue. Worldbinder, morale shatterer, kingdom ruiner. The man uniquely equipped above all others to rain down the most honest and genuine ennui upon the wretched masses.
39 plates, spinning and spinning. So very concerned with matching up to the plates around them.
Remember the commitment we all shared, when Phil planted me here in your brain forever and all times…it was in the complete and utter decimation of how things were before. We must eat our past if we’re going to fertilize the future.
an eye opens
peers, glances, strains
such tantalizing pain
two letters, two Jays
Success hurts. Others, mostly. There was a time in the early marriage years of Henri and Julia Lavigne that most of the phone calls and inquiries were for him, and then, over time, the switch flipped. There would even be times where work calls would come asking for her maiden name, if you could believe it – for a time, Googling “Lavigne” led you either to Sk8er Boi lyrics or “Shameful Former French Footballer Does XYZ” articles.
For some reason, in Henri’s mind, Julia’s gain must have caused Henri’s loss. Power dynamics that were already dicey became untenable.
He wasn’t wrong, you know. Give him this, he understood that in this world, for every win, there will be a loss. You yourself are on an unstoppable death train, and look at the wake you’ve left behind you these last six months…is anyone the same?
Win Win No-Decision Win Win Win, in lesser hands, is a legacy. This is your kindling for the next chapter, FLAMBERGE. We leave this chapter soon as we ascend.
You’re not the same, after all. Before me, you thought you sought out the void, the ether, the numbing escape…and then Phil led me to you. You know the truth by now. You are summoned to leave indelible ink upon all that you face forever and all times.
You’re ignoring me.
It’s the letter, isn’t it. You haven’t let it go. You remembered that I offered a compromise. Yeah yeah yeah, fine.
Here it is.
Become Universal Champion, and you have Phil Atken’s full blessing to have full autonomy. Ok? You get to captain the ship again, and you can make choices for yourself again – including reading that letter your mother sent!
Isn’t that terrific? What a generous proprietor! Correspondence from mum, on the table!
We must always talk about Phil.
Now, you know why the gratification must be delayed, yeah? Yeah, you know. How can Phil know you’re fully committed until you’ve fully taken his mantle? Makes perfect sense to me.
Phil was a Universal Champion. You are not the Omniglue until you, too, are the Universal Champion. You’ve only been a Five Star Champion, and that didn’t even feel real!
Maybe that’s the inherent numbing. Could be. Probably is.
Hey, let’s focus on that for a minute…
…here’s some help, #1 and #2 in PRIME are two of the only motherfuckers you haven’t beaten yet, and their plates are looking REAL wobbly right now.
…ahhhhhhhhhhh dull hate. What a sweet spot we find in these moments, FLAMBERGE.
gluing is the conclusive act
contradictions seeking resolution
my own spinning plates
…and there’s your sweet little cherry on top, kid.
The rage, the wrath, the talent…the pain, the control, the goal.
You are Dangereux. And the shortest path to becoming the Omniglue is the easiest thing in the world for you.
One night in hell, after you lived there for years.
Remember our compromise, FLAMBERGE.
And while you’re at it, Hank says he misses you.